No matter how many times broccoli is cut down into smaller pieces, each piece will always resemble the larger whole from which it came. In physics these pieces are called fractals, and their uncanny resemblance to each other is called self-similarity.
Self-similar fractals can be observed all throughout nature.
Super cool, right? But it gets even better! Fractals are not limited to nature.
I recently read Eric Metaxas’ biography on Martin Luther from which I learned that he was named after St. Marin of Tours, whose feast day coincided with Luther’s baptism
St. Martin of Tours was a Roman soldier and a Christian who lived about 1,000 years before Luther was born. As the story goes, due to his faith, St. Martin refused to fight in a battle. As a result, he was jailed and charged with cowardice–a charge he turned upside-down by volunteering to go to the battle unarmed, seeing as it was killing he feared and not dying.
The battle ended up never happening, St. Martin was released and went on to become a monk.
The location of the would-be battle where St. Martin took his stand against Rome was Worms, Germany–the very city where 1,000 years later another monk named Martin Luther would take his stand against Rome in the famous Diet of Worms trial.
The self-similarity between these two historical fractals is uncanny. Like a small branch is an offshoot of a larger branch, St. Martin was a small fractal leading to a larger, more historically significant fractal to come: Martin Luther.
Mind-blowing, I know! But it doesn’t stop there. I’m going to bring it closer to home and probably offend some people by doing so—although that’s not my intention.
I’m writing this article during the world-wide Corona Virus shutdown. It seems like everything has come to a halt during this uncertain period. In the silence of this stillness, my prayer is that we use this time to reflect on the fractals at work in our own lives.
For example, the emptiness you may feel from eternally insignificant pursuits may be small enough right now to drown out with distractions, but consider this: what if that’s just a fractal leading to a similar but larger fractal to come, one that may not be so easily ignored?
If you are on a path that clearly doesn’t lead to a purposeful and satisfying life, I’d like to challenge you to get on the path that does.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The undeniable design we observe in nature, history and even our own lives is a divine invitation to a relationship with the one who created it all.
I pray you experience the peace and significance that comes from a life lived in communion with your Maker—knowing that it too is but a fractal of a much larger one to come.