Monday, February 18, 2013

Crumpling Mountains (on Time Travel and why I use Instagram)

One day I was writing, looking at the mountains and playing with my camera's phone. I use Instagram for this kind of play because it's a quick way to capture something that catches my eye. Figuring out why that particular thing caught my eye, however, is usually a bit more complicated. And it takes work.

This particular day I crumpled up a piece of paper, noticed the similarity between it and the mountains, and started taking photos. Wow. Pretty profound, right? (These are the sort of things that you try to do when no one is looking, because, face it, it's pretty strange. But then again, the world is strange, and the border between useful discovery and useless weird is not always obvious).

At the time I liked it visually. It fit. Not just the shapes, but something about the idea of folding and bending paper and the essence of the mountains themselves. According to physics, matter, solid matter, is mostly empty space. We can bend paper but not mountains. (Jesus said we could move them, but that's a rabbit trail for another day). We don't naturally see the similarities between such things. We do, however, imagine it sometimes -- time travel, shape shifting, teleporting (this stuff is in the Bible, right? Jesus walks through walls, Stephen is transported from one place to another).

You can get into weird, unprofitable (dangerous even) speculation around this sort of thing -- but I think you can just as easily be afraid of, ignore or avoid the edges which contain things which are crucial for our lives and growth, places where new solutions are waiting to be discovered, where God is ready to take us past our own understanding (and control), where mountains are ready to be bent or moved (what did Jesus mean by "move" anyway) and where time flows like a river around rocks, slowing and speeding up but overall moving in that particular direction that we assume it moves towards like a machine in a factory. There is order in this universe, but it's not merely the kind of order we make; there is a deeper, richer, more flexible and mysterious order that we are surrounded by, which invites us beyond the surface into a life of discovery, risk, hope, faith... and hard work for the mind as well as the body.

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