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A Joyful Path, Year Three – Week 18: Deep Time And Story Telling — Story: Lily Dreams Of Ancient Times

For Classroom or Home School

Week 18: Winter
Lesson 14: Deep Time and Storytelling

I am part of Deep Time.

Getting to the Heart of the Lesson

Deep Time is a term used to conceptualize geological time. Measured in this way, changes and developments on Earth can be told in a story that spans roughly 4.5 billion years. When Deep Time is expanded to include the changes and developments that brought Earth into being, we become part of a story that is about 13.8 billion years….and expanding! Cosmologists study the history and structure of the universe. They study and share origin stories and help us see ourselves as participants in these stories. They are informed by science, theology, anthropology and art.

Here are a three ways to appreciate Deep Time:

1. An experience of Deep Time through Geology

Dr. Keith Meldahl is a geologist. In his book, Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains, he offers an example of deep time:

Earth processes that seem trivially slow in human time can accomplish stunning work in geologic time…. Take the creeping pace of which the continents move (about two inches per year on average, or roughly as fast as your fingernails grow). Stretch that over thirty million years, and a continent will travel nearly 1,000 miles. Stretch that over a few billion years, and continents will have time to wander from the tropics to the poles and back, crunching together to assemble super- continents, break apart into new configurations – and do all of that again several times over. Deep time, it could be said, is Nature’s way of giving the Earth room for its history. The recognition of deep time might be geology’s paramount contribution to human knowledge.

2. An experience of Deep Time in Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism)

(Excerpted and informed by an article by Subhamoy Das, posted on www.learnreligions.com)

According to Hindu scriptures and mythology, the current universe is destined to pass through four complete cycles of cosmic creation and destruction, called yugas. By one estimate a single yuga is said to be 4.32 million years. According to Hindu tradition, three yugas have already happened: the Satya Yuga, the Treta Yuga and the Dwapara Yuga. We are in the fourth yuga, called the Kali Yuga.

Prophecy about the Kali Yuga foretells a world characterized by floods, starvation, crime, conflict and deceit because humans lose a previously possessed knowledge of Self as distinct from one’s physical self. Perhaps this prophecy explains why many humans, today, can become so preoccupied with our physical bodies, materialism and consumption.

According to Hindu cosmology, at the end of the Kali Yuga, a Divine power (Lord Shiva) will take birth on Earth, destroying much of Earth in order to restore goodness. There are several symbolic interpretations of what this might mean, individually and collectively, in micro and macro applications.

3. An invitation to live an experience of Deep Time, here and now

The late Thomas Berry, a Roman Catholic priest and geologist, urged humans to become familiar with Deep Time in a way that invites engagement with our expanding universe in an intimate and relevant way. In his book, The Great Work, Berry weaves together various threads of deep time when he writes,

Our sense of who we are and what our role is must begin where the universe begins. …We must feel that we are supported by that same process that brought the Earth into being, that power that spun the galaxies into space, that lit the sun and brought the moon into its orbit…Those same forces are still present; indeed, we might feel their impact at this time and understand that we are not isolated in the chill of space with the burden of the future upon us and without the aid of any other power.

In this lesson, we will invite the children into an experience of Deep Time and storytelling. This season — a time of long nights in the Northern hemisphere — lends itself to dreamtime and storytelling. We will do this scientifically and spiritually because each informs the other.

Teacher Reflection/Activity

Some reading and a 10-20 min exercise (more if you have time and with to take it) so you are able to experience the teachings offered through this lesson.

For your nourishment and inspiration this week, please consider one of the following:

Option 1 — If you are drawn to the science and history of Deep Time, you might enjoy seeing more cosmological depictions of our 13.8 billion year story using either the Cosmic Calendar (https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_Calendar) which includes both geological and astronomical forecasts of what could happen in the unfolding story of the universe; OR The Cosmic Walk (https:// dtnetwork.org/the-cosmic-walk/) which offers several approaches to ritualistically move through 13.8 billion years. There are many wonderful and helpful curriculum pieces here:

• http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/ cosmic.htm)

• http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/ resource.htm

Option 2 — Tap into the awe and wonder that is embedded within Deep Time. Take some time this week, in your meditation, your journal, or your daydreaming to consider who you were before you were the one inhabiting your current physical body. Put yourself in the evolution of Deep Time.

You are made of stars! You have traveled billions and billions of years to be in this moment! With this understanding, do you feel drawn to live differently? If so, what do you wish to change?

Read through the lesson before your time with the children. Decide which Activity Exploration will work best for your class (There are usually two options; choose one). Just below the heading, “Children’s Lesson and Story” you will find the preparations checklist for this lesson so you can collect any needed materials or make arrangements to support your selected activity.

Sacred Text Quotes

Hebrew Scriptures. Genesis 1:1-5 (NRSV)

In the beginning when God created[a] the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God[b] swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Hebrew Scriptures. Ecclesiastes 3:11(NRSV)

He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 1, M.1, p 1

In primal time, in all time, was the Creator; Nothing is real but the Eternal. Nothing shall last but the Eternal.

Wisdom Quotes

Deep Time is a state of beingness where our raw places coexist with our joy, a holy portal of sorts that opens this time of year on that liminal misty bridge where winter kisses spring, where dark kisses dawn. ― Danielle Dusky, author of Woman Most Wild

Be sure to click here to download the Teaching Introduction and Instructions.

Review & Commentary