Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Organic Structure of Divine Fractals

There's a glorious chaos in letting go that lends itself to fractal math.

I meant that sound peculiar and humorous, though it's a true statement. I wanted it to be the kind of sentence that makes people smile and say "What?"

Not that long ago someone talked about reading a Christian author who said God's way was organic and man's way is structure. That God gives men things that are glorious, living and organic, like the Church, and man's way is to take it and force into a structure and the life leaves it. I know that sounds harsh, but stay with me. The other day I was taking a bath and thinking on God and I was staring at this basket in our bathroom and it occurred to me that so many things are like that basket. Man takes a living vine and weaves it and makes it intricate and beautiful... and dead. It serves a purpose (in this case, holding an item), but only one. Or two. It is lovely, but limited. The very act of deliberate organization by man kills it. If you tried to weave a living vine into a living basket you might succeed for a while. But most likely the act of bending the branches would snap it. Even if it didn't, as two or more entwined branches grow, as they expand, some will wither because there will no longer be room for both to survive. And a basket might hold fruit, but it doesn't bear it. It was an interesting thought to me, and it does represent, with love, the way I feel about human structure.

It's not that I don't like baskets. Or bonsai trees. Because I was thinking that sometimes take a living tree and they keep cutting away every time it gets too big and bonsai it. And it's a lovely tree in miniature, but let's face it. You can't eat until you're full from a bonsai tree. Its shade won't even cool your brow, let alone your body. It's cute, but while beautiful, useless.

You might be wondering why I'm talking about this at all. Well, this organic v. structure thing has been rattling around my heart, being pondered. I've always felt that way, but hadn't been harsh enough to actually say it. (I wish I knew who did, but I've forgotten where and from who I heard it mentioned, and therefore I can't ask them where they read it.) But it holds true to what I've seen.

Now, I'm not saying that "everything goes" is the proper philosophy either. But it is the Lord who should be doing the pruning, making the plans. He is the architect, we are only the contractors He has hired for the job. While we can ask Him to clarify His plans, within reason, we can't dictate to Him. Especially since he's GOD. :)

Part of this is because I've been pondering my character and what God's been showing me in my life. Remember when I blogged about my Thanksgiving? I said at the Biblestudy after we feasted on the Word. It was my idea, because the day before my family was playing video games and I just suddenly felt my spirit growl, hungry for the Bible. That's the best way to describe it. I was famished. And I went on Biblegateway, since I was online anyway, and found Hebrews 12. And I was pondering how I had just feasted on food, but was like an anorexic lately when it came to the Bible. And I thought I'd propose that we feast on the word, instead of delicately nibbling while chewing forty times and analyzing the nutritional value. Which has its place, but isn't proper for a feast.

So the next day in Bible study, I propose this, but all I say is something like "Let's feast on the word. I was reading something yesterday, and it made me realize we should really feast more often, you know what I mean?"

But apparently, they didn't.

They wanted more direction, more structure, on how we did this. And I tried to give it to them, without giving to them, if you can follow. I told them we should go around and share passages. I wanted it to be spontaneous, heartfelt, done with thankfulness and joy. And, a little bemused, they complied, but as they did, one of my friends muttered, "This is the most disorganized..." and one of my best friends heard that and said "It's so (my name)". To which I smiled at her but said "It's so organic". I did this because a) she and I have discussed organic v. structure at length, but b) because I'm not really disorganized. Disorganized implies a mess. I'm not like that, not really. I APPEAR like that, and even feel like that sometimes. But see, I could have easily have said "Let us all share the passages which the Lord speaks to us. Something between five and twenty verses, and then talk a little about what the Lord communicates to you through it. No one talk for more than three minutes, and let's all take ten minutes now in silence to flip through and find something." Easily. Without hesitation, I could have applied structure.

But I didn't. Because I didn't want it, and I didn't think they needed it.

