The Universe seems to me to be a giant consciousness making machine. It throws up ever more complex organisations of matter and ever more complex and self aware ways of being. The Universe does this by evolution; the complex forms arise out of the less complex; they don't just appear.
One place where this is seen is in the most complex single thing known to humankind: the human brain. This wonderful instrument of being didn't just arrive fully formed but developed from less complex brains, and they in turn from less. It seems that God doesn't go back to the drawing board and redesign from scratch. God develops by adding things on, and changing what is already there ('redemption', we call it, in Christian jargon). This growth is seen in the structure of the brain itself which has "layers". At the core, in the physical centre, is a brain stem which is similar to the brain of a reptile and is responsible for those functions we share with animals of about similar complexity to a skink: breathing, digestion, basic defences, all that stuff. Laid on top and around is a brain of similar complexity to that of other mammals and responsible for those things we share with mammals, such as basic cognition, and the kind of love C.S. Lewis called Storge). On Top of that brain again, there is a complex structure which operates those features we share with other animals of simlar self awareness, and those which we humans alone seem to possess ( the ability to write sonnets or to despoil the planet, for example). The needs catered for at the deepest levels of our brains are those most required for survival as living beings. At the outer levels of our brains the needs catered for are those we need to develop to become a little lower than the angels and the body of Christ and be born of one spirit into one body.
Now this is a long prolegomena to telling you how I am this Saturday - the first day in a week when I have worn actual clothes and been outside into actual fresh air. It seems that as we are threatened we retreat deeper into the layers of our brain and deeper into our most basic and primal selves. My body has been offered quite an insult: an operation is the equivalent of being in a slow motion car wreck. Bits are sliced and stitched. Blood leaks out. Highly unnatural chemicals are pumped in. The body protests by going into shock. The brain hunkers down and waits for better times.
So, this week, I have not thought any powerful or complex thoughts. I have not been wonderfully self aware or self reflective. What I have been is very mammalian, reptilian even. I have been occupied by the basic processes of living - most particularly eating, drinking and peeing - because these have been difficult and painful, and because the brain knows that if it doesn't get these ones right it can forget all that fancy stuff.
What I have noticed though, is that I have been more deeply, less cognitively, more instinctively, less reflectively aware of God. Perhaps it's the great cloud of prayer I know I am surrounded with at this time when I have found it hard to pray and impossible to contemplate. Right now it's not the scholars who speak to my soul but the poets.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
how at my sheet goes the same crooked worm