“Lo, the winter is past, the rain is ended and gone away; flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds has come.” Song of Solomon, King James Version
I saw my father this week; it’s been a while. He died in 1982 on his sixty sixth birthday, so his appearances are infrequent and remembered only when I awaken shortly after them. He looked fit, dressed in his typical Saturday casual, not jeans: faded slightly rumpled khakis and a well-worn plaid shirt. No gunmetal sky pallor like the last time I spoke with him in the hospital; his color was healthy, more like he was quarterbacking the street tag football team: tanned, a little ruddy and flushed. We had a short, but satisfying visit. I explained to him how to use a leg press machine at the gym safely, so he would not injure himself. My Dad smiled kindly in a reticent Irish way and whispered that he already knew how.
“Take care of all your memories, said Mick
For you cannot relive them
And remember when you’re out there tryin’ to heal the sick
That you must always first forgive them.” From “Open the Door, Homer” Bob Dylan
Holy Week. Easter Sunday. I write of my faith infrequently. Politics and religion at a restaurant – almost never welcome and uncomfortable for those at the next table. Intensely personal, as all faith is, it informs, though, how I see the world, how I think. As it must, or I would be a great fool to hold it dear.
Sitting on a limestone ledge near the edge of the Grand Canyon last month, I was thinking about time and vastness in two contexts from my eclectic recent reading of Aquinas and early twentieth century physics. In Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas tells us that time for God is closer to Einsteinian relativity than to Newtonian absolute time: time is a product of our measuring it. [i] For St. Thomas, the past is no longer actual nor the future yet actual. “Eternity only touches time in the present.” Regrets and guilt are not productive. Anxiety about what may never come is not useful. We have only today; we have only now.
“God is very big, Papa. Bigger than you. Bigger than the whole world and the stars.” Gianna Barek
In Blaise Pascal’s notable gamble, God either is or He isn’t. No absolute proof for or against is possible. “Why not believe?” asks Pascal, because the consequences of betting wrong are eternal loneliness and alienation. The consequence of being right on atheism is mere extinction, and one’s choices have no effect in this regard. Although Monsieur Pascal was much brighter than I, I believe him to be wrong with his minimalist bet on two counts: his gamble promises too little for and asks too little of the believer.
“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
The question is this: If the blind cannot see it, does the sun cease to warm us? If blindness is a deliberately chosen mind and spirit closed to faith, does that have any bearing on the reality of the existence of God, of redemption in the cross and resurrection? If we choose not to be open to the possibility, does the truth, if it is so, cease to be true?
“The life of contemplation in action and purity of heart is a life of great simplicity and inner liberty. One is not seeking anything special or demanding any particular satisfaction. One is content with what is. One does what is to be done, and the more concrete it is, the better. One is not worried about the results of what is done. One is content to have good motives and not too anxious about making mistakes. In this way one can swim with the living stream of life and remain at every moment in contact with God, in the hiddenness and ordinariness of the present moment with its obvious task.” Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience
[i] Of course, St. Thomas preceded Newton and Einstein by centuries. His purpose was theological. See Peter Kreeft’s excellent notes in his “Summa of the Summa.”
3 responses to “Resurrection”
There have been times, in the not too distant past, when we have seen Crocuses bloom in late February. I try, as a native New Englander, to embrace winter in all it’s frigid white glory as the alternative is just more misery. However, when we approach the end of March and no Crocuses have appeared, I get grouchy. People greet me in a friendly manner and I’m apt to reply, “Where are the crocuses?” in a not so friendly manner. Well they have arrived in all their timid glory. If the weather turns chilly after their first blooming, they close their petals and wait. Maybe “timid” is the wrong description of these first to bloom New England flowers as April is not without its occasional snow storm. 😉 If we get any more snow this year we will ship it to Southern Cal… They need the water.
Jack’s description of his father’s “visit” had me in tears. He really was exactly as he describes. A quiet, unassuming, gentleman, but the rock of the family. RIP Papa Jack.
A blessed and joy filled Easter to friends and family,
Resurrection to the followers of his word, believing in goodness over evil as the righteous path for all. Dad followed that. I know many loved to hear him sing and I used to wish to be like him for that. For the longest time deafness made me blind but I have the memories of dad’s touch, his smell and his eyes, they will always be with me. As I start to see the light of things like time has limits and it’s more of a blessing not a privalidge, I do ponder on these memories..
Gone the days when he would take me on his knee to play or take me out sledding, a walk, go camping or to the beach. He would always take time to drive me to whatever needs I may – to work or school, just always was there when the need came to be. I wish I told him he was my hero, not only for our nation he was but to his family. Just because he was so brave and talented that God had decided to make him an angel, now I can do is wish heaven had a phone so I could call him just once so I could let him know.
I have dreams with Dad, I think of him often and wish that we had more time with him. I believe Dad was a product of the times he lived in, he was somewhat impulsive ( like me ) and he had a fierce competitive spirt that he passed on to his children with varying degrees. He obvivously was a very brave man who held his stories close to him, not allowing many to know his inner demons of which there were many I believe.
His flaws are mine as well and I have no reservations in saying that, I learn from him even these many years after he has been gone. I miss him a great deal.