Friday, October 28, 2011

Up Periscope

Have you ever seen the movie, "Planes, Trains & Automobiles"?  If not, it's a hilarious saga of mis-adventures as experienced via these modes of transportation.  I'm just sorry they didn't include a submarine.

In a sense, and for many months I have been traveling beneath life's sometimes dark, sometimes azure, sometimes lavishly-laden, sometimes pleasantly warm & sometimes chilling frigid seas.  Some have been quietly calm, while others have been tempestuous.  A few of them - these seas - have been little more than rolling waves.  But mostly the navigating has been with little buffeting.  That doesn't mean I'm totally out of commission or unaware.  Mostly I've just been navigating via submarine.  The sea's conditions have had little effect on my soul.  Thankfully, that's most likely due to the device known as a periscope.

As most of you know, it was just last year that I retired from employment.  It's a misnomer, that term; because many of us who retire only shift gears - - some into a higher gear, some to a lessor.  I can't quite decide which gear is mine yet, but I'm content with it for now.  Keeping my periscope in working order seems to be the greater challenge.   That, and remembering the safest place at sea is the depths.  The closer you get to the surface in order to actually USE the periscope, the more vulnerable you become to whatever is going on there.

Not only is my periscope vitally needful for knowing where to go, but for what to avoid.  Navigation devices a good that way:  they allow you to arrive at an intended destination safely.  You may not be able to see everything, but you can see enough.  To name a few:  the way forward, the perils on your course, the conditions on the surface, the approaching coastline.

Ultimately you zero in, then surface when ready to port.

Pretty slick, huh?

"Where God guides, He provides.
Where He leads, He feeds."
~ Old missionary saying

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
   shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
   fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
   and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
   keep your foot from evil.  
Proverbs 4:18, 25-27

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mork's Musings

I looked & looked & looked.  To my complete dismay, I could find no Planet Ork.

But really, isn't the solar system an amazing tutorial?  One needn't be a scientist to appreciate its design & symmetry & beauty; or the rather odd mechanisms that keep everything in working order.  The mystery of it all is at the heart of a myriad musings from the dawn of time itself.

There's many a resource for gathering basic information about our universe.  I found the content from this one quite interesting, and I think you'll see why (the emphasis is mine) ...

The speed at which a planet moves causes it to try to pull away from the sun and there are times during the orbit when the gravitational pull is not equal to the pull at other times. In addition, the other planets exert some gravitational pull on each other.

Astronomers and physicists have also found that the center of the Sun is not the true center of mass that exerts gravitational force. In fact, they theorize, the Sun also orbits slightly around this mass center. The Sun has more mass than the planets, thus it has the stronger pull of gravity. While the planets seem to try to move away from this pull at certain places in their orbits, the Sun always pulls them back. The planets have gravitational pull on the Sun as well, but that force is not strong enough to affect the Sun’s movement.

It's more than a little compelling, if you ask me.  The Sun has all the power & the planets, in varying sizes & shapes orbit AROUND IT - not the other way around. Could it be the universe has something relative to share?

To some extent, aren't we like those planets, we humans?  Totally dependent on the Sun, we go round & round with little thought to the daily dose of light & warm (unless it's raining) lavished upon us.  From time-to-time we try our darndest to pull away, only to be pulled back into orbit once again.  Mistakenly, and most likely unintentionally, we behave as if the Sun - - and even the other planets - - orbit AROUND US - the center of our own solar system.

If God would concede me His omnipotence 
for 24 hours, you would see how many changes 
I would make in the world. 
But if He gave me His wisdom too, 
I would leave things as they are. 
~ J.M.L. Monsabre   

Science would appear to endorse the great good sense of planets remaining on their prescribed course, moving at a slow pace, & never forgetting the source of power & light exerted by the SON.  Even the moon seems to understand its primary ministry is that of a reflector.

Now there's a thought:  The Ministry of Reflection.  Kinda catchy ...

I believe in Christianity as I believe 
that the Sun has risen, 
not only because I see it, 
but because by it 
I see everything else. 
~ C.S. Lewis

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Problematic Phlegmatic

Ugh!  I don't like that word, phlegmatic.  I much prefer sanguine.  The former sounds all too much like a bad throat condition; while the other sounds like a classical music buff.  I like classical music.

But phlegmatic it is.

Who thinks this stuff up, anyway?  I mean, really:  four ... 4 ... quattro ... temperaments?  Is that all there is?  Well, not exactly.

