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Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

 

When we refuse to put away the iconic testimonies of childhood, a harsh nostalgia can grow—a reminder and echo of an ancient voice, “When I became a man, I set aside the things of childhood.”

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The cool mornings and slow warm-ups keep the wasps sluggish this time of year. But the late afternoon sun and warm days bring them out to swarm the few fall flowers that remain. Goldenrod, especially, the diner of choice it seems. Like a farmer, collecting the fall crops before the first freeze, so too the winter-loathing wasp gathers nectar—a last sustenance perhaps? While not venturing out in the morning, they redeem the afternoon, busy with the task at hand. What must I learn? What must I attend to?What sluggishness must I throw off, for unlike the wasp, can I not avoid a cold winter of the soul by redeeming the time?

 

 

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Foreshadow: to represent, indicate, or typify beforehand.

Precursor: one that precedes the approach of another.

These leaves shout something, but what? Are they crying, “Fall is coming,” a herald in this lush land, warning the chlorophyll of its imminent demise? Unashamed of showing their true colors over the need to get out the message, they proudly precede the wonder of blazing hills. And so they go mostly unnoticed: no pointing with oohs and ahs, no photo ops with the kids, no cover photo on Facebook. Self-effacing, a precursor to all the rest.

But foreshadowing connotes a darker theme on the other side of beauty: falling and barrenness, a cessation of  rustling. Canopies and shade give way to the realities of disease and the evidence of forgotten wind and ice and careless pruning. A silent world with all its skeletons on display.

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Is it bad to have a mixed bag of ready and not so ready? Mature and immature? Sweet and bitter? While I wouldn’t recommend picking the yellow blueberries, when it comes to life, the mixed bag is unavoidable. The immature and bitter inhabit our world just like the mature and sweet, often hanging on the same vine of family or work or church—or even in us. We must not be so presumptuous to assume that we are fully developed. Might there be a tinge of bitterness? Could that blue tint of maturity that faces the sun blind us to a shade of red or pink in the shadows?  We must guard our hearts against bitterness when the injustices and hardships and disappointments of life invade. For only then will we grow and mature into the sweet image of our creator.

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Freedom is sweet, but if all one thinks about is how it benefits self, then the substance that will build bones and muscle to do the real work of freedom is lacking.

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Freedom: everyone knows what that is, right? Or do we? Does freedom mean simply that I have the right to do what I want to do when I want to do it? Or does freedom mean that everyone should have equal opportunity to participate in the rights that we have chosen to be the norm at a particular time and place? Does freedom come with responsibilities, or does a demand for responsibility hinder my freedom? Do we believe in freedom for us and our kin or for all? Is freedom as bright and awe inspiring as a sunburst of fireworks or just a fading illusion, leaving nothing but smoke and embers?

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Those just have to be tasty, don’t they? Don’t they? And don’t they need to be eaten before the Japanese Beetles find them? Or the deer? And what if they ripen while we’re on vacation?

The high cost of waiting can lead to bitterness in two ways. Sometimes we seek a shortcut; we refuse to wait. Shortcuts rarely satisfy and are often deceptive imitations. And sometimes waiting leaves us disappointed because life intervened—or Japanese Beetles or conflicts in schedules. And the second bitterness often adds to the temptation to take the shortcut. But that juicy red fruit that looks so sweet and inviting leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

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