land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

Friday, December 5, 2014

musings on violence in america


With the rise of American culture in the 20th century we also had the rise of the industrial state of mind. Food became mass produced, cars, tools, entertainment, houses, etc. all became mass produced at the lowest cost for the most people. It was wonderful in many ways. But there were costs and we are now paying them.
Our food became more simple, our language became more simple, our music became more simple our government became more simple.
The recent violence in our racial problems is one of racism that has been festering for centuries and effecting minorities in many direct ways,  and they are now speaking up with a desire to change things. The white community was also effected, but has never addressed their issues,  and are only now having to do such under duress.
In the same way we have seen the rise in sexual awareness that has erupted into our news; from church leaders abusing people to recent revelations of celebrities such as Woody Allen and Bill Cosby’s rampant affairs.  Apparently the 60’s and 70’s were a time when sexual boundaries were thrown out the window. It was not a conservative or liberal thing, but a part of a much more nuanced and complex situation.
One small corner of all these problems is the use of power. We have been simplifying our use of power, more and more. And the militarization of the police force is a result of this.
The example I want to use is a situation in an airport recently. I understand that this is just one example and that there is much more to this than I am proposing. But planes were late, connections tight and passengers were getting anxious. Most of the workers at the airport were amazing in their graciousness. But as we were waiting in the tunnel connecting the plane with the terminal for our bags, the line went near to the gate door. Several people were dashing out to check times and gates where they would have to run towards.  A young man who had some sort of airline connection came and assessed the situation and apparently was sent to keep order. His understanding of power was to yell at everyone, and to rise the level of turmoil higher. He immediately yelled at one man who had checked for his gate to stop and that he could not get his bag, it would be given him when all other bags were given out, because he was at the end of the line and crossed out to see the gate number. The police were brought in to arrest him or detain him and he only got more agitated. It was a simplification of power. When confronted with a problem or turmoil use more force quickly to overwhelm the problem. Like dousing a fire with an overwhelming amount of water. This has its place, but when you are one lone man and a more mature use of coercion might be in order was not imagined. Power is simply used to overwhelm, not be in relationship.
Actually, as I write this, I am thinking that all of this leads down to a lessening of our understanding and experiencing of relationships. We have lost extended family connections, we no longer write letters, or call – we might text. We have closer relations to celebrities, personalities or images than actual people. And this would then roll over onto our policing, and our relationship with authority and government. It is only to be expected.
With the return of the local and organic food movement, we need to also add a movement to return to relationships. Young people are not marrying anymore, well the commitment and understandings of being in relationship have consequences. If not marriage, than what? The baby has been thrown out with the bath water, and no one has gone to get or help the baby or bring in new water.
It is interesting in the problems of family and schools becoming more of a problem, we teach sex through porn, policing through violent movies and video games, relationships through sitcoms, cooking through supermarket displays of prepared items.
Houston we have a problem.
Actually, we need epiphanies of communal understandings toward a larger unity to counter the separating forces of technology.  We have been cursed by our blessings for far too long.
All the issues are connected.  The sexual transformation and revelations and the racial transformation and allegations.  We are in changing times, let us process, think and relate with more maturity and dignity than the voices of those paid large amounts of money to keep the flames burning higher, such as television pundits. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

a couple of poems I wrote while away


A rubbish of regrets
     are piled high
                as I look back now
                on being a father
                in the shadow
                   of a Father God,
perfect in love,
exposing what I have missed
in my shot at love
and left a mess around the targets of my desire

A sludge of stress
streatched thinner than a thread
constantly pulling
tight, knotted around
my heart and mind
In the presence of the Divine
who always lets go
exposes the sticky dew of the threads of my web.

A mire of madness
swells beneath my dreams
and sucks my shoes from my feet
as I try to move.
So I stop.
And I see a frog,
hear a duck
and feel the worms
and finally become incarnate
with the mud my Mary
   apart from God now
so that I might know the love of God now.


What has God ordained?

