Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Doing Life Completely Wrong: A Second Look

Tansy Undercrypt posts regularly on Facebook with a short story of the day.  She writes in the slightly macabre and often with a twist at the end, but inevitably they are wonderful stories (would that I could write as well).  I submit this story which she posted yesterday (all her copyrights, of course) as it hit on the post I made yesterday, almost as if she had seen my writing:

"Phil cared for every animal dumped out at the junkyard. He tended to their injuries (that first aid class at the community college had always come in handy), kept them safe (made warm and comfortable shelters out of scraps of this and that, heated with a caged lamp insert that he ran minimally off of a solar-charged generator), and fed them (he'd studied what they needed for basic nutrition online and sourced great deals on bulk ingredients around town). "We are going to have a great day!" Phil would say, dishing up breakfast. "We are going to snuggle in and sleep well!" he'd whisper after dinner time. Phil did a great job running the junkyard; it mattered less and less every year that he'd wanted to be an engineer. Things happen. Dreams change, end, and give way to other things. Eventually, he decided to concentrate on building a life that he could stand. "Got a great thing here," Phil cooed to a tiny little cat he'd found cowering under an old car door. "I know a bit about being lost and found.""

(Copyright Tansy Undercrypt 2017)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Doing Life Completely Wrong?

Did you ever suddenly get the sense that you are doing your life completely wrong?

Oh, it may not seem like it is.  You are doing everything you think you should be doing.  You are a responsible citizen and pay your bills and obey the laws.  You are a responsible employee and try to do your best at work.  You try to be a good husband and provide, a good father and guide and listen and transport around, and try to be a reasonable Christian (well, probably not all that good).  Your house is relatively not falling over and your oil is changed on a semi-regular basis.

And yet it completely feels like you are doing your life wrong somehow.  There is a gap, a grinding going through the motions, a hollowness that stares down the quiet corridors of your mind.  The harmony of what your life is supposed to sound like is off key but you cannot find the source of the divergence.

It is not quite a rut, because you realize that doing anything else would probably start to create issues as they would most likely be irresponsible (and possibly bad) decisions.  It is not as simple as a change in job or church, because in reality there is nothing really wrong with any of the things you are doing in the life.

You ask yourself the opposite question:  what would life look like if I were doing it right?  You do not come up with an answer you can use, however.  It seems like life would look a lot like it looks right now, except that it would be somehow different.  What the different is you cannot tell, only that it would be different.

Do you scale things back?  Do you simply ignore the feeling and hope it goes away?  Do you try making some kind of significant change - which possibly seems irresponsible - in the hopes that this will shock the system into something else?

Or do you simply do nothing and live with the feeling, accepting it as the price of having a life which seems like it is going well, even if it feels like you are completely doing it wrong?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lemons and Limes Revisited

You may recall that in July of 2015 I invested in some lemon and lime trees that were on sale at the Nursery.  My idea was a sort of French Greenhouse thing, moving the trees in when Winter came and moving them out after the cold.

My idea never really worked in practice.  Citrus trees it turns out, are incredibly sensitive creatures and I would end up losing leaves twice a year;  when I moved them in and when I moved them out.  As you can imagine, this cut down on the yield of any fruit.

Finally this year, in a fit of desperation, I took on of my lime trees that literally had four leaves left on it and planted it outdoors.  What did I have to lose, I thought?

Guess what happened?

No-one is more shocked than I. Really.  I really thought it was done.  It even gave me blossoms:

I swiftly moved to get the others in:

And this is my true experiment.  No leaves at all.  I am anxious to see if anything happens here as well:

This does not obviate the problem of winter, of course.  I will still have to figure out a way to protect them for true cold snaps.  But already the results are enough to convince me this is what I should have done in the first place.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How We Make God To Be

“Those strange beings that populate the world of mythology and superstition are not pure creatures of fancy. The imagination created them by taking the ordinary inhabitants of earth and air and sea and extending their familiar forms beyond their normal boundaries, or by mixing the forms of two or more so as to produce something new. However beautiful or grotesque these may be, their prototypes can always be identified. They are like something we already know.” - A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

This comment, crossing my eyes last night, caused me to stop and look afresh.  I have read this book at least four times and never before has this presented itself to my consciousness in such a fashion.

