Island Living

At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.

By your will they were created and have their being.

It’s the cosmic view at the beginning, going smaller as the sentence progresses: every single thing in this created universe shrinks down to our off-the-beaten-path planet. This cosmic expanse keeps expanding, with everything around us moving out and away from the point where it all started. It’s impossible for us to see such movement  – the scale is beyond our perception, and we are in the thick of it. Some things are just too big to see, and our universe as a whole is one of them.

In some ways, our beloved earth is very much an island, a small dot in this vast expanse of interstellar space. It is a small home, taking up such a little piece of the galaxy that it hardly bears mentioning. But for us, for me and every other living being, it seems almost endlessly large. Perhaps this is why loneliness is something many of us experience- a vague sense of being unimportant and unnoticeable to the larger universe.

But our blue planet island isn’t really alone, and it isn’t disconnected from this immense universe. For the scientifically minded, we are connected to everything by gravity and strong and weak forces. For the poetically inclined, our common big bang origin makes us all kin. For the seekers of God, it’s our creator that binds all things together.

Years ago, Margaret Wise Brown wrote a lovely children’s book – The Little Island. A kitten visits a small island off the coast of Maine, separated from the main land by miles of ocean. But a fish tells him that at its roots, the island is part of the whole – not disconnected or alone at all, but a tiny part of this big world. Although he cannot see the connection, the kitten believes this wonderful truth.

I can’t see how my island home, my planet, is connected to everything deep down. But I am kitten enough to believe this truth, even if I can’t see it.

And it was good to be a little Island. A part of the world and a world of its own all surrounded by the bright blue sea. [Margaret Wise Brown, The Little Island, New York: Dell Dragonfly Books, 1973, last line. Originally published in 1946 by Doubleday & Company, inc]

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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