Monday, March 12, 2012
Straight off, no plan
I’m wondering if I am like other people. They often seem to plan their lives, both long-term and for a day at a time. I’m not the planning type. The only thing I would like to plan is plenty of empty space in my life: space; time; eternity in the crack between space and time. I realise that this is my desire in the moment that it is given to me, with no planning on my part.
But then I reflect that I’m a child of Nature, which, if I understand the theory of evolution aright, does not make plans. Except one, of course—survival. Staying alive has rarely been my number one concern in this life—except when I’ve been in a very tight spot. One counts one’s blessings—this is surely one of the biggest. To be honest with you, my three-score years and ten has been mostly spent in choiceless carrying on, wherever I found myself, along the path of least resistance. Along with a billion others. I’ve had some big choices to face but was seldom well-enough informed to choose wisely. Much of the time I’ve not been confronted with freedom, or perhaps I was but found it too confronting. So I’ve happily worked to other people’s plans, finding a kind of freedom in choicelessness. Sometimes the words of the Book of Common Prayer echo in my brain: “O God ... whose service is perfect freedom ...” and it never occurs to me to think that servitude to God would be unfreedom. To be in harmony with divine power would be to go with the current, covered in blessings and grace. If I were a Christian I might think that there is sacrifice and renunciation involved. But I’m not and I don’t.
I found a gem in the Oxfam shop: a beautiful edition of Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle. At the age of 22 he was selected to go along with Captain Fitz Roy of the Royal Navy and took voluminous notes. It was a surveying expedition, took several years, covering South America, the Galapagos Islands and I know not what else—not till I take that journey myself, nearly two hundred years later propped up on pillows, through the blessing of literature. And apart from the intrinsic interest of his curiosity and observations recorded on everything he saw, there is the glimpse into what guided him to speculate on the origin of species, disturbing orthodox views ever since. Needless to say, I have found nothing of atheism in him, and everything to love in Miss T, a fervent Pentecostalist.
Posted by Vincent at 8:02 pm