I am compelled by life circumstances to ask the question: Is there a purpose to collapse? I think there is, but I'll get to that in a bit.
As I look around me, I detect many signs of collapse at many different levels. The levels almost don't matter; if I experience the sense of collapse, then the level is in some way, always personal. And, so I do - experience a sense of collapse, for myself and those around me. Collapse of people and of things. Collapse in health, collapse in confidence, collapse in purpose, collapse in strength...you might be able to add to that list.
From a scientific perspective, collapse is linked to implosion. That is, a circumstance when "objects are destroyed by collapsing on themselves. Implosion concentrates matter and energy. Implosion involves a difference between inward and outward forces, so large that the structure collapses inward into itself." That scientific explanation just about says it all...except for the grief, pain, stress, sense of loss and helplessness, all the human elements that are involved in collapse. It's the human or personal aspects of collapse that are so daunting and which have brought me to the point of asking the question of "purpose".
Is collapse "natural", something that is a part of nature? If it is, any attempt to prevent it will ultimately fail. If it's not part of nature (i.e., it is something that is a product of human action or inaction), then can we prevent it and how would we do that? As living beings, are we a catalyst to collapse? I know...too many questions!
On a recent walk along a nearby side-road, I arrived at some personal conclusions which I offer to share, along with the all the questions I posed. My feelings and response to collapse change depending on whether I am inside the fall or outside it. When I am an active player in collapse (a "stakeholder" as they say), my tendency is to fight it, to analyze it, to make plans, to take action. Sometimes this action is helpful; collapse can be forestalled but only, as it turns out, in the sense of delay. When I am on the outside of collapse and looking in, it is easy to take a calmer approach. Danger looms when calmness becomes disconnectedness.
Inside or out, I conclude that times of collapse are opportunities for discernment. Some time ago, a woman who was at a different place on her faith journey than I am, gave me a hint of that when she warned that in being so deeply invested in church life, I was in danger of not being able to foresee the likely outcome of my actions. And so I recognize that in the midst of collapse, if I can find the focus for it, there is the need to see and understand people, things and situations with clarity and intelligence. There is a need to re-examine the values that have been declared as important, to see if that still holds true. There is a need to weigh priorities. It is a time for choices - not "yes" or "no", but perhaps "both/and". Above all, there is a need to treat everyone involved with kindness, fairness and with love.
By the end of my morning walk, I had regained most of my resolve and determination: I can do discernment. Part of my hope in the outcome of collapse is the understanding that in Creation, collapse leads to a new equilibrium, a regaining of balance. It's won't be the same as before, but it can be better, stronger, clearer and truer. That's my hope.