Reaching for a parable

She woke up, washed her face, put on her glasses and ate breakfast. Looking at her bookshelf she thought, "this place is a dusty mess." 

As she walked to work she looked up into the sky and thought, "another grey day."

She got into work mumbled about how her computer screen needs to be replaced because it is going out. 

When she went to lunch with a friend and complained about the low lighting in the restaurant. To which her friend asked, "why are your glasses do dirty?"

After rubbing her glasses with a nearby napkin and putting them back on, she realized the restaurant was not as dark as she thought.

And the moral of the story is that it all looks terrible,
depending on what you look through, what you look through.
— The Story of the Grandson of Jesus - Cloud Cult

The anger of Jonah looks silly! (and so does ours)

Now this is just silly.

Now this is just silly.

The prophet Jonah was called to go to his enemy and offer up the hope and Grace of God. After his epic struggle of accepting this call to go to "those people", Jonah sat outside the city and waited for God to rain down wrath on "those people". And, of course we know now, this wrath never happened. Jonah got angry at the whole thing and the story ends with God asking Jonah if it is okay for Jonah to care about a plant then shouldn't it be okay for Got to care about people and animals? 

It has been said that you can go to the area of Nineveh and look up and still see Jonah, sitting there on the top of the cliff looking down, angry that the destruction of "those people" never happened. 

It is silly to think that someone would be that angry for that long about anything. It is silly to be in the base of the valley and look up to see one angry person just sulking. It is silly to see one person get so caught up in anger. Looking at another person who is angry give us a different perspective on our own anger. 

Just as Jonah looks silly, so too we look silly when we are angry. There is much to be concerned about in this world, and those concerns can stoke strong emotions, but let us remember that anger was one of the things the desert fathers/mothers taught seekers to be cautious to embrace.

Just a few sayings:

Abbot Ammonas said that he had spent fourteen years in Scete praying to God day and night to be delivered from anger.

Agathon said, “Even if a person raises the dead but is full of anger, that person is not acceptable to God.”

James O. Hannay in his book, The Wisdom of the Desert, even speaks of the Fathers teachings on anger in this way:

The only point which is really peculiar in the hermits' teaching about anger is that the possibility of righteous anger is altogether denied. No matter how wicked a brother might be, or how serious the consequence of his sin, it was not right to be angry with him. To try to cure another of sin by angry denunciation was the same thing as for a physician to try to cure his patient by inoculating himself with a similar fever, for to be angry even with sinfulness is to sin.

May we be a people who sit in the valley with the Ninevites and repent of our misdoings and have pity on Jonah who sits on the edge of our city, praying for our demise.

This is difficult to do, not of least of which because we are not talking about repenting quite as much as we once did. Just doing a quick search take a look at how the term 'repent' has declined in usage over the decades.


High School reunions and a walking Bible


Recently I attended a wedding of a friend that I met when I was in High School. This resulted in something of a mini-high school reunion without having all the awkwardness of facing someone that you cannot recall their name.

We did what I am sure all reunions of all sorts do - we told stories. "Do you remember when..." "Let me tell you about the time 'this guy' did..." "That was a blast, and so was..." 

Participating in this ritual of storytelling I was confronted with the reality of multi-truth in this world. I have a sense of who I am and it is that sense of self that informs my current action and thought. I tend to think that I am a rather cautious person - thus I don't have a motorcycle. I tend to think that I am a compassionate person who is sensitive to others - thus I don't ridicule people. 

I was reminded that while I may see myself in these ways, friends may see me differently. I have my truth about who I am, but when my friends tell stories about me, they remind me of other truths about myself. 

I am cautious, but I also started roman candle wars and ran face first into anothers knee. 

I am compassionate, but I also put up a poster all around school making fun of a teacher. 

The thing is, I am all of those things. We all are more complex than just the simple narrative we tell about ourselves. We are both sinner and saint. We have a wonderful mixture of blessing and cursing within us. We are more than one flat narrative, we are more than one Truth. We are each a walking collection of stories that tell all sorts of truths about who we are and what our nature is about. In this respect, we each are like walking Bibles - we are a collection of stories that are somewhat loosely connected, some of which we tell all the time and some of which we are very embarrassed of and try to forget and other stories we just don't know but others may.