A surprising invitation

A Simpler Way is a beautiful book by Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers. Published nearly 25 years ago, its insights and wisdom seem even more relevant for today:

Very little about the emerging nature of life supports who we have tried to be. Life invites us to play along, discovering as we go. Life wants to work with us in surprising ways. We could make our lives so much more interesting, and developed so many new capacities, if we sought to work with the unknowns of emergence, rather than try and plan surprise out of our lives.

What do we do with surprise? What do we do with a world which cannot be known until it is in the process of discovering itself? It requires constant awareness, being present, being vigilant for the newly visible. We need to notice things we weren’t looking for, things we didn’t know would be important, influences we hadn’t thought of, behaviours we couldn’t predict.

An emergent world invites us to use our most human of all capacities, our consciousness. It asks us to be alert in the moment for what is unfolding. What is happening at this moment? What can we do because of what we just learned?

An emergent world welcomes us in as conscious participants and surprises us with discovery. “To recognise that everything is surprising is the first step towards recognising that everything is a gift,” says Steindl-Rast.

Our plans are nothing compared to what the world so willingly gives us.


David Steindl-Rast is a beloved Benedictine Monk, author and lecturer. For more listen to his OnBeing conversation with Krista Tippett – How to be grateful in every moment – or watch his TED talk