Home, community, history, and meaning.

This might be one of those periodic lapses in good sense I suffer from time to time. No matter. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Words raise their heads from the page and gaze indulgently at me. “He’s at it again”, they seem to say. With the passage of years, retired from full-time work, and with too much time on my hands, life is still a great mystery to me. The old impertinent, unanswerable questions of life and existence continue to tug at my sleeve.ImageImage

Try as I might I have never been able to make a lot of sense of life. I’ve never nailed it, defined it, compressed it into bite-sized comprehensible concepts. It just is. On the one hand it’s episodes of experiences, coincidences, accidents, sensations, hopes, longings, achievements, regrets, sadness and happiness; marked in days and years. On the other hand it’s immeasurably, beautifully, maddeningly, incomprehensibly more than the sum of its parts.

Lots of people have tried to pin out this mysterious phenomenon of life as if it were a specimen on a mounting board, to be wondered at, and having been pinned out and restrained, finally explained. Lots of very clever people have tried. I haven’t come across any who convince me to my satisfaction. Existence remains an enigma to me.

Along the way science has offered me a comforting but illusory certainty. From time to time I have picked it up and tossed it from hand to hand, hoping for insights into the meaning of life. Finding nothing I could trust; all flashy but transitory, like detergent bubbles blown from a child’s toy; mesmerising colours and entrancing spheres drifting manfully away on air currents towards their doom.

By reducing all to measurable variables science has shown us how to make excellent cars, planes, vaccines and IVF technologies, but it ignores love, family and existential angst as peripheral considerations with mechanical causes. Warriors for the supremacy of science might be satisfied that it can explain how we find ourselves here on this planet breathing, walking around and generally metabolising while we ponder questions of existence, but I am not.

The many and varied religions also have a go at this task. I have come to place my faith in the Christian narrative. I know some will consider me simple or deluded as a result, but then again, I do not care. Sooner or later everyone is reduced to faith of some sort. Even atheists have faith, albeit faith in science and technology, or their own intellectual abilities.

I am left in the position of accepting that I do not understand what this ‘life’ is. I am experiencing it. I am in the midst of it, but I am no closer to understanding it in an intellectual way than I have ever been.

I do not understand.

There, that’s out of the way. However I can’t accept that I am an accident; that the life I live is a series of mechanistic phenomena devoid of deeper meaning. I have no intellectual basis for my belief, only faith. The secular cheer squad comforts itself with technology but is left with its own faith in science and random occurrences. I am left with faith in my creator.

I rather think my creator smiles indulgently on all who struggle to comprehend and to understand; young, old, clever, ignorant, believer, unbeliever, denier, avoider, tub-thumper or back-slider, whether they acknowledge their reliance on faith or not.

The thought brings a smile to my heart.


2 thoughts on “Home, community, history, and meaning.

Add yours

  1. Well said, Rob. That list you close with: I’m on the fence between ignorant and back-slider. Last night, a little too much wine, so . . . back-slider. Peace, John

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