Our modern culture worships choice and ‘freedom’
Thus it is highly mobile
The grass is by definition greener, not only on the other side of the fence, but also over the rainbow, to mix the metaphorical palette
A question therefore all for all of us called to the work of abiding and bearing fruit is, ‘do we trust the soil the gardener chooses for us?’
To stay put where we’re put?
Richard Foster in his now classic, ‘Celebration of Discipline’ says ‘The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people or gifted people, but for deep people’
The question is, can such a mobile world, one which has radically (sic) severed its connection with Place ( the Given connection, the Soil ) in favour of an overwhelming multitude of connections bearing little or no relation to geography, produce such people?
Unless we wish to discount much of the significance of the Incarnation, then I suggest that we cannot be deep if our mindful existence is independent of Place, Location, Geography. A plant cannot grow in the virtual realm.
The Internet, texting etc., means we are not where we are . . . Which might in a sense question our very existence as anything other than disembodied consciousnesses. The metaphor of the fruit bearing vine is a physical one, we are not ‘winds’ – we are the planting of The Lord. Place matters
As a deep one of former times put it, ‘stay in your cell, it will teach you everything’. Or as Benedictine insisted in his rule, we cannot grow if we’re always on the move.
Do we trust the soil?
When I were a wee lad. . .
I went to hospital for a ‘minor op’
It took two weeks
A week leading up the surgery
And a week’s convalescence
We have forgotten much – nowadays, UK at least I’d be in and out inside two or three days
Productive once more
Able to ‘function’ and take my allotted place in ‘the bigger scheme of things’
Back then life was undeniably harder in some regards
It was also gentler
The modern world is a hard task master and some of us are more than hard enough on ourselves
We need to convalesce
To get to that point where we are Utterly Frustrated with being kept in bed, by those who are Wiser than we. To be Well
It is like the walk of faith
We think we’ve ‘got it!’, but we’re not yet well
We need to convalesce
After all, God is at work
We’re not really all that necessary . . .
We ‘need to concentrate on getting well’
And That is a parable of sorts
Genesis 5-7; John 3; Psalm 5-6
Our readings in Genesis continue in the mythical world of the first 11 chapters. In it deep and mysterious foundations are laid. Ancient Archtypes set forth – male and female – evil and good – pastoral life vs that of the city and more. In these ‘times’ human life is long – always in Scripture a sign of blessing – and the lives described are large in every sense – from Nimrod, to Noah, from Methuselah to the Nephilim, there is a sense of the serious grandeur of human existence.
Such serious grandeur and deep themes we choose to largely live unconscious of, indeed modern life often seems designed to obliterate these deep characteristics of the human story – along with any story about a God whose ways are not ours in one form or another. This is not a game solely for atheists or indifferent agnostics – Christians are all too fond of taming ‘God’ and living out of synch with such Reality. A God who refuses to live by a simple code, or at least one known to us, and who expresses regret that he ever conceived of humans . . . yet one catches his eye, through whom he considers a new beginning might be made
As we come to John, we find Nicodemus out of his depth – in a Genesis 6 darkness. The teacher of Israel is blind – and faced with One who demands the impossible of him – that he is born a second time. ‘I had no say in my birth – how can one be born a second time?’ Jesus calls Nicodemus to the full seriousness of Life – something Other, Older yet ever new.
As of old God wiped the slate clean, to start afresh, now also in Christ a New beginning is heralded, but with a twist – not that the world might be condemned, but Astonishingly, that the world might be saved through him. And like Noah was mocked, so too ‘He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony’
The world of Genesis 1-11, might be strange, but surely no stranger than our own. Take time to dwell upon Archetype – Myth – the Seriousness and Grandeur of Life, and one who says we ‘must be born again’