Rich Paxson

In the Discussion Forum for this step of the unit, explain which image: mechanical clock or a plant, represents how you experience God and Creation.

Plants have ‘growing points’ where new growth emerges; but change related to new growth occurs throughout the plant. The girth of a tree trunk increases. However, points on the trunk do not rise as the tree’s crown grows toward the light. No. Continuing growth at the crown of the tree increases tree height. The truck thickens; branches get bigger and stronger; vein systems get more complex in order to support the growth for which the tree was created. Compare the mature oak with the acorn where it all started. Growth happens in one direction only. There is no returning to the acorn.

Clocks, on the other hand, do not grow. They are manufactured instruments for measuring the passage of time. What is time, if not human awareness of change in pattern, position, people or purpose. Is the universe aware of change? That awareness would make time something other than the space-time continuum ideas we use now to describe the nature of time.

The growing tree analogy is my pick for opening to the experience of God in creation. Beginning with the seed, the tree progresses into maturity by retaining and transcending its prior forms. Growing points always reach ever more higher into the light. The tree’s form at any point in time is necessary for the emergence of subsequent structure. The tree incorporates past form into present structure, because past form facilitates growth into the light. Denying its past truncates, even subverts, the tree’s struggle to grow into the light.

As Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote:

“Where is the tree that can utter fully the silent passion of the soil?”