Irene got our attention this weekend on the east coast of USA, from Miami to Washington to New York City and to Boston. The hurricane took over television, governments, businesses, transit systems, entertainments as nothing else has done since the terror attack on the World Trade Center ten years ago. For a couple of days, Irene turned our regular human preoccupations upside down.
Mayor Bloomberg and other government officials kept referring to “Mother Nature” when they spoke of her. Respect her, they said, and for the most part we listened, though typically some of “Mother Nature’s” children ignored her threats.
Jim Keane, SJ, has a piece in the America Blog entitled “The Mountains Melt Like Wax,”where he asks what our expanding knowledge of creation means for our faith in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and our understanding of our place as humans in this world. We’re not only learning more about weather systems like Irene, but we’re also finding out much more about a “Mother Nature” who’s more complex, more powerful, older and more mysterious than we ever thought. She demands respect.
“If our notion of time keeps expanding, and our notion of space does the same, that particular moment of the Incarnation can seem more and more vanishingly discrete.” Sharing this mystery we humans have to wonder about our place in an expanding picture of the universe.
Keane points to Christian thinkers like Roger Haight, SJ, Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, William Lynch, SJ, Teilhard de Chardin, SJ and David Toolan, SJ. who faced this question.
I would add Thomas Berry, CP.
We like to see ourselves and our human world as the center of everything, and then Irene comes along. Jim Keane put it this way: “In other words, recognizing the immensity of space and the eternity of time might prove a valuable wakeup call for all of us: it’s not just about you, pal.”
Besides expanding knowledge of our universe, how about Irene? Is she part of a wakeup call? If so, it’s not wise to sing “Good night, Irene.”