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?
Every day this year, I’ve written something for the blog and posted it. That is, until Thursday. I thought I had posted something Thursday morning, but apparently I didn’t. I spent time picking beach plums. We went to Coast Guard Beach and watched seals. We stopped for fried seafood. We kayaked in a kettle pond. We drove around the cape for a little while. We had a fire and roasted marshmallows. But, in the end, I did not write.
Today was a travelling day. I picked more beach plums. We had one last swim on the cape before heading home. We stopped and saw the new goats at Locket’s Meadow. We visited with Papa and Nana, and now, it is late, and I’m writing a quick post before heading off to bed.
I did do some important writing on Thursday, and I have quite a bit more that I need to write. Perhaps tomorrow I can put up a couple posts and catch up.
The Roanoke Times, in there article, Our view: Sweet Briar does what it wasn't supposed to do; it reopens quotes a banner welcoming students back to Sweet Briar College saying, “This is going to be a legendary year.” They note that in other years, this would seem just sloganeering, but this year at Sweet Briar is going to be legendary. It already is legendary.
For those who missed my previous blog posts about Sweet Briar, this was the women’s college in Virginia whose board of directors voted to close the school last spring. It was cited as another casualty of changes in higher education, where liberal arts, and women’s colleges just aren’t valued as much anymore. Yet not everyone shares the same view about the value of women’s colleges and liberal arts education and a group of alumna and other concerned people gather, and fought successfully to keep it up.
Yes, this is going to be a legendary year for everyone at Sweet Briar. It is the spirit and attitude that we should be encouraging students with. It makes me think of how leaders in Hartford welcomed students to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School
The group — Hartford businessmen, lawyers, community organizers, city politicians, artists, neighborhood dignitaries, a police officer in uniform — erupted in cheers and whoops for Jamar, giving the boy high-fives and handshakes as if he were LeBron James being introduced at Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
I hope it will be a legendary year for those students in Hartford as well.
All of this provides a stunning contrast to how freshman women were welcomed at Old Dominion University in Virginia, 200 miles east of Sweet Briar. The Sigma Nu fraternity there made national news, when their activities were suspended after putting up banners saying “Rowdy and Fun, Hope Your Baby Girl is Ready for a Good Time.”
In all the discussions about charter schools, high stake testing, and so many other educational issues today, we tend to overlook the educational culture and climate. Sweet Briar College in Virginia and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School in Hartford get it right.
“This is going to be a legendary year.”