Hoist high the failures
And broadcast my misfortune,
These are the seeds of my legacy
 This is the source of my Nile
        nourishing any semblance of meaning.

Set the course to where I have vowed not to go
and do not look back;
set as a sail  my dirty laundry
For here begins my epic tale,
This is my journey to Ithaca

What has God ordained?
Not my wisdom gilded expertise,
But the caves in my depression,
and the sores that might have healed,
      still oozing with tears of regret;
Here is where the holy hands are extended.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

the privatization of faith

We have abandoned our churches and religious institutions
for an individual experience of faith and belief
one that cannot be told to us, but discovered within us.
In doing such we have privatized our religion,
creating a new industry
where those who can present a new idea, or catch our heart,
can make a good living marketing their modalities.
We do so apart from many others
and like the church creating the idea of sin
so that we can understand redemption,
our new way needs our anxiety
in order to offer an antidote,
though careful not to alleviate the cause
so that cures can be offered again.

Friday, November 7, 2014

election reflection

We just finished the most recent election cycle and it has caused me to reflect upon elections.  What was more interesting to me, though, was our recent diocesan convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.
At the convention we had several resolutions regarding the injustices inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Israeli government. This came up three years ago and was defeated and returns again.
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship had a good issue and obvious injustices that they wanted to address, but the complete defeat of their resolutions caused me to reflect upon how one gets things done and passed in an institution.
The first observation I had is that it is very important to not connect too deeply or personally with the cause.  When the cause and its success becomes tied to one's own identity, emotions and well being then one defeats one's own cause. This became evident to me when I watched people become more concerned about people's well being and not about the issue.  When the speaker found himself advocating a losing cause he became more adamant and forceful and began to equate a vote for his cause with Jesus and a vote against as a vote against Jesus. I watched around the room and people were immediately shutting down and reacting very negatively with his tactic.
If the process was seen as a long term project, and not simply two attempts at all or nothing, then progress could have been made more effectively.
I found myself reminded that politics on any level is all about compromise and relationship.  The issues follow and one has to be in it for the long haul to make effective change.
In Maine when the gay right to marriage was defeated, those working for its passage went local and spent years building a base, building relationships and working step by step and then when it came back, it passed easily. And the people had all the relationships to build upon for further issues that will come up.
The other thoughts I had was that it is always important to find common ground, no matter how thin and start there. And from there to discover the relationships and to find love for those on all sides, people hear better when they feel that the other person cares for them.  And I am more likely to change myself when I am in a loving environment and not under attack.
Being right does not cause others to change or vote your way, especially if the argument is airtight as it leave no ability for others to breath.
Being open, even to the problems that will ensue; being willing to engage, even if it means taking longer than planned; being willing to adapt and change as the process unfolds, especially when it leads into new territory - this will bring about change and win any election.




Thursday, October 23, 2014

evolving images

Over the last few days I have been reflecting upon how our human reasoning has evolved or has been effected by the technical advancements in image making. From the advent of the camera, to the digital age we have seen a revolution in images to express ideas and communicate with each other. In the old cartoon, the Jetsons, there was the phone where one saw the person that you were talking with and it was way-out future thinking. Now with Skype that is in the present and an everyday experience.
A friend was reflecting on reading the original text of Frankenstein and how the language and writing style was so far advanced from our present time. Young people used to get lost more often in books, now it is more common to get lost in one’s phone, tablet or computer. Movies tell the stories now, or television, not as often books. There are series that captivate our imaginations in books, like the Harry Potter series, but even there, they are soon made into movies and the actors become the images of the characters we once only imagined in our mind.
            The use of images has especially effected our understanding of sexuality, as images of pretty women are used to sell everything. The advent of photoshop has made an unrealistic perception of beauty now the norm. Simply looking at modes of 100 years ago to the present will show how images and thinness has become the new norm for beauty, and even an unnatural thinness at that – all this at the time we are actually getting bigger.  There is something connected in this paradox. It profoundly effects women and their self-perception and much has been written about this.

