Archimedes of Syracuse was a genius Greek mathematician, scientist and inventor, with many famous achievements known to us today. A pioneer of modern calculus and geometry, he created the lever, screw pump and compound pulley. One day Archimedes was enjoying his bath when one of his great epiphanies occurred. So excited to share his “A-ha” moment of scientific discovery, he leapt from the bath and ran through the city in the buff, shouting gleefully, Eureka! Eureka! (I’ve got it! Ive’ got it!)
Over 2 millennia later, we love to exclaim Eureka when we have one of those “light bulb” moments of discovery.
In a college Art History class, a professor showed us a slide of a bronze sculpture of a man proudly standing with a lever clasped in his right hand from which he held up the very earth itself. It was Archimedes who believed if one had a firm place to stand upon, one could handle anything, even the weight of the world. Herein lies a grand theological lesson!
On my first day at Vanderbilt Divinity school, a professor stunned our fresh-faced eager group with the following statement:
“We have done our job if we have stripped down your faith to an Archimedean point, an unmoveable inner truth that will not only sustain you, but will inform everything you think, support, love and do in and for this world long after you have left this place.”
Subsequently, I faced the systematic unhinging of a very naive and unquestioned belief system. I sought a Eureka experience where I would find an unmoveable place to stand in which to hold my metaphorical world. That solid place began with the Bible, historically beautiful and metaphorically astounding. In it, God is revealed as actively participating in creation from the beginning of time through our history and continued in my very own story. Stories of the Bible are autobiographical of God and gift a peek into the Divine mind and heart. They also tell of those many saints coming before me whose personal experiences of earthly living are familiar to me. Not only do I glean wisdom from my ancestor’s experiences of being human, but even more profoundly, their interactions with God. They too believed and were witness to the mysterious and transcendent reality of God.
I am still working on a solid Archimedian point of faith. After years of study, life experience and trusting my soul’s intuition I still have questions unanswered. However, the longer I travel this path, the more comfortable I become with the ambiguity. All I want is to experience God with no limits, only infinite possibilities.
Love was Jesus’s Archimedean point in a world as brutal, uncertain and flawed but amazingly sacred as ours is today. Jesus was convinced that God’s love was all and enough. Nothing—no amount of evil, betrayal, cultural unjust, physical pain, personal loss, not even his own human death could move him.
Love given and received is the only certainty of the human experience.
Love gives us a place to stand. Always.
Faith for me now is a conscious striving in mind, body and soul to stand as close as possible to where Jesus is standing. Choose any other place to stand and you will tremble, lose your way, live in a pit of dissatisfaction, and be crushed by the weight of the world.
Remember love is the X that marks the spot, where God is always waiting for you and for me. Eureka!
Live in hope,