The Other Side of Complexity


"I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity."  (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

The other side of complexity is where we end-up after we have wrestled and wrangled with a worthy question, or struggled and suffered with a wounded heart, or tried hard and failed at living-out a powerful dream, or prayed and worked for an opportunity which never came. The other side of complexity is beyond the fatigue and frustration, the disillusionment and discouragement, which set-in when the simplicity before the journey into complexity proves empty, insufficient, and lacking. 

To say, for instance, “God is love” is a simple thing to do.  To experience betrayal, heartbreak, failure, or shame and to wonder what God’s love means in those experiences is complex.  To hear how harshly and condemningly some of God’s people speak about other human beings and to ask how they represent a God of love is complex.  To see the world wracked and ruined by evil and violence and to doubt that the world’s brokenness is compatible with a God of love is complex. 

These kinds of complexities have taken me, more than once, into the wilderness of uncertainty and complexity.  Slowly, though, often through the tender and tenacious care of others, grace peeks through the brokenness, mercy grows-up in the misery, love rises from the dust of death, and a path opens to the other side of complexity.  There, it is possible to say again, “God is love.”  There, it is simple, but not simplistic.

An T. S. Eliot said in “Little Gidding”:
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this
     Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.