Last week, I attended the Evolving Faith conference in Denver. To be honest, it was A LOT. Being away from home, not sleeping well, being in emotionally charged crowds, taking in months’ worth of deep and sometimes challenging sermons in a couple of days…it was a lot for an empathic introvert. It was also really great, and the weather in Denver was a dream. There was so much covered that it is hard to know where to start, so I haven’t said much about it yet, but today is National Coming Out Day and I woke up thinking about something Austen Hartke said in his session and decided today is a good day to dig into it a little.
Austen’s session was on gender diversity in the Bible and in our churches, and he had many great points but the thing that stayed with me the most was about Genesis 1. It is often used as a proof-text against gender diversity, because God created male and female. The end. Right? But actually, no. That’s not the end, it’s the beginning. If we look at any other binaries created in the beginning, starting with the very first one, light and dark, day and night, it is clear that there is not a strict separation between the two. Every day begins with the dawn, as light bleeds into the darkness. Every night begins with dusk, as the light fades from the sky. There is deep darkness that sometimes comes in the middle of the day with clouds and rain. The midnight sun burns in Alaska. Day and night surely exist, but there is not a hard-edged separation between the two. It is not a light switch that is either on or off. God called the light Day, and the darkness Night; and evening and morning were right there. In between. There are spaces in between the things we easily name and they are breathtakingly gorgeous. People wake up at ridiculous times just to catch a glimpse. I cannot count the times I have stopped in the middle of my evening rushing to stare at the evening sky in wide-eyed, open-mouthed wonder. Dawn and dusk are a gift, to all of us, not a divine oversight.
It is not just the glorious sky that shows us spaciousness of God’s good creation; there are marshes and swamps where the dry land and water are inextricable, there are amphibians, there are PLATYPUSES for goodness’ sake. There are waters of the sky that fall into the waters of the earth and waters that return to the sky again, the separation of verse 7 be damned. There are blurred edges to the seasons, and seasons that are not uniform across this wide world. The creation story provides a framework, but is it not a thorough accounting of what God has created or called good. Thanks be to God.
And then there is you. You who are reading these words. You who were created by God just as you are, whether you fit within the tidy binaries or spill out into the beautiful in-betweens. You who might see yourself in the brightness of the sun or the glow of the moon or the twinkling of the stars. You who might see yourself in breathtaking beauty of dusk or the blessed splendor of the dawn, where we so often find our hope. You who might see yourself in the way seahorse dads give birth or in the caterpillar, chrysalis, or butterfly. You who might see yourself in the utter quirkiness of the duck-billed mammalian platypus that lactates through its fur. You who bear the fingerprints of God. You who carry the image of God in this world every day. You who are loved, beyond boundary, beyond description. And the whole of creation is richer and more complete because of the miracle that is you. Thanks be to God.