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The True Patterns of the Universe

A Time of Unveiling

The True Patterns of the Universe
Thursday, January 7, 2021

Truth is One. If something is spiritually true, then all disciplines and religions will somehow be looking at this “one truth” from different angles, goals, assumptions, and vocabulary. If it is the truth, it is true all the time and everywhere, and sincere lovers of truth will receive it from wherever it comes. CAC teacher Brian McLaren suggests how we might find truth revealed in the patterns of the universe. He writes:

It becomes more obvious the longer you live that all life is full of patterns. Reality is trying to tell us something. Life is speaking to us. There’s lots of mystery out there, to be sure, and no shortage of chaos and unpredictability. But there’s also lots of meaning . . . messages trying to find expression, music inviting us to listen and sing, patterns attracting our attention and interpretation. The chaos becomes a backdrop for the patterns, and the mysteries seem to beckon us to try to understand. . . .

But above and behind and beyond the sometimes confusing randomness of life, something is going on here. From a single molecule to a strand of DNA, from a bird in flight to an ocean current to a dancing galaxy, there’s a logic, a meaning, an unfolding pattern to it all.

Like wood, reality has a grain. Like a river, it has a current. Like a story, it has characters and setting and conflict and resolution. . . . Creation reveals wisdom through its patterns. It reveals wisdom about its source and purpose and about our quest to be alive . . . if we are paying attention.

Of course, we often struggle to know how to interpret those patterns. For example, if a tornado destroys our house, an enemy army drops bombs on our village, a disease takes away someone we love, we lose our job, someone we love breaks our heart, or our best friends betray us, what does that mean? Is the logic of the universe chaos or cruelty? Does might make right? Do violence and chaos rule? Is the Creator capricious, heartless, and evil? If we had only our worst experiences in life to guide us, that might be our conclusion.

We must honestly admit that we don’t always understand the seemingly random forces at play, but if we believe that the Risen Jesus is the full and trustworthy unveiling of the nature of God, then we live in a safe and love-filled universe. Brian continues:

[Genesis and the Gospel of John] dare us to believe that the universe runs by the logic of creativity, goodness, and love. The universe is God’s creative project, filled with beauty, opportunity, challenge, and meaning. It runs on the meaning or pattern we see embodied in the life of Jesus. In this story, pregnancy abounds. Newness multiplies. Freedom grows. Meaning expands. Wisdom flows. Healing happens. Goodness runs wild.

Reference:
Brian D. McLaren, We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation (Jericho: 2015), 11, 12, 14.

Story from Our Community:
Six years ago, I walked away from the conservative faith I had always known. I was devastated, but did not know how to reconcile all my thoughts, feelings, and knowing with the God the church seemed to praise. When my dad tragically passed away in April (during COVID-19), I was left reeling. I did not know where to turn. Father Rohr’s book and daily meditations seem to be written just for me; they speak to the deep knowing of my soul and have given me a voice to once again believe, pray, hope, and even wrestle with the eternal. I miss my dad tremendously, yet am finding my second knowing in a much more loving and lovable God. —Kelly H.

Image credit: Basket and Tree Root (detail), Photograph by Thomas Merton, copyright the Merton Legacy Trust and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University. Used with Permission.
Like the exposed roots of a tree, reality unveiled can be many things at the same time: sharp, smooth, ugly, beautiful, painful, and healing.
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