The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: November 14, 2020
It’s Thanksgiving season, and this week we emphasize grace, while next week we will emphasize gratitude. So pull a chair up to the banquet table and let’s talk about God’s amazing, surprising, prodigal grace as we feast at the end of another week.
Note: I know, obviously, that there has been a lot of news this week. However, I prefer, today and next week, to use Saturdays for seasonal posts to help us express thanksgiving and recognize the grace of God in our lives. Sorry if that bursts some of your “dying to express myself about the election, etc.” bubbles. I’m sure there will be other opportunities for that.
Quote of the week…
The history of salvation is slapstick all the way, right up to and including the end. It’s the Three Stooges working only for laughs. God isn’t trying to hurt anyone; he’s not even mad at anyone. There are no lengths to which he won’t go to prove there are no restrictions on the joy he wants to share with us. If you were never afraid of Curly, Larry, and Moe, you don’t need to be afraid of the Trinity either.
• Robert Farrar Capon. Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus
Grace on the golf course…
Jon Rahm had this serendipitous moment of grace and mercy on Tuesday at Augusta National preparing for the Masters.
The “Hug Room”…
6 Lessons Learned from the Pandemic (Thus far, Sort of)…
By David Zahl at Mockingbird
- COVID, like the law, always accuses.
- There is much that still binds the human race together, most of all our fear of death.
- The Internet is no replacement for flesh and blood.
- For the most part, the pandemic has amplified things that were already happening rather than created new problems.
- The conformity-rebellion axis exists outside of ideology.
- No one can predict anything. And that’s good news.
“A miracle is the universe letting you know it can still surprise you” is how comedian Kyle Kinane puts it, and I agree. As this thing stretches on and the Groundhog Day effect manifests as a shared low-grade depression, I consider this a source of tremendous hope. Because despair is the feeling that nothing can ever change, that our lives won’t get better, etc. Yet our current circumstances contradict that feeling (and it’s always a feeling) almost 100%. We are in control of so little. Anything could happen at any time.
The only thing that remains reliably knowable is what God has made so, namely, what he has revealed in his son, AKA the least predictable revelation of divinity possible: the baby in the manger, the man on the cross, shedding real flesh and blood to deliver self-righteous rule-followers and self-seeking rule-breakers from sin, death, and disease.
Didn’t see that coming — but it came anyway. Thank God not all surprises are bad.
“Saved by the whale’s tail”…
A Dutch train burst past the end of its elevated tracks Monday in the Netherlands.
But instead of crashing to the ground 30 feet below, the metro train was caught — held aloft by an artist’s massive sculpture of a whale’s tail. Despite some damage, no injuries or deaths were reported.
The sculpture at the end of the tracks was given a prescient name: “Saved by the Whale’s Tail,” according to France 24. It was built in 2002, installed at the De Akkers station in Spijkenisse, a city just outside Rotterdam.
In every moment when I am winning, Jesus is with me. And in every moment when I am losing, Jesus is with me. At any moment when I am confused, wounded, and despairing, Jesus is with me. I never, ever, lose the brokenness. I fight and sometimes I prevail, but I can’t prevent more of my screwed-up, messed-up life from erupting. Because I belong to One whose resurrection guarantees that I will arrive safely home in a new body and be part of a new creation, I miraculously, amazingly, find myself continuing to believe, continuing to move forward, until Jesus picks me up and takes me home.
• Michael Spencer. Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality
The amazing swan rescue…
Ariel Cordova-Rojas had planned to spend last Thursday afternoon immersed in nature. It was the day before her 30th birthday, and her intention was to ride her bike to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, watch birds fly overhead and hike amid the vibrant fall foliage.
Instead, she spent a good chunk of the day in a frantic race to rescue a sickly swan, rushing by foot and then subway from Queens to Brooklyn before ultimately arriving at an animal rehabilitation center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
…Ms. Cordova-Rojas had been trained to spot a bird in distress. She spent five years as an animal care manager at the Wild Bird Fund rehabilitation center in Manhattan, rescuing geese in Central Park, red-tailed hawks in Brooklyn and other species elsewhere in the city.
So when the swan did not move or make a sound when she approached, she knew something was not right….
…She decided to approach the swan slowly, take off her jacket and place it over the bird. The swan tried to move its wings and it made faint sounds, but Ms. Cordova-Rojas said she was able to wrap the coat around the animal quickly and pick it up.
…The one-mile hike back to where she had left her bike “was a bit of a struggle,” she said, especially carrying an animal that later weighed in at around 17 pounds.
…[She was able to get a ride] to the Howard Beach subway station, where the husband, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee, helped Ms. Cordova-Rojas lug her bike and the swan to the platform and then onto the A train.
Ms. Cordova-Rojas placed the swan, still wrapped in the coat, at the end of a long seat. She called friends and former colleagues at the Wild Bird Fund and asked that they meet her.
…Two car rides later, the swan, and Ms. Cordova-Rojas, reached the Wild Bird Fund.
…On Tuesday, the bird was undergoing treatment and would be reassessed in a few weeks.
The grace of my childhood…
From Sunrise, by Mary Oliver
die for it —
or the world. People
have done so,
their small bodies be bound
to the stake,
fury of light. But
climbing the familiar hills
in the familiar
fabric of dawn, I thought
and Europe, and I thought
how the sun
for everyone just
as it rises
• Dream Work (pp. 59-60)
The grace and humor of John Prine
Buechner on grace…
A crazy, holy grace I have called it. Crazy because whoever could have predicted it? Who can ever foresee the crazy how and when and where of a grace that wells up out of the lostness and pain of the world and of our own inner worlds? And holy because these moments of grace come ultimately from farther away than Oz and deeper down than doom, holy because they heal and hallow. “For all thy blessings, known and unknown, remembered and forgotten, we give thee thanks,” runs an old prayer, and it is for all the unknown ones and the more than half-forgotten ones that we do well to look back over the journeys of our lives because it is their presence that makes the life of each of us a sacred journey. We have a hard time seeing such blessed and blessing moments as the gifts I choose to believe they are and a harder time still reaching out toward the hope of a giving hand, but part of the gift is to be able, at least from time to time, to be assured and convinced without seeing, as Hebrews says, because that is of the very style and substance of faith as well as what drives it always to seek a farther and a deeper seeing still.