Maine and Hermits (and one Knight-ed hermit in particular)
Oh, Pine Tree State
Your woods, fields and hills
Your lakes, streams and rockbound coast
Will ever fill our hearts with thrills
And tho’ we seek far and wide
Our search will be in vain
To find a fairer spot on earth
Than Maine! Maine! Maine!
-from State of Maine Song, by Roger Vinton Snow
This quote is from the official State of Maine song. (Yes, Virginia, there really is such a thing!) It briefly lists some of the natural attributes that make this state so appealing to both residents and visitors alike, “natives” and those “from away”. Tourism is important to Maine’s economy. A good number of people who retired early have moved to Maine (especially the midcoast) from other states. Then there are the hermits. Continue reading “State O’ Maine, Land O’ Hermits?”
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent : Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47
“There are those like Norfolk who follow me because I wear the crown; and those like Master Cromwell who follow me because they are jackals with sharp teeth and I’m their tiger; there’s a mass that follows me because it follows anything that moves. And then there’s you.” King Henry VIII to Sir Thomas More, A Man For All Seasons
We Westerners like to think of ourselves as mature people who can think and choose for ourselves. We may bristle at the thought of someone else interfering in our lives. We believe that being a leader is better than being a follower. If you can’t be a leader, then at least be a rebel or a misfit. See how often the rebel becomes the hero in action movies. Continue reading “The One”
Fourth Sunday of Lent (A): John 9:1-41
“Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.'” – John 9:39
Needless to say, light is most useful. It enables us to see our surroundings, locate objects that we wish to take (or walk around), and recognize people we meet. Light helps us see the results of our work. However, light also helps us see any mistakes we have made. It shows us dust that we failed to clean up. It shows signs of aging on our faces. Light imposes no judgment on us; it merely shows us what is. Judgment, in this context, is how we respond to what the light shows us. Do we accept what we see: the flaws, for example, in our faces and bodies? Are we willing to act based on what we see: by cleaning up the dust, for example, or putting out the trash? In these cases, we pass judgment on ourselves, based on what we do with what the light shows us. Our choices reveal our true values. They show who – or what – we serve. Continue reading “Light and Judgment”
Third Sunday of Lent (A): John 4:5-42
I’ve always enjoyed word play. Puns, crosswords, cryptograms, Scrabble – just about any game involving words. Psychologists tell us that people on the autism spectrum tend to like word play even more than people in general. Puns and word games come standard with us Aspies, so to speak!
But we’re not alone. The Bible is filled with examples of puns and word play. Very often, the naming of a person or place involves a play on words. Adam, on seeing Eve: “This one shall be called ‘woman’, for from ‘her man’ this one has been taken”. In Hebrew, ‘woman’ and ‘her man’ sound almost the same. Jesus, to Simon: “You are ‘Peter’, and upon ‘this rock’ I will build my church.” Again, ‘Peter’ and ‘this rock’ sound almost the same in the original. John, writing out of a rich Biblical tradition, will also use plays on words as a means to draw out deeper meanings. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “You must be born ‘again’.” In Greek, the word translated as ‘again’ can also mean ‘from above’, depending on context. Nicodemus objects, understanding the word in its usual, literal ‘again’ meaning. Jesus then explains further, using the meaning ‘from above’. The Biblical authors used puns and word play not merely because they may have enjoyed it. It served a purpose. It is a reminder that they are writing about realities that cannot be adequately expressed in words. To show this, the Biblical authors used word play to show the reader that there is always more to life, and to God, than we might assume at first glance. Word play is an invitation to “come and see”, to go deeper. Continue reading “The Bridegroom at the Well”
Thursday of the Second Week of Lent: Luke 16:19-31
I’ve done no wrong!
Sweet Jesus hear my prayer!
Look down, look down,
Sweet Jesus doesn’t care.
– from Work Song, Les Misérables
The musical Les Misérables, like the novel that inspired it, offers us an unfiltered picture of the life of the poor in nineteenth century France. The line “Look down” appears again in Les Miz as the title of a later, similar song sung by the poor of Paris. That line can have different meanings, depending on its context. It provides us with a good way to begin to explore the parable which Jesus tells the Pharisees in today’s Gospel reading. Continue reading “Look Down”