One of the beloved regular visitors to the hangout at the homeless shelter is a quiet, gentle man who is always full of thoughtful questions, but who is also always willing to look toward the unpredictable, incomprehensible, and intrinsically interconnected
nature of life.
We often get to a conversation about all the things that had to happen for me to appear at the shelter, for him to see the sign for the hangout and make the decision to stop in, and for both of us to be sitting together
in the room we are in right now, with its walls and ceiling and floor and door and window and pipes and wiring and vents and light and heat and air and paint and furniture and decorations and books... and even everything else within the building and city in
which we and this room are contained... EACH tiny component of it ALL having had a mostly unknown and mostly untraceable and incomprehensibly complex journey to get from a raw resource to the form and place it is in right now.
the chances of any of it and all of it? And how does all this inherent chaos, and dominoed history, and interconnection of the infinite threads in the web of life, somehow manage to work?
As I was reflecting on this today, it made me think
of a child's line of questioning...
How does that balloon stay in the air?
It's full of helium.
What is helium?
It's a gas that is lighter than air.
Where do they get the helium to put in the balloon?
of some gases that are found underground.
How did it get underground?
I'm not sure... it's a geological thing that happened over millions or billions of years.
We eventually lose our patience with the
endless line of questioning, while being completely oblivious to the deep profundity that the child is seeing and pointing to... right in front of our very eyes.
As the questions are asked, we think we are the teacher, but we are completely
missing the lesson that is being taught to us...
"Hey you! Open your eyes! SEE and REALIZE the incomprehensible miracle of everything around you! All the things that just work and happen even though you have no real understanding of the
depth of why or how!... Each infinitesimal speck of life that somehow comes together in a cooperative form to HOLD YOU as you navigate throughout each changing moment of your entire life from long before your birth to long after your death... much more like
you are the bouyant flotsam and jetsam flowing along the currents of life, rather than the silly and innocent delusion that you are the sole captain of your ship, requiring no cooperation from anyone or anything."
Yes, our human form is
"doing stuff"... but... any and every single ability to "do", requires a mostly-invisible-to-us cooperative network of life both outside and inside.
Gaining any sense of the expansive significance of this in any way in any moment is "the
gift of understanding", and something worth reflecting on from time to time. I forget all of this quite often, but with every next realization of the truth of it, I feel a sigh of relief, and I rest in wonder and gratitude.