There are two metaphors in this introductory section which immediately grabbed me.
The first is not even technically in the introduction but is a paragraph in italics on the page facing the Intro. It challenges me with the image of the seed of a tree. Instead of the common and sappy (excuse the pun!) sentiment of the seed containing everything that the mighty oak needs to grow, this picture insists on the reality of the seed has nothing it needs to grow! All the necessary resources of water, soil and sun are outside its ability to create. It must gather them from its environment, its context, as well as it can. The gift the seed brings to the process of growth is the organization of matter . It is amazingly "...a gateway through which the future possibility of the living tree emerges."
The second image is that from a story of Buckminster Fuller. He used to hold up a hand and ask people what it was. When they said, "A hand", he would point out that the cells making up that hand regenerate themselves completely within a year. What we see as a solid, unchanging fact and entity is in reality a "pattern integrity"...i.e. " the universe's capability to create hands."
What else does the universe have the capability to create if only we become the gateways to the future? The premise of this book is not so much to answer the "What?" question but to raise the "How?" issue, i.e. how do we become gateways instead of barriers to a pattern of life and vitality (not only for ourselves but for the world). For myself and those of us working with Companion Way, I think the question these business gurus ask comes shockingly close to the question of Call. How must we be, as individuals and communities, to bring the pattern of heaven into the reality of the world?
That question of "being" has three components in this introduction which I suspect (and hope) will be dealt with in the rest of the book. At least, these are the issues that I am left wondering about:
1) First of all, context. Context is fundamental to supplying resources needed for organizing matter. The seed which is sown in the desert would do better to wait and wait and wait....for climate change or something to carry it on...than to try to emerge into sand and heat which will not nourish and sustain the pattern of the tree. Are we in a such cultural desert that the Church's best strategy is to hunker down and survive? Are there resources which we need to adapt to use, since the stability and social status which we once depended on are gone...and if so what are those untapped nutrients?
2) Do we indeed have a good understanding of the central purpose, the pattern integrity...not of the church but of God? This is an issue of what master are we serving and comes principally from our confusion about function VS purpose. The function of a hand is to act in a way that will indeed support the purpose (i.e. the viability and life) of the whole organism. In evolution, we see the overall pattern of a hand developing in such a way (over millions of years) that it becomes better at the tasks which not only allow the individual organism to survive but the whole community of monkey/ apes/ humans to thrive. Clearly, the hand has a handle on what is best for the whole over the long run! Do we in the Church have a handle on our purpose as God's community?
3) And finally, there is a question of new VS renewed life. A tree growing from a seed generates new life. A mature hand regenerates at a very slow speed so usually no-one even notices unless something goes wrong. It seems both of these examples of "pattern integrity" are valid and helpful. But are they exclusive to each other? Is one more appropriate to our context than another?
None of these questions are new, but the metaphors give fresh lenses to look at them through. What do you think? What are you wondering?