Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

You formed me

 

 

 

 

“You created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

David. Psalm 139:13-14

It is laughable to even think about writing a “blog post,” essay, poem or book that would be valued in the year “5013.” I wonder if David had any idea that the psalms he was writing, 3,000 years ago, would still be read, pondered and enjoyed. After selling 1.2 million copies of a book about Jesus, the author boasted that his book was the best-seller in the world. He wasn’t even close. Each year, over 100 million Bibles are sold globally, and all include the fabulous Psalms of David. Many describe his intimate connection to nature. John Muir knew all of them by heart and soul. He kept a copy of The New Testament with him at all times and it was as important as the “bread” he ate. Some critics of Biodesign Out For A Walk have labeled it, “controversial,” “over-the-top religious:” I can only respond that I humbly and honestly recorded what I saw and take solace knowing that people thought David and Muir were also “over-the-top,” yet their voices are more important that ever before.

 After all these years, gamete production, sexual orgasms, conception, embryonic growth and childbirth remain among the great human mysteries; some people regard all as miracles. Regardless of whether “we was made or just happened,” (Mark Twain) scientists and theologians agree that the human brain is the most complex organ on Planet Earth. David’s psalm leaves us with three options: Is it the truth? Is it untrue? Does it really matter?

In The Medusa and the Snail, Lewis Thomas muses about why people made such a fuss over the test-tube baby in England. The true miracle, he affirms, is the common union of sperm and egg in a process that ultimately produces a human being. “The mere existence of that cell,” he writes, “should be one of the greatest astonishments on the earth. People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours, calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing but that cell.”

“Over nine months these cells divide up functions in exquisite ways. Billions of blood cells appear, millions of rods and cones—in all, up to one hundred million, million cells from a single fertilized ovum. And finally a baby is born, glistening with liquid. Already his cells are cooperating. His muscles limber up in jerky, awkward movements; his face recoils from harsh lights and dry air of the new environment; his lungs and vocal chords join in a first air-gulping yell.

Within that clay-colored, wrinkled package lies the miracle of ecstasy of community. His life will include the joy of seeing his mother’s approval at his first clumsy words, the discovery of his own unique talents and gifts, the fulfillment of sharing with other humans. He is many cells, but one organism. All of his 100 trillion cells know that.”

Human eyes can typically see 8 million colors.

Human ears can distinguish 300,000 different tones.

The surface area of the lungs is 1,000 sq/ft, 10X greater than the skin.

The human face can generate over 250,000 expressions.

If all of the muscles in the human body pulled in one direction it could lift 25 tons.

The human brain contains 30 billion nerve cells. It has 10 billion, billion working parts and can store information equal to 100 trillion words, and accept ten new facts every second. Adult humans have 100 trillion cells, each cell has 46 chromosomes, each chromosome is made up of thousands of molecules, and each cell contains over 100 billion atoms. The burning, yet unfathomable question is: How do the 100 billion atoms in each cell “know” how to be in the right place at the right time in order for life to occur? When Darwin contemplated this he opined: “When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.” [The Autobiography of Charles Darwin]

There are huge potential social and health advantages of being in tune with the rapture of being alive. St. Paul described the human body as a temple and people who have a deep appreciation for this concept are often inspirational and become beacons of faith, hope and love.

David did not have all the recent information available, however, it should be clear, even to hardened cynics, and egocentrics, that we are indeed, “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Spirituality—Divine Spark—Soul [Part I]

Spirituality pic

 

 

 

 

Excerpt: BOFAW, Chap. 4, “A Class is Born.”

Therefore, the following clarifications were made:

 

1. The class was not a philosophy class.

2. The class was not a religion class.

3. The class was not a spirituality class.

Spirituality noun: the vital principle or animating force within living beings: breath, divine spark, élan, vital life source, psyche, soul.

When I asked the Biodesign Class of ’79, “How many of you have a soul?” every hand shot up.

“Grown men may learn from very little children, for the hearts of little children are pure, and, therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.” Black Elk.

 

 

Webster did an honorable job of attempting to define the indefinable. Using words to describe spirit can be as difficult as capturing lightening in a bottle. Perhaps, because of its mysterious nature, it just might be the most profound gift that was given to humans. Alfred Wallace reminded Darwin that his theory could not explain spirituality and Darwin agreed.

