Archive for April, 2011

Wonder and Reverence in Eastertide

The famous Jewish rabbi Abraham Heschel said that there are two possible ways of knowing and responding to the world: the way of reason and the way of wonder. The way of reason, he argues, seeks to eliminate mystery and bring the world under our control. The way of wonder, on the other hand, accepts the mysteries of life and responds with something we learned as children but forgot as adults: awe.

It would be easy to think of reason and wonder as mutually exclusive but they’re not. They are, however, distinct. Professor David Brenner suggests that we must use both faculties to encounter the world. In fact, by doing so we know in ways that neither alone makes possible. When we approach from the foundation of reason we attempt to tame the world and thereby control it. If, before we approach from reason, we retain our ability to be amazed, we can avoid the impulse to control what we encounter. As Brenner says, “Theories and explanations separate us from astonishment and close the doorway to mystery and the sacred. Only wonder allows us to be truly open to the world.”

When it comes to the Eastertide and the reality of the resurrection, knowing by the way of wonder get US instead of us simply getting IT. Reverence for life is what allows for openness and awe. It gives us room to encounter life in all its uniqueness. When all of life is treated as sacred, wonder can burst upon us as it did for Mary and the disciples that first Easter morning.


Project Launched

These words by Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, are worth reflecting on this Holy Week: “Don’t be fooled by the idea that modern science has disproved the resurrection of Jesus.  Modern science has done no such thing. Everybody in the ancient world, just like everybody in the modern world, knew perfectly well that dead people don’t get resurrected.  It didn’t take Copernicus or Newton or Einstein to prove that—just universal observation of universal facts.  Th e Christian belief is not that some people sometimes get raised from the dead, and Jesus happens to be one of them.  It is precisely that people don’t ever get raised from the dead, and that something new has happened in and through Jesus, which has blown a hole through previous observations.  The Christian thus agrees with scientists ancient and modern: yes, dead people don’t rise. But the Christian goes on to say that something new and something different has no occurred in the case of Jesus.  This isn’t because there was a glitch in the cosmos, or something peculiar about Jesus’ biochemistry, but because the God who made the world, and who called Israel to be the bearer of his rescue-operation for the world, was at work in and through Jesus to remake the world. The resurrection was the dramatic launching of his project.”

The Power of Stop

Stop is not my favorite word. Go is much more positive, more economical and generally just more fun! Who wants to be delayed to their destination by a stop sign or stop light? Who wants to be limited in their shopping by business hours when you can shop online around the clock? Who wants to stop and wait for a dial-up connection when “always on” internet connections are available? Nothing really requires us to stop. We have lights when darkness falls, caffeine when we’re tired and medication when physical pain threatens to stop us. We can do just about anything at just about any time. Life can be non-stop.

But 24/7 – 365 life is exhausting. It’s as if we’re mice on a treadmill that never stops. Spiking gasoline prices, slumping wages and our ever-expanding consumer lifestyle requires more and more income just to survive. Stopping just isn’t an option. But it all takes it’s toll. Our lives can end up like Marcia Hornok’s poem  entitled “Psalm 23 Antithesis:”

The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest; it makes me lie down only when exhausted; it leads me to deep depression and hounds my soul. It leads me in circles of frenzy for activity’s sake. Even though I run frantically from task to task, I will never get done, for my “ideal” is with me, deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me. They demand performance from me, beyond the limits of my schedule. They anoint my head with migraines. My in-box overflows. Surely fatigue and time pressure shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever.

Maybe we’re overlooking the power of stop.