Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sakura

The Cherry Trees in the Nations Capitol are now in bloom. It is when this occurs in the early spring that I most enjoy the beauty that God has given to us. The Japanese culture has taken admiration of natural beauty to a level that resembles religious devotion. Hanami, the viewing of Sakura or cherry blossoms is a vibrant example which many regard as a National holiday period know as "Sakura Matsuri" or Cheery Blossom Festival. I have been privileged to enjoy sharing it with them in Hirisaki. One of the best known songs of Japan, Sakura, relates to this tradition.

Nearly everyone has at sometime related "Communing with Nature" to a spiritual experience, which in many respects it is. However an often heard argument the gist of which is "I don't need church - this is how I keep in touch with God" reveals that even the most beautiful things can have a negative side.

In considering that argument two truths pop out at me. First contemplation and admiration of the peaceful, quiet and intricately beautiful aspects of our natural world does not make us good, peaceful, quite, fair, principled, virtious, or likable beings or societies. Many of the worlds most violent and despotic individuals and governments have espoused world views that Honored Nature and respected the environment. Merely having a spiritual experience or orientation or feeling good, does not equate to being Godly. Secondly Christianity is not about us being fulfilled individually, the purpose and vision of the Christian community should be to meet others, with God's love, at the place of their need.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back to Normal?

The Saturday Night Dinner at a local Italian restaurant went well. Easter Sunday was pretty typical, a very good and well attended Morning Service, Then a Family Dinner. It was nice to have all of our clan together. Monday the ladies went shopping, and on Tuesday we took the young ones to the Children's museum. They enjoyed the chance to run and play with others. Wednesday the last of them left for home.

Unfortunately I came down with a wicked intestinal bug which resulted in my spending all day yesterday and much of today alternating between sleeping and visiting the bathroom. Now I feel pretty normal. I wonder how many kids who were at the children's museum will get sick.

As the events of the resurrection were related during the Easter morning service I was reminded of a detail which I had heard recently regarding the cloth which had covered the face of Jesus in the tomb. John states that it was found folded up and laid aside. This is in contrast to the shroud which had simply been tossed aside. The symbolism of this relates to an ordinary practice in Hebrew households of that time wherein if the master were to rise from the table and toss his napkin aside it would indicate that he was finished. However if it is folded and laid to the side it indicates that he is not yet done, others are obliged to wait for him to return and finish. These are the details we often miss from our distant vantage point.

I am frequently amazed at the detail within detail of biblical accounts. I can read or hear the same story over and over, yet each time find something new in it for me. Also I notice that when a new point is brought to my attention it is often reinforced by receiving it from several sources withing a short period of time. God surely knows how to get my attention when dealing with me.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Saturday

Tomorrow we will celebrate Easter with most of the family. My eldest son and his wife drove into the area early yesterday afternoon. That was good timing as we were blessed with about four inches of snow last night. I am reminded of a line from a "Golf Trail" commercial, the gist of it is "Winter is something to be endured". Today my daughter and her family are driving down from near Detroit and are running into problems on the road. All are converging here for a family birthday dinner tonight. Our youngest son turned 27 recently.

Last night the wife and I attended a Tenebrae Good Friday Service. At one point the tale was told of the Garden at Gethsemane. Somehow I seemed to feel justified upon being reminded that even the disciples of Jesus had difficulty staying alert and attentive during long periods of prayer and meditation . Perhaps there is some hope for me yet.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Here it is Good Friday. It looks like all of my descendants (Four children, two spouses, and 2 grandchildren) will be in town for the Easter Weekend it I am really looking forward to visiting with them. I have been spending time contemplating the full meaning of Christ's death on the cross as a gift to us. Presently I am exploring the "Centering Prayer" concept. I have experimented a bit but with no conclusions. I would like to examine it more closely before committing to it. I have concerns about perhaps inappropriate similarity to TMD and ZEN practices.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

First Blog

OK, so I finally have this setup so that I can perhaps stand to look at it for now.
I am posting this just to test and experiment.