But it is true, is it not? I would argue that most in Western Culture wish for a spiritual dimension to exist and be true - or if not spiritual, than a dimension in which there is something "Out There Amidst The Stars" ready to press into us.  We have no idea what these creatures would be like, so we tend to present them in thoughts and forms that we can comprehend. Our fantasy, our science fiction, even some religions are all like this - oh, we generally tend to picture those beings as intelligent and kindly (except of course in apocalyptic fiction), but they still hold some tangible grip in the world we know.

The Christian Church, of course, has done this to God as well.

I suspect in the beginning the Church never intended to do this on the whole.  They sought to make God more "culturally relevant" to the people of their time - after all, late 19th and early 20th century Western Civilization was bursting with ideas and technology and somehow God had to fit into it all.  The problem, I suppose, was that rather than the Church separating God as He is and the world as it is and hold both ideas separately, they were combined (I would argue this is no great feat.  We constantly hold two ideas together in the same time; I suspect some were just not as diligent about their philosophy and theology as they should have been).

The result?  Tozer captures it well:

"Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need him. We want a God we can in some measure control. We need the feeling of security that comes from knowing what God is like, and what He is like is of course a composite of all the religious pictures we have seen, all the best people we have known or heard about, and all the sublime ideas we have entertained.

If all this sounds strange to modern ears, it is only because we have for a full half century taken God for granted (n.b. published 1961) . The glory of God has not been revealed to this generation of men. The God of contemporary Christianity is only slightly superior to the gods of Greece and Rome, if indeed He is not actually inferior to them in that He is weak and helpless while they at least had power.”

In other words, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, of David and Isaiah and the Apostles, is now not the God of the Christian church.  Add on another 56 years and we have almost a century of taking God this way.

There is a litany of items that could be inserted here about what the Church has made God, most of which some of you will heard.  That is not really the point:  the point is that we have made God something other than what He is; should we be anything but surprised when, like Tozer suggests, His glory no longer manifests itself among this generation?

God, Tozer argues, is completely other. Those that saw Him used words such as "like" and "as" express what they saw, acknowledging that what they were actually seeing and experiencing was completely different from the world the dwelt in.  But we have doggedly tried to tie God to our conception and our physical laws and what we think a supreme being should look like, act like, and be like.

God is Other.  Which is what makes the coming of Christ all the more amazing (something else we enervate by this doctrine of "like us').  The Unknowable, the Unsearchable, the Un-Us became like us.  Suddenly God was here, present among us, not a Raging Fire and and Unapproachable Light but a man we could see and talk to. 

Which makes for the relevant question for me:  Am I treating God like He is? (I am not, of course, and this is mostly written to me).  And more importantly if I am not, how do I begin to to do so in a way that reflects who He really is?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Brought To You By Rabbit

So one of the things that Kymber recommended I do is take 30 minutes a day and just sit.  Time has been a bit on the unavailable side to sit outside, so this blog comes to you courtesy of the Rabbit in the chair.

The Rabbit is Midnight, our big black bunny who will have her eighth birthday with us in August, our first rescue bunny.  She is sitting here, next to me on her pink towel as I type.

Rabbits, if I have not said it enough, make excellent pets.  They are quiet.  They are relatively clean, if you keep up with their litter box - and their waste (combined with hay and wood pellets) makes an excellent mulch for the garden.  Their food is inoffensive - hay, hay pellets, and fruits and vegetables.  For those that trouble themselves about such things, they are supposed to be as smart as cats.  They purr, in a sort of way, just like cats (actually, they grind their teeth together.  Means the same thing).  They give bunny kisses, also like cats.  They are incredibly fluffy.  And they have personalities.

Midnight has a very restrained, reserved personality.  She generally prefers attention on her own terms.  She will happily sit beside you (as she is doing now) rather quietly and contentedly.  She does not seem to be bothered extensively by the new puppy (as opposed to I-bun, who is definitely not a fan).  She gets rather excited about the carrot that comes her way every morning - in fact, she is rather insistent on it and gets grumpy if it is delayed.

But the best thing about her- and really about any bunny - is just the sense of calm and peace you have when you are with them.  I am not sure what it is - all I know is that being with the bunnies makes me far more calm and happy than not being with them.

Sometimes peace is just a few bunny hops away.