You might recall that in the Wizard of Oz movie, a confused Dorothy stands in shock at one point and blurts out a classic piece of dialogue that goes something like this: “My, people come and go so quickly around here!”
That’s how the snows have been here in Illinois this week. We got four inches of accumulation that looked like it would stick around forever. But once the April sun popped out the clouds and swung over the land, the snow disappeared like magic.
Today it snowed another three inches. And again, green grass is already peeping through the sagging snow layer. Spring will be back in full force by this afternoon, I’m sure.
Is God really in control?
We look for meaning in all this change and sometimes we’re stumped. Some credit the seasons and weather to God, depicted that deity as both a control freak and a whimsical destroyer. Really bad weather events are branded “acts of God” even by the insurance and government agencies doling out billions of dollars to compensate those caught in the path of destruction. Perhaps they should consider billing the religious organizations collecting billions in the name of God. Ask them to step up and pay down the disaster bills if God is being such a jerk about all of this?
A world of Dorothys
We’re really no more sophisticated in our regard for natural events than the innocent Dorothy who upon stopping to pick an apple from a branch along the Yellow Brick Road gets scolded by a grumpy old tree. Something in me always hated that damn tree almost as much as I feared the Flying Monkeys.
That horrid old forest in the Land of Oz was not a nice place to be for young Dorothy, and that’s the allegory that applies to all of us in this world. We’re a world of Dorothys in a largely confusing place.
Fortunately, most of us don’t get swept into another world through our dreams. But that doesn’t mean the dream world avoids us entirely.
As for me, I truly love old trees. They seem to dream in place at times, and if you stand among them with a mind open to the breeze coursing through their limbs, it almost sounds like a language we’re supposed to understand. For that reason I regularly embrace the company of trees on the many runs, rides and walks through the woods. I am a tree hugger by many measures of the word. Those are aren’t, I don’t really trust. They tend to know only the language of selfish experience.
I also like a dark path through a deep and wintry forest. Yet when that dark path is surrounded by the green leaves of spring and summer, I like it just as well. It is spiritually healing to run through a forest in any season. You can feel the movement as if you were a part of the breeze itself. You can look down and find treasures below your feet and look up and wonder at the pattern of clouds between the branches.
It is also a glory to traverse a forest path covered by dead leaves or worn through to the dirt. Those are also paths to enlightenment. Once the snows melted the other day, I went for a run on a forest path and found a patch of Dutchman’s Breeches blooming as if the snow had never fallen at all. Whether the insurance companies and government agencies want to admit it or not, those flowers are just as likely an act of God as the houses torn asunder by tornadoes or flooding.
In truth, it’s not really necessary to credit any of this to God at all. Nature has its motives and is randomly happy to carry them out with abandon. I’m not one to constrain my worldview and force the will of nature through a God strainer. If anything, I see things the other way around. I think God is happy to sit back and watch it all happen, then study how people respond to creation. Those that respect it earn respect in return. To me, that is grace appreciated.
In other words, I don’t think God really cares whether we travel a yellow brick road or wander a dirt path in the woods. There are people who will tell you that the yellow brick road is the only path to salvation, but I don’t think that’s true. I bet you know a few people that agree, and perhaps you do too.
Find your own path. It’s a much more enjoyable way to live.