Down, down, Deeper and Down

No, the title* isn’t about the tendency of some on Monday morning’s when the desire might be to hide under a nice big fluffy duvet and hope the world will go away (though I’ll admit to surprising level of tiredness as it approaches 4pm in the UK).

Instead it’s my way into looking and thinking about the word for the day, something held in common by the waters of the world and the land, as well as a place that features in recreation in the context of the most well-known Role-Playing Game as well as the computer games I was enjoying at the weekend. It can even be used in reference to time and thought. The word is deep.

Jonah, in the Old Testament might have been swallowed by a “big fish” and dragged down unhealthily far below the waters of the Great Sea, but compared to the alien depths of the oceans it was little more than a trip in a piddle. There are strange things going on down there, and the pressure punishing.

Then there’s humanity’s forays under the earth surface, through enormous natural cave systems, or by the conscious act of mining, to supply our need for ores or ornament. Mining and constructing deep – which I prefer to do from the comfort of my PlayStation game of Minecraft and with polyhedral dice throwing role-players, with or without dragons! However, I have been potholing once, squirming through narrow gaps and experiencing both the silence and the utter lightlessness. No wonder that to the ancients the depths were places of desolation and separation, the places of the dead, cut off from the living, like the ancient Hebrew understanding of Sheol (sometimes rendered rather feebly as simply ‘the grave’.

The deeps are places that are hard to reach, if they can be reached at all. One concept I’ve come across has been when looking at our world in the context of the long ages before humanity in the language of Deep Time. The rising and falling of mountains, the silting up of seas and oceans, the slow drift of the continents. (It should come as no surprise that I’m not a Creationist in the literalist sense. I have no problem with the Divine Creator, but also understand the role and place of myth).

Perhaps that’s a good (if accidental link) to depth of thought, that process of pondering and exploring concepts and ideas, to see beyond the surface and obvious. In the Christian context it’s illustrated by grappling with some of Paul’s theology and the link between the Old and New Testaments, that we can so easily gloss over. Yesterday I was leading a congregation into thinking about the place of Abraham, faith and obedience, as well as the exchanges between Jesus and Nicodemus as told in John’s Gospel.

The deeps of creation , life and faith are not easy places. They require time and effort. They need exploration rather than being seen as entertainment, concentration rather than merely being part of the lightweight soundtrack (such as emanates from the coffee bar not too far to my left as I sit here at university). The encounter the deep things is to put ourselves into unfamiliar and challenging places. A bit like the discipline of Lent, perhaps. where we seek to delve into our own selves and motivations, as well as the depths of God’s mystery and love.

Deep stuff indeed.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on

(*Bonus points will be awarded for identifying the band who’s song I’ve borrowed for the title… and it’s not Deep Purple!)

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:) That's what I was thinking you were posting about - (the) Status Quo. (Been cleaning up iTunes before moving it to the new iMac and Music - and a retirement project for me is to finally get some use from the USB turntable and rip my vinyl collection - which includes several of their singles. Hem.)