Warning: This article, just for today, contains theology.
There have been some fascinating programs on tv recently about the origin of the universe. Some programs looked at the smallest particles of matter than we know, so far: the quantum level. Other tv programs looked at the universe as a whole, and one has to marvel when informed that the observable universe is thought to be fifteen billions years old and contain eighteen million million million galaxies similar to our own.
The ancients, without contradiction to modern science, looked at it from another viewpoint – different, perhaps non-scientifically, but no less true.
To some of the ancients there was school of thought which stated that in the Universe the controlling power comprises of Three, and these Three operate as Three-in-One. Separate but a Unity, too! Paradox. And, between these Three energy flows. This flowing energy the ancients called perichoresis – the dance. They saw this ebb and flow of energy as a wonderful dance. It has always been this way. And, that ‘dance’ permeates the universe. It was their way of looking at the universe and trying to make sense of it.
I saw you dancing last night
on the roof of your house
I felt your heart longing for the Friend.
I saw you whirling
beneath the soft bright rose
that hung from an invisible stem in the sky.
So I began to change into my best clothes
in hopes of joining you,
even though I live a thousand miles away.
And if you had spun like an immaculate sphere
just two more times,
then bowed again so sweetly to the east,
you would have found God and me
standing so near
and lifting you into our arms.
I saw you dancing last night
near the roof of this world.
Others may have viewed it differently and used other terminology. Each of them, and us (as we all come from different backgrounds may have differing views, but, hopefully, in sharing these we each come to a better understanding). I say that because what follows today, may be rather theological, and different to usual posts, but please read on and give me your views.
I’d suggest there is some value in it, whatever our wonderful theological backgrounds are, and whatever different words we use. There is a sense that, if we travel back far enough, we will arrive at what some would call a unified ‘perennial theology’ – back where it all started.
This divine dance, then, this flow, to the ancient Welsh Celts and Druids, and latter-day ones too, is known as Gwyar. Pronounced as ‘goo-yar’, it means water and generally in Druidic groups it is the flow of the liquid that the word describes, not the water itself. We looked in brief at Gwyar previously (see here), and how it flows through is and all around us, that it is ubiquitous, and is responsible for change, growth connectedness, communication. Today we delve a little deeper.
‘The energy in the universe is not in the planets, or in the protons or in neutrons, but in the relationship between them…In other words, it is an entirely relational universe.’ Richard Rohr.
As you take the bus to work, this energy is flowing through you, in and out, and in again. Walking down the street and pausing at a café, and when sitting outside to sip a latte, unbeknownst to you this energy may be flowing over the top of a neighbouring building, cascading down like a waterfall and you’re caught in an energetic, invisible, non-tangible spray. In the factory, in the schools, in a myriad of homes, in everyone, it is inclusive, never exclusive. That is Gwyar. And, as you gaze up at the stars at night, in the farthest reaches of space, Gwyar flows. Never static, always active, it flows where it pleases.
‘The foundational good news is that creation and humanity have been drawn into this flow! We are not outsider sor spectators but inherently part of the divine dance.’ Richard Rohr.
However, the more we try to ‘contain’ Gwyar and understand it using twenty-first century thought the more problematic our ‘theology’ becomes. In using the metaphor of flowing water, which is good in taking us so far, we still miss something. This movement, this flow, this energy, this Gwyar, is not impersonal. It is personal. It is alive. It is Life itself.
The more we try to compartmentalise it and make it exclusive to us (or our group), and the more we try to ‘localise’ it – I have this flow but you don’t, then the less of Gwyar we benefit from. Oh, it always flows, but in such circumstances we may not be aware of it (so much), nor benefit from it (so much), and so miss out. We have a choice to put ourselves in the way of the flow, or not.
I was in London for the whole of August, and more than ever London’s weather was changeable. Some days were cloudy, sometimes it rained, and on a few days the sky was totally blue, the sun shone and it was ‘scorching’ with temperatures hitting 32c/90f. I have to confess that, in London at that time of the year, it is too hot for me. As the sun shone down on me as I walked along the city street – far too hot for me – I chose to cross the busy road and walked on the shaded side of the street.
