"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

1.22.2006

you ain't afraid if you're washed in the blood like i was

This is starting to get sad. Yesterday my sister came down to hang out one last time. There's a good chance that she'll be out of the country by the time I get back, so we don't really know how long it will be before we see each other again. We had lunch at Maudie's, went shopping (She found the best book ever, which is apparently also a movie!), and packed up my kitchen before going to Kerbey Lane late late. I'll stop in Waco on my drive out on Friday and say good-bye for real.

Then today was my last day at church. The sermon was on Job, so it was hard to be too sad, but, wow, am I going to miss the blessing at the end of the service. Our pastor usually says, "The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you grace. Grace to never sell yourselves short, but grace to risk something big for something good and grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love. So may God take your hands and work through them. May God take your lips and speak through them. And may God take your hearts and set them on fire." I love that blessing. He didn't say it today. But I left feeling blessed to have such a great church family and a place to call home.

Then this afternoon I packed up my office at work. My department is moving buildings this spring, so I have to get all the stuff that's accumulated in four years. It's a lot of stuff. I pulled three quotes off the wall that I think sum up my feelings about teaching, politics, and faith, and I wanted to share them here. They don't need further explanation:

Teaching - from my favorite book, North Toward Home, by Willie Morris
"If places like City College or Columbia galvanized the young New York intellectuals already drenched in literature and polemics, the University of Texas had, in its halting, unsure, and often frivolous way, to teach those of us with good minds and small-town high school diplomas that we were intelligent human beings, with minds and hearts of our own that we might learn to call our own, that there were some things, many things - ideas, values, choices of action - worth committing one's self to and fighting for, that a man in some instances might become morally committed to honoring every manifestation of individual conscience and courage."

Politics, from a wonderful lecture by C.S. Lewis, "Learning in War-Time" in The Weight of Glory
"He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself."

Faith, from Browning Ware, a former pastor at my church, in Diary of a Modern Pilgrim. The essay is, "Uncertainty with Companionship."

"When I was younger, I thought that there was probably an answer to every problem. For a time, I knew many of the answers.

I knew about parenting until I had children.

I knew about divorce until I got one.

I knew about suicide until three of my closest friends took their lives in the same year.

I knew about the death of a child until my child died.

I'm not as impressed with answers as once I was. Answers seem so pallid, sucked dry and void of life. Knowing answers seduces us into making pronoucements. I still have a few friends or acquaintances who are 100% sure on most anything, and are ready to make pronouncements on homosexuality, AIDS, teenage pregnancies, abortion, sex education or whatever is coming down the pike. But, when we get shoved into the valley of our shadow, a pronouncement is the last thing we want.

More important and satisfying than answers is the Answerer. 'Thou art with me.' That's what we crave. There may or may not be answers, but God, the Eternal One, would like very much to be our companion."

Because the world really is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.

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