Tuesday, December 01, 2009

just another feather in the flock

God is such a struggle for me. Looking back, he always has been. However, growing up, the struggle with was me. How I wasn’t good enough for him. How I was an abomination. How I was damned. You know, fun stuff like that. Now, the issue is with him. There is no doubt in my mind that he exists; that there is a god. Went through that phase where I wasn’t really sure. I am now. However, I can’t seem to get a grasp on who he is at all. And I can’t decide if I like him or not. If I use the Bible, I get so many conflicting messages of who he is, many that don’t mesh. However, if someone wrote a book about every facet of me, my details wouldn’t mesh either. If I’m ‘complicated’ enough to merit contradiction and equal parts that don’t seem to flow naturally in one body, how much more so show God be? However, many/most of the things I know of God in the Bible make me sincerely not like him, so I have done what I have described before and twisted the view of him in my mind so that I can either displace or forgive his ‘shortcomings.’
I watched March of the Penguins last night, and the whole experience (besides moments of intense cuteness and bleak desperation) was a God moment for me. I thought I knew most everything about penguins—I’ve always loved them and been rather fascinated by them. However, there were many minute details of which I’d never been aware. Many that blew my mind. How far they truly walk, and how many times a year they make the trek. The way their bodies are formed. How they naturally work together. The strange little pouch in the male’s throat that saves a milky substance for months only to give to the newly hatched chick so that it can last for a single day to give its mother time to return. Detail after insane detail. Each a vital aspect of their survival. Each so little. Each imperative. How can someone look at these creatures and think it all happened by chance? That it simply happened by evolution alone. By survival of the fittest alone. It seems brainless and gullible to look at the intrinsic and interwoven fibers that create these little creatures’ universe and not see someone at the loom. You’d have to be blind and a fool to see anything else. And that is just with Penguins. Don’t even think about all the other creatures and patterns that have to exist for each one. It doesn’t just happen.
In that declaration of God’s existence and master plan, comes awe of him. Astounded by his creativity and intricate details. Insanity of his ludicrous ideas and creations. The brilliance of it all. All of which brings me back to what the fuck is wrong with him. The hostility these little creatures face is baffling. As is their capacity and unfathomable aptitude to survive and thrive despite the odds. They spend over three-fourths of each year with the single goal of raising one baby. At every turn, there is tragedy. Every turn some catastrophe that is so beyond their control that shatters everything they are sacrificing for. They wait for months, literally starving, waiting for a mate to return with food that never comes. They endure the unendurable only to have their chick killed by something. The baby somehow survives and waits just enough time to see its fellows greeted by a returning parent bringing substance, only to die in the cold surrounded by its ilk, as its parent did weeks ago in the jaws of a seal.
I am blown away the design of it all and beauty and joy God must have in his creation. I am blown away by the cruelty that he watches and allows on these little living things as they endure the impossible only to be shattered individually, yet thrive as a community. The penguins didn’t eat from a tree or listen to snake or discover they were naked. They didn’t ‘earn’ their hardships in childbirth. If it were a novel, it would be perfect. It’s the stuff you want to read—terror, hardships, trials, death, calamity, perseverance, excitement, triumph. However, not what you would create for reality. Unless you are intrinsically fucked up and sadistic. Or maybe fallible. (Are my words the unpardonable sin? I doubt it, but maybe. Even as I write them, the fibers of me screams to not say such things. However, if he is who they say he is, he knows they’re there anyway.)
As in all things, it comes back down to me. I was humbled as I watched these little ones work so hard to simply survive. A task that comes fairly naturally to me. I was humbled (and angered) that God watches not only the journey of penguins, but the countless journey of every creation—including me. The words of the Bible comfort and torment me at the same time. As I watched, I felt like nothing more than just another animal going through the design, trying desperately live, really live—all the time knowing that no matter how much effort or sacrifice is made, I could freeze on the ice, wait for nourishment that is not to come, make it to the end only to be slaughtered. Why should I expect more? Why would I be so much more important that a fat, waddling black and white bird?
The entire time, verses from the book coursed through me. The sparrow. The falling from the nest. Seen and loved by God, even as it falls and dies. How much more important am I? That we have been placed above in the importance and cared-for-spectrum and are even more intrinsically and complicatedly designed. Comfort. Promises. Other verses. No guarantee or promise of fulfillment here on Earth. No security in things working-out. Only the pledge of struggle and hardships and pain. There are many of us penguins that will face the winter and starvation and have a healthy chick to show for it. However, there are many of us penguins that will make it just as far as the others, only for the ice to crack around us and devour all we have given to survive. What has made me think I was so special that I would be one of the ones to endure, so unique that I would thrive despite the odds? That I wouldn’t realize that as the other penguins around me were greeted with the rewards of their sacrifice that I am to freeze waiting for what is never to return or arrive? What thoughts go through the little one’s mind as he succumbs to gravity and splays slowly on ice, his vision of the others’ celebration around him blurry, the realization of his fate washing over him like a cold sheath? I think I have an idea.

1 comment:

Bob said...

Beautiful Brandon! Not sure why but I've been experiencing many of the same things with God lately. If I could have been wrong about my hermaneutic of the Bible and being gay, how many other things and contradictions have I been wrong about in relation to my faith and my life with and through Christ. It's a huge quandry and I never understood how people could lose the faith they've carried their entire life until now. I totally get it but I'm not going to give up that easily. I'm going to continue plugging along and hope my faith is strengthened and not thrown out.

Take care,