Traveling through the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, I came across a wonderful example of a Foucault pendulum, named after the 19th century French physicist who discovered its use. Originally conceived as a way of demonstrating the physical rotation of the earth, this massive “ball on a string”, hanging from the rafters high above me, was a dynamic work of art, poetry in motion. I was mesmerized watching the brass orb swing to and fro, to and fro seemingly as if it would never stop. It was the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine that I have ever seen.
But it eventually would stop. Without some kind of push the arc of the pendulum would continue to grow shorter and shorter until the globe eased to halt altogether, a victim of the laws of nature.
As created beings we are like that pendulum. Our bodies, our cultures all that is formed is trying to wind down. It’s called entropy, and it’s relentless. The kingdom of Judah was experiencing this decay. Through decadence and apathy, through war and occupation the once proud realm was looking back on its better days.
But then a ray of light shone in the unlikeliest form. King Cyrus of Persia, later know by the Jewish people as Cyrus the Great, took an interest in the nation’s culture and began to help them rebuild. Though he was not one of them and though he had occupied their land and swept their leaders into exile, the people saw in this pagan foreigner the hand of God at work renewing the covenant of old.
Some say that God is like a watchmaker who creates his masterpiece and then watches from a distance while the gears on their jewel movements unwind. But that is not the story of the Gospel. God so loves the world that he cannot bear to see it end. God so loves the world that he has sent us his only Son.
The Gospel of John talks about decay. Sin and evil are a form of entropy, a slow disintegration from which we can not return on our own. But the laws of nature created by God are subject to God. Jesus came to renew us in His spirit, bringing light where there is darkness.
St. Paul talks to the Ephesian community about the life that God has in store for us where there is no darkness, no sin, and no final disintegration into nothingness. God wants to raise us up with his Son. Not because we deserve it and not for anything we have done but because we are God’s beloved and we belong to Him.
So how do you experience God lifting you up? Can you recall surprises in your life that you contribute to the hand of God? If you sense darkness in your life, have you asked a friend or God for help?