A Flowering of Change



First Creation is a Kalahari Bushman name for the original universe, a realm of pure process where everything constantly changes its form. It is untouched by language and unmarked by any conceptual distinction, including time and space. The constant change inside First Creation is the condition that gave birth to the world and all life. There is no sickness or death in First Creation because everything is always in flux. Second Creation, the world of name and form, refers to the everyday reality with which we are familiar. It carries the illusion of stability, solidity, and separate identities, fostered by trickster mind’s ability to capture and categorize everything in words. Second Creation, though seemingly at odds with First Creation, exists inside the latter. They are not one, not two. The Bushmen sing and dance to reenter the changing of First Creation, strengthen their ropes to God and one another, and experience healing and renewal. You know when you step into First Creation because it fills your body with n/om, the vibratory force of the changing that brings vitality as it makes your body tremble and shake.

A First Creation Flower

A few days ago I (Hillary) woke up suddenly in the middle of the night feeling despair. I had been reading in the news earlier that afternoon about the refugee crisis in Europe where we have been living for the last several months. For many reasons it is a polarizing and complex issue, but I was struck by how easily human beings succumb to the temptation to demonize whole groups of people based on the actions of a few, thereby breeding the very same hatred and bigotry they claim to denounce in others. I then remembered I had also read that same day about the alarming drop in certain insect populations in Europe and North America. My mind raced, oscillating between feeling anger at the ignorance of xenophobia and human prejudice, as well as dread about the environment. I prayed strongly and then feel asleep and had a dream.

Brad and I were standing in a vast expanse without walls, surrounded by a colored mist that was part turquoise and part golden yellow and white. It looked like we were standing inside a watercolor painting and the colors glowed softly like the sky at dawn. Brad spoke, lamenting, “The world is losing touch with First Creation.”

Suddenly to our right a plant appeared. Its stem and leaves were a bright turquoise green. I looked more closely and noticed that on the plant, perched as if pausing from a climb, was a most unusual insect. The insect was shaped exactly like a flower—its head surrounded by a halo of pink petals. Its hands were like leaves and its limbs were shaped like plant stems. The flower-insect also looked a little like a monkey climbing a tree. As we gazed at it we were struck with the certainty that wherever this special insect is found, it is a sure sign that the changing of First Creation is still alive. It was clear that this insect was some kind of “familiar spirit” found only in First Creation—a sign of First Creation’s presence and an integral part of its ongoing changing, mirroring how plants, insects, and animals cooperate to help an ecosystem thrive. This flower-insect-monkey was itself an embodiment of First Creation—a blend of living things whose form shape shifts at the very moment you think you see clearly what it is.


Hillary’s sketch of what she saw


In these times it does often seem as if we are losing touch with the mystery, vitality, and changing of First Creation. The more we try to control and manipulate our environment, the more we distance ourselves from the wisdom of nature’s wildness. It is then more difficult for the insects, plants, and other creatures to survive our intrusion and all the confusion we impose. Likewise, the more we try to sort the world and its people into categories of good and bad, us and them, or here and there, the more we lose touch with the unclassifiable changing—the dynamic that underlies health, harmony, well being, and creation itself.

We are ultimately as fragile and vulnerable as the tiniest insects, so it’s no wonder that change often feels more life threatening than life giving. Insects are capable of destroying entire crops, and human beings’ capacity for hatred and violence against one another is very real. Out of fear we entrench ourselves inside the fabricated walls of Second Creation, a freeze framed world built by trickster mind where we presume all lines can be neatly drawn, all enemies clearly marked, our own bigotry rationally justified, and whatever threatens or is a nuisance can be thrown out, banned, or squashed. But the cost of trying to make everything line up or be arranged in the order we prefer is destroying the very ecological complexity, natural messiness, and contradictory juxtapositions that constitute the fabric, weave, and processes that make it all work, even when things appear not to operate in the way we think they should.

In the dream, Brad and I were both filled with hope, wonder, and awe at the sight of this extraordinary insect perched upon a plant whose stem and leaves were like a vine climbing all the way to the heavens. In the expanse of never ending dawn, First Creation is alive and well and ready to turn you into anything from dust to an otter, whale, bread-and-butter-fly, or a singing, falling star. Let’s not forget to regularly sing the songs and clap the rhythms that lead us back to our true home. In First Creation there are no walls and no one escapes unaltered. Nothing stays the same for long and everything slips away as soon as it appears. Yet we are most alive in the ecstatic flux and pulse of God’s creation. Let us rejoice in this garden where God is odd and even odder is Eden.

-The Keeneys

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