By Terry Pettee
It was the best of climes, it was the worst of climes – if you were a horsefly.
For six months, 183 days of the year, the air was warm enough for as many as six generations of horseflies to flourish. For six months, 182 days, the air was too cold and the seed of future horsefly generations awaited the awakening warmth of spring.
It was on Long Island, New York during the horse and buggy era when two horseflies, genetically superior to any before or since, renewed their acquaintance. They were genetically unique in two ways. First, they were ancient compared to their peers, at 90 days of age. Second, like bees, they had the remarkable ability to communicate with one another. This unique communication occurred when their antennae entwined and memories were shared.
So ancient were these two horseflies that their remaining time on earth was now measured in hours rather than days. Unable and unwilling to exert the energy to pursue nourishment, they spent their final hours within the slowly moving boundaries of a sliver of sunlight afforded them through a gap between the roof boards of an aging barn. They rested on a rafter their antennae entwined sharing the final moments of their extraordinary lives.
They reminisced of an adventure they shared when a strong northeast wind carried them from a rural Long Island farm across the East River to old St. Patrick’s Cathedral not far from Central Park on the Manhattan Island. They rode the wind until a downdraft took them to the bustling East 5th Avenue commercial district. Once there, their paths separated temporarily as they explored a world unimaginable to two country-bumpkin horseflies.
Although up until that time they were well acquainted with the aromas of farm and livestock, the odors of the densely populated city offered them an entirely new panorama of smells. One horsefly followed the abundant smell of horse, humanity and their combined waste on a veritable binge of exotic odor. The other horsefly, through compound eyes, beheld the visage of St. Peter’s Cathedral, a structure more massive than a dozen barns in height, width and depth and could not resist the urge to explore it in detail.
Enticed by the familiar scent of animal flesh the first horsefly came to be in the meat carver’s butchery behind a butcher’s meat shop. The horsefly feasted on the carcasses of meats hanging on tender hooks until it could consume no more. Finding a speck of sun light, it rested while its diminutive brain fixated on the business of the carvers before it.
In a flash of inspiration the meaning of all the activity came clear to it. This was the place of origin for animal life. It had seen the upright beings, the humans, tend the animals on the farm. Here, the horsefly concluded, was the place where the upright beings formed the animals and brought them to life.
Meanwhile, the other horsefly crawled along the surface of St. Patrick’s Cathedral recognizing the different textures. There was the hard cold surface he recognized from the farm as stone. There was wood and metal, such as comprised the barn and other structures on the farm. And there was the glass, either transparent or translucent, that were fixtures of the farm structures. It could not fathom the origin of the structures but simply took it for granted they were eternally present in their form to be used by the upright ones who cared for the many different creatures that inhabited the farm.
Weeks later, as weeks were like decades to humans, the two horseflies remembered their grand adventure and theorized on all they saw and experienced. With their antennae still entwined, first one and then the other faded from the light of life into the dark of death never fully understanding the events and meaning of all they experienced that time so long ago past.
March 14, 2018, Stephen Hawking, one of the all-time greatest minds of science faded from life into death. Brilliant in mind, but equally extraordinary in kindness and compassion, Hawking took great care not to offend those of Judeo-Christian faith or other religious faiths.
Stephen Hawking was an atheist.
Nevertheless, his atheism is reflective in his science. An adherent to the Big Bang Theory as the origin of the universe, Hawking believed matter, time and space were contained in a minute density particle that when it exploded began the evolution of the universe. Hawking and scientists in general have no explanative theory regarding the origin of that particle or what caused it to explode.
In part, it is this theory about the universe’s origin that brought Hawking to atheism. In as much as time did not exist before the Big Bang, God could not exist, according to Hawking. A basic tenet of Judeo-Christian theology is God’s eternal nature. In other words, God always was and always will be since God is not controlled by or limited to the intricacies of time. Time, of course, being one of the creative designs of God.
In consideration of the enormity of the universe and all its intricate workmanship, humankind is by comparison not so much different from two extraordinarily genetically gifted horseflies attempting to understand it all. One day the Creator of it all will offer an explanation. Until then, there is faith to believe.
Terry Pettee is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University where his undergraduate study prepared him for a career in secondary education. Prior to attending EMU, he was Editor-In-Chief of the Erie Square Gazette while a student at the St. Clair County Community College. Between his community college and university years he was Marysville Editor of the St. Clair County Independent Press where he was a newspaper reporter and columnist. After a brief teaching stint his life’s journey led him into human resource and industrial relations management; a career spanning four decades. Now retired, Terry writes both Christian value based fiction and non-fiction for his own amusement, which is babble-speak for saying he has only a single published book to his credit.
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