Bristlecone Pines, Jesus and BOFAW
Small children often lack the ability to conceptualize time. Adults are not that much better off. Who can comprehend a Bristlecone Pine seed germinating and growing for over 5,000 years? Some began living 3,000 years before Christ was born and if they look more dead than alive it is because they have endured 1,825,000 days. What lessons on life doe they have for us?
One of the earliest (and dearest) fans of BOFAW opined that the book was “obviously written from a Christian perspective.” I didn’t ask whether it was a criticism or a compliment, but my emotions took over and my spirits (and ego) soared. After all, setting aside the mentally baffling Christian Trinity, most scholars and world religious leaders regard Jesus as one of the world’s greatest teachers and prophets. Imagining that our little book could have followed his footprints, even slightly, was a heady experience.
Thankfully, however, I returned to reality. If BOFAW were supposed to be an accurate reflection of the Biodesign Class, then it was not written form a Christian perspective. In fact, there were numerous quotes and ideas taken from all major world religions regarding how they perceived and described Mother Nature. Furthermore, based on my experience detailed in chap. 3, “The Fire Storm,” I decided that believing in God was not unlike catching poison oak; some people get it and some people don’t and no amount of word-making will likely change that. The choice to believe or not (if it is a choice) is a deeply personal one and involves a man and his Creator (or not).
What was obvious, however, was that the class could not have survived if it were not based on five of the “Ten Commandments” ascribed to Moses. If we discussed them formally we would have agreed that commandments 1-2-4-5 & 10 were beyond the bounds of the Class. Even though Erich Fromm described the importance of the concept of; “The love of God,” it was not something that we considered. We did, however, acknowledge that commandments 3-6-7-8-&9 were critically important. We avoided profanity (usually) and generally agreed that murder, stealing, lying and having sex, in class or on the field trips, were not permissible.
I have read that there are 613 laws or commandments in the Jewish Faith. That seems like a staggering number to keep track of, perhaps because I am not Jewish. From my very limited Biblical knowledge, however, apparently Jesus had the audacity to reduce the list to two: “Love God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” As Loren Eiseley pointed out “the idea was radical and shook the world like a storm.” Again, the first rule was not within the scope of the Biodesign Class, however, the second rule was truly the glue that held the class together, or without proper discipline, tore The Class apart.
The students were, by nature, “loveable,” however a few occasionally acted in ways that were not loveable. I had a student look me in the eye and lie about smoking pot on a Grand Canyon trip, after he had promised he would not. He selfishly ignored the fact that if the school board heard of the abuse, the class would likely have been cancelled. It was devastating. However, they were not alone. When I was rested I could usually handle the demands of leadership in a loving, supportive manner. However, on many trips, intense stress, fatigue and fear conspired to overwhelm me and reduced me to the “Cathy’s Dogs” syndrome detailed in BOFAW, chap. 25, “Lessons From The Ark.” Whenever any love-lapse occurred, the only path to reconciliation was hopefully a quick apology and a request to be forgiven. These were always embarrassing, at times, humiliating.
The reason that it was important for me to iterate, over and over, that the Biodesign Class was not a religion class and not a veiled form of Christian evangelism was precisely because it was neither. I imagined The Class as a grand smorgasbord of ideas and students were free to adopt any ideas they deemed valuable. The concept of “loving your neighbor as yourself” is a universal concept that belongs to all mankind. I am utterly convinced that any group of young adults, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality or gender, exposed to the Biodesign curriculum, would have responded in a similar, loving manner.
I would also like to think that the stories and events, recorded in BOFAW, belong to all mankind, which is the purpose of the book. The search for truth beauty and goodness has no boundaries or exclusions.
Love, peace, namaste, shalom, LY