Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca


Published on Saturday, October 14, 2023

Look away so you can see

Thursday April 27, 2023

A neighbour and I go for a walk most mornings. These days, the sun has risen already, but it hasn’t risen high enough to shine on our side of a high ridge.
It’s not dark. Not at all. But the direct sunlight hasn’t hit us yet.
As we walk, we can watch the sunlight creep down the slopes on the far side of the lake. And then across the lake, to reach us.
We can almost see the edge of the light moving downwards.
I can stand at the end of my driveway and stare at that almost-moving edge It’s right at that rock, that tree, that road…
Try as I will, though, I cannot actually see the light edge ahead to the next tree, the next rock.
But if I look away for a minute – perhaps to see which little bird is making that exquisite trill – when I look back, the light has moved. Perceptibly.
Every grandparent understands this phenomenon. Especially if you live far enough away that you only see your grandchildren every few months. And you say, “My goodness, how you’ve grown!”

Beyond my brain
It’s an illusion, of course, that the earth is staying still while the sun rises. In fact, the earth is rotating towards the sun; the sun itself has not moved at all.
I tried, a couple of times, working out in my head the geometry of the sunlight’s progress down the hills across the lake. If the earth is rotating at 1,000 mph (an easier number to work with than 1,625 km/hr), what would the angular rate of change be for a right-angled triangle whose vertical side is a ridge approximately 2,000 feet high…
I gave up in despair.
I was fairly good at math, once. Algebra, easy. Calculus, so so. Trigonometry, uh-uh. And spherical trig? Not a chance!
Even though I know trigonometry can solve thousands of practical problems. And I know that the ancient Mayan civilizations didn’t have algebra or calculus; they worked out their astronomical charts using some form of geometry.

Sabbaths everywhere
Looking away, even briefly, is the principle behind retreats and sabbaticals. To take a break, for few days or a few months, from the daily routines of appointments and adjustments, so that you can see a larger pattern.
Without taking a break, you won’t recognize creeping change. A toxic political climate, declining water quality, inflation, random violence, extreme weather – all start to feel normal. Or inevitable.
Taking time to see may be a reason behind the Jewish tradition of shabbat. “On the seventh day you shall not work,” God told the Hebrew people. So that for one day a week you can look away from routine.
According to the biblical story in Genesis, even God took a break on the seventh day.
Perhaps it’s even the unstated rationale for Sunday morning worship. To take even one hour a week to look away, to see things differently.
\You often cannot see the changes happening. But if you look away for a minute, or a year, you can see the changes that have already happened.
Copyright © 2023 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.
To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

Very few letters this last week. I don’t know whether that means you are all already committed to Earth Day , or whether you feel the subject is just too big for you to think about.
Anyway, here are the two letters.

Tom Watson: “Your closing thoughts remind me of the hymn: ‘Take, take off your shoes! You're standing in holy ground!’”
JT: The song Tom refers to is by James Manley, first published in 1977. If you don’t already know it., you might look it up. It packs a powerful message about our treatment of our wnvironment.

Isabel Gibson: “Happy Earth Day!
“I'm not as worried as some about climate change, but I continue to be alarmed by the other changes we wreak to habitat, from chemical alteration (poisonous contaminants put into the air, water and soil) to topological alteration.
“If the entire Earth is holy, so too are the creatures relying on it for sustenance.”


Psalm paraphrase

Psalm 23 was what got me started on writing paraphrases. I read about green fields and still waters, about sheep and shepherds, and I thought about how utterly meaningless those metaphors must be to modern urban dwellers. Indeed. When we took our own daughter to Ireland, she looked out he car window and asked, “What are those fuzzy looking rocks in that field?” Just then, one of those “fuzzy rocks” got up and shook off some of Ireland’s incessant rain.
So I tried putting the message into a totally different context:

My Mommy holds my hand;
I'm not afraid.
She takes me to school in the mornings;
She lets me play in the playgrounds and the parks;
She makes me feel good.
She shows me how to cross the streets,
because she loves me.
Even when we walk among the crowds and the cars,
I am not afraid.
If I can reach her hand or her coat,
I know she's with me,
And I'm all right.
When I fall down and I'm all covered with mud
and I come home crying,
she picks me up in her arms.
She wipes my hands, and dries my tears,
and I have to cry again,
'Cause she loves me so much.
How can anything go wrong
with that kind of Mommy near me?
I want to live the rest of my life with Mommy,
in my Mommy's home for ever'n'ever.

