Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Of order and chaos Part I

Chaos (derived from the Greek Χάος, Chaos) typically refers to unpredictability, and is the antithetical concept of cosmos. The word χάος did not mean "disorder" in classical-period ancient Greece. It meant "the primal emptiness, space" (see Chaos (mythology)).

(see Wikipedia for source)

Often I think of God's creation and redemption and my role in the story. The farther I get from the womb the less the world makes sense to me. There are so many paths we can choose and so many that are willing to tell us which path is the right one to "success" or "wealth" or "health" or "happiness". I know they don't really know, none of them. I don't either. No one does. So we spend our lives trying to prove we do know by making everything we profess to know "work out" to the end that we strive for. We try to put "order" to our lives and "focus" and "prioritize" to somehow form the "me" that we want to be. We always want to be. We want to be at home when we are at work. We want to be at rest when we are scrambling, scrambling when we are forced to wait, we just want all the time. That desire consumes us and we're okay as long as the "who" we want to be coincides with the "what" we are doing in the "where" we want to do it. This is chaos.

When I was a boy there was the ruins of an old settlers home at the very back corner of our small family farm. I've found small bottles, bits of pottery, pieces of what appeared to be a bed spring. This was before the show "Little House on the Prairie" aired so I didn't really have a concept of what 19th century home might have looked like but I would sit in among the rotting timbers of the old foundation and try to imagine the life that had been lived there. There were apple trees nearby, one of which still stands, so I remember the exact spot where the foundation was and can pinpoint it within 5 feet. Those timbers are gone. The depression that was among the timbers can barely be distinguished from the surrounding ground after 30-odd years of leaves and grass, wind and rain, microbes and fungi....restoration.

Chaos looked like the timbers in the pasture, order looks like the wild pasture after having reclaimed the timbers. Chaos on the hill in the photo above was the slave labor cutting the stones, hauling the stones, suffering and dying for a monument to the pride of a man who would have his own brothers and sisters in humanity call him "Lord", order is the supernatural claiming, redeeming, and restoring the image of the land while natural forces redeem and restore the countryside to its original beauty - that designed by a Creator God, the God among us.

Its no wonder people use people and love things instead of loving people and using things. We find ourselves far too often choosing chaos over order.

Order was redemption of Israel from Egypt, sanctification through the journey in the Sinai, gifting of the land promised to them. Chaos was the need for a King when they already had one.

The following is an example of our human understanding in tension with God's sovereingty:

It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.
Anne Frank, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, July 15, 1944German Jewish diarist (1929 - 1945)

Me too, and its called surrender.

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