Perhaps the pathos of the word can be better felt by imagining what life would be without it. Therefore; Imagine what a life would be like without joy and sorrow; faith, hope or love; without values, free will and consciousness of truth, beauty and goodness. Imagine a life without peace, patience, gentleness, serenity, light-heartedness, kindness, laughter, tenderness and happiness; even anger, fear and lust (attenuated) play roles. When a person approaches a life like this due to disease, accident, or traumatic brain injury, he is often described as in a vegetative state. Tragically, there is a sever lack of spirit.

The Biodesign Class was an advanced biology class and even though we studied Black Elk:

“And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.”

And John Muir:

“Everything is so inseparably united. As one begins to describe a flower or tree or a storm or an Indian or a chipmunk, up jumps the whole heavens and earth and God Himself in one inseparable glory”:

Or the many passages from Thoreau and Emerson that speak of the power of nature to transcend man’s thoughts to the spiritual level, the focus was not on philosophy, religion or seeking spirituality directly, but on the human brain’s ability to approach such issues. In fact the word “God” rarely came up in conversations, but many students could see that, whether sitting in classroom circles, or on top of Half Dome or at Grand Canyon or Mendocino, the conversations frequently soared to an otherworldly height. Whether they identified it or not, each had the potential of becoming a beacon of light that guided and inspired the unique, collective experience of each class.

Sometimes, however, my enthusiasm (filled with spirit) got carried away. I was passionately reading a passage from an inspired writer, around a warm and snuggly campfire in Mendocino, and a skeptical, somewhat jaded student snapped at me, “You can’t force us to be inspired.” His words hung in the air and cast a cold pall over the circle. After a pregnant pause (and bruised ego) I agreed with him. He was right! I could not force them to be inspired and that is a good thing. It is certain that if I could I would have abused the practice. Spiritual epiphanies, whether personal or class-wide, were always spontaneous, and could not be planned, scripted or replicated. If they could have, they would have ceased to be spiritual.

In his book, Inner Work, Robert Johnson suggests that Carl Jung believed that God needs human agencies to assist in the carnation of his creation. Thomas Mann wrote in “Joseph and His Brothers, “God needed the ladder in Jacob’s dream as a way to come and go between heaven and earth.” The visions of human beings make such a ladder and transmit information into the collective conscious of humanity.

Another way of looking at this is that we are all capable of being little “Light Houses;” illuminating paths for fellow pilgrims to travel by. Comparing our lives to Thoreau’s walk in the woods, he felt that we should be deliberate, tranquil, even meditative. Muir “went out for a walk,” Thoreau preferred the word “saunter,” which he claimed derived from the French a’la sainte terre: “to the holy land.”   [End of Part I]

January 6, Epiphany—Oprah—Archimedes

three-wise-men-md

 

 

 

 

 

Contrary to what some Oprah lovers may think, she did not coin the term or concept of an “aha” moment. In 212 BC, after discovering the displacement theory, Archimedes shouted “eureka! I have found it!” Whether he ran down the streets of Syracuse naked is for others to determine. ;o)

Two hundred years later three magi made their equally legendary trip to Bethlehem. They probably did not arrive on January 6, and one gospel account depicts them arriving two years later. Camel travel obviously left something to be desired. However, regardless of the time of arrival, “Epiphany” can be symbolic for all people whether they regard themselves “religious” or not.

Epiphany:

a. A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.

b. A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself” (Frank Maier)

 Epiphanies can be experienced by anyone anywhere and, interestingly, are often experienced by children, regardless of ethnic or religious background. Because they are of a spiritual nature they can not be predicted, however, Louis Pasteur opined, “chance favors the prepared mind,” and people who are open to spiritual growth and awareness just might be more likely to experience them.

Happy epiphany hunting!

2013—Overflowing Gratefulness.

