Meeting God in the Patterns

December 7, 2020

By Maria Mandarino, LAc, DipAc (NCCAOM), LMT, MSEd, CSD

Some years back, a friend at church had mentioned she made a church decision based on logic. Turned out logic was not the right choice. 


I joked with her that logic is pretty overrated anyway. 


She said she was told the decision should have been based on tradition. And tradition often involves following a certain order, a patterned way of doing things, which isn’t necessarily linear or logical. 


Years ago, when I was a student observer in the acupuncture clinic, our supervisor Dan had mentioned to a senior intern that a student had complained to the dean about his teaching style. The complaint? He did not teach in a linear fashion. 


Before I could help myself, I blurted out, “But this isn’t a linear medicine!”


Student observers are meant to do exactly that: observe. They are not expected to speak. And if they are foolish enough to do so, it is assumed they do not have much to share that is worth listening to. 


Dan’s head went up and he stared at me from across the table. It was probably the first time he heard my voice and possibly the first time he even noticed me. It seemed as though we were about to point a finger at each other, as if we suddenly recognized someone familiar and were about to say, “Atlantis, right?”


The truth is Chinese Medicine is not at all linear. It is based entirely on patterns. Patterns that need to be observed, respected, and honored. It works like this: “If this happens, then that happens. But if the wind is blowing, then THAT happens. But if it’s damp, well then THIS happens. And let’s not even talk about whether you are standing on the sunny or the shady side of the mountain because that begets a whole other set of patterns. 


It’s a story of patterns of possibilities. Not a single narrow and limited road.


Chinese Medicine is a medicine that always made more sense to me than Western Medicine for this reason. Seek the pattern and you are led to the answer. Pull the strand of yarn and watch the pattern unravel. Each tug, a new skein of possibilities. 


As a writer and a poet (and someone who also crafts with yarn), I have always interpreted life through metaphor. So I grasped the language of this ancient medicine easily. Once you figure out the pattern in Chinese Medicine, you have the key to everything: physical pain, emotional pain, organ disease. Find the pattern, find the key that unlocks the mystery. Find the pattern, find the language of Divinity. 


Think about it. God is not linear. How dull would that be? This has to happen before that can happen for this to happen? Get on line and wait? Inch along until you reach the destination point? That’s a process of drudgery, kind of like waiting on line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.


Look at the universe and tell me it’s linear. You can’t. God is a creative God. She speaks in patterns. In the patterns and cycles of life, in the patterns of our experience, in the patterns of the seasons, in the patterns of the people who come in and out of our lives, in the many synchronous gifts and mysteries that appear, in the patterns in a leaf or a blade of grass. 


What are you waiting for? What are you expecting might take ten years and not ten days? What do you think needs to happen before the next thing can occur? Does God need that thing to happen? Or do you need the logic of that thing happening first? How might life look if you shifted that linear view and let go of your mind’s need for reason? And while I’m at it, what if you gave up your mind’s need for control? 


How might life look if you decided to not limit God to a linear process, but instead opened yourself up to the infinite patterns of the Divine Mystery?

Blessings and peace on your journey,