Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Non-linear God

Parking in San Francisco is always an adventure. . .at least it always is for me. The car must be parked curbside. We gave up the expense of renting a garage months ago and decided to brave the crapshoot of parking in the Inner Richmond. There are two things that nag me constantly about this situation:

1) The worry of, "Oh, my God, where did I park the car last night?"

- and -

2) I hope it wasn't all that far away from the apartment!

The first really is a nightmare, but, thankfully, it hasn't happened all that often. . .yet. The second is a daily occurrence because guess who has to walk a two-and-a-half-year-old to the car so he can go to nursery school?!

It's amazing what new insights about God and life-in-general I've gained from Daniel. There's something about being two with all of its raw humanity, emotional ups and downs, and stubborn refusal to follow any agenda but his own that reveals the deep river of life bubbling at the foundation of everyone and everything.

I prefer to follow straight lines when I walk. . .and I want to move from the apartment to the car pretty quickly first thing in the morning. I like to get up, pound the pavement, and make it to the office on time. It suits my personality -- my tendency to linear ways of thought and work . . .the sequential lists that get checked off through the day whether they're written down or front and center in my mind.

Daniel disrupts that -- no question. It's his way or the highway. That's the stress of parenting a two-year-old going on three. And so, each morning as we make our way to the car, Daniel stops and starts, hesitates, pauses, gets fascinated by a crack in the pavement, meanders all over the sidewalk and sometimes wants to go in the exact opposite direction.

By now, frustration in this here dad is starting to give way to fascination. I'm learning to make time for it. Because Daniel is that beautifully non-linear sort right now who notices the trees, the flowers, the few gardens in the Richmond, the cat outside, or the fact that his shoe isn't laced up properly. . .all this in a way that my linear style very badly neglects.

The other day, in a long, multi-block struggle with Daniel from parking back to the apartment, I began to notice the trees for the first time. Right now, the blossoms are almost gone, and the young leaves are starting to emerge. The trees aren't linear, either. Like most plants, they raise their branches and foliage to the sky in a meandering and multiplying embrace -- celebrating their tree-ness with almost inchoate abandon and life itself in a rambling, indescribable pattern.

Life is like that. And so is the foundation of life, and the Maker of all things. God isn't necessarily linear either. The long journey of our lives, our planet, and even the cosmos is a messy mixture of many paths, some with dead ends, others meandering and stopping for long periods to develop, deepen, ripen, or shine as stars. The poetic movement of the Spirit is in the burbling brooks and stormy seas -- or, as in the ancient texts of Scripture, the breath of our lives and the wind. These are not linear phenomenon. They are profoundly organic, energetic, and inexorably unpredictable.

Like Daniel.

And that for me is liberating. It frees me from an existence of quick marching from one task to the next and neglecting what my English grandmother has always called the "rich tapestry of life." There's something big there. . .something frightening at times. . .but something awesome, inspiring, and profoundly loving and transformative. Those are wide words. But they seem to me to more adequately describe who God is and how God engages us. Beyond our organizations and narrow processes, beneath and above the foundations of our reason, is Christ at work: tilling, moving, growing, loving, toiling, and constantly calling us into Resurrection.

No comments: