Thursday, January 8, 2015

Parts of the Whole

I am finding it hard to get back into a regular writing routine.  There is so much on my mind, but it is in bits and pieces that are hard to process.  This is the way of our world these days. Our news comes in endless sound bites and headlines.  We don't have the time to invest in reading and understanding the deluge of information that floods our senses on a minute by minute basis.  It can feel like we're drowning under the weight of cues to which we've lost the meaning and aren't sure how to respond.

There has been much discussion over whether the art of blogging is dying as readers don't connect as the community they once did through comments and dialogues.  Writers are urged to divide their essays up into smaller chunks of information and to provide "tweetable" quotes.  It begins to feel like a set of strategies instead of authentic communication.

It makes me think of how much of our world is fragmented...

We have been taught to analyze, categorize, and find meaning in the separate parts.  We study a specific field of knowledge by breaking it down into concrete learning objectives.  We separate ourselves into groups of like cultures, faiths, and interests.  We are taught to be suspicious of what is different and to fear what we don't understand.  Our boundaries create disconnects.

Yet we instinctively know that it all should be integrated as we long for

I remember learning about the German word "gestalt" sometime in my education and it stuck with me.   In my understanding, it refers to the whole nature of something and is sometimes explained in the phrase "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."  More and more, I see the truth of this.  I want to see the bigger picture.  I am most energized when I hear a story and find connections with my own life.  I am intrigued that much of what I am reading now (even in different genres) points back to these same themes; that we have lost our way (in life, in education, and in faith) and need to find our way back to connectivity, to mystery, wonder, and the things that are greater than us.

My struggles (particularly with parenting) often come when I am unable to see the bigger picture. Stuck in the frustration of a single moment (or daily reality), it's easy to fall into the faulty reasoning that things will always be hopeless and impossible.  Sometimes I think things will never change for the better.  Then some moments I turn around and wonder at how an often-taught lesson has finally clicked.  I can catch a brief glimpse at the big picture that is slowly being created and I find hope once more.

Sarah Bessey's post  on "Chasing Wonder" ignited my imagination.  I, too, want to dream and wonder, to see possibility instead of being reduced and categorized.  I was a scientist before I was a minister, and I see God in the mysteries we try to comprehend through science.  I believe the two can complement one another, just as I believe there is a place for spirituality in higher education as Parker Palmer and Arthur Zajonc wrote about in The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal.

These ponderings connect with my desire to live a more wholehearted life this year.  I want to live more from my heart, from a place of love and hope instead of fear.  This includes:

-the freedom to be authentically me, and embrace imperfection and vulnerability

-the ability to also accept the imperfect beauty of others

-being a curator of stories that point to something greater, a meaning that is more than any individual experience of truth

-wondering and dreaming in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same.

Perhaps in these goals I will be able to live wholly, fully, instead of in part.

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