I’ll admit, it’s so much easier to live live based on the principle of either-or. Something is one or the other, black or white. There are two categories for everything; gray can be exhausting. I cannot argue that a color with infinite shades isn’t exhausting. However, I am increasingly less able to argue that this “exhausting” shade isn’t a closer representation of Reality, of life as it is truly.
I’m once again reading through Richard Rohr‘s “Falling Upward” and I’ve been struck by Richard’s assertion that life is about the exceptions, not the rule. I — and I think we in general — find comfort in the correlation, in establishing a correlation or a general rule.
Life is easier to view, trust, and understand when we have a mental grasp of and control over, but does this really match our overall experience? It certainly doesn’t explain satisfactorily my experience. In fact, it does a woefully poor job. Yeah, sorry but fuck that.
I don’t know about you, but I find chaos to be more of the rule than the exception; I agree wholeheartedly with Father Rohr that perhaps the exception truly is the rule. I wrote not that long ago about chaos, and I think this is a decent analogy for what I am referencing here.
What if Ecclesiastes is right and the “good” and the “evil” can all expect the same fate, chaos? What if Job isn’t just a thought experiment, a teaching point? What if there isn’t a dissonance between that story and the Proverbs that a good person can expect good from God? Chaos.
I find it purely intentional that the author of Job included a full chapter of God’s monologue devoted to Leviathan. As a refresher, the myth of Leviathan in the Ancient Near East was meant to embody and explain chaos. God in this passage goes through great effort to harness the beast, but notably refuses to vanquish it. Instead, God treats chaos as a pet. I think we’ve lost an ability to allow space for this concept.
Chaos is built into the fabric of creation, I believe. It stands to reason that if God is talking about Leviathan at length, then Leviathan is most probably a part of creation. Note that God doesn’t merely speak, but rather goes through physical effort to restrain chaos. Surely, Leviathan is a force greater than the night or the day, light or dark. Leviathan is a force with which to be reckoned.
Fear not, God is in control of chaos. But chaos should not be underestimated.
Chaos isn’t evil; we are not here to avoid or minimize the unknown. Instead, what if we were to embrace this thread woven throughout creation? What if we were to accept this facet of Mystery?
Life would be far less adversarial. My existence would be less a fight, more a dance. And war, to me, is exhausting. I have spent nearly three decades fighting; I cannot keep up a resistance against my existence. At some point, in some way, I need to simplify and give up expending energy in fruitless efforts; I cannot prevent chaos from entering my life. Honestly, and this is harder for me to admit, but it’s tough to even deny the chaos—the conflict—within my own motivations and desires.
Look for yourself. How often are your motivations truly altruistic? Perhaps you’ll characterize them as increasingly aligned and pure, but I would be truly skeptical if you were to call them always or even almost always altruistic. You are welcome to call me jaded—I will accept this label today. However, I’m willing to bet that an honest assessment will elicit a different, a more unsettling answer. Reality can be a bitch.
Chaos isn’t evil. Paradox is closer to the rule than the patterns we “observe” to be the rule. I do not doubt or question your experience, however, I—from my own experience—question how accurate are the narratives we convince ourselves of based on this experience.
What if black is white is black is gray? What if all is grace? What if all is grace? All.