Dipping a TOE (Theory of Everything) in the Lake

Did Evolution Give Us Surfing? - READY... SET... QUESTION!

Big trees fell into Lake Michigan over and upon each other like pickup sticks. The beach became a trimmed path to wend down more than to lay on. What happened when I was so busy inland mowing my lawn? So much for long walks on the beach. It was more like an obstacle course, hiking around large upended stumps or limbo lumbering underneath thick trunks.

A bit overwhelmed, I found a perch part way up on a dune. The kids had invited me along to do some hammocking. Yes, that’s a thing now. Hammocking isn’t really a word yet. Auto- correct suggested ‘ham mocking.’ Next Easter I will try mocking the honey ham. Anyway, my kids dug their toes in and continued to the top, while I sat and pondered the plight of our most favored lake of the greats.

Is this simply another sign of the times? Is this God’s way of reminding us of how little control we have over the skin of the earth? Some suggest humanity has contributed to climate change. I don’t doubt that, but the degree of our influence on the changes are still under review to my mind.

I sat for a bit, then pulled out of my back pocket a small book. If Einstein Had Been a Surfer by Peter Kreeft is a slim hardcover about the search for the Theory of Everything. Although it is a short walk on a really long pier of thought, I found it fascinating considering the view of dunes cut off at the knees and horizontal trees still bearing green leaves.

Now, I don’t know why, but for a few months now I’ve been queuing up surfing videos. Before that, I had a fetish for tsunamis. Before that, I thought of how unfathomable the oceans are and why God proportioned them thus. Consider this…maybe God’s thought was to overwhelm us with motifs of eternity like the universe having no back wall on which to hang our pretensions. How about the ocean blanketing 71 percent of our little blue planet? Maybe God thought 29 percent was all that humanity could manage.

[Side note: Did you know the saline of the ocean is within .5 percent of the saline percentage of human amniotic fluid?]

Anyway, as Kreeft surfs (He is a surfer, by the way, along with being a professor of philosophy at Boston College.) the waves of thought in search of an ‘everything’ that curls in on itself, he employs a philosopher, a scientist, and a surfer in conversation. After a few pages in I realized how over my head I was, trying to grasp what they were after…but the undertow. I caught a small wave and I wasn’t sitting on top of the world like one of the Beach Boys.

I set the book down several times to look off in the middle distance, the distance being a huge lake of which I could not see the other side. A metaphor of eternity, infinity, or simply a bigness beyond what my eyes beheld in total. I knew Wisconsin was over there somewhere, but right then all I could do was exercise faith. I couldn’t see everything. Hmm.

A thought spilled on my conscience. “Jerry, you’re not Einstein, Kreeft, or a surfer. Why are you splaying intellect? What is it you’re after? Does thinking about these things bring about a peace of mind, or mitigate a piece of your mind?” If anyone does capture The Theory of Everything, then what?

Hang on, I’m about to hit the brakes and take a sharp turn.

Recently someone reminded me that the first temptation of humanity was knowledge of everything. “Just take a little bite of the fruit and you will be as God, full of knowledge.” Well, hey, becoming a know-it-all seems harmless enough. How about realizing you’re in the nude and reach immediately for underwear. How about playing hide and seek for the rest of your life? The ole be careful what you wish for scenario.

Surfing. Channel surfing. Surfing the internet. Have our eyes gotten Googly all of a sudden? Do we ride the Youtube all the way to shore? Since when do we need a 24 hour news cycle, real, fake, or everything in between? Knowledge is power as they say, but is absolute knowledge absolute power? There is a forest. There are trees. Do we understand the difference? Is it okay for elms to lay down on the beach? Does all sand eventually fall through the hourglass? Will the theory of everything distill our intelligence into artificiality? Will we be as gods, or will we be okay with bearing God’s image? Will we acquiesce to God holding onto the final coherence, keeping intact the mystery and majesty of human existence and God’s?

I set the book down and turned to look to the top of the dune. My son was up there, taking in the broadest perspective. My daughter was next to me as we took in a narrowed view of the lake. Down below my other daughter was waist deep in the chilled early summer waters. I may not know the theory of everything, and at this point, I’m not sure I want to. What moves my desire is theories of somethings, like sharing an afternoon at the beach with people I love, taking in the creativeness of God, and thanking God for both. Surf’s up.

A little blog blabber. (You’ve got time to read this, or you can clean your garage.)

I didn’t touch the news yet. Took my synthroid. Sipped some coffee. Read from several books. It’s been a full two hours and I haven’t seen the world map blotched with blood from one continent to another. So many have offered perspective by comparing all the different ways humans die and the percentage thereof. I once read that more people die from donkeys than from plane crashes every year. What an asinine perspective. Now when on the back roads of my delivery route, I see donkeys as potential murderers.

This must be some sort of reset. This virus, of all the past viral anomalies, is historic in its scope of culture twisting adjustments. Off in the distance I see. I see you off in the distance. Six feet might as well be six miles in some instances. Yet, out of the fire and into the frying pan-demic we all can admit a heightened awareness of how little we control stuff. I can still set the toaster level on four and expect crispy bread ready to melt butter on the surface, but deep down I know…

What?

Today is Sunday. The sun was seen from what I now call my reading room. It’s a little hovel, with windows facing east, south, and west. My thoughts tip-toed, skipped, and tripped from brain cell to brain cell, eventually finding neuron highways to travel as the coffee kicked in. I thought of other author’s thoughts. I thought of God’s thoughts. All this time to think, when the truth of the matter is we are thinking all the time. It’s our awareness that flickers on and off like a light bulb in a fruit cellar.

Here are some things of which I was made aware:

When filling my vitamin/medication daily dose tray, I imagine playing mancala.

An organized garage is a thing of beauty.

Refrigerator chess is always one move away from checkmate.

Everybody poops. (The toilet paper isle is still echoing, even when we speak in hushed tones six feet apart.)

Whenever I see latex gloves my first inkling is of an unpleasant procedure.

God and the Coronavirus are both unseen, but real.

My family can survive a lockdown, for a couple of weeks at least.

Neil Diamond is relevant.

I really want to play tic-tac-toe in the grocery store with all the X’s on the floor.

My wife loves me, and I love her.

Wildlife, especially birds, don’t give a rip about pandemics.

Beauty is indeed fleeting, but hey, I still see it everywhere.

A measured sense of humor in times like these is essential.

Thoughts can be turned into prayers.

Family is.

 

I’ve already gone over my goal of six hundred words per blog post, so if you’ve read this far, I’m proud of you.

Everyone, wash your hands, say your prayers, and make eye-contact.

 

The Heights of Humility

Recently, I went to the mountains in Colorado. The camp was nestled at 8600ft. It took my breath away in all respects. Such grandeur. The day before I returned to Michigan, a group of us decided to go to the crosses another 1500 feet up. Three crosses mounted on a bluff of the mountain begged attention. I thought of what I might say when and if I got there. “I’m the king of the world!” De’Caprio

Well, after taking many breaks to catch my breath I reached the desired summit. My my my… How I was humbled. Words were few and I felt adequately small. This was a holy moment, and I felt a bit more whole. There is something, someone way bigger than me, and it was okay.

It was as if God was saying, “I got you. I Am mysterious and majestic, and I see you.”

This was more than a bucket list check-mark. This was transformation. Such mercy and grace. I felt much of my abandonment issues melt away.

As I looked at the three crosses I thanked God for putting skin in the game.

Monday Muse 2020

First Monday. We’re alive. I’m writing and you’re reading. Grace has lifted us once again. How shall we respond?

I write. It’s a compulsion. Sometimes words illumine a way out of a thought jungle. Worry; the great canopy of blocking the light of day. Vines, creepy-crawlies, and unknown sounds and furies. I gotta admit, and I have, that the older I get, the more I am prone to worry. Anxiety strangles the heart, mine at least.

The heart is the matter. What’s the matter with my heart? That question’s been dogging me for quite some time now. So, on the first Monday of this decade I broke out my bible app and entered ‘heart’ in the search box. The verses pertaining to the heart are many, and the conclusion is God cares about hearts. More than ‘likes’ on social media. More than the 24 hour news cycle. More than information and opinions and bowl games. If you have a bible app, look for yourself.

Listen to these verses with your heart…

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Philippians 4:6 and 7 The  Message.

What is the center of our humanness? Our hearts of course! God’s desire is for our hearts to be wide open with Him. This doesn’t come naturally to me. Often I get flamboozled into thinking I can’t trust God with my heart. The realization hits only after I’ve stonewalled God, and am deep into self-protection mode. Think of the reasoning in that! I need to protect myself from God? If there’s a need for protection then I might as well join AA (Atheists Anonymous). I’ve said before ‘If God isn’t good, what good is God?’

Make no mistake, if the verse says fret not, God knows our tendencies. God knows where our hiding places are and He is perfect at hide and seek. Once God even sent Jesus to look for us.

This I pray:

That our hearts will be flung open to the goodness of God. That like water to wine, worry will turn into praise because of Jesus, our only hope. Amen

Sea Psalm

Take me down to the river,

where eternity flows.

My prayers dangle

over the edge,

and are carried

to the sea.

 

Why is the ocean vast?

Why does it bend the horizon?

Oh, little metaphor

of the universe,

lay your tides

over and over

like a meditation.

 

Oh, currents within,

correct my course,

couch my requests

and praises into

your endless soundings.

Dear God, I bow at Your river

to swim in Your ocean.

God Joined Me for a Drink

The trickle of unconsciousness

filled the tin cup.

I couldn’t handle the half empty

of hope and a future.

 

I drank and drank to quench

the mystery of the largess of God.

But God had salted the water

and assaulted my soul with an eternal thirst.

 

He held out his hand

and I set the dented tin

over the scar imbedded

in His lifeline.

 

He poured into my eyes,

right through and down

to the bottom of my arid heart.

This Tin-man echo of mine.

 

“Here, take, drink of this cup

In remembrance of Me.”

The chalice, cool in my grasp,

brimmed with blood red wine.

 

A sip of God consciousness.

 

“Do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus

 

Demure to the Rocks

This is my means of survival.

Highlighted bookends.

Adjusted paperweights.

Arranged refrigerator magnets.

 

If I can simply keep things

from moving, I’ll know.

Fixed positions, steady on

this blue blurry ball.

 

Give me some space,

a bit of time,

and this continuum

will seem like

 

an unimpeded stream.

No noise or crescendo

lifting their praises.

Not a peep…

 

Then the rocks cry out.

It

The walk and the wake of it,

The talk and the take of it,

This life is mine,

And filled with mines,

 

Yet Yours it is,

 

In the breathe and the breath of it,

In the deep and the death of it.

The grace and the grease of it,

The trace and the truth of it.

 

I lie down in it,

 

To rise and raise in it,

To prize the praise of it.

In the meek and the milk of it,

In the speak and the spilt of it,

 

On my knees in it,

 

To pray and plead in it,

To stay and lead in it.

The thank You and the Your of it,

On the dew and the shore of it.

 

Oh the gift of it.

Zip-tied or slipped tide. (Sorry, I didn’t know what to title this one.)

My eyes welled up yesterday. I felt hijacked by a compassion stored in the fruit cellar of my heart. A nice surprise.

Over the last few years of my life I’ve been doing some soul shifting. That’s right, soul shifting, not soul surfing, or even soul shaping. Shift happens. Well…not so fast.

I didn’t slouch on the sofa waiting for life to slap me across the face. I did, however, put my will down, and backed away slowly. What seemed like striving to free myself from zip-tied hands was really fear manipulation. Every time I attempted to wrangle out of the cuffs, my wrists bore witness of the struggle. Funny, the more this happened, the more it appeared as if I brandished a razor blade on them.

Is true freedom a suicide pact of sorts? May I be bold enough to say I was afraid to live and scared to death? How dramatic!

Anyone who knows me, knows my life is full of life, yet for years (Decades? Even before my thirty something years of mid-life crisis? Since my mother’s water broke?) I settled into a fallback position of sorts. My therapist described it like sitting a hundred yards from the house in the tall grass observing my family’s goings on. It’s what I knew. It’s what I was shown, father effect you might say. Father affect more like it. My Dad had the affect too, at least that was my experience of him. I miss him and wish we could talk about the similar wounds we carry. Our heart rates seemed flatter, not flattering.

Now, my thumper is fluttering on occasion. I feel, and in the feeling comes water tension on my eyes–A vision-smearing lubrication reminding me I still have a heart, and not to be afraid of it breaking, even breaking into joy. In our family there are plenty of opportunities for both kinds of breaking. Who am I kidding? I’m fairly sure every family fractures their hearts in wringing life out in close proximity.

“Oh the humanity!”

I think that might sum up this little stream of sub consciousness micro tome.

I’m feeling more human…more humane, and by the grace of God my heart will break open more frequently. The zip ties are loosening and I’m not as afraid.

Peace and prayers peeps.