Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sowing Buttercups and Daisies

How did those get there, I wondered?  Jill, my gardener spouse, reminded me that we spread a packet of Buttercup seeds in some topsoil so that we could enjoy them as we walked the paths in our yard.  There are about a dozen of them this year.  We do nothing to help them grow or to come back year after year.  We just count on the rain and the sun and the warmth to keep them happy, and we hope that the deer don’t like Buttercups. (If you are singing “Build Me Up Buttercup” right now you are not alone.)

Further along the path are dozens of daisies. They are the white petal/yellow center variety (“Shasta daisy” for you gardeners).  We didn’t put them there so far as we can remember. I did sow some wildflowers about fifty yards away from their current location some eighteen years ago, so maybe they migrated there from that effort, but I won’t take the credit.  We used to mow the area where they sprout now. Maybe that is how the seeds spread.  I can’t be sure how they go there, but they are quite a picture.

Isn’t it a wonder that the Sower keeps spreading seeds that figure out a way to survive with the least bit of human help? I mean, you can mow the flowers down this year and next year you get more of them.  We live on top of what amounts to a rock quarry. Poor soil. Lots of rocks.  And the seeds keep spreading and growing anyway.  If we put some good soil down we get different flowers, the variety that need some deeper soil in which to sink their roots. I like them both, the Buttercups and the Daisies. 

The joy of exploring wild flowers is that you can’t quite be sure how they got there. Maybe you had something to do with it. Maybe nature (or God, depending on your point of view) gets the credit for putting them there, for making them grow.  I just know this much: the Sower has enough seeds that he pretty much doesn’t worry about where those seeds land.  Why, you can find flowers peeking up through the rocks, right?  The Sower just keeps on sowing, never worried that the supplies of seeds will run out, never worried about finding perfect soil to receive the gift of the seed. Sure, the Sower likes to see Buttercups take root in deep soil, but the Sower is just as happy to find Daisies sprouting in the shallow soil of fields. They are all beautiful. They all got there somehow.

“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:9)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Should Christians Boo?

Danica Patrick is a professional race car driver. She is a lightning rod for controversy in the world of racing because she, her detractors believe, is given position and privilege because she gets publicity for her sponsors more for her looks and gender than for her driving skills.  Her supporters see her as a hero who is breaking gender boundaries and setting an example for girls, showing the way for breaking the “glass ceiling” in male-dominated pursuits.

Ms. Patrick’s latest controversy comes about because she called out a fan who was booing her for failing to give him an autograph. As Ms. Patrick tells her side of the story, when she heard the “boo” she ‘had a moment’, meaning she sort of mentally flipped out. She marched over to the fan and said, “"I'm a person too. I have feelings. When you boo me, it hurts my feelings."

Now, I can make a good case for putting blame on Ms. Patrick for being overly-sensitive. She is a public figure and if you want to be in the public eye sometimes you will get booed.  But, I would rather make a case that the fan who booed stepped over the line. We wouldn’t endorse the fan physically hitting her with a stick, so why do we think it is acceptable to hurt with words.  Sticks and stones break bones, and words break spirits. 

You may be wondering why I am wasting your time on this when, instead,  I should be writing about the horrible state of affairs that leads a deranged man to open fire of human beings because he disagrees with their politics.  Consider this: Public discourse (TV interviews; Twitter; Facebook) has created in the minds of deranged people the justification they are looking for to do horrible acts of violence.  The problem is that public discourse has become so disrespectful, with seemingly no boundaries, that nothing shocks our eyes or ears. We need to see how our horrible public language has created an environment which, in the minds of the deranged, justifies hateful acts.

If Christians are going to transform the world, and that is our call, then the beginning point is to change the language we speak from hate to love. To “boo” another person, even if it is deserved, is to contribute to social language which creates an environment of hate and hateful acts.  What can you do to change a world which is becoming more and more hateful? Don’t boo. It’s a start.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Graduate Into Who You Were Meant to Be

Maybe life needs more graduation days.  A day where you can say of a period of your life that you at least survived, if not necessarily thrived. I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that Graduation Day is wasted on the young, but I am not so sure that they “get it”.  For high school graduates there is a sense of accomplishment, but mostly a sense of “freedom”. For college graduates there is a sense of completion, but also a sense of dread, as in “now what?”  What Graduation Day should be about is examining our lives with the question, “Who do I want to be?”

If we could have more “graduation days”, we would be recognized by society, family and friends for successfully completing the various stages of life: getting a job; paying for your own housing from your own paycheck; finding a mate with whom to share life and, for some, to expand the gene pool; finding a way to retire with grace and purpose.  We do have, of course, some version of “graduation day” for these life events, usually some sort of “party.”  But I think we need something more serious than a few stupid jokes and a couple of drinks to mark life’s progress.

I am advocating more frequent graduation day exercises which invite us to examine whether we have yet discovered who the person is that God wants us to be:

 “Could’st thou in vision see
Thyself the man God meant,
Thou never more could’st be
The man thou art, content.” Emerson

Like the song says, we are tempted to just keep “Dancing through life/skimming the surface”, living the “unexamined life.” To get the most joy out of life we should instead invite others to help us see the vision that God has for our lives, and to help us not be content with who we are until we live into that vision.

Can you think of anything that would bring more joy on your final graduation day than to know that the person you ended up being is the person God meant you to be?