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Dave Brisbin

Spiritual Albedo

Very few of us know the word albedo, yet we use it every day, and it’s a huge factor in climate change. From the Latin word for white (think albino), albedo is the amount of light reflected off any surface. We all know that light colors reflect sunlight, a cooling effect like those impossibly white houses on seacliffs in Greece. Dark colors absorb, storing heat, so the amount of snow, glaciers, and sand versus dark forests, ocean, and urban sprawl greatly determines the temperature of our planet.

Jesus tells us that we’ll know the quality of prophets—and by extension anyone—by their fruit. You can’t get figs from thorn bushes. Good trees produce good fruit and bad ones bad, so looking at the fruit gets at the heart of a person. But he also says that not everyone who calls out in his name will enter the kingdom of God, and when they protest that they prophesied and cast out demons, performed miracles and built 24/7 satellite networks, he’d simply say depart from me, I never knew you.

If prophecy and miracles aren’t good enough fruit to be known by God, what is Jesus talking about?

Jesus is constantly trying to get us to graduate from accomplishment and reward as motivation. It’s not that our accomplishments, however motivated, aren’t good in that they can benefit others, but that they are meaningless in terms of gaining what can’t be acquired—a connection as primal as the air we freely breathe. Though God would never banish us because we haven’t yet graduated, the more we work to distinguish ourselves to gain approval, the more we believe the illusion of our own separation, banishing ourselves.

How do we know we’re living a life that is graduating? By our own fruit, of course. Not our accomplishments, but our spiritual albedo…total reflectivity. With God as spiritual sunshine, how much are we reflecting? With God as connection itself, how much connection do we leave in our wake? Are we leaving people better than we found them? Are our closest relationships intimate?

Knowing God is the only criteria Jesus gives. To know God is to reflect God, and until that is our only motivation, we can’t do either.


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