Monday, June 21

Deceptive Treasure

Some aspects of life are righteously considered sacrosanct. Few compare to the innate and universal treasure humans refer to as "free will". God (aka Morgan Freeman) in the comedy film "Bruce Almighty" made this point to the selfish character of Bruce (Jim Carrey) with wit and flair. Wise parents understand the necessity of negating much of the young child's individual wishes in favor of imposed absolutes such as, "You can't go outside without your shoes on," or "You must wait to cross the street," and "It is bed time, NOW." On a doctrinal theme, a seemingly opposite value is appreciated as we are encouraged to trust that personal freedoms actually blossom once we give our will to that of the Father. There is, however, a disturbing manipulation of this concept in the animal kingdom.

Normally I wouldn't mind to learn that a cockroach was dispatched. Good riddance. Heck, I've facilitated that trip myself many times; individually and en masse. The end was accomplished pretty quickly; a little broom, a little shoe, a little chemical bomb - ta-dah! The deed was done. Now I have learned more than I wanted to about the Jeweled Wasp and her intensely diabolical method of "feathering the nest". 1

Of course one anticipates violence when survival of the species depends upon the flesh of another. Parasitic methods - the whole victim plays hapless host thing is fairly common in nature, and that doesn't trigger too much of my gag-reflex (as long as I am not the host, thank you). But when the host is surgically altered to willingly follow Mrs. Jewel to his very grisly and time-consuming death - that is a different matter.

The altering of the cockroach's free will is effected by a surgically precise sting to what basically is the cerebral cortex of the cockroach brain (apologies to entomologists; it's not really a brain, it's just cerebral ganglia). The stinger actually has probing sensors that guide the wasp to the correct spot. They that know call this area of the ganglia the "escape reflex". The venom instantly acts to subvert the roach's ability to walk on its own. Did you catch that? He is not paralyzed. He can move - but only as the wasp directs - or literally, leads him by the antennae like Fido on a leash. This effect has been coined "zombie". 2 The destination of course is the wasp's burrow. Once cockroach is comfy inside, she lays her egg on his abdomen and tidies up by sealing the entrance as she leaves. Though, I'm not sure why because the houseguest is not going anywhere - ever again.

The resultant evolution of the egg to larva to pupae to emerging adult is as usual. But in true Hitchcock finesse, baby knows exactly which organs to feast upon and in which order of consumption to insure a living, fresh host and not a putrefying one until week's end, it may emerge Alien-like out of the body of the expiring roach. Sigourney Weaver herself could not combat this.

The inviolate treasure of our free will to think for ourselves, to act, to be ~ is in and of itself a much more complex issue than we often give it credit for. Especially so when burdened with our own desires for how others should act. No matter how fervently we believe our choice for someone else is correct or worthy and even lofty - it is by divine decree that we may not rob another of their right to exercise the singular gift that makes us all most like our eternal birthright; even when we ourselves are temporarily imposed upon. It may be disappointing, it may be literally heart-breaking, but it is. Hence, the upward struggle to really, deeply trust in Him.

How then, the lowly cockroach? While the she-wasp is on the hunt, he is without protection from her theft of his freedom to choose if he is not wary.

Elevated from the insect world, we are thankfully destined for much greater things as children of God. We are free to navigate ourselves safely through every crisis or experience that might attempt to diminish or dismiss our True Identity. 3 We must not give in. We must never give up. To do so would in essence enable the venom of worldly distortion to rob us of our ability to move on our own.

The treasure is after all, not in pounding our chest to say it is so ~ rather, it is in who are becoming in the journey.

Friday, June 4

Structural Support

At one time I had a budding interest in geology. I started a rock collection. Later, it was obvious the majority of my finds were gravel and concrete bits from house construction. Trading posts in Arizona were my inspiration to begin collecting pretty, polished rocks. I loved my geology course at Scottsdale High, however, the only thing I remember from the grueling end-of-semester test was what schist and basalt look like. Today, my hikes in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve prompt regret I don't have a better memory for igneous vs metamorphic, or alluvium from common sandstone.

Guatemalans right now have a spectacular and dizzying front row seat to the Mother of geological processes. ¡Ay, increible! I have a fear of heights. Just peeking at images of this baby has me instinctively bracing my toes hard against the floor ~ a posture very similar to what you do with your right foot while someone else is behind the wheel during their learner's permit phase.
Adding to this innate fear, is the fact that even the experts are baffled with why it appeared and more importantly, what to do with it. (1) El Grande (I don't know what they're calling it, really, it could be "Mauricio" or maybe "El Diablo") is something like 30 stories deep. Straight DOWN. As in toss a peso over the rim and take a siesta before hearing it hit bottom - creepers. Of course I'm having fun with this because I am 2,374 miles away from it. And, because thankfully, no one was killed because of it.

Distressingly, I read today about a place familiar to all of us where a lot of people were killed; a place that is literally a National burial ground we swore we would never forget. Ground zero in New York City is projected as the future site for a $100 million Muslim mosque and community center. (2) A Muslim advocate explained it would be a "much needed space for venues" (that's marketing-speak for "parties"). The community board in Manhattan voted 29-1 for it. The families of 9/11 victims emotionally present during the four hour meeting were apparently dismissed in favor of politics, or the presumed benefits of displaying to the world that America is a sloppy forgiving place.

There was no mention of proposing a non-denominational chapel or memory garden or any number of other compassionate and beautiful solutions that would speak much more inclusively about "bridging gaps" and "higher aspirations". The Manhattan Borough President actually defended his support for the mosque by quick-drawing the ever convenient bigotry card when he said, "What we're rejecting here is outright bigotry and hatred." New Yorkers did not fail their reputation for attitude, and in this instance I believe they righteously dished it out when they shouted, "Honor the 3,000!"

Why there? Why now? Whose agenda is really about "high" ideals? Religious tolerance, humanity, decency or brotherly love doesn't have anything to do with this particularly well-organized Muslim effort being very emphatic and very unyielding about what they think is best for that site. If Muslim Americans wish to promote their desire for peace and harmony, how about a donation towards trees planted or a commemorative monument suitable for all people in a place hallowed specifically by one people: those who lost their lives there. It wasn't a geological phenomenon that opened up and swallowed the 3,000; it was outright bigotry and hatred.

The only thing geologists are in agreement on is that some kind of structural mechanical support will be necessary at the base of the massive sinkhole before anyone thinks about adding who knows how much fill to it. I have an idea about that which will solve both problems: it will cost about $100 million.