As the last session in our ‘Where have you come from?’ series at Café church, this week we looked into what that question might imply in a more broad, theological sense. Emma led us in some reflective activities around a quote from Rabbi Bunim of Peshischa:
Everyone must have two pockets, with a note in each pocket, so that he or she can reach into the one or the other, depending on the need. When feeling lowly and depressed, discouraged or disconsolate, one should reach into the right pocket, and, there, find the words: “The universe was created for me.”
But when feeling high and mighty one should reach into the left pocket, and find the words: “I come from the dust.”
This looks at two ways in which we have been created; we are both from God, and from the Earth. In the first half of the session, we looked at what the first phrase might mean, reflecting on Psalm 139 v. 13-16:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the Earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
We had some interesting discussions around what it might mean to say that the universe was created for me – some people felt uncomfortable with that idea, feeling like it would be big-headed, which led to some reflections on how things like being British and being raised as a woman in our society leads us to be uncomfortable with acknowledging and accepting praise; however, it is important for us always to remember that we are divinely created from God. We also had some interesting discussions about the qualities we value in ourselves, and finding balance on the spectrum of qualities like diplomacy and assertiveness, being determined or easy-going, and humility and confidence.
In the second half of the session we moved into the chapel to reflect on our place in the world as beings from the Earth. We used a reflection from Ian Adams’ book ‘Running Over Rocks’ with pebbles to reflect on the physically created world, our connection to it, and the network of life-cycles of which we are all a part. After a time of silence reflecting how we can best embody our role as ‘Earth-People’, we placed our pebbles on the altar, giving our reflections to the God who created them