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I got a flyer through the door a couple of days ago – from my local Evangelical Church – inviting me to a meeting entitled:’Creation or Evolution? How did we get here?’ led by a Dr Steve Taylor Bsc(Eng), MEng, PhD, AGGI, FIEE, Reader of Electrical Englineering and Electronics [I think they mean ‘in’ rather than ‘of’!], of the University of Liverpool.  Wow!  Strange, though.  When I was studying for my BSc(Eng) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, there was nothing on the syllabus that included either evolutionary biology or theology – although the unit on quatum mechanics came quite close to theology.  Is this part of the (long dead?) science v. theology debate?  Hey, look, an engineer who believes! But who may or may not know anything about evolution or theology.

Strangely, too, I am, at the moment, in the middle of re-reading ‘Wonderful Life – The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History‘ by Stephen Jay Gould, an oldish book (1989), but still gripping (if a little difficult to my engineering/theologically trained mind) – and perhaps becoming increasingly relevant today.  Based on the discovery, in 1909, of a mass of fossils in British Columbia dating from the Cambrian ‘explosion’ of life 570 million years ago, and providing the basis for Gould’s discussion about the nature of life and evolution.  Gould is an evolutionary biologist, who sticks to what he knows as a biologist and does not enter into that ‘creation/evolution’ debate – but between his lines about that great blossoming of life all those years ago I read a subtext (mine, not his) that shouts ‘God did this!’  I really cannot get my head around this ‘creationism’ thing.  I would welcome comments from any others who have read ‘Wonderful Life’ and are similarly inspired/bewildered.

I sit at my desk, adding the final touches to the November edition of the parish magazine.  I’ve had to add, this month, unusually, an extra sheet, an extra four pages.  I’ve got stuff on ‘iris folding’, the Mothers’ Union, a Body Shop party, Webb Ivory, an interview with a parishioner by the youth club, fundraising news, stuff from the Cubs, Beavers and Brownies, pictures of the Duck Race, information on Parish Share, a report on a bell ringing competition, and another from the lunchtime fellowship.  There’s the Parish Registers bit, the Calendar, and the Rota.  Even with the extra pages, I’ve had to drop the readings for November, and no room to the Christian Aid figures for the local churches.   All are packed in, some are crowded out!

In some respects this is good—a reflection, perhaps, of an active, busy, wide-ranging parish.  A draft of the magazine lies on the desk before me: 19 crowded pages, and a single blank one.  My temptation is to leave it blank!

We so often fill our lives with all sorts of stuff; our heads and our hearts, too.  Filled with this and that, packed in, each competing with others for time and attention.  Space is crowded out, silence is chased away by clamour, being is ousted by doing.

Meister Eckhart, a 13th/14th century German Dominican spiritual writer, wrote:  “There is nothing so much like God than silence”.  Life needs within it a measure of space, of silence, of ‘being’ (rather than ‘doing’).  We all need it.  Silence and space are the lungs of the Spirit; without it we suffocate, we drown.

Advent begins at the end of November, one of the two ‘preparation’ seasons of the church.  Within the hustle and bustle of the run-up to Christmas, we need to make some space for the Christ Child to come into our lives, some small crib-sized space, so that, when he knocks, we have more to say than: ‘Sorry, no room within’.

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