I was puzzling over the location of our promised Paradise, way up there somewhere, and wondered if we should accept religion’s inference that we don't need to know the latitude and longitude.
|Shipwrights at work ... Getting the ark ready for Noah. But ... where's the means of propulsion. We see no sails, no oars, not even an outboard engine. An artist's depiction of the construction of the Ark, from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493). Many thanks to Wikipedia.|
It has to be a little like planning to sail around the world.
We know where Cape Horn lies, yet we don’t need the precise navigational position until we get going.
However, I have to admit that long before departure, I had memorised the QTH, and positions navigationally speaking of the other great landmarks along the Southern Ocean way, too, as lone circumnavigators will.
The voyage made for a truly wonderful experience, but of course it can be nothing like our final journey when we’ve said farewell, bravely or not, to relatives and friends gathered round the death bed.
|Stowaways? ... The only crew actually signed on have four legs, or wings. Are these stowaways or perhaps the secret admirers in Noah's life, determined to keep him on the straight and narrow? A woodcut of Noah's Ark from Anton Koberger's German Bible. Many thanks to Wikipedia.|
You must trust those that, well, know.
Nowadays, most of us are aware of where we’re heading thanks to navigational aids - gadgets on a dashboard, or GPS handhelds, like my magnificent (but out of date) Magellan Meridian, or a programme on your mobile phone.
However, on that final journey, faith, and trust in what we’re told, has to do.
A rough compass bearing
I wonder what gifted navigators like James Cook and Drake and Columbus and Nelson and Magellan (the human Magellan, that is) felt about not having much more than a rough compass bearing.
I had accepted that Noah must have been the earliest of navigators out there, not that I’m so sure he ever did venture Out There.
Noah’s voyage seems to be very long ago, only I’ve just learned that earning his passage to Paradise happened only comparatively recently. Yes, recently, comparatively.
I’m looking at pictures of corpses made ready for some sort of post-life destination some 35,000 years ago.
That’s a long time back. Very! And if we were writing a thank you letter for an evening at a friend’s, what date would we chisel into the stone tablet?
‘25th September, 32,980 BC,’ Windows 10 tells me.
The realisation that the path to Paradise has been trod for a very long time came in an article by Lea Surugue in Sapiens dot org
She reveals that hunter-gatherers buried their dead at Sunghir, east of Moscow, around 34,000 years ago.
Dressed up and made-up
The extraordinary revelation is that way back then the dead weren’t just planted. They were dressed up, made up, and given gifts like ivory spears and disks, beads and ochre, and cervid antlers, to take with them.
The corpses must have been treated in some special way for in the article they are still recognisable as humans even after that vast distance in time.
Miss Surugue writes, ‘This finding challenges us to see that these humans may have had rich beliefs about death and about how the deceased should be treated.’
The gifts packed in with them? Of course, for surely they were to grease the palms of winged guardians checking passports et al at the gates of Paradise, just as we might wink saucily at officials at Immigration at Heathrow.
Reassurance then. We’ll get by alright without the navigational numbers.
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