Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Yesterday afternoon I stayed back from campus in order to pray for my teammates and their time on campus. While I was sitting on the rocks along the Moda shoreline, I saw what appeared to be a large layer of scum floating atop the water. Because the Bosphorus is filled with all kinds of junk, I shrugged it off. But upon closer inspection, I noticed it was actually a large school of jellyfish. Yup, the Bosphorus is chock-full of these guys. Now, being a biology teacher, I am absolutely fascinated by them, and I eagerly search for jellyfish every day on the boat. There are two types I see here: a large (10-14"), dense one with purple gossamer lacework along its edges, and a smaller (5-8"), more translucent and less-featured variety.

In the jet-black water, their translucent whitishness stood in stark contrast. Gliding smoothly as they were gently lifted and set down again by the incoming waves, they appeared to me as if they were scores of ghosts floating through the moonlight night. It was both an eerie, haunting sight, and yet it possessed a strange beauty that beckoned me to draw ever nearer. I probably watched them for ten minutes. (Sad, huh, how to us Americans that's a long time.) If it weren't for the steep, wet, algae-covered rocks and my uncertainty as to their harmlessness (although they were tentacle-free), I would surely have ventured into the Sea of Marmara to grab one and examine its delicate features.

Upon seeing a similarly beautiful sight of a frenzy of sharks, author Annie Dillard wrote: "We don't know what's going on here. If these tremendous events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield of millions of monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriteres, that they ignite? We don't know. Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf" (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, pp. 10-11).

That same logic ran through my mind two years ago while watching the sun set in Ocean City, NJ: If all we are is the product of a process and not a Person, from where does our ability to see and long for beauty come? And if my life is dictated, ultimately, by the rules of the 'survival-of-the-fittest' game, why didn't I instinctively shrink back from the potentially harmful marine life I observed today? If there is no creator of this world, it would require the denila of all I have ever felt upon hearing the sound of a November wind or upon feeling the coolness of the morning dew upon my bare feet, upon watching damselflies mate or spiders spinning their webs in hopes of catching a passerby unawares. God must be.

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