A pondering from the Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Vacation

“He had the appearance of a caryatid in vacation; he was supporting nothing but his reverie.”—Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

A caryatid is a supporting column often seen in Greek architecture, having the form of a draped female figure, motionless and leaving the cares of the world at bay. The confluence of Scott, Charles, and their family’s being on vacation, summertime being the usual time period for vacation, and columnist Mary Schmich’s article, “Make your vacation better”, in the June 12th issue of The Chicago Tribune, all made me ponder vacations. The word vacation comes from the Latin word vacatum, meaning being empty, free, or at leisure.

 Everyone at one time, or perhaps many times, pines for rest and relaxation, time to slow down and to put the too often frequent stress of everyday life aside. Mary Schmich’s answer to making vacations more valuable was to take a better look at oneself by asking questions, such as:

·         What book influenced you in your childhood?

·         Who do you talk to in your inner monologue?

·         Which of your behaviors do you wish you could change?

·         Are you afraid of dying?

·         Who among your friends makes you laugh really hard?

·         When was the last time you danced?

·         (I would add, who do you love and who loves you?)

Mary’s list goes on, but the takeaway is to think about who we are, what we are doing, and what gives meaning to our lives.

 While the word vacation does not appear in scripture, we find the word “rest”.  God is our model. “Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished…On the seventh day God finished all the work that he had done and he rested on the seventh day…” (Gen.2:1-2). The Eighth of the Ten Commandments is to Keep holy the Sabbath Day and rest from your labors (Exo. 20:8). Psalm 37:7 says, “Rest before the Lord and wait patiently for him...” In the New Testament Jesus said, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile” (Mk. 6:31). Jesus, himself, withdrew from others to be alone with his Lord and to pray (Lk. 5:16). 

 My sense is that we are not called to be caryatids, vacant, motionless, or even empty. Rather, vacations offer us the opportunity to recharge our batteries, to rethink our values, to refocus on our path and journey, to take up our staff and follow the One who always leads to goodness. It’s a time to dance, a time to pray, and a time to ponder what gives meaning to one’s life. It’s a time to slow down and listen to creation’s breath and song, to receive the gift of awe for life all around us. It’s a time to dream how wonderful life could be when one follows Jesus. It’s a time to experience the reality of happiness that we are loved.

 To God be the glory!

Amen

A pondering from the Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Chew

Preachers often begin their sermons with these words. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable to you, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).

How much time do you spend thinking about/meditating upon the words you read or hear and the realities in the world? Do you accept what others tell you, or do you think about, chew on, what you have heard or seen? (False truths is a phrase which has become common lingo).

Recently, I learned about a prehistoric sea dragon, the ichthyosaur, a kind of fish lizard with characteristics of both reptile and mammal. Its 200 million year remains were found on the Jurassic Coast of England. Of course, its amazing age is surpassed by God, who was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Nevertheless, I was awed by this discovery. Sea dragons don’t chew, rather they use their teeth as a kind of cage to snap around its prey and swallow it whole.

Much more current, my cousin sent me an email about tigers whose tongues are so rough that they can lick the paint off buildings and strip the skin from the bones of an animal. The roars from their throats send fear-quaking chills down to the depths of their prey’s beings. Because tigers are carnivores, they only have 500 taste buds compared to humans who have about 9000. Seems to me that they miss a lot of joy. They can even eat rotting meat without any ill effects.

As I thought about mouths, chewing and swallowing, the image of a two-way street came to mind; one direction goes in, the beginning of the digestive system to feed the body and delight the taste, and/or to take a gulp of air. In the other direction things come out of a mouth; sounds and words, a primary form of communication, breath, and saliva. Creation itself was spoken into being by God in Genesis, “God said, let there be light…”, and the apple became the first well known food and bite.

The need to be fed by food is universal, and as animals we also need to be fed by affirmation and love. Without both foods, we wither away. The more we chew on things, the better we understand and are able to take delight. Our mouths and chewing are powerful gifts to be used with care. A rough word or comment can cause hurt, stripping away our esteem to the bone. Swallowing whole can be dangerous. We are called to respond to the world as well as loving the Lord with all our hearts, minds, and souls. 

It is not only a preacher who ought chew upon, remember, and use these words from Psalm 19:14, as their mantras. Each one of us might use the words to be better Christians, better people.

To God be the glory!

Amen.

A pondering from The Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Time

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted, a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up…”  (Eccl 3:1-3).

Perhaps, more than any other time of the year, springtime reminds us of the cycle of life. The Dictionary defines time as “a system that measures duration.”   As we look out our windows, we see winter’s brown grass now green, the empty limbs of winter’s bushes and trees now showing green sprouts and there is an occasional pink, purple, red, white, or yellow blossom. Springtime birds have arrived with song in the air. Death is replaced by new life. Joy is in the air, a hint of time to come.

In fact, for us as Christian people, we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, His death giving life, not just for a duration of time or season, but for eternity/forever. “I am the resurrection and I am the life,” says the Lord (Jn 11:25). 

There’s a wonderful story about the time of Winston Churchill’s funeral, which he had a hand in planning. At the close of the service, a single trumpeter stood at the west end of St. Paul’s Abbey in England, where the sun sets, and played “Taps,” the song that signals dusk, the close of the day.  At the final note, there was complete, total silence, the end of a full life. 

Then, to everyone’s surprise, another trumpeter arose at the at the east end of The Abbey that faced the rising sun and played “Reveille,” the song that marks the beginning of a new day. The word translates, “Wake up.”

Life and death are not the only points of time. May I suggest that each day offers the opportunity to die to our old way of sin and rise to newness of life. Each minute gives us the chance of receiving new life. One of the gifts that Jesus offers us is the occasion to practice resurrection here and now.  We can move from the empty tomb and darkness to new and surprising life and meet Jesus right this minute!

“So friends, every day do something that won’t compute.

Love the Lord. Love the world.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it…

Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.

Practice resurrection.”      …all the time.

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

To God be the glory! Christ is Risen!

Amen.