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Some questions have no answers

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:38 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

I was saying to someone the other day that whether in spite of or because of the state of the weather, spring flowers seem to bloom in their own time. There have been spring mornings when I have seen crocus blossoms spread open in the snow. Daffodils, iris and forsythia always seem to flower, no matter the temperature. I think there is a life lesson here that we could all learn from. I think there are special moments when the rhythms of life, for no apparent reason, blend together in a harmonious refrain without the assistance of other identifiable forces.

I am always amazed at the number of times, for example, when I have had phone calls or letters from several special friends on the same days without reason, though I may not have heard from them for several months. People call such occasions coincidental acts, and for lack of a better explanation, I accept that. Frankly, I like to think there are forces moving in the universe that I don’t know about which trigger that kind of activity.

I have friends who demand a scientific explanation for every phenomenon that occurs in their lives. In the end, they often have to settle for whatever hypothesis fits the circumstances. In other words, any old explanation will do as long as it sounds good.

I, on the other hand, have always been content with the fact that there might be mysteries in life for which answers defy the human intellect. For example, during the past several weeks I have taken extra care in avoiding discussions of the Terri Schiavo case, on whether or not the feeding tube should be removed. There are too many questions involved in this matter for which I do not know the answers. I refuse to rely on my own uninformed opinion to weigh in on a matter of life and death.

When I was growing up, there were members of a certain religious sect that appeared on our doorstep about once a week. My mother was always gracious to them. She allowed them in the house and listened to them sermonize for about half-an-hour before she would get up from her chair and offer to escort them to the door. Following their visits, she always instructed us to beware of people who knew the answers to every question. She said that she felt if human beings had the solution to every problem there would be no need for a Higher Power.

I am sure that when people thought the Earth was flat it was because all their assembled knowledge led them to think this was true. And I’m sure the same thing was true when they thought the sun revolved around the Earth. I think it is as difficult today as it ever was for some to admit they do not have all the answers. The fact that people are still debating when life begins and ends tells me, at least, that in many cases we are acting on insufficient data.

Those of us who depend on prayer and meditation to help us find the answers to our dilemmas are sometimes looked upon with suspicion. But as a seeker of knowledge and one who reads and studies a lot, I like to tell people that all the answers cannot be found in a book. Some questions require a deep searching of the soul and even then the answers are not always forthcoming.

That’s why I think it is particularly unfortunate that parents do not provide their children with the opportunity to acquire a system of belief. I think it is essential that young people should be taught there are avenues available to them through which they might find assistance in determining the correct course to take in their pursuits of happiness. Nothing is sadder than finding a young person at wit’s end, simply because books and counseling have been unsuccessful in pointing them in a direction that would relieve their troubled minds.

Now, I hear people all the time suggesting to others that they take their problems to their religious leader. I never do this, because I think pastoral counseling is a specialized field, and I don’t think every member of the clergy is trained to provide that kind of assistance. In fact I have heard of people who have been severely damaged in that process. Parents who teach their children early in life how to effectively explore their options in choosing spiritual guidance, rather than those who try to inflict a particular religious doctrine on them, seem to encourage better results.

I like to think I learn from the way nature goes about replenishing the earth. I think the flowers do more than display their beauty for us to enjoy. I think they reveal to us by their blooming that we too, have a time to flower and a time to shine and that no matter how dense the fog and how cold the wind, we can press on to make our presence known and felt wherever it needs to be.

I don’t know how the Terri Schiavo tragedy will end, but I hope that something positive will emerge from her suffering. In the midst of great tragedies, some people have a way of asking where God is. Personally, I know that God is where God needs to be, so the question for me is always, where are the rest of us?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net


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