Recently, after being diagnosed with throat cancer, St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral held a hands-on prayer vigil in which friends and fellow church members prayed for me and my family. The event was moving to the core and I was so thankful for the support and love I received and which is ongoing. Several participants prayed during the vigil, and I offered a prayer for God’s peace for my family and friends, while expressing my belief that I am not interested in an outcome per se. What I am interested in, and earnestly prayed for, is God’s grace in all things, including my condition. Grace, from any source, especially God, is the healing salve that soothes our aching souls and let’s us act in harmony with the effects of chaos and order in life.
To me, the support I received was an outpouring of grace at a time of physical conflict between chaos and order, an important dynamic that plays a key role in a book I am writing about the creative process:
“It is impossible for matter to achieve absolute equilibrium. If it did, all matter would come to rest. Since matter is constantly changing, order cannot exist in isolation. Nor can chaos exist by itself without beckoning Armageddon. The two states are inextricably connected. Chaos is the destruction of order and order is the destruction of chaos. They are countervailing states of being, so fundamental to the universe that they only have identity when called into question. The weather is just the weather until it becomes a hurricane or tropical breeze. So too, chaos and order exist relative to each other, a dynamic duo waiting to be noticed by the lives they alter, slowly or quickly, for better or worse. The duo represents values we assign to given states in transition, states which are so important they appear to define our situation. Rapid transitions (like war) appear chaotic while slow transitions (like peace) appear orderly. Since we are living products of the creative process, we are keenly attuned to our own state of chaos or order (with an emphasis on personal safety), but we rarely see our situation as part of a larger process. To the extent we fail to notice the behavior of chaos and order and focus only their consequences, we miss the lessons of an essential facet of our existence.”
“According to ancient Chinese myth, yin (symbolic of earth, femaleness, darkness and rest) and yang (symbolic of heaven, maleness, light and activity) proceeded from chaos, and their pulsing interaction represents the process of the universe. Too much yin or yang results in chaos, while their equilibrium restores harmony. According to modern science, the ancients were onto something. The mathematical theory of complexity is an attempt to evaluate real-world systems by focusing on behavior that is both unstable and aperiodic. Unstable, aperiodic behavior in an open system (like the weather) never repeats and continues to show the effects of any small perturbation to the system (commonly known as the butterfly effect). Systems in equilibrium are relatively stable, but systems that are far from equilibrium dramatically reorganize matter to facilitate the transformation of disorder into order. Complexity theory suggests that related dynamic forces embrace in such a way that matter self-organizes as necessary to restore equilibrium in the wake of chaos. Since novelty and diversity occur when matter is reorganized, the dynamic is also creative. Whatever the method used to understand these forces – math, physics, philosophy, alchemy or art – there is no escaping the conclusion that chaos and order are dynamic representations of nature evolving. The logic of yin and yang can be boiled down to a simple statement: nothing lasts forever. All matter (including you and me) is ultimately fuel for the engine of chaos and order.”
My eternal gratitude goes to Carol-Ann Goldberg, my loving partner who has been an indescribable help, my Mother and Sister, Chris Harris, Joe Bruglio, Claire Young, Kurt Francis, Bob Carney, Don Zimmerschied, Curtis Tyler, and all the others who have prayed for me and continue to support me during these difficult times. I hope to be well enough soon to properly thank you in person!
Please keep Robert and Carol-Ann in your prayers.