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Black and White Binary

We have seen the harm that is brought about by extreme polarity or unwavering binary belief (also described as dualism). And still we can find ourselves gravitating in that direction; is it human nature, or just the easiest way to order our worlds and soften the struggle? Sociologists have studied its negative effects on societies and people pushed to the margins within those binary cultures for many different reasons. I have also seen evidence of this in the natural world where signs of disaster or unhealthy ecosystems get reduced to binary qualities or even worse, monoculture. In all of this trouble and challenge, I do have hope for creation because even in the most desolate of places, God is able to start new life. Creator has plans for systems renewal. I desperately want to cling to that same hope for human systems and the human capacity to reflect God’s diverse and mysterious creation of the world. It may take time, it may take having the eyes to see and it may take travelling the road along the path of some pain, trauma and destruction. But I think we can do it and I hope we too, can renew, like the boreal forest that has been burnt across Turtle Island in the past few years. In this advent season I reflected on all of this as I recently drove past the site of one of those major forest fires that scorched the earth a few short years ago.

Nature gives us a picture of burnt forest that produces stands of scorched wood with only black and white sticks poking up out of the ground. There are dead trees with undergrowth reduced to ashes. The landscape is reduced to a binary of colour and a singular of death. 

But wait…

Creator is teaching us that renewal is part of the process and cycle of life and death. But our lives should not stay in one part of the process or be reduced to an apparent end. What might become a binary is only a temporal existence waiting for green to grow up through! New life will be made again, in the nutrients of what went before, to be energy, shelter and more; once again. 

But wait… 

Time is so difficult for us to grasp, coming and going, here now and gone back then. Short seasons change in singular trips around the sun while some things seem to remain constant for hundreds of years. Thousands upon thousands… millions.

But wait…

Will the binary of black and white, the death and life of a tree, with new green growing up, be mirrored in greater human economic, cultural or religious systems? Can centuries of exclusion and oppression, a binary of human white and black, be infused with brown and green too? Maybe more colours are waiting to shine down from God’s rainbow reminder too.

Still wait… 

For that rainbow promise, all will never be destroyed, new life for all of creation’s diversity. Creation teaches us that strong roots, in healthy soil… a healthy foundation… will be the place where all can find refuge on the arc of justice, inclusion and love’s equality. 

Wait still…

Forgive us, even when we know not… let death not have the last word… we await new life again in the grace and mercy of our Creator… for the love of God and neighbour.

Selah, Amen.

Picture provided by the author.

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