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My Strength and My Salvation –

Posted on Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 10:24PM by Registered CommenterMarshall Massey in | Comments3 Comments

Well, friends, I think I may have found pants that will help stop the chafing. I’m having them shipped in by 2nd day air, which means I’ll probably have them Thursday. I’ll try them out when they arrive.

My hips are healing, too. For the first time in quite a while, I was able to shower this morning without feeling pain where the water hit. I’m hoping those hips will be sufficiently mended for me to start out again on Sunday. We’ll see.

And at the same time — once again — things are happening to make me feel scared of what I’m about to do.

There’s a tremendous storm approaching Omaha this night: wind gusts of sixty miles an hour and up, hail and violent ground lightning. They’ve warned people to seek shelter and stay away from windows and doors. The storm will pass over Red Haw State Park, where I’d have been camping in Iowa tonight, a few hours after it passes over me. I wonder how my little light-weight tent would have fared.

I’m having some sobering thoughts here regarding how very vulnerable we naked apes really are in this natural world. Is this just me? I think: We cling to our technologies, even though they are destroying the planet and may eventually destroy us, because deep down we know how naked and vulnerable we are. We cling to our technologies for the same reason I’m once more feeling a bit fearful of going out on the road.

There’s stuff in the Old Testament about this. The prophets pondered the way that people look to weapons and strong tools for safety, and on the ways in which such things can let them down. “Judah has built fortified cities everywhere,” said Hosea (8:14), “but I’ll send fire to his cities, and it will destroy his citadels.” “Woe to those who rely on cavalry,” said Isaiah (31:1), “and trust in the numbers of their chariots, and the strength of their horsemen, instead of trusting in the Holy One of Israel”.

If you build upon anything or have confidence in anything which stands in time and is on this side eternity and [the] Being of beings, your foundation will be swept away, and night will come upon you…. (Francis Howgill, A Lamentation for the Scattered Tribes…, 1656)

And yet that is what we do, too, just as the Israelites did. We rely on the strength of our homes, and the speed of our cars rushing to our homes, to protect us from storms like this. Now, will God send his fire to take these things down, too? I am pondering greenhouse warming, the global fire of this time. This storm bearing down on Omaha is undoubtedly powered by a little extra heat energy because the greenhouse gas blanket has already thickened. As the blanket thickens further, future storms will have more energy powering them. They’ll become more violent, more destructive.

I shall be leaving safety, once again, to go into a world I see as just beginning to come apart all over — a world in which safety, everywhere, is coming to an end. That is the burden of environmental witness as I understand it. I am called to bear witness against the idolatry of strong tools, but to do so by myself laying down those tools — and feeling consequently vulnerable.

O God, my Rock and my Salvation — help me stand straight!

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Reader Comments (3)


Thank you for opening yourself up to us in this way.

I came to a new understanding of the cliche “as ye reap, so shall ye sow” one time at Candlestick Park, when we went to a San Francisco Giants night game. Candlestick is notoriously windy, and especially as the fog is coming in of a summer night. Well, by the seventh inning or so there was a whirling wind going around the stadium, and it carried along soft drink cups, lids, napkins, and other detritus. It was such a clear example of our own litter and trash coming back to bite us.

-- comment posted by Chris M., http://chrismsf.blogspot.com/
May 23rd, 2006 at 11:10 p.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 02:57PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey
I recall to mind that when the Israelites were commanded to cut stones for the alter within the Tabernacle, they were not to use any tools on the stones.

Separately, if even tools are from the Divine, then perhaps there is a way to wield them that perserves the integrity, the beauty, and the sacredness of wherever they are used. Can it be the problem resides with the tool-user versus the tool per se?

So we are back to consciousness, and the need to increase it markedly.

-- comment posted by Steve Evans, http://sevansgsm-usa.com/
May 24th, 2006 at 12:55 a.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 02:58PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

I remember your description of J. Muir being held by that tree during a storm. I remember our family of 5 with 3 children aged 5,10, and 15, setting up a tent in Idaho in ‘76 when at 10 pm a storm passed through and in the nick of time I lunged for the corner of the tent where the stake had just been pulled out by the strong winds as the family took my place in that spot I weathered the rain and drove the stake in deeper. Sometimes I wish that I could take your place like in a Pony Express relay, but I know I can’t. I only know that progress and keeping on keeping on “moving forward and never turning back” is sometimes made by a pattern of 3 forward steps and 2 backward steps. Our Meeting continues to hold you in the Light with our songs which preface our silent worship, included last 1st days, #155, from A Friends Hymnal; “Guide my feet; (hold my hand, stand by me, I’m your child, search my heart, and guide my feet) while I run this race”. I so much am strengthened to carry own my own leadings and disciplines by your resolve as you continue stepping into the faces of the accompanying fears. And if an alternative Way opens like the time you did accept a ride go for it.

John Hackman, Clerk
Upper Fox Valley Quaker Meeting

-- comment posted by John Hackman
May 24th, 2006 at 12:06 p.m.

Sep 2, 2006 at 02:59PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

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