Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Faith, Hope, Love

I happened to see a quote this morning from one Parker J. Palmer on Philip Yancey's Facebook page.

“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we endure;
the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair;
the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring:
these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings.
If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love."

I like this for its economy in phraseology, and because it's true.

It has been said that no one doubts more often or more deeply than the genuine man of faith, for he is introspective, rigorous about what he believes, and he is so because it is important. For him, and for her, there is no such thing as "blind" faith, nor can his interrogations be muzzled by shouts of Hallelujah! Praise God! 

Oh, there are those fearful souls who take shelter in the comforting din of such exclamations, a response which is in some sense the same as holding one's hands over one's ears while repeating familiar slogans--more a political act than a measure of faith. I know more than a few such folks, God love 'em, and some even stand behind pulpits. 

In his book, In Two Minds, theologian, Os Guiness writes:

“If ours is an examined faith, we should be unafraid to doubt. If doubt is eventually justified, we were believing what clearly was not worth believing. But if doubt is answered, our faith has grown stronger. It knows God more certainly and it can enjoy God more dee ply.”

An examined faith, a faith subjected to scrutiny, becomes thereby a deeper faith, truly confident from one stepping stone to the next, rather than merely loud or incantatory. Repetition, contrary to what seems often the popular belief, does not make the repeated thing true (although it does appeal to those given to magical thinking).

And when you pray, the Lord said, do not keep babbling like pagans, because they think they will be heard because of their many words.

And, I might add, as long as they keep talking, they won't need to be listening, or pausing to acknowledge doubts or ask questions.

If one does not ask questions, one cannot progress beyond what is partial, shaky, infantile. 

Novelist Anne Lamott puts it this way: 

My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved across the swamp of doubt and fear. 

Each lily pad is different from the other, but the swamp remains one body of water. 

Faith, hope, and love are formed of their own substance, and we learn by increments the fullness of each as our souls, through interaction, examine the depths of each.   

[My apologies for the various fonts and spacings. Seems that blogspot preferred to do its own thing this morning] 

Monday, September 24, 2018


The air was still when I started out on my walk this evening, still in the early evening, motionless, like an animal curled in a darkened corner, wanting to be poked for signs of life. The final breath of daylight, one last breath, breathed an ash-black smudge on the pane of the southern sky, pensive with the possibility of rain. Not everything would be all right tomorrow. Dozens of bats scored the air from roadside to pasture and back again, as black as wires. The hand of time slips, after so long being steady, and leaves the gash most feared. Too late after all. That's all it takes. Halfway through, halfway home, the wind comes up. The fronds of the palm trees raise their arms. Something will happen now. Something always follows the wind.

Sunday, September 23, 2018


All year long I had been thinking that I needed to sign up for Medicare four months in advance of my 65th birthday, which will be in January of 2019, only to find out just today that I cannot receive Medicare until I am 66! Good grief. I guess I'll have to put off my plan of becoming deathly ill for another year yet.  


Upon walking out the back door this morning, entering the yard, I had one of those strange experiences of walking not onto one's own property, but into a property of time and memory, where one world, the world at hand, disappears for a moment and is replaced by a world kept alive in the deepest recesses of recollection, of sensation and scent, the invisible bonding fabric of what has been, is no longer, yet somehow still exists, as immediate as laughter, as sharp as pain. I was swept away by the smell of autumn leaves burning, and saw in my mind's eye the little brown and reddish mound my father had set fire to in the street gutter beneath our row of unclothed maple trees, their old garments tossed casually upon the grassy banks as if upon the shoulders of a rumpled bed. The smoke from the smoldering leaves remembered the crispness of a northern clime and whispered tales of rakes and brooms, and swirls of wind, and crackling, dust-shedding cyclones kicked up from the toes of tennis shoes, and of the bing cherries that had fallen between the back porch and vacant, impecunious garden and now bled blackly between the crooked arms and the gnarled fingers of the earth hugging roots. A blond-haired boy stands at the center of the yard, of the world, the smoke, the wind, the sun, the red and brown and yellow leaves, and thinks of apples from the neighbor's tree, and of walnuts and chestnuts, of this certain sort of like and unlike splendor which must both always be and must soon be washed away, little knowing, still far from conceiving, that the bounty will end up on the other side of space and time, spilling from the inexhaustible cornucopia of memory into an old gray man's back yard.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Old Bud

Showed up early at Starbucks this morning, given that it's Saturday and the maid is at the house on Saturday and I always feel like I need to get out of her way, and found my old buddy, Hendra, sitting at the table outside. Great to see him again. Hendra was transferred some time ago to the Starbucks in Kuta, Discovery Mall. As with most who have been transferred, he doesn't like it--too far, too much traffic, too long to get to and from work, and so on. Nonetheless, he's the same pleasant, talkative, easygoing Hendra and it was great to chat and catch up. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

A Cat Tale

Returning yesterday evening to the parking lot at Plaza Renon, I noted the presence of some dark colored object on the floor of my bike. At first, I thought I had the wrong bike, for I knew that I had left nothing there. But no, a glance at the license plate showed it to be mine. But what can this be? I had certainly not left anything on the floor. Perhaps someone had deposited a sack of garbage on my bike? Well, no. Closer examination revealed this to be a cat. Morever, the cat was quite comfortable in his spot and not inclined to go away, even when I began to put my bags on top of him.
“Cat, why don’t you move?” I said.
“Ah, but I am moving.”
“Any time soon?” I asked.
“As soon as you do.”
“To be succinct? I’m moving to your house.”
“Ha! That’s where you’re wrong. You have gotten some bad information, it would seem—for I am a dog person. Not a cat person. To be quite blunt, quite succinct, as you say, I don’t like cats. Nothing personal. Just a general sort of thing.”
“Oh gitu.”
“Yup. That’s how it is.”
“I see. Well, fine then. You can go %#£> yourself, and while you’re at it, why don’t you kiss my furry %#¥.”
And with that, the cat made his exit.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Delightful Fare

There is something in us that longs for the indescribable, the unattainable, the thing that cannot be seen.
--The Isle of Blood, Rick Yancey

Reading a novel by Rick Yancey, especially one from The Monstrumologist series, is like savoring slices from a rich, delicious cake--one wants continually to enjoy one more slice yet regrets to see that the cake is steadily shrinking. 

The Isle of Blood, the third book in the series, is no disappointment. The story picks up smoothly from where it left on in book two, as does the development of the difficult relationship between Will Henry, now 13, and the erasable, contrary and conflicted Dr. Warthrop, on the heels of yet another fantastic monster, and that the most dangerous he has yet faced. 

There is, at the same time, something lurid, something monstrous--something dangerous--about a love that cannot be openly expressed, or even openly comprehended, and this is the struggle for Will Henry and for Dr. Warthrop both individually and as the one relates to the other. What is fearful and hidden in the natural world is also fearfully hidden from the hungering soul.