Sunday, May 23, 2010

Degrees

I don’t need a meteorologist to tell me that it’s gotten hot and humid. All I have to do is walk outside. Those pleasant months of nice spring weather are behind us. Now it’s just sub-tropical heat and humidity until things start cooling down. It will seem like a long time before the cooler autumn breezes begin making their appearance in October.

June 2nd is Primary Day. The roads, highways, and front lawns are littered with campaign signs and placards. It’s really a “red, white, and blue” eye-sore. The smut and smear campaigns on the television have been an ear-sore. After the 2nd the ads will get really dirty. Then it becomes even more of a political party issue.

For the first time in the history of this “Cotton State” an African-American Democrat is running for the Office of the Governor. He’s a Senator. We’ve heard him speak to an audience at Spring Hill College a few years ago. He’s a good speaker and I have to give him a lot of credit for the accomplishments in his life. Things have changed a lot since the Wallace Era in Alabama. Are they about to change even more?

My day to day life is so far removed from all the politics and agendas that have folks stirred up. Personally, I’m more concerned about how many ears of corn we’ll get out of seven rows, how many bushels of potatoes we’ll dig from two rows, how many quarts of green beans we get from four rows, and getting a decent stand of field peas and okra growing in that dust in the garden.

There’s a lot that’s uncertain and I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a lot that I don’t know. There’s a lot that I don’t want to know. There’s a lot that I wish I didn’t know. There is a lot that I wish I could forget.

I do know that without a living and relational vital awareness of the Trinity, and the higher ideals inherently detailed in that awareness, narcissism, in its myriad assortment of inviting and deceptive degrees, inevitably becomes the dominating rule of life; an inordinate love of self that sets itself up front and in center as the stage that the whole of life plays out on.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Soul Drought

God is not a God of coercion. He is the Great Lover wooing souls unto him.

If the world wants to go to blazes, that’s the world’s prerogative. The world has that right. I don’t know why it would want to exercise that right. Salvation is however a matter of choice and I have to be secure enough in my own self to let others choose their own life paths and eternal destinies.

The most serious global warming in our age is not that arena that concerns itself with the average daily temperatures monitored by weather stations and measured with modern digital thermometers. It is the arena represented by the instability in the moral climate of the age. It’s not just the poles that are rapidly deteriorating and melting away. I make no apologies in thinking the moral fabric of society is rotting and falling apart.

As for me, my soul is thirsty, like our gardens in need of a generous rain. I know the temporary solution for the drought in these small fields that supply us with food for our table. Turn on the faucet and let the life-giving water flow through the hose.

My own personal soul-drought, a condition exacerbated by the realities of living in a stress generating workaday world and by the emotional dimensions associated with living in relationship with people out of step with the Gospel Ideal, is not so easily tended to. It’s not as simply remedied as the problem affecting our gardens.

The daily rhythm of the tedium designed into St. Benedict’s guidelines for integrating the Gospel Ideal is not a matter of rigid performance for the sake of monastic appearance. It is as purposeful as keel ballast on a sailing vessel. It keeps the top up and the bottom down when the going gets rough and the wind blows hard against the sails. It sets the stage for longevity and stability not only within monastic enclosures but works remarkably well in the here and now of life in the world outside the monastery.

The “labor of obedience” (RB Prologue 2) calls for more than simply and occasionally turning on a proverbial faucet, something that I admittedly discover myself to be too often guilty of.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Square One

No matter how studiously I may apply myself to spiritual reading, or how devotionally disciplined I may be to times of prayer and meditation, there remains constantly with me that part of my own self that remains illiterate, undisciplined, and unruly in the ways and means of God.

It is this part of this self of mine that constantly reminds me that I yet have a long way to go in a journey of becoming Christ-like. The spirit is indeed willing. I want to become “like” the Great Master in every detail of the ideals presented in his Gospel-life. The flesh, however, is what it is and it has a way of getting in the way of being that example.

The Apostle Paul mentions pummeling himself to keep himself on the straight and narrow pathway. He uses other dire terminology in describing his journey – pressing toward, dying daily. Although I do not believe Paul tortured himself in acts of self-pugilization, errors that some, over the course of time, have made in their efforts to emulate his example of following Christ, there is something of a literal nature inherent in his personal allegorical descriptions.

I’m discovering that I’m a square one. In things Christian, in things Oblate, I find that I am continually returning to square one. I’m continually returning to the simple basics, starting over again and again with the basic building blocks, returning to my proverbial “cell” to learn again how to keep my estate small and low, learning again how to crawl.

There is a large difference between presumption and reliance in God’s economy. I do not presume upon or take for granted the grace and mercy of God. I rely upon them and in my reliance recognize and admit, as the Psalmist in 65.3, that my own misdeeds prevail against me insisting my continuous pleas for mercy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Living In The Land Of Ooze

I like the smell of honeysuckle. It’s especially nice when blended with the smell of Ligustrum Vulgare, the common Privet that sets a lot of folks to sneezing and suffering other symptoms that resemble bad colds.

These flowering wild shrubs and vines, despite their invasive natures, add to the visual and aromatic beauty of these southern climes, especially this time of the year when myriad shades of spring green decorate the landscape. The sights and aromas are complimented by the happy melodies of birdsong. It’s things like these, at least for me, that go a long way in helping to grind the sharp goad-points from the gripping realities of the issues generated in our modern times.

Political issues. Economic issues. Social issues. All the heated finger pointing and blame laying. Issues. There was a time when I thought all I had to do was cancel my subscriptions. But no matter how I work to distance myself from all the issues, the undesirable things, something of a handed down inheritance, keep piling up on my doorstep.

And now this thick, black, toxic ooze belching a mile down from the floor of the Gulf that has “experts” scrambling to figure out “after the fact” how to turn off the flow.

How long before they are successful in stopping the contaminating flow that exceeds 200,000 gallons a day? How long will it take to clean up the mess? What are the short and long term effects on the Gulf-Coast environment and economy?

The staggering reality of the Gulf spill is personally saddening. All the present efforts at combating and rectifying the problem seem so small and futile in comparison to the size of the problem.

No. I’m not a sun soaking beach goer. Our hermitage-home is inland a few miles from the sugar-white Gulf sands. But this catastrophic real-deal is in our own back yard and in our neighbor’s back yards; an uninvited, unwelcome visitor begging to insist the uncertainty of life in the tumultuous 21st Century.