            I have been recently thinking how this ideal female beauty and very limited male images has perhaps also led to an effect upon men, one where they perhaps do not have an honest awareness of their own bodies. The constant images of women, of beauty and of others has led to a lack of involvement actually with others and as a result, perhaps, a greater lack in connectivity in any meaningful way to the male’s own self or body. Men then act out, or behave in a disconnected way from their bodies from this slow evolution from actual relations to relations via images. These are initial thoughts that I have been having as part of a larger reflection upon the growing use of images over words within our society.
 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What I fought was what I needed

For years I have tried to fit in and be a contributing voice within the Episcopal Church. Time and again, I would run for an office, volunteer for a committee or simply offer to help but always seemed to be overlooked. It became a frustration and there were times of deep hurt in the disappointments. Being a white male in the United States and in the Church there was an expectation, I felt, to offer my help, to be of service, to lead when needed and to represent the whole. For over 30 years it just became one large frustration. Finally, it has recently dawned on me that this was not a rejection, but rather a blessing. By being marginalized I have come to understand what women, gays and people of color have experienced in the church for generations. It has in fact been an educational process to help me finally understand the larger church and my role in it. White men oftentimes are characterized by the stereotype or generalization as people who just don't "get it". Oftentimes they can be clueless to the struggles and challenges others experience. This long journey of being overlooked has in fact been the one way in which I can slowly come to understand how more people experience life, and how many others have also been marginalized to the great detriment of the church and society.
I prepare to go to another convention of the church, but I have come to a place where it does not matter much any more. I do not need to fit in, I am no longer desirous, nor have a need to serve and lead in any way. There are issues I might speak up on, and people I want to see.  There is a memory of hurt and pain that will always be a part of my story. But meeting and being with others in this time is far more important than being heard, or making a difference. The need that has grown more focused for me is the need to be where God needs me and that might be in the church or not.
I remember years ago a friend challenging me after a particularly hard time of rejection and my endlessly going over it and rehashing it, he said, "how long are you going to go on like this".  It has been many years on and off with different issues that reignite pain and struggles, and each new time all the past returns. But when the focus and primary need has changed it does allow for me to refocus and let some of the past drift by. I have circled through burn out a number of times and made great mistakes and dropped the ball more times than I want to remember, but always do. And these are the things that make my resume', these shortcomings along with my long-time struggles to fit in and never quite doing it, are my strengths. God has blessed me time and again, and I have repeatedly prayed for them to go away. Thanks be to God for the unrelenting and never ceasing need to bless again and again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The effects and enhancement of our image


More and more we are becoming a visual people, what once passed for a news article, or any kind of writing, could be understood without any images. Now, it seems that images are more important, or at least as important as the written part of the story. The images are what we first look at, and then the writing. Advertising texts have become more and more terse with a stronger emphasis on images.
Even in worship settings, there is more and more emphasis on visual stimulous. Though, historically this has always been the case with stained glass windows, paintings and statuary. But most of the images were aimed at teaching those who could not read the stories and messages of the faith.  Now we are using the images to reach those who can read, but whose understanding is more focused on images.
And a side result, it seems to me, is that we are losing our own grasp of living and moving our lives more and more onto the world of images. The rise of selfies, the home videos, photo shoots, it is all a way to make us feel more alive, yet in fact it is moving us from live to simply an image on a screen or paper.  The understanding of relationship in images is interesting, to have pictures of the relationship somehow makes it more real, looking at them, making the images, and finding ways to display them all take away from the actual time of being together with someone. It is important to have images, to remember the past, to hold onto who we are, where we have been and to honor such with an image. But, it is my perception that the effects of television and movies, the internet and more accessible photographic technologies have made the reality of images seem more real than the actual moments lived that are to be captured on film.
I have been trying to learn to be a better model, to have my picture taken more effectively. This has arisen after looking at my picture, as a priest, in some wedding pictures. I have come to see that the more I am able to simply be the priest and able to take better pictures, than the more the viewer will notice the bride and groom and not me – this is the way it should be.  But in learning to have my picture taken I am also learning to be more present in the living of my life and enjoying of the moment that is happening, and if the picture is taken than fine, if not then that is fine as well. But there is a desire to discover myself, that has emerged in the relationship with having my picture taken. I am seeing myself for the first time, or in ways I never knew before. It is cathartic and it is enlightening, and it is exciting. But it can become quickly more an end in itself that a tool for self discovery. And this, too, is a part of the growing understanding of life through images. Having the picture taken and thinking of how to take it, how to arrange it etc. all becomes an experience that adds identity and excitement, but there is also a let down, after the picture has been taken and days go by.  Somehow the moments that were without pictures seem to age better in my mind than those with a picture. In fact soon the picture becomes the memory and not the moment.
There are unintended blessings, epiphanies and opportunities that have emerged with the increased and enhanced technologies of image making. There are also dangers and drawbacks that are also emerging, some of these might in fact be steps backwards and not advances for our souls and minds.

