A large gaggle of geese was flying overhead in a substantial wind on a sunny ranch day. I was marveling about how they and the monarchs and others find their way against all odds. As I noticed the beauty of their flight and set myself toward wonder, a friend who was with me said, "That one goose needs to catch up! Their V-line is not straight." We laughed and shared a moment about our differences in needing, noticing, and expecting order. The truth of the matter is that the flight of the geese is purposeful. They trade positions in their flight patterns and leadership so as not to exhaust any one bird. At times their "lines" look disorderly and at times they appear to have marvelous precision. There is purpose in their chaos.
Henry Brooks Adams writes: "Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man."
Margaret Wheatley adds: "Change always involves a dark night when everything falls apart. Yet if this period of dissolution is used to create new meaning, then chaos ends and new order emerges."
It can be true that if we embrace chaos and live into it, a new level of creativity and healing can emerge--a new order as it were. The times in my life when I have tried to avoid pain and chaos have usually backfired on me. Rather, when I live into the chaos, I find powerful and life-giving meaning.
I think of how Elizabeth Kubler-Ross puts it: "Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings."
We just returned from a winter hiking trip to The Grand Canyon. Time, pressure, water, and wind have carved one of the most splendid treasures of the world. It did not happen without chaos. The Canyon has re-created itself many times and has been the home for ancient peoples who treasured all that nature offered. The Hopi and Pueblo peoples understood the gifts of time, nature, and chaos. They teach us about living with reverence and a healthy respect for the gifts and teachings of nature.
Our many hikes into the vastness of the West are granting me valuable instruction about appreciating the fact that nature is okay with chaos. Perhaps I should be too. As I struggle with the condition of our country and feel alarm and a deep sadness, I know a new day can and will come. The windstorms may be raging, but a new way can be found and I am a trekker to find it. Sometimes, chaos can move us toward creative action. The same is true in my personal life and relationships. Uncertainty, chaos, and pain are catalysts for change and creative living.
Maybe, we are more akin to the geese than we might realize at first glance. We fly, reform, deal with the wind, and find our way. All the while, we seek an understanding of the purpose of flight and new, creative destinations. The possibilities are endless. Flight plans change and are affected by weather, but in it all there is hope and a way forward. May the God of the wind, the geese and me show me the gifts of chaos and help me to find a flight plan that guides my life with love.