Beautiful Constraints

listen to NPR’s “Science Friday” program religiously. Believe it or not, I find science inspirational to my spiritual life.


Case in point: a short piece on February 12 Up Leaves inspired me. The video editor tried to describe what sorts of questions the physicists were asking when they injected fluorescent dye into leaves, and she said, “What constraints create this sort of beautiful pattern in the leaf?”


Yes! What constraints create beauty? Sounds like a spiritual question if there ever was one.


You might say that my life is constrained by my choice to observe the Sabbath. That day is different, and the constraints I put on myself for those 24 hours create a “sort of” beautiful pattern. In the video, the scientists explain that the dye doesn’t travel in lines, but in loops. Circles. Like the circle of a week or of a year. Even the circle of a human life.


My life has been constrained by my mother’s cancer, especially the last two years. Now, her journey is over. In the end, she was constrained on every side yet she was more beautiful than ever. Over the past 13 days, I constrained my regular life so that I could observe this beauty. I saw the circular pattern of life and death and new life up close.


God glowed in the darkness.