Thursday, April 2, 2015

Archetypes and Christ

Today I awoke with archetypes on my mind. Vivid dreams, I guess.  The word "archetype" comes from the Greek meaning "origin" and "model:" a first form.  Apparently, Carl Jung argued that the root of an archetype is the "collective unconscious" of mankind.  I like that idea.

I was pondering how beauty and archetype collide.  Is a mountain range beautiful to us because we instinctively react to the spectacle with a desire to endure and reach a figurative summit?

Why does the sight of a stag stir us so? Its proud beauty has often been a symbol of set-apart-ness which brings to mind an austere holiness.

And water. The sound of spring water tumbling over rocks is so soothing.  And I believe it is lovely because it stabs us unconsciously that water brings refreshment and renewal, cleansing and cooling. Our souls thirst. Thundering ocean waves evoke larger visions. Always changing (the tides) and yet unchanging: vast, merciless, timeless.


Spring itself is always beautiful to us after the quiet stillness of winter.  The frivolity and fecundity of spring is joy and youthfulness and hope and heart in a way that could never be saccharine.

The universality of these thoughts are a pointer to me of a God who keeps his promises and a Christ who wants to be known to us.  Of course, arguing the existence of God/gods because of beauty has been a philosophic rationalization at least as far back as Plato.  I just personally love a God dressed in beauty and archetype: The Suffering Servant, The Sacrificial Victim, The Living Water, The Holy One, The King of Glory, The Bridegroom. Divine Providence revealed himself in a story: a myth that really happened. And our "collective unconscious" recognizes him.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The first question from man to God "Am I my brother's keeper?" was asked by Cain in what I imagine was a snarky and sullen tone. And God's holy response was "your brother's blood cries out to me!"

We have all felt the pain of injustice directed towards us and we have all been grateful when someone else pleaded our cause and helped carry our burden.  

No one wants to prod the snake inside another human being or a group of people.  Venom can spew. It can be deadly. But the snake in each of us needs to die and exposure is often the best way to kill it.

History gives us countless examples of what happens when we don't fight against injustice. I have seen circa 1940 pictures of German citizens sunbathing on the beach while unspeakable atrocities were occurring in their country.  I am that sunbather.

I am so humbled by those who face imprisonment, slander, torture, and death daily for the the offenses against others.  I am not that person. But God has been growing in me a flicker of courage to become more like that person. Keeping everything safe, fun, and pretty is harming me.

This month, Andy and I have been talking about our complacency.  That is one of my snakes that needs exposure.  The can't-wait-to-crawl-into-bed, bone-tired days of early parenting are long gone and now ease is my normal. The terrifyingly accurate picture of my life can be found in the warnings to the complacent in Amos 6:4-6.

So... I am not sure where this is going yet for my life but I am confident God is working on me and on my family. We are ready for some accountability.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Feast Days Shouldn't Last

I am addicted to comfort food.  Chicken fricassee and shepherd's pie were my childhood favorites.  I love warm, white bread, pasta anything, and the savory smells of Thanksgiving.  I think such food is especially comforting when I don't have to make it and my kitchen remains clean. Laziness mixed with butter and starch is an unhealthy combination.

I am also "of a certain age." I can no longer eat like I am twenty and expect the scale to congratulate me in the morning.  In fact, my husband has connected our scale to our computer so it can show "trends."  I hate trends.

But, praise the Lord, I also possess an annoying amount of vanity.  Things can only progress so far before I take action.  I have been doing this tango with the scales for ten years now and it works for me.  Seasons of eat, drink, and be merry are often followed by seasons of settle-down-now Susan.

I am in such a season now.  Drinking smoothies with hemp, eating mini peppers, consuming vast quantities of expensive berries: these choices make me feel wonderful and energetic and somewhat self-disciplined.

But sometimes, you just gotta have decadent feast days.

Last night, it was double date night at a smokehouse.  I walked in and the room smelled like sizzling fat.   The menu only offered meals that were warm, gooey, and happy.  And so after a week of perfect eating, I ordered a salmon dish (salmon's good, right?) nesting on a bed of fettuccine with butter and pesto sauce.  It was perfection.

By some miracle, I only ate half of my entree and brought the rest home.  Well done, Susan! And I feel like today I have stumbled on a secret that will help me for the rest of my life.... I opened my mouth and I promised the left-overs to my daughter.

I am alone today.  My refrigerator is stocked with healthy options which I tell myself I am utterly sick of eating.  And there is that little box.... but I gave my word.... it will make her happy.... it will make me happy.... The struggle is real, folks.  But sharing that bit of pasta with my fellow comfort-food addict daughter will actually double the pleasure.  We will talk about how marvelous it is together. She knows that I understand my other children wouldn't have liked it as well.  That I chose her to promise it to.

So half the calories, twice the enjoyment.  And I will have taught my daughter a healthy principle for all her life - don't feast alone.  Share rich moments and exercise self-control the rest of the time.

 A recipe for no regrets.