Revering the universe, by Annika Garratt
What does reverence mean?
- Revere: “feel deep respect or admiration for” from re- (expressing intensive force) + vereri ‘to fear’.
So to revere is to feel respect, admiration, or even fear. How does one respect and admire the Universe?
Respect: “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements”. So to respect the Universe is to admire its abilities, qualities, or achievements.
Admire: “regard with respect or warm approval” or “look at (something impressive or attractive) with pleasure”. So to admire the Universe is to approve of the Universe, to be impressed with the Universe, to find the Universe attractive, and to be pleased by the Universe.
Out there is right here
How does one “look” at the Universe? We get the impression that the Universe is something “out there” and that we observe it as something distant through a telescope.
But the Universe isn’t something “out there”, it’s not distant at all, it’s “right here” it’s everywhere and everything. When we look around at the Universe, which is everything that exists, are we pleased by what we see? Are we impressed with what the Universe has achieved?
Who is it that we are delighted with? Who is the master craftsman? Who is the great architect of the Universe? Do we look at all that exists as though it has been “intelligently designed”?
Nature, Natura Naturans, is the great designer. Mother Nature is the one who gave birth to all this. Are we impressed with what she has created? Oh Nature, what a clever thing you have done.
Nature is not a distant maker, Nature is the Universe giving birth to itself. Nature is the Ouroboros eating it’s own tail, recycling itself, endlessly growing itself.
Does it do so mindfully? Or does it do so passively, without any purpose? Does it need a reason to do what it does? Do you ask a shrub why it is growing, what purpose there is to its growth and eventual decay? Do you admire a shrub for what it is doing, do you praise it for growing? Does the shrub need your approval, does it seek your admiration?
Like a child in wonder
We are the Universe observing itself. Our little brains are its little brains. All its little brains are looking at itself and trying to figure itself out.
The Universe looks at itself in the same way as a child looks at its own hands and feet. When children become self aware, they start to wonder what they are and where they came from. We tell the children that they came out of mummy’s tummy. What does that mean then, a Big Bang? And what was there before that?
The Universe observing itself is exactly as a child observing itself. When a child observes itself, does it praise its own limbs for growing? When a child cuts his or her knee, and watches the wound heal, does it feel admiration for what the flesh has achieved in patching itself up? Is the child pleased with the quality of its body? Does the child find itself attractive and praise worthy? Does the child respect its own body? Does the child fear its own body, or is the child concerned about the fragility of its own body?
To revere the Universe is to look in the mirror and admire one’s reflection. Is the Universe beautiful? What does beauty mean?
Beauty is not just an outer appearance, it can also be an inner quality. We may listen to beautiful music, we may feel the texture of beautiful fabrics, we may admire the beauty of Truth and Love. To find something beautiful is to be pleased by it. To find something beautiful is to experience an emotion of pleasure.
To revere the Universe is to feel an emotion of pleasure upon thinking about the Unity of all that exists. This might constitute worship: “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration”.
“If a necessary condition of worship is that it has to be in some significant sense “other regarding,” then worship would not on that account be inappropriate to pantheism. What makes it unsuitable is that worship, and especially prayer, are basically directed at “persons”—or at a being with personal characteristics separate and superior to oneself. ” (Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University)
Annika is an artist/illustrator from Bournemouth UK. She produces colourful mixed media artwork on canvas as well as fluid ink illustrations, often based on folklore and mythological themes. Annika sells original paintings on canvas as well as fine art prints. If you have any questions about Annika’s work, feel free to contact her by email. You can also find Annika at: