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Today, I returned to work after two weeks’ vacation. Fiona returned to school after summer vacation. Now, I’m home and wondered what is it that we are all going back to? I attended a bunch of meetings, answered a bunch of emails, and did various tasks. Fiona seemed to have a good day at school.
Now, I sit at my computer, and try to write. What shall I write? How have I helped people today? How might my words help other people? What sort of progress have I made on my life journey? Or, should I just cut myself some slack?
I spent some time looking online at the state of theological education in MOOCs. I didn’t find much of interest.
So, perhaps it is time to just rest and wait.
My Beloved gently runs His fingers through my hair
in the breeze on the beach
as He calls me
in the rumble of the waves.
the birds fly
proclaiming His Love.
I look to the sea -
His love is even more vast
than the endless horizon.
Yet there is a pile of bottles and cans
that someone has left in the sand
that need to be cleaned up.
I set my copy of “My Bright Abyss” by Christian Wiman down on the cluttered table in the camper. I looked out across the campground. The rain had passed, and hopefully the fog would lift soon. I’ve been reading this book, slowly, a few pages at a time, on and off since last May. How great it would be to write a book like this, or perhaps like The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton.
Friends have suggested that I write some sort of autobiography, growing up in a college town, heading off to college, studying philosophy, dropping out early, living in an old spice factory turned into artist loft in New York City, consulting at Bell Labs in the early 80s, spending eight months hitchhiking across America and Europe, living on a sailboat in the Hudson River, working on Wall Street, leaving it to work in social media, running for office. There’s plenty of material, but perhaps not the great writing style of Wiman or Merton, or the spiritual angst.
Maybe, instead of writing about myself, I could write about the people I met on my journeys, men in nursing homes earning to be free, victims of domestic violence, people who had lost loved ones way too early to cancer, men on the street that that have struggled with mental illness, substance abuse, joblessness. Yet would this reinforce a narrative about God working with those who have suffered greatly or struggled with God, but not with the common people?
The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson come to mind,
Meek young men grow up in libraries believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.
What about those who, to borrow words of Henry David Thoreau, “lead lives of quiet desperation”. Where is God for them?
I’ve always loved those travel stories, perhaps best epitomized by the television show, “Then Came Bronson”, where a disillusioned newspaper reporter, heads out on his motorcycle to find himself, and finds himself helping meek young men leading lives of quiet desperation or captured by Charles Kuralt “On the Road”.
Can I play Bronson or Kuralt in telling stories of God’s grace in daily life? Can I bring in a touch of the depth of Wiman or Merton? Can I set it against the backdrop of Emerson or Thoreau?
What are the stories of God’s grace being revealed in the daily lives of people in main stream churches in America struggling to reveal God’s Love to a people that increasingly are losing interest?