Happy-New-Year

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year and a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have contributed images, links, likes, articles, comments and private messages over the last year. You have generated much joy, laughter and light. Conversely, you have also exposed causes of sorrow and suffering which, perhaps, is why Loren Eiseley wrote: “We are now in a position to see the wonder and terror of the human predicament.”
It has been an awesome privilege to share thoughts, hopes and dreams along with “Poems, Prayers and Promises,” with all of you throughout 2013. You are truly an eclectic bunch. I was wondering how I could show you the amazing diversity that I see on my “home” page, but decided that I could not equal the BOFAW review that Steve Burgess posted on Amazon Books. It is humbling, but assuring to note that, after 42 years, Lettie’s quest for truth, beauty and goodness is still resonating. She truly was a beacon of light in an otherwise spiritless Human Physiology class. Here is an excerpt from Steve’s review. I’ll bet that you will find yourself included.

“Are you someone who would cherish this collection of stories (even benefit from them?) I can firmly state that if you are listed here, you will: Biology teacher, religious person, atheist, agnostic, parent, naturalist, open-minded Darwinist, teen, educator, stuffy exec who wonders “why?, what for?,” psychologist, counselor, coffee-shop dwelling intellectual… For sure, any educator at any level would benefit greatly. Perhaps, even someone who going through life without a thought or care, this may be the fire that cracks open that hibernating seed within their soul. For someone who sadly may live in complete adversity, real or perceived, there are encouraging and uplifting tales that can provide comfort and perhaps healing and humor.”

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of the fans, friends, and adversaries who contributed to this page.

Nature’s Light

Sharka and Mark

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite poems is:

“He who serves his brothers best,

 Gets closer to God than all the rest.”

 While few mortals will approach the bars set by Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr. Nelson Mandela, Buddha or Gandhi, “little people” play an important role in our collective experience called “humanity.” Ever since I discovered the photography of:

 Ansel Adams: http://www.anseladams.com/

Galen Rowell: http://www.mountainlight.com/

 and a plethora of National Geographic photographers, I have suspected that paraphrasing the above poem is appropriate.

 He who photographs Nature best,

Gets closer to God than all the rest.

 I think that this paraphrase applies to:

Sharka and Mark Waite of  NatureIsUs: http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/natureisus+by+markainc/acrylic+prints

Quang Luong: http://www.terragalleria.com/

Krystal Leonard: http://www.isntthatbeautiful.com/

Michael Gordon: https://www.google.com/#q=Michael+E.+Gordon++Website

These photographers have all generously shared amazing celebrations of light. We have been richly blessed by their efforts to capture “the perfect image,” which may be as illusive as capturing the face of God.

Throughout the ages, poets, sages and philosophers have described the human experience as a battle between good and evil, light and darkness.

Photographers may not feel that they are “religious” or interpreting the works of God, but what profession (or hobby) could be more sacred than one that literally focuses on natural truth, beauty and goodness. Former colleague Greg Marvin once mentioned, “Everything in nature is either beautiful or interesting.” When I shared this thought with students there was usually a class clown who would blurt out, “so is horse shit beautiful or interesting?” My answer was, “Well, as a matter of fact it is extremely interesting. It involves the basic concepts of animal life including essential activities of anabolism and catabolism, ecology, natural recycling and much more. Did he not know that every pile of horse poop was a virtual “city” of microorganism activity?”

And while this is true, most nature photographers do not focus on death, disease, destruction or animal waste, they often spend their lives trying to capture “the perfect sunset,” the exquisite snowflake, a breathtaking dawn, a beautiful dewdrop on a perfect flower petal or an infinite number of beautiful objects of focus.

There are stories that Ansel Adams sometimes planned years in advance, hoping that he would be in the perfect place at the perfect time to capture the light that would yield one of his classic images.

It is impossible to imagine this Facebook page without photographs, whether snapped at the spur of the moment, or carefully executed by one of our “masters of light.”

Christmas and Grand Canyon—It’s All About Time

GC Meteor

Thanks to Jane Berg for sharing the Grand Canyon NP Fb “Timeline” link. The image of the meteor over Grand Canyon conjured up the image of “The Star of Bethlehem.”  Pre-scientific elders, astrologers and shamans viewed cosmic events like these as omens or cryptic messages from The Great Spirit. Many people today are far too sophisticated to believe this, but I am not convinced that the ancients were wrong. After all, every branch of science begins with an unfathomable mystery. It is as if we have entered a theater which has been playing a movie for 15 billion years. We have no idea of how, when, where or why it started and no clue where we are going. We do know that we are an insignificantly (?) teeny speck of matter floating in an incomprehensibly vast universe.   Little wonder there is a chronic feud between “pure scientists” and theologians. Thankfully, we have guides like Newton, Galileo, Einstein, Muir, Thoreau and Eiseley who can see the wisdom and beauty of the yin-yang relationship. 

