Thursday, July 13, 2006

I saw cloud to ground lightening directly in front of me several times this evening, as I drove home through the Great Cedar Swamp. I've heard that a car is the safest place to be in an electrical storm, but I'm skeptical. I would much prefer to be safe at home, watching nature's glory unfold through my back doors.

I know that lightening can reach you just about anywhere, even in your home. I've seen it happen. I've seen lightening enter a house through a wall, go down a staircase, make a left turn, and knock a clock from another wall before exiting through it. It neatly bypassed each of my parents and then me. I was downstairs, in a perfect position to see it hang a Louie and dislodge the clock. Mom was upstairs in the kitchen, to one side of the lightening bolt, and my father was just to the other side of it, on his way up the other staircase of our split level home. Ironically, we had just returned from church.

I know people who would nod sagely and say that we were protected by angels because we had been faithful in attending church. I know others who would point to the randomness of such events. Although I believe in God, I would probably side with those who saw random natural activity in the incident. The undeniable truth is that our physical beings are anchored to this physical world. Good things happen to bad people, bad things to good people, and vice versa. Believers die, have car wrecks, get sick, win the lottery, get promoted, and so do non-believers. My parents and I were fortunate to avoid any ill effects from the lightening, but that can hardly be seen as proof of divine intervention.

I do believe that most of us are born with an inherent desire to understand the incomprehensible, to know God. We each have a God-shaped hole in our hearts, a longing to experience ultimate power and ultimate love. That doesn't mean that everyone who feels this will reach the conclusion of God, but I think we have a spiritual nature that craves nurturing along with the physical one.

Tonight, just moments ago, I stood in my backyard. The earth and the very trees that sprout from it are drenched in moisture, and the air is heavy enough to cast a misty shadow under the electric lights. I felt both warm and cool at once, as the gentler evening temperatures competed with the wet, cloying air. Even with the evening temperature drop, it is imperative that the air conditioning be kept running tonight, since this much humidity would be intolerable indoors.

The evening is scented with the aromatic odor of pine sap, closer in smell to turpentine than the fresh pine needle scent we look for in our Christmas trees. I wonder if this is simply a fragrant manifestation of so many turgid, waterlogged layers of wood, or if one of those bolts of lightening earlier tonight connected with a tree, setting free years - perhaps decades - of accumulated resin.

I seem to be constantly re-thinking the things I believe about life and love and God these days. I find that I experience my greatest sense of awe (is that awareness of God?) in natural settings, like my backyard.

I suppose the way I see the desire to know, and to be known by, an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent being is best summed up by Psalm 139. This poem is attributed to King David. I don't think you have to share his belief in the God of Israel to understand the longing he has to be known and to be loved. We all find different ways of expressing and fulfilling this need. Here is an excerpt:

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,"

12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.

14 I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.


Joe Tornatore said...

i got to get me a church like that. enlightening story to say the least.

Merci said...

There's a saying that goes says something to the effect that one is nearest the lord in a garden than anywhere else. Bet Zelda knows about that.