Taylor: Spontaneous collaboration at work

To me, the real world’s continually changing kaleidoscope can only happen symbiotically. No one is in charge, directing every detail.

In another column, I wrote about five years of effort by the Rotary Club of Lake Country to provide the Lake Country Food Bank with a permanent new home. The ceremony for turning over the keys to the new building took place just one week ago.

Like so many things, the planning started so simply. The ceremony was originally scheduled for December 23, as a Christmas present for Food Bank founder, Phyllis MacPherson. That plan got abruptly postponed when Phyllis died four nights before.

“How about January 6th?” someone suggested.

“Over lunch? In the afternoon?” someone else asked.

Just like that, the decision was made; the die, cast.

From that moment on, life felt like paddling a canoe at the top of a waterfall, trying not to get swept over the brink. Over 200 donors to invite by phone. Caterers to call. Sandwiches to make. Dignitaries to contact. Media to co-ordinate.

As the river ran faster, previously unidentified needs emerged. A PA system. A guest book. A slide show of construction.

Even then, crucial details got overlooked. Mayor James Baker and Rotary club president Monika Jatel prepared to hand over the keys to the new building. Keys? What keys? Where?

With great presence of mind, provincial MLA Norm Letnick slipped his car keys into Monika’s hand. Without blinking, the Food Bank representatives accepted responsibility for Norm’s Smart Car!

The whole experience makes me realize how complicated any event can be.

Unless you’re doing the same thing over and over again, of course. The “roadies” for a rock tour soon settle into routines. So do bureaucracies—they have a template; they have defined duties; they resist unexpected changes.

But for a one-time event, everything is new.

And in the real world, every moment is a one-time event, never repeated.

Which makes me skeptical of the theory of “intelligent design.” That’s a conviction that the world is too complicated to have evolved by chance. The similarities between a human eye and an octopus eye cannot be coincidental. Such similarities could not have evolved separately; there must be a common mind behind them.

If it’s difficult to anticipate every detail in something as simple as handing over a set of keys, can you imagine working out every detail in anything as complicated as a single moment in the life of the world?

Let alone the universe?

And then to know how that moment will transform into the next moment. And then the next. All the way into infinity?

If you can imagine it, good for you—your imagination can handle more than mine.

To me, the real world’s continually changing kaleidoscope can only happen symbiotically. No one is in charge, directing every detail. Rather, every element plays its own part; every component influences every other component. Even mistakes help to shape the total outcome.

I believe that God—whatever you may think God is—doesn’t plan each moment. To mix my metaphors a little, God is not the author of a play. Nor is God the director, moving trained actors around in their roles. God is the play itself, the performance that enchants and captivates.

And somehow it all comes together, in the end.

 

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