And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Having created on day one the category of time, God here creates the category of space. Waters…waters: on the one and the ocean, on the other the celestial waters, which descend as rain. By dividing the original “deep,” God is preparing a vacant middle that the rest of creation can fill. This vacancy is not fully established until the “gathering” of the seas in v 9…
This idea of separation or dividing has been on my mind since writing a paper this past semester on Hans Urs von Balthasar. One of Balthasar’s emphases is God’s total loving self-giving, developed in Christ who is the full receiving of God. In order to let this glory shine in the darkness, one can conceive of a space between Father and Son, one eternally overcome by God’s kenosis. This space is important as it forms the basis for our own existence, one that is marked by an openness and receptiveness that finds its fulfillment in Christ. This passage above seems somewhat similar to me. On the one hand, in making the firmament, God divides nothingness from nothingness to form a space where somethingness can live. However, unlike this passage, where God is pushing the waters apart, Balthasar’s story seems to tell of a pulling apart, where God is pulling the chaos apart in order to transcend it. I’m really not sure what I’m trying to say here, but it just seemed familiar in some way.