The wonders of decay

Image from the Hubble telescope.

George and Marion have become too feeble to continue to live alone.  They are moving to an assisted living facility in Chico near their son.

The furnishings from their 24-year residence in Oakmont must now be sifted down to match their 800 sq ft. apartment. There is certainly no room for the nearly 6,000 books George has accumulated.

I dropped by and was frustrated by the sheer volume of reading material. I knew that if I took every book, I would never finish them. I doubt that I’ll cover the thirty that I did take.

Out of this frustration, I jokingly asked George if I could simply ‘download’ the memory from his reading of these books.  I suggested that if it was possible to transfer files from old computers to new, why couldn’t we do that with him? He laughed and said; “Because I’ve got a corrupt hard drive. I no longer retain those files.” Not a bad comeback.

When the reading of Psalm 19 proclaims God’s glory in the heavens and the wonders of his creation, we are easily swept into the majesty of the universe and of the microcosm.The beauty in nature and the sun, “coming forth like a bridegroom from his pavilion.” (19:5)

Lunch with Jack and Tim yesterday gave me new appreciation for those wonders when Jack reminded me that so much of our hopefulness springs from death and decay. Because death and decay are part of cyclical nature, we experience new hope when something springs fresh from the result. It’s hard to imagine an ecosystem that continually expands without the consequent death and renewal. Or more simply, what does the virus do in a pristine environment of the garden of Eden?

At Oxford, one of my lecturers suggested that the paradise phenomenon was impossible because the very source of life is found in struggle and re-emergence or the consequences of evolutionary biology.   He implied that we as a race could not expand ad infinitum and still sustain the species. Extinction will be a great gift to the universe. In the meantime, our giftedness comes from the creative spirit which emanates from mortality.

It will be interesting to see what God has had in mind in this regard but until then, “The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19: 7b

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