Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Ultimate in Recycling

I read the other day where a star exploded in space, The explosion was so tremendous that light could be seen with the naked eye here on earth. We would have had to look to the heavens at the exact moment as the light only lasted about an hour, but observatories saw it and record the demise. It was estimated the star was 700 times the mass of our sun, Wow!

I have been pondering the future of the earth and our role in its continuation. I am now leaning toward the idea that the nature of the universe is creation. Not a very original thought, but in my context it may be somewhat different.

It appears to me that time and the nature of the universe are inexorably linked. Nothing withstands time, our human bodies age and time tears us down. Water wears down rock, given enough time. Wind erodes mountains, given enough time. The earth grinds up the tectonic plates that comprise earth's surface, pulls them into the molten core, remelts the old and disgorges the new in the form of lava from volcanoes. I can't help but wonder if a Bud Lite can has made it to the bottom of the ocean where the recycling center seems to operate and has started its journey to some form of rebirth.

We shall all go through that recycling center, given enough time. It would be interesting to be able to view time in its infinite passage. The earth might appear as a churning cauldron, and the life span of man a flash that hardly registers on the cosmic radar. Yet, in the brief period of time we flash into existence and pass on into history we change the face of the earth faster than any erosion medium known. We dig holes in hours it takes nature years to perform, we carve holes through mountains in years when it takes nature millions of years. On the one hand we are the most destructive force on the face of this old earth. Yet on the other hand we are the most creative.

The real question is are we fulfilling a role, or are we just another force in the system. I believe we are just another force in the system. We do fulfill a role, that role is to be exactly what we are. Will it make any difference to the earth if we consume its oil to quickly, or pollute its oceans? Not in the end, the recycling center will handle all our attempts and continue to churn. It will do its thing and reform land, remake oil and gas, regenerate wind, purify water and provide the basis for existence, whether we are here or not. Man is no more than a spec of dust in the scheme of the system, and it will recycle our atoms and molecules repurifying itself until the engine that drives the recycling center finally ceases to work and then when all of this solar system is used up perhaps the sun will explode and simply add fodder to the larger recycling center.

Will man live on, that is only important to man. The system doesn't care. It creates new, offering opportunity, what use of the resources inhabitants make is their business because in the end it will not make any difference to the recycling center.

Monday, March 17, 2008

An Epiphany of Sorts

I just finished reading a book by Dr. Larry Meredith, "Life Before Death." It is a difficult read. One of the contributing reviews was from the former Dallas Quarterback, Don Meredith, the last sentence in the review said, "I didn't understand a word of it."

Dr. Meredith is obviously a well traveled, well read scholar. Parts of the book are filled with references to eastern religions such as Buddhism, and other systems from all over Asia. I had one course in college some 45 years ago on the religions of the world. Obviously a lot of the book was out of my league, however I do not consider myself unintelligent. The book did create some fine moments of discovery and realization that had me thinking for days after completing the reading. That should be the mark of a good book that it effects change and provokes study and thought. This book of Dr. Meredith's did that.

I am sure the book was filled with many points, much I may have missed. But I did come away with three powerful ideas that gave cause for reflection.

The first is Sisyphus. Condemned to roll a boulder to the top of a mountain, just to have it roll down to the bottom day in and day out. On and on forever poor old Sisyphus' task is to roll that boulder up the hill. I remember the parable from my younger years and I felt it was a terrible punishment. To roll a boulder up the mountain just to have it come crashing down again. Yet, Dr. Meredith says in one part of the book that perhaps Sisyphus is happy and perhaps we are in envy of him. I had never thought of Sisyphus as happy.

Then I remember times in my own life where the daily grind took on a Sisyphian feature. When I was drinking and life held no new excitement, the only escape was in a glass or a bottle. Other times when the crush of loneliness and fear held me in a mean grip the only thing I could do was grit my teeth and wait for night to fall. Now my tasks are light, but you know, it is still like Sisyphus, I get up in the morning, face a task and come home at night. There is the line of a rock song that goes, "And when the morning light comes, I get up and do it again, Amen." Perhaps Sisyphus isn't such a tragic figure after all, perhaps that is what life is about, toiling at some labor day in and day out. Work can be fun you know!

The second point I came away with is the importance of love and passion in life. Without it, life is drab, and Dr. Meredith points out we were not meant to live a drab life. Life is not something to be gotten through, we only experience it once. As the old saying goes, I shall not pass this way again. I am not Dr. Meredith, I have no urge to travel the world and see sacred dances of faraway places and rituals I cannot relate to. I have come to understand that God is not to be sought. Life is not a search. If you look about you the creator is here. God is not embedded in man, the world with man as a part of it is embedded in God. We don't have to search the world over, we can stand still, open our hearts, our eyes and our minds and experience God at any moment. When I quit this earth I will join God, for God is ALL.

The third point is related to the second. At the end of the book Dr. Meredith relates a story about his discovery of ten commandments. They are refreshing, they are uncomplicated, they are enlightening, but they are his, not His. Throughout the book Dr. Meredith talks about eroticism, passion, love, children, all fine qualities in life. None to take offense at, so it is not surprising that Dr. Meredith restates his philosophy in his commandments. They are worthy statements. However, the real important point is the last paragraph of the book where Dr. Meredith relates an old campfire parable about our pilgrimage to the top of The Mountain. Each pilgrim treads his own path, the view down the mountain is not the same for any one pilgrim. Some pilgrim's are apparently still, sitting and enjoying the sights, others are on the move. The point is every path, by every pilgrim is unique and I may not force my path on anyone else. This from a Methodist minister.

So, yes, I liked the book, I recommend it. For those of us not so well read or traveled it will challenge our visions. Then again, isn't that also the mark of a good book?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Church

I went to church this morning. God was there, he and I walked around and talked for about and hour. There was a strong southerly breeze in his church and the roof was blue sky, but he was there. I thanked him for the life I have, for the people that make up my family, and for the ability to enjoy the day. God allowed I was welcome and perhaps we could meet again tomorrow. I think however, I’ll live this day first. So to all of you have a great Sunday, I hope your week in front of you meets your expectations.