The powers of the universe

We humans have brought ourselves to a fascinating and challenging point. By our numbers and our choices, particularly in the last 200 years, we’ve grown into an equivalent of the geological forces that have shaped our planet over its 4.5 billion year life. Our effect on the thin layer of atmosphere blanketing the earth means that we are potentially altering the ability of every living thing to prosper, or even exist. Our use of resources — forests, water, air, minerals, soil — is far outstripping the earth’s ability to replenish them. Millions of people worldwide are grappling with these challenges, which represent not just things to do but require new ways to think.

Now that we have become this force, where do we look for inspiration on how to act in our new role? To the universe itself, suggests cosmologist Brian Swimme amplifying the thinking of Thomas Berry, with whom he collaborated for many years. In 2005 Brian recorded a series of talks on the powers of the universe, the modes the cosmos itself operates by. These are the processes that gave birth to everything, including us. He chose eleven of them: seamlessness, centration, allurement, emergence, homeostasis, cataclysm, synergy, transmutation, transformation, interrelatedness, and radiance. 
 
I have been slowly exploring these powers to see what our oldest teacher can tell us about moving toward the just, nurturing, and sustainable world we all desire.
 

Powers of the universe: Radiance. Tall purple fleabane (Erigeron peregrinus) with butterflies in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada by Betsey Crawford

The power of radiance

 

Powers of the universe: Centration

Centration: the universe and the doughnut

 

Powers of the universe: Transmutation. My all-time favorite adaptation: matching your moth to your outfit. Blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella) and friend, Smoky Valley Ranch, Oakley, Kansas by Betsey Crawford

The patient genius of transmutation

 

Powers of the universe: Allurement. David Austin roses in Manito Park, Spokane, Washington by Betsey Crawford

The power of allurement, the mystery of beauty