WHEN LIFE LOOKS LIKE A POLLOCK

You’ve read this verse a million times (Psalm 139): O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit up and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

Right? Or is that just me?

I know I’ve read this verse passively over and over and over again — half-heartedly (albeit earnestly) giving God a moment of praise for knowing my heart, and for being able to understand my thoughts when I can’t do so for myself. But, this weekend, I read this, and tears sprang into my eyes.

“God. How can you discern my thoughts from afar, when there’s nothing but chaos inside of me?”

(For the sake of vulnerability, I’ve been an emotional mess this year. I hardly know which way is up, and which way is down, let alone understanding the complexity of my thought life.)

He responded — and quickly — “Sophie. To me, your thoughts are like a Jackson Pollock painting.”

…I laughed. Yeah. Exactly my point — chaotic.

But, I was prompted to look up the work, and the inner workings, of Pollock, because I know that God always leaves room for exploration, and discovery, in order for us to come to revelation.

Discover Magazine writes about the artist, "he captured some aesthetic dimension — some abiding logic in human perception — beyond the scope of his critics. That logic, says physicist and art historian Richard Taylor, lies not in art but in mathematics — specifically, in chaos theory and its offspring, fractal geometry. Fractals may seem haphazard at first glance, yet each one is composed of a single geometric pattern repeated thousands of times at different magnifications…[Taylor] began to notice that the drips and splotches on Pollock’s canvases seemed to create repeating patterns at different scales — just like fractals.”

What seems to be child’s play — in that most critics of Pollock respond to his work with, “My four year old child could paint that” — is actually so much more intricate, systematic, and in line with the beauty of nature that supersedes the naked eye. Pollock “wasn’t merely imitating nature, he was adopting its mechanism: chaos dynamics.”

Oh. Oh.

What seems to be the chaos of our lives, then, and especially our thought lives, isn’t nearly as terrifying as we assume. God can perceive and discern our messy, frustrated minds, even from afar, because they make sense to Him. He knows the beauty, the nature, of our mess. Whatever the surface of our lives look like, there’s a lesson to be learned here. There is more than meets the eye…

Because despite the chaos, everything is structured, systematized, under control — orchestrated, even. You know, like a Pollock painting.

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