Becky Mairi Farrell: Creatio Continua

Here we present a deeply philosophical poem from Becky Mairi Farrell, exploring the transformative power of creation, both on a universal and personal scale. First, a little bit about the title from Wikipedia.

Ebb tide: St Cuthbert's Isle, Lindisfarne

“Ex nihilo” is a Latin phrase meaning “out of nothing”. It often appears in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in “creatio ex nihilo”, meaning “creation out of nothing”, chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but it also occurs in other fields. 

In theology, the common phrase “creatio ex nihilo” (creation out of nothing), contrasts with “creatio ex materia” (creation out of some pre-existent, eternal matter) and with “creatio ex deo” (creation out of the being of God). “Creatio continua” is the ongoing divine creation.

The phrase “ex nihilo” also appears in the classical philosophical formulation “ex nihilo nihil fit”, which means “Out of nothing comes nothing”.” 


Creatio Continua

Creatio ex nihilo is a myth

Beloved of those who set mind over matter.

A formless spirit forming form out of formlessness;

The work of an omnipotent mind

Conceiving (alone) substance from nothingness outside time.


What a so much more compelling story

Is the Relationship at the heart of everything

Speaking meaning into chaos.

The eternal Recycler,

Creatio Continua,

Forming endless variety

From whatever is to hand.


Whether the equipment list

Is of stardust and rainbows

Or the agony of drowning in the deep –

Or, more usually,

Some unlikely combination of the two

With all that lies between –

The creative heartbeat of the universe

Keeps making something new.


I have sunk beneath the waters of the deep

Time after time, year after year.

Every time I break the surface once again

Riding the tide

Of creatio ex materia.

At times it seems that my best retort

To the forces that pull me under

Is to make a big heap of the muck and the treasure

From the ocean bed;

To sift and stir, join and re-form,

As I make something new and beautiful.

As I breathe my creativity into this new thing

The air bubbles draw me upwards

And away from the destruction of drowning.


Every creative act is a negation of despair

Creatio ex materia is never a once and for all event.

Creatio continua

Is the flow that answers the ebb tide.

And yet, if the tide were not to ebb,

And, should we forget to be beach combers,

How deficient would our stash of supplies become!


To continue we must sometimes plumb the depths –

A journey whose destiny is beyond unknown.

And perhaps, were we not forced there by circumstance,

We would rarely find the courage to set out.

And our tiny fluttering im-pulses

Would sound no echo

To the heartbeat of the universe –

The beat of Creatio Continua.



Photo: Ebb tide, St Cuthbert’s Isle, Lindisfarne

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