I just finished reading 10 Souls I want to Meet in Heaven by Michael Wilcox. I learned so much from each of these souls that cover the gamut from Saints, like Joan of Arc to Truth Seekers like Buddha to Explorers like Ernest Shackleton who led the polar expeditions. This was our book club pick for January and I highly recommend it.
What surprised me most was that of all the great souls in here (Francis of Assisi, poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mohammed's wife) I identified with ---or found myself most drawn to-- Charles Darwin. What? Doesn't his name fly in the face of all that I believe as a Christian? Nope. Not at all...
Charles had a child-like fascination with nature, people, and places of the world. He had an "insatiable longing to discover." He journeyed for 5 years on the Beagle exploring and new lands and creatures that were a feast for the eyes. In his journal he described his travels,
"It has been for me a glorious day, like giving to a blind man eyes.--he is overwhelmed by what he sees and cannot justly comprehend it."
He loved learning about the people that inhabited these places and embraced their customs. He was always up for an adventure, learning to use a bola like the gauchos.
"You cannot imagine what merry work such a wandering journey is," he wrote his sisters.
This is exactly how I feel about traveling! It thrills me to see new things. My senses come alive when I am exploring and I feel to exclaim like Darwin, "The brilliancy of the scenery throws one into a delirium of delight!" I love the vibrancy of cities and I like to wander in the solitude of nature, wondering if I am the first person to set foot in this exact spot of earth. I want to explore everything my state has to offer, my country, the world and if I ever live long enough to exhaust all of the world's adventures I may have to look into the Final Frontier.
Like Darwin, I have the "wanderlust." I would be content to live the Air-Force life moving around every 2-3 years in a new part of the world. That just sounds like an adventure too good to pass up. So does missionary work. The more I see and learn the more I want to see and learn. Although, I am a small fish living in a small pond, the Lord in his great mercy, has seen fit, to have blessed me with many opportunities to travel and explore and learn from other people and cultures. I look forward to many more!
I can understand now why Darwin didn't embrace Religion. He was so detail-oriented, had to know the workings of everything. Religion requires faith. There isn't a detailed explanation for everything and that probably really frustrated him. Nature was his temple.
His wife was a devout Christian and tried to get him to see her way. Despite his unwillingness to embrace her religion they both had a mutual respect for each other and a beautifully touching, rich relationship.
They had 10 children. All of them adored their father. He was easy-going, tender, and fun to be around. They had a rope swing in the middle of their living room which really says a lot.
Darwin's appreciation for the creations of the world is unmatched in history. I think, when he died, he would have been so excited to have all his questions about the world answered in the the most satiating detail. He and Jesus are probably the best of friends. I can't wait to get there and listen to their discussions, but not until after many more adventures of my own...