April Theme: Emergence

DonSense – by Rev. Don Garrett

April: What Does It Mean to Be a People of Emergence?

Springtime is the perfect season to consider “emergence.” We see it all around us – flowers bravely pushing up out of the soil toward the sun, the emergence of leaves and buds on the trees, and even the subtle but certain increase of the daylight hours.

How can we participate in emergence? It may seem like it happens without any effort on our part, but we can make a bit of room. Leave a little space. Keep a lookout for the unexpected. These are often life’s favorite ways to help us emerge into something new.

During this time of year, it’s not just farmers but us all who turn to the work of “tilling and turning up our whole soil.” All around us, the culture shouts its heroic talk about striving and perfecting. Struggle is the dominant metaphor of the day. We talk of “fighting” to become all we can be. Yet, we need to be careful because, more often than not, emergence and transformation is a much subtler art. It’s about stillness, listening and waiting to be led, not conquering, struggling and taking charge.

In other words, when it comes to emerging into something new, the message of spirituality is “Be careful with what you’ve been taught and told because much of it takes us in exactly the wrong direction.” As a people of emergence, we are called to take a different tack. We’ve been entrusted with the wisdom that emergence is most often about noticing and appreciating rather than improving; patience rather than perfection; and cherishing
depth over dominance.

Appreciating instead of improving is especially important. It’s so easy to get transformation mixed up with fixing. And fixing is emergence’s biggest foe. Trying to perfect or prove ourselves is the surest way to stay stuck. The pursuit of constant improvement and perfection focuses us on our inadequacy and inferiority, leading us to overlook the splendor of the potential unfolding all around us – and within us as well.

And, friends, emergence helps us notice new paths, awaken new songs in us. It reminds us that new life is not something we do alone. It assures us that transformation doesn’t have to be a long and lonely struggle, but
instead can be more like learning a new dance with a new friend.

So, this month, leave some room for the unexpected. Keep your eyes peeled. And when an unexpected guest reaches out its hand, make sure you’re ready to take hold.

See you in church.