The interaction between the causes of life described in the book that I am using for our teachings for our current worship series fascinate me.* Each cause generates other causes as life itself is a tapestry of connections. What we do matters and has consequences for others and for all of creation. Living in harmony seems to require that we strive for a balance of good and not so good consequences. A decision not to harm even the less visible life forms makes it difficult to walk across a lawn and impossible to drive a car. So we are left to choose a lifestyle that finds a balance of more good consequences and fewer harmful ones. This of course is impossible to figure out on our own.
Since there is no way not to be connected even in isolation what happens when we feel disconnected or our connections are not visible to us? Our authors observe that “Connection brings about life; the lack of connection brings about loneliness” (p. 21). I know from personal experience that there is a difference between being alone and loneliness. It took me far too long to learn how to be alone without feeling lonely and not surprising, being aware of my connections was a big part of my own spiritual growth. Connections cause life because the “more connected we are, the more generative, adaptive, and complex our life is likely to be” (p. 73). Communities are transformed by being connected. These connections lead to the other causes of life that causes more life.
Why is it so important for us to concern ourselves with connecting when new connections seem to bring unwanted change? Again, our authors make an observation that is simple yet powerful. “Life always springs from life” (p. 52). This is one of those quotes that sounds so right-on that we can easily skip right over it as we nod our head in agreement. This time, however, I paused. I remembered how often I have taught on the topic of resurrection – life from death. I recalled how many times I must have said that in order for transformation to occur something must first die. A ministry ends, our worship time changes, our significant other dies after an extended illness that sapped every once of our energy. “Life comes from life” does not repeal what Jesus teaches us. Rather, death that causes life is not really death at all. It is change that is significant enough that life springs forth out of it while naysayers scoff from the sidelines unable or unwilling to see the beauty that life brings.
May our connections bring us life as God intends life to be. Amen.
* Leading Causes of Life by Gary Gunderson and Larry Pray.