Sometimes we follow the process into blind alleys. And sometimes when we try to follow it, we end up temporarily doing more harm than good.
But on the whole, over time we've been doing our infinitesimal bit in bringing order from chaos, in making our corner of the universe more "good."
We seem to be most effective at participating in this ongoing process when we follow Jesus's teachings — which of course originate in Judaism, as seen in the Hebrew Bible; that is to say:
- when we seek the best for others as we do for ourselves ("love your neighbor as yourself");
- when we face the facts, living in the world as it exists — as wrought by a Builder using the laws of nature? — instead of trying to live in a fantasy world of wishful thinking ("love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength");
- when we change our lives if that seems to be called for — in New Testament Greek, metanoia, usually translated as "repentance" but "fixing, and learning from, our screw-ups" might be a more apt equivalent;
- when we strive to be ready for whatever might happen — including our own deaths, because we never know when that might happen.
It's almost as though a Builder has put us in place to serve as created co-creators, to use Lutheran theologian Philip Hefner's phrase.
And perhaps from time to time this Builder provides us with subtle nudges, in ways we don't understand;. After all: Our desires and aspirations — to say nothing of our inspirations about how the world works — must come from somewhere, right?
In part through humanity's ability to learn, the Builder, if such there be, seems to make use not just of our successes, but of our failures too, and even of our catastrophic screw-ups.
So we should keep something in mind: When we desire; when we act on our desires; when we learn from our actions: It seems likely that we're not just cutting stone to pay the bills — we're helping to build a cathedral.
Our hypothetical cathedral's design is beyond our ken, certainly now and perhaps forever. We can only guess how it will ultimately take shape.
But by all indications, the finished product is going to be unimaginably wonderful.
And for reasons I won't go into here, it's not unreasonable to think that our hypothetical Builder will not simply dismiss us peremptorily when our work on The Great Project is done.
Maybe it's just me, but I find incredible joy in this.