This I Believe

David - Orchard Park, New York
Entered on February 6, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I think my favorite sound is a gusty August wind working its way through a forest. It would be an easy thing for me to spend a day sitting near the shore of an undisturbed lake within a vast forest, observing a day while listening to the constancy of that restless sound.

On a day like that, the wind snakes through the forest canopy; right past me, across the lake, and always for miles and miles in back of me where I can’t see or hear; starting and stopping suddenly, almost like waves on a shore. Oceans of leaves shimmer in the distance, revealing waves of wind, that roll ceaselessly. Water laps against a rocky shore, over and over again, as it has for thousands of years, and as it will for thousands more. Birds call and animals skitter around within the context of the wind. And I am silent, observing, the wind weathering my face, as I strain to hear what it is like when I am not here.

These moments put me in thought of God’s forever presence. I debate with myself again. Could all this truly be the result of some random explosion, that caused life to form in the warm soup of matter? All by itself? It seems too much for a god to create universes so distant we can’t even detect them, at the same time too vast for an unplanned event that would become the greatest scientific question.

I hear the breeze caressing the trees and breaking the surface tension of the water. I contemplate all that lives. I watch trees in synergy with the breeze. I scoop a small amount of the earth in my hand. Twigs, insects, pebbles, microbes, soil. What do I hold in my hand? I don’t know, but I know that what I hold, and what I am are very much the same.

If I’m lucky, I can have a fleeting moment in which I feel absorbed into the forest. A true piece of that creation, however small. I feel the sensation of certainty that this place where I sit, and all the life that surrounds it, is not a cosmic accident. How can I look at a tree on the shoreline, browsed by deer, hosting birds and bugs, able to reproduce, clinging well to the rocky shore, absorbing water, converting energy from the sun, playing in the breeze, and believe it to be anything other than created? How would it be possible for me to see beauty in the dance of the trees, the water, and the wind if they, and I, were all some accident of carbon, wholly lacking a reason for being? Accidents, cosmic or otherwise, have no reason. Why should I care that a tree lives or dies? Why should I possess compassion or empathy or reason if this place was un-planned. Yet I do. And there was no accident. And to that, I cling, as the tree to the rock.