Thursday, October 1, 2009

Musing about The Call of The Wild

The Call of The Wild is strong in me. This can be seen in the job I have (looking after reptiles) and the fact that I am rejuvenated best by spending time in nature. This year I have been doing Honours in Zoology part time and have really struggled with the way the two worlds I have been so deeply immersed in (Biological Science and Christianity) don't seem to fit together easily. Many people see huge conflict between the two, mostly due to the whole evolution element (which I am not going into in this and don't have the answers to anyway). I feel like there should not be a conflict, because in my opinion, there is no point in conservation if there is no God. To me, being involved in saving the Earth and all the various types of life that live here, is a calling from God and the natural response to his first charge to humans in Genesis – take care of my creation! Yet, I have struggled because, in my experience with various churches, none seem to care about this at all and very few Christians I have interacted with appear to be concerned that the main cause of the current terrible state of this planet is humans. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect every Christian to be called to conservation work, but the impression I have been getting is that the Christian world generally is completely ignoring the problem, possibly hoping Jesus will return before humans completely destroy the planet. I have seen more Christians starting to think about these problems and gradually start taking action which is a great encouragement, but what I am really looking for is someone who, like me, is working in the Biological Science field and a committed Christian so I can discuss the challenges I experience and grapple through the issues with someone who gets both sides. (If you are such a person or know one, please let me know.) I recently said to God that if he can't bring that person into my life now (I have asked him repeatedly for this) then can he please just show me that he gets the confusion in my mind and that he is actually there for me.

With that background, the last couple of weeks have been quite intense. Work is not a fun place to be these days. My job is more about paperwork and staff management (of staff who are not the easiest to supervise) than about the animals and the current situation in the entire complex is very stressful – union action, financial concerns, staff shortages, pending changes in senior management, concerns about the future. On top of this, my honours work is piling up with the year drawing to a close at the end of next month. Last week Monday I really took strain and very nearly did not cope with the day. In the evening I sat down to work on an essay for varsity and felt like I was going to freak out. I decided to go for a drive to relax and ended up at the Pretorius' house. I had a good chat to Nats about various things, one of which was the fact that I really want a dog. I always want pets, but it is not possible to have any at SarVarCar for various reasons. For years I have wanted a Labrador puppy, but it has never been possible. I strongly believe in pet-therapy (which is not being co-dependent on an animal!) and know that having a puppy to play with would help my stress at work. The next day I started pondering the options of moving, in between the usual chaos that work currently is, and that evening went to chat it over with Tandy and Mornay. By the time I left, I knew that I needed to take that step and the rest of the week went better as I knew that I was planning something that would help me cope. Work continued to be chaotic but I made it through to Sunday evening when I had a chat with my current housemates, Sarah and Carey, about the moving. They were really supportive and the elements I had seen as challenges were considered as minor to them.

Monday morning, I spent some time chatting to my supervisor, Bill, who had been in the field the previous week. I was updating him on the latest crises I had been dealing with and told him how I had not been coping the previous week, but was doing much better now. His response was that I was not coping! We had a good discussion and he helped me see a different perspective of things and how with the current climate at work, it is even more important to focus on my studies and I may need the qualification to move from my current job. He advised me to get booked off for stress. That evening I was going to see a potential garden flat, and in anticipation had made my facebook status "Varla is trusting that today will bring the hoped-for result and if not, that something better is in store". I had been emailing the owner and everything about it sounded perfect for me, so I was really hoping it would be my new home. The only challenge was that I would need to take it immediately, although my current lease only expires at the end of November, but I had played around with my budget and could do it, although it would be a stretch. Before I left I asked God to give me peace if it was the place he intended for me. I arrived and had this uneasy feeling, but went to go look anyway. The garden looked nice, but when we walked into the flat I thought "Where will I put all my stuff?" It would be very cramped which is not ideal when you have a large puppy! I said I would think about it and left, feeling very disappointed. I remembered that Sarah had given me a number earlier that day for a place on Old Seaview Road, but I had dismissed it as too far (and anyway I already thought I had the perfect place). I thought I might as well drive out to the area and see how far it is as I was already on that side of town and a couple of minutes later I was raving about the fact that I had already left town. I recalled a verse I had read a few days previously about leaving the city behind you and decided to phone and see if I could look at the place. I was driving up the driveway going "They live in the bush, they live in the middle of the bush, that's so awesome." I pulled up to the beautiful old house and was shown the huge cottage – bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, lounge, wooden rafters, FIREPLACE – and then taken to see some of the rest of the property – swimming pool, vegetable garden, area outside my cottage which can house a puppy when I am at work, 9 hectares of wild bush to roam (and search for reptiles) to my heart's content!! The peace I had hoped for at the first place had definitely arrived in abundance! I spent some time sitting in the cottage thinking about it and looked up the verse about leaving the city behind (Job 39:7-8) and noticed it also spoke about searching out every green thing. I was looking out the window, when the burglar bars drew my attention – they were heart shaped and I felt God was saying through them that he does love me and he does get everything. This home will be his gift to me and the wilderness will help me to find the peace I so desperately need. Talk about something better...

That evening I had a long chat with Bryony about it all, although I had basically made my decision before I got to her house. I did realise in the chat that the fact that the thought of varsity assignments freaks me out, is a manifestation of the work stress. The next day, my doctor agreed with Bill and booked me off for two weeks to get a handle on things and focus on my studies. I am well aware that work will be no better when I return, but by then I intend to have a large amount of my varsity work completed and be settled in my new home (I already have the keys...). Just driving up the driveway is relaxing! I know that being away from the city and all the negative stuff I feel there will be of a great help and when I am settled (and have paid off the double rent) I know the right dog will come and join me in my cottage in the bush!!

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