New Perspectives

A hundred years ago the church was sending missionaries to places like Africa and China, to convert and introduce Christianity to those who did not know about it.  There is a granite marker on the wall of St. Andrew's Church in Newcastle, Maine, commemorating one such missionary. Their intent and work was noble and the work they did was inspirational. Unfortunately, those who followed were more interested in making money than in the relationships that faith began.

Now, I find myself in an ironic place, as a missionary to Maine, the place that once sent them to other places. The tables have been turned, and this only serves to prove my belief that the only thing wider than God's mercy is God's sense of humor.

The memory of the past also causes me to reflect upon my work. If successful, or if and when the power of God's Holy Spirit reignites the people of Maine, then what would stop the follow up of the hordes of profiteers who will see this as an opportunity. But then, the power of God has always been greater than the sins of us mere mortals.  For even in China where we unleashed a tidal wave of capitalism with the aftermath of missionaries, the church continues to grow.  Despite our best efforts to undermine the working of God, or to capitalize on it, or to "improve" upon it, the power of divine love will continue to move, more constant than the wind or tide.

On a more twisted note, it is interesting to me that the Chamber of Commerce and State officials who are looking to market Maine and build up business have not latched onto this historical trend and to start to encourage the missionary movement to Maine.




a brief litany for the Fall

With our words, and with the sounds too deep for words themselves we offer our prayers
For those we love, for those we fear, for those in need and those blinded by a lack of need.

We pray for our country, for all nations, and for the upcoming election
Give us strength to participate in the common good as best we can with an open heart and mind.

In light of changing climate, limited resources and growing expectations;
Keep us, O Lord, from the frozen place of inaction and indifference.

In a world with ebola, aids, cholera, and slavery, with a media intent on fueling our fears:
Anchor our lives in the harbor of your love, 
where we can be still and know your presence as we continue to live in hope.

For Your Church, and for all people of faith

Renew us, restore us, and remind us that we are one in you, always.


