While at an education conference several years ago, I listened to a math educator talk about a gadget he developed that would simulate what he called the "chaos game." In his demonstration, he started with an equilateral triangle and plotted a point randomly inside. He then measured half way between the point and one of the 3 vertices, where he plotted another point. One after another, he plotted about a dozen points halfway between the previous dot and one of the vertices. He stopped the demonstration and asked everyone to predict what would happen if he did this 100, 1,000 or 10,000 more times. The existing points looked random to me, so I predicted more points would just look like a huge mess. Using his gadget, the presenter sped the process up to plot 10,000 points in a matter of seconds. The result was not only surprising, but it was also beautiful and amazing. He called this phenomenon Sierpinski's Triangle, and the result was an intricate design of perfectly symmetrical equilateral triangles, facsimiles of the original shape. You can play with a pretty neat little gadget that simulates the process of creating a Sierpinski's Triangle (also called Sierpinski's Gasket). I have to admit, the mathematical and technological objectives of that demonstration were totally lost on me that day. But God used that presentation to speak to me in a profound way. I don't remember the exact thoughts I had during the presentation, but when I walked away I could hear God telling me, "Curby, that is your life. You are Sierpinski's Triangle." Parts of this revelation were not that hard to comprehend: a triangle, Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. I figured that part out pretty easily, although I am pretty sure that is not what God was trying to teach me. The real learning objectives from that day are something I have struggled with for years and continue to wrestle with. My life has been anything but settled since I was in high school. Since I graduated in 1990, I have lived in 6 states and moved 7 times. I have been in school, taught school and now work behind the scenes at a school. I have encountered just about every variety of human you can imagine. I have taught at a university that I would not have been admitted into as an undergraduate, and I have taught 6th graders in a school that, as a student, I would not have survived. I've lived in a variety of different dwellings, from a one-bedroom apartment to a fixer-upper in a minority neighborhood. And at some point in every stop on my journey, I have asked myself the same question, "What mistake did I make in life that led me to this place?"
But my encounter with Sierpinski's Triangle that cool September day in downtown Washington, D.C. quieted that question forever. God changed my thinking about my life, which is that nothing is random. Just like the dots in the triangle, my life is being lived inside a context that is bigger than me. My choices, my moves, are connected to the last move, most often in ways that I cannot see or interpret, which in turn, is connected to the next move, which I don't even know about yet. The end result is something beautiful, bearing purpose and mission, and definitely not random. So, if you will indulge me for a few weeks, I would like to use this forum to occasionally share some of the points within my Sierpinski's Triangle that have shaped who I am. Gina and I write a lot about Sam and Nate, and trust me, there is nothing in the world I would rather write about. But I also think it's important to reflect on the events that got us to this place. God has written us into His story, and it's worth telling too.