Featured image: Daffodil fields where the bulbs will eventually be harvested. Photo taken from a double-decker bus, bound for Penzance.
Cogitation 12 Saturday 24 March 2018 Mystery is an event you can’t explain. It’s anything you see that, well, remains inexplicable.
For me, mystery is present in both the material and spiritual realms–even if much of the former can be explained scientifically.
While the material or physical can be explained, reams of such specialist knowledge eludes me, even as I applaud historical and on-going scientific discoveries and intellectual developments. At the same time, the understanding that comes through the non-physical aspect of spirit completes the profound unity of body and soul.
Body and mind, spirit and soul, others have offered detailed commentary on each one. I see these as forms of who I am and who I am becoming as a physical and spiritual being. In the end, for me, it’s a God thing. God is renewing, transforming creation.
Evidence of the world’s ills to the contrary, I believe one’s inner and outer world is transformed in relationship with the Creator and one can embrace life as both human and being.
I admit, I have to make room for a lot of mystery.
A personal comment on Christian faith
What’s central to me is the essential unity of the physical, intellectual and spiritual in the human being. For instance, physical food answers human hunger; a novel stirs my intellect; spiritual food feeds my soul. The three levels make up who I am and who I am becoming.
I recognize that many people find meaning in faiths other than Christianity, or no faith at all. I’m not here to pass judgement, only to note that I find spiritual fulfillment, peace, and forgiveness as a follower of Jesus.
The image of Jesus during the coming Holy Week is that of suffering Saviour, the son whom God raised from death, making it possible for me to transcend material existence as a whole self. I’m happy with the resulting balance of mystery and knowledge that gives meaning and purpose to my life.
Rev Suzanne Hosking based her fifth Sunday of Lent sermon last Sunday on Hebrews 5:5-10. That’s where I got the title for this post, “Make room for mystery.” The mystery surrounds God’s intention in bringing Jesus to earth as a human to make a way for people to claim their eternal existence.
Hebrews 5:7-9: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him . . . .”
“Make room for mystery, the other,” Rev Suzanne said, partake of the spiritual food God offers.
Mystery encountered in music, the Eucharist, and prayer last Sunday
The Right Attitude to Rain
I’ve finished The Right Attitude to Rain, a novel by Alexander McCall Smith in The Sunday Philosophy Club Series.
To be content in the Scottish–and any such–climate means having the right attitude to rain. It’s an attitude that says to be happy you make the best of what you have.
Isabel Dalhousie thinks too much. She thinks too much in a good way, but one that keeps her from acting in the best way to fulfill her personal interests and needs.
Isabel’s thoughts for others are laudable, insightful, frank, well-intended, gratefully received for the most part, and so philosophically A-level.
The flyleaf gives a clue to her state of the moment: “Bruised early in love by her faithless Irish husband, Isabel Dalhousie is a connoisseur of intimate moral issues; she edits a philosophical journal and spends a great deal of time considering how to improve the lives of those around her.”
Isabel wants not for wealth or interaction with people, but she’s lonely. Will she finally advance to a new level of life and love? She does, with engaging twists and turns on the way and a final surprise that reflects a right attitude to rain.
Put the kettle on
“The true story behind England’s tea obsession” is an article by Billie Cohen published in BBC News Online (26 August 2017).
When Catherine of Braganza married Charles II in 1662, she brought her custom of daily tea along from her home in Portugal. She was the daughter of Portugal’s King John IV.
Catherine’s dowry included money, spices, treasures, and the ports of Tangiers and Bombay, Cohen said. Among her personal things she brought loose-leaf tea. Until then, tea in Great Britain was consumed only as a medicine. Catherine “made it popular as a social beverage rather than a health tonic,” said Cohen.
There it is. The customs of the Court changed the passions of the realm. Still, tea can be both a tonic and social lift–and, third, as Bernard-Paul Heroux’s quote on the package of Cornish-blended Smugglers Brew suggests, a way out of a sticky wicket: “There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.”
Glimpses of the week
Winter seems to want to hang on
Last weekend was cold, with disrupted travel in many parts of the country. This week we’ve encountered sun, rain–proper rain that is, not just a shower–and wind. Forecasts point to a possible white Easter in many parts of the country. Is that so? is all I can say.
I was pleased for the comment on wintry weather earlier this month from my cousin Dale Bender. He wrote: “Reading in Psalms surprised me with this wintry entry.”
He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word ad melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow . . .
Praise the LORD.”
Pleasurable sights and sounds and smells on a gray, rainy Friday
So, what gives me the “right attitude” to make the most of the sad, messy, violent, and turbulent times we as humans perpetuate on ourselves, on others, and on the part of the universe where we live? How do I respond to what goes on, from draconian to dismal?
For one, with a sense of humility, shame, and brokenness.
For another, with deep gratitude for all the good afoot in our world.
Third, with faith and hope vested in Biblical assurance. Back to the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 11. Chapter 11 surveys millennia of the people who exhibited tremendous faith: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for” (v1).
The chapter recounts the practice of faith from Abel to Rahab. “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (vs 39,40).
I’m truly chuffed to be together with the human and heavenly host singing lauds to the Lord for the manifold wonders and mysteries all around us.
I’m also chastened to be part of a dedicated lot–past, present, and future–whose love of God makes us other-centered, fully human, giving the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, mind and hand a chance to further the kingdom of God here and now.
For the children and adults who might like to know what are Britain’s most popular pets, here’s the word from yesterday’s i newspaper. Just under half of households here have a pet. If you guessed dogs are the highest percentage, you’re right (21%), followed by cats (18%), fish (7%), rabbits (2%), Indoor birds (1%), guinea pigs (1%), hamsters (1%), and tortoises or turtles (0.3%).