Albert Einstein said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” I believe that’s true….
In the “Stella posts,” I also wondered if perhaps the future knows the past – some future intention for this 2018 Gandhi 3.0 experience orchestrated the dying details of the 2013 trip….because time is timeless.
It started with the church’s need to refurbish the room where we hold 12-step meetings. The room was an embarrassment. Greying white paint chipped off in flakes, showing ancient yellow underneath. Dusty fluorescent bulbs provided faltering lighting. The stained rose-colored carpet smelled like a swamp thing.
One day, I had an idea. I knew someone who knew Wayne Dyer, so I decided to get his contact information and invite him to come and speak at our church. I thought “That will raise the 50K we need for repairs.”
Wayne Dyer said no. He was out of our league.
Then someone introduced me to Nipun via a transcript of a commencement address he gave at U-Penn. Nipun wrote:
“I want to close with a story about my great grandfather. He was a man of little wealth who still managed to give every single day of his life. Each morning, he had a ritual of going on a walk — and as he walked, he diligently fed the ant hills along his path with small pinches of wheat flour. Now that is an act of micro generosity so small that it might seem utterly negligible, in the grand scheme of the universe. How does it matter? It matters in that it changed him inside. And my great grandfather’s goodness shaped the worldview of my grandparents who in turn influenced that of their children — my parents. Today those ants and the ant hills are gone, but my great grandpa’s spirit is very much embedded in all my actions and their future ripples. It is precisely these small, often invisible, acts of inner transformation that mold the stuff of our being, and bend the arc of our shared destiny.”
Nipun asks us to trust the ripples.
I read the transcript, and I knew that anyone who could write so lovingly about picnic pests had to be unique. He had me at ants. I invited him to come and speak at our church. Nipun, who speaks all over the world, said yes. His visit changed the trajectory of my ministry, my church, and my life.
And I wonder about Cause and Effect.
Did a smelly room create the need for a guest speaker or did a guest speaker beyond my wildest dreams reach back and create a smelly room?
Did ants lead to a future ministry of epic kindness, or did the ministry of kindness create ants in need of wheat flour to tempt the helpful actions of an elderly gentleman?
And what caused a life-changing trip to India? Was I always meant to go? Did the future create all the tiny past steps that made it happen?
All I know is that I don’t know. And when I don’t know, I have to trust.
I trust that time is an illusion – a relative concept created by us to make sense of our lives. I trust that Cause and Effect are a tangled hierarchy, one hand draws the other. I trust that the things I call bad or disappointing – a smelly room, a desperate plan, rejection from a famous speaker –these “bad” things held under the scrutiny of timeless eternity are good things.
Future potentialities beckon to us. Just as the past shapes the future, the future shapes the past. Somehow it’s all held in an arc of never ending love, as the ripples ripple forward and back.
How have you made sense of disappointment under the “scrutiny of eternity?” Have you ever observed the future influencing the past? How might the mutuality of past and future influence how you live in this moment?