Saturday, July 30, 2016

waiting for the mist to burn away...

One of the delights I have discovered in moving slowly each day involves
being embraced by the day while taking tea on our back porch. Freshly brewed tea is a simple but civilized way to greet the breaking morning and listen quietly for its message. That is to say, I am no longer fond of carpe diem - seizing the day - and forcing it into submission. That feels too violent and self-centered to me at this moment in my journey. I have done that, of course, as a 21st century man in our culture must learn, but it has never been satisfying.

As the years have matured, my soul has shown me that I am rather like a small lake or cluster of hills waiting for the mist to burn off in anticipation of the sun. If I rush off and attempt to bring matters solely under my control before the fog has lifted, it is too easy to become lost or confused. Waiting for clarity has become the better way. From time to time, the view from our porch even gives shape and form to this wisdom too as the mist literally burns away over a few hours and clarity emerges. 

In Krista Tippett's new book, Becoming Wise, she quotes Ellen Davis of Yale Divinity School who continues to be awed by the insights of the Hebrew Bible. In particular, Dr. Davis has explored how the human context has shaped our reading of Scripture rather than letting the Word inform our action. Noting that industrialists and explorers read their worldview into Scripture, it is small wonder that the 15th century King James Version of Genesis renders God's call to responsible and creative stewardship as: "Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." Davis contends that a better translation of this holy invitation to engage in the world would be "the exercise of skilled mastery" - living in relationship or even harmony with the rest of God's blessed, created order. (read the transcript of the On Being interview here:

There is an ebb and flow to this skilled mastery: there is both engagement and absence, consuming and sharing, the very rhythm proposed in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes nearly 400 years before Christ: to everything there is a season and time for every purpose under heaven. In the same interview, Tippett speaks with poet Wendell Berry who reminds us that writing poetry must live within this same, quiet rhythm:

Make a place to sit down. Sit down. Be quiet. You must depend upon affection, reading, knowledge, skill — more of each than you have — inspiration, work, growing older, patience, for patience joins time to eternity. Any readers who like your poems, doubt their judgment. Breathe with unconditional breath the unconditioned air. Shun electric wire. Communicate slowly. Live a three-dimensioned life; stay away from screens. Stay away from anything that obscures the place it is in. There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places. Accept what comes from silence. Make the best you can of it. Of the little words that come out of the silence, like prayers prayed back to the one who prays, make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came.

In an hour our daughter and grandson will arrive from Brooklyn:  they will be weary and a bit frenzied from the experience. What's more, life has been turned upside down for them as they have just left their old home of seven and two years respectively for a new brownstone that is not quite ready for habitation. So, they'll hang with us and take in a little country living. This, too is always worth waiting for in every way possible.  We've cleaned the house, washed the floors, made the beds and purchased the groceries. Soon it will be time for stories and fresh corn. To everything there is a season, indeed.

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