When I was a teenager I had a dream I have never forgotten. I was standing in a long, single-file line of people on a huge desert-like treeless plain. I couldn't see the tail end of the line, but in front of me there was a hill. We were in this line to climb the hill, but I didn't know why we were doing that.
When I reached the point where the ground began to rise at the beginning of the hill, there was an Indian fakir sitting cross-legged on the ground begging. The word fakir refers to a Hindu holy man who begs for a living. He wasn't asking for alms, but for someone to carry him up the hill. I asked him if he was crippled, and he said "No, I just want to be carried up the hill." I said to him, "If you have good legs like the rest of us, get up and carry yourself." He just waited for the next to approach. While this gent looked like a fakir, he was better described as a faker. The dream never went beyond that point, but I'm sure he's still sitting there.
It seems that sometimes when a person is struggling with a problem, they may get answers from their own inner intelligence in the quietude of restful sleep, in the form of dreams. I never forgot that dream as it seemed somehow prophetic to me.
I took it to mean that we have been given the ability, the strength, the intelligence or whatever else we need to make our way through the problems we may face in life. We should use them to rise above the status of a child still nursing at his mother's breast or his father's strong arm. In looking back, it was good advice to a teenager looking ahead at the challenges of adulthood and independence.
It also meant to me that as we are often prone to pray to God for help with our problems, we should not feel betrayed if He treats us as I treated the fakir. He has given us what we need, and expects us to use it.
We should not use our faith to live as a child still in the care of one's parents, or seek special exemption from the trials we all must face. We must use our intelligence and ability to make choices and live by them. Using our prayers and quiet meditations may help us in making better choices, but we misuse ourselves when we delegate our responsibilities to others, and hold them responsible for our welfare. We will make poor choices, everyone does, that's life, but if we persevere, we can overcome them. We learn understanding from the inevitable results of our choices.
The secret we often miss is that there is no such thing as happenstance, except in fairy tales and unproven scientific theories. The rule of the universe is cause and effect. We call things we don't understand well enough to control, "happenstance." It's strange that the scientific community thinks these controlling laws are sometimes overcome by happenstance. If happenstance were a reality, some days H2O would be water, and other days it might, just by happenstance, be something else. Drugs may control your mind, but they don't change reality. The reality, and obvious fact, is that everything happens as the result of controlling, unchangeable law. Is that so difficult to see?
Many scientists don't seem to wonder where these laws come from, perhaps because they don't know where to look. They study them, but seem to just accept that they are there, naturally, for no reason. Everything is under the control of "natural laws," and control never happens without purpose. Thank God for the predictability of the rule of law, without which nothing could be! May God bless America.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org