“Variation wakes us up with its touch of difference, just as a cadence of drums in a marching band keeps two things going at the same time: a strict and regular beat and a few contrapuntal accents, flourishes, and even silences.”
— Mary Oliver (emphasis mine)
Though Mary Oliver was writing to teach would-be poets about the nature of poetry, her words about the beauty and necessity of variation speak to our life together in this wild, wonderful, and terrible world we live in.
An appreciation for variation/diversity/difference opens the door for a rich and, I believe, spirit-filled existence. Appreciating variation in the way people talk, think, believe, and even prefer their food is a safeguard against a selfish and limited existence that keeps us trapped in fear and anxiety. Limiting our appreciation and embrace of difference keeps us always on guard trying to insure security.
But it doesn’t bring a lot of peace of mind because we are always having to put up our shields hoping to keep our experiences the same as they have been.
Appreciating variation is not just about appreciating differences in people and cultures. It is also about appreciating (and now that word is even harder) the difficulties of life. We don’t need CNN or FOX to tell us that we live in a world of pain, violence, hunger, and fear. We have known this all along.
What does it mean, then, to appreciate this? Sunday, I will share some thoughts on this idea in DiscipleChurch. We meet at 8:30 am in Leonard Chapel, and we would love to have you with us.
God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled. — 2 Timothy 1:7