“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 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,
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.
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