Cumulative Days Riding: 169 Cumulative Days Blogging: 154
Today’s Mileage: 5 Total Trip Mileage: 1129
In my most recent blog I spoke about my strong disagreement with a historian’s statement about the future as an “apathetic void of no interest to anyone.” I highlighted what I believe is the importance of the “here-and-now” and the “possibilities” of the future. I’ve had a discussion with several people about this point and I wanted to clarify my views a bit further.
I recognize that our attention can easily be drawn to the past like an intriguing movie or play. We often know some of the characters by name (i.e.., Generals and Presidents, siblings and parents), we know some of the locations by experience (i.e., battlefields and Capitals, childhood homes) and we often know how the story ends (i.e., who wins the battles and the war, where people are now). By delving deeper into the story (our shared or individual past) we often discover new scenes, intriguing relationships and hidden plot twists that had escaped our earlier awareness. While the past can offer insights as to how we got to where we are today and at times offer possible solutions to current problems, our decisions have to be imbedded in the present and take into account the forces at play in the here-and-now.
I am always suspicious when people like the Tea Party activists, frame our present problems as identical or closely related to that which occurred hundreds of years ago. I remember seeing where a local church was advertising that it was “First Century Christianity in the Twenty First Century!” This appeared to be based on the fact that their “church” had no physical building, but met on a rotating basis in members homes. I see that statement as being nonsensical or at least historically inaccurate. Who knows for sure what first century Christianity looked like! It was a product of a time and place that no longer exists. It represented a new movement (not an established faith or societal institution) pitted against an established institutional religion (paganism) and was being persecuted (not embraced by the society’s leaders) and forced to operate under a cloak of secrecy (the fish symbol and hidden meetings). Whereas now Christianity is an established religion and social institution, it operates in the open, it controls many media mouthpieces and counts a majority of the nation’s leaders among its members. What this church was offering was a variation of twenty first century Christianity! I also suspect that once their membership grows large enough they too will purchase a church building! At that time I guess they will need to market themselves as “third century Christianity” or just join the rest of us in the present!
Dwelling on the Past
Small islands of pink granite
Stretch like a chain of pearls
The strand lies broken
Large gaps separate them
Filled with swirling waters
Brown, green and murky
Even the lone goose
navigates the eddies with caution
Only a giant or NBA center
could transverse these stepping stones
Small rock outcroppings
In the center of the river
Human free sanctuaries
Sporting clumps of trees and scrubs
Is it wrong to wish
for the droughts return?
When the main channel was a slow moving stream
And bridges of stepping stones
Offered walkways to green islands
Far from the noisy picnickers
And their second hand smoke
Several month ago I blogged on one aspect of the challenge we face on our spiritual journey. I quoted an Ani DeFranco’s song: “When I look down I miss the good stuff (scenes about us and on the horizon) and when I look up I just trip over things (obstacles at our feet)”. I noted that one of the challenges on our journey is find a rhythm and balance between stopping to look up (checking out the road ahead) and then moving a distance while glancing down to watch your footing. I would like to add our current discussion of the importance of the past to this analogy.
The challenge is to find a rhythm and balance on your journey through life among three components: First, we must at times stop and look up toward our future path, see our goals, look for forks (decision points) in the road ahead, note if there is a blind turn in the road or signs of adverse weather. If you fail to do this with sufficient frequency or adequate attention to detail you will be “surprised” and “blind sided” by forks in the road, washed out bridges or dangerous and threatening situations that seemingly “just happen.” Secondly, at times we need to stop and glance over our shoulders into the past, to see if the surrounding scenery looks familiar and ask how our past choices have shaped our current situation, look for reoccurring patterns (like what happened the last time when the fuel light lit up on our dashboard and we ignored it). While we cannot backtrack and redo an earlier choice we often can make future choices that steer us back toward our stated goals, or we can reevaluate our future goals to match future possibilities. Lastly, we always have to remember to move forward while focusing on life’s moment-to-moment demands on the path about our feet. Be attentive to the moment-to-moment changes in our relationships, the unexpected delays and detours, the multitude of small seemingly simple choices that occur. It is not the past or the future that trips us up, it is life unfolding and playing out at our feet, which includes repeating patterns and predictable events and choices!
I find it ironic that three days ago there were many people around the world who had plans to travel to and from Europe on vacation and/or business. Then an event that no one had any control over, the eruption of a volcano hundreds of miles away brought much of the world air traffic to a halt. This acts as a reminder that the “best laid plans” are just that: “plans”! Some events (often called acts of God or Nature) just appear with little or no warning… welcome to the balancing act we call life!
Perhaps I was a bit too hasty
In cursing the high water
On an island well out of reach
A dozen large turtles
Bask in the midday sun
Further down the shoreline
A young man
And his three bikini clad companions
Occupy an island
I watch with amusement
Their slow and noisy
Return to shore
It was a slippery journey
But leaves me with a question
Why do young girls
Scream so much?
I hope you enjoy the two poems I included today. They were the product of my river walk that took place several days earlier. Tomorrow we return to our pilgrimage journey across northern Florida.
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