Long time no blog

Having completed a masters and been on the job hunt for a while, I have at last put aside a little time for the blog – after 7 months!
I am also getting around to reading some of the books waiting patiently on my bookshelf. I’ve just started The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge (Penguin, 2005). I like his style and his approach: accurate and erudite but not dry or cold; Tudge has a warm, informed reverence for his subject. On the question “what is a tree?”, he writes:

An oak is a noble tree in a forest or a park but an acorn that falls in a fissure in some Scottish crag may spend a couple of centuries in bonsai’d mode, never more than a twisted stick. Yet it may turn out acorns which, if they should be carried to some fertile field, could again produce magnificence. Is the twisted stick less of an oak because it fell on stony ground? And if it remains an oak, is it not still a tree?

Possibilities and potential are locked up in every acorn, wherever it lands. A parallel with us humans comes to mind. Just as a tree is a tree, regardless of its surroundings, so our inner humanity remains, regardless of upbringing or surroundings. Even if our appearance – physical or behavioural – is far from admirable, we, each of us, has the potential for “magnificence”. Beauty, fruitfulness and creativity can arise from any situation – it just takes a little faith and the right encouragement. That’s not so say that beauty and virtue cannot be seen in the most “hopeless case”. Of course they can but there is always potential for dramatic change, for a real turning-around. Whatever about our physical self – a product of nature and nurture – our heart and soul can change and be changed dramatically. Perhaps, in trees, we see a picture of forgiveness and redemption.

The acorn is “carried to some fertile field”, however. If we are made in God’s image – as the Hebrew Scriptures tell us, if there is a watermark of God’s character on each one of us, some echo of His magnificence, some yearning for a better us, then certainly we are involved in the transport.  It’s just that we tend to take the wrong route. And even if we took the right route, I don’t believe we’d get there on our own. Just as the acorn needs a bird or a stream to get to a better place, don’t we need a Carrier?

Kinda like a tree,

JcJ

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For Trekkies and Everybody Else

I saw the new Star Trek movie today. It was engaging. It struck me that regardless of the level of technological advancement that human beings achieve, our stories ultimately distill down to the same simple things: we are still human beings. Simple things: bravery, sacrifice, honesty, compassion, kindness, hard work, patience, love. Simple as in fundamental, not simple as in trivial or easy. Whatever about the physically impossible necessities of the plot and associated special effects, it was the reconciliation of relationships and people getting their priorities straight that brought about resolution and success, of sorts. Moral truths come to the surface.
Of course, it was a Hollywood blockbuster, so the good guys would have to win in the end and that having suffered great loss but still, I think there’s a moral to the story.

Trying to figure it out,

JcJ

Life = Compromise

Recently, I had a big deadline, which I nearly missed, even after some long nights. They say a job will expand to fill the time allowed to it. I fall prey to this kind of thing all the time: getting caught up in the detail and missing the big picture – the thing’s got to get done!  In theory, if you set a task to a perfectionist, they will never complete it; it will take them forever. Since we humans are far from perfect, whatever we do will never be quite right. We’ll always miss the mark, even if it’s only by a whisker. So, to get anything done, we have to compromise:  take what we have been given, do with it what we can, in the time that we have available. And be done with it.

Spending too long editing this,

JcJ

PS. That doesn’t mean that compromise is good enough; it just means that we offer something, where might offer nothing.

So am I

Many years ago, UK newspaper, The Times asked readers what was wrong with the world. The great G. K. Chesterton wrote the shortest letter to them ever:

” Dear Sir, I am, yours sincerely, G. K. Chesterton.”

That is genius. That is humility. That is realism. That is thought-provoking.

Thoughtfully provoked,

JcJ

To those who have been a blessing

Albert Schweitzer, a brilliant musician, philosopher, theologian and medical doctor had these words to say on those who had influenced him greatly:
“One thing stirs me when I look back to my younger days, the fact that so many people gave me something or were something to me without knowing it. Such people entered into my life and became powers within me. Our spiritual life comes by what others have given us in the significant times of our journey. Much of what is seen as gentleness, modesty, kindness, forgiveness, loyalty, resignation in suffering, we owe to people when we have seen these qualities evidenced in their lives. If we had before us those who have been a blessing to us and tell them how it came about, they would be amazed to learn what had passed over from their life into ours.”

Thankful to those people – you don’t know who you are.

JcJ