Hunting for Patterns in the Unpredictable

There is quiet out by the pond. The stillness is broken only by the underlying rise and fall of bird song. Bullfrogs began their chorus as soon as she arrives. They sound like inept bass players who cannot keep time, plucking an arrhythmic tune that repeats,

“Woman…woman…woman…….woman……….woman…woman.”

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They indicate that she does not belong. The smaller frogs make chucking sounds as she walks past and with dramatic flair, they catapult themselves into the air, belly flopping into the dark waters with a plunk. Now and then their snouts part the film of green algae to see who remains. With a disdainful glance, they descend into the dark water to wait.

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At the base of the fir trees, a myriad of insects weave their way in and out of the dry leaf litter and needles, inhabitants of a chaotic village. A spider gingerly reaches out its front legs and taps her toe. He finds nothing attractive and returns to hunting beneath the leaves. Small white butterflies do a zig zag dance across the surface of the pond under the watchful eye of birds.

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Where is the symmetry here, she thinks, as the butterflies brush her cheek? Why are you all so random and unpredictable? Why don’t you keep time?

“Oh woman,” they respond as they twist and dive, “You can answer your question.”

Then with a striking clarity that makes tears fall, she understands. The chaos, the unpredictability, the randomness keeps creatures safe from those who might swoop down to get them if the pattern can be recognized. That is the reason for the frogs who don’t keep time, for the zigzag dance of the insects.  If they can’t predict your movement, you cannot be caught.

“Woman we see you,” they seem to say “and we know why you hide. We understand your busyness. We are aware of all your evasive moves.” They whisper, “At some point, even things that appear to be random generate patterns. Who you have been, emerged from a story of survival just like ours. Woman… you can learn to dance. What makes you so afraid? Are you frightened of being captured and pinned? Having your wings clipped? Being stuffed into a box?”

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Yes, just like the inhabitants of this little ecosystem, most of us are afraid of the starkness of being known without being loved.

She stood utterly still by the water’s edge. The frogs grew quiet as a gentle breeze came up. The butterflies lighted on flowers.

It is only the simple truth that has the power to free.

We belong.

        “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.”

                                                                               – Simone Weil

Photo of tree with holes by John Braverman, S. J. 

All other photos and writing  by M.G. Iannucci. The pond is part of  “Our Lady of Grace Monastery” in North Guilford, CT. 

 

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22 thoughts on “Hunting for Patterns in the Unpredictable

  1. I tracked down the Simone Weil passage in her long essay on rootedness. I don’t know if you read French, but here’s the paragraph:

    “L’enracinement est peut-être le besoin le plus important et le plus méconnu de l’âme humaine. C’est un des plus difficiles à définir. Un être humain a une racine par sa participation réelle, active et naturelle à l’existence d’une collectivité qui conserve vivants certains trésors du passé et certains pressentiments d’avenir. Participation naturelle, c’est-à-dire amenée automatiquement par le lieu, la naissance, la profession, l’entourage. Chaque être humain a besoin d’avoir de multiples racines. Il a besoin de recevoir la presque totalité de sa vie morale, intellectuelle, spirituelle, par l’intermédiaire des milieux dont il fait naturellement partie.”

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    1. Thank you! The translations to English do not do justice. I do not speak French but people I know who do are lovely enough to read and translate. Teilhard de Chardin’s work is similar. Translation is everything, but there is something about hearing the spoken word in the original tongue. It is a way of thinking.

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    1. Thank you Jerry! Speaking of illustrating, I looked at your website and you have an amazing picture of a swallow looking backwards in flight (at least I think I remember that). May I include your picture with attributes to you in another one of my posts? I absolutely love swallows and I have never seen them to that.

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      1. Yes, you may use that photo, I wish that it was sharper though. It’s hard to see them do it while they are flying, but swallows are always looking around as they fly, something that I’ve learned trying to photograph them.

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        1. I am not a photographer and I do not even have a proper camera. I appreciate the skill and stealth it takes to capture animals on the move. Your photos tell a story. That swallow flying and looking back is something that I never would have been able to see except through someone else’s lens. Thank for seeing for us.

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  2. I recently discovered Ms Weil’s work and am being blessed by her refreshing depth in such a shallow sea. When rooted in the One who does not move it makes all else seem to spin dizzily out of control. Oh to brave that celestial vertigo every moment.

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