Actually, it all began with Hippocrates before 370 B.C., this business of identifying personality traits.  It was later seized upon by Galen in 150 A.D. (or so); but it really came into it's own with Avicenna sometime around 1,000 A.D. when it was expanded to include emotions, mental capacity, moral attitudes, self awareness, movements, and even interests (dreams, or passions).   It's changed little over the centuries, and today continues to be an aid in identifying the strengths & weaknesses of a particular style, or temperament type.   Businesses & churches (my church) uses the grid as one means, or tool in identifying a person's best job or ministry fit. 

In the short version, these styles fall into one of four categories.  Typically we all have one or two  dominant types. And before we all stand up and cheer for the upside, there's a downside.   For every strength, there's a weakness (or potential for it). 

Who is it that said we must "celebrate diversity"?  No doubt THEY were phlegmatic ...

Remember, most of us are blends, but one style is predominant.  Do you see yourself anywhere here?

Phlegmatic (or Steadiness)

Phlegmatics tend to be self-content and kind. They can be very accepting and affectionate. They may be very receptive and shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change. They are very consistent, relaxed, calm, rational, curious, and observant, making them good administrators. They can also be very passive-aggressive.

Sanguine (or Influencing)

The Sanguine temperament personality is fairly extroverted. People of a sanguine temperament tend to enjoy social gatherings, making new friends and tend to be boisterous. They are usually quite creative and often daydream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean very sensitive, compassionate and thoughtful. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when pursuing a new hobby, interest is lost quickly when it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy. People of sanguine temperament can often be emotional.

Choleric (or Dominant)

A person who is choleric is a do-er. They have a lot of ambition, energy & passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were choleric. They like to be leaders and in charge of everything.

Melancholic (or Conscientious)

A person who is a thoughtful ponderer has a melancholic disposition. Often very considerate and get rather worried when they could not be on time for events, melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry & art - and can become preoccupied with the tragedy & cruelty in the world.  They can be perfectionist, and are often self-reliant and independent.  One one negative part of being a melancholic is sometimes they can get so involved in what they are doing they forget to think of others.

For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because 
I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well. 
Psalm 139:13-14

Sunday, October 16, 2011

From the Shire

With persistence & stealth I have swung from branch to branch on the family tree that is my own.  Thanks to well-preserved records & historical documents down through the ages, I have been beneficiary of the equal persistence & stealth of others seeking to add foliage to our combined genealogies.  My discoveries thus far have left me mesmerized, amazed, humbled, starry-eyed and even more curious than ever before.

Today I want to share some fairly amazing limbs and the greenery that adorns them.

Long ago & far away - in the year 1535 A.D., in the land of Nottinghamshire (yes, THAT Nottingham of Robin Hood/Sherwood Forest) England - William Brewster was born.  His ancestry is well documented, dating even further back another seven generations to the year 1299 A.D, and to the birth of Sir John Brewster I - my own distant relative.

(Photo:  Sherwood Forest)

I cannot imagine, and yet imagine I must, what that William Brewster was all about.  Named after his father & grandfather, he met & married Mary Smythe, and together they bore at least eight (8) children:  Millicent, Benjamin, James, John, William, Edward, Prudence & Amy.   Separatists, their first & foremost love & loyalty rested upon the Lord and His word.

Millicent is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother.  Down through those ten generations, her kin married the kin of the Eames, and they the kin of the Fords.  Ultimately a Ford married a Grinnell, and seven generations hence my mother - Helen Evelyn Grinnell - would be born.

William (another in the long line of "Williams") is the brother of Millicent & my 10th-great uncle.  He is none other than THE William Brewster of the Mayflower - - Chaplin aboard that vessel, and one of the signatories of the Mayflower Compact.  Much is written by and about him, for his godly influence & impact have forever left their mark on this great nation, if not the establishment of the colonies & church in the days of our earliest settlement.

I realize we do not inherit faith, but today my curiosity has me wondering if anywhere along the way one of these prayed, as I do now, that they'd "leave a trail that honors my God and Lord; a trail I'd be proud to have anyone follow, but especially these beloved grandchildren." 

This is my own heart's desire.  Could it have been theirs?

A Stumbling Block or a Stepping Stone

Isn't it strange that Princes and Kings
And clowns who caper in stardust rings,
And common people like you and me
Are builders for eternity?

Each is given a set of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules,
And each must make, ere life has flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.

~ Author Unknown

Monday, October 10, 2011

To Run or Not to Run?

Somewhere in between toweling off from my shower & brushing my teeth, I heard a story on the radio that got me to thinking.  It kept me thinking long afterwards.

