Yesterday's escapade with trying to get photographs off of an old computer raised more questions than than it answered. Yes, I know, backing up the photos was the thing I was supposed to have done, and I didn't. I know. The thing is, the computer didn't die - we just got a new one as the old one became cluttered and slow, and then suddenly, it stopped working. All efforts to reboot came to nothing, and I was not even able to access the photographs by using a firewire connection from another computer. It does appear that the photos are lost.
Meanwhile, however, the photos on my laptop also started going haywire, with some of them disappearing and then (thankfully) reappearing a couple of hours later, even though I can't tell that I actually did anything to cause them to be restored. (For that matter, I didn't think I did anything to cause them to go away, either.) And now nothing shows up on my desktop, such as photos I drag out of the iPhoto to upload onto this blog; they are lodged within a folder somewhere else instead. It seems that simply hooking my laptop up to the old desktop via a firewire cable caused some yucky juice to leak over into my relatively young and healthy computer.
I am by no means an accomplished techie, but I am smarter than the average bear in terms of knowing my way around computers. I am not one who simply types away, mystified at all the things that computers do that I don't understand. I like to have a general idea about how things work when I use them. (Although I still do not understand electricity.) I know that things don't actually just disappear into the ether - they're somewhere.
I ran across this quote from Tacitus in a Sister Fidelma mystery I'm reading right now: Omne ignotum pro magifico est. (Everything unknown is thought magnificent.) Sister Fidelma notes that such an attitude does not help solve mysteries - people and animals do not disappear in to the ether, either.
This attitude certainly does apply to God and to the mysteries around God's presence and creative powers. The church calls the sacraments holy mysteries - things that can be known and experienced but not explained. Old Testament writers speak of "things too wonderful for me" in the books of Job, Proverbs and Psalms. These things are both God's ways (Psalm 139 and Job) and the ways of the world - eagles flying, snakes slithering, ships sailing, and courtship (Proverbs). These are things not so much to be understood as things at which to be marveled.
I do marvel at the human drive to discover and create and all the high level modern technology we use and enjoy. I do not marvel when my photographs disappear. Like Sister Fidelma, I know such is not the work of God.