Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Proverbs 14:27


You know, there are times I think I’m quietly sitting by the mountains, listening to the sunset, taking it all in. But then I see my reflection, I hear my echo, bouncing back from the lake’s surface. And there’s this bullfrog there; he’s puffed up, he’s croaking loudly; maybe he’s been trying to drown out the sound of his fear. And all my quiet listening was just habituation to the sound of his voice. No wonder I wasn’t really rested, well, or truly happy!

Such reflections wound me, but they also help, for now at least I know what the truth is and what the task is. But what helps even more is when the lake sometimes dries up, or when the sun goes all the way down. For it’s then that I’m truly afraid, and know more fully of my utter dependency and fragility.

Yet, now I’m afraid, something else happens, something wonderful. For what I see is that what really matters is not my survival or happiness at all - but rather the wonderful facts of the sunset, the lake, and the mountains. Perhaps the acknowledgement of their glory is what some call ‘worship’. And this ‘worship’: it sustains me, it soothes me. The lake and the sunset make me no false promise: no promise of future rewards for good behaviour, they offer nothing which thus makes life make sense, nothing which makes it come out after all on my terms. But such terms – weren’t they puny anyway? ‘The good man cannot be harmed' said Socrates; that seems right: the bullfrog who's not puffed himself up can’t be knocked down.

A powerful calm descends. I can’t make it last. But so what? The mountains and the sunset – they’re still singing.

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This post is an occasional 'somewhat secular' reflection on religious themes ... Proverbs 14:27 has it that 'The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.' I saw it last week on a building in Chester: