Monday, February 18, 2019

In the Wake of #PolarVortex2019

The Polar Vortex came and went (again; and may come again) in Minnesota! Right on the heels of the government shutdown, school districts across the state and the region were cancelling, in lieu of stupid cold temperatures (that's a scientific measurement, by the way). It's always strange to me that the state itself won't go ahead and call off school when it's colder here than on parts of the surface of Mars, but obviously there are smarter people than me making those decisions...

This from the National Weather Service. And this wasn't
even as cold as it got...
All of the advice from media and the authorities was that we should avoid going out as much as possible. In temperatures like what we had, hypothermia can start in less than five minutes. And I'm not scoffing at that; I've had enough training and done enough winter adventuring to know that you need to prepare to go out, or all kinds of suffering and gnashing of teeth will ensue. But that being said, I know people who do scoff, saying things about when I was your age and mocking those who feel more than chilled at stupid cold temperatures (again, scientific assessment).

I'm of two minds when it gets so cold; I want to stay inside, stay warm. And I want everyone else to do the same. Meanwhile, I also see all the snow and think of how much fun it could be. Though there wasn't much snow during  the Polar Vortex, most of that came afterward. But in regard to wanting people to stay inside, I react with something resembling anger when I see people out walking from place to place when the air can literally freeze your bodily tissues solid. Seems stupid to me. But on the other hand, I feel like there's this you are your brother's keeper thing stirring in me; I have a warm house. How many people don't have that?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Advent Is Coming! And There It Goes...

Happy (liturgical) new year! For those of you, dear readers, who come from less liturgically focused traditions, the season of Advent encompasses the four Sundays before Christmas and prompts us to prepare for Christ's coming as a baby into our world. It's officially the start of the next yearly rotation of liturgical seasons. And I find this season fascinating, because it's both the beginning and the end. It prepares us for Christmas, specifically to recognize that when Christ arrived bodily into this world, he was both the savior (big responsibility) and a defenseless, helpless infant (itty bitty operating capacity).

But Advent also points to the end. And yeah, I mean like that crazy guy on the corner with 'the end is near' on a sandwich board, end of the world type stuff. Advent also prompts us to prepare ourselves and be vigilant for that. Like the story of the ten bridesmaids in Matthew's gospel, we don't know when Christ will come into this world again, so we need to keep alert. And Advent helps us with that, but for me it's also a reminder that the encounter with Christ changes everything. Christ as a baby changes everything. Christ will come again with angels and loud trumpet calls and everything will change.

Did I mention that I'm fascinated by Advent? But I'm also really bad at it. I'm not usually in the groove of Advent until the third or fourth Sunday. And then it's basically over and we've got twelve days for the Christmas celebration. Yay! And I'm that jerk who will insist on saying "Happy Advent" while everyone else is fighting about "Merry Christmas," but I'll start saying "Merry Christmas" on the 25th of December and I'll keep saying it until the 6th of January, while everyone else is like "what is this guy doing? Christmas is over..."

So that's (probably) the end of the didactic part of today's blog...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Working through the Matrix, or, Struggles and Humility

It's odd, sometimes, to see the ways that life may form apparent coincidences. At times, I want to be like Morpheus from The Matrix and assert that there is no such thing as coincidence, only providence. And me being me, I might say only Divine Providence.

But I don't know that I can do that right now. It might be too audacious of me. But at the same time, I do sense a prompt based on this past Sunday's gospel reading and some of the commentary I've heard about it. I feel like those things are prompting me to take a look at where I am now and where I've been over the past five-ish years.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Bonsai! or, Seeking the Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Okay, so: storytime. But at the risk of killing the story, let me give you some background.

What I have discovered while training with the Army is that structures that the Army builds are uses are very functional, but seldom are pretty. In fact, there are very few beautiful things when one is training with the Army. Things tend towards function and uniformity, which makes sense, because it's the Army and that's kinda what we do most of the time. When you go downrange and into the trees, maybe you could look toward the foliage for something beautiful, but more than likely you will be counseled to smell the roses later, if any drill sergeant finds out what you are doing.

However, during training last summer, there was one jarringly beautiful thing that I remember. At Fort Leonard Wood, in the Central Iowa Chapel, there were huge stained glass windows in the worship space. I wish that I could find pictures of that stained glass, because it made me stop and catch my breath after all the camouflage and foliage that I had been looking at...

Here's where the story starts:

I don’t remember how far into training I was that I finally wrote to my wife and told her that we were going to go look at beautiful things when I got home. But I did write that and we did go find beautiful things when I was done. We went to the Como Conservatory in St. Paul. Took plenty of time in the greenhouse, and the zen garden, we walked through the Como Zoo that day, too. But what especially held my attention that day was looking at the bonsai trees.