Thursday, November 4, 2010

Older Than Dirt

 Recently I have been pondering my true age. Not my brief human span of sixty years; I mean my real age. In reality I am roughly 13.7 billion years old. I can’t remember exactly. That is pretty old. I am older than dirt.

The oldest rocks on the earth are about 3.9 billion years old by several dating methods. (That is my undergraduate geology major coming through.) The oldest sedimentary rocks include minerals that are 4.2 billion years, just a little younger than the earth itself, which is 4.5 billion years.

Every molecule in my body comes from the earth. The Bible is right when it says that humans were formed from the ground.  It is no accident that the Hebrew word for human being is the masculine form of the word for ground or earth.  As scripture says, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.”

But I am older than the dust. The earth itself emerged from our forming galaxy, which came from still older beginnings. The elements that make up my body were made in a star astronomers call a Red Giant. I am literally stardust, a fact that I was beautifully and spiritually reminded of recently in a song called “My Soul” by Peter Mayer.

That gives me an entirely different perspective on life. I am not a being that “came into” the world at birth. I am not a creature who lives “on earth” and will one day “depart” this earth at death.

My body came from the earth. My personality was formed from the genetic code of my ancestors coupled with social conditioning. Both are unique creative expressions of God. One day both body and psyche will return to their origins. As Solomon wisely said, “For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”

I am physically of the earth, but I also share the life of God. That is the meaning of eternal life. That is the life of the eternal Christ, “who was God and was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. “

Christ is my past, my present and my future. Christ is my resurrection. Christ is my hope and confidence. So the next time someone asks me how old I am, I will respond, “Older than dirt.” And see where that conversation takes us. Hopefully it will take us on a journey to our origins.

As the skyward poet says, “And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod / The high untrespassed sanctity of space, / Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.” 
Image is the Eskimo Nebula taken by the Hubble telescope

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