In Love is the Answer. What is the Question? Cynthia Bourgeault asks: when does a daffodil become a daffodil? Is a daffodil the bulb? The shoot? The bud? The flower? Or all of the above?
In evolutionary theology, the term “pro-life” can no longer be usurped by any single phase of the journey. “For the soul is the fruit of the entire journey, not merely the moment of conception.”
To be pro-life rather than merely pro-birth implies tackling a challenging terrain and bring willingness, patience, and mercy to the entire process of unfolding mystery. Precision is necessary; soul, life, and individual essence are not synonyms. Furthermore the word “murder” has no place in any thoughtful discussion of abortion. There are great liminal zones surrounding birth and death, where life is not yet or no longer fully viable on its own.
Affirming the importance of all stages of life is clearly called for, including the right of the mother to have authority over her own stages of life. Therefore granting legal safe space for such personal decisions is needed. No one can make conscientious decisions for someone else. We are all free to hold to different moral values and observe higher standards than demanded even by laws. To be moral requires freedom of conscience and control over our bodies.
Cynthia goes on to call for a Wisdom Chautauqua where serious questions can become part of public education. Questions like: What am I here for? Who is my neighbor? Is there anything beyond self interest? When and how does the unborn human become an individual? When does the born one earn full personhood, not to mention explore the concept of developmental soul? Finally… Is there a higher purpose to the universe?
Walter Brüggemann asserted in his writings that honest “discussion of serious questions can lead to holy communion.”
Martin Luther Kings dream was that non violent struggle to find better common ground can evolve into “beloved community.”
The gift of time opens windows of opportunity to do some pretty amazing stuff — like developing a soul for one. Are shorter lifespans doomed to never experience ensoulment? Those of us who have finite perspectives may be unable to trust that “nothing can fall out of god” or that every drop of water matters to the ocean.
So then what about all those souls who don’t get a chance to live this life? Are we meant to care for our souls and grow them strong enough to survive death? From our human perspective what about a life cut short anytime along the way? In process theology we might imagine even God running out of time? Then what?
“Can we loosen our grip on individual duration and let the unbroken wholeness of life flow according to its own mysterious deeper rhythm.”
The perhaps we might come to see each life as a trajectory — a probability wave — a divine child that already exists in the heart of God.
Perhaps another way to ask that question is to question wether the daffodil ever stops being a daffodil?