Volcanism

Posted: July 3, 2020 in becoming
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The volcanoes of the earth teach us lessons in reality. They ravage the earth, but they also bring it life. The same forces that destroy, build. After devastating a region, the rich volcanic soils that remain become fertile ground for new things.

Volcanism is perhaps a good metaphor for some of our own life experiences. Great human losses may be followed by great gains. In 2000 I suffered some volcanic-like health issues. This was followed by 20 years of great productivity.

Simon Winchester, in his book Krakatoa, ruminating on the destructive aspect of earth’s tectonic plates in causing earthquakes and volcanoes, notes the creative force of volcanism.

Winchester writes, “The water, carbon dioxide, carbon, and sulfur that are so central to the making and maintenance of organic life are all being constantly recycled by the world’s volcanoes—which were also the probable origins of the earth’s atmosphere in the very first place. It is not merely that volcanoes bring fertile volcanic soils or useful minerals to the surface; what is more crucial is their role in the process of bringing from the secret storehouses of the inner earth the elements that allow the outer earth, the biosphere and the lithosphere, to be so vibrantly alive.”

An example of this would be Rakata, an Indonesian island that was burned lifeless by the eruption of the nearby Krakatoa volcano of 1883. Forty years later Rakata was overgrown with grasses and ferns and plants. In short order it was full of birds. It eventually proved to be home to 621 species of animals. It’s a jungle; it isn’t a civilized paradise, but it’s alive.

Life from death. God made the earth to work like this. He fashioned us this way too.

It is no stretch to say that we are ourselves volcanic. Our bodies, while beautiful, strong and capable of great growth, over time eventually unravel. Underlying forces — conflicts, diseases, senescence — eventually come into dramatic, tectonic-like, magma-like play and we are undone. We all experience this.

But all is not lost. Out of us, out of the rich soil of our undoings, may yet spring to life new life, life more abundant.

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