Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Bastrop State Park has erected a new building: From this viewpoint one can see the burned forest in every direction.

At this location I felt the tears again. Over a year since the fire. But why? Forest fires are natural. I looked at the charred bench that marked the beginning of a walking trail that led far into the the forest. For many years one could have seen from this bench the evergreen pine trees pointing high into the sky and hear the gentle brush of the branches against one another as a breeze danced through the woods. But, no more. One by one the burnt trees will fall and disintegrate into the soil.

Are some images iconic? I once went to camp in these woods. My first real time away from home. I remember one night when homesickness struck my group of 12-year-old girls at once and we wailed together our longing for home.

And I also remember the camp song we learned "why are the skies so blue?" and barely grasped the conclusion of all that is is "because God" made it so. And it made it all "okay." Ah, but that was so long ago!

This is the autumn that begins an eighth decade in my life.  I now know in a way that I did not know then that there are people and things that die. They are gone forever from one's vision, touch, experience. It is the battle of the newly bereaved that we catch a glimpse of the recently lost in the way another walks, a look, an expression. Each glimpse bringing new pain of the reality and yet processing us through the loss--letting us down lightly.

Is this what it is like to grow older? Slowly, slowly all the sights that were once familiar are lost and nothing remains from long again. My nearly 90 year old mother tells me that she recently saw an old classmate. But it wasn't the same, she said, because her girlhood friend looked so old. So old. Not the same.

Is it the loss of the forest I grieve, or is it the loss of childhood innocence? The loss of an assumption that what I loved would always be there. I well remember the thick cloud that formed to our west as the forest burned. It was a fearful experience knowing what was happening beneath that dark cloud.

My 70 year old self grieves for the 12 year old that wailed that night with all her cabin mates. Perhaps home sicknesses is never relieved on this side of life.

Our souls are restless, O Lord, until they rest in Thee. (St. Augustine.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

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Friday, February 17, 2012

From my car window yesterday I could see once again the burned forest of Bastrop State Park. For now it blends in with the wintry landscape along the entire drive. But soon Texas will break into glorious bloom--just not here. (That is unless the State has dropped bluebonnet seeds along the boulevard.) As spring begins and one drives along this same road the contrast between the living and the dying will be great. 

As God looks out at humanity does God see a similar contrast? Jesus seemed to easily discern between those who were living (could "see" and "hear") and those who could not (the "blind" and "deaf"). 

But here too is hope. We know this forest will come alive once more. It will take time. That too seems to be God's everlasting hope and vision for all creation. Some day all will see and hear and all Creation will sing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's been raining all day. A bobcat just walked (waded) across this scene. 

As I look out my study window I see open pasture dotted by post oak trees and four grazing black cows.  Recent rains have spread a neon green carpet over the ground before me. This view is cradled around me by oak and cedar forests. Bare branches of the still-wintry oaks lace a pattern across the misty landscape with splashes of dark green and rust.

My artist's eyes could hardly find more delight than in the juxtaposition of those complementary colors. I've always appreciated the green that the cedars gift the gray months, but this year I feel differently. They remind me of the growing scarcity of water: Those rusty colored trees--so vivid against the green--are dying because of last years drought. That knowledge dampens the visual joy. And now that I know how needy the cedars are for water--how they are sucking up the ponds and underground lakes--I experience them as competitors for life.

The older I get the more I see how several "goods" can find themselves in competition. My eyes feast on the color. Thank you, God, it is beautiful. But it is also a good thing to steward our resources wisely. The trees must be thinned out and precious water saved.

I say this because the tendency in public conversation is to cast one thing as "good" and everything else that might be in conflict of that as "bad." Why can't we simply acknowledge and celebrate the basic goodness of creation and then go about the business of acting wisely and honorably by placing one good before the other as need be? Why must we blast everything down in order to prevail in our own judgments? Could we simply set aside (with mourning) one good if we need to lift up another? Do we have to blast down or demonize our way through all decisions? Isn't this basic goodness of all at the very heart of the meaning of sacrifice?

Readers in liturgical churches last Sunday saw Jesus heal the leper. A good thing. But Jesus told him not to tell others what he had done and the man went and told everyone. Was that a bad thing that he disobeyed Jesus? Or was it a good thing that he was so filled with joy that he could not contain himself? The richness of Scripture challenges the simple inclinations of public debate.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I am told that we have entered a new awakening--this time a global one. It seems to me that we are at the end of several ages: Modernity, Colonialism, Christendom, Androcentrism. . . .

We find ourselves in a new wilderness. The world seemed to be falling apart in Julian's time and yet she found peace and strength in the visions she had experienced. How do we find our way through this new world?
All will be well and all matter of thing shall be well. Julian