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Fractals and our Fractured World

Ascending to a higher level of mathematics

· Random Thoughts

This past week was the celebration of the Feast of Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven. All Catholics around the world celebrated it on either Thursday or Sunday, depending on your diocese. On this feast day we celebrate the day that Jesus ascended, body and soul, into heaven.

So many times I think about how nice it would’ve been if he would have just stayed here on Earth so we could physically see Him or go have a conversation with Him. Daily on our televisions and computers and phones we are repeatedly reminded of how divided our world currently is. Every single story seems to have an “us” and a “them.” Even silly celebrity stories have some sort of feud going on.

Seeing this daily can be exhausting. I know I periodically have to take breaks from social media or from watching the morning news. To me, my mental wellness is so much more important than knowing all of the petty disagreements and fighting happening that day.

But what if Christ was still on this planet? Wouldn’t it be easier? He could just have a Twitter account or news show and tell people what is right and wrong and instruct us every second of every day and the 1/3 of the world who are Christians could all get in line. And maybe if He had stayed here, more people than that would have joined in too!

But our all-knowing God didn’t do that. He left this physical world to go to heaven. Despite what we see around us currently, this was the perfect thing to do. God does not want this division and fragmentation of people, but He knew that the most perfect union with us could only be accomplished in heaven. It is not until we look at the bigger picture that we see the beauty.

As I was listening to the priest’s homily this weekend (By newly ordained Fr. David Michael Moses! Congrats!), and when I read a reflection on the readings, I immediately thought of FRACTALS!

According to one website,
are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos.”
Fractals are a mathematical wonder that fascinate so many people. These repeating patterns are found everywhere in nature, in fault lines and snowflakes and trees and even the rings of Saturn! During my many years in science lab classes, they were often seen in bacteria growth patterns and crystal formations.

For those of you who are more visual and haven’t taken 50,000 science classes like I have, here are a few different fractals to help you picture what I’m talking about.

broken image
broken image
broken image
broken image

Don’t lie, you started singing “Let it Go.”

“…My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around.”

(I’m so sorry that the song will now be stuck in your head.)

But let’s take a second and really look at these pictures. My first thought when I see them is beauty. They are SO BEAUTIFUL, but that’s because I can see it all. I see the whole magnificent thing. But what is it composed of? Divisions, FRACtures, different paths splitting off, similar to how I described our world. And right now you might be saying, but Dani, the fractals are all symmetrical, have patterns, and repeat the same thing. Our sins and our hate have patterns and are repetitious too. None of our sins are unique. As the saying goes, history repeats itself. From big things like bigotry and war to smaller things like gossip and envy, all of these things have been done before and will continue to cause division among us until the Lord comes again.

I mentioned earlier how if Christ hadn’t ascended maybe He would unite us, but during the time Jesus lived on Earth people were divided too. He wasn’t able to go and reach everyone, but from heaven He is able to impact the whole world. Even with all of our fighting and our disagreements, we are united in the one Christ. Even though we are broken and we make mistakes and we cause these divisions, when we look at all of humanity, we see that we are all made in the image of God. We all have a relationship with God in some way or another (even if it’s one-sided). With our God in heaven, we can truly be unified.

In the Gospel story (Luke 24:46-53), Jesus tells all of the disciples that THEY have to be the witness to this unity. He encourages each of them (and thus each of us) to go spread the good news with their lives. “…repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
If the world remains unconvinced about Christ and the Good News of salvation, the fault begins with us. How present is Christian unity in our prayers and sacrifices? The world may only see the divisions, but we are lucky enough to see the beauty of the entire fractal. We have been given the knowledge of the big picture. So it is our responsibility to share that beauty with everyone we meet, beginning in our own prayer lives, then through every action we make.