From The Rector…
There are two photographs hanging in my dining room. They are of the same image, but vastly different perspectives. Both are black and white. One is easily identified as an old cemetery with a winding dirt road and majestic oaks reaching toward the heavens while their branches offer a canopy over the graves. The other is a swirl of light and dark, bright and dim, white and black and shades of gray. If you didn’t already know that the second picture is a swirl of the negative of the graveyard image, you probably wouldn’t guess it. The images would display well on their own. Together, though, they invite one to wonder how many different ways we can see the world.
The pandemic is one of those things in which so many of us have seen from various perspectives. For some it offers a clear image with obvious rules governing how we might approach life. For others, it has been a swirl of chaos that we attempt to organize in response to our own feelings of security or threat. Is one perspective better than the other? Honestly, I don’t know. My gut tells me no—that we all have different needs and agendas and that a multi-faceted approach to life is necessary for a harmonious existence. Only the future will tell.
The challenge in a society that has multiple perspectives is not discovering which one is right and which one is wrong—it is in honoring the choice that each person has in having a perspective. Instead of spending so much energy on trying to line up others with our particular perspective, I wonder what happens if we see the world from theirs? Who is to say that multiple perspectives can’t all be right—or at least, most of them can be right? That doesn’t mean it is right for us, but it could well be right for them.
Most reasonable human beings are quick to attest to the possibility that we can hold various perspectives and that those perspectives can and do contain a certain amount of truth—at least for that person. What is more challenging, is examining another’s perspective to identify the truth it might contain for us as well.
In a world in which things change so quickly, we don’t always appreciate the swirl of chaos, desiring instead the clarity of the image. It is, however, in the chaos that new life can be formed, new ways of thinking, new opportunities to behold, new identities to discover. “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep…” This first line from Genesis reminds us how important the chaos is to creation. God begins to organize the void and the deep by separating light and darkness, heaven and earth, waters and land in the first three days. It is only after he has organized the chaos that he begins to add to creation with plants and animals and human beings. God creates through a process. It takes time and as more and more of creation becomes organized so, too, the possibilities of newness of life.
The pandemic has been an opportunity of chaos in the midst of what we believed to be well organized lives. We cannot go back; we must go forward. How we organize the chaos offers us the opportunity to create something new. The swirl of light and darkness need not be frightening. Instead, like the picture in my dining room, it is an invitation into reimagining our world and our lives.
Light and Life,