The 30th day of thankfulness

Earthworms vs. Butterflies. Custodians and “To Kill a Mocking Bird”. Exploding dinosaurs, microscopes, telescopes, minivans in my living room. The standard convention for giving thanks was broken this month, and I broke it for good reasons, reasons I hope to share on this my 30th day of thanks.

While not my ‘30th day thanks’, I am thankful for all of you who read the posts. Opinions regarding the posts were varied, some positive, some negative, but in the end I am humbled that people found them worth having an opinion about. In the Facebook world of banal nonsense, generating an opinion about things other than sports or politics proves to be a difficult task.

Today I am thankful that absurd things are often the truth.

We live in a spoken world. A magical world as it were, I hoped to convey that in my posts. A world where dandelions get called weeds even though they are the most useful of plants. (Thanks Ray Bradbury for pointing that out to me.)  A world where strange transformations happen all the time, a world where just about everything is miraculous. My hope for you who followed along these 29 days is that your tolerance for the absurd has increased, even if only by a maggot’s hair. In truth the moment you deny the absurd, the moment you try to package everything neatly, whether by science, or systematic theology, you lose sight of the world as it really is. Science and systematic theology both are helpful, but they are limited in that they refuse to account for the absurd. Science declares the absurd doesn’t exist, and theologians do their best, I know not why, to cover up the absurdity of our theology.

Today I am thankful that bread can be body, and wine can be blood. Today I am thankful that water can wash away sin, and human lips can forgive sin. Today I am thankful that vibrations from somewhere inside the one human’s neck can carry the words of God to a drum inside some other humans skull, and somehow those vibrations create faith. I’m thankful that Word became flesh, God ‘became’ man. I’m thankful for an instrument of torture, a cross that we look to as a sign of hope. I’m thankful for resurrection. I’m thankful that there is one mediator between God and man, I’m thankful that mediator is the Word made flesh which at one point dwelt among us.

Sometimes I think the apologists who feel the need to explain this all just need to go away. Stop telling me that Peter was telling me to turn this all into logic when he said “to be ready to give a reason for the hope in me”. My hope doesn’t lie in my ability to mentally ascend to proper theory. My hope lies in the absurd reality that Jesus’ life death and resurrection was for me for the forgiveness of sin and everlasting life. The world was created in six days, I don’t care about a fossil record, I don’t really care much about Ken Ham or Kent Hovind’s goofy theories either. The best explanation is magic. The supper is really the body and blood of Christ, I don’t need some transubstantiation or consubstantiation, some over under or through to explain it, I have long since come to realize that the absurd is often true, and that is enough for me. If he said it, it is. I mean He said light and light was… right? Absurd? Sure, but true.

So today I am thankful for the word made flesh, for the absurd reality which is not merely a reality but a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose for you. I am thankful for Him, and you should be too.



The archive of posts:

Nov 1 - thankful for the sacrificial uranium nuclei that help power my world.

Nov 2 - you ever wonder how many people have died in the process of discovering what plants were poisonous, medicinal, or safe? Today I'm thankful for those people, you should be too.

Nov 3 - I wonder how many deaths I would have died already if I didn't feel or fear pain. Today I am thankful for pain, you should be too.

Nov 4 - I burn ancient forests for a warm shower. I drive with the power of exploding dinosaurs. Today I'm thankful for all the organisms that put the 'fossil' in fossil fuels. You should be too.

Nov 5 - Edible, good for wine and tea, the first flower a child picks for his mother's bouquet, wish granting, and baby-head-pop-offing. Her great virtue is her willingness to indiscriminately set any green lawn ablaze in her golden glory. Yet her willingness to spread her beauty is the reason she is so persecuted. To hell with the poor soul who Satan inspired to call her a weed. Persecute away Mr. Tru-Green and Mrs. Chem-lawn my children will unleash more of this golden glory with each wish they blow, and you will never stop them! Today I am thankful for dandelions, and you should be too.

