And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
Heartbeats and breath make their appearance in creation on this fifth day as God populates the earth with creatures in the sea and the air. The Genesis writer uses the Hebrew word sharats to describe how God fills the water and air with animals. Sharats means to bring forth or breed abundantly . God doesn’t just create one pair of creatures but an abundance of life, because isn’t that just like our God, to make our waters and our sky teem with life?
On this day of creation all five senses are introduced – these beings can taste, touch, hear, smell, and see, bringing all of themselves into worship. And when Jesus walked the earth he used these creatures as an example of how God cares about and provides for every need of the sparrow, so how much more will he care for and provide for us, children made in his image? These creatures don’t have to strive for or earn God’s care and provision, they simply receive it.
This practice is sprinkled with yoga poses named for birds and fish to encourage us to remember that God took a whole day to populate the earth with him because it brought him delight. How can we learn to worship God with all five of our senses? How can we rest in our belovedness and God’s faithful character just like these creatures?
Our knowledge of God is not an external deposit of truth, watched over in unaltered form from age to age by the authority of the Church. Rather, it is an experience of God that comes to us in the use of our inner senses, whether that be through the scriptures and sacraments or through creation and one another. It is not a doctrinal or propositional knowledge…but belongs ‘to some deeper part of the human being.’ It is like the way an infant comes to know its mother…
– J. Philip Newell, Book of Creation
The poem read at the end of this practice is Humpbacks by Mary Oliver from her book American Primitive.
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