Monday, September 22, 2008

Quick Change Artist


This tree changed colors overnight. Friday morning when I walked it was green. Saturday morning it was colored. This is how it looks today, Monday. Maybe this quick change was in honor of yesterday's autumnal equinox.
I swam in the Lake this morning, maybe for the last time this year. Water is still 68 degrees. As I sat on the side deck after breakfast doing some spiritual reading in the warm sun a pleasant breeze was dropping leaves on me. It is such a beautiful day it is hard to think of leaving.
"To live is to change and to be perfect in this world is to have changed often." --John Henry Newman
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Unearned Love


In the parable of the landowner paying everyone the same wage no matter how many hours they worked Jesus is telling us that God is like this crazy farmer. God lavishes love on every human being as recklessly as this farmer throws his money around. It is so hard for us cautious lovers to really believe in a God like that. In Isaiah 55:8-9 God tells us, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts."
God loves us freely, graciously. Not only is there no need to earn God's love; there is no way to earn God's love. God's love is not a response to any good we may have done. Like the farmer in the parable God's love springs from God's own goodness and generosity.
Half my lifetime had passed before I really believed this Good News. A variety of experiences came together at that time to open my mind and my heart to God's unearned love. From then on my life has seemed effortless. It's like the difference between driving a clunky, old car and a new aerodynamically designed car. The old car struggles against all kinds of resistance. The new one glides effortlessly along the highway. No matter how many hard things we have to do in our lives, believing in God's unearned love brings a joy that is lasting.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Eye of the Beholder


I have been reflecting on Jesus' parable of the landowner who paid all the workers in his vineyard the same wage no matter how long they worked. At the end of the story when those who worked the longest complain, the landowner asks, "Is your eye evil because I am good?" That's what Matthew's Greek says(20:15.) I have found only two others who translate it that way, King James and Daniel Harrington in his commentary on Matthew. The other ten or so that I checked have something like, "Why should you be envious because I am generous?" A translation that makes sense in the context but is so far from the original Greek that it makes me wonder.
So I got to thinking about the old quote "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." This gets at how subjective beauty can be. When we look on someone with a loving eye we may see a beauty that some objective observer may not notice. The landowner is asking the worker if his eye is so evil that he can see only evil, even when he is looking at goodness.
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September Treat


It is the deep blue color and the rarity of the gentians that appeal to me. They grow along only one short stretch of my morning walk and show up only at this time of year. Some years they are destroyed when the county cuts the weeds on the side of the road, but this year the cutter came earlier. Even so, there are probably no more than a dozen clusters of these striking flowers.
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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Divine Brilliance


The same clouds that made this splendid sunset last evening also made a soft, gentle rain during the night. Coming as it did after several tranquil twilights, this gorgeous display was a timely reminder that we find the Divine, not only in silver gray silence, but also in brilliant reds and oranges. Not only in quiet but in excitement. As I began writing this, one of Mimi's arias from "La Boheme" came on a tape I was playing. The kind of thrill that I experience as it rises to its climax takes me out of myself to God. I think of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto which is always for me an ecstatic experience.
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Friday, September 5, 2008

Placid Teacher


Twilight teaches me tranquility.
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Coming of Age


Roger Ebert in his review that I read today of a small movie called "The Grocer's Son" makes this very wise observation: The term "coming of age" always seems to apply to teenagers. But you can come of age in your 20s, 30s, 40s or maybe never. I define it as beginning to value other people for who they are, rather than what they can do for you.
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