And they didn't. It went well. It wasn't the best Bible study ever, but it was good. Because by not placing limits or structure, it had room to grow. Admittedly, I think one person began teaching a little too much, when I wanted it to be a platform more for sharing than teaching, if you get me. But it was towards the end, and we had prayed that the Holy Spirit use this time, and maybe someone there needed the teaching. But I know the Holy Spirit was directly speaking to us, because He allowed me to see it. We had all turned to a Psalm at the direction of one of us, and I was flipping through the pages around it afterwards and two verses jumped out at me, but I decided not to share them, and flipped to the New Testament. And instantly, two separate sisters brought those same verses to the groups attention, in the same order the Lord had shown them to me. I felt it was God's way of showing me how He, not us, were the ones structuring the Bible study.

And that brings us back to fractals. You see, in the sixites, I think it was, fractal math was applied to nature. They found you could use it to predict rock faces and the pattern of how branches grow on trees, and how many trees grow in a square mile of forest. No kidding. Projecting these onto a graph creates shapes that are distinctly organic and look like bacteria under microscopes or flowers in bloom. It (along with all math) is God's. Math doesn't work independent of our Father. It is His intelligence that grows the trees, and fractals show us a hint at their blueprint.

Now I'm not saying it always works. It depends on the participants. One I went to a meeting of Christians at college and when we closed in prayer, we did this cool thing. We stood up, held hands and each individually, boldly and outloud prayed, all at the same time. It was awesome! We were all so focused, you couldn't really hear the others individually, but you could feel the power we had in spirit, as members of our heavenly Lord's Body, sending our communications to the one we loved. It was great. So later that month, I was with a dear and quirky family of Christians I love and I proposed we do the same thing. This was the first time I met the aunt of my friend. She was a Christian, and I assumed she was similiar to her family. But she wasn't. She was a very formalized, severe type Presbyterian. She's totally nice, but this was just weird to her. So for her, the idea was awkward. And, her family, aware of this, were feeling awkward too. So we get up to pray, me all excited at how awesome it will be, them all cringing but thinking "we'll try it". So we start praying. And I'm talking at full volume, and they're all half whispering and it was a glorious failure. :) And later on, her niece was telling me how her aunt thought that was so weird and was laughingly referring to how it failed, and I laughed too, because it was funny. But I also knew it didn't fail because it was a bad idea, but just because the people participating weren't really ready.

And many times when we jump into things, we fall on our butts. Me more than most. But it's okay. If you do it enough, you also land perfectly sometimes. :)

And, for the record, I want to reiterate that I'm an Episcopalian. I'm a strange one, but I actually like formal worship. I just also like informal worship. I'm conservative in belief, but very anything goes in style of worship. But while I'm comfortable (now, I didn't use to be) with loud shouting worship, singing on the top of your lungs and screaming "AMEN!" I also am comfortable with silently kneeling and reciting the same prayers that have been said for hundreds or thousands of years. When I am talking about structure, I'm not saying that we have to be crazy and let go of what is good. What I am saying is we should not limit God. He speaks clearly both in shouts and whispers, in organ lead hymns under stained glass windows, chants on your knees with incense, guitars strumming happy go lucky melodies around a bonfire, or with drums and amplified music while everyone jumps around and holds their hands to the sky.

The point is, when we look at organic things in life, we often see chaos. But instead, there is an order more complex than our minds understand with ease, or perhaps understand at all. But fractal math uncovers there is order in things humans often believed was chaotic. A divine order. And it's that order I wanted my Bible to submit to at Biblestudy. If we all limited ourselves to five verses, then we'd be quieting one who the Spirit opened a whole chapter to share. When I say let's not place restrictions, I am not being disorganized. I am merely trying to say let's let God organize things.

He is SO much better than we are.

So when people look at my life and say "she's so disorganized", I shrug it off. Sure, I'm not perfect at this letting go thing and I do fall as often or more than I land right, but when it's good it's so good. And when it fails, it fails gloriously, and I have faith that He takes those failures and turns them for the good of we who love Him, because that's what He promises.

And isn't that awesome?

So when we cling to His Truth, but let go of our limitations, He will take our lives and He will make them grow. He will shape us organically, with the living structure of the living God, and not the appealing but dead structure of man. And when we let go, He will prune us, but nurture us to fruition.

Praise God! God bless you all, and may we all find our peace in His plan, not our own.


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