It has always been a curiosity to me the specificity of people’s interests and passions. For example, why would someone collect salt and pepper shakers? Or old barbed wire? Or stamps with ducks on them.
Or why do people show an interest in things that cause most of us to yawn. I am talking about people who study one kind of bug that exists in Costa Rica or one creature beneath the sea that exists at many fathoms below and glows in the dark or a particular species of tree that grows down instead of up? What is it that draws these people to one unique expression of nature?
What draws an individual to care about particular people who suffer? Young girls caught and sold into prostitution. The people of one village in a small South American country who are falling into a cavern because they have to get to work and their children have to get to school but no one will build for them a road on which to travel safely. A particular child whose face shows up on a news report who is suffering from malnutrition. How is it that millions can know of the suffering but the hearts of only a few are stirred?
Here is what I think: I think that there is no spot on earth that God or Divine Intelligence does not care about. We humans usually think human beings are the most important creature on the earth or even our own kind of human. But God sees the whole. Even Jesus noted how God clothes each flower, sees to the needs of each bird. Does God get upset when some mischievous child pokes a stick at the nest of a bird and causes it to drop to the ground just to see the contents? Does the heart of God break for the mother bird when she comes back with her a worm? Does God get upset when someone kills a tiger with the only purpose of hanging its head on a wall. Does he mourn over the lion cubs left die of starvation?
I have heard people say that we humans are the hands and feet of God. We read in Genesis God’s purpose for man:
Then God said, “And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. They will rule over the fish and birds, and all animals, domestic and wild, large and small.” So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female, blessed them, and said, “Have many children, so that your descendents will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals…By the seventh day God finished what he had been doing and stopped working. He was able to rest because he had delegated his work of creation to human beings. Each would be assigned one part for which to care. And thus, the whole world would be cared for.” Genesis 1: 26-28
Alright, so those last few sentences are not in the Bible. I wrote them because this is what I believe. All that is required of each of us is to follow our particular passion, that person or group or object or idea that catches our interest or pulls at our heart-strings. The hungry child I referred to above who was noticed by one woman living in middle Amercia…that woman used up almost all of her savings to find that child, to adopt him and bring him to the United States. I myself walked the road that ran along the cavern that took the lives of fathers and mothers and children in a small district in Guatemala. The concern for young girls sold into prostitution is a movement gaining momentum right now in our country. These are all true stories of people action on their passions.
As for the collectors of salt and pepper shakers and barbed wire, are their collections any less a record of history than the great art collectors of Europe or the work of geologists? One of the great themes of Judaism and the Old Testament is the call to remember our past. Historians and archeologist know how important remembrance is to dealing with life in the present. It seems that it is important to the Creator as well.
We don’t always know why we have the passions we do, especially those that seem frivolous or quirky to others. I like to think that we are continuing the work God started at creation. Unfortunately, when people are distracted or coerced to deny or bury their passions, there is a corresponding corner of the world is neglected.
One day a man cried out to God: “Why don’t you help those in the world who are suffering from hunger and disease?” And God said, “I do – through you.”