There I was, on the seventh day of the week, plumbing the depths of my experience, debating the rationale for my life, and trying to gauge the value of my efforts over the years. I have completed my seventh seven-year cycle. I have begun the eighth - which is also a return to the beginning.
In the natural world, every ending is only the beginning. Grab a hoop and hold it with one hand. Then trace the hoop. The end of the hoop journey is the beginning. This circular movement is what we call a cycle. The cycle in nature, where time and events are circular, is abundantly clear. We overlay a manner of keeping track of linear time - the calendar - lest we lose track of the length of history and the constant planning into the future. Without the calendar, with its dates and years, we would be compelled to continually live in the present with only reminiscent notions of legendary events and romantic intrigue of prophetic poetry.
The reckoning of days into weeks, months and years is inspired by the Creator, who created both the cyclic and the linear. The circle and line are our simplest and best symbolic representation. Often I find myself at the intersection of the circle and the line, a spiral in every direction I look.
In the beginning God said, Let there be light. And there was light! And God separated the light from the darkness. The light He called day and the darkness, night. And God said it was good. The evening and the morning were the first day. [paraphrase from Genesis]
The cycle of day and night was now quantified. The six days of creation and the day of God's rest became our weekly recount of creation itself. The orbits of the moon help to quantify the months. The fullness of the cycles of seasons help us to quantify the years. One after another after another. Seven days becomes seven years, and so on ad infinitum.
On this most recent anniversary of my birth, I was reflective and hopeful. Given the conclusion of a seven year cycle, I felt that most of the elements of my life were incomplete and un-concluded. I found myself hoping that all the difficulties, shortcomings, obstacles and tragedies would be left behind as I looked toward a horizon full of unobstructed light in the haziness of a pleasant summer afternoon.
God separated the light from the darkness and our eyes are completely oriented to the contrasts. Our eyes are so tuned that we are able to distinguish thousands of shades of gray. But in giving us light, God gave us the refracting light that spills the rainbow of color throughout the myriads shades of gray, making the subtlest of tint and tonal difference discernible. As an artist and photographer, I still prefer drama and romance of the obvious contrasts. Yet I am compelled and mesmerized by the details around me.
As I reflect on the amount of information from all my senses that is dumped into my brain to be labelled and placed into to pattern recognition boxes, I wonder about purpose and value. We tend to automatically filter this massive amount of details based upon our experiences, our education, our preferences. We are trained to ignore large portions of sensual data in favor of a limited set that falls into recognizable patterns. The older we get, the more we rely on these filters.
The sifting and winnowing of experience in linear history is essential for clarity of thought, intention and action. But the renewing of my senses, my mind, my soul is only possible in the cyclical and ever-present moment where encounter with the divine is truly possible.
Take a breath in a place of peace, where nature thrives in its rhythm of interconnecting circles of life, given by the light, the air, the water and the earth. Allow the natural cleansing action of your breath to renew the soul's life within you. ....and God breathed life into the man He created. [another paraphrase from Genesis]
As I have begun my eighth cycle, may I be energized for another seven by the renewal of the Giver of life. May I be able to discern the path ahead of me by the Giver of light. May I be refreshed by the gentle winds of the Holy Spirit so that I may be willing to accept new patterns of insight. In all of this, my greatest hope is to know the healing power of Love in every step I take into the future from this present place - so that all of broken creation may come to wholeness - that which I have encounter throughout the linear history of my life and that which I know only through the encounter of others.