Not Exactly Bored

I am plagued or blessed—depending on the way I squint my eyes when I reflect on the things that fill my vision at various moments on any day of the week—with a lot of interests.

I guess I just don’t want to miss anything before the lights go out.

One of the current spinning plates in the Vaudeville Act of Life is a resurrected interest in playing the piano—and this after giving away our old family upright that, in this moist location with drying woodstoves, would never hold a tuning.

Shortly thereafter, I had occasion to sit down at a nicely tuned old piano and was able to resurrect just enough of my ancient muscle memory to enjoy playing again, and not have that too terribly painful to listening ears.

And so, after two weeks of dinking around with a borrowed Yamaha keyboard, I ordered one this morning. Finally! An end to the empty hours when I can’t find a single thing to occupy my idle mind and hands–the Devil’s workshop, you know!

Oh—and there is Scout, our 13 month old canine with us now two weeks tomorrow. Ann entreated me to not post anything about the dog, since, for a few days there, we were not certain we were equal to the task of training a dog who had already had a former life we knew nothing of.

I think—think—we are past that uncertainty. So Scout, the pup, is another thing to stave off boredom. And more about that new hobby, soon.

April 16, 2007 and the Problem of Pain

Deep Creek near Thomas Amis House and Inn near Rogersville TN. Click image to enlarge

This is a far more weighty subject than anyone should jump into casually. So forgive me for doing just that, in a way, with a brief morning post.

For so many families, the sting of this day remains sharp and deep. And many still feel the weight of the evil that befell so many innocents at Virginia Tech at the hand of an unbalanced shooter.

I happened across this essay/sermon by Philip Yancey, who shortly after the event, addressed the students and faculty on campus after having just suffered his own near-death pain and injury in an accident.

Where is God When it Hurts?

His understanding expressed in this text of how a universe exists in which God is both good and omnipotent AND evil and pain exist might be helpful to some who make the effort to read it through.

Christians ask the same question, but like Yancey, find sufficient understanding, though “through a glass, darkly” for this life. And with that understanding, they don’t shake their fist at God (like more than a few of our friends) for creating a world where free will leads to lies and deceit, anger and vengeance, suffering and injustice.

As C S Lewis describes such a world, a knife could be used to spread butter on bread, but should it be used to threaten injury, it would turn into a blade of grass.

We live in a consequential world. And in it, perhaps the most astounding fact is that love and beauty abounds. And life is precious. And something is most definitely broken here.

 

Gandy, Going, Gone

Gandy is gone as of an hour ago, after seven years and four months. That’s a lot of dog years, and they were good ones. She had an enchanted life on Goose Creek after being a rescue puppy that could have ended up anywhere, and in not such expansive wilderness with two creeks! Think trailer park tied to a tree.

Three days ago she was chasing squirrels on the ridge. Then she went into a rapid decline, and was having difficulty standing, breathing, moving. The end was near. We found a vet from FloydCo who makes house calls. She came right away. Gandy did not suffer.

She is buried out the kitchen window where we could never get a pear tree to grow. And that was one of the most difficult things we have done together in 47 years of marriage—in sickness and in health. We never buried a dog together before.

It will take some while before we stop expecting her to greet us in the morning and run ahead of us on the pasture loop. I just glanced up to see a copper colored flash go past the window and thought “there she is” but it was one of the red chickens.

It is a good exercise just now to think of our friends and family and those that knew us, and knew us with Gandy, through all the ups and downs; through the Feather years. Feather left the story a year ago January 23rd and Gandy never stopped missing her, I feel sure. Maybe there are dogs in heaven after all.

We never had a smarter companion, or more faithful or more helpful–bringing in wood, doing anything in the truck, she was involved in all family activities. And so her absence, all the more the loss.

And life goes on.

There are a lot of reasons why Gandy should be our LAST dog. But the “heart has reasons that reason does not know” Pascal said. And I expect he is on to something.

It’s a Wonder-Full Life

I am happy to be often stopped in my tracks by wonder, but I wonder what exactly that is.

I know it when I feel it (or mostly when I have felt it, too immersed in the object of that state to be conscious of it or to care beyond the minor rapture of the moment.)

Attention-awareness is part of it; and curiosity; and a tacit sense of once-ness in the passing of the object or idea or scent or gestalt of the moment of wonder. Moments of wonder are benchmarks of real-ization out of a life of rote routine, habit,  and sensory numbness.

Wonder is a kind of deep-sight into ordinary reality around us.

  Are you prone to wonder? What draws your attention and curiosity and won’t let you go?  

 

I like the way Caspar Henderson has put it:

…wonder is, among other things, an act of deep attention. As I try so show in the book, it’s a radical openness in which we think clearly and feel good, and connect to phenomena or people beyond ourselves.

When one has these moments, it makes one think what more is going on here? What’s the context in which this is happening? Why, as a briefly-alive, historically-situated being, why am I wondering at this rather than something else?

What role does this experience play in my own sense of what makes the world meaningful? Where does that come from? Where is it going? In moments of wonder—this is my experience—you’re aware of your own ignorance, your own limits, your smallness, your mortality, and, also, I feel okay with that.

The best books on Science and Wonder — a Five Books interview https://fivebooks.com/best-books/science-wonder/

Saturday Shorts

►I often thought, when looking up at a crop of walnuts, that it would hurt mightily to be hit by one of those things. I was right. A glancing blow and no permanent damage done, but this time of year, wear protective clothing in walnut country. You were warned.

►And there are a gazillion nuts just waiting–a heavy mast year, and the oldtimers would say, this tells all the critters it’s gonna be a hard winter. The Good Lord is making sure there’s enuff for them what needs nuts and seeds and the like. But at this point, not winter by a long shot.

►We still have tomatos growing in the garden in early October. Unheard of!

►Speaking of glancing blows, that seems to about all we should expect from the (by then) Tropical Depression named after our son, Nathan. We really, really need the rain so hoping for at least a few inches.

►Life with two dogs continues to offer its ups and downs. The downs tend to happen in the very wee hours; and when a car goes by. We have work to do in the dog training department.

[Update from the moment: Dingo just sat when he heard a truck coming. He was promptly rewarded for this happy accident.] Pity us that dog training is not the only arena where we have work to do, and there, we’re getting way too much help–when hanging clothes, gathering wood, stomping walnuts. Dingo insinuates himself into all arenas. After all, he IS family now.

►Back to walnuts by the gazillions: there are a couple off hundred off that number in the trees now, because they have been “stomped” in our gravel parking space. There, they await the upcoming rains to soften them for the several stages between busted up on the ground and meats extracted, dry and stored for cookies and cakes. This last step, my mother has actually requested–a familiar duty, from a long history of shelling bushels of peas and picking PEEcans.