Sea Star Shining in the East
Did you remember to put scientists in your Christmas manger scenes? Among the unlikely first visitors (shepherds, angels, animals) to the Christ child were astronomer mathematicians, the magi. (Magi does not mean king; these brave researchers were from Asia’s ancient centers of knowledge.)
Devoted to their calling, these researchers used the scientific method to study this new star. They observed a new phenomenon (super nova?), made a hypothesis, tested it out (long journey), studied with their hearts as well as minds (this discovery could change the world!) and returned home to publish their findings.
(IMPORTANT questions below – please read to the end.)
Marine scientists in our day, like magi, are following sea stars in the deep dark. For over a century, at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, biologists have collected data every day along their protected coastline, and proved beyond a doubt that the ocean’s temperature is rising and its chemistry becoming more acidic. (With our Blue Theology youth and adult groups we always stop at the Hopkins Marine Station to thanks God for how holy is the practice of science – God gave us brains for a reason and is happy when we use them!)
Sea stars are suffering deeply from climate change. Warmer temperatures have drastically changed which kind of stars live here; some species have just disappeared over the century, and new more Southern species have moved in. As all our CO2 makes the ocean more acidic, it changes the body chemistry of both predator and prey. It’s like osteoporosis for any marine organism with a calcium base; some can’t survive, others, like sea otters, find less to eat. It’s all connected. When one member suffers, all suffer.
These sea stars and the modern magi studying them are like the Biblical prophets, sending out a bright warning; we humans are not doing God’s will when we harm God’s creation.
But in the Gospel According to Sea Stars these prophetic echinoderms are also spiritual teachers. God says to Job, “Ask the animals and they will teach you. The fish will declare to you.” Here are three simple sea star homilies:
-If the world all around you is deep and dark, be like the benthic sea stars and make your own light to shine in the darkness (bioluminescence) - it scares away predators, and attracts mates.
-If your world has constant crashing waves, then evolve to have an amazing set of hydraulic tube feet. Take into your body the very water that challenges you (and feeds you) and use it to hold on tight– you’ve got the power within!
-And if you’re clinging onto something that’s really a danger or threat, just let it go, like that old sea star arm – it will grow back, new life is always possible.
Stars in the dark show us the Way. Happy Epiphany!
Here’s the QUESTION: I am thinking of putting together my four years (!) of weekly “Blue Theology Tide-ings” posts into a book. I need encouragement and advice. What format? Short essay? Diary entries? A devotional book, with daily or weekly reflections? How to organize it – by church year, by hopes and fears, by different animals? Most weeks it’s 400-500 words – is that too long? How much science? How much theology? Other ideas? Do you know any publishers or editors I could work with? Please comment with specifics. Thanks. (If you want to look back on several years of the posts, visit www.bluetheologytideings.blogspot.com) Also, we are booking 2018 youth and adult Blue Theology Mission Pilgrimage Trips on Monterey Bay. www.bluetheology.com