Sitting in church last week on Easter was, as usual, a good experience. I was visiting at a church of another denomination as part of our brass quintet. That is relevant only to place me in a situation a little different from my usual worship location. I have a hunch that either sets us in some disconnected mode or, as I think happened last week, make us pay attention a little differently from usual.
In any case the sermon was about Easter and the empty tomb, no surprise, of course. The priest used the phrase a number of times and I think I just let the words pass on through. But then my hearing played a trick. I swear I heard:
Then the disciple looked into the empty womb.That put me on a whole new train of thought.
It was quite an image, and I know that it is one that has been talked about in some of the contemplative traditions for centuries. But that’s not where I went.
I realized that life as we know it begins with an empty womb. We can talk all we want about when life begins, etc. but in our own individual personal experiences it begins when we leave the womb. Birth; to be born is what happens after the womb is empty. Even Nicodemus knew that when he was talking to Jesus:
How can I go back into my mother’s womb to be born again?Then along comes the answer- the empty womb of the tomb.
But then I went one other place. Maybe that womb is not empty- the womb of God. I was taken back to a remarkable song done by Ric Hordinski (once of the group Over the Rhine) and an amazingly gifted guitarist. On the album Blink with his group Monk he had both acoustic and electric versions of a song titled “Womb of God.” It is haunting in the best sense of the word; mysterious and mystical as his guitar weaves sounds and emotions around lyrics that can be interpreted in a number of ways. But the weaving of the title phrase with the music is soulful:
We are living in the womb of God.The verse that most captures my spiritual sense is this one:
Sometimes at night when the black curtain falls
it’s like the stars are the holes in the weave
and we see glimpses of the light behind it all
and it’s then that I start to believe
that it’s love that truly chose this pattern,
love that truly spun this line.
It’s a gentle thread that binds us all together
into a seamless cloth that covers us in time.
That’s when it hits me,
that we’re living in the womb of God.