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Where Could I Find Answers?

  I don’t think i’m alone.  From an early age I had Big Questions.
I wanted to know whether God is or God is not.
I wanted to find out why evil exists.
I wanted to know whether I have an immortal soul.  Or if when I die it’s the end.
I recall a Sunday sitting in my grandfather’s church while he was preaching about St. Paul’s, ‘Death where is your sting?
Granddad was preaching about the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians.
You know, the Epistle that says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery?
I always loved the sound of Paul’s poetic words.  The words are in one of the great arias in Handel’s Messiah
“We shall not all sleep,
but we shall all be changed
in a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised
incorruptible,
and we shall be changed.”
Later in life I got really carried away with the Messiah.  Always went to hear it sung during the holidays.
it was thrilling to hear a chorus sing those words —
“O Death, where is your sting?
“O Death, where is your victory?”

Back to granddad’s preaching.

I was a bored and restless teen.  And something of a rebellious sort.
I’d taken high school biology and was questioning all sorts of Biblical things.
Immortality was one of them.  So Granddad’s sermon got my skeptical eye.
How could it be, that within us, we could have a soul that would go on living when I died?
Wasn’t our inner life more like the light in a  lightbulb?  Turn off the switch and the light just “goes out?”  Poof.  Just disappears into thin air. Isn’t that all there is to life?
I knew I had best not say anything about my skepticism to anyone for fear of getting that furry eyebrow from the adults.
It wasn’t until many years later that I got some wisdom about these things.

My Quest

I thought I’d find answers to my Big Questions in college.
I am a military veteran. The GI Bill made it possible for me to attend any college I liked.
I chose Columbia University. It was reputed to have brilliant professors. They’d know the answers, I was sure.
College though, was a disappointment. I didn’t find answers to my questions.
I discovered that my professors were limited mostly to what they read in books or papers that others wrote, who had also written about what still others had written about their reading.
I couldn’t figure out how they could know about these questions from books.  The questions were really way beyond the written word.
So, I went to churches, one denomination after another, presuming the preachers knew more about these questions than college professors.  But, again, I was disappointed.  They too, seemed to rely upon books for what they knew.
Thereafter, behind all the moves I made in life, in the business of earning a living, marriage and raising a family, these Big Questions still bothered me.  I really wanted answers.

 

Getting Back to Nature

One thing in College that had bothered me most, was the distance classrooms were from the world of Nature that was so familiar to me, from years of hiking, backpacking and camping.
There was not a shred of anything, in any classroom, that was not made by human hands.  No Nature. The academic venue was sterile — PERIOD.
But i did resonate with a philosopher I read in college.  Rene Descartes said he didn’t trust what he had learned from his parents, teachers, preachers or books either.
Descartes trusted only his truest teacher, “the book of nature.”  Ok, for Rene!  I loved it.  It re-enforced where my school studies were pushing me.
Thus, I felt more and more relieved in getting back to the woods.  Especially going alone.
It cleared my head of all ideas, except for trees, birds, flowers — all right there in front of me.
Furthermore, Nature is never confused.  It does what it is designed to do.  And never slips.
When things get too strained and out of balance, Nature shakes things up. It creates a storm, a quake, an eruption, or even lightning to start a forest fire.
Simple. No confusion.  No conflicting opinions as in classrooms and books.
Nature not only saved my sanity, but gave me the answers I was looking for.
That’s more of a story than I can tell in one blog post.
I wrote a book about it.  It hasn’t yet been published.  But  soon will be.
In the meantime, I’ll tell more about this side of the woods in future blogs.  Come back and read them.

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