In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
The written story of God begins in chaos. We’re dropped into a scene that is described as formless, empty and dark. The Genesis writer uses the Hebrew words tohu and bohu to describe the scene. Taken together these words mean chaos, disorder, wild, empty, and confused.
Notice here how these words don’t carry an inherent judgement in them. We as a culture tend to dislike chaos, disorder, and confusion, but in describing this opening darkness, the Genesis writer doesn’t prescribe good or evil to this state. It is simply is.
And within this emptiness and wildness the Spirit of God was hovering.
Within this disorder, God speaks.
God gives names to both the light and the dark. Both light and dark answer to God. God is the God of both order and disorder, calm and chaos, wilderness and promised land. Over both, the Spirit of God hovers and God speaks.
Is there a lie you’ve been believing about God’s presence in the parts of your life that feel confused, empty, and chaotic?
Can you find the light of God that exists at the very heart of creation, the light that no amount of darkness can overcome?
It is not that God has been absent from us but that we have been absent from God, and therefore from the light that is within and at the centre of all life. God’s light is the very root of life. Too often in our Western religious traditions we have been given the impression that sin has had the power to undo what God has woven into the very fabric of being. Redemption in such models of spirituality is about light coming from afar to shine in what is essentially dark. In the Celtic tradition, on the other hand, redemption is about light being liberated from the heart of creation and from the essence of who we are. It has not been overcome by darkness. Rather, the light is held in terrible bondages within us, waiting to be set free.
-John Philip Newell, The Book of Creation
If you enjoyed this content and want more, join us in The Abbey! This video and devotional come from the June content bundle which includes two 60 minute flows and a much longer devotional on this topic.