April 23, 2010

Diaristic FridayThoughts

Been reading more of "Drink".  It's a history of the world as much as a history of alcohol.  Occasionally eye-opening, it makes the Vikings come alive since to me they were mostly caricatures or stick-figures. They're still caricatures but also now characters; their barbarism was so matter-of-fact barbaric that it's scary.

Also been reading online dispatches from the Butler County Democrat in the year of the great flood. The April 14th, 1913 issue doesn't list my great-grandfather as missing nor dead (it's said he died in the flood).

Elsewhere in the paper: "The people of South A street were the first to be affected by the flood: at 8:30am Tuesday morning the water was creeping up to their first floor in the highest houses. But that was only back water and they thought nothing of it until 9am when the water crowded them so they had to move to the 2nd floors.  At 9:30, things were looking more serious as the river was up on lower South B street.  Still the men on Main Street did not think they'd be affected and that is how many were caught in a trap."

There's Ever a Song Somewhere, My Dear was sung at the burial of the flood victims, a sentimental James Whitcomb Riley poem. Read recently that the sentimental goes with toughness...seems counterintuitive but then 1913 was both a lot tougher and a lot more sentimental than ours.

A Judge Belden spoke and said that "despite the present distress, Hamilton is not dead. We shall build upon the ruins a new and greater city.  When our children and children's children are told about this disaster they will stand in doubting amazement, for we will build a city so great, so beautiful, that the story of the present aspect will seem like a fairy tale."

One of the things that occurred to me was how even things for which we have proof there is a need for faith if we haven't personally experienced it.  I can never quite understand how a strong swimmer could die in a flood, but that is likely a failure of imagination, in being unable to imagine a current so fierce or so unexpected. And I guess that's simply because I've never experienced it even though I've been in heavy ocean surf. About 200 people died in that flood, far more than typically die in a tornado even though the latter seems far more dangerous.  Why is that?  I'm not sure other than wind damage is more common in our neck of the woods than flooding.  And since the building of levees the Miami river looks so calm and imperturbable.

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It's always surprising to me how a long familiar Bible passage will suddenly open up in new depth.  For example, "God's power is most shown in our weakness."  It occurred to me that this is most obviously true in our death, after which we are at our most helpless - far more helpless than when we were infants because as infants we can cry and affect their environment. It is after our death and the end of the world that God's power is made most evident, in our resurrection.  And so this should ideally lessen the fear of death.

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I think that at least 90% of the spiritual life is simply to be willing to cheerfully re-learn the lessons that you thought you'd already learned.

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I've lately been fascinated by Simeon, the one who saw the baby Jesus at the Presentation and saw in this infant the glory of his people Israel.  Simeon had eyes to see so much more.  What looked like just an ordinary baby to others was so thrilling to Simeon that he could call on the Lord to send him home.  Even when Jesus had done nothing - no miracles, no teaching, no impressing the elders at the synagogue - Simeon was thrilled to see Him.   And I thought about how true that is of the Eucharist, how the bread is something that we can easily overlook and yet is our salvation too since in both cases it is Jesus.  We are all Simeons now, should we desire to be so.

2 comments:

Amy said...

On powerless & death. One sort of related thing that popped into my head during Lent and lurks there is that "unless a grain of wheat shall die" is really not a metaphor. If I want to be saved, I have to die. Like, really, die.

TS said...

If I want to be saved, I have to die.

At least my sloth won't stop me from doing that!