The Universe Story
 

In the beginning was the dream.  And the dream was with God, and the
dream was God.  The dream was with God in the beginning.  Through the
dream all things came to be.  Not one thing has its being but through
the dream.  And out of this, mystery created Light!

Out of unimaginable light, 15 billion years ago, the universe was
dreamed into being.  It contained all the light, energy, and potential
for everything that would ever come to be, all contained within the
vessel of hydrogen.

14 billion years ago, that explosion of energy began to slow down, cool,
differentiate; and all the primal stars and galaxies became its shape.
Stars are the original hydrogen and helium, and together they consume
themselves to create the other heavier atomic elements.

4.6 billion years ago, our mother star, in the Orion arm of the Milky
Way galaxy, having consumed and sacrificed herself, collapsed.  In the
intense energy of that collapse, she was transformed into a supernova,
exploding her stardust into space, and birthing all the new elements
which would take shape as Earth's body, what we call chemistry.

4.5 billion years ago, that exploding stardust began to slow down, cool,
and condense into a community of planets around the mother star, our
Sun.  The solar system was born.

4.1 billion years ago, Earth, a privileged planet in its size and in its
distance from the Sun, slowly cooled, and gradually formed an
atmosphere, oceans, and land mass.

4 billion years ago, gradually, within the oceans, more complex
arrangements began to take shape.  Gradually, amino acids formed, and
finally, proteins.  These were the first simple cells, and in, by, and
through them, Earth awakened into life.

3.9 billion years ago, Earth learned to take nourishment from the Sun.
Through these simple-celled microbes, she learned to eat sunlight, to
nurse from the Sun.  This is photosynthesis.  It is the first
transubstantiation--Sun energy into Earth life.  And that dynamic laid
the pattern for all future life forms, that each must receive
nourishment from another, and give itself in return to become
nourishment for another.

2 billion years ago, through this intimate act of eating, the early
Earth absorbed her first carbon membrane, slowly releasing a
waste--oxygen.  And, through this oxygen, formed a new atmosphere, a new
membrane within which all future life would develop.

1 billion years ago, life was mysteriously drawn toward union, and the
first simple-celled organisms began to reproduce sexually.  Different
strands of genetic memory were combined in the new offspring.  This
opened up infinite new possibilities.  Around the same time, organisms
began to feed on other organisms, and that relationship formed the basis
of the community in which each would develop.

700 million years ago, the first multi-cellular life forms emerged, all
still within the sea, and creativity expanded rapidly throughout the
waters of Earth.

510 million years ago, the first fish forms with back bones developed,
encasing the Earth's earliest nervous system and the development of her
sensory organs in these primeval fish forms.

425 million years ago, the first life forms left the oceans, having
learned to develop a membrane within which they could carry their own
water, and through which they could withstand the pull of gravity.  They
became the first land plants.

395 million years ago, amidst a planet of vast, green vegetation, the
mysterious development and the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs
occurred.  At the same time, the first insects developed, forming an
interdependent community with the land plants, a pattern which continues
to the present.

210 million years ago, responding to the intense pressure at her core,
Earth shifted, her land mass cracked.  The continents drifted apart and
formed.  The Atlantic Ocean was born.

150 million years ago, the first birds took flight, and in and through
them Earth broke into melody and song.

120 million years ago, the first flowering plants emerged, concentrating
their life energy and memory into seed, making protein in the form of
seed available for the mammals who were yet to come, and, in their
flowering, bringing color and fragrance to Earth.

114 million years ago, the first placental mammals developed,
warm-blooded creatures who, like the supernova, carry their unborn young
within their own bodies, and who nourish them from their own substance
both before and after their birth.

40 million years ago, the various orders of mammals were complete, and
inhabited the various continents of Earth's body.

3.3 million years ago, the current ice ages of Earth began, shaping the
mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, and streams, which form our present
bio-regions.

2.6 million years ago, the earliest humanoid types evolved from the
primate mammals.  Creatures with brains and nervous systems complex
enough that in and through them Earth awakened into self- conscious
awareness of her existence.

40,000 years ago, modern Homo sapiens began developing the earliest
language patterns, shaping the earliest tools, and occupying Australia
and Africa.

20,000 years ago, reflecting on their experience of a fertile, abundant,
and regenerative Earth, humans, began to image and shape female deities
and form matrilineal societies.

10,000 years ago, humans learned to cultivate plants selectively and to
domesticate animals, and were now settled throughout Asia and the
Americas as well.

5,200 years ago, yet unable to understand the diversity among them,
humans began an age of chronic war-making, a behavior pattern which
continues into the present.

5,000 years ago, megalithic stone structures appeared throughout Europe,
Asia, and the Americas, marking a transition to warring, powerful, male
images of the Divine.

3,200 years ago, the exodus of Israel out of Egypt.

2,500 years ago, a flowering of ethical and spiritual consciousness
exploded throughout China and India through the teachings and works of
Confucius and the Buddha.

2,300 years ago, highly evolved classic Mayan civilization flourished
and spread throughout the Americas.

2,000 years ago, Jesus revealed the deepest mysteries of the universe
and spoke an compromising truth about the unity of all peoples.

400 years ago, the people of Europe invaded and colonized all the other
continents, uprooting indigenous people, confiscating their lands and
cultures, initiating a period of slave trade and migration, a trauma
which has not yet been transformed.

200 years ago, humans initiated intense revolutions, intellectual,
social, scientific, industrial, all of which have shaped our present
age.

65 years ago, humans discovered an expanding and unified universe, and
the interior depths within its atomic structures, for the first time.

25 years ago, on a journey to colonize the Moon, humans turned around
and beheld the face of the Earth as a whole for the first time.

Today, in this moment of grace, all humans can finally understand their
common origin story, embracing and celebrating their different stories
within a single Earth community in a single sacred universe.  Perhaps,
perhaps, perhaps it is just the beginning of the world.

-Inspired and presented by Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis
at a workshop held at Loyola in July, 1998.
 
 

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