Archive for November, 2009

Just this morning …

i’m not even sure how to begin, after having been so long away from the blog. i could try to rehash the last three months but (1) i can barely remember them in any detail and (2) if i could, the sheer volume of material might take days to read. … But, as i was working outside this morning, i made up my mind that, during lunch break, i would put something on the site one way or the other. i thought that maybe i’d share some thoughts about a book i‘ve read or a conversation i’ve had or a concert i’ve played or a meal i’ve shared or a walk i’ve taken recently, since there have been plenty of each. But it would be extremely difficult to select just one and maybe i’m not wanting to work quite that hard. (The selection process might paralyze me and render me wordless – too many good choices so i do nothing.)
So i decided to make it easy – i’d just talk about this morning.
It’s a gorgeous Saturday, one in a continuing string of days that have been cool and clear with autumn colors present but a bit muted compared to recent years past. i planted three trees in the pasture yesterday – a continuation of the “38 holes” project from last year (see blog entry for September 1, 2008) – and used half a truck load of wood chips to mulch the new additions, two sawtooth oak and one October Glory maple. First thing this morning, after prayers and coffee, i shovelled the other chips from my truck, about half a flat bed, beside a compost pile near the garden. To be outside, in flannel, at the edge of a hardwood forest, with a slight breeze, in the company of two good dogs was, for me anyway, a near perfect way to begin a weekend morning at home. The work required no mental energy which meant that i was free to let my thoughts wander haphazardly from one thing to another with no rational connection whatsoever. They went something like this, at least as i can loosely recall them: i need to call that guy sometime today, i wonder if the snakes have stopped crawling, how much money do i need if i ever want to retire, is it right to retire, can i use latex paint on the treehouse, how does Al Sharpton’s hair do that, should i clean out the bluebird houses or leave the nests in them through wintertime, why do i still dream about the girl i loved in college, i think the zinnia seeds are finally dry for next year, what word rhymes best with “please,” who does Georgia play this afternoon, etc, etc, etc … the whole stream of consciousness thing. Those thoughts make no sense but they can fill up a morning pretty thoroughly.
Anyway, i finished unloading the truck, then raked leaves to put in the compost, then weeded around a dozen blueberry bushes and mulched them, then watered 104 strawberry plants that i put in the garden last week for next spring, then changed a tire (with Gary’s help) on the bike that i use to ride around the farm, then called a friend to make plans for supper, got a bit of lunch, made a cup of chai and am sitting outside in a state of mind that i can only describe as worship at how beautiful a day can be and how good life is. At a moment like this i would offer myself as a nominee for the most blessed man alive … and i hope that you feel the same way about your life.
i did have one rather predominant conversation with myself this morning based on a gig i played this past week. It was a fundraiser for the City of Refuge in Atlanta (about which i wrote a bit in the introduction to one of the songs in August, “Church of the Fully Fallen”). As Bruce Deel, the director of the ministry, explained the history of COR to Dewayne, my piano player, i heard once again how Bruce and his wife and 4 daughters moved into Atlanta’s most dangerous neighborhood 12 years ago; how during their first 6 years they were burglarized 34 times, had 4 cars stolen, and endured amazing challenges to spearhead a remarkable mission to “the least and the last and the lost.” They now operate in a 5 acre warehouse at 1300 Joseph Boone Boulevard, designated by the Atlanta Journal Constitution earlier this year as “the most dangerous city block in Atlanta” in the zip code that has the highest per capita murder rate in the U.S. They house 232 women and children and serve 19,000 meals a month at their warehouse. It’s a remarkable work.
i was wondering – while Bruce is at Joseph Boone Boulevard and other friends are in Sudan and Afghanistan or a hundred other places living large for the Gospel of Jesus — is it right, or permissible, for me to live this quiet, small town existence that i live? Does the mandate to feed the poor, clothe the naked, minister to widows and orphans allow one to do those things in other than large, inner-city, third world ways?
Well, the discussion has gone back and forth in my mind and has brought to mind a number of different points of view. i was reminded of words from Shane Claiborne in The Irresistible Revolution, calling followers of Jesus to visibly radical lifestyles. In contrast, but not necessarily opposition, my conversation invoked the perspective of Wendell Berry, a Kentucky farmer whose books have been the bulk of my reading these past 2 years. His thoughts on “thinking small” and living devotedly to our own neighborhoods (which, after all, have their own poverties and broken-ness) seem consistent with the New Testament passage that affirms a lifestyle of “living a quiet life, minding your own business, and working with your hands.” i recalled a thought from Catcher in the Rye that, in essence, maturity is not in dying nobly for a call as much as living humbly for one. But then i thought of the curse on lukewarmness that is stated so unequivocally in the Revelation. And then the voice in my head brought up Jesus’ teachings about “moving mountains” and “giving a cup of cold water,” two propositions that seem to make room for both the large and the little, the remarkable and the remote as valid expressions of living out one’s faith. The conversation is not over; it’s just on lunch break for now.
And, just to think, there is still afternoon and evening.


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