New Math

Today, from Howard Thurman, Deep Is the Hunger:

“All of life is a planting and a harvesting.  No man gathers merely the crop that he himself has planted.  This is another dimension of the brotherhood of man.”

I read this recently and it has been rolling around in my head.  After some time I noted a subtlety that escaped me initially.  Thurman’s use of “and” in place of “or” (planting AND harvesting) is significant.  In that word choice he tracks the sentiment from St. Francis of Assisi: “For it is in giving that we receive.”  That is to say that, in mathematical terms, when you give X you don’t necessarily lose X.  That I can’t quite explain it logically doesn’t make it any less real.  It is what I think of as the Almond Joy conundrum (from the old commercial) – “With Almond Joy,  You can share half and still have a whole.” 

But then it occurs to me that math is not my strong point, nor God’s.  Moreover, concepts like giving and receiving, planting and harvesting, particularly when the “commodities” are grace, love, and forgiveness, to name a few, just don’t fit into any mathematical formula.

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