We were at the Muir Woods National Monument yesterday to enjoy and be awed by the giant sequoia redwoods. Left to itself, undisturbed by human presence, a redwood tree can live for thousands of years. But sometimes, a giant redwood may fall in the forest.
A fallen redwood tree does not mean death or the end of life at all. The log of such a fallen tree becomes the beginnings and the continuation of not just one life but, in fact, many lives. The nooks and crevices of the fallen trunk become the breeding ground for all kinds of life, unseen by the human eye – molds, fungi, bacteria and all sorts of microorganisms. Some probably living off on one another. Soon, insects, bugs and small rodents create labyrinthine tunnels through the trunk of the fallen tree and make their home there. And after some time, even bigger animals find shelter or begin nesting in some openings somewhere in the decaying log. And then almost miraculously, new saplings begin to spring forth.
And even as this trunk of a fallen tree decays and slowly disintegrates, it gives back to the soil all the nutrients it has gathered together during its lifetime. If it took a hundred years to do that, it will take the same amount of time to give it back.
Imagine now all of this happening without any divine intervention. That all of this is just simply the way things are. Even then, I would still see beauty merely from the fact all this life blooming and blossoming is there at all. I would still see the goodness in the varied ways new life grows out and from a tree that has given its own so others life forms may live. I would still see the truth that there is purpose and end to the new ecosystem growing out of a dead and fallen trunk.
But I do not believe that all of this beauty, goodness and truth are due to happenstance or mere chance. I see the hand of a God who wants to see me live forever:
“God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
and the creatures of the world are wholesome,
and there is not a destructive drug among them
nor any domain of the netherworld on earth,
for justice is undying.
For God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made him.
But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who belong to his company experience it.”
~ Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24
When I see the beauty in nature, I catch of glimpse of His endless beauty. When I see the goodness there is men, I begin to understand His infinite goodness. When I see the truth alive in the world around me, I feel the truth of the words He has spoken through the ages.
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
~ Psalm 30
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.
While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.
Mark 5:21-24, 35-43