When I moved from Alaska to Arizona a few years ago, my new surroundings were about as direct a Contradiction as you could find between one place and another. It was like I had moved into “The Land of Opposites”.
I used to live in an Alaskan village at sea level, and now I live 5000 feet ABOVE sea level. My home in Alaska was nestled below the St. Elias Mountain Range, and my home in Payson is now nestled beneath the Mogollon Rim, a lifting up of the earth, but not really a mountain range. Elk have replaced Alaska’s Moose. And my many miles of flying have been replaced by many miles of driving.
And that’s not all.
In Alaska I was surrounded by the Tongas National Forest (with its tall SPRUCE trees), and now I am surrounded by the Tonto National Forest (with its tall PINE trees) — rather similar — but this Arizona forest also contains cactus plants. The first time I drove past that section of the road between Payson and Phoenix where they suddenly begin, I wondered how this could be part of the forest. Where were the trees??
In Alaska the Pacific OCEAN was practically at my FRONT door, and now the Sonoran DESERT lies not far from my BACK door.
And if we take a look at the weather ….
I used to live in a wet temperate rain forest, with a very high level of annual precipitation. And now I live in a mostly dry climate with a very low level of annual precipitation. I used to live in a place where a summer day of 70 degrees was unusually hot and now I live in a place where a summer day of 70 degrees is unusually cold.
And even more dramatically — I have moved from a place where the cycle of light and darkness peaks at midsummer with 18 hours of daylight, and at midwinter with 18 hours of daily darkness — to Arizona where the most dramatic change in the cycle of light and darkness for me has been remembering to change my watch ahead when I get to the Navajo Reservation.
Meanwhile the rest of Arizona serves as a Contradiction to every other state in the nation by remaining in Standard Time all year, even though Alaska is the state that certainly doesn’t need any further hours of summer daylight savings.
But perhaps we can learn something from the Contradictions life holds.
They might make life confusing sometimes. But to the “contrary”, without them life could get boring and we could even get stuck in a rut. Contradictions, however, can stir up thinking, and just maybe even encourage us to pursue a better understanding of the rest of the world and those around us. Like riding a bicycle with two miss-matched wheels that won’t work at ALL with just one wheel — sometimes we just have to accept our differences, and try to work together to get down the road.
I have discovered in my journey from Alaska to Arizona, that when Contradictions are appreciated, they can open up the way to new kinds of adventures and opportunities, new things to explore, and to new ways of looking at life … whether it be in our relationship with the beauty of nature that surrounds us, our relationships with one another, or even our relationship with God.
And yes, we can hold two “contradictory” thoughts together, and they can both be true, which is perhaps a Contradiction in itself. But this is why we are actually capable of believing two different things at once — like that we might miss the constant rain in Southeast Alaska but are happy to be out of the dreariness in sunny Arizona.
But is this not also a way of understanding God’s saving grace?
Is it not, after all, the appreciation of the Contradiction that our Savior was both Man & God, (having both natures at the same time), the very reason he could be our Savior? Is it not why he was able to understand our human emotions and needs, to love us as imperfect as we are, and to suffer and die on the cross, but yet able to promise us NEW LIFE through his DEATH?
New Life through Death … Is this not for us the very best Contradiction of all?
Or is it simply the mystery of God’s love for us?