Misc. Bright Week Ramblings
Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, [both] of man and of beast: it [is] mine. Exodus 13:2
Gardening is in order, but the rains have made it difficult to get out there and get some things in . . . Rhubarb is showing nicely, and the figs are starting to leaf.
Please offer prayers for Ochlophobic Owen's sister-in-law, Esther, who reposed this week. There are no words to comfort is such matters. We only have the silent witness of our Lord Christ, who never really seems to answer with "why" - but is there showing us that he has partaken quite fully of our sufferings, and the loss. His cousin was beheaded and he withdraws into the wilderness. He weeps at the grave of Lazarus before calling him forth. He is moved by the suffering of Martha and Mary. He commends his mother to St. John's care, seeing her grief.
There is great mystery to me in suffering and death - Jesus seems to teach us that it is in his suffering and death, this bearing of the cross, that glorification and partaking of life with him is to be found. It is a Narrow Way, to be sure.
Many will speak words of philosophy about evil and sin, using large derivatives of Greek words that I am sure have good and profound meaning. But more and more I think the mute witness of Jesus on the cross is the only answer we'll get - we must embrace and take up our cross of suffering and, through Him, be transformed.
The apostles speak of this:
2Cr 1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
2Cr 1:6 And whether we be afflicted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation.
2Cr 1:7 And our hope of you [is] stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so [shall ye be] also of the consolation.
Phl 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Col 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
Hbr 2:10 For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
But to say "why" this is so, or should be so . . . I will not venture and I shall keep silent. It defies a neat "rational" explanation, and I cannot expect some equation on a chalkboard as school.
I thought about something Major Dick Winters, the CO of E Co. of "Band of Brothers" fame, said in an interview about men dying at the Battle of the Bulge - how they were happy for them because they looked so peaceful and were finally able to rest.
Och mentioned that perhaps in times past, where death was more common, the pious consolations of heaven were better balm. I suspect that the grief was the same, but nevertheless, he may have something in that we are so much now in a world where we do not see the pain and struggle of life playing out every day (conflict, starvation, struggle for shelter) (magnified in Dick Winter's case by those things present in a most horrific battle in the midst of numbingly cold winter), and thus we are immune to the pain and suffering of life, and instead wallow in our own existential ennui, afraid of life and death together but mainly just frustrated about everything and not satisfied with the blessing we have been given.
Nothing suggests this more than the odd death-defying desires of Ray Kurzweil. I stumbled across this [yet another] article about the man, and the Singularity movement, while reading these articles [(a) and (b)] about real-life Avatar dreams.
Many see the shape of the beast in RFID chips, etc. Me, I think this fairly serious desire on the part of some bright people to fashion a world where I will upload my "consciousness" to a machine is the insidious lie - you shall be like God! Live forever! Be immortal on your own terms!
I don't understand death, or even how we die yet Christ has trampled down death by death, bestowing life. Not really. How could I know, when I still haven't begun to grasp what it means to take up the Cross? I know the terrible loss of loved ones untimely. Beside the grave there is still weeping. Perhaps, in the midst of our weeping, we should walk among the graves shouting: "Christ is Risen!" What else shall we do?
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Rom. 12:15.
If I may make a couple of blog recommendations, please visit Romanos' blog and stop by Fr. Jonathan's blog.
Romanos (who graciously stops by here from time to time) has strong words for us that need to be heard. Not his words, generally, but what's given to him to say. You may be taken aback by what he says and does sometimes, but he does, I believe, to the extent God gives him grace to do it, attend to the mightier things of mercy, justice, and faithfulness, while not neglecting the tithe of dill and cumin, if you know what I mean.
He is a staunch Orthodox Christian, and defender of the Church and her faith in her Lord, but does not put his trust in princes, either. Yet his criticisms (which are rare - better to call them calls to action), are never in that political vein and weighing of the niceties of proprieties that plague a lot of us Orthodox bloggers.
I know that Romanos might be embarrassed by this post - nor would I wish this to go to his head. But if you want to read some things worth while - please drop by his site.
As for Fr. Jonathan - there are depths of clarity there and reflections of such subtlety to one, like me, who's not read Belloc or GK or any of dozens of writers and thinkers, that you can scarce take in half of what he is saying. But that half is nonetheless well worthwhile. When he speaks with authority, he does not speak on his own authority and it shows well. When he speaks plainly, it is as if a breeze blows the smoke out of a smoky room with a bad fireplace.