Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Latest Walk in the Woods

My friend and I returned from our recent hike in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts a bit humbled by Mother Nature. Two days of 90 degree heat and six miles of trail trashed by a huge winter ice storm made the hike a real trial by fire. We didn't get as far as we had hoped, but we neither got heat exhaustion nor got lost in the chaos of the forest. The Appalachian Trail can never be assumed to be easy, because it has many ways to get you. But discussing the difficulty of the trail is not where I'm going on this post.

As my partner and I sat trying to recover our strength in the middle of a huge woods totally devastated by the ice storm, it was hard not to begin talking about humanity's place in the overall scheme of things. Was there a purpose to all this destruction? Even in a rather remote part of the Northeast, many lives were affected - negatively. Ours, too. Did God do this on purpose, or did it "just happen".

I'm in the "just happen" camp. I believe nature was set up by the creator to run in accordance with natural laws, and that it pretty much does that. We take what we get. If it's bad, there was no malice intended. If it's good, no special gift was given. Maybe God intervenes on rare occasions, but I don't presume to know when that occurs. It's more interesting for me to just observe the majesty of it all as I walk down the trail.

I feel pretty small in the middle of a giant forest, and I feel even smaller when I look into the night sky. But I'm a giant compared to the tiny black fly that bit me or the many cells that make up a pretty fungus on a rock. We all have our place in creation. Who can really comprehend the complexity of it all, even if science opens up many mysteries to us? I love to say "thank you" to the author, and ask only for the chance to help move the plot along.

My life at the home base is often interesting and rewarding, but it is often hectic with little time for reflection. A few days in the woods always brings me back to contemplating the questions that have puzzled and perplexed men and women since we began to think.

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