BIG Update – Wood Lake Publishing is closing this month, after 41 years of producing materials for churches all around the world, materials that didn’t require you to park your brains at the door when you come in. The current inventory of books is selling at huge discounts. If you want to buy any remaining books – including the last copies of my own Everyday Psalms -- get in touch with Wood Lake Publishing, info@woodlake.com, or 1-800-663-2775. Do it now!
Some e-books will still be available. And I have some extra copies of some of my own titles. More on that later. But right now, if you want printed copies of any Wood Lake titles, you have about one week. Then that’s it, forever.
Comments (0)Number of views (555)

Author: Jim Taylor

Categories: Soft Edges


«July 2024»



"gate of the year" #MeToo .C. Taylor 12th night 150th birthday 1950s 1954 1972 1984 215 3G 4004 BC 70 years 8 billion 9/11 A A God That Could Be Real abduction aboriginal abortion Abrams abuse achievement Adam Adams River addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix Advent advertising affirmative action Afghanistan agendas aging agnostics Ahriman Ahura Mazda airlines airport killings Alabama albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations allies Almighty Almighty God alone ALS alt-right altruism Amanda Gorman Amanda Todd Amazon American empire Amerika Amherst amnesia analysis anarchy Andes Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anger animals anniversaries Anniversary Anthropocene antidote Ants aphrodisiac apologetics Apologies apology apoptosis App Store Archives Ardern Aristotle armistice Armstrong army Army and Navy stores Art artifacts artists ashes Asian assisted death astronomy atheists atonement atropine Attawapiscat attitudes attraction audits Aunt Jemima Australia authorities authorities. Bible autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry B.C. Legislature B-2 Baal Shem Tov baby Bach bad news baggage Bagnell Bahai Baldi Bali Banda banning books Baptism Barabbas Barbados barbed wire barbers barriers Bashar al Assad Batman baton BC BC Conference Beans bears beauty Beaver Beethoven beginnings behaviour bel-2 belief systems beliefs bells belonging benefits Bernardo Berners-Lee berries Bethlehem Bible biblical sex bicycle Biden Bill C-6 billboards billionaire BioScience Bird songs birds birth birthday birthdays Bitcoin Black history Blackmore blessings Blockade blockades blood blood donations blood donors Bloomberg Blue Christmas boar boarding school body Boebert Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women BOMBHEAD bombing bombings bombs books border patrol borrowing both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brain development Brain fog brains Brazil breath breathe breathing Brexit broken Bruce McLeod bubbles Buber Bucket list Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bulldozers bullets bullying burials bus driver bush pilots butterflies butterfly Calendar California Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras campfire Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats cancer candidates cannibalism Canute Capitol Capp caregivers Caribbean Caribbean Conference of Churches caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cash castes cats cave caveats CBC CD Cecil the lion. Zanda cell phones Celsius CentrePiece CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Chesapeake Bay Retriever Chesterton Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking childbirth children Chile Chile. Allende China chivalry chocolates choice choices choirs Christchurch Christiaanity Christian Christianity Christians Christina Rossetti Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas Eve Christmas gathering Christmas lights Christmas tree Christmas trees Christopher Plummer Chrystia Freeland church churches circle of life citizenship Clarissa Pinkola Estés Clearwater Clichés cliffhanger climate change climate crisis clocks close votes clouds Coastal GasLink coastal tribes coffee coincidence cold Coleman collaboration collapse collective work colonial colonial mindset colonialism colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty comfort comic strips commercials communication Communion community compassion competition complexity composers composting computer processes Computers conception conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues confession confessions confidence Confirmation confusion Congo Congress Conrad Black consciousness consensual consensus consent conservative Conservative Party conservative values conspiracies conspiracy constitution construction contraception contrasts Conversations Conversion conversion therapy Convoy cooperation COP26 copyright coral Cornwallis corona virus coronavirus corporate defence corporations corruption Corrymeela Cosby Cougars counter-cultural Countercurrents couple courtesy courts Covenant Coventry Cathedral cover-up COVID-19 Coyotes CPP CPR CRA Craig crashes Crawford Bay creation creche credit credit cards creeds cremation crescent Creston crime criminal crossbills cross-country skiing Crows crucifixion Cruelty crypto-currencies Cuba Missile Crisis Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cutbacks cute cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Damien Damocles Dan Rather dancing Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Scott David Suzuki de Bono dead zone deaf deafness death death survival deaths debt decision decisions decorations deficit Definitions Delhi Dementia democracy Democratic denial Denny's departure Depression Derek Chauvin Descartes Desiderata despair determinism Devin Kelley dew dawn grass Diana Butler-Bass Dickie dinners dinosaurs discontinuities discussion Dishwashing dissent distancing diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Don Cherry Donald Trump donkey Donna Sinclair donor doorways Doug Ford Doug Martindale Dr. Keith Roach Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs ducks duets Duvalier dying Dylan Thomas earth Earth Day earthquake Earworms Easter Eat Pray Love Eatons Ebola echo chambers e-cigarettes eclipse
Copyright 2024 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada