Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Recent Days

There were so many things I wanted to write about over the last few days, but time just has not allowed me. Well, I can't really blame time. I'm sure it's just my own inability to manage my time all that well. But then again, maybe I can shift the blame. After all, who really knows what time is? A web connecting disparate moments together, allowing them to be perceived as a continuous stream?

Yup. That sounds good. "It's the web's fault." Hmm. Maybe not. It sounds like one of Spidey's problems, or like I've been playing computer games on the net all day.

No, the last few days have been filled with more attempts at getting into a rhythm of life here on the island. Oh, and watching nature, which is part of that rhythm of life. (I've seen many new types of birds that I've never seen before. Yesterday, I was sitting on the front step, munching on a bag of carrots, watching a jay, when 3 of the local deer came up and politely asked if they, too, could munch on the carrots with me. It was really cool. One of them even came up within a foot of me. We could smell each other's breath, as the Maori would say.)

Today, I'm off to Sydney. (BC, not Australia.) I have to talk to a couple of stores up there, and I'm also giving a friend of mine a ride to the ferry, so she can get to Vancouver and catch a cheap flight to LA.

And that has gotten me thinking. It's amazing what simple things in life can get you thinking about the Faith when you're always looking for things to write about.

I have flown from the Island to Vancouver, and I have taken the ferry. Both are so beautiful, but very different.

With the ferry, you have to wait a couple of minutes in line (whether you're in the car or on foot), and then you get a nice, enjoyable 90 minute boat ride, amidst gorgeous islands. If you're lucky, you get to watch the otters and the whales and the seals, and all sorts of nature things.

If you're in a hurry, though, you can always fly. The trip is only about 20 minutes.

Oh, but then you need to stand in line and get through security, not to mention park and get a cab at the other end. So let's see: 20 minute flight, plus you have to get there an hour early, so add another 60 minutes. Then you need to wait for your luggage, which is usually another 20 minutes or so. Plus you need to get a ride from the airport to wherever you're going (you don't need to do that with the ferry if you take your car).

Hmm. It looks like the ferry is now faster.

And why is that? Because of the fear involved in flying. Oh, not the fear OF flying, but the fear of terrorism that surrounds flying these days.

I find it interesting that our fears have made, in this one case, life more enjoyable. If I am in a hurry to get to Vancouver, I can travel faster and cheaper in a more enjoyable way. All thanks to fear.

A few years ago I had the bounty and pleasure of speaking at a university on the subject of fear and security in a post-911 world. The main theme was the idea that the fear of God leads to wisdom (quoted in all the various sacred texts I could find), and that when we fear God, we will fear nothing else (the second half of the quote in all the various sacred texts). During this talk, I was quick to point out that fear, as it is defined in the dictionary, is not the same as terror. You can kind of see fear as the low point of a scale that goes up to paralyzing terror at the far end. Fear is more like a reverential awe.

When you begin to look at the world, and the universe as a whole, and all of time... Well, you become a bit disoriented. At least, I do. I mean, think about it. What will I do in my life that will be remembered in a few years? How about in a hundred years? A thousand? Six billion? This is ridiculous. I am so inconsequential, it is not even funny.

And so when God sends down a Messenger, I pay attention.

But back to the subject at hand. The other point of the talk was that we can never really be secure. Oh sure, we can put on our seatbelts, or walk through the metal detector, or even take our vitamins every day, but that does not prevent a meteor from falling on our head. Nor does it mean that I should walk around under a metal umbrella just in case I end up being the third person in recorded history to be hit by a meteor.

No. It is fine to take sensible precautions, but we still need to enjoy life. We need to take the time to look at the beauty of the world around us, and find those few moments to simply breathe.

This is why I am so glad that my friend took the ferry this morning when she just as easily could have taken the plane.

Besides, it gave me something simple to write about.


  1. Fear, an interesting word. In some languages there is more than one word to express the various nuances. In Italian, there is "paura" = to be afraid, scared and "timore"= fear when you understand (know, are aware of) the consequences of actions (more the fear of God). Further, when aligned with love (for ex,love of God, fear and love seem to blend into one.

  2. Why should anyone fear God? The things you discuss are not God. The random occurrences of the Universe and the chance that these random occurrences might affect our lives is not God's doing. It is not God's will. So why should we fear God? To think God is out to get you, or you fear what God is capable of is such a Judeo-Christian view.

    Awe and fear are not the same. To be in awe is to be baffled, impressed even. To be in fear of something is to feel aversive of it. When you fear, the human mind avoids. The human mind represses. That is the exact OPPOSITE of the love of God. To fear and love something never creates harmony. It's like loving your mother, yet you fear that she will abuse you more. The two do not work in conjunction when it comes to complete happiness in the eyes of God.

  3. A great post. Many beautiful observations, above all the reminder that if we fear God, we fear nothing else. Thank you.

  4. >Anonymous - You are confusing "fear" with "being afraid". They are not the same, although they are related. And while it is not the same awe, I think there are some similarities.

    What you describe is terror of God, which is not appropriate in either of our opinions.

    For me, when I saw the concept of the fear of God being the beginning of wisdom in all the different religions, I agreed with what you wrote above. Then I had to admit that I either misunderstood what was meant, or that religion just wasn't for me. Fortunately I looked further into the language, instead of merely accepting our current general understanding of the words.