Sunday, February 19, 2012


And we'll collect moments one by one
I guess that's how the future's done

My favorite part of the day is walking home from school. Walking to school is nice, but I'm always almost late so I'm trying to get as close to running as I can without actually running (when your teacher offers to call you to make sure your out of bed in the morning, you know you have a problem). Walking home though is the perfect time to think. In my 'Science and Religion' class we've been discussing a book called "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" and the movie "The Tree of Life" and its occupied my whole brain. I can't stop thinking about it, and so many questions have come because of it. I'm no longer capable of thinking about the here and now, or about any of the tiny minute problems I may have in my life. 

One day I watched my shadow the entire walk home. I watched it follow me, and I watched as it connected back to me each time I placed my foot to the ground. Some days I would think about the mountains and how they even came to be, how each ridge seemed carefully carved out of the earth and lightly frosted with snow. I think about what God might have hidden under them, like a giant using the earth as a blanket while he sleeps. I pretend like I can feel the curvature of the earth as I walk, feeling the roundness under my feet. I wonder about the creation of the universe and the spirits that occupy the commonest of things. I think about all the different kind of species of insects in the world, and the creativity it must have taken to design each one. 

Most of the time, its trees I wonder about. A tiny seed, planted in damp earth, using only water and light has the potential to grow out of itself. It begins producing individual leaves, nearly 6 thousand every season, that will eventually turn colors and fall off, only to be replaced months later. Large trees have the ability to carry the weight of one ton of water through its trunk every day. They are everywhere, these self proclaiming trees, working mighty miracles as we pass them every day. I had a dream the other night that trees could dance, it was a smooth and self controlled dance that I sometimes think is real.

But sometimes I turn my mind from these things and I think about people. Out of all gods creations, we are the only ones that can appreciate them. Sure a frog can appreciate an insect that seems to fly by at the exact time it's considering lunch, but it cannot appreciate the tiniest of wings that carry that fly through the air. A deer cannot look at the night sky and wonder about the process of helium and hydrogen burning to create that light. Rabbits do not take the time to dissect their own brains, to study them and understand the complex ways they work. Trees may be able to produce of themselves, but do they take the time to kiss each leaf as a mother does the toes of her baby. These are the things that I wonder about on my way home.

As I'm walking from campus, or looking into the cars of people at stop lights, I wonder if they ever  wonder. If I look hard enough, I can almost pretend to know what they are thinking. They look at their phones, wondering why he hasn't texted back, I mean its been 5 minuets already. They look at their watches, increasing their pace, almost late for some important event. They look at each other, wondering if they'll be noticed. Every once in a while, they seem to be looking at something not quite tangible, those are the people I am hopeful for, the ones who are lost in their thoughts.

Sometimes I feel like the prisoner in Plato's Allegory of the Cave. I see those people who are stuck in those small and insignificant problems and I want to tell them that those are only shadows, that there is so much more to see. So I try the best I can, but my words never seem right. I stumble, trying to find the right way to phrase it, but I'm always coming up short. I've heard that God teaches us through our own understanding, that we think too simply, so he has to describe his principles in the best way we can understand, through shadows. I wish so badly that I could see the way he sees, through the light of the sun.

Did you know that an average four-year old child asks 437 questions a day? Why can't we be more like that? We should ask more questions. If we are the only of all God's creations that can marvel, then why don't we marvel? Why do we waste the light of day and the dim of night on the things of a temporary nature. We live on a growing planet, one that it marvelous and wondrous, why don't we take the opportunity to grow with it. I imagine that if every person were to spend an hour, every day, merely staring at the stars, or at a tree, or at the patterns of the falling snow, or the creases in babies feet, we would all think a lot differently. 

Because it is those moments that have a true impact on our lives, that show us our own insignificance in the world, and when we understand how small we are, we realize how small our problems are. When I look back on my childhood, I do not remember the birthday parties or even the Christmas presents, I remember the field trips and the rainy day book my mom would pull out every day because I begged her to. I remember trips to my grandparents cabin. I remember leaving a melon rhine on the edge of the deck and being careful not to breath as the deer came close to nibble so I could count its spots. I remember the bat in the attack and how I wanted to get close, but I didn't because I was so terrified. I remember finding log paths across the marshes and the time I slipped and it gave me my first scar. Its moments that we spend with God's terrifying and magnificent creations that show us how small we are, and also how great we are to be able to experience it all. Those are the beautiful moments in my life, small photographs that if lined next to one another would build up the person I am. As Annie Dillard says in her book "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

" and grace are performed whether or not we will sense them. The least we can do is try to be there."


Madeleine McCann said...

I appreciate this post so much. we are united at the soul. for many reasons.

Phillip Gulbrandsen said...

You think very beautifully! Thanks for sharing :)