Premature convergence. That was my take-away from a training I recently attended. While it is not a phrase I’d heard before, I recognized it immediately – in myself.
Premature convergence is forcing a conclusion/a solution/a resolution/an answer too soon. It is a process that pushes for completion when we don’t have the scope or depth of knowledge or experience or input that will make for a satisfying, sustainable conclusion.
We make such convergences happen for any number of reasons. Perhaps because we are unsettled by what is incomplete or open-ended. Perhaps because we think we see The Answer and are intolerant to one degree or another of any process or any idea that would delay its appearance. Perhaps because we are too lazy or selfish or untrusting to do the deep work with others that is required.
Most of us have pushed like this at one time or another … whether in our families, our workplaces, or our churches. And I suspect the underlying motivation for many, if not all of us has been a hunger for wholeness. We see the imperfections we have wrought or allowed in the world. We see our own imperfections and brokenness. And we ache for what the story of “the garden” tells us….that in God’s economy there is harmony. There is wholeness. There is peace. And in our deepest selves we know we were meant to be part of it. We also know we have squandered that potential.
So now we have become impatient. In a world with more than its share of chaos, darkness, and uncertainty we want to pin things down. We long to “make” the world into our various images of “good,” which, as it turns out, just doesn’t work. We grow less and less open to others’ stories or to conversation with them. We want action, and action on behalf of our view of things. It’s obvious where that will lead when so many of us have lost touch with the possibility that we may just not have all the answers.
We are a nation top heavy with folks who once had all the answers. In the 1950’s they knew this “Christian Nation” of ours had come through a fight for “our way of life” and had arisen victorious. We had been on the side of “right” and God had vindicated us. That kind of certainty is hard to let go of. It’s also easy to pass on. And so we rehearse that story and become less and less interested in the story of others. We latch on to this narrative so tightly that we begin to think it is the only narrative worth telling…certainly worth believing.
So where does this train of thought lead that qualifies it for a “religious” column? Those of us who believe there is a Deity at the heart of creation most often come to the belief that this God’s creating work is ongoing. (There are those of the “Deistic” stripe who hold to a God who set the universe in motion then sat back to watch it unfold. The rest of us plunk ourselves down in the camp of a still active Creator/Creative Force.) And what that means is things aren’t cast in stone. The universe is filled with possibility. You might even say the universe IS potentiality. And here we are wanting to shut things down. To finalize them. To make them secure and predictable. I know we all want our life’s picture to be whole and beautiful. But that means it would have to be static. And if there is one thing that is antithetical to creativity and generativity, it is stasis.
For many of us is hard to live with questions, not knowing if we will ever have answers. It is often a challenge to live with imperfection, not knowing when, or even if, healing and wholeness will come. It can be just flat hard not knowing ….about anything. But within the economy of the God in whom most of us say we believe, living with the questions and the uncertainty and the ambiguity is all there is.
We can do it gracefully and generously or we can spend our lives clutching at what remains elusive. We can spend our days in hope with expectation or we can rage against the unknown. We do have a choice. We can join the Divine in the dance that is constantly sowing seeds of New Life, or we can insist on one premature convergence after the other. The level of our fear will determine which stance we take.