Posts Tagged ‘butterfly effect’

YouAreHereInTheGalaxyAccording to scripture, Lot was Abraham’s nephew and although he traveled with his Uncle Abraham from Haran to Egypt and then on to the Negev. At some point, both men grew in wealth and decided to part ways. Abraham gave Lot the choice of land, and Lot choice the plain of Jordan to the East, well-watered, and dotted with large cities (among them Sodom and Gomorrah).

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” . . . He [the angel] said to him [Lot], “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town [Zoar] you speak of. But flee there quickly, . . .  Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave.  [Genesis 19:15, 21-22, 30]

Freed by the angels of God, generally negotiated by Uncle Abraham, Lot and his family are given the opportunity to start over. But Lot was a bit of a selfish man and appears to look for the easier way. He chooses the better land when he and his uncle part ways, he chooses to live in the city, he chooses to flee to a closer place than the mountains, and in the end, he even looks the other way when his daughters are impregnated by his drunken self. Moab and Bel-Ammi, are the children born by this incest and they become the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites whose story is intertwined with Abraham’s line through Israel and Judah, but generally it’s a bitter relationship dotted with bloodshed.

This, because of Lot’s choices or passivity. This, because Lot took the way that seemed right to him alone.

From one story after another, whether fairy tale or movie or book, we are reminded that any one of our choices can set huge events in motion. In chaos theory, it is called the Butterfly Effect. But it’s not that hard to look at our own individual lives, so many left and right turns, families made and lost, love seeded and buried, by a single choice, a single conversation, a single word (yes or no).

I wonder if this hasn’t bred the meteoric rise of interest in genealogy. Why, we even have reality television traveling back into the lives of celebrities, church denominations building ancient libraries of such histories, and websites dedicated to helping people go back in time.

How did I get here? We want to know.

I supposed that’s all find and good. But I can’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t be putting more energy into the now. For whatever happened before we are living it. We cannot go back, only forward.

It is for us to respond, to act, to embrace. Whether it was our choices or the choices of our parents or grandparents or great-greats, this is where we have landed. This is where I am, with this family, with these gifts, with this personality, with this day.

And God is here with me. And anything can happen next.

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All of us carries an inheritance from our ancestors and passes one along. Sometimes through nature (through the blood lines) or by nurture (environment and family life). We are the middle managers, standing in the gap between our history and our future.

Genesis 19:36b-38
So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonitesof today.

There is much speculation about Lot’s daughters and why they did what they did. We are told they were virgins and yet they were promised to men of Sodom (who did not heed Lot’s warning to come with them). We know that Lot offered them to a crowd of men who were not interested in his daughters (they wanted the “angels.”) When they finally flee Sodom and later, even Zoar (the only small town on the plain that was saved), they end up in the mountains.

And here is my question: How long were they there? I am not saying that time excuses them, but I have a sense that years had passed before the daughters made this extreme choice. In those times, women without children (particularly those who were barren) were considered cursed and often outcast. By referring to their father as old, the implication is that his death might  put them in crisis.

Nonetheless, whether justified in any way or not, the result created two young men whose long-standing heritage were two of the most pagan (including human sacrifice) and violent peoples. A similar result happened when Sarai gave  Hagar, her handmaid, to Abraham and Ishmael was born.

Through no real fault of their own, these sons were cast into a destiny.

In our own lives, we will never really know what future we are setting in motion when we send our children forth. We cannot know if they are part of a long line, pre-determined by our genealogy or if it begins with us. The cycle of life in our age is complex now and crosses all borders. I suppose, this is just another form of the Butterfly Effect.

For me, today, the only reliable impact I can have, besides doing the best I can as a parent, is to pray; to embrace the presence of my God in the now who exists through all of time.

I have three adopted children, all with traumatic beginnings. By bringing them into our family, we made the first dramatic change to the course of their lives. I cannot help but wonder what will be their inheritance now.

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