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

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

 

Published on Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Items for the recycling bin

Joan went to put some dishes back onto the top shelf in her kitchen. And discovered that a smoked-glass bowl had broken in half.

            We have no idea how, or when, it happened. It could have been yesterday; it could have been years ago.

            The bowl belonged to my mother, who died in 1972. We’ve kept it, all these years, because it was hers. We kept several things of hers, because every time we used them, those things reminded us of her.

            More accurately, perhaps, we kept them because they reminded us that we loved her.

            Many of her things we inherited from her have gone, now. We still have her Indian trays and coffee tables. And her silverware -- that needs polishing regularly -- and her teacups. But the milk jug is long gone. So is a vase we particularly admired.

            Joan handed the broken pieces of the bowl to me. “I suppose I could glue it together,” I said.

            “It’s not worth fixing,” she replied. “Just recycle it.”

 

The second half of life

            Her words seem almost like a mantra these days, as we inch towards the day when we will have to clear out some of our own precious possessions.

            For 20 years, I saved a dozen fat file folders of notes and memos from the sale of our old church, before building of our new one. Actually, I hadn’t saved them -- I had ignored them. They lay on top of a filing cabinet, gathering dust, waiting for me to do something with them.

            But the sale is done. Over. Long complete. If those files had no value for 20 years, why continue saving them?

            Like my mother’s bowl, they went into recycling.

            Franciscan priest and widely read author Richard Rohr describes two halves of life. The first half is about acquisition. Getting jobs. Getting promotions. Getting a house, a life partner, a family. Getting, getting, getting…

            The second half -- although in truth it may be only a decade, or less -- is about disposition. Letting go. Of things, of course -- several friends recently have downsized, and discovered how much they had become captives of their possessions.

            But also, Rohr suggests, a time for disposing of old habits, old beliefs, that we have long taken for granted.

            Some of them, too, may have been gathering dust while we didn’t bother thinking about them.

 

No longer needed on voyage

            Just this last week, a group of us got talking about some preconceptions that we might consider letting go of.

            Such as the assumption that only one small group qualifies as God’s chosen people; Christians must therefore support them regardless of how they treat the land’s indigenous inhabitants.

            Or that God intended humans to dominate nature, even if we destroy it.

            And there’s the belief that God will always intervene to fix things if we just ask using the right passwords. 

            Let alone the childlike picture of God as a white-bearded grandfather figure who sits on a cloud “up there” somewhere.

            Few of us, I think, would still cling to those  dusty assumptions, if we stopped to think about them. Maybe some of them also deserve to go into the recycling bin.

*****************************************

Copyright © 2019 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

*****************************************

 

YOUR TURN

 

I got mixed reactions to last week’s column, about the experience of shuffling in the dark towards an unclear destination. Several people thought it identified their own feelings about moving towards the end of life. But one woman asked, “Why didn’t you just turn on a light?” That, at least, had a simple answer -- turning on a light would have wakened my wife!

 

Dick Best commented, “Interesting that you should reference Tim Conway on the day he shuffled through the door to whatever is on the other side.”

            Dick related his own experience -- rather like mine -- of finding his way in the dark. He continued, “How well will I do going through that symbolic doorway, whenever I am called to do so? All I know is that, so far, I've made it into the bed, sooner or later, although there have been a few side trips. Hopefully, I will do as well there.”

 

Frank Martens identified with my narrative: “You’re fortunate that your shuffling takes place only in the dark when you are finding your way around your home, a place with which you are familiar. I’m in my early 80s as well, and even with two hiking sticks to keep my balance, I note that I’m starting to shuffle sideways, trying hard to keep a straight line as I walk.

            “What I suspect will happen soon, along with losing my memory, will be the need for a walker, and from there…. my final shuffle…”

 

Tom Watson mused, “Ah, treading on uncertain territory is a challenge. What was it that Donald Rumsfeld said? Something likes: ‘Aswe know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know.’

            “Oops, I just clobbered my shin on a chair I didn't know was there!”

 

The column made Cliff Boldt think of the poem by  Minnie Haskins that King George VI quoted in his 1939 Christmas message, “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown…’

Cliff wrote, “The words were prophetic when the King George VI used them in his Christmas message, 1939. [The person who sent it to me] suggested that it was appropriate given the political and economic turmoil we are facing. In a sense, it is like your darkness wondering too. How does faith help with the wondering?”

