Green Grass

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“Have you decided on grad school?” Phil queried.

“ “‘While the green grass grows’—the proverb is something musty,” ” Sophie answered slowly. As she spoke, she stared meditatively at the face of the porcelain plate in her hand. Her eyes relaxed and vision blurred, creating the image of an actual face: A painted canvas of dried tomato. Sophie reveled in the illusion and how the status of the dirty dinnerware was greatly elevated. The blank spaces between the tomato bled together to create something new and surprising. Suddenly it was alive, animated, humorous.

Sophie chuckled at her little trick. She reflected, “I wonder if this is how scientists feel. Blurring the lines of reality to create ‘entanglement,’ ‘simultaneity,’ ‘parallel universes,’ ‘paradoxes,’ ‘infinity.’ A material world enlivened with mystery. I wonder if this is how God feels. Blurring the lines of reality to create the image of life. Breathing Spirit into flesh, animating the soul…” She considered the plate. The thing in her hand was simultaneously sacred and profane. The face that emerged from the porcelain vessel was conjured from specific properties that existed in reality. Does her envisioning the face make it any less real?

She stared past the dinner dishes and caught Phil’s eye. His genuine look of concern broke her spell.

Phil walked over to the kitchen sink, plunged his hand into the warm, soapy water and pulled from his memory the finished phrase, “ ’…the horse starves.’ All that exists and thrives for our pleasure and nourishment, we ignorantly reject. How’s that for indecision. Living, but not living? A thing becomes both alive and dead. So it is when the spirit within us is not fed on good fruit. Eat and breathe deeply, Sophie. It is good for the heart. Your cardiovascular system will thank you.”

Sophie laughed at the conversation that catapulted from trivial to transcendent in a matter of moments. Yet what appeared to be spontaneous had its roots in deeper imagery. They just had dinner. They gathered together, broke bread, and nourished their bodies. It is no wonder they sought to nourish their souls. Reflective conversation around the hearth: the image of apostleship.

“But you added the word ‘green’,” Phil recounted. Sophie sighed. With the back of her soapy hand, she brushed her hair from her forehead.
“It sounds better. I like the alliteration.”

Phil eyed Sophie suspiciously and laughed with enthusiasm. With a sly grin he routinely rinsed the last plate and wondered at Sophie’s defiance and audacity at changing the words of classic literature to suit her fancy.

“Well, it certainly is more meaningful. Grabs your attention and stays. ‘Green grass grows’ does have an air of correctness, a linguistic triple threat. Makes it feel alive. It bounces, has rhythm. Just like things with vitality ought to.”

“Yes. I’m partial to language transforming from bland to energetic. It’s magic. It’s mystery. It’s divine. Dry bones turn to living flesh.”

“Ezekiel. Yes. Always good dinner conversation,” Phil breathed deeply.

He dried off his hands and walked thoughtfully to the kitchen table to take a seat. He leaned into the weathered wood, hand under chin, and gazed at the far wall. Sophie admired the way he sat thinking. Daydreaming. He watched the second hand of the clock reach twelve and the minute hand dutifully click forward. “We move like clockwork,” he thought and blinked. “We move in a linear fashion, milestones we count, grade levels we count, ages we look forward to and dread. And after each moment we move dutifully forward.” He thought how all of these moments are not choices, rather events that occur with natural progression. Overlapped moments, interwoven moments, blurred moments...combine into one living moment.

He continued in thought, “We sharply delineate twelve and not-twelve. We want to consider it a new step. We measure it, categorize it, and construct theories around this timely occurrence. When in reality the witnessed second can be infinitely broken: millisecond, nanosecond, attosecond. Halving the moments for eternity. If that’s true, do we ever reach true twelve?”

“Phil…? Where are you?” Sophie carefully introduced sound to the room. Phil, swept up in his reverie, was surprised to see she had joined him at the table.

“Richard Feynman,” Phil answered with authority, nodding his head in self-referential agreement. He faced Sophie with a twinkle. Feynman never once impressed himself upon his mind but was inspired in that moment between wakefulness and abstraction.
Sophie leaned in and eyed him skeptically, “You have my attention. What does this have to do with decision making?”

“What feels like a decision, is not. It is an infinite number of paths combining to reveal one direction. Think of Feynman’s ‘sum-over-paths’ approach to a simple yet complicated electron experiment.” Sophie furrowed her brow in slight irritation.

Phil continued, unapologetic, “Feynman applied innovative mathematical equations to explain an unusual pattern represented by electrons hitting a phosphorescent wall. He concluded, in order for the electron to create this interference pattern, it does not follow one particular path. Instead it travels an infinite number. What we see as a final conclusion is in fact the sum of infinity. It happens all at once.”

Sophie digested Phil’s words and silently considered, “Infinity. The word has become commonplace, its novelty weakened. Yet perhaps science has given us a way to recapture its mystery. Here we have objective, measurable data giving odd, immeasurable conclusions. Feynman’s electrons must transcend time to create the mathematical evidence of infinity and simultaneity. What a startling omnipresence. What does this say about our own infinite, simultaneous, timeless nature?”

Sophie closed her eyes. “So ‘To be or not to be’ is not the question.”

Phil leaned back in his chair, “We already are both. If electricity flows through quantum dimensions, which exists everywhere at all times, even in death we have life.” His eyes twinkled.