The details of the story aren't particularly important other than to flesh out the principle involved.  In this case, the principle is connected to a track competition.  

As this particular track race progressed, someone from one team ran so close to someone from the other team that the cleats on their running shoes actually pierced the ankle of the other runner, who immediately dropped to the ground & began screaming in pain.   The perp (I wonder how many times I've been that perp myself?) ran on, quite likely too focused on the finish line to give much thought to the scene in her rear view mirror. Racers from both teams followed suit & ran past the injured runner, ignoring the moaning form in their way.

If there's a race to be run, surely winning it is far more important than anything else that might happen in the process.  Surely?

Along comes Samaritan Runner, a lady from the competitive team who simply could not leave her opponent alone & suffering.  She stopped, helped the wounded runner to her feet, and then delivered her to the Medical Tent before returning to the race, and onto the finish line - - not to win, but to finish what was before her. 

Isn't that the point:  To run the race set before us; not to win, but to finish? 

Success is getting what you want;
happiness is wanting what you get. 
~Dale Carnegie

Try not to become a man of success,
but rather try to become a man of value.
~Albert Einstein

Friday, October 7, 2011

For Women Only (& Update)

Sometimes I tear through the scriptures, appropriating nearly every verse for myself - - every verse, that is, except the ones that speak directly to women, to me.  Sometimes I don't like them very much so I  conveniently look the other way when they disrupt one of my appropriations.

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves 
to your own husbands so that, if any of them 
do not believe the word, they may be won over 
without words by the behavior of their wives,
when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment ...
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, 
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, 
which is of great worth in God’s sight 
(the NKJV renders this: which is very precious 
in the sight of God) 
1 Peter 3:1-5

It's that gentle & quiet stuff that's hard to come by!

And who can ignore the Proverbs 31 (10-12) woman?

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her (
the NKJV
  renders this "The heart of her husband safely trusts her")
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

This collection goes on to tell of her industry & productivity; her intentionality & resourcefulness; her kindness & generosity; her wisdom & well-guarded tongue.  This woman is not born; she's made.  And she's not self-made, but God-crafted.  How do we know?  Because she's humble, above all.  She's not seeking recognition or reward; nor is she laboring under the "woe is me"s.  She's not a victim, but a victor (or victoress).

There are many more such verses for we ladies, but this set will suffice for the challenge of my heart today.  Much has been said of submission: what it is; what it's not.  I could certainly get high-centered there, but that's not my heart's focus.  Today it ponders the gentleness, quietness & trustworthiness to be found within it, and in what measure - if it's to be found at all.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
because you know that the testing of your faith 
produces perseverance.  
Let perseverance finish its work so that you 
may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, 
who gives generously to all without finding fault, 
and it will be given to you.  
James 1:2-5

The weapons with which the ill dispositions of the world 
are to be combated are moderation, gentleness, 
a little indulgence of others, 
and a great distrust of ourselves. 
~ Edmund Burke

EPILOGUE:  After penning & posting this, I went out for my early morning walk accompanied by my IPOD.  Today it was in the rain, and by the time I returned I wasn't sure if it was rain's work or God's that left tears in my eyes.  This is why ...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fertile or Fallow?

Both my mother & father grew up amidst agrarian communities.  Their love of farming values & practices never waned, though both would abandon their roots in favor of a modern existence beyond the reach of plows & silos.  They learned to use their cultivation skills in a whole new way.

As I considered the disciplines associated with cultivation, I paid a visit to Merriam to see what more I could learn.  No surprise to learn that it means, in essence, to render something civilized, refined, couth; and 1: to prepare for the raising of crops; also: to loosen or break up the soil, or  2: to foster the growth of  

What flabbergasted me was what I learned about the opposite of cultivating.  It means: barbarianism, barbarism, philistinism  REALLY!!  Do you see that?  Something that isn't cultivated is barbaric, or like the PHILISTINES!  Where'd we hear that word before?
Here's what I know:  There are a great many things that must be left up to God.  But it's up to me to cultivate a good deal on my own, like routine times of quietude & prayer, Bible study, forgiveness, fellowship, and obeying the leading of His Spirit ~ to name a few. 
To NOT cultivate is to leave the ground of my heart fallow; which is to say it is dormant, idle, inert.  Whether I like it or not, to forfeit cultivation is to meander on over to the camp of the Philistines. 
Who knew how agrarian is life in the spirit?!!

Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until He comes
and showers His righteousness on you.
~ Hosea 10:12