            If you’re interested, I wrote about that poem in my column for December 26, last year.

 

Bruce Fraser wrote, “Thanks for sharing your personal story. It's more... personal that way.

            “When I wonder about dying, this Bible passage comes to mind:

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9) Whatever I think it might be like... it will be a thousand times better. I often say, ‘Knowing Jesus makes all the difference in the world’.”

 

Anne McRae similarly had no fears: “I’m in my nineties. God has been very good to me so far. I'm hoping to say 'good night' to Him from this side some night and say 'good morning' to Him from the other side.. Just slip across the border overnight. Wonder what plans God has????? Whatever, I won't be here to report, will I?”

 

 “Beautiful. Also in my eighties, I resonate with your journey,” wrote Beth Robey Hyde. Then she went on to  focus on a different element in my narrative: “I only wish that I lived in an area as free from light pollution as you. I miss the outdoors darkness, the incredible night sky, and the way the moon can create a new landscape as it also touches my soul and body. Indoor darkness is just that, dark, not the living black of the night.”

 

*****************************************

 

PSALM PARAPHRASE

 

Psalm 67 might well be a plea to the television weather guru:

 

1          Send us mild temperatures and gentle breezes, God; 
Make your sun shine softly and your rain fall regularly. 
Then we will know that you smile upon us, and bless us.

2          Then all will recognize your kindness, your power to save.

3          And the people will praise you, God. All the people will praise you.

4          For the nations will know you are not capricious. 
You do not favor one over another. 
You do not give rain to one and drought to another; 
You do not feed one and starve another.

6          The earth pours out its produce without stinting; 
like God, it withholds nothing.

7          Who then are we to withhold anything from others? 
As God has blessed us, let us bless others.

5          Then indeed will all the peoples praise you, God; all nations will know you and praise you.

 

For paraphrases of mostof the psalms used by the Revised Common Lectionary, you can order my book Everyday Psalmsfrom Wood Lake Publishing, info@woodlake.com.

 

*******************************************

 

TECHNICAL STUFF

 

If you want to comment on something, send a message directly to me, jimt@quixotic.ca.

                  To subscribe or unsubscribe, send an e-mail message to jimt@quixotic.ca. Or you can subscribe electronically by sending a blank e-mail (no message or subject line) to softedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca. Similarly, you can un-subscribe at softedges-unsubscribe@lists.quixotic.ca.

                  I write a second column each Sunday called Sharp Edges, which tends to be somewhat more cutting about social and justice issues. To sign up for Sharp Edges, write to me directly, jimt@quixotic.ca, or send a note to sharpedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca

                  And for those of you who like poetry, I’ve started a webpage http://quixotic.ca/My-Poetrywhere I post (occasionally, when I feel inspired) poems that I have written. If you’d like to receive notifications about new poems, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca,  or subscribe yourself to the list by sending a blank email (no message) to poetry-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca(If it doesn’t work, please let me know.)

 

********************************************

 

PROMOTION STUFF

 

To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. Some spam filters have been blocking my posts because they’re suspicious of too many web links.

                  Ralph Milton’s latest project is a kind of Festival of Faith, a retelling of key biblical stories by skilled storytellers like Linnea Good and Donald Schmidt, designed to get people talking about their own faith experience. It’s a series of videos available on Youtube. I suggest you start with his introductory section: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u6qRclYAa8

                  Ralph’s “Sing Hallelujah” -- the world’s first video hymnal -- is still available. It consists of 100 popular hymns, both new and old, on five DVDs that can be played using a standard DVD player and TV screen, for use in congregations who lack skilled musicians to play piano or organ. The original website has been closed down, but you can still order the DVD set through Wood Lake Publications, info@woodlake,com

                  Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. <http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca>

                  I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom. She also has lots of beautiful photos.

                  Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom or twatsonATsentexDOTnet

 

ALVA WOOD’S ARCHIVE

                  I have acquired (don’t ask how) the complete archive of the late Alva Wood’s collection of satiric and sometimes wildly funny columns about a mythical village’s misadventures. I’ve put them on my website: http://quixotic.ca/Alva-Wood-Archive. You’re welcome to browse. No charge.

