Our Punctuated Equilibrium of Spiritual Growth (Perry's Ponderings)

I remember being introduced to the evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibrium that is about species moving along in stasis or very gradual evolution and then having a sudden major change due to a mutation or other event. It strikes me how this biological evolutionary theory actually applies to our individual, spiritual, emotional lives. We create our routines and our lives move along in a somewhat constant way, hopefully with gradual personal growth happening in the background, until an event hits our lives with a sudden impact. These incidents that puncture our equilibrium force us to shift our perspective and create a new reality. We are transformed by what causes a fissure in our lives and at first seems to break us.

In my own life, I have been through serious illness, divorce, the death of young and old people close to me, and supporting those around me through addiction, cancer, and mental health struggles. Each of these situations has brought its own anguish, attempt for understanding, and search for a path forward. In these moments of life, we struggle to understand the circumstances and ways to cope. I was once told, “No death stands alone.” Our lives are composed of the connective fiber of our life experiences. We experience a sudden brokenness in the context of everything else we have been through and who we are at that moment in time.

Afterward, we continue to process and mesh the experience with our previous life perspective, forming a new vision and way of being that contains the old material woven with our new passages. Sometimes it feels like our life is never the same again. Well, it isn’t; we have evolved.

Although it is an internal process, we depend on others to move ourselves forward. The people around us provide perspective, comfort our pain, push us forward, and often hold up a mirror so we may see more deeply what is happening inside of us. It is invaluable to have a community to which you can bring the questions, feelings, uncertainties, and fledgling realizations. In our Unitarian Universalist faith community we grow together emotionally and intellectually.

The CUC Adult RE Support Team is having initial conversations about how we can create more opportunities for growth and learning. We want to intentionally allow the space for discussing life transitions, topics of interest, theological exploration, faith identity, ethical questions, and shared experiences. There are many formats for doing this whether in a single class, ongoing discussion group, field trip, lecture, or spiritual practice. We welcome your thoughts and ideas as we go through the process. Let us know what has punctuated your equilibrium and what questions it has raised for you that would be better processed in beloved community. Adult Religious Education is about sharing our stories in the context of a focused topic, so that we learn from one another. In this way, we continue to transform the cracks of our brokenness into beautiful lines of our personal evolution.

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