I have often wished that process theologians would simply clarify that ‘change’ is a synonym for growth… Isaiah 9:7 says of the messiah’s government that of its increase ‘there shall be no end’ (KJV). This suggests the glory of God’s reign increases, or grows, eternally. The term ‘increase’ means to multiply or enlarge. God’s reign or realm is always multiplying and enlarging, because God is always creating.” —Karen Baker-Fletcher, Dancing with God
Always be creating.” —Ann Daramola
One of my mentors teaches his students to observe and learn from the evergreen tree.
Regardless of harsh, icy winters above a certain latitude, regardless of wind chill and cold snaps, an evergreen maintains its cones and needles. It grows persistently where resources are thin, and makes room for new growth even in conditions that would shock deciduous trees.
As a child of the Northern Hemisphere, and despite my time in the tropics, I still associate this lesson with the short nights and miserable freezes of winter in the North. I associate it with Christmas carols and the gold, velvet, gowns, and tuxes of this season.
And I associate it with the generativity at the heart of the Christmas story. There is no Christmas story without a birth. While not all of us get to witness the physical births of babies, we each participate in at least one—our own—and we also have the capacity to create millions and millions of other moments when new life and new ideas can break into our world.
Generativity isn’t the exception in life. It’s the default. Life grows and expands; life takes new forms, adapts to new contexts, and spreads across space or burrows more deeply into the space it has. It combines with its environment and with life’s other expressions: it draws from its environment and also adds to it.
When I adopt this principle as my own baseline, and make my life an environment where it’s easy for my inner evergreen to stay green and growing no matter what, I flourish. And so do those I’m connected to, because just as a tree is part of a much, much larger living system, so too am I.