⛈ Rainfall Warning

A Sunday Reflection

Water pours from flat grey skies.

Although the land is parched and

oh so thirsty,

we grumble at the inconvenience

of wet upon wet upon wet.

I read in Isaiah’s book:

“You heavens above,

rain down my righteousness;

let the clouds shower it down,

let salvation spring up,

let righteousness flourish with it;

I, the LORD, have created it.”

Yet we grumble against any

inconvenient truths springing

from God’s righteousness

because our declarations of rightness

water our wishes just fine,

thank you very much.

For all our watering,

we remain soul-dry parched.

We thirst in the midst of

abundant, righteous rain.

Pebbles in Pockets

I find them near rivers and streams and on mountain tops. They come in all sizes and shapes and colours and textures. Rocks are beautiful and they fascinate me. I’ve gotten better at not slipping so many of them into my pocket or backpack to bring home. I tell myself that I can pick up as many as I want, but I have to choose the best one, the most unique one, and leave the others behind. Mostly I obey this self-imposed rule.

At home, I have pebbles in jars and picture frames, trays and boxes. I treat them as the works of art that they are even though I know that their presence in the world is not purely aesthetic. Rocks can be quite problematic says the chipped windshield and the stony, unproductive field. A pebble in a shoe is an irritant; grief is a boulder lodged in a heart.

I decided some time ago that this month’s issue of Jots & Doodles would be on rocks, or stones, or pebbles – whatever word seems most appropriate. Now that the month is almost over, I finally have it ready. In metaphorical terms, it has been a rocky month and its been hard to find the time to work on the ‘doodles’ in particular.

The first written piece is a true story. I still have the rock in my classroom where it reminds me to keep myself grounded in truth — to live it, speak it, seek it always.

The second piece about rebuilding is a reflection on how I have to rebuild a small decorative wall I constructed years ago to hide the empty space under our front deck. I collected the flattest river rocks I could find, but they really aren’t very flat. Every year part of it gets knocked down. Every year, I rebuild it. As I rebuild, trying to find new ways to fit all the pieces together into a coherent whole, I think of the ways we have to work to maintain communities and families and relationships when our bumps and bulges don’t fit together like a manufactured brick or Lego wall would. We falter and fail, crumble and stumble because we are people and fitting together will always require a commitment to rebuild — to apologize, to forgive, to love.

The final piece comes from thinking about rocks and stones in the Bible. Just for the record, the Bible has much to say about rocks, both literally and figuratively. My brief poem mentions some literal ones, but the real focus is the image of Jesus as the Cornerstone, the one stone that ensures that all else is secure, stable, squared – a sure foundation upon which our faith is built.

You can find this issue of Jots & Doodles here.

Windows vs Screens

Lately, I’ve thinking, not for the first time, about how much information is being disseminated through the Internet. The barrage is never-ending and beyond impossible to absorb, yet there is an unwritten, unspoken expectation that truly informed people connect with every allusion, tweet, subtweet, hot take, meme, sound-byte, pop-cultural historical political entertainment celebrity sports THING that virals across our screens.

It’s exhausting and increasingly meaningless.

The irony that I am posting this on a blog is not lost on me. I am aware that I contribute to the meaninglessness through my likes, ‘hearts’, comments, and posts. I may be but a drop in the vast ocean, but I’m still there.

But I’m also here. Sitting in my living room, looking out the window at a stand of trees readying themselves for winter. They anchor me to the real world in which I live.

A world that has seasons of growth and decay, of struggle and strain, of harvest and abundance. Seasons that exist in elongated rather than snap-chat time.

A world that requires the slow, often hard work of building and maintaining relationships with words and actions rather than clicks and emojis.

A world that doesn’t insist that I know everything about everything and everyone, but does invite me into knowledge and truth.

The window-view nourishes where the screen-view often numbs me.

I’m grateful for windows.

Living In a Discordent World

The world seems so noisy lately.

So much anger, fear, mistrust, accusation, heartbreak, sorrow. So many words swirling madly in all directions, unanchored, unhinged. So many voices drowning out the steady quiet rhythms of our own hearts. 

Speaking definitively in support of OneThing can lead to a shaming attack for being anti-TheOtherThing. Supporting AllTheThings only increases the pandemonium with contradiction and a crippling erosion of integrity. 

Stick to objective facts, they say. Don’t respond based on emotion and personal belief, they say. But then objective facts somehow morph into alternative facts…and we keep spiralling into post-truth cacophony.  

So. Much. Noise.

Today, I am “aweary of this great world” and its deafening bedlam. 

In exploring the confusions of his own life, Augustine speaks of an unquiet heart seeking rest in its Creator. I feel the unquiet of my own heart and am drawn to this rest, to the Creator whose words still speak life, and who, as the Word, “became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.”

Grace and truth. Yes, these words of quiet resilience and unwavering purpose speak a kind of stillness in the midst of the chaotic roar of -isms and schisms, memes and mantras, facts and phobias.  And in this stillness, I can know the God whose purposes are profoundly undaunted by all of the world’s noise throughout all of history. 

__________________
The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare)
Confessions (Augustine)
John 1:14; Psalm 46:10