Friday, April 16, 2010
The Butterfly Effect
A cloud of ash generated by the eruption of a volcano in Iceland shut down airports in northern Europe for another day. This is yet another reminder of the awesome power of nature to disrupt our lives.
This series of events reminds me of the "butterfly effect," which says that a small, seemingly insignificant event can have great consequences. This idea is captured in the classic question, "Can the flapping of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?" Although the eruption of a volcanic vent is much more powerful than the flapping of a butterfly's wings, it does show our interconnectedness with nature.
Of course, the "butterfly effect" is a metaphor. Yet, it is a useful one in the spiritual realm. Small things can have large (and often unintended) consequences. A decision to forgo a time of prayer in the morning could ripple through one's day, resulting in greater anxiety. Taking time to help someone in distress could lead to an out-of-proportion feeling of satisfaction. The moments of our lives are interconnected in ways we can't see or grasp.
It's good to be reminded that small decisions can have large consequences and that we're not always in control of these. Every moment has meaning and significance. It's good to be mindful of this truth.