Skip to main content

from the shower to the grave

After almost a year of thinking and planning and measuring and calling people and sighing over large sums of money and looking at all the models available and realising walls were in the less-than-ideal places and asking plumbing questions and overall indecision…we are getting our guest bathroom downstairs remodelled and a shower installed. I love having a house with space for visitors and friends, and one of the first things I had hoped to do after we bought this home was to install a shower in the second bathroom so that our guests wouldn’t have to traipse up 13 stairs to use the shower on the main floor. Instead, we ended up doing almost everything else first, for no other reason than every time I tried to make the shower thing happen, I hit some obstacle, until a week ago when everything just seemed to fall into place. Timing, it seems, is something you just can’t fight. But we do.

There is a natural ebb and flow to seasons and growth and rest and work and play, but our North American mindset too often sees big goals instead of slow and steady growth and tries to force its way into the desired end at an efficient and cost-effective pace. Growth hormones and chemical fertilisers and all sorts of unnatural processes are utilised in the growth and production of our everyday food supply in order to ensure larger, plumper, juicier, more consistent and generous portions along with long shelf-life, and we are finally starting to notice that this may have adverse long-term affects. Now, I am not an organic fanatic, but I do believe that ‘natural’ is the healthier way to go in every aspect of life. Fighting against the flow of something just seems to be a waste of energy in most cases. And that brings up the next thought…what exactly constitutes ‘natural‘? Because this world has been ravaged by evil and selfishness and the effects of millenia of sin and corruption and weeds, the ’natural’ or ’normal’ state of things is hard to recognise sometimes.

I have naturally wavy hair. To straighten it every morning with 30 minutes of hot air and awkward arm movements seems totally ridiculous to me. I am also short-sighted and need glasses or contacts (which I deem necessary and not ridiculous) in order to see anything clearly past 3 feet away. Both are natural, but the latter is not normal. Weeds and bugs that eat away at plants and kill them are also natural, but not normal. A lion killing a deer for food is natural and normal but not ultimately the way things should be. In the garden of Eden, there was no food chain - everyone ate from the fruit of the land without death for death is never the way things should be.

And I guess that is the way one can judge if something is healthy - does it involve death? At its core or over the long-term, is it killing me or helping me live? Though I am mostly a vegetarian, I have recently realised that meat is required for me to be healthier and have more stamina and strength. Death is not always the dead-end it seems to be (excuse the play on words). This strange mixture of death and life is often evident in this fallen and imperfect world where one catches glimpses of redemption sprinkled throughout. Redemption seems linked with death in the ways of God, yet there are totally evil ways to die and very right ways to die. A man sacrificing his life to avert a disaster and save many is a right way to die. A man throwing himself off a building in despair is a wrong way to die.

How did this go from installing a shower to the topic of death? Really, the two are related. Why do we take showers? The plain and extraordinary process of living produces dirt and old skin and sweat and oil. We need to slough off the old and decaying and dying in order to aid renewal and rejuvenation of the body and skin, plus it makes us smell better. Death smells bad and I don't want to smell bad.

This whole walk of faith is a process of day by day getting rid of the death in my life and embracing the things that bring life, of being a shower-builder and not a grave-digger, of smelling like life and not like death. I am all too aware of the death around me and point it out often and that makes me a negative person sometimes. I need to breathe deep the breath of God and become one who can sniff out the faintest whiff of life in the deepest heap of decay and dung. That would be the most natural and normal and right thing I could become.

Comments

Emma said…
Very thought provoking... As I was reading it I was also thinking about how, in a way, as we walk in faith and get rid of the death in our lives we are dying to ourselves and living for God!

Hope you and Dean are well - looking forward to seeing you soon?!

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

theology from the margins: God of Hagar

Our contexts have major implications for how we live our lives and engage with our world, that much is obvious. However, we sometimes overlook how much they inform our concepts of God. For those of us occupying the central or dominant demographic in society, we often associate God with power and truth. As a result, our theology is characterized by confidence, certainty, and an expectation that others should be accommodating. For those of us living on the margins of society, our sense of belonging stranded in ambiguity, God is seen as an advocate for the powerless. Our theology leans more toward inclusivity, and we talk less about divine holiness and righteousness and more about a God who suffers. On the margins, the priority is merciful and just action, not correct beliefs. 
There are significant theological incongruences between Christians who occupy the mainstream segment of society and those who exist on the margins. The world of theology has been dominated by Western male thought…

the movement of humility

We live in a context of stratification where much of society is ordered into separate layers or castes. We are identified as upper class, middle class, or lower class. Our language reflects this up/down (superior/inferior) paradigm. We want to be at the top of the heap, climb the ladder of success, break through the glass ceiling, be king of the hill. This same kind of thinking seeps into our theology. When we talk about humility, we think mostly think in terms of lowering ourselves, willfully participating in downward mobility. This type of up/down language is certainly present in biblical texts (James 4:10 is one example), but I believe that the kind of humility we see in Jesus requires that we step outside of a strictly up/down paradigm. Instead of viewing humility as getting down low or stepping down a notch on the ladder of society, perhaps it is more helpful to think in terms of proximity and movement.

Jesuit theologian, James Keenan, notes that virtues and vices are not really…