Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Boss, boss the Trees!

Ahh, I can't get enough of those holiday song classics...

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, had a very shiny nose"

But I can't think about that right now. I'm wondering what exactly is so cool about the chestnut tree story...

So a guy is hiking along in the forest and stops cold. He's looking at a stand of American Chestnut trees. That's not just any tree. Actually he wouldn't have been more surprised to stumble on a Sioux hunting party. Cause he's not just any guy. He's some kinda tree expert scientist thingy.

American Chestnut was once a dominant hardwood on the east coast, ranging from Maine to Florida. A blight got hold of them, and the species was thought to be extinct until that day. Extinct for a hundred years or more.

It's a very very big deal finding healthy American Chestnut trees. Vastly increases chances to bring the species back as it really was, not some Chinese hybrid.

Folks seem to enjoy that story, and I think I know why. Critical mass of "coincidence" there. Like, millions of Chestnut trees were killed by blight, so why did only these survive? Like, there were lots of axes working in Georgia hill country in the early 1900's but somehow the trees were spared. Like what made the scientist go hiking that particular trail?

So it seems a conspiracy of "coincidence" guided some would say, to bring together a thing of great significance and one of few individuals educated to grasp its meaning. People love stories like that; they're heartwarming, with a watered down higher being.

See? Most people want to believe in a higher being. A watered down loving spirit, flitting from place to place whispering in ears to effect a delightful outcome in the long run. Not saying God isn't like that, but it's a very limiting role, exactly the sort human nature would find pleasing to our vanity.

Imagining God as ONLY like that? Well, there's this old movie, "Harvey." Jimmy Stewart plays a guy with an invisible rabbit buddy who hides purses, car keys, and does other assorted kid's birthday party magic tricks, all so Jimmy can have a happy ending. This is how human nature wishes to imagine God; a big invisible rabbit Who does magic tricks.

Rediscovery of surviving American Chestnut trees on a hiking trip feeds all that, with cascading critical mass of "coincidence" which is certainly there, but there's more there.

An interesting question though? Yeah, even more interesting than how do bats poop while hanging upside down!

How exactly does one prepare himself to see what his entire life experience has conditioned him to believe doesn't exist? I'd love to peruse the syllabus on THAT college course!

How do we get ourselves ready to accept that the totality of this physical world's instruction to us could be absolutely wrong in fundamental ways? I simply don't believe you can do such a thing all by yourself. You might require aid from a higher power, and that might require your asking It not to whisper but speak up plainly.

So maybe the prettiest thing in the story isn't the trees, or the guy who found them. It's the split second he accepted infinite possibility. Could be, just sayin' is all?

I got to get back to my favorite Winter Holiday songs now...
"Children glisten, treetops listen, and everybody has a shiny nose."

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