“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:17
On Tuesday nights, Pastor Mary and I facilitate a Lenten class. The class pairs scripture passages with the poetry of Mary Oliver. Mary Oliver’s poems often weave together spirituality and the natural world. This themes fit well with the season of Lent and good insights and great conversations. One such pairing is made between John 3:13-21 and Mary Oliver’s poem, Some Questions You Might Ask (see below).
Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?
Who has it, and who doesn’t?
I keep looking around me.
The face of the moose is as sad
as the face of Jesus.
The swan opens her white wings slowly.
In the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness.
One question leads to another.
Does it have a shape? Like an iceberg?
Like the eye of a hummingbird?
Does it have one lung, like the snake and the scallop?
Why should I have it, and not the anteater
who loves her children?
Why should I have it, and not the camel?
Come to think of it, what about the maple trees?
What about the blue iris?
What about all the little stones, sitting alone in the moonlight?
What about roses, and lemons, and their shining leaves?
What about the grass?
The passage from John 3 focuses on salvation through Jesus Christ. John 3:16 is a popular distillation of the good news. It is interesting to pair this passage about promised salvation with a poem that asks about the presence of a soul in creation. This pairing reminds me of another verse, Romans 8:19-21.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
Scripture describes a clear link running through all creation. We are bound together by a shared creator and by a shared purpose; to glorify God with and by our very being.