by Andrew Lizon
Recently I attended a workshop entitled “The Unfolding of A Promise.” It was presented and facilitated by Sister Annetta Heeran, FMSA, a kindly and elderly nun who’s Irish accent made the workshop ever more enjoyable. The workshop itself was held in what seemed to be the basement of the Carmelite Monastery, parallel to the Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. And although the program was open to the public, it was attended entirely by religious persons, all of whom were very polite and somewhat elderly. In spite of all these curious details, the workshop had a fairly serious note: to understand our role in the universe by tracing the inception of life from the Big Bang to our current condition. I have to admit that I was interested to see how we were to endeavor such a task.
The initial step of the workshop was to perceive the images of life we feel most comfortable with. This kind of image could be a self-image, a world-image, or even a God-image. Whatever it may be, each image functions as a safety blanket that is not real and can impede our evolution processes. Once we concluded our take on images, we began tracking creation since the Big Bang through its many processes—formation of stars, supernovas, galaxies, planets, single-celled organisms, multi-celled organisms, etc. From these interstellar procedures out arose the theme of interconnectedness. A state of ever-connectedness showed us how there are stories within stories, an ever-linking chain of orderly and disorderly events. Two stories in particular, the “Human Story” and “Scripture Story,” concern us as humans.
The Human Story takes a biological and anthropological approach by analyzing evolutionistic developments in relation to other creatures and the outside world. On the other hand, the Scripture Story outlines a sort of evolving course of human desires in relation to God. Put into context, Abraham desired to acquire land for his progeny; Moses took part in the establishment of a people; Joshua and the Israelites’ desire land, the Israelites desired a kingdom; the prophets desired to maintain hope among turbulent Israel; and, fast-forwarding, Jesus the Nazorean epitomizes the climax of human desires: eternal life.
In terms of how the Human Story and the Scripture Story converge, well, that is footed in responsibly responding to desires. Among all Biblical figures and groups, each had the responsibility, or lack thereof, of responding to a demand and their desires. By simply responding and acting responsibly, many Biblical characters completed their role in creation’s big picture, advancing the evolutionistic human desire. Likewise, we, too, are called to accept or deny our role in life by simply responding when presented with a request.
Then what exactly is ‘our’ role? In terms of figuring out our ‘specific’ role in Creation’s immensity, again, that is revealed through the evolutionary and developmental course within each of us—a pattern of response and action. Basically, it just depends on how we respond and act that will allow our particular role to be revealed. The important part is saying ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
And as to what regards the “Unfolding Promise” in the title of the workshop, well that most pertinently refers to love. By love, it is meant something that aims ultimately to create. This ‘creative’ love is not so concerned with the nitty-gritty of concepts like ‘natural’ marriage, but rather the simple and responsible advancement of evolutionistic processes. And although this promise of love is progressive in nature, it is nonetheless our responsibility to take part in it so as to move towards a deeper interconnection, a more perfect unity, and a profounder self-consciousness of Creation’s grandeur. So, I guess after all that initial doubt I think this shabby bunch of religious and lay folk didn’t too bad in figuring out our roles in life.