I remember as a child visiting friends on hot summer days who had a swimming pool in the back yard which was often utilized in such climes.
On one such occasion the kids (about 12 of us) would each stand on the outside of the above ground pool, stick a hand in the water and all walk in the same direction. This creates somewhat of a weak vortex but one that had enough pull in it to centralize people and objects within it.
Once we were done with that direction we would try going the other way. Water splashes as the arms change direction. Going against the current we need to build a momentum to change the direction of the vortex.
It is a strange phenomenon but as the water changes direction there is a time when the center spins the old way while the outside spins in the new direction. There comes a time when the center catches up and spins the way anew. We would then revert to the other direction and so on. Fun for hours.
I am reminded of the popular sayings “swimming upstream” and “only a dead thing goes with the current”. The same can be said in this situation as the current changes with the direction of the flow of the bulk water.
The difference though is that the direction of the water cannot be changed from within the water.
In the world, not of it.
Many people in society are dead things. If they are “living things” many more are just happy to go with the flow and not cause any ripples – just go along with it and all will be ok. This is not for us.
As Christians we each have a part to play. Each of us, if we are true to our calling, has a hand in the pool. Collectively each single hand contributes in its own way to bringing about a change – a change that can only be created from being separated from it; a change that will be hard to go against initially and will create ripples. Yet we must persevere together (a collection of individual efforts in the same direction) to bring about effective change.
Last night I attended a men’s ministry night. Unfortunately there was some tension at home before I left. Things were made right but this sort of stuff lingers.
On the way to the event I prayed that the Lord help and comfort both the family, at home, and I, going out. Less than a minute after this impromptu prayer I turned a corner and saw the sunset.
I’m a lover of sunsets. I remember Mum taking photos of sunsets when I was a young child (she loved the beach sunsets particularly). And there are some rippers around here at certain time of the year! The one this night was not especially spectacular in colour nor glorious in its location. But it hit me.
The impact of it was profound. It was one of those sunsets where the sunrays shone brightly through dark clouds and came down as a glare. It was almost like a black and white sunrise – quite unusually monochromatic. And very majestic. On seeing this I knew all was going to be OK. I mean, I knew it would be but this was reinforced profoundly.
Driving into the light I knew I had to pray a rosary in thanksgiving.
To reinforce once again that this was meant to be, after the rosary (and I like to finish it with a hymn) there was a truck, which… well… It was a tow truck. But this sort of truck is different from your standard tow truck which has a frame, a pulley and a hook. This truck uses a fixed beam to slide under the car to raise it and a cross beam to lock behind the front wheels. When not in use, the assembly folds up so as not to protrude out the back. The result was at the back of the truck was a cross which was painted a stark white. I’m not sure if it was intentional, by I’ve no doubt that God intended for me to see it. Glory to God!
For the record the evening went well. I was able to keep my mind on the present and not the past or the future. And when I arrived home all was well – smiles and cuddles on the couch. It is not the end of it but the mood had greatly softened and has given the space to address the issue properly.
My eldest son is preparing to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Last night we had the preparation night. While the night was largely about connecting children with their parent or guardian (presumably because they don’t talk to one another about this sort of stuff) there was one exercise that really stood out.
Dotted around the walls of the hall were the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You know the ones; knowledge, reverence, wisdom, understanding, etc. The Parents tell the child which gift they witness best and then the child goes to that place on the wall. For the record my son was at “understanding”
At this point I noticed there were two young girls under “Wonder and Awe.” On the parents explanation – one parent of each group was asked why their child was there – she said is was the observation of and appreciation for the small things around her. She had such innocent eyes.
When came the turn for the child to place the adult in the same exercise I was quite eager to get his response. He seemed a little apprehensive and unsure. Not wanting to sway on answer but rather to help him focus I asked him to now it down to a few, which he did. Soon he was pushed for time and, to my surprize, he chose “wonder and awe.” I was the only one there.
Like they did with the adults whose children were in groups, the children were asked about the adults. When my sons turn came (given I was the only one under this gift) he gives his reason why I was placed there.
I read the bible to him of a night. We have read all of the New Testament twice and much of the Old Testament. We are slowly working our way through Proverbs and the Maccabees. During this time I might pick a strange occurrence, or word, or person and elaborate on that for a moment. Its a way of bring it alive and relatable. (There was a story earlier where Jerusalem was getting invaded by an army with elephants. One soldier was flattened by an elephant as it died. A terrible way to die no doubt but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to exaggerate and elaborate this a little!)
Because of these reasons my son chose to place me in Awe and Wonder: because of my observation of and appreciation for the small things in scripture. Subtleties are everywhere; in the world around us, in scripture, in the people we meet. These draw us closer to God. His voice is in the gentle breeze not in the earthquake.
I was disgusted this morning to find in my news feed a video of a satanic monument being erected at New York (I think). It depicted satan with a bearded goat’s head on a human body, with added wings, and at his feet a few children in awe. There was also a place to sit at his feet, presumably for reflection and contemplation, just in case you’re not evil enough.
Supporters of the monument claim that if others can have a statue (such as a crucifix or a plaque of the Ten Commandments) then they should be allowed to erect one of satan. Those professing equality surely would have nothing to complain about then.
As I was driving the other day I saw a crucifix alone atop a church. There was nothing extraordinary about it; it’s just that it jumped out at me. I am reminded of the “glory days” of decades gone by where churches on every corner openly displayed the crucifix. Perhaps it just me or where I live, but I don’t distinctly remember a modern church displaying a crucifix publically. I’m sure there is but, as I said, I don’t distinctly remember.
There is an opportunity here, particularly with the feast of the exaltation of the cross looming. The glory days behind us, the world is filled all the more with indifference, mediocrity and at worst vitriol. The cross – a contradictory sign of the love of God – becomes the beacon of fidelity. Whether it is on a church or around a neck it becomes more urgent to display the cross. God (and the devil) do not reside in statues. The cross becomes a sign, a powerful sign, but only a sign; it is not the destination. God is the destination: the cross actively points the way to him.
After a time of consideration and reflection I have decided to change a few things about the blog. Not only to keep it fresh (an added bonus) but mainly to address an area I have previously omitted.
I have been writing through the eyes of scripture and applying it to life yet while it is convenient it has its limitations. In choosing the name “Buffet Catholic” – a counteraction of the ‘cafeteria catholic’ – more than scripture needs to be considered.
Therefore, while I will still do some scripture reflections and occasional apologetics, I will focus primarily on living the Catholic life: its struggles, its rewards, its ebbs and flows. In refocusing on the “buffet” I hope to be able to blog on a more frequent and more consistent basis. Peace and prayers for you all.