There is an area in Nockamixon that I walk through, that during periods of wind the trees wave and clunk and squeak. I remain alert. I keep my eyes open for falling debris, my ears peeled for the cracking of something substantial. It’s not disconcerting, but I hold on to prudence.
I see in it a metaphor. We’ve recently been victims of a terroristic bombing in Boston. We have identified and engaged with suspects. One is dead. It will be difficult to truly understand his motives. There are many things about this situation which scare people. The suspects are Muslims who’ve immigrated from Chechnya, and America is afraid of the religion of Islam.
It seems simple to question whether their actions were prescribed or informed by their faith. The answer may affirm or contradict our beliefs. But after we do this we face a challenge. That challenge is deciding whether or not it is the religion of Islam that is culpable. Whether practicing Muslims or those that believe in Islam are culpable. Or whether these are the actions of disturbed people. People with hate in their heart. People who are weak.
Just as I meander down the hall of squeaky trees, and wonder if I could be the victim of a falling limb. Is it the evil intent of the trees? Is it only the trees that follow the religion of wind? Or maybe it is possible that in this group of sturdy trees, there are those that are weak. That crack and come asunder from themselves due to deficiency or stress. I don’t impart malevolence to the wind that opens the fissures in a weak tree.
But could it be the god I follow? Or the god of another, who makes in nature the mechanism for my destruction? Are they rattling in battle with bare tree tops, like stags competing for my doe-like agnosticism, big-eyed, coy and receding? I see the antlers atop Islam are as sharp as those atop Christianity.
I will walk down the Hall of Squeaky Trees many times in my life. It’s possible I will see a limb torn away to come hurtling towards me. More likely I will pass by the carnage of previous storms, beset by wonder at the violence, not understanding. Even though I know that nature can be violent, regardless of its realm.