Astronomers are adept at juggling boggling numbers of stars, planets, galaxies, light years, novae and black holes. Even so, none of them can wrap his/her limited mind around terms like infinity and eternity.

One of my favorite quotes is, “words have no meaning,” which simply means that they only have the meaning two people agree to give them. Scientists are prone to chide religious folks for believing in myths and unproven assumptions, however, when asked to define infinity and eternity, they must defer to equally inadequate, unproven mythologies and assumptions. They glibly agree that the universe began from “nothing” in an event called “The big Bang.” If this is so, however, perhaps infinity and eternity are not “givens” and we may undergo a “Big Gnab” event (Big Bang in reverse) and the universe will suddenly disappear.  

The story of the “Star of Bethlehem” was recorded by astrologers from several diverse cultures. There are several theories as to its cosmic origin, however, what is not debatable is that “something” extraordinary happened.

As far as we know, man is the only animal who can comprehend time (or at least he thinks so). Any parent of a 5-year-old child knows the difficulty of communicating how long a week is before a birthday or Christmas. Most adults are not much better off. I am in awe of scientists who can juggle billions of years of geologic time with terms like epoch, era and eon. This difficulty can be greatly magnified at the Grand Canyon. While most tourists are properly impressed with the grandeur and geologic history, no small number leave utterly bewildered by both. This feeling can actually be amplified by walking along the canyon bottom. Most of us need an alternate “time stick” to go by. Analogues can be helpful.

If we compress the 1.8 billion-year-history of the rocks at the bottom into one calendar year:

Each day would equal 5,000,000 years.

Each hour would equal 225, 000 years.

Each minute would equal 3,000 years.

Each second would equal 60 years.

 This means that Jesus would be born on Dec. 31, at 11:59:20 PM.

Most people living today would be born at, 11:59:59 PM.

 In the US, we are living in a time of unprecedented intellectual freedom. We are free to express our opinion on any subject, however, it is not our prerogative to rewrite history to accommodate our limited mental capacity. Maya Angelou warned us that generally, Americans think that they are liberated thinkers, but often they are not. One of Dr. Martin Luther King’s favorite lines was, “Let freedom ring!” He was referring to spiritual, quite as much as sociological, freedom.

People are free to draw their own conclusions about the importance of the Biblical accounts that led up to the Christmas celebration, however, it is philosophically irresponsible  to ignore New Testament authors thus obfuscating the truth that their writings have had a profound  effect on the evolution of western civilization.

St. Paul described love as the greatest human quality. Psychologist Erich Fromm agreed and added that without love, the human experience makes no sense.

Like all human rituals and ceremonies, Christmas has pluses and minuses, however, the pure essence of the holiday is unconditional love and “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”

 

Merry Christmas

Winter Solstice and Christmas

Milky Way Scientists

 

 

 

 

Image: Milky Way scientists—Dulce Hidgar, Rebekah Riley, Emmanuel Rodriquez, Jose Miguel Rodriquez Ortiz and Deborah Baker.

“We are now in a position to see the wonder and terror of the human predicament.”

                                    The Immense Journey, Loren Eiseley

Today, 12-12-13, marks the winter solstice for us. Although the official solstice isn’t until Dec. 21, tomorrow evening the sun will set one minute later for us in the Napa Valley.  For over 100,000 years “modern” man has been watching the sun, moon and stars for physical, mental and spiritual guidance. Many cultures were polytheistic and designated gods and goddesses for many purposes. Many decided that it was important to offer various gifts to these gods.

It is possible that the most important factors leading to the greatness of the United States are rooted in biology. The dual phenomena of biological diversity and hybrid vigor have contributed to a highly successful blend of genes. Adding diverse cultural, ethnic, religious and language elements has created a nation unlike any other on the planet.

