Monday, October 19, 2015

Building

As someone who has been given a certain mechanical aptitude along with the accompanying joy of building things, living in this neighborhood can sometimes be a virtual playground for my imagination.  In the midst of the expected annoyance of noise, dust, and traffic diversions rises a sense of wonder and amazement of watching buildings from 7 to 40 stories high rise on nearly every corner of my neighborhood ... many at the same time.  Living here and daily walking these streets I have had the privilege of watching these steel and glass giants rise from deep holes formed by concrete and rebar.  Like a time-lapse video, this process spans the course of months until, before you realize what you're really seeing, the finishing touches are being put on and those who have crawled over, under, and inside these structures pack their lunch and tool boxes and move on to another corner and another reclamation of abandoned space.  In recent days, as I've paused at the various intersections to take in the various phases of this neighborhood rising, I was reminded that we live in a part of the world that is waiting for "the big one".  The earthquake of all earthquakes.  They say it's not a matter of if, its a matter of when.  It occurred to me that in a matter of minutes, all this that has been literally years in the making will be, at the very least, structurally compromised if not destroyed.  It's a sobering thought, and one that I'm sure the steel workers 14 stories above me would choose not to think about.  I have also been in enough meetings with the developers of some of these projects to know that, structurally speaking, these buildings have been designed to withstand some tremendous shaking.   They may sustain significant cosmetic damage, but their basic foundational structure has been designed and built to hold up under unthinkable stress. 
I know enough about structural design to know that this is because the engineers and architects have invested an incredible amount of time, effort, and resources to insure that the foundation will stand under pressure.  It's not that the cosmetics of the building are not important.  It's just that they are not life and death.  Think about it ... How tragic that, if it were the other way around, where all the time effort and resources went into how cool and put together the building appeared, at the expense of structural integrity, a big stiff wind could reduce the effort into a pile of rubble. 
The tragedy in all of it is just this;  we understand this in a construction sense yet we don't seem to get it in a personal sense.  I spend enough time living and breathing here in the city to realize that what would be unthinkable in creating a structure is not even given a second thought when it comes to creating a life.  We, and I'll use it in the collective sense, are quick to invest ourselves in that which doesn't have any real significance and certainly wouldn't sustain us in the midst of a personal 9.0 shaking.  At the same time we find a whole folder full of excuses when it comes to building our inner core.  When it comes to the activity and investment required to develop our spiritual foundations, our inner well being, our opportunity to build community and do good, we suddenly don't have time, have more urgent demands, or better things to do with our money.  Is it any wonder that so many have little to no ability to withstand even the small storms much less "the big one" or why the smallest shaking sends us off the deep end.  The storms and the shaking will come, we all know this.  It's not a matter of if, its a matter of when.
Jesus has a parable that addresses this ... the one where he talks about how wise is the one who builds upon rock (read "firm foundation"). The one where he says the rains come and the streams rise and the winds blow.  The pastoral artist part of me finds this tragically ironic that the builders in my neighborhood understand this far more than the rest of us.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Thoughts on Mondays

So it's Monday, and as easy as it might be to stand here as if in a hole looking up at at some insurmountable summit, I'd like to see this day instead as the beginning of a new journey.  Even as these words appear on my screen, I cannot believe that they have originated from my fingers ... Or better yet, from my mind to my fingers.  I've been programmed to curse Monday ... to see it as an interruption in the recreational pursuits of a weekend ... or the abrupt return to reality.  We act as if we ourselves were the recipients of the first walking papers that ushered Adam and Eve out of paradise and into the world of toil and unreasonable bosses.  We put our heads down and trudge up Sisyphus' hill ... knowing it's only a matter of time before the rock we are pushing flattens us.  
So I ask myself, probably because no one else cares to wonder about such things, where did this all originate? Who was the first to climb out of a warm comfy bed and mutter "ugh, Monday"?  Once upon a time, Sunday was regarded as the first day of the week.  It was so long ago that many of us have no memory of this, and I'm pretty sure that they're not teaching it in schools.  There was generally no working and though not currently en vogue, people of my faith tended to gather and worship.  
Quite possibly that's where it all began to change ... when Monday became Sunday I mean.  Before the change, Sunday's were rather uneventful.  In fact, it's my understanding,from ancient writings, that events were frowned upon.  An event could be construed as "work" which was not ok on a Sunday.  So people looked forward to get into Monday because something eventful could possibly happen I suppose ... even if that event was a conflict with an idiot boss.  Now our weekends have nothing built in to encourage us back into the adventure that a new week can hold.  Weekends are two day events with only a huge drop off at the end and then a let down.  Instead of looking at the week as a journey to take, or an adventure to live, we look at it as an obstacle to get through until the next 2 day event.  
I would like to begin this Monday with the intent to change that, beginning with my own journey.  As much as I wonder about where this view of Monday's originated, I wonder even more how people of my faith persuasion have allowed themselves to be dragged into it... how I've allowed myself to be pulled in.  I mean really, we should be the optimists and those who plunge head long into a new week will a wild wave and a call of "follow me".  Hopefully we just took advantage of the opportunity presented to us to gather and celebrate the promise of hope, the reality of grace, and the potential of a "do over".  Hopefully, upon being reminded of said promises, you became anxious and eager to live these and share these.  I know statistically, especially here in the enlightened Northwest this may seem a bit too optimistic.  Those of you who know me would not be surprised to hear that optimism is not always my first response ... Ok hardly ever, but I'm determined to change that.  I live in arguably the most apathetic place in the country to such promises.  People here are more likely to place their faith in the drudgery of Monday than the hope and adventure of Sunday.  For some unknown reason, this is where we've been called.  I'll confess to a great deal of  traditional "Monday" attitude, quite possibly even more than you'd find on the calendar, during this 2 years and counting journey.  Most of them I've  stumbled into, not even looking to get to the weekend.  I've felt challenged, I've felt punished, I've felt rolled over by the rock.  I should have felt honored.  A new week awaits and I should feel honored that we've been chosen for this journey.  Today, on a real Monday, I choose to stand in that place.  The journey of this week begins today and I have no idea where it will lead.  I hope you choose the same.