Monday, January 23, 2017

Being Open to the Chaos in Our Lives

Dear Friends,

Have you ever felt out of control? “Of course,” you may say. “Everyone feels out of control sometimes and I am no exception.”

Today, being out of control or perhaps, experiencing things being beyond our control is common. News events from around the world, the sports schedules of our children, favorite restaurants and meeting places closing unexpectedly, the next four years in our country are beyond our control.

About all of this, we can claim, “It’s chaotic!” We fear and abhor chaos and avoid it as much as possible. In our western, logical way of thinking, we believe that if we exert enough control, the chaos will go away. But it doesn’t. Chaos is a non-negotiable part of our times.                    

Indeed, it’s been part of our world from the beginning. Consider Genesis 1.1. “When God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the water…” Out of this formless void, this darkness, this seemingly lifeless place, God drew forth life. Out of chaos, life.

Once God created the universe, God did not control it with rigidity and totally unalterable predictability. Our God, even today, does not so control our world and our lives that there can be no exceptions, variations, subtleties, nuances and newness.

Today one of the newest understandings in science is called chaos theory. In essence, chaos theory says that small fluctuations lead to large scale transformations. In human life, small fluctuations here/now, lead to large scale transformations then/there. You and I can become other than we are at this moment by setting into motion the small changes that can take us to a new place – either to a better self, a better community, a better world, or to a place of destruction, darkness and despair.

The small changes we make are important when we make them, not out of a sense of controlling the future, but out of a sense of creativity. Jesus knew about control, chaos and creativity, although certainly not in those words. He knew he was not in control of his life, his call, his destiny. All of this belonged to His Father. “I have come to do the will of the one who sent me. (John 5.30)”

Jesus couldn’t control the way people responded to Him or rejected Him. He couldn’t control Judas or the rich young man who walked away or the nine lepers who didn’t come back to say “thank you.”

Things did not go Jesus’ way, but this lack of control didn’t stop him from being faithful to the end. His Father raised Him up from death – death, that ultimate lack of control. Jesus, our Brother and Lord, passed through chaos to a creative present. He lives with us now as our constant companion as we try to live in faith and hope and meet life’s uncertainties with a creative spirit.

Our God calls us, as our God called Jesus, to pay attention to the tiny insignificant things that may well play a major role in shaping our life and world – our own mustard seeds, our own leaven or the tiny supply of oil and flour that sustains us. When in these days of national change, we recognize that absolute control is not ours, we welcome the possibilities that chaos may be hiding, and we do what believers in God have always done, we go forward together.

~ Sister Joan Sobala