I suspect that no other American holiday represents such a broad mélange of blended rituals, beliefs and customs. For many Latin and European immigrants, Christmas Day is still a holy day and gifts are exchanged on “Epiphany,” the day that commemorates the arrival of the Three Kings. Others put up evergreen trees with lights that symbolize the hope of surviving a cold winter season, burn a Yule log on Christmas Eve and wait for Santa Claus. Exchanging gifts, roasting chestnuts, building gingerbread houses, sipping eggnog, decking the halls and singing carols may be part of each family’s tradition. All in all, the holiday can be a multifaceted blend of religious, secular, and mythological components that have evolved throughout 2013 years. One of the most unusual, perhaps bizarre customs, involves kissing under a sprig of mistletoe.

Most of us are living in the very comfortable “now” and neither willing nor likely to consider our animal origins and the evolution of the latest manifestation of Christmas. One noteworthy example is a Druid tradition that involved mistletoe. The idea of beauty pageants did not begin with the “Miss America” contest. Many cultures had various versions of harvest festivals as did the Druids. It was common to make some kind of offering to the gods/goddesses of the harvest as an act of thanksgiving. In one version of the Druid celebration, the most beautiful virgin female was selected as the offering. She stood under a sprig of mistletoe growing on an oak tree. All the men lined up and gave her a kiss before she was wrapped in linen and placed on a fire as an offering to the god of harvest.

While some people have marginalized the importance of the Ten Commandments, it is inconceivable to imagine living in a world before they became widely accepted guidelines.

 

 Little wonder we can joyfully say, Merry Christmas.

A Christmas Card From Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

 

 

 

 

Each new year, the first paper assigned to Biodesign students was simply titled, “Who am I.?”  I stated, “In order to know the difference between you and me, I need to know a lot about you and a lot about me.” The only guidelines offered were to be as honest and sincere as possible. One of my female students beautifully and profoundly answered the question and included a Nelson Mandela essay as a model for what she hoped to become.

John Muir was treated cruelly by his fanatical, Scottish Presbyterian father. Daniel Muir must have believed, “spare the rod and spoil the child,” and, “pride goeth before a fall.” Miraculously, Yosemite healed John’s emotional scars and greatly contributed to his ascendancy of becoming a beacon of light to guide millions of pilgrims on a spiritual quest.

Nelson Mandela had his own hell to survive. He was condemned to 27 years in prison for courageously confronting the cruelty of racial injustice. Out of this crucible, however, he too became a beacon of light and wrote one of the most brilliant essays on human spirituality.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking

so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

our presence automatically liberates others.”

Nelson Mandela and the “God particle.”

Nelson Mandela

 

 

 

 

Where the Higgs — or 'God particle' — was found – CNN.com

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/nelson.mandela.and.his.faith/34956.htm

Excerpt: The Star Thrower, Loren Eiseley

“There were just two men under a lamp, and around them a great waiting silence. Out to the ends of the universe, I thought fleetingly, that’s the way with man and his lamps. One has to huddle in, there’s so little light and so much space.”

Last year scientists, at the CERN supercollider in Switzerland, announced the discovery of the “God Particle.” The world mostly welcomed the news with a yawn. The San Francisco Chronicle buried the article on the 4th page. CNN did justice to the discovery:

 

“Adding to the mystique for the public — but to the horror of scientists — the Higgs boson took on the nickname “God particle” because of an eponymous book title (the author, physicist Leon Lederman, wrote that “Goddamn Particle” might have been more appropriate, but the publisher wouldn’t allow it).

South Africa is hosting a public memorial service for Nelson Mandela today. Four American presidents, hundreds of world dignitaries and hundreds of thousands of black and white South Africans will gather to celebrate his life. WOW!

 Henry Thoreau felt that the only hope for the world was for everyone to have a “born again experience” in nature. John Muir agreed and while I agree with them, not everyone is destined to have a wilderness experience. I would suggest that the only hope for the world lies in leaders like Nelson Mandela. After an injury, John Muir quipped, “Sometimes God has to nearly kill us to get us headed in the right direction.” Mandela would probably agree. When he was in prison he realized that unless he changed his attitude, he could not expect others to change theirs. He also wrote:

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew

if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Einstein wrote:

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

Although I never harbored any delusions of grandeur, I did encounter some somewhat violent opposition from people who thought that my attempt to encourage young minds to explore their own sense of spirituality was evil.

