Thursday, March 19, 2009


Sebastian and I went for a long walk along the railroad tracks yesterday and it is with much joy that I announce that the crocuses are out and blooming in northeast Ohio. This is one of those particular moments it is a delight to believe in a beneficent, Creator God.

There are those, among whom I count some of my friends, who see the crocus and know what a wonder it is that it exists by result of pure chance. All of existence came into being through the passage of enough time (and some inexplicable inertia) so that enough particles came together to form a crocus. Which of course means (please pardon the use of the word) that the crocus means nothing. That I appreciate it means nothing. That I enjoy it, in the end, means nothing. There is no logic to its existence. If one says there is logic, logic presupposes a thinker and even if that logic is the universe itself that means it itself is a god of sorts and had a force capable of making sense and form and existence. That we shall look at in a moment. This inert stuff that became a “stuff” that later animate stuff came to think of as a crocus. But even self awareness and thinking would be largely an illusion. Tomorrow all of the vast stuff that makes up what we call the universe could come together and all of it make a star, or a stone, or ’46 Plymouth Special Deluxe and would have the exact same meaning which really is nothing.

There are those, again among whom I count some friends, who look upon the crocus and see intelligence; an intelligence worth worshipping. Creation itself is a god worthy to call upon and appreciate and adore. Indeed I may become a crocus some day. There is a great force that guides what is into life and beauty. Someday my life force will be absorbed into the greater force but really so what? As a crocus I will hardly remember running through the field. I might as well never have existed before or again if memory plays no role. But even if memory played a role I just assume not be part of this cycle. Going through puberty once was enough. I would even less want to come back as one of Sebastian’s pups going through puberty and have nothing to look forward to than this same cycle for all of eternity. So that leads being absorbed into this great force like a raindrop falling into the ocean and losing its identity. Not a cheery thought.

So what can be the meaning of life? Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die! Gads, what an awful existence. Pointlessness rarely if ever brings about joy. After a while the realization that “This is it and it will only go downhill from here” as one nears death is not something to grasp the imagination of a man and propel him to great acts of love, charity, sacrifice – will not induce hope – cannot bring you meaning and therefore ultimate joy. The crocus is a great cosmic joke whose punch line is not funny to the one on whom it is being played.

Then there is the position that today is more and more thought foolish and out of fashion; to look upon a crocus and see God and not God. To see something that participates in God yet is not God itself nor worthy or worship. To see in its petals signposts to God, fingerprints of God, the meaning of God that gives us hope for it points beyond itself. The Christian message is that God is a Person and this life is simply a pilgrimage to Him – we are not to be obliterated or absorbed but to be fulfilled in Him. We have hope, we have some place to go, we have meaning, and this can lead us to self sacrifice, to love, to join in the creating spirit. This is a joy because we will imitate what we see in the crocus.

If one sees the crocus as a fluke he will not put too much stock into existence besides that which serves to make his miserable existence better. The crocus may just as well be stomped on as let alone for it means the same thing. Therefore if it suits me kill life – in the womb, in the jail, when it is too old, when it is too sick, when it occupies my land. Why not? Nature herself will warm and feed us as well as wipe us out without a moment’s notice by giant wave, raging fire, landslide, volcano, tornado, wild beast, pandemic, heat, cold, gas, virus, or banana peel. Why should not man, product of this indifferent universe as a whole end up any different?

Or if it be a god we can do not much more than hold hands and watch our leaves wither, turn brown, and decay, and hope that we are not the last for this spring and have to watch the rest go. I’m god, and you are god. Then again, so are the stars and my slippers. As when marriage amongst any combination of people held together by vows starts to mean nothing, when everything is god, nothing is god. And in the end it is the same as if everything was a fluke and the god we imitate resembles deeply the copying of kind and cruel nature to end in obliteration.

But for the Catholic we are called to live above this. Contrary to popular conception we do not take life all that seriously. It is greatly respected and protected, but it and even death is a passing fancy and nothing compared to the life to come. We are called neither to worship the crocus nor ignore it but simply to enjoy it for what it is – a taste of eternal good things to come.

Even if this were not true (and it is) I would rather be a fool and happy, the right, doomed, and incapable of sustaining this deep and abiding joy when death walks down my front walk.


ck said...

Amazing. I am speechless.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Father. Keep passing on to us what the Lord is telling you. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!! That was profound and a post I will need to read several times over the next few days in order to absorb all of the meaning. Excellent Fr. V! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Wow! And to think, all I said when I saw the first crocuses (croci?) was, "Hey look! The crocuses are out!" Me thinks Fr. V got a wee bit too much fresh air on that walk. Seriously - there's a lot to think about in that post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such depth to ponder.

-another Linda