In sickness and in health

It would be an understatement to say that time has changed, especially since the time when Jesus was walking through the towns of Judea. The change in technology and industry in just the last two centuries has brought about a radically different world view and now with our modern transportation and internet the world is seen in much more global ways.
When Jesus healed someone it was miraculous and life changing. We look at such events now and try to understand them in light of vast medical advancements. When Jesus cast out a demon from someone there is a tendency to wonder how this would be seen today, and how much of these episodes were the result of mental health issues. We have no way of knowing how much, how many and to what degree the various miracles took place. Whether they were in fact greater or less than reported, many of the writings describing them were written down generations after the events. But somehow something did happen, to the effect that people were writing about it generations latter.
What is known is that Jesus healed people, physically, spiritually, and mentally. When he came into contact with people; rich or poor, outcasts or friends, he offered an opportunity for healing. The gospel of St. Luke is one that records many of these encounters, and the feast day of St. Luke is October 18th. Luke was thought  to have been a physician and is the patron saint of doctors. The experience of Christ, the gathered community  of people seeking God in the everyday drama of life through the church has always been a continued opportunity  to engage with the same power of God that is manifest in Jesus. Healing is always  possible. Sometimes it is physical, sometimes it is a result of finally finding forgiveness, sometimes it is a restoration of a relationship, sometimes it is miraculous, sometimes it happens in ways we do not want. The experience of God’s healing is not to keep us from the journey of our mortality, not to keep us from pain and death. The healing of God is   always as an opening to a deeper experience of God in our lives and leads us into a larger understanding of our interconnectedness with all life.
With the arrival of Fall and the shortening of days there also comes the growing awareness of things    still left undone with winter approaching, the ongoing challenges of life in Maine in a colder time of year, and  the reminder of the people who struggle with mental health issues in our parish and in our communities. Our mental health is one that is far more challenging to address, it cannot be simply fixed like a broken arm. And    yet the healing of God is still at work, sometimes over years of work, usually with extremely limited financial  resources and almost always with the help of family and friends. We are supporting Andrew Eddy in his pursuit of becoming an ordained deacon, with the expressed hope that such an ordained presence in our communities would add a more pronounced reminder of God at work in the mental health and healing around us. Miracles might not happen in the ways recorded centuries ago, but that is not because the are not happening. It is simply because people’s perceptions and writing styles thousands of years ago are different than those of people today. We are called to be the witnesses of God’s healing in our time, and it is always a life changing, upending and transforming experience to meet Jesus again.  It is simply our time to witness such events again and tell the story as we see it. 




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Great Possibility of Politics in the Church


Now that the fall is here
, and in an upcoming election year, I expect to start seeing more political signs on people’s lawns. Some, unfortunately, felt the need to jump the usual timetable and have had their signs up for months.
During the course of my journey of faith I have had the privilege to pray for many elec-tions and elected officials. Whether it was Gerald or Jerry, or Jimmy or James, Ronald or Ron, The Georges, Bill or Barack it is important that we pray for those in authority. I have not always agreed with those who were elected and felt some better than others, but in the course of hon-estly praying for them, that God would use and direct them, I have found my attitude changing. Through my prayers I can come to respect even those with whom I strongly disagree. This is a concrete way in which faith can make a difference in our lives. This is an especially important task for people of faith during this time of year. We need to pray and ask God’s blessings upon those making the great efforts to serve us, and even more im-portantly for ourselves to avoid the trap of getting caught up in hateful, disrespectful talk.
In a society where we tend to demonize those who disagree with us; in a culture where the media offers more and more biased opinions and perspectives; prayer is even more important for each of us in order that we do not fall victim to the intensity of opposition that is our present mode of operation. I have heard people bemoan the loss of prayer in school, but I grieve more for the loss of prayer in all of our lives. It all begins within our own hearts and cannot be blamed on others.
And the more we pray, the more we are deliberate in our prayers, the more open we become to the larger issues, the unintended consequences, the points where we might be mistaken or misguided. The opportunity of elec-tions is a simple and direct way to offer a litmus test for our spiritual well-being. Am I more partisan and con-cerned with politics than with my relationship with God and those around me? Am I more concerned with im-mediate political gains, or open to participating in discussion and growth? Do I find myself becoming worked up by the media’s frenzy, or is this whirlwind simply the noise that is clouding out the still small voice of God?
Our culture puts more emphasis on the politics of the moment, forgetting the issues of last month or last year. The call of our faith is to remember, to reflect and not forget the larger issues and the ways in which God is working in our lives. The importance of faith is to value our relationships more than the need to prove a point. The importance of belonging to a church, ideally, is that we are brought together in prayer with those we might otherwise not want to be with; and in so doing we see more clearly, follow God more nearly and love more dearly.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Time Away

In looking back over the last few months I linger upon the wonderful memories of a few days away. It is important to get away, and sometimes even a few days away in close proximity to the familiar but in a different sphere is important.
Emily and I were able to make a grand pilgrimage with Jacob Gerritsen aboard Ex Libris out to Monhegan Island. The weather was perfect, great winds took us right to Port Clyde, after a night in the harbor we made the journey  to Monhegan and hike around the island. We moored in the harbor which was a bit vulnerable and very wavy. Then for one amazing and brilliant run from Monhegan to Camden as a storm chased us in, making it in less than five hours as we were sailing into the wind with a great current behind us.
The trip was not long, but amazing.  Oftentimes, I have discovered, that phenomenal moments are very fleeting. When we try to hold onto them and prolong it, somehow it slips away. But when the moment is there and it is magic, then ride it, and we did. The wind and sailing were great as well, but the moments with friends and people you love dearly along with the sense of being clearly alive is more precious.