During my little, but fearful, battles, it was comforting to know that courageous men like Mandela were facing similar battles on a global scale.

My wife and close friends know that I struggled for months with whether to include chapters 28 and 29 in BOFAW. I knew that they would likely be misunderstood and I did not want them to detract from the 29 other chapters. In the end, even friends who are agnostic were adamant that the chapters be included.

While reflecting on Mandela’s life, even though I suspected that including those chapters would mean that the book will be banned from all public schools, I am at peace that I made the right decision.

Thank you Mr.Mandela. Your thoughts and deeds have inspired and encouraged millions of people and made the world a better place.

Mandela—Dickens—St. Paul—Albert Einstein & Christmas

NotreDameRose

 

 

 

 

Excerpt: BOFAW, Chap. 9, Gratefulness.

“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my

inner and outer life depend on the labors of other

men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in

order to give in the same measure as I have received

and am still receiving.”     Albert Einstein

It has been written that heroes carry torches to light a pathway for others; saints are living torches that blaze trails for others to follow.

Nelson Mandela’s body died last week, but his spirit will shine throughout the world until the end of humanity. I quickly added him to my book of saints. By dying he has joined an elite pantheon which includes Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa and Dr. Martin Luther King who dedicated their lives trying to emulate Jesus Christ. Although, in our increasingly secularized society, it is becoming less and less important to celebrate the lives of saints, the Advent Season encourages people of all walks of life to do just that. Saint Paul deserves some consideration. He is credited with writing over one half of the New Testament. The Bible is regarded by many scholars, authors, poets, sociologists, and anthropologists as the world’s greatest book. Charles Dickens agreed with this assessment and added that it is the greatest book that will ever be written. Annual sales exceed 100 million copies. A study done in 2008 estimated that over 4 billion copies have been published in thousands of languages. If this is so, is not even arguable that St. Paul is the greatest author who has lived on Earth.

While I strongly support the US Constitutional law of separation of church and state, I find it ironic that, in a nation whose laws are based on the Ten Commandments, that the Bible has been banned in nearly all public schools. It is sobering to recall that when the USSR was at its peak of power, a primary goal of the KGB was to seek out and destroy all Bibles. People were so desperate to get a copy that they would pay a month’s salary for a tattered copy of the banned book.

Paul’s famous passage describing love, in a letter to the Corinthians, is probably the most widely used passage in weddings around the world. The passage summarizes all of his writing by suggesting that the three greatest spiritual gifts are faith, hope and love, with love being the greatest.

Although the physical, mental and spiritual evolution of man seems to have taken a circuitous, even convoluted path, it is sobering to wonder where we would be without the guidance of the saints.

I have hundreds of major and minor saints in my “Book of Saints,” a few of them are Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Newton, Galileo, Mendel, Wallace, Darwin, Einstein, George Washington Carver, Thoreau, Emerson, Muir, Eiseley, Lincoln, Dr. King, and most recently Nelson Mandela. All of these men were men of great faith whose visions greatly exceeded their own egos as they generated light in an often darkened world.

Sadly, in a terrible twist of irony, wars often provide the opportunity for heroes and saints to rise to great heights while overcoming evil. And, while many may become super-heroes, the acts of “the little people” are important also.

Many years ago I read an account of scores of such nameless little people. The German army was marching through France on their way to conquer Paris. The clergy in charge of the world-famous cathedral of Notre Dame were deeply concerned about the probability of being bombed by Nazi airplanes. They quickly organized a team of workers who built scaffolding up to the Great Rose window. The window is considered one of the world’s finest examples of stained glass. Workers painstakingly removed each piece and applied a label and number. All of the pieces were buried in a 30 foot deep hole. After the war ended each piece was unearthed and returned to its proper place. I doubt that anyone of the names of the workers is remembered, however, they all contributed to a work of art that has inspired millions of people for nearly 70 years.

 

The opening quote from Albert Einstein is an excellent description of the purpose of the Advent Season. Combining it with St. Paul’s challenge to extend our appreciation and practice of faith, hope and love, just might be what Christmas is really all about.

Merry Christmas. LY