Four thousand year old coral, vampire squid, octopus mothers who go five years without food to hatch eggs, amphipods who extract metal from mud to protect themselves, jet black fish, and Yeti crabs fueled by bubbling water are among the many treasures you will miss if you don't go all the way down to the deepest neighborhood of the ocean.
A few scientists brave enough to be curious have begun to plumb the depths of the Mariana
Trench and other submarine worlds teeming with hidden wonders that are part of the beauty and balance of our planet's life in ways far beyond my tiny understanding.
The same overwhelmed humility applies when we look into another person's eyes.
They are little portholes into worlds full of surprise, wildness, weirdness, wonder.
How did you come to that decision?
What are all the emotional ingredients of those tears?
What memories and fears and hopes and horrors and ideas and fantasies and certainties and lies and loves swim inside you?
What currents and eddies swirl within?
What thrives unseen so far beneath the surface that you have no idea it's there?
What's happening down in the darkness from which your behaviors bubble up?
Hebrew has a word for that internal trench, the deeps that few people are brave enough to explore, where your most profound decisions are hatched in extreme hunger and hope.
There's no word in English to translate it fully; maybe it's your gut, but it feels deeper and darker than that.
Sometimes it is translated mind.
Today it is translated heart.
It's the place where Jeremiah says that God will write the new covenant.
The old one was written on stone; both the stone and the covenant written on it got broken.
This renewed one will be written on something harder, and softer, and too deep to be visible.
I will put my teaching within them, and I will write it on their hearts, God says.
To do this, of course, God needs to dive dangerously deep.
Christianity has a word for God's deep dive: incarnation.
God leaves the comfort and safety of a nice home to incubate in Mary's womb.
God enters the dark and weird and beautiful and fascinating and foreign world of human history.
God wears and looks into human eyes; God feels strange eddies stir in the trench.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, John writes, and the gospel is as other-wordly and awkward as a political correspondent interviewing a vampire squid.
Jesus is in over his head and running out of air.
He knows he's headed to still darker depths, like a seed into the earth.
He will be lifted up as low as a person can go.
He is about to be plunged into the dark, deadly tangle of violence and power play and prejudice and hatred and and terror that still grips this world that tags God's teaching with graffiti like "look out for number one" and 'might makes right' and "you get what you deserve" and other cruel lies.
God will not survive down here.
The creed sums up the story in a few words: he descended into hell.
The creed also seems to suggest that happened after he was crucified, died and was buried, but read the gospels.
He reaches hell before he dies.
He hits rock bottom right here.
The gospel of John has a word for this: glorification.
It's why Jesus uses the verb lifted up.
God's deep dive is turning the world upside down, and John writes Jesus in Wonderland as a lookingglass for us to see reality completely anew.
The cross, the very bottom, the ocean floor, is the completion of the mission.