Yes, but God is bigger, even than a dinosaur!
Andrew Bryant has been reflecting on the wonders of creation as he spends time with Dippy the Diplodocus in Norwich Cathedral.
As lovely as it is to see all the crowds coming to see Dippy, my favourite time of day is when we have closed. It is then I take time to go into the Nave of the Cathedral on my own and commune with Dippy.
I look up into his face and wonder - What did those eyes see? What scents did that nose smell? What tastes did that mouth experience? What did the terrain beneath his feet feel like?
And what emotions were known to Dippy? Did he mate for life? Or was his a lonely existence. Was there the fellowship of a herd and what struck fear into his heart?
I look into his eyes, and he looks into mine. Millions of years separate our experience of this planet and yet there still feels to be a connection. This precious planet has been our shared home even if in very different times.
Dippy is big – 24m’s long big. He stands towering over me. My footprint fits many times over into his footprint. Yet as big as he is, the Cathedral is bigger. He fills the space but does not overwhelm it. It embraces him, accepts him but is in no way dominated by him.
As ever the Cathedral points away and beyond itself. However big or important you are, the Cathedral is there to say: Yes, but God is bigger.
Standing alone with Dippy my whole understanding of creation is profoundly challenged. The Bible can appear a very human-centric book. The two stories of creation both seem to put human beings at the heart of creation. The story of the people of God can be mistaken for a story of human endeavour.
But its real purpose is the exact opposite – the Bible exists is to show that God is at the heart of all things. The opening stories of Genesis are there to show God at the heart of creations and the story of the people of God is to show the work of God in all moments of time and history. The real purpose of the Bible is to challenge a human-centric view of the world.
In the presence of Dippy I am forced to recognise that God’s plan for creation is infinitely bigger than us humans. God’s plan for this planet stretches back way beyond my imagining and no doubt stretches way forward, beyond humanity and to a future beyond my comprehension.
And this precious, beautiful planet is but one planet in this solar system, which in turn is but one, of numbers beyond count in the universe, and perhaps this universe is but one beyond count in the multiverse: Yes, but God is always bigger.
As I stand there, Dippy and I alone together, I am stilled to the very core of my soul. I am caught up in awe not just at this mighty dinosaur, not just at the beauty of the building beyond, but in an awe that draws me deeper into the wonder, the mystery, of not just creation but of the Creator. Truly who can know the mind of God?
But there is something even more wonderful. On this planet at some unknown, and perhaps unknowable, place in the multiverse, humans appear at the last minute to midnight in its history. And I am of less significance than a grain of sand on any beach I have ever walked upon. And yet, and yet, I am known of God, and even more, beloved of God. In the vastness of creation, before a God who is beyond all comprehension, each of us is known to, and loved by God.
Dippy and I stand alone together in the Nave of Norwich Cathedral, united across millions of years of history, in being both beloved of God.
Words fail, thoughts are silenced. As Dippy and I look at each other, there is only one response possible and that is to worship, worship of the one who made both Dippy and me, who knows us down to the number of bones in a Diplodocus, and the hairs in my beard, worship the one who loves us both in time and for eternity.
In the company of Dippy I have discovered that God is both bigger and closer than it is possible for me to imagine. I bow my head and worship.
For more information about Dippy’s visit to Norwich, and when you can see him, read the story in Network Norfolk, here.
The photo of Dippy in Norwich Cathedral is courtesy of Andrew Bryant.
The Revd Andrew Bryant is the Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care at Norwich Cathedral. He was previously Team Rector of Portishead, Bristol, in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and has served in parishes in the Guildford and Lichfield Dioceses, as well as working for twelve years with Kaleidoscope Theatre, a charity promoting integration through theatre for young adults with Down’s Syndrome.
You can read Andrew's latest blog entry here and can follow him via his Twitter account @AndyBry3.
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