Getting Caught Up

I return again. It seems like forever since I posted on my blog.

There are times when we just get stuck. I have had much to say, but the weight of doing what I need to do becomes to much for me and overshadows the possibility of me actually doing it.

I feel like I am coming out of the shadow again. Thanks be to God.

The ongoing stress continues in life, but we are greatly blessed and wonderfully loved, and the mercy of God is new again this morning.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Ram in the Thicket

When Abraham went up the mountain, he brought with him his son Isaac. He was going to sacrifice that which was most important to him to God, it was a custom of the time. And in this journey he was open to God, and was able to see the ram stuck in the thicket. With his openness to a living God, one who can transcend our customs, our understandings and our traditions he was able to open the door of faith that led to three of the world's great religions.
I am aghast at the idea of sacrificing one's child. It seems barbaric and cruel, and obviously something from a primitive society. And yet, when I look at my own culture and society I see the same and we do nothing about it. Where are those in our midst open enough to God to see the ram in the thicket?
We live in a culture of violence, a culture so dedicated and in fear of the gun lobby, and laws that support violence, and products and entertainment that promotes violence, that we are more interested in preserving our culture and tradition and sacrificing our children's lives in order to preserve this culture of violence.
I can so easily judge Abraham as being barbaric to climb the mountain to sacrifice his son, and yet I am a part of a culture that does the same, again and again; and because it is done in a modern way it is seen as being all right.
It is not.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Monuments and Moments of Time




Thirty years ago it was 1984, and I remember clearly thinking, while in school after reading the book 1984 by George Orwell about, what that year would be like. On January 1st that year, I listened to WBAI in New York, as various people read Orwell’s book straight through. Because of his novel, the year became a marking place of the future; he chose that year because it was the reverse of 48, the year he wrote it. And in 1984, I was aware, for awhile, that I had made it to the future. And then again when the year 2000 - a year I had always wondered what would be like - arrived; I noted that I had made it there.  I had always thought what it would be like to live in the next century. Even 2001, was a moment of note because of the movie by that name. But in each case life seemed to go on and the momentary marking was simply a passing remembrance and life continued along in a most ordinary and ever speeding way. 
I remember visiting historic sites when I was a child with my parents and my siblings, we even have movies and pictures to remind us. But what is of more interest and lasting effect upon me is not the site, but how young we were, how time has passed and styles changed, memories formed, and the relationships expressed and understood with these dear family members. 
We look toward the monuments of time and place to mark our path, our way.  When Jesus said he was “the way” he pointed not to the monuments nor the markers we make, but to the presence of God in the present moment with us. More life changing epiphanies are encountered in the quiet times alone, when we slowly reflect and allow our minds to be still, than with the crowds gathered to note the changing year, passing celebrity or honored site. The experience of God is always present waiting for us, the blessings of God are always available, and we return in worship regularly to remind ourselves of this reality that is so easy to overlook or let get lost from in much more trivial things.
The various and important ideas, accomplishments and goals we seek and look towards can easily engulf our thoughts and focus. Good intentions, and plans that make sense, are nice to act upon and keep us busy. But the call of God, the simple acts that might not seem the most important, the places we might pass by, the people we might not notice, the plans that might not make sense— somehow and through prayer become known to us as where God is present. Our own plans can be like trees scattered upon a landscape where we often hide. The peace of God waits to land and rest within our hearts but there needs to be a clearing, a place set apart for it to rest. The Summer months are a good time to reflect and prepare places and times to be still, and receive grace again. And when we can find and stay focused upon this present experience and understanding of God, then we ourselves become the monuments of time, the landmarks that we have so often sought.         

