Tuesday, October 14, 2014

First Quarter Queries (We Make the Road by Walking)

If you feel comfortable doing it, compose honest and heartfelt replies to one or more of these queries and share your thoughts with us.

1.  What does it mean to you to live within the story of creation?
2.  What does it mean to you to live within the story of crisis?
3.  What does it mean to you to live within the story of calling?
4.  What does it mean to you to live in a world of captivity and conquest?
5.  What does it mean to you to be part of the great conversation?  What do you learn from the priests, prophets, sages, poets, and storytellers?
6.  In what ways are you integrating into your daily life your identity in God's unfolding story?
7.  What are some significant changes you've experienced from being part of this learning circle?


Shirley said...

I'm opting out of this opportunity. Did your group have a quarterly review session? Did others participate in responses to the suggested review questions?

I am beginning to wonder if the online discussion is just going to be a monologue. The photos and questions are interesting, but some dialogue would enrich the book for me.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Yes, we did have a separate session to go through these "First Quarter Queries," but that was months ago. I answered the first couple of comments you added recently, but I will have to re-read each chapter to be able to discuss these with you now. (Which I'm willing to do, but I can only do so much re-reading because I'm still with the group pushing through the book, now up to Chapter 20 this coming Friday.)

One resident on my floor has been in the hospital, dying, since two days after Christmas when she was taken from her apartment by ambulance ... I've been feeding her dog for much of the time since then, three times a day, plus walking the dog to let her out of the solitary life inside the apartment. I've also been spending time with the grieving wife in our discussion group whose husband died in December ... and taking people to church ... and trying to keep up with church committments ... and being on call to visit church people in hospitals and nursing homes while our pastor was out of town for a dozen days or so over Christmas. I've also read and made notes on books for two face-to-face book clubs (one at church and one with other women where I live).

Thus, I haven't had a chance to re-read what I studied three months ago, and therefore haven't been able to dialogue with you in the comments. I'll try to re-read or skim another chapter today, but I can't read them as fast as you are, because I'm doing too many other things in my off-line life.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

5. What does it mean to me to be part of the great conversation? What do I learn from the priests, prophets, sages, poets, and storytellers?

My friend Betty said, "Rehashing old stories does not give me insights into Godness. Godness, like us, is in process, always in the midst of creation." On the other hand, I do "rehash" the old stories as I try to discover what inspired the "priests, prophets, sages, poets, and storytellers" to tell such stories in the first place. What mattered to them – and why did it matter?

When I was young, I thought my mother knew everything. When I became a mother, I realized that I didn't know everything and neither had my mother when she was that age. At 74, I am quite aware of how little I know, how small I am in this immense universe, how very little our whole human race knows and understands. And yet ... and yet ... I am becoming more and more aware that, together, we are a great thing. We are part of something bigger than we can comprehend. We are one with each other, one with the universe, one with that ... something ... we call God. I don't have to know it all. I simply have to play my part, whatever that is.

(continued in next comment)

Bonnie Jacobs said...

What does that mean? It means I'm part of a cosmic conversation.

When the priest says, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together in the sight of God," I don't then think she means God has eyes. Because I'm in conversation with the speaker (at least in my head), I understand that to mean we are never away from the presence of God. I do gain insights to "godness," as Betty called it.

When the prophet says, "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8), does he mean God walks beside me? Does God have feet and legs? No, getting past the childish stage of taking everything literally, I hear that justice and kindness make a better life for everyone and everything.

When the sage says, "The unexamined life is not worth living," I can google it and learn what others have thought he means. One man wrote that "Socrates believed that the purpose of human life was personal and spiritual growth." The fact that I have thought about this phrase since at least 1969 when I took my first philosophy classes means that I have been part of the philosophical question for many decades. People still ponder what Socrates said, and he died in 399 BCE.

When the poet says, "If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you," consider it a conversation and think about how you would respond. (See the whole poem by Rudyard Kipling below.)

When the storyteller says, "Once upon a time there were three bears who lived in a house," he isn't being literal, but suggesting the child consider the idea of "too hot, too cold, and just right" or "too big, too little, just right." And the storyteller is also telling children it's wrong to eat someone else's porridge and break someone else's chair by sitting in it.

When the psalmist says, "The Lord is my shepherd," he isn't saying we're as stupid as sheep, but that we should follow the shepherd. We are not in this alone, but are part of a group and staying together makes everything better for all of us. That's ALL of us, not just the humans.

(continued in the next comment)

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I included in my notes a photo of a forlorn baby chimp slumped against a wall with the back of one hand across his little face. The words on it said, "We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form." – William Ralph Inge

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

(Okay, this is no longer politically correct, but I still like the poem.)