Many of you know that Sally and I moved to Virginia this past May. Here we live close to two sons and daughters-in-law, and also some adorable grandchildren. We absolutely love Virginia and the super-friendly people who have welcomed us. We have a brand new home in a small rural subdivision overlooking the Roanoke valley, and resting in the late-afternoon shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition, the responsible people of Virginia finished the 2010 budget year in the black. We miss our friends, but do you think I miss Ill-in-Noise? Not.
A winding twenty minute drive due west along a steep forested route leads to the base of historic Sharptop Mountain. Here a cozy lodge is nestled next to a tranquil lake, a picnic area, and a park ranger outpost that doubles as a children’s museum – complete with live birds, insects, and really cool (and big!) snakes. The museum is also the starting point for those adventurous souls with enough courage and stamina to engage the strenuous 3-hour, 3875 foot elevation hike to the bare-boulder summit of Sharptop. The hike is not easy, but definitely worth the effort as the view from the top is positively breathtaking! To the north the multiple peaks of the Blue Ridge Parkway seem to extend in a distant line forever. To the south and east the valley floor rolls out like a colorful Google Earth satellite mosaic of forest, roads, ponds, towns and farms – the panorama extending for as far as the eyes can see in the warm summer haze.
I remember the first time I climbed Sharptop back around 2004. I was just finishing writing Random Designer. As I stood on the summit and gazed upon the valley below, I could not help but ponder the parallels between what I was observing and what I was writing. There before me was a world that was both big and small – painted with bold majestic strokes of grandeur, yet also comprised of intricate, barely visible and seemingly inaccessible details that seamlessly gave way to one overall grand design.
Honestly, I love standing at the summit of Sharptop Mountain where I can really see and appreciate the importance of a “Big Picture” perspective. When I am there, I feel a special sense of closeness to God. Nevertheless, I also recognize that in both the physical and spiritual domains of life, the really significant secrets about life and about God are often revealed only in the minute details. As a career microbiologist, I have been privileged to discover many of these deep-hidden secrets. And here, for we who believe in God, one is able to gain a greater appreciation for the magnificence and majesty of the God’s grand design.
I have learned much in the past several years: About our world’s rich and ancient history; how life progresses from molecules to man; about true love and self-deluding depraved selfishness simultaneously competing and displayed in human behavior; about the virtues and evils of organized religion, and about a loving merciful compassionate God who is our only hope to make some sense of it all. And whose nature and ways are sometimes so very hard to understand. In this blog, I want to explore all of these things more.
I am new to the blogosphere, but my hope is that many of you will join me here and consider/contribute to the discussion. And if you find value, please invite your friends. I think we might also have a lot of fun along the way.