Neil Fire
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Atmospheric Anomalies

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I knew I was leaving to go to Mexico last week, but in the worry of the trip, I forgot to plan ahead for not getting to wish you a Happy Monday.

Basically, my anxiety overwhelmed me.

I was worried because the plan was to take four guys I had never met, a film crew as it were, to my beloved field site. The trick being that we would have only one day to try and get to every beautiful place, through every locked gate, in a place where ‘hurry’ is not the asset for which it is treasured.

I knew it would be difficult and it was, beyond my expectations. The prearranged schedules I organized failed at every point and a glitch in my understanding of what was to be filmed filled the day.

First, you need to know why the crew wanted me at Cuatro Ciénegas.

You see, in a bid to provide a documentary to explain how it came to be that our planet, of all the ones we know of so far, is the only one that has oxygen in its air, they asked me to show them the little critters that are making that O2. Imagine, if you will, for a minute, that a special group of bacteria (some of you health nuts go to the health food store and buy them and know them as blue-green algae and some of you believe that bacteria are BAD) are solely responsible for oxygen that we breathe. I knew I was going to point them out down at Cuatro Ciénegas because despite not being able to see them with the naked eye, if you get enough of them together, like say billions, in one place, which is what happens at Cuatro Ciénegas, then you can make a documentary of them for others to see.

What I didn’t know was that the intention was for me to do a lot of this explaining and demonstrating on camera. I can safely say that no one would rate me a ‘10’ when exiting the water with bacteria in one hand and a mask pushed up over my freckled, age-molded face and a snorkel seemingly sticking out of the back of my head. It was far more humbling of an experience with regards to personal vanity than I want to go into. I answered their questions as they led and encouraged me in what they felt like I could share.

As I did this, in the hot desert sun, with sweat dripping down my nose and the camera inches away from my nostril, I concentrated on what a privilege and blessing has been mine, to be able to study and think about the wonders of this earth these last 15 or so years.

I thought about the sheer freedom of thought and time to detective out the ‘how’ and ‘wonder’ of biology on this planet. I stand in amazement and gratitude at how I got here.

The four guys I didn’t know? A multicultural bunch, Brits, and French Canadians, and brown skinned Sicilians, I may never have laughed so much nor had as much fun watching a band of creative minds, give and take, plan and replan, as they went after their own goals. It’s amazing really, the range of talents and abilities that are at work in humanity on this planet. 

When I got back home, it was time to leave for my brother’s for Thanksgiving. On the ride up to Fort Worth, we entertained each other, regaling stories and few could top mine, although my John tried. When we tired of that, I looked up at the sky and we traveled north, I thought about how wonderful this planet is, how the unseen things that make up the atmosphere around us are so important and most of them invisible to our naked eyes. But I can see their effect, how flags and birds and autumn leaves are tossed about in the very same air that we suck into our lungs as we run or sleep. I thought about how so much of what we see in other humans, is first about the color of their eyes or the texture of their skin, but then, as we spend time with them, work with them, play with them, begin to appreciate them, when we begin to see the things in them that are not visible with our eyes. We see with our hearts and souls, watch has shaped them and will continue to shape them, until their time here is over. 

As the Thanksgiving turkey came and went, I sat near the window facing north in my brother’s home. I closed my eyes and gave thanks and as I did so, I thought about heaven and its unseen properties.

I never mentioned my love for God on that trip to Mexico.

I wondered for a moment if that hurt God’s feelings, after all, it was all His idea even down to the moments I spend in Mexico.

Maybe those guys, knowing at least why something of the sadness that marks my earthly face now, also recognized that laughter from the heart comes from a spring that only something supernatural can provide.

In the middle of my reverie and confession, my brother shouted for me to come outside. Looking out the window, to my amazement, against the green of trees that had yet to see enough cold winter days to even color their leaves, fat, fluffy snowflake drifted towards the ground. I watched as millions of them, coming down from a leaden grey sky, filled the air around us, lay upon the jacket and the only-lightly-grayed hair of our mother. They fell upon the dog and hissed away as they fell into the fire Neil had created in his kiva. They drifted, floated, and fell, as far in the distance as I could see, and as far up as I could see, sending little splashes of water across my upturned face, as they melted against my skin. I watched, once again, sitting in my chair, for at least an hour as they drifted and entertained me, each one disappearing once again, drops of water amid green grass and leaves. 

My heart is so full. That snow felt like a blanket of God’s love. I know how it felt covering me, I know how special He made me feel with what I could only consider a series of fortunate events culminating in an atmospheric oddity. What’s amazing is that I know He could do so while blanketing the rest of the world in any number of other ways, letting each of us know how special we are to Him, how much He loves us. It’s why we are soon to celebrate the most wonderful day in all of earth’s history. I hope God’s plan is for me to continue to study ‘how’ His world works. I know it is His plan to continue to teach my heart ‘why’ it does.

Happy Monday, ya’ll.

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