I think that in order to confound the Devil it has been ordained by God that out of every evil there must come a little good. In the case of the ugly virus that has darkened our horizon of late there has emerged an awareness of something that has strengthened my faith. However, that part comes later. For now I must set the prologue.
In the year 1936 Robert Frost wrote a poem about "ants" and he titled the poem "Departmental". Perhaps you know it. It is one of my favorite poems and I memorized it at an early age. The poem begins with the story of an ant who finds himself on a tablecloth confronted by a dormant moth of many times his size. He shows not the least surprise. His business isn't with such. He gives it scarcely a touch, and is off on his duty run. The poem continues:
"Yet if he encountered one
Of the hives enquiry squads
Whose work it is to find out God
And the nature of time and space,
He would put him on to the case."
Well, I tend to fancy myself as part of an "enquiry squad" and my lifelong quest has been to find out God and the nature of time and space. Other people are happy to be part of the "futbol squad" or the "cooking squad" or the "nightclub squad" ect., but the humble enquiry squad suits me just fine.
Many years ago someone asked me why I believe in God. At the time the only real answer that I had was because I had been "born" a Catholic and I believed what my parents and the nuns and priests taught me. It was an honest answer and I must confess (no pun intended) that at the time it was the only answer that I had. This was shortly after Vatican II and many Catholics didn't know that we were sometimes allowed to think for ourselves. By and by doubt entered the picture, and the shadow of agnosticism began to descend upon me. A few years later, when I was about twenty four years old, I moved to Arizona and lived near a big desert. I found the desert to be a very beautiful and interesting place and I enjoyed taking long hikes into the desert to observe the flora and fauna. I ventured further and further into the desert and began sleeping out under the stars and there is where I had my epiphany.
One night, as I lay under the canopy of a million stars listening to the coyotes and pondering the nature of the Universe, I took note of the various cactus plants that surrounded my campsite. I could barely make them out in the starlight...there were saguaro, ocotillo, nopal (prickly pear), barrel, and, of course, cholla. They looked like grotesque limbs straining upward to reach Heaven from their grave in the barren rocky soil. Some actually grew out of cracks in the rocks and managed to survive the hot days and cold nights with very little water or nutrients of any kind. "What made them do it?" I wondered. "Why not just give up?". There must be some spirit, some "Holy Spirit" that gives impetus to all life. The desert had revealed to me my first clue in "finding out God".
My second clue came when I observed that there were so many "bad" things happening in the World, beginning with the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, the race riots in Chicago and Los Angeles, the Civil Rights struggle, the Watergate scandal, the Iranian hostage crisis and so on and so forth, etcetera. Some of these things were obvious struggles between peoples of different political and economic persuasions but there were also atrocities being committed that made no sense at all. Yes, the Theory of Evolution intimates that everything comes down to us on an evolutionary "survival of the fittest" river of blood but only a finite amount of blood is required in the game of evolutionary draw, play, discard. There is no need for excesses and atrocities like random beheadings, gang rape, or hideous torture in order for the species to evolve (or as some might say, "to be perfected"). This made me understand that there simply must be a God to counterbalance the visible and prevalent force of evil in the world or "The Dark Side" as it were. That was my second clue.
This brings me to the present flu pandemic crisis. Most contagious diseases are delivered in one of two forms. One form is bacteria, the other is virus. A bacteria (or bacterium) is alive. It is a single celled organism and is a completely self-contained and self-reproducing unit. When the time is right, a bacterium will split its DNA and RNA genetic material in two. Separate cell walls will build up around these two new bacteria, and this process will continue until thousands or millions of bacteria have formed. This is how strains of bacteria survive in almost every environment on Earth, including non-living surfaces like rocks. Ninety-nine percent of all known bacteria are considered beneficial to humans, or at least harmless.
A virus, on the other hand, is dead. It cannot reproduce without a living host. A virus may lie dormant for thousands of years before finally coming into contact with a suitable host. Once inside a living cell, a virus replaces the cell's original DNA or RNA commands with its own robotic genetic instructions. Those instructions are usually to make as many copies of the virus as possible. Once the individual cell has outlived its usefulness, it explodes and sends out thousands of copies of the original virus to other unsuspecting cells. Most viruses serve no beneficial purpose. Their sole mission in life is to create more viruses in order to assure survival of the strain and cause chaos in the natural world. The deadly effect that a virus has on its host is evil and ruthless. Viruses are one hundred times smaller than bacterium and cannot be filtered out like bacterium can. They are the work of an evil spirit who gives them impetus and instructions. What better way to pit country against country and people against people than to create a virus in their midst. This virus that has come upon us is just another tool of the Devil who could not himself exist if there was no God. So there it is...another clue to strengthen my faith and bolster my effort to "find out God".
Oh Lord, deliver us from the evil H1N1 Virus. Amen!
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