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Years go by and I realize how grateful I am for getting through the rough patches in life even if they seem insurmountable at the time.

I wish I could say I completely believe everything has a reason and a season — I almost do, but I still need a little convincing.

I love the Book of Ecclesiastes and even led a workshop of the book in a small Quaker Meetinghouse in Iowa. It was heaven gathering with Friends one evening a week for a month as we agreed or disagreed about Ecclesiastes’ themes. Friends engaging in disagreement usually is pretty tame. The workshop concluded without anyone suffering injury or insult!

But what if the Meetinghouse were empty and a tree on its grounds had fallen? Would there be any sound?

I have loved this question for most of my life even though I am anything but a student of metaphysics! I am a huge fan of the possibility of that which is usually considered outside of human perception. Maybe that’s why I look at nearly every day as an opportunity to affirm faith. Maybe that is also why I usually drive those nearest and dearest to me bonkers. That my husband has lasted 15 years with me is a big reason why I also have read and reread the Book of Job.

But let’s get back to the tree question so I can slide into another cherished belief of mine: Six Degrees of Separation.

In 1883 in the magazine The Chautauquan, the question was raised If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound?

I wasn’t around in 1883, but I did play in the Chautauqua Youth Orchestra, my proudest accomplishment as a bassoonist! What if, though, I had hung out after a performance in the amphitheater and fallen and no one were around?

Fortunately, that never happened, but as I get older, I realize many of us in this world have fallen, we get back up again, and maybe no one has ever known about it. For that reason, I strive to get to know someone, to appreciate the path each person has trodden before I decide anything about someone. It is impossible to imagine what it is like to have walked in the person’s shoes, especially because many people I’ve met are pretty modest and would not make a lot of noise even if they fell. For that matter, my own mother does not know some of what had befallen me as I tried (and still try) to make sense of my own path in life although she still tries to catch me, even thousands of miles away, if she hears me stumble.

But before I get too serious, I’ll quote from the comedy show The Royal Canadian Air Farce a rewording of the question: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, where are they?!!

 

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