Sunday, October 21, 2012

There are no Atheists in a Fox Hole

Do you remember that song by the late, great Whitney Houston, “Where do Broken Hearts go?” If so, you’re welcome. I’m sure you’ll be humming it all day now. If not, you’re also welcome for dodging the, “get that damn song out of my head” bullet. Either way, I know the answer… Broken hearts go to Newfoundland. 

However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.

In December 1993, I graduated from college and the first non-required piece of literature I read was ‘The Shipping News’ by E. Annie Proulx. To this day, it remains one of my favorite books. It was later turned into a film with Kevin Spacey, Judi Dench, and Julianne Moore – which, for the record, was also excellent – because it was one of those rare instances where the cinematography actually captured the author’s description of the landscape and the Director effectively conveyed the unique culture laid out in the novel. But I digress. 

The point is that I was so moved when I read it that I told myself, “Self, one day you shall go to Newfoundland.” And, in 2003, I did. I drove up the East Coast, caught the ferry to Port aus Basques, then spent two weeks hiking the Tablelands and kayaking the Labrador Current before catching the ferry out of St. John’s and driving home to the Mid-West. 

Now, for the record, even if you don’t kayak, that trip is totally worth it. Not only do you get to see the Minke whales heading north for the cod, but you can see the icebergs floating south to melt. It’s breathtaking, especially in the morning. You wake up, have a cup of coffee, get into your boat, paddle a little ways from shore, and listen. At first, it’s complete silence. Then you hear the first whale breach and then the next and the next and the next. And as the fog lifts, you begin to see them. Sometimes they’re swimming but sometimes they’re spyhopping, which makes you say the following silent prayer, “If there is a God, nicely done You. PS: Please don’t let one of them mount my boat… Amen.” 

No lie. That happens. Google it. Whales have been known to mistake kayaks for females and they have attempted to mate with them. And let’s be honest… if that’s going to happen to anyone, it would happen to me. But that’s still not the point of this post. 

The point is that, during certain moments, when my heart was breaking – because my father had died, or my mom was in a coma, or my marriage was over, I wanted to be back in that boat on that water watching those whales - and not just because it was awe-inspiring, but because it was the moment I could no longer declare myself an Atheist. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t find religion. I felt God and I found peace. Those are very different experiences. 

At any rate, I wish that belief could give me some solace this week. My batshit crazy dog has struck again. That’s right. The other day DB went to Walgreens and bought a box of earplugs and bottle of hand lotion. Both of which she ate when he went to work. Now, every time her stomach rumbles, I want to duck and scream, “FIRE IN THE HOLE” because I expect to be hit by a projectile, shit-covered ear plug. Granted, that’s not as bad as being mounted by a whale, but it’s not good. Either way, there are truly no Atheists in a fox hole.  

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