Fusions in the Void, Part 13. East and West: Children Of a Different Culture

In the most challenging moments of our lives, when that void is at its most vast point…

When we’ve leapt from the one side of the cliff, willing ourselves across the chasm and find ourselves suspended between, hanging for a moment like Wile E. Coyote, recognizing that no amount of Acme Rocket Fuel will get us across …

When we try to connect with a culture that isn’t our own and our fingers stretch out to find some sort of purchase, not even a grip or handhold, but even something to touch…

And we don’t feel anything, we don’t feel ourselves connecting with anything, the void is deepest between ourselves and even those we’ve always known, the people who have loved us as best they know how

Yet there is a gap between East and West …

We become the bridge across the gorge. We become the one to whom others can connect.

A third-culture child never does truly reach the other side, because at some point in their youth, there was a Void, and God created something out of nothing there. God said, let there be West and let there be East and somehow in flight between the two we never quite left and never quite arrived. Instead, in that void, God did something new. God fused East and West in us, and made children of a different culture.

I perhaps a bit vainly say that this third culture is really the culture that most mirrors Heaven. If we believe that Jesus was both God and man, 100% each, somehow a 200% being, which I cannot really explain, then we have to believe that somehow Jesus also made a perfect bridge. So those of us who are in that painful, vacuous spot and see nothing, feel nothing at our fingertips, are being invited to connect in the same way. Cultures are not static. So when you are part of the formation of a new culture, you’re on the dynamic cutting edge of culture itself.

When God makes something out of nothing, it’s significant. God makes things every day. New Chinese babies, new Brazilian babies, New Palestinian and Israeli babies. New American babies. New babies with fine, soft skin of every race, of every creature. New butterflies, new rainbows, new sunsets, new unicorns.

Well, not the unicorns, but if God did, then he’d be making something out of nothing, and that’s what’s extra special about being in the void itself: you get to see what God will make in a vacuum. The point is that when God fuses something like East and West to create something Central, God has done something new in the void.

Fusions in the Void, Part 12. Summer and Winter: A new spring

Fitting that this blog is set to release on December 1. I know that winter officially begins later, but December 1 is that day you wake up and say, “Well, I can’t fool myself any longer into thinking it’s fall.” I love autumn, I never really want it to go away. I don’t particularly like winter:

get out your shovel and dig
get out your shovel and dig…

There are days I don’t like summer, either. Our house doesn’t have air conditioning, but by controlling when the windows are open or shut we can keep it fairly cool, around 72 degrees, except for on the really hot and humid days we suffer one or two weeks of every August. Then, I sit in my office with drops of perspiration rolling down my back and wish for October to come again.

Natural cycles are like this. Even in the desert the rain comes, just enough to sustain cacti or lizards. Then, times and places change, nothing’s ever static. There are places in the world where drought is this unexpected thing. Australia and California are prime examples of places that were breadbaskets but are struggling for water.

In the Void, nothing seems to be happening. It’s emotionally and spiritually dry like summer, or dead and cold like winter, never quite what you wish it was. That’s the definition of being in the void, or in a valley experience. The imagery is palpable when you feel this way; you can’t function even in what you know you can do well because your locks are frozen, the air hurts your lungs (And Christians sing “this is the air I breathe/ your holy presence, living in me”). But what if it’s painful to inhale anything? What if you feel like you’re sweating?

In the void, God is fusing summer and winter to create a new spring. Even though fall is what I like best– fall seems like a less rainy springtime– we all hunger for spring. New growth, new life. Looking back at the beginning of this series, we talked about that passage in Genesis 1:2 where the spirit of God is hovering over the waters. The Spirit is calculating the perfect blend for us: a sun just far enough away that in winter we have a tolerable temperature, but in summer as well. On average, the temperature of springtime, we have a perfect blend of hot and cold, summer and winter, that gives us the spring time needed for new growth.

When it’s hot, or cold, in a spiritual or emotional way, it’s our invitation to remember that spring is delicately balanced as the world tilts so that things will grow. Hang on to that reminder. Summer, you can sweat it out. Winter can’t last forever. Spring will come again, because God knows how to Fuse stuff in the Void of your life.

(this series began October 3– see the archives in the left-hand toolbar to work your way back to the beginning.)

Fusions in the Void, Number 11. Music and Silence.

If you could fuse music and silence, what would it sound like?

The quietest place on earth is a studio at Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota, with a negative decibel reading. It would actually drive you crazy: nobody’s been able to stay inside it longer than 45 minutes. Most people duck out in just a few seconds. You think you want peace and quiet? You really want peace.

In contrast, one of the noisiest places on earth is CenturyLink field in Seattle on a day when Seattle’s beloved home team, the Seahawks, plays football there. It’s so loud the crowd is thought of as a twelfth man, essentially their job is disruption of the opponent’s offensive plays. And it works.

In the Void, the dark night of the soul of our lives, there comes a restlessness. In the Old Testament, King Saul enjoyed hearing a young shepherd named David play his harp. It eased Saul’s troubled spirit (but not so much after he realized David was turning into a rival). On the other hand, Elijah went through a variety of very loud storms (fire, earthquake, wind) and finally in the stillness heard the small voice of God.

If God’s voice is still and small, but God’s words can rock your world so deeply, as though you were in a mosh pit, then there’s some sort of fusion only God can do. It’s a fusion between music and silence. Something spiritually resonant. That’s what you’re looking for when you say you want some peace and quiet, but it’s also what you want when you say you want to listen to some “old time rock and roll, the kind of music that soothes the soul.”

In that void of Genesis before time, God fused all kinds of things as God’s spirit hovered over the water. Now, when your life is dry like desert, you may feel that you’re in the quietest room in the world, about to go crazy, or in the loudest stadium, unable to block out the sound, but somewhere, somehow in the void God fuses music and silence to create a resonating peace. You may feel more like Saul or more like Elijah (neither of them were having their happiest days) but your results are driven by what you’re listening to.

Now, I’m not saying don’t listen to dark, depressing music. And I’m not saying you now have to go find a quiet spot. I’m not entirely sure what I think any random person ought to do. All I’m suggesting is that you may want to be aware that God can create a fusion while you’re in the void. I cannot say how you will or might find it. (You would come up with your own ideas if I was coaching you). All I know is that it is there. It is hearable — or perhaps I should say, it is experience-able, because it is half-silent. You might well hear it while listening to music. You might well hear it practicing and embracing times of silence. If you’re used to doing one, try the other, and look for it. A still small voice, a fusion between music and silence which brings resonating peace.