The Orchid and the Universe

It’s the week between Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. Last Sunday Rev. Denise at Church of the Holy Family in Aurora, Colorado, spoke about shared human experience—the heart-to-heart experiences of music, love, mercy, kindness, and joy. This coming Sunday we’ll receive Bishop Francis Krebs and together ordain Bonnie Pino-Fraser as a deacon. I’m feeling lifted up by the anticipation of choosing and receiving a new pastor, the pleasure of collegiality, and the joy of celebrating a colleague’s vocational journey.

No wonder that when the orchid on my wife Burna’s and my northwest window ledge began to bloom last week, the word emergent—“coming into being”—popped into my mind. Our human nature is emergent: like a sense of our calling in life, it comes into being over an entire lifetime. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Human beings bloom over time.

In fact, our expanding universe is emergent. Space gases and debris coalesce over eons into planets, moons, and stars. Stars explode and collapse into black holes. Our orchid is periodically emergent. There are two old stems from previous blooms, each about a year apart. Burna waters the dormant plant patiently and faithfully, and in twelve or so months, voilà, a new set of buds appears.

Like the universe, we humans are expanding. I’ve been considering meditation for many years and now a new bud is opening at last—after considerable procrastination. With fresh energy, I find that I am actually devoted to a daily practice. We humans are perpetual learners; humanity knows vastly more today about the way life works than our ancestors. Among our neighbors who come from all over the planet we occasionally discover new and remarkable friends. And most remarkable of all, we may have met Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, or Muslims with whom we discover shared beliefs and experiences that illuminate our own faith journeys. Some species, like Thyme, Pink Salmon, Tawny Owls, and others are even learning how to adapt to a changing climate. How remarkable a new world is this.

Like the rest of creation, our inherent human nature is to expand and emerge: to perpetually explore with curiosity and devotion our greatest, deepest, truest selves. Our spirituality is this inherent capacity to relate afresh to ourselves, to one another, and to life itself.

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About David

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