The wind moaned and picked up throughout the day, and at dusk got downright serious. I get twitchy when that happens, since our back yard is a seven-acre woods.
Thankfully, the last dead ash threatening the house came down the first of November. I answered Sam’s call while waiting in Seattle to board the plane home.
“Another tree guy is here. Said he can take the tree down right away.”
“What does right away mean?” I asked. This was the fifth guy who had looked at the tree.
“He’s getting his equipment out of his truck.”
“That’s great,” I said.
Later Sam told me, “You should have seen this guy tie off the ash to a stout willow at the shallow end of the pond. He tightened 100 feet of rope until you could pluck it like a guitar string. The tree fell exactly where he wanted. Missed the house, the two little white pines you wanted to keep, as well as the clothesline. A master tree surgeon. He’s about my age so I invited him in for a cup of tea.”
We were both relieved. That ash could have crashed into our bedroom window. Death by falling tree. It happens.
Last week’s wind brought to mind not only falling trees, but boats thrown off course. We listened to NPR while the wind howled. A panel of four “experts” discussed the belief, or not, in hell. Usually, NPR hits a home run covering current topics, but their comments on the complex subject were like controlled chaos.
In my forties, a hurricane struck my spiritual boat. My son, raised in the church and about to graduate from a Christian university, told me he didn’t know if God was real. Aren’t the church and a Christian university supposed to help our children grow in faith?
I began to question the teaching of hell. In the Christian faith, that teaching is dogma. How does one stay a Christian and yet question the Bible? My faith tossed on the high seas of doubt for twenty years. I clung to God as Eternal Father to keep from being washed overboard.
Since my boat finally sailed to a quiet harbor two years ago, I can write about the experience. In fact, over the summer, I felt compelled to write a 40,000 word memoir. Madeleine L’Engle encouraged me to try: “Sometimes he will say, ‘It’s been said better before.’ Of course. It’s all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I’d never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing has to be said; by me; ontologically.” Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet (emphasis mine)
Ontology is the study of the nature of being or essence. For the Christian, the concept of God entails the existence of God.
I like how George MacDonald put it, “If there be a calling child, there must be an answering father.”
C.S. Lewis echoed MacDonald in The Silver Chair when Aslan said to Jill, “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you.”
How can I have the yearning for God if He doesn’t exist?
As far as things which I cannot understand, I trust Him who sees the end of things.