Nov6 - You know who gets more credit than they should? Butterflies. Disguised like the heroic earth worm, that butterfly-in-worm-clothing is only going to tear your plants to shreds, spin a cacoon, then bam! Show his real colors and fly off to South America. Meanwhile, Mr. Earthworm eats your dirt and makes soil to feed your garden. The same garden that pesky false-worm is busy eating. What does our noble Mr. Earthworm get in return? Impailed by a hook? Cut in two by your shovel? Drowned and bloated in your church parking lot? Smashed by your children? Yet you gaze endless at the evil Monarch's beauty entranced by his lies. You all should feel ashamed. Oh Monarch, fly back to South America, you're no longer welcome here. Today I am thankful for the earthworm, and you should be too.

Nov 7 - Burp a baby in a crowded room and when that monsterous gasteral release echos off the walls everyone will smile and celebrate. And celebrate they should! Yet burp yourself and they'll call you a pig. Why? Because they want you to suffer gas pains? They prefer your gas to come out the other end? Historically a belch was a compliment to the chef, and a true joy to the one who dined. But alas, some imbecile decided to label the belch disgusting and relegate all fomal dining into a painful experience. This should not be. Call me gross, I don't care, today I am thankful for the belch, and you should be too.

Nov 8 - Remember that greasy guy from grade school? He walked through locked doors. Lurking in the background, recognizable, but you'd never dare speak to him. Your vomit was cleaned, scrawlings on the bathroom stall deleted, and against all odds the locker room remained almost sanitary and you knew this greasy enigma was behind it all. Camouflaged in mechanic clothes he quietly blended in with the school's institutional hues. He refused to interfere with your learning, yet his humble efforts to stay out of the way projected a creepy and undeserved image of a recluse. Yes, I tell you every school has at least one Boo Radley, and for them, today I give thanks. I am thankful for school custodians, and you should be too.

Nov 9 - If I were 85 years old at the time when houses were first being retrofitted with indoor commodes I would have been repulsed. "You're going to do what?... INSIDE the house? This is a moral outrage!" Walking by a recently used washroom retrofitted with a commode and smelling the aftermath, I promise "I told you so" would find itself chiseled clearly across my face. 
People are generally disgusted by outhouses, feeling cursed to have to use one. But who thinks of the absurdness of an 'in-house'? (Keep your toothbrush in a drawer, and put the lid down before you flush, really.) 
Sometimes we bring things inside that should just be left 'out'. Today I am thankful for that great relic of the not so distant past, the outhouse, and you should be too.

Nov 10 - Long ago in a not so distant garden a group of tomatoes were bragging about their versatility, two peppers were vying for a place on pizza and the aloof carrot was dreaming of dessert. Tired of being relegated to a healthy snack, carrot shaved himself, and slid into some orange jello thinking he'd blend in. Aha! He was a welcome guest in the orange jello. "Jello is almost a dessert" carrot thought. However carrot remembered that even celery (you know, the ants on a log guy) once was included in jello. So carrot shaved up again, and went where no vegetable dared to go. Cake. He found himself swimming in spice cake batter and the world has never since been the same. You, bold carrot who has broken all vegetable convention, today is your day. No longer relegated to salad, beef roast and stew, you are now a dessert. Today I am thankful for carrot cake, and you should be too.

Nov 11 - Military technology amazes me, and it is staggering to think of how this technology 
has come to affect our everyday lives and raised our standard of living. Military technology society never dreamed of 50 years ago is common place now among civilians. Of those staggering advancements one stands out above the rest, the crowned jewel of military innovation... cargo pants. No more sitting on wallets, or having keys dig into your thighs. Our veterans we're rocking the cargos in foreign lands long before the rest of us knew it was cool. So today I am thankful for cargo pants, but more than that I am thankful for the veterans who made them cool, and you should be too.

Nov 12 - 44% pig skin + 28% bovine hides + 27% bones + 1% other = 100% awesome. Without this worthy mix, there are no more Gummy Snacks, Marshmallows, Jello, or even some ice creams, yogurts, chip dips along with many other glorious snacks. Beyond snack eaters, the pharmaceutical industry, photography developers, and even the cosmetic industry should all share in this November 12th day of thanks. For once we can take pride, like our ancestors, in letting no part of animal go to waste. Today I give thanks for gelatin, and you should too.

