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  • Writer's pictureStephen

The Universal/Particular Dance

I've recently been reminded of a pattern that exists in our world and lives, namely that the Universal is lived out in the Particulars, and the Particulars helps to reveal the Universal.

Here's an example.  It's Spring so that means it's planting season, and we've been busy putting in flowers, vegetables, a few bushes, etc.  In our household, I am the hardscape guy. Someone else decides what to plant and where to plant it, then I help dig the holes, run the water, set the sprinklers, etc. The Universal reality is, in Redding, all plants need regular water. However, it's not enough for me to just spray a hose around every once in a while.  I have 6 Particular water lines that run in my backyard, and I have to make sure with many of our plants that each Particular plant actually has its own water. The Universal reality is, plants need water to grow, which means I have to consider how much to water each Particular plant.  

But what is so beautiful to watch over time (thanks to the smart people who decide what goes where!), is that as each Particular plant grows, they create a beautiful garden, full of sections and zones, and eventually, fruits and vegetables.  Each of the Particular plants helps to form the Universal garden we get to sit and enjoy as we sip our iced tea in the backyard!

Now if we take this idea and apply it to people and relationships (family, friends, coworkers, teams, etc.), we may have a Universal desire to treat people with kindness and respect. But, that Universal desire actually gets lived out in the Particular relationships of my life.  If I want to be Universally kind, that has to find its way into my showing kindness to this Particular person who is standing in front of me.  And of course, how I treat Particular individuals, viewed collectively, can reveal Universal patterns about how I am acting in general.  Often, if I am willing to lean in with curiosity, by examining these patterns of how I treat Particulars, I may be able to discover Universal patterns that contain bias or even prejudice that I want to address and change. And of course, those changes will have to be lived out in the Particular relationships I have with people I interact with on a personal level.

How might looking at these patterns be helpful to you?  What kind of Universal qualities or values do you want to be hallmarks of your life?  What does it look like to live out those patterns in the Particular relationships of your life? If you took some time to honestly reflect on the Particular interactions from your life in the last few weeks, what might those Particulars reveal about some Universal patterns you need to examine and change?  How could you adjust your interactions with Particular people in order to better reflect the Universal values you want to hold and live by?

Here's to allowing the Universal/Particular Dance to be lived out well in our lives this week!

Be Well,


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