Create a mortal that he may bear the yoke!
Let him bear the yoke, the work of Enlil!
Let man bear the load of the gods!
(The Epic of Atrahasis, a Babylonian creation myth)
Have you ever cleaned or created something, and then, after standing back and surveying your achievement, experienced a profound sense of joy and satisfaction? There seems to be something about being human, which causes us to revel in acts of creating and maintaining our universe. For example, it can be very fulfilling to stand back and appreciate a freshly mowed lawn, which only an hour ago was an unruly mess. Humanity’s need to create and maintain the world around them is something which ancient religious texts seem to understand very well.
In the Epic of Atrahasis, the weary gods create humanity to relive them of their labour. Thus, according to the Epic of Atrahasis, the purpose for which humanity was created is to carry out the work of the gods. Similarly, the Jewish Scriptures describe the role of humanity as continuing the Divine’s task of creation:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet… (Psalm 8:3-6)
Creating something new or restoring something old can lead to a powerful encounter with the Divine. When we experience God in that moment we know that this is the very purpose for which we have been born. The ancient writers know this, and express this insight through their respective mythologies. If we are to pursue true life we must listen to this ancient source of wisdom, and seek to carry out the work of the Divine in our daily lives. Notice, however, that the realm described in the Epic of Atrahasis and Psalm 8:3-6 is not what we might regard as “spiritual,” but rather the very earthy tasks of managing and caring for the world around us. For the ancient writer’s the whole world is a Temple, and all of humanity are priests who are charged with the sacred task of carrying out the work of the Divine in their daily lives. From this perspective, every task no matter how mundane becomes an opportunity to connect with the Divine, and experience the life-giving flow.