Dipping a TOE (Theory of Everything) in the Lake

Did Evolution Give Us Surfing? - READY... SET... QUESTION!

Big trees fell into Lake Michigan over and upon each other like pickup sticks. The beach became a trimmed path to wend down more than to lay on. What happened when I was so busy inland mowing my lawn? So much for long walks on the beach. It was more like an obstacle course, hiking around large upended stumps or limbo lumbering underneath thick trunks.

A bit overwhelmed, I found a perch part way up on a dune. The kids had invited me along to do some hammocking. Yes, that’s a thing now. Hammocking isn’t really a word yet. Auto- correct suggested ‘ham mocking.’ Next Easter I will try mocking the honey ham. Anyway, my kids dug their toes in and continued to the top, while I sat and pondered the plight of our most favored lake of the greats.

Is this simply another sign of the times? Is this God’s way of reminding us of how little control we have over the skin of the earth? Some suggest humanity has contributed to climate change. I don’t doubt that, but the degree of our influence on the changes are still under review to my mind.

I sat for a bit, then pulled out of my back pocket a small book. If Einstein Had Been a Surfer by Peter Kreeft is a slim hardcover about the search for the Theory of Everything. Although it is a short walk on a really long pier of thought, I found it fascinating considering the view of dunes cut off at the knees and horizontal trees still bearing green leaves.

Now, I don’t know why, but for a few months now I’ve been queuing up surfing videos. Before that, I had a fetish for tsunamis. Before that, I thought of how unfathomable the oceans are and why God proportioned them thus. Consider this…maybe God’s thought was to overwhelm us with motifs of eternity like the universe having no back wall on which to hang our pretensions. How about the ocean blanketing 71 percent of our little blue planet? Maybe God thought 29 percent was all that humanity could manage.

[Side note: Did you know the saline of the ocean is within .5 percent of the saline percentage of human amniotic fluid?]

Anyway, as Kreeft surfs (He is a surfer, by the way, along with being a professor of philosophy at Boston College.) the waves of thought in search of an ‘everything’ that curls in on itself, he employs a philosopher, a scientist, and a surfer in conversation. After a few pages in I realized how over my head I was, trying to grasp what they were after…but the undertow. I caught a small wave and I wasn’t sitting on top of the world like one of the Beach Boys.

I set the book down several times to look off in the middle distance, the distance being a huge lake of which I could not see the other side. A metaphor of eternity, infinity, or simply a bigness beyond what my eyes beheld in total. I knew Wisconsin was over there somewhere, but right then all I could do was exercise faith. I couldn’t see everything. Hmm.

A thought spilled on my conscience. “Jerry, you’re not Einstein, Kreeft, or a surfer. Why are you splaying intellect? What is it you’re after? Does thinking about these things bring about a peace of mind, or mitigate a piece of your mind?” If anyone does capture The Theory of Everything, then what?

Hang on, I’m about to hit the brakes and take a sharp turn.

Recently someone reminded me that the first temptation of humanity was knowledge of everything. “Just take a little bite of the fruit and you will be as God, full of knowledge.” Well, hey, becoming a know-it-all seems harmless enough. How about realizing you’re in the nude and reach immediately for underwear. How about playing hide and seek for the rest of your life? The ole be careful what you wish for scenario.

Surfing. Channel surfing. Surfing the internet. Have our eyes gotten Googly all of a sudden? Do we ride the Youtube all the way to shore? Since when do we need a 24 hour news cycle, real, fake, or everything in between? Knowledge is power as they say, but is absolute knowledge absolute power? There is a forest. There are trees. Do we understand the difference? Is it okay for elms to lay down on the beach? Does all sand eventually fall through the hourglass? Will the theory of everything distill our intelligence into artificiality? Will we be as gods, or will we be okay with bearing God’s image? Will we acquiesce to God holding onto the final coherence, keeping intact the mystery and majesty of human existence and God’s?

I set the book down and turned to look to the top of the dune. My son was up there, taking in the broadest perspective. My daughter was next to me as we took in a narrowed view of the lake. Down below my other daughter was waist deep in the chilled early summer waters. I may not know the theory of everything, and at this point, I’m not sure I want to. What moves my desire is theories of somethings, like sharing an afternoon at the beach with people I love, taking in the creativeness of God, and thanking God for both. Surf’s up.

Somethin’ Sunday…In the cool of the day.

Someone mentioned the phrase “in the cool of the day” recently.  A poetic nerve twitched in me and my thoughts were directed to the phrases origin.  It is a beautiful description set in a time when the first “hide and seek” game was taking place.

Please excuse me while I look at this scene through my limited knowledge and imagination.  I am not a theologian.  There is a phrase out of the Genesis account that got my attention.  After Adam and Eve did the deed they “heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” and they ran and hid behind something.  My first thought was what did that sound like?  Did God step on a twig? Was God breathing heavy like on a power walk?  Was he bending acacia trees with his pinky and slight creaks and cracks were heard?  Was he whistling or humming or singing?  I mean no disrespect at all I just simply want to know what the sound would be like in case God showed up.  I mean, I might need to hide too or hopefully come out of hiding to walk with Him in the cool of the day.

And that’s the thing.  The cool of the day seems to me to mean dawn or dusk.  Maybe it was those in between hours.  Between day and night where the heat wasn’t quite there yet or just started cooling off.  Or maybe the “cool of the day” represents the grey, the time of day when shadows are more translucent and the color of created things are washed out.  Then I think about how much us humans enjoy the daily transitions called sunrise and sunset.  Don’t you look up and off into the distance when the sun plays the angles of the horizon, like God was brush stroking, His fingers dipping a prism through our atmosphere and laying out water color fantasies?

I have written of sunrises and sunsets more than once.  I wonder too if God knows how transition gets our attention.  Maybe the cool of the day is when we start winding down or winding up?  Maybe it is a good time to listen for a twig break or a whistle or a still small voice.  My pastor last week was encouraging us to take time to seek out God in the “secret places”.  He started whispering what God might say to us.  I couldn’t keep the tears from welling and I didn’t want to blink them out either.  Could that be the sound in the cool of the day?  Whether I am hiding because of some “deed” I did or simply wishing for someone with which to go for a walk I hope I am attentive in the cool of the day.

Oh Bright and Morning star arise in my heart today

and walk with me in the cool of the day.