Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday After Ash Wednesday

Psalm 95Deuteronomy 7:12-16Titus 1:1-15John 1:35-42

3 For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Psalm 95

Encounters at the End of the World, a documentary by Werner Herzog, is about Antarctica a place I have never been, nor imagine that I will ever go before I die. The photography is visually stunning and the score includes Tibetan overtone chanting and otherworldly electronic passages. In one scene, a group of scientists lower their bundled bodies prone to the ice. They turn their heads, presenting wool-covered ears to the ice, listening for the clicks and booms of sea lions that travel breathlessly below. They are quiet and still as a prayer.

With similar reverence, we are shown the scientific outposts at the edge of glaciers, penguin rookeries, holes in the ice through which intrepid divers descend to see first-hand the water and land below the frozen ocean. We see the crater of Mt. Erebus, filled with molten lava come up from the depths of the earth.

Beneath the ice that fringes the shore are orange and purple starfish with delicate and deadly legs, poised for dinner. Their prey is a scallop-like mollusk that propels its body through seawater that is colder than the blood of fish.

The people who have been drawn to live and work at the end of the world the mechanics, IceCat drivers, laboratory workers they are like pilgrims, whose travels have brought them to the continent where humans cannot survive without food, shelter, music, companionship, and above all water and warmth. Where scientists track icebergs that are flung into the Southern Ocean, in accordance with the physics of a warming earth and changing global currents, they are witness to the Maker. Making.

6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Leslie Middleton

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