Nov13 - Cheese, Yogurt, wine, beer, even leavened bread, all the by-products of contamination. I'm thankful today for yeast and bacteria and you should be too.

Nov 14 - What if we could find a worm that would be willing to eat harmful bacteria? What if this worm was successfully used to treat infectious wounds? What if she also would be willing to spin up a chrysalis to keep those butterfly lovers who need a picture of transformation happy? This would be the ultimate species, no? What if it came out of its chrysalis and actually stuck around for awhile instead of flying off to South America? Yes this would be an organism worthy of our thanksgiving. So today I am thankful for the housefly in worm's clothing, a.k.a, the maggot, and you should be too.

Nov 15 - My best memories are uncaptured. They are faster, higher, louder, stormier, happier, prettier, uglier, tastier, stronger hotter and colder, yes the uncaptured memories are far more interesting than reality ever was. Reminisce with the right person and a memory will improve and grow, they won't correct you, unless they too are improving the memory. A good friend will add a couple Tacos tothe already inflated taco memory, or subtract 5 degrees from a cold winter memory, or even add a few bodies to the huge party memory, certainly they will not resist your additions either. But alas, some poor soul always gets carried away with a camera, only wanting to capture a memory, unwittingly they put it in cage. My mind sees ten tacos but the picture only shows six... burn the picture. Sure, caged memories don't die, but they don't live either. Today I am thankful for uncaged memories, and you should be too.

Nov 16 - if our uncaged memories have a freedom which caged memories do not (see yesterday) then today I am thankful for the hard drives which go on permanent strike to set those memories free, and of course you should be too.

Nov 17 - Thankfulness for maggots and houseflies was not echoed... by anyone so today I take a different tack. Today I am thankful for the weavers of nets, architects who work in fine silk as strong as steel. Great trappers of the aforementioned house fly. They stand ever vigilant in their task of trapping and destroying bugs in your home. In return you smash them. Today I am thankful for spiders, and you should be too. (Especially if you are not thankful for houseflies)

Nov 18 - To deny magic is to deny reality. We live in a spoken world, a fantasy as it were. A place where the green worms someday get to be butterflies and the brown ones have been cursed to eat dirt and reproduce by themselves. A place were black and white squirrels spray noxious fumes postmortem to remind the world of their existence. This place where frogs that pretended to be fish as children grow up only to stick there tongues out at blood sucking fairies that some call mosquitos. Even last night magical winds blew that sent children under ground while those same winds summoned heroes into giant red trucks, flashing cars, and mobile hospitals. It is a denial of reality to say there is no magic, and an outright blasphemy to call magic evil. Today I am thankful for magic, and you should be too.

Nov 19 - Stomp in a puddle deep enough wet your socks. Run barefoot to your mailbox in the dead of winter just to feel your body dance a jig in auto-pilot. Count how many snowballs you make after your hands have gone numb. Get grass stains while doing something other than mowing. The greatest mistake we ever made was to grow up. Why do you encourage your kids to make the same mistake? Mother, don't scold the muddy child because he caused you extra work, teach them how to clean it and then give them permission to get dirty again. Father, one barefoot lap around the house in the snow isn't going to kill them, scratch that, they might die of laughter when they run inside. Why must we forbid the very things that make life worth living? Today I am thankful for childhood, and the adults who still live it and encourage it, and you should be too.

Nov 20 - There's an enigmatic cluster of people in our society who travel in droves to quaint run down shacks. Wearing their creaky old bodies, each holstering a can of pledge and a waning cask of elbow grease, they conjure diamonds from history's rubbish. These pirates have scoured your garage to rob you of unseen treasure. Give thanks. The past has tangible and not mere sentimental value because of their thieving. We can only pray this order of buccaneers remains 100 years from now, lest our possessions turn to dust and never find value again. Today I am thankful for antiquarians and you should be too.