 


Comments (0)Number of views (159)

Author: Jim Taylor

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: beliefs, Habits, Recycling, Richard Rohr

Print

Tags

"gate of the year" #MeToo 150th birthday 1954 1972 3G 9/11 A God That Could Be Real abduction abortion Abrams abuse addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix affirmative action aging Ahriman Ahura Mazda airport killings Alabama albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations Almighty Almighty God ALS alt-right altruism Amanda Todd Amazon Amherst analysis Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anniversaries antidote Ants aphrodisiac apoptosis App Store Archives Ardern armistice Armstrong Art artifacts astronomy atonement atropine Attawapiscat attitudes attraction audits authorities autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry B.C. Legislature B-2 baby Bach bad news baggage Bahai Banda banning books Baptism Barabbas barbed wire barbers Bashar al Assad BC BC Conference Beans bears beauty Beaver Beethoven beginnings behaviour bel-2 belief systems beliefs benefits Bernardo berries Bible biblical sex birds birth birthday birthdays Bitcoin Blackmore blood blood donors boar body Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women bombing bombings bombs books border patrol both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brains Brazil breath breathe breathing Brexit broken bubbles Buber Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bulldozers bullets bullying bush pilots butterflies butterfly Calendar California Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats Canute caregivers caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cats cave CBC Cecil the lion. Zanda CentrePiece CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Chesapeake Bay Retriever Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking chivalry chocolates choice choices choirs Christchurch Christian Christianity Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas gathering Christmas lights Christmas trees church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés Clichés cliffhanger climate change clocks close votes coastal tribes coffee collaboration collective work colonial mindset colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty communication Communion community complexity composers conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues Confirmation confusion Congo Conrad Black consciousness consensual consent conservative Conservative Party contraception Conversations conversion therapy coral Cornwallis corporations corruption Cosby Cougars counter-cultural Countercurrents courtesy courts Coventry Cathedral CPP CPR CRA Craig crashes creation creche crescent Creston crime criminal crossbills cross-country skiing crucifixion crypto-currencies Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Damocles Dan Rather Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Suzuki de Bono dead zone deaf deafness death deaths decision Definitions Delhi Dementia democracy denial Denny's departure Depression Descartes despair determinism Devin Kelley dew dawn grass Diana Butler-Bass dinosaurs dissent diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Donald Trump Donna Sinclair doorways Doug Martindale Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs Duvalier dying Dylan Thomas earth Earth Day Easter Eat Pray Love Ebola eclipse economics Eden editing editing by committee Edwards-Sawatzky Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or Elizabeth Gilbert Ellithorpe email embassy emergent emotions encryption English Entropy epiphany epitaph Erika van Oyen erosion Esteban Santiago eternal life eternity ethics Ethiopia Eucharist eulogy evacuation evacuation orders Eve Evelyn Glennie Every Note Played everything evil Evolution expectations experiment extinctions extremes extremism eye for an eye Eyes Facebook faith False Creek fascist fate fear Fedex feel feminine hygiene Fentanyl Fibonacci Field figure skating Fire fireball fires First Nations Fitbit flirting flooding floods floppy disks flow chart flow charts flowers fluency flying Flying objects fog Folk sayings Food Bank forensic Forest fires forests forgiving Four Pests campaign fracking franchises free free speech free will freedom friend Friendship friendships fruit fundamentalism future Gaia games Gandhi Garbage Garrison Keillor Geese genes genocide Gerald Stanley Gerard Manley Hopkins Ghomeshi girls glaciers global economy global warming go north God gods Golden Golden Rule Goldilocks good Good Friday good intentions goodness Google Google Play government Governor General grammar gravity Great Barrier Reef greatest story green Green Eggs Green Party Gretta Vosper grief Grinch Grounded Group of seven groups growth Guiado guilt guns Habits hackers Haidt haircuts Haiti Hal Niedzviecki handshake Harari harassment Harjit Sajjan harmony Haskins hate Hawaii health health plans hearing hearts heat heaven Heisenberg Hell helping herd instinct heroes heroin Higher Porpoise highway hijacking Hillary Clinton Hinduism history Homulka Honduras honesty Hong Kong hope Horgan Horton hospitality houseflies houses Huawei human rights Humboldt hummingbirds humour Hunsberger hurricane Hurricanes ICBMs ice dance Icefields Parkway identity
Copyright 2019 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada