On the Spiritual Presence of the Divine in Volcanos


Cyndy and I are going to Hawaii!  It will be our first trip there and we’re still working out details but hope to go in early March.  I’m so excited.  To be honest with you, I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d get a chance to go to somewhere so exotic! 

As we’ve been researching which island to go to, I came across a cool video featuring a native Hawaiian speaking about a transformation that’s happened in his life right after the volcano Kilauea erupted last year.   In the video this man speaks of a deep spiritual connection that he and all native Hawaiians call “Pele,” the spiritual presence of the Divine in volcanos.     (Check out this article if you’re interested in learning more.) (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/05/10/madame-pele-hawaii-volcanic-fire-goddess/594025002/)

As I listened to this man speak of his spiritual connection to this event, I was impressed by two things: (1) he didn’t see the volcanic eruption as an absurd interruption into the life and people of Hawaii.  He saw this eruption as a natural and necessary part of life.  (2) He eluded to the spiritual force of renewal that this volcanic eruption plays in his life and the life of the plant life and wildlife around him.  This volcanic eruption made new life possible!

One of the things I like to do when I hear someone speaking from a different religious window than my own, is first and foremost to find connecting rods between us.  I think all of our initial reactions to something or someone who is different is to look for the differences and use them to wedge a wall between us,  but I have learned (and to be honest I’m still working on it) to hold that tendency at bay, and listen for things I might hold in common with this person or culture who at first glance seems so different.  Staying curious and constantly looking for ways to connect are keys for me as I engage others.

One of the places I found myself connecting with this Hawaiian man of spirit, was the way in which he seemed to intuitively believe that renewal and restoration were innately present and intentionally placed into all of creation from the beginning of time. In a way, isn’t that what the writer of the gospel of John is trying to say in the first Chapter of John when he writes: “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”? 

In our understanding of the Trinity, the second “person” of the Trinity, is “the son” …Jesus…the word made flesh. Sometimes when we think of the 2nd person of the Trinity, we imagine a world that was totally without light and the power to restore and regenerate until Jesus came.  But another way to think of it, a way that the writer of the gospel of John and the apostle Paul seems to allude to (Check out Colossians 3), is that Christ (as in the regenerative and restorative power of God) is and always was present in the world.  This power just becomes fully manifested in what we call the historical Christ event (the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) in and around 30 AD.

Christ, the restorative and regenerative power of God, is present in that volcano.  Christ, the restorative and regenerative power of God, is present in the body’s amazing capacity to heal.  Christ, the restorative and regenerative power of God, is present in each of us.  But it is only as we become aware of it, as we begin to take note of it, as we tend to it and to bend to it, that this restorative and regenerative power God places in u, begins to take hold and start working in our lives.   Just as this Hawaiian man has awakened to the regenerative spirit of Pele (The Hawaiian’s understanding of the god present in this volcano), so our lives are renewed when we begin to realize that Christ is in all things including us. “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 3:16-17

So, this week, look around. Take a “Christ walk”.   Make a list of all the ways you see this Christ (i.e. the restorative and regenerative power of God). Take note of where this river of healing is flowing in you and where it is not!  Work within your heart to let go of that which binds this river of healing up.  Let it flow like a river of volcanic fire into your veins.  Let Christ recreate you!

Your friend and pastor, excited to celebrate with each of you as we discover this fire God has placed in each of us, Brook


Tim Schaaf