(An antiquarian is an antique collector.)

Nov 21 - We talk a lot about first responders, but rarely about the last responder. We celebrate our life saving heroes but not our death saving heroes. When our first responders zip up the bag who will you call? Who will bring dignitiy to death? Final memories are hard memories, who is the hero who will step in to make those memories right? The last image burns into our retinas forever, who will create that last image. Who brings out the dead when the heroes of hospice can do no more? Another hero, that's who. Yet you look at him and shudder, you wonder about his back room where he weaves his spell, and you even question his sanity. You wonder about his childhood, and why he ever dreamed of such a profession. Today I am thankful for funeral directors, and you should be too.

Nov 22 - Few are the people who see conversation as an art and not a mere transmission of ideas. Conversations should often go beyond the practical, beyond the sharing of stories and advice, beyond jokes, they should touch things we never expected to touch. You know when you've been in one, its just different. Today I am thankful for the rare conversationalist, talk to one (I did tonight), and you'll be thankful too.

Nov 23 - With the Hubble telescope beaming back gorgeous pictures of space we have become obsessed with the enormity of this universe's beauty. It is mind blowing to consider how small we really are. Yet if we put a particle of dust on a microscope and continue to zoom in we will see gorgeous beauty there as well. Through and through we live in beauty, we are made of beauty, we breath beauty, we spit beauty. You just cannot get away from it. Even ugly viewed close enough is beautiful. Today I am thankful for telescopes and microscopes which reveal this beauty, and you should be too.

Nov 24 - Speak a dream and it vaporizes. The images were so vivid, confusing and real, you soaked in the thick dream residue enjoying that strange high. Then you speak it and the crystalline dream, becomes liquid, and in a moment it's a vapor that you frantically try to bottle in your mind. I'm convinced that if a dream were never spoken you'd be able to keep it forever. In any case today I am thankful for those moments when dream residue is thick and heavy, you should be too.

Nov 25 - Ears for hearing, eyes for seeing, tongue for tasting, nose for smelling, skin for touching. What if we had more sensing organs? A mole rat is oblivious to light. Talk to a mole rat. Explain light to him. Lack of sensing organs make you oblivious to almost everything in the world. How many more colors are there that you can't see? How much music does this world create that you cannot hear? How many flavors are there that you cannot taste? You barely sense the tip of the iceberg of reality. Today I am thankful that our world is richer than we will ever perceive it to be, and hopeful for what additional sense resurrection life might bring, you should be too.

Nov 26 - Beauty is largely subjective. If an item or a person is not beautiful to you, it is because of your decision. Culture helped, but the decision still lies at your feet. Today I am thankful for beauty, and eyes that are occasionally willing to see it, and you should be too.

Yeah remember those earthworms? Beautiful. Really.

Nov 27 - Yesterday I was high school, the day before that I was elementary, but jr. high was 1000 years ago. Just a week ago I got married and it's been like 60 years since my last cold. Good memories stay close while the lame ones drop into the distant past. Today I am thankful that our minds don't process time like our watches and calendars do, and you should be too.

Nov 28 - Children have real conversations with imaginary friends. Adults have imaginary conversations with real friends. Alone in your car you run mock conversations. Don't lie, you do. You get all the words right, your friend responds exactly as you plan. If it is a fight you win, if it is friendly banter the conversations moves right where you want it to. Go ahead, challenge your ideas and theories alone in a mock conversation with real friends. This is a good healthy exercise. However, today I am thankful that real conversations never go as predicted, and you should be too.

Nov 29 (late I know) - I'm putting two recliners side by side in my living room facing the front window, a love seat behind them, and one more love seat behind the first one, minivan floor plan. Then we are going to sit there for fourteen hours in an attempt to duplicate the excitement of a family trip to the beach, because let's face it long car rides were fun growing up, right? Absurd? Yes, long trips were fun because the journey had a destination. Today I am thankful that this terrestrial ball ride has a destination, and you should be too. (Unless you are the the type who fakes mini-van rides in your living room.)

No comments: