lyef & thymes

Friday, August 19, 2005

New horizons 2.0 (tale of the tree)

A little under a year ago I wrote my first post, entitled "New Horizons". I was starting a new job, and a new era in my life, and blogging came along at just the right time to start documenting how that all worked out in my life.

This post marks yet another new era. Twenty-six summers have come along in my lifetime. Twenty-six years of slow change and inch by inch, branch by branch the tree grows. When I was four years old my grandfather planted a spruce tree in my yard and declared that it was MY tree. My sister has one, and each of my cousins. Every grandchild of his has a tree. For a time I was taller than my tree, but not any more. It looms over me now, despite the fact that I nearly killed it with a ride-on mower years ago. It recovered, and never complained.

I think that the tree speaks to me now. In the beginning the world existed to serve me. When I was hungry, it provided food. When I was tired, the sun conveniently set making a cool, quiet, dimly lit place for me to rest. I was bigger than the tree, and I was the centre of my own world. I was bigger than my tree. Today things are a bit different. I am growing up as a man, learning, existing, and my world is what it is, and I am in it. But the tree has grown much more than the man.

By this I mean to say that today I am much larger than the sum of my parts. My impact in the world is much greater than I know. I am no longer larger than my tree, but my tree is larger than me. In some ways it is humbling to know that my world does not exist to serve me, as though I were the greater, it the lesser, but that I actually have something to offer, and from a position where I am NOT the centre of it all.

When Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a seed, he referred to how eventually it becomes a large plant, and the birds of the air come and rest in it's branches.
I would like to be known as a guy who brings rest to people. Not that I would PUT people to rest, but rather that when they need a break, or some friendship, or anything of the like, that I might be like that tree.

And I think that everyone has this capacity in some ways. My friend Dan is amazing at engendering excitement about things. I once came to Dan and complained about my job and he had numerous suggestions about how to make it more interesting. My friend Pete offers great advice about how to learn more about something. I once came to him asking about a theological issue, and he led me to three books I could read if I wanted to know more. He later confessed that he was just being lazy, and didn't want to think about it himself at that time.

So my tree grows taller and taller, even when I am not around to watch it. And in theory, birds flock to it when they want somewhere to land. If I went to my grandfather's house today, I would see that tree, and would likely be surprised at how big it was. Unlike people, trees continue to grow taller, and to grow more branches, for their entire lives.

So while I may not grow any taller for the rest of my days, my tree, planted in my grandfather's yard, will continue to reach up, up, up.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I'm afraid of Americans...

I'm not really afraid of Americans, in general, but I met some scary ones this last week.
I was attending the Soulfest five day summer festival in New Hampshire, and met these two fellows training to be in the Airforce, waiting to be called up to active duty. One of them has been training to fly fighters, and can't believe his luck. More and more pilots are refusing to fly fighters in Iraq, so this fellow's chances of being selected are very good.

This guy is a Christian, and he explained his philosophy to me. Basically, you train and train for something, and then when the time comes, you want to be "in the game". So as other pilots are quitting because they don't want attack crowded cities, this one fellow "can't wait to go drop bombs".

This is how he said it. "I can't wait to go over there and drop bombs." I asked him why he didn't mind breaking one of God's commandments not to kill, and he said that he has been trained to follow orders, and that he "lets the thinkers do the thinking". Very stirring.

I found during my numerous conversations with this one pilot that he wasn't willing to discuss issues. If we talked about free will vs. predetirmination, he would quote a scripture verse, and that was that. No thinking, no discussion.

"What do you think about the afterlife?"

"Matthew 25." No thoughts of his own on the matter. No intrigue, no sense of wonder at the mysteries that seem to be sown into the scriptures.
"It says it will be like this, so that's how it will be."

I suppose it re-enforced the fact that I love to think about things, and talk about them, even if I don't have them figured out. I love the mystery, and was stunned to meet someone who shuns mystery. It was as though he knew there were deeper things in life, and found them to be harmful, choosing instead to settle for the pat answer. This verse tells us this, end of story. Drop the bombs on these buildings.

Is this typical of American Soldiers, I don't know. Maybe it's actually typical in all walks of life, everywhere. I don't know that either. Thoughts?