The Way Home

Testimony & photo essay:

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The Way Home
written by Gerry Loewen

Part I – The Search

Unanswered Questions

When I was a teenager, I liked to sit on the front porch of our farm house in the early hours of the morning before the farm activities broke the stillness of the sights and sounds of nature. I enjoyed the moment when the sun rose, and the birds in the nearby trees started their cacophony of melodies, as if to welcome the warming rays. Only the sounds of nature, that’s what I liked. It seemed comforting and tranquil, serene and meaningful.
There is something about farm life that ties you to the land in a profound way. It seems to go far deeper than a collection of tasks driven by seasonal objectives. It’s a spiritual thing, perhaps a transcendent metaphor, that needs to be embraced and meditated upon. The cycle of life; planting, growth, reproduction, death and fruit are paraded before you every day as you work with the grain, the oil and the grass seeds.
I believe it was this spiritual metaphor that caused me to think upon the unique relationship and balance among the atmosphere, the biosphere, the sun and the seasons. My thinking went to how perfectly it would all be working, if only it wasn’t for the intrusion of the human race upon the planet. The pollution, the smog, the thinning ozone layer, the misuse and rape of the earth’s precious resources, all contributed, I reasoned, to throwing this precious life cycle out of balance. How is it, I reasoned, that everything could have been perfectly balanced if it wasn’t for the presence of humanity?
My thoughts would also drift on those warm summer prairie mornings to the emptiness or meaninglessness of life. “What is the purpose of life? What is my purpose here?” These were some of the questions that I as a young man was struggling with during those quiet times. I could see the life patterns of those around me: they grew up, tried to have some fun, got married, had some children, squeezed in some vacations, worked, their kids moved away and then they died. Somehow for me, this was not enough. It seemed predictable and empty. But at that time, predictability appeared boring. I wanted adventure and I wanted there to be something bigger, much bigger, that I could be a part of, something that mattered. In short, I wanted my life to count. Could that be had here on earth?
I had been sent to Sunday School when I was younger for a few years at a local evangelical church and I had attended a few summer Bible camps. But all that seemed to give me was religion. It was a list of rules, of “do this” and “don’t do that”. Religion was something you do, like you do the local curling or gymnastic club meetings. It seemed that some people were better at it than others, and some talked about it more than they walked it. I learned to hate hypocrisy. In those early years, the deeper questions in my soul were not answered by religion.
When I was in high school, I thought I had finally gotten the answers to some of my questions.
“ Mom!” I called out, when I came home from school one day. “I finally figured it out.”
“ What?” she cried, seeing the excitement in my face.
“ We all came from apes!” I replied.
“ Oh,” she said, in a muffled tone. Somehow she was not all that excited about my new-found realization.
I had arrived at my new discovery because I had been peppering my university-trained high school teacher about origins and she had lent me one of her textbooks on anthropology to find the answers. Evolution became to me a probable explanation of the meaning of life. However, although it brought some conclusions to my young inquisitive mind, it did not take me down the road to finding my meaning and purpose in life. It did not answer the question for me, “What on earth am I here for?” After the initial euphoria of this revelation wore off, I was back to the same gnawing questions about my own life. But time was marching on. There were girls to get acquainted with, and perhaps one to marry someday, work to find, a career to search out. It was time for me to put my questions on the back burner. Perhaps there were no answers. I did not return to the questions for 20 years.