The Universe is Unfolding as It Should
“…You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” ~ “Desiderata,” Max Ehrmann, circa 1927
Actor Morgan Freeman never was considered a “star” until he was 50 years old. Although he had worked as an actor for many years, he was unable to break into movies until Driving Miss Daisy brought him into the spotlight. In the interview I saw, I was interested to hear him describe his early days in the acting business. He spoke of being hungry all the time, existing on stale donuts, and wondering how he would pay his rent, yet he looks back on those days and says his career path was “providential.” He also referred to the poem called “Desiderata,” which he calls his creed and has framed on the wall in his boat. This poem (excerpted above) talks about how “the universe is unfolding as it should.”
As I watched Freeman’s interview, I reasoned that he could say his career was “providential” and that “the universe was unfolding as it should” because he was viewing it in hindsight. Now that he was secure in his career and set financially, it would be easy to say that everything happened for a reason.
After all, the old cliché says, “hindsight is 20/20.” But if it is true that “the universe is unfolding as it should,” then it would seem that we could handle the rough spots with more patience, knowing that everything will work out for the best.
I’ve been wrestling with this idea that “the universe is unfolding as it should,” given that I have friends and loved ones who have experienced serious illness, loss, financial woes, and other sore trials. How can the universe be unfolding properly when good people are suffering?
Although I’m far from having a definitive answer for this question, here are my thoughts:
o Our perspective is too narrow. While our lives seem pretty long (80 years or so), they are just a small point on the continuum of eternity. And if our entire lives are small on the continuum of eternity, the amount of time we are actually suffering is even smaller when put in the perspective of eternity. We need to see the broader picture. Even our view of death, that it is an ending rather than a transitional continuation, is probably too limited.
o Our memories of past blessings are too short. We are quick to forget the many times that situations worked out for us when we couldn’t see how they could ever be resolved. Somehow, some way, difficult circumstances were settled, and all was well.
o Our view of the Triune God is too small. Many people struggle with the view (often imposed by the church) that they are unacceptable and displeasing to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because of their shortcomings. They feel like they are being punished (and should be punished) for the many ways they’ve let God down. What is needed is a radical change of thinking, where the loving Father is recognized for his overwhelming desire that we shouldn’t be lost to sin, so much so that he sent his Son (who wanted to come save us anyway) to take on our humanity and make it possible for us to be adopted as his sons and daughters. Once we realize that our loving Father securely holds our lives both now and in the future, we find it easier to face any day-to-day uncertainty, convinced that “providence” is on our side.
Even if it isn’t immediately clear to us that everything is turning out as it should, we can be comforted that we are a small, yet essential part of a much grander picture. Actor Morgan Freeman believes that “providence” is orchestrating our paths, ultimately assisting us in fulfilling our life-purpose. I think we have been positioned in the world at this particular time and place to fulfill our indispensable part in the beautiful tapestry called eternity. Just as the poem “Desiderata” declares, each of us is “a child of the universe,” and more importantly, a beloved child of the Triune God.
~by Nan Kuhlman