Living With Stone



The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,"

Living in Maine means living with stones. One way or another they push up through the roads, grow in the gardens, cover our coast and prop up or hold down just about everything all around us. There is a pile of stones at the house I am selling, and invariably I have been asked by a number of people, “what are you going to do with these stones?”  It is a good question.  It is not the most beautiful site, many are old foundation stones of value, many are just plain rocks dug up and moved out of the way. They will need to be  given  away, sold, or moved, or left behind. All of them, though, have been a part of my story. Some were part of a garden wall I built and later diassembled.  Some were rolled there with great effort on my part. Some of the stones I have parked near carefully watching, so as not to dent my car door. All of these stones have been used, have been a part of the stage of our life here. Some may be more useful now and others later and some we may never even know their use. But even under the soil they serve to support and direct the roots and drainage.  
            The image of Jesus being the cornerstone, the stone that was rejected is one that is used repeatedly in scripture. It is a reminder that there are things that we overlook in order to accomplish the tasks we feel most important. There are people we do not notice in efforts to connect with people we are more interested in knowing. There are things said, expressed and of note that are missed because we are too busy or assume we already know what was meant. This image of Jesus, and how God uses that which we reject to build that which is ultimately most important is a counterbalance to our sense of self importance and need. We live in a society based on consumption and yet will probably be best known as a society of waste through all that we dispose of in such vast quantities. In books it is so often the little details scattered throughout the story that seem unrelated and unnecessary that end up tying all the pieces together. In relationships, so often, it is the little things that at first seem so small and insignificant and things that we can overlook that end up growing into major problems that if not addressed can sever the very cords that tie things together.
            But living in Maine has taught me that all rocks are a part of the landscape, seen and unseen. All stones used by our environment by the very nature of their existence. We might not like a stone in one place but it must be put somewhere else, or shattered and made into even smaller stone, but still put into a new home. The expression of God through the experience of Christ is that all in our lives needs a place, all that we do, seek and avoid. It is all a piece of our story. Our efforts to control, along with everyone else’s efforts to control and define, only serve to focus our attention on our needs and desires at a particular time. God’s perspective is of all time and all angles and has an uncanny ability and sense of humor in picking up the pieces of our lives and using them to refashion our future based on the forgiveness found in these discarded remnants. The brokenness of the shell releases the seed, the discovery of old items in the attic teach us of our ancestors, notes in a discarded book speak of the engagement of others in the writing. Old foundation stones make for good wall stones and then pathway stones and then perhaps a foundation again. Science has shown us that we have limited resources on this planet and all elements reused again and again. Scripture reminds us that this process of life with such limitations is a sacred path, much longer and exotic than the simple ordinariness that appears around us.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why do we listen to predictions

Recently the televangelist, Pat Robertson, made a prediction that the world would be struck by an asteroid last week.  I am writing this blog, so I suppose we missed it. The end of the world has been predicted time and time again and people listen and act on it. And then keep listening and following, though adapting.
It is not just religion, but business predictions that rarely come true, or stock experts that make predictions and they are way off base, but we forget and forgive and then listen again assuming that they are still wise because they are paid a lot of money.
Sports has the same problem. We are awaiting the NFL draft and I have seen innumerable predictions, and then we forget the predictions after the draft. We forget the beginning of the season predictions as soon as the season begins, though before that we are glued to these wise sages who so often are wrong.
Why is it?  Maybe because we are interested in the sports team or stocks or the actions of God, and there might not be any seeming action to follow thus we start making things up to talk about in order to think more about what we like to think about. Maybe we are just a very gullible creatures. Maybe I just don't have a clue.
But I, too, listen and do so with some cynicism - which I would guess is the norm for most people.
But it is interesting that we, or the media gives much credibility to it, or at least does not also mention the predictor's track record when doing such.


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