The Bird Watchers

Layers of sand, rock and remnants of shell. A stratified calendar. A self-winding clock. The geological record that plays the song of rising seas and tectonic plates crashing together like waves on the beach. Earth exposed. The crust of us. A towering testimony of time, and its ravages. From dust we were born and unto dust we will return. Round and round she goes. Circle of life. Circle of death. Gravity and centrifugal forces. Cohesion. Wind. Tides. Decay. This thing we call nature, this system. Chaotic, complex, yet governed by rules we continue to discover and refine. Rising, falling, ever-changing yet somehow always the same. We live within it and it lives within us. The mechanism of all that is or ever was, known. An invisible soup of particles interacting, particles that get smaller and smaller as our tools of perception grow more and more powerful. As if nature itself is sentient and defies us. As if nature is us, defying the truth about ourselves.

Somewhere on that cliffside above a nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons lurks over a dune strewn with corpses. Dead birds by the dozens. Mummified, twisted, savaged from the skies by the terrible speed of the diving raptors. Circle of life. Circle of death. We’re enslaved by this notion that this is just how things are – only the strong survive, kill or be killed. That metallic rattling sound you hear is the jangle of the food chain locked to our ankles. Survival of the fittest is no law, it’s a philosophy, a mode of being carried over from the days of living in caves and cowering before the god of thunder and the eclipse. We like to think we’re not animals while still behaving like them when it suits our purposes.

Fear, form and time. These are the engines that fuel the collective dream. We may not bow to the fire god or dance to call down rain but we are nature-worshippers still. We believe in human nature, at the expense of God. The very notion of sin usurps the idea of a loving Father. The religion of vengeance is far more powerful than the religion of love. Punishment reigns supreme in this dream of ours. The strongest and the most well-equipped survive, the weak must die. How could God create such a world? If he truly is loving how could He allow such terrible things to happen? He didn’t. He doesn’t. We made this, and it’s not real.

The Birders watch the falcons with their surrogate eyes. Their perception-enhancers. Nature is endlessly fascinating to the ones who stand atop the food chain. It seems so complex, so random. Birds are particularly marvelous. They assure us that evolution works out well in the end. The hideous ground-lurking reptile sprouts wings and takes to the elegant sky. That’s the sort of magic that happens when chromosomes do their thing.

It’s almost impossible to refute the evidence before our eyes. Yet increasingly even what appears true is debunked by evidence of a different kind. None of the laws that govern the world of perception hold sway in the quantum realm. We can’t even say for certain where a particle is at any moment in time and now apparently it can be two places at once. What does this say about our assumptions and immutable laws?

We believe what we need to believe, what we want to believe. The human mind is a creator. Creation, The Creation, is not necessarily of God. We are endowed with that power too. Nature is a reflection of that power. It is a mnemonic device that leads us back to the source. Nature isn’t God, but it points to Him. It’s an opening, a portal, a flickering light on the horizon. Complexity is not of God.

o O o

 

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