From the Publisher

Bare Branches

Days before the launch of our spring 2001 issue, my mother was taken away from me in a car accident. This time of year, so tied to rebirth and renewal, will always be hard for me. My birthday, the first day of spring, and the anniversary of my mother’s death all hit me within the span of a few weeks. I am awash in my emotions, as if I were standing in a strong spring downpour. Like life itself, spring is a painfully beautiful time for me.

After experiencing such an immense loss, it takes a while before you can see the good things in life again. They pop up through the ground like shoots from the year’s first flowers. They stand out like the new green growth on fir trees. You can’t miss them if you have your eyes open. A great loss creates a hole in your life, a deficit, but over time that deficit will be filled by the new growth of spring. My family and friends have since healed that wound in my life, but at this time of year, when the branches are bare, you can still see the scar. It reminds you of the pain.

When I remember that pain, I go back and read something I wrote in those days after my mother’s passing. I don’t think of myself as being much of a writer, but I do think that in that time of great pain, I was able to see some beautiful things in life more clearly. Those beautiful things are what keep me going and make any pain insignificant.

Keepgoing.

The Majority of this was written before April 2

Atheist: One who denies the existence of God. (Capital G. Thank you, Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1988.)

Atheists are fools. They are not fools because they deny the existence of a capital G god, but because they are oblivious to the world that surrounds them. Before you click that “Back” icon, let me assure you that this is not going to be an argument to prove the existence of an omnipotent white-bearded old man seated on a throne who holds your fate in his hands. If that is your image of capital G god, then let me assure you that I respect your interpretation. This is an argument for there being something more. Something more than we know, more than we can imagine, more than we can comprehend. We have all caught glimpses of itin a sunset, in the pattern of a leaf, in the spiral of our galaxy. Its perfection astounds us. It is the same as the magic found in a lover’s kiss, a baby’s laugh, a mother’s touch, and a friend’s hug. We can feel it. Atheists would argue that all of these phenomena could be explained through science. They are correct, but is not science sublime also?

Take for example our solar system. Centrifugal force created eight planets from materials left over from the creation of a small star. (I don’t consider Pluto a planet, but that’s another story for another time.) In this celestial centrifuge the heavier elements formed four small, rocky planets in a relatively close orbit of the star. Lighter elements formed four giant gas planets, in a much further orbit from the star. These gas giants would protect the interior planets from the ravages of asteroids and other heavenly debris. After millions of years, on at least one of these interior planets, conditions were eventually optimal for the creation of life. Life: a product of that same celestial centrifuge. I’m not asking, “Why did this happen?” I’m not asking, “Who did this?” I’m just asking you to look at it and see its beauty and perfection.

If you don’t believe the answers to “why,” “who,” and “how” that the world’s religions provide, then fine. All of the world’s religions are works in mythology, existing somewhere between fact and fiction. All are stories of great people and incredible acts. Stories handed down through centuries, filtered through millions of intellects and imaginations, all attempting to interpret things that we cannot explain. If you don’t believe the answers provided for you, then create your own. Create your own mythology, but don’t lose that sense of wonder.

The atheists don’t know what they are missing. They seem to have lost that wonder, that spark in humanity that makes us want to believe in something more than we can see. Their interpretations of the unexplainable tend to be cold and unimaginative. As if they could look at a sunset, appreciate the beauty of it, and see the reasons for it happening, but not see where the beauty and the reasons become one. I believe in a reason for all the beauty in the worldnot a purpose, but a cause. I give it no name or face. Many call it god, with or without a capital G.

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