Friday, October 17, 2008

The Wind has shifted

The wind has shifted. The day after the Thanksgiving holyday, the trees here suddenly started dropping leaves like confetti. They held their colours for the last of the cottagers and now the show’s over. The Harvest Moon is waning. The temperature has dropped. Even when the sun is shining, it doesn’t totally pierce the chill winds coming in from the north. We have crossed over.

We are in the thin times now. Was it the Celts or the Druids or is it every earth-people who live in northern climes that call these days thin? The shift from harvest storing to battening and bundling. The lighting of fires against the early shadows. Longer evenings lingering near fires causes us to slow and notice.

This shift, the earth’s tilt towards the season of death, stirs in us the inevitable thoughts of mortality and what’s after. Skeletons and all creatures black adorn front lawns as we approach the festival of the dead. Everything has changed. We’ve never been here before. I’ve changed - but there’s a déjà vu haunting of familiarity about the approaching days.

Life has stretched me thin. Surprises have interrupted plans and sucked up the energy I’d stashed away for winter. The summer’s solar-powered battery store’s been depleted already. I’m living off the fat of the community I belong to. Drawing down on my investments. Depending on good will and God with flesh on.

But there’s a credit crunch happening. The global financial empire has suddenly admitted that the Emperor’s got no clothes on. Everyone knew it. Everyone knew that all those trillions were only paper fictions sustained by the credulity of our “get-rich-hopes”. Those hopes are only domesticated demons. They are the ancient, ever-present hopes of ever-flowing abundance that danced in the fires around the golden calf while Moses got a different hope from the Maker on high.

“Depend on ME” saith the LORD. In ME you will find abundance. Abundance in thin times and full times. In ME you will find the ways to sustain the sacred circles of life.

On Thanksgiving Sunday I preached GOD’s judgement on Greed. I reminded folks about the Eleventh commandment. Right after the first Ten (that we have trouble enough keeping) comes the Jubilee code. Every seventh Sabbath year there will be a redistribution of wealth. The slaves will go free. Debts will be cleared. Every impoverished household will be re-established with the means of making a living. And community will be sustained instead of torn asunder (there’s a good Old Testament word for ya) by divisions of greed.

“Worship no other god.” is Commandment number one.
The other god in question is Mammon. The god of lotteries; the god of stock market speculations, the god of credit card wealth, the god whose demons whisper to us of want and fear of want. The god who laughs while governments feed our common wealth into the hands of bankers.

Saturday night, just before I headed off to bed, I answered a phone call. An old Toronto friend was in Fenelon. I jumped on my bike and headed downtown through the moonlit chill to meet him. He had an angel with him. A young woman who he’d convinced to sojourn with him for a busride out of the city into the northlands. I offered them a bed. Her eyes lit up - but he refused assuring me they wanted to sleep under the open sky. I showed them a good spot down by the Falls.

I picked them up for church in the morning. They were soaked with dew and chilled to the bone. We had some breakfast and headed off to the celebration of abundance. Babies were baptized and we gave thanks in song and word. Everyone was high and happy.

For the rest of the day I wrestled with providing hospitality for my friends. He was like a stray dog – not wanting to come indoors or take anything from my hand. She was a lost kitten lapping up everything we offered. I was so eager to give – to live out the generosity I’d been preaching about – to entertain these angels on my doorstep – that I overstepped myself.

I couldn’t see that he was on a quest. That the trip for him was about testing his will and power to live with just the essentials. He’d hoped to share this discipline with his friend – showing her that they could live well with whatever little God provided for them on the road. He wasn’t looking for Charity but it found him anyway.

Carol and I had the table full of food in a jiffy and had to beg him to join us. His angel was happy to sit and taste it all. She was happy to accept our offer of a bed that night. We completely fouled up his plans to journey with her into the north.

He went anyways. Left her in our care. We dropped him off in Haliburton and he headed off towards the rising moon.

It was only the next day that I saw how my eagerness to live out God’s material generosity had been at cross-purposes to my friend’s eagerness to live within God’s spiritual generosity.

In thin times our senses become better attuned to the world among us that is beyond material hungers. Demons from the other side whisper a twisted truth in our ears. “Your credit’s no good here” they tell us somberly. “Get while the getting’s good.”

And the Saints sing in loud and cheerful choruses.
Live – live for today.
Hold onto nothing.
Let it flow through your fingers like the river of time.

Live – live for today.
Give it a taste and.
Let it run right down through you like the river of time.

Live – live for today.
Trust in God’s goodness.
Let it lift and sustain you down the river of time.

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