Is my yearning for something better than what I see around me just an indication of my fretful human nature? Or am I being pulled by a force that draws me toward a destiny beyond my own mortality? Is it a dream or a promise?
True contentment is unattainable here. Fulfillment is beyond our reach. Why this feeling of disquiet and discontent even when things go well? Love, money, and power never satisfy. Something is always missing. It never is quite what we hoped it would be.
Is our inability to satisfy our own needs no matter how hard we try simply our lot as human beings or is it a message? Is hope a misplaced delusion or the gateway to faith? Faith is the affirmation of hope. It propels us to a belief in the unknowable. It provides a channel for our yearning. It directs us toward that distant yet attainable union with our source.
As the salmon is drawn back to its spawning grounds, so, too, are we drawn by some force beyond our understanding to whence we sprang. Our capacity to understand what draws us back may be like that of the salmon which only knows that it should return.
If the universe was produced by the “Big Bang,” what caused that cataclysmic event, what was the space in which it occurred, and what was the matter that made it possible? What caused life even in its most elemental form? Where did atoms come from?
To suggest that existence is all a huge accident – that matter, the universe, life, evolution, and mankind are coincidences – is preposterous. We may not understand the intelligent design behind it all, but to conclude it was a fluke is to suspend judgment.
The salmon does not understand the ocean in which it swims or the river in which it was hatched and to which it returns to spawn. Like salmon, we swim in a larger sea but our understanding of the why and how of it, although on a higher plain, may be comparable to that of a fish trying to understand its own environment.
Having achieved belief, many people stop. They acknowledge the existence of an intelligent life force, a supreme being, or God, but are at a loss to know what to do about it. Offended by the excesses of organized religion, some struggle in trying to establish and maintain a relationship with it.
Faith serves to define the force. In so doing, it reduces that force to human terms that we can know, understand, and worship. It is an expression of our desire to know, love, and worship that created us and maintains us in existence – to establish a relationship with our creator.
To conclude that creation, the universe, and mankind just happened without rhyme or reason, to no purpose, is a leap of faith in the opposite direction. But sometimes the cruelty, evil, and sheer madness that are so much a part of human history makes one question the existence of a benevolent creator.
James W. Dolan is a retired Dorchester District Court judge who now practices law.