Our e-mail is working again, though I need to be taught how to retrieve everything that was in my box the day of the changeover to a new provider. Living without e-mail (outgoing) has taught me how dependent I am on e-mail. One problem with life is the innovations which allow us to be more efficient (time to call people vs. an e-mail to many at one time) has also increased our work load. Like the Hebrew slaves we read about last week at Morning Prayer, we have to keep the quota up for building, but suddenly, without e-mail, I felt like we were 'making our own bricks' too! Admittedly a minor inconvenience. Yet a moment of insight.
Taking things for granted is not something we do with children that have special needs. Walking and talking is a miracle and their is much relief when a child 'with challenges' is able to reach a milestone, even if it is a year or more behind. Pondering that made me think: it really is a miracle that any child can walk or talk, or learn piano, algebra or how to play second base. So much is taken for granted (by me and perhaps you) because we just do not think about how amazing it all is. Sadly, in my "efficiency" mode I often fail to grasp such moments and savor them. How different (better) would our lives be if we actually were aware and grateful?
I got to read for 'fun' the last two days, a rare treat. I have already read, "How the Irish Saved Civilization" and it is wonderful to go through it again. Cahill may be the most readable historian ever. The chapter on St. Patrick was amazing. In a most poignant statement, paraphrased here, Patrick declared that he did not fear the physical threats (Celtic Ireland was very violent at the time) because he believed in God's promises. Reading that gave me pause. I often preach on faith and trust, but I heard a purity of faith in Patrick which is sometimes lacking in myself. I think of my myriad worries and concerns and my list of activities. Then I thought of Patrick in the difficult place and time in which he lived. He really trusted God and acted in that faith. wow!
Cahill did an interesting comparison between St. Augustine and St. Patrick. The differences are as stunning as their shared faith. The church debates on sexual morality, an Augustinian concern, seem to have been non-existent in the Celtic regions. It seems that "free love" was a culturally accepted fact and even in the church there was no lack of non-marital coupling. [Though 'description' is not 'prescription,' and no culture is without its blind spots and errors.] If it led me to pine for the more earthy, less uptight spirituality of the ancient Celtic church (and gave me pause for my strong stance on the issue in our church debates the last decade), ironically, it was not long before I encountered the proverbial "other side" of the issue.
It came when I was doing research on leg exercises and went to one of the websites that is focused on such things. I did something I never have done before. Usually I just type in topics (like deadlifts) and find matches with articles; yesterday I opted to just go to the Forum and see what was there. I was rather stunned to see how much of it was not related to exercise at all. One stream was about how many dates a man should take a woman on before they copulate. The general consensus was none (you date AFTER you have slept together, if it is good), one or two. The guy who said two received much criticism from others on waiting so long. I was happy when someone finally took the others to task, it was, not surprisingly, a woman. Then a married man, though very apologetically, offered an alternative view. Clearly, this was similar to the Celtic ways I read about, but reading the posts made me uncomfortable and sad. The general disdain for woman as humans was pretty transparent. I am a father of a daughter and I only pray none of those men ever meet her. I decided to move on from that stream after a few minutes....
In my prayer and Scripture reflection I encountered Jesus who says: abide in Me. I found it comforting and challenging. Another book I was reading included a chapter on Jesus the true image of God. Our real identity is revealed in Him. To abide in Jesus, at some level, would seem to include thinking about Him and measuring my choices against that. So I tried to do that. Jesus reveals humanity to us. Revelation of our own identity in His identity is a grace of God.
If this is all disjointed and rather random it is because it is a reflection on my life. Each day is filled with numerous moments, some flowing easily together, others suddenly appearing and leaving their mark, only to quickly disappear. What came of it all for me was a sense of the need to be aware, to be thankful, to be trusting and to understand that the struggles to be faithful are, at their core, a need to open our hearts to Jesus and let Him live in us, and to live in Him. Life is random and disjointed, but there is a core that holds. I pray our hearts and our civilization would find a way to abide in Jesus and open our hearts for Him to abide in us.
for a variety of reviews on Cahill's book see