‘It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.’
J K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
We have a choice to ‘walk’ within the flow or to ‘work’ against it. Times when we deal with a diffcult challenge calmly and fairly, when we relax and just laugh, times when we’re working hard at our job and achieving something, playing sport, seeing a baby giggle, witnessing a flock of birds swirling around in the sky, trees blowing in the wind, someone assisting someone across the road, being hospitable, feeling ‘cocooned’ in love or expressing our love for others, and more, all these are the flow flowing through us, all these are hints of Gwyber, and we can be aware of it.
‘The Great Flow [this divine dance] makes use of everything, absolutely everything. Even your mistakes will be used in your favour, if you allow them.’ Richard Rohr
Now here’s a thought. And, here it gets theological. Many of us may have been taught about sin – even if you’re not part of a group that uses that word, you may be familiar with the notion. To many, sin is an action (or inaction) that upsets God (the Universe or whatever word you wish to use), and there are some who then believe that God delights in punishing sinners. And, yet the same people will also admit that we’re all sinners. Now, here’s the main thought. Suppose God (maybe, That Which Is Bigger Than Us) is upset at sin and not you and I, and has a distaste for sin because of its negative effect on us. And suppose sin is whatever we do that interrupts the flow, and it’s standing within the flow that God (or The Source of All) wants us to be? Suppose sin is stepping outside of the flow?
My son had just started to walk, and so this is a memory of some time ago. Oh, one he found his balancing skills, leg-motor skills he was off. It quickly becomes apparent to me as a new parent that other skills take some time to develop. On one occassion, before I could catch him, my son darted off, looked back at me chasing him and giggled. To him it was a game. To me, it was a case of catching my ‘runaway’ son before he… And then he tripped over some uneven paving stones, fell and cried. I picked him up, soothed him, as any loving parent would do, and gave him words of comfort, such as, ‘There, there, its all better now. Daddy’s here. But please don’t run away, and why not stand over there!’
Perhaps, those ancient ‘Thou shalt not’s as restrictions, the idea of sin being an opportunity for God to punish us, perhaps when I point the finger and say to others ‘I’m right, but you’re not’, is perhaps a wrong perception of what is going on. Perhaps, God, being an even better Daddy than I can ever be, just wants us to stand next to Him (or Her, and that would make God our Mummy, but I’m okay with that), and just be there in the flow. Perhaps those are encouragements, not admonishments, to step back into the flow?
‘Sin is behovely [useful or necessary], but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,’ The Lady Julian of Norwich
Ofcourse, you may not ‘see’ things like this. Nevertheless, it seems to work. But, putting that aside, as we look around at the world, at events, awesome people, marvellous human acheivements on a cultural level and a personal level – yes, what you do is important – as we look at the wonders of nature, don’t we witness this flow, the Gwybar? And, don’t we feel the urge to be ‘absored’ by it, to revel in it?
Who hasn’t laughed when a baby recognises your face and a split second smiles, or paused at a magnificent sunset, or given thanks (hopefully, not sarcastically) when finishing a task at work, or played a musical instrument or listed to one being played and got ‘lost’ in the moment? That’s Gwyar, and we can choose to revel and dance in the flow, or resist it.
Yes, Gwyar is the flow of Life itself, and Gwyar is inclusive, ubiquitous and invitational, and regardless of what faith group we belong to, what words we use, we have a choice to go deeper and revel in the flow, this movement, this energy, to participate if we so choose, and realise that Gwyar is the Universe itself and is Personal. If we rest, if we look around us with a ‘softened’ gaze, if we open ourselves to the prompting of this ubiquitous Gwyar then we might, and I think we will, just ‘feel’ it pulsing through us.
This universe is a banner
that keeps fluttering.
Your heart sees the banner;
your soul thinks it’s the air that makes it move.
But the one who knows
how helpless air is
recognizes that everything
is nothing but God.