Monday, May 23, 2011

Mexican Rice Missionary

My creative energies have been spent on a few all-consuming projects as of late. They've also taken, it must be admitted, an occasional backseat to things like mowing the yard and doing the washing-up. I have poured them into my family as well, and that has been more valuable an expenditure than anything measured in silver and coin, though I confess I'm not yet stout enough to look those particular virtues in the eyes. Still, spinning spoons at the stovetop like some desperate vaudeville dreamer, I've conjured a few tasty gems out of spices, butter, and humble tubers. These dishes and their ilk find their way to the dinner table, where two lovely ladies with no company affiliations, no accolades, smile and savor the God-given fare. Such is the ritual here it Sinclair's Eve.

And the world never measures it.

Everyone recalls how Mama made that beef casserole, and you rarely hear the World complain that such stuff is of no account, even though it be outside the grasp of empirical knowledge and reckoning. In this, perhaps, the World knows it has little chance of victory, and so it wisely remains silent. In this, the unsung creativity of people for their families, the World meets a fell nemesis.

I have spent many a minute lately pondering and postulating over the nervous figures surrounding CD sales, photography purchases, and bookbinding. Yet these are only the treacherous waters of getting art and its stories to you, so you may take art home and write the next chapters, as it were. In the end, it is still one of us telling the story to the other, who listens with fertile ears.

Here at home, Mexican rice and chicken is recognized by no printed review, but it's inspired by the same Holy Ghost who billows the temple curtains and shuffles spookily across the attic floor of my soul. I find the laundry, the dinner table, the yard, and the communion of storytime to be a mission field. And like so many mission fields, the one who set out to effect change is himself changed, often with greater cataclysm than his congregation.

My aunt, who is a masterfully peaceable homeschooler of eight children, has a blog filled with succinct but valuable gems on this subject. For more reading, see Little Sanctuary.

Monday, May 02, 2011

O. bin Laden and the Sparrow

Dead upon the ground lies a vulture. The rain trickles down and a little sideways with a sorrowful patter. There are no men in suits, no human eulogy. There is a vague sound in the chilly thick air as of the shuffling of six folded wings. There is only one attendee. The lone mourner speaks a heartfelt benediction over the black lifeless feathers on the grass. A rough stone suggests the remembrance of a menhir. Forget-me-nots and buttercups wreath the animal with the bittersweet calico of grief and joy. It soared high as the highest in its time, despised and rejected among men.

In the South, at least, I drive past dead animals so often that it is easy to grow numb to the twinge in my stomach when I recall the loss of life. Any life. That is not to say I don't eat meat. I am as grateful for Chicken Tetrazzini or Shrimp Scampi as the next guy, true. But it is also gladdening to know that the Lord attends the funerals of sparrows - and vultures. Most of the time, He's the only one.

In the last five years, we have seen the deaths of two men of power, both of whom used that power to incite fear and violence and to oppress. Their actions were Evil. The strictest Atheist would have to at least nod his head in half-hearted assent.

And yet.

And yet, it's frightening to hear people cheering the death of anyone. To hear songs of exultation and cheers, to have Death in any form lauded, is or ought to be disturbing. Lewis talks at length about the extent of patriotism in The Four Loves, and I am not inclined to disagree with him. He doesn't mention this, but I think it fair to say he would see no harm in relief at the death of an enemy. Certainly, the lengthier the enmity, the greater the relief. But Proverbs comes to mind, and Obadiah. The text of Obadiah is mostly a malediction against Edom, the nation of Esau.
You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.
                                                                  -Obadiah v.12

Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
    When he stumbles, do not let your heart
or the Lord will see and disapprove
    and turn his wrath away from him.

                                                            -Proverbs 24:17

Greater men have tried and failed to unravel the Will of God with regard to the condemnation of God, so I do not pretend to understand that. But I cannot find it in my heart to sing patriotic hymns when an enemy falls. The Created of God is the Created of God, be he an enemy of the people or no. Thank God such a threat is abated, and thank the soldiers who put themselves in harm's way that we might be free. But know that God attends the funerals of even every sparrow.