God don’t draw straight lines. Life, by design, is a circuitous path of dynamic interactivity with the unknown.

21 02 2011

LIfe's progressive journey is circuitous not linear

I’m not sure how we came to believe in the idea that progress was supposed to be linear. Look around you. Try wandering through the woods, off the beaten path. Survey the world of natural creation. How many perfectly straight lines do you see? Trees and plants spend their whole existence stretching toward the sun, but they aren’t straight. The rivers relentless circuit through the mountains, driven by gravity and guided by terrain, is anything but direct. God’s “natural order” may be founded upon powerful unchanging physical laws and principles but most times it expresses itself in endless chaos and upheaval. Nothing that is LIVING remains in stasis. The only way to finally get your “ducks in a row”, is to kill ’em all and lay ’em out straight.

Israels 14,000 day two week journey going from Point "A" to Point "B"

Yet, we cling to the notion that the “best” route between point “A” and point “B” should be a straight line. It doesn’t matter if our destination point is about life and romance or about career and money. We don’t easily tolerate delays or detours. Zen masters would say, the journey IS the destination. The Exodus from Egypt to their “Promise Land” took them 40 years – some 14,610 days. It was a trip that could have been accomplished in 14 days, 1/1,000 the time. The easy /convenient interpretation is that they screwed up. That’s why God “punished” them and made them wander around. However, one of the intentions was to train and prepare the next generation to safely inhabit and enjoy their forthcoming inheritance.

Much of my early spiritual life, I have felt like I was dragging God along on my various adventures of faith. I had noble, world impacting things I wanted to do. Unfortunately, He rarely underwrote or “blessed” my escapades in the way and or in the time that I expected. He seemed forever distracted, unwilling or apathetic. Looking back, I think a lot of my frustration came from the expectation that life, properly lived, was supposed to follow a straight, direct course. Especially, if one had “Friends in high places”, either GodFather, or FatherGod. But what if life is supposed to be circuitous by Design? What if God doesn’t draw straight lines.

Blind mans path through the corn field.

In 1916 the American zoologist Asa Schaeffer observed that an amoeba placed on a cylindrical surface always moved in a spiral path around the cylinder. To further study spiral movement, Schaeffer blindfolded a right-handed friend and instructed him to walk a straight line across a country field. Schaeffer plotted his friend’s track, which described a clockwise spiral form until the man happened to stumble on a tree stump. From Gurldoggie.

When you finally get all your ducks in a row, they and you will be dead

There are many things that can’t be learned any quicker than they can be learned. Run fast, get out of breath, collapse on the path, recover, get up and sprint some more, run into a tree, bandage your wounds, start running again, anon. Or, hike at a steady, moderate pace pausing for an occasional rest and to take in the pretty view. Maybe arrive at the same moment. At least the journey will be more fun.

We’re just pilgrims together on a circuitous adventure. We’ll reach our destination soon enough. Then, all our ducks will be a straight line… ’till then, happy wandering.