Fragments of creation: An abecedarium

The alphabet astounds. Twenty-six English letters that serve as symbols to turn matter into spirit.

In 1665, I’ve read, a pious man in Strasbourg, would wake each morning and recite the alphabet, believing it contained all possible prayers. He left it to God to order and arrange the letters into the appropriate words, believing God would know best what needed to be asked for and done.

In the Kabbalistic tradition, it is believed each letter embodies a fragment of the design of creation. For me, the alphabet is a play thing and a holy mystery.  Recently, I adopted the ancient form of the Abecedarium to play with letters. It became a kind of everyday kerygma – a chance to reflect on the ABCs of what I believe. (It’s below.)

What words would your letters become?

My Abecedarium on things Christian:

Atonement – Creation merges into the love and intention of the Creator – at one, beloved and whole – bound in relationship and marked for a sacred destiny.

Benediction – In prayer we are bold enough to claim God’s blessing as our own. Pax vobiscum. Vaya con dios. We travel forward in the presence of the divine.

Consecrated – God-touched, claimed and bound to serve and delight in the name of God.

Dualism – Light and darkness, thought and action, one and many — opposites merge, climbing into one another to form a new thing. Paradox gives birth to synthesis.

Ecclesiological — Through mirror and window, the church looks upon herself.

Fear – “Fear not,” each and every angel says. Perhaps it’s time to listen to angels.

Glory – A presence that outshines the sun; how daring of us to believe the words: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Hagiography – The study of saints, reminding us that all of history really is biography.

Imago Dei – Each of us is created in the image of God. How do you see God’s face in your own?

Joy – When wonder happily collides with enthusiasm, gladness and hope — joy is born.

Kairos – God’s time, defying clock and calendar to unfold before unexpected and everyday altars – above a crib, in an embrace, amid expectation or by a sick bed, we feel God’s shadow pass by.

Logos – The Word. God spoke the world into being. We live amid that Word.

Mystery – Awe-inspiring, faith defies explanation and allows the unknowable an essential place amid the holy.

Namegiving – Encountering God transforms one’s identity. Abram and Sarai answer God’s call and become Abraham and Sarah; Jacob wrestles all night with God and is named Israel. What is the name by which God claims you?

Original Sin – More than a serpent and a hungry lady, original sin creeps into the world when we assume to be God. Trust, obey, and always question.

Pilgrimage – Setting out on a sacred journey, the destination is secondary. It is the traveling that transforms.

Quotidian – In the daily motions of our lives, God is present, crafting everyday miracles.

Repentance – To ask forgiveness, to turn in a new direction, leaving what separates us from God as we move into new ways of being.

Silence – Amid the noise of living, we can find purpose and renewal in moments of sacred stillness.

Theophany – God envisioned. God revealed. God made manifest.

Union with God – The mystics know it – that sense of transcendence when self disappears and your soul finds it’ peace and its purpose in God’s embrace.

Vital Piety – At the heart of Methodism, we “unite the two so long disjoined, knowledge and vital piety, knowledge and holiness combined, and truth and love let all men see.”

Wisdom – Deeper than knowledge and broader than fact or intuition, wisdom knows the value of questions and allows us to see the miraculous amid the mundane.

X – “Xapis,” really is Greek to me.   Χαρις  is grace — Chi, alpha, rho, iota, sigma. Grace is the unmerited movement of God in our hearts. It’s the enabling power of the divine. Grace draws us heavenward. (Erik Alsgaard taught me this word.)

Yahweh — The unspeakable and holy name of God. In our stories God walks in the garden in the cool of the evening and closes the door of the Ark for Noah. In the burning bush, God tells Moses, “I am, what I am.” God is. Zeal – When love for God can’t be contained, it pours forth —  in color, out-loud and dancing.

Zeal – When love for God can’t be contained, it pours forth —  in color, out-loud and dancing.


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