On possibly the last warm day of the quickly-coming winter, the Jordan River tugged at me to bring my kayak and glide. My solitary jaunts on the Jordan have brought a mystical connection with nature. On this paddle, my brother Steven joined me, in town for a visit, and we set off with our boats racked on my green Subaru. Mom and Dad sat in camp chairs in the driveway, wrapped in winter coats, waiving as we pulled away. We launched and paddled three miles against the invisible current, our muscles burning. My buff brother remarked, “My muscles are saying, ‘What’s going on here? We don’t recognize this exercise!’” I had hoped to introduce Steven to my friend the belted kingfisher, who did not disappoint, and who chittered chidingly at us from his perch. To our wonder and delight, he dove and brought up a silver flash that disappeared down his gullet. He kept his eye on us as he flew short stretches upstream, until we reached the end of his territory and he flew overhead back downstream. Steven is a strong paddler, and we glided side by side, except when navigating around the many submerged snags. We talked about the scientific fact of our perfectly ordered universe, which follows precise laws of creation and evolution and entropy, and about how scientists, unable or unwilling to acknowledge a Deity behind it all, posit one of two explanations for this perfect order, the first being a multiverse in which an infinity of flawed universes come into and out of existence, with the probability that eventually infinity will produce one stable perfectly ordered universe, the one in which we live (fortunately for us), and the second being an elaborate illusion designed by supremely intelligent beings, an illusion in which our universe is perfectly ordered—and I ask rhetorically, why would beings intelligent enough to create such a perfect illusion even need to do so, because if they were capable of creating a perfect illusion, would not they be equally capable of creating a perfectly ordered reality, like the one we have? And all of this to get around the rather simple explanation of a God, of infinite beneficence and knowledge of the laws of nature, using those laws to create a perfectly ordered universe. In my view, the reality of Divinity is a simpler and truer paradigm for universal order. At that moment, with the sun sinking, a beaver pushed off from the bank to cross the river, then saw us and disappeared. We batted around the conundrum of reality, since all of our observations and perceptions are mere cerebral interpretations of electrical signals rushing to the brain from our fingertips and eyeballs and the holes in our heads. Ultimately, we are not worried about these problems, for we have faith in the primordial laws of love and of choice, which, working together, allow us chaotic and cruel humans to enact the sublime and the beautiful and the kind. That is how we conquer entropy, and that is who we want to be, in spite of all our shortcomings. The air on the river grew suddenly cold as the sun dipped behind the Oquirrh mountains. Our kingfisher friend escorted us back through his territory. We charged the bank a dozen times before gaining purchase and hauling ourselves out, chilled and shivering and thrilled.
Courage at Twilight: Jordan River Jaunt
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