Thursday, August 19, 2010

Holiday Recap: Image One

I'm sitting alone by a creek in the Shuswap region of British Columbia. I'm fond of the people I’ve been walking with – great folks - but I haven't spent any time yet sitting alone beside a stream. I’ve been daydreaming about that and it’s one of the reasons I’m on holiday.

It hits me like a sudden thirst.

I beg off from the group with a promise to meet them later on the trail after I've stolen some time alone.

Somebody has nailed a coffee pot to a cedar tree with an enormous spike.

Who carries a ten-inch spike with them on a jaunt in the woods? Or a hammer, for that matter? It profits the human spirit very little to try and deduce or imagine what was in mind of the man or woman who hammered this great spike into the tree and tied on the coffee pot.

I'm not fond of puzzles.

It's just one of those things.

If it was meant to look ridiculous, then the author of this little grafitto has failed because the act produces much surplus meaning and I cannot help but be thankful.

I see it along the following lines:

The observer is gladdened by this small river of clear cold water rushing down the valley and takes from it a tremendous sense of Here and Now. The creek is the centre piece. Everything about it is movement. It tumbles over rocks and swirls in eddies. It animates the place.


Here and Now.

And therein is the problem. The water is rushing quickly downstream - towards the Adams River, Shuswap Lake and, ultimately, the sea.

The words Here and Now and the pointing word This are never completely appropriate when dealing with a river. In the life of a rushing stream here soon becomes there, now becomes then and this becomes that.

Maybe when I was younger I would have enjoyed an unalloyed experience of joy at the rush and flux of things constantly changing.

Bring on yet another new thing!

It’s different in my early fifties. I find that change brings with it the possibility of loss. I wish some things would slow down. I have a harder time keeping up. Children’s lives go on with or without you. Some cardinal events in their lives will take place beyond the bend in the river – on the other side of anywhere you are. You start to dwell on the past. Water under the bridge becomes the phrase one uses to describe events and experiences which are now irretrievably lost and past.

Hence the coffee pot:

Somebody clearly wanted to take a stand.

In order to say something about Here and Now we need a container – something we can dip it into the stream. Finally we can say “let me tell you a story about this, sing you a song about what it’s like right now, show you what I have here.

While we may be part of something moving and changing, we’re lost in it until we find a way of stopping and being contained and dwelling, not on the whole river and the land that it nourishes, but on the single instance – the Here and Now which This small bit of the whole affords us – this pot of water taken from the stream.

My prayers are a container. They gather together a small series of concerns even though there are many other things we could pray about.

Next Sunday’s sermon will be a container. There’s more I’ll want to say but will limit myself to these words of Jesus in light of this community’s life in time and space.

We are, after all, only creatures – limited to a time upon the earth and we must take advantage of the moments of quiet reflection which are offered to us beside the running water and in the midst of all the haste and change.

This may not be what some geezer had in mind when he nailed the coffee pot to the cedar tree beside the stream.

Maybe he thought he was being funny.

Maybe the full import of his actions was not yet clear to him.