I have been working outside between showers lately. Yesterday I stopped to take note of pansies growing through the gravel on our drive. (I now park our car in another spot.) They are beautiful in their random appearance. That got me thinking about randomness in life, the universe and everything. Our news media tend to focus on the random acts of violence or natural disasters in the world. I recently read a statistic which said that Americans have a 1 in 315 chance of being shot during their lifetimes, while chances of winning the lottery are something like 1 in 14 million. It’s a stark difference in odds or randomness.
Since the early 20th century, those of us who actually believe scientists make a positive contribution to human existence and knowledge, have learned about randomness in our universe via quantum theory. However, it seems to me that for most of us non-physicists, we see randomness as a threat to carefully planned lives. Thus the adage: ‘shit happens.’ But where would we be in a world without (literal) shit? A lot more bloated, for one! Not enough fertiliser, for another. Thank goodness for those who advocate random acts of kindness or pay it forward as an antidote to negativity!
So back to the pansies and their random beauty that I had nothing to do with, any more than the air that I breathe, the rain that falls, the people in shops who help me with my imperfect French or that 15 year old bottle of Bordeaux that a neighbour brought by for my birthday. (We now tutoyer😉!) For those of us who have a faith in God, the Great Spirit, יהוה, the I AM or Being Itself, and also see scientific endeavours as an integral part of the search for Truth that many of us revere, God’s randomness might just as well be called ‘grace’—a gratuitous free gift that we can’t earn, buy or demand. All we can do is open our hearts, minds, eyes, hands and accept it. Providence is the now out-of-fashion word for it: God’s provision or provide(nce) of all the things we need in life but which we have had no hand in bringing into existence—including beauty. (As a novelist, I can honestly say I do not plan what I write or what my characters say. The words are given to me.)
I am not the first, nor will I be the last, writer to posit that maybe, just maybe, grace/love/beauty are in fact the hidden glue that holds everything together in our world. Yes, the very things that we either take for granted or ignore in our mad dash between complaints and rants about the shit that happens in life, while ignoring that God has provided more than enough toilet paper! Take a slow, deep breath and think about it.