Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fear and Vindication

Fear is such a strange characteristic. None of us really want it. We want to be fearless, but no matter what we all experience some kind of fear. Hopefully one of those is a fear of God. A lot of the time I like to define "God fearing" as Job did and as I have referred to before in a previous post:

And he said to man,
"Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away form evil is understanding."

-Job 28:28

Wisdom and understanding are good characteristics. But what about the fears that we have that are not of God, but are strictly human. I think of passages like Matthew 6:25-34. But how difficult is it to "not be anxious about your life" and "tomorrow." What life would be if we were able to take it one day at a time and truly be able to say, "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

A passage from Joel, which is less popular than that of Matthew and New Testament writings, expresses the same idea in a different way. I really like how the passage addresses fear from the perspective of creation. First the land, then animals, then humanity. I particularly think it is cool how that order of events parallels the creation story in Genesis 1.

"Fear not, O land:
be glad and rejoice,
for the LORD has done great things!
Fear not, you beasts of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
the fig tree and the vine give their full yield.
Be glad, O children of Zion,
and rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you
abundant rain,
the early and latter rain as before.

-Joel 2: 21-23

Two years ago, on a a trip to France and Spain over Christmas break, I wrote a poem to try to relate to the concept. Thanks to Mr. Frost for the rhyme pattern.

Southern French Landscape by Jennifer Young


Near the border of France and Spain,
Passing the countryside by train.
In a field sits a broken windmill,
Below it a barren water main.

The winter winds blow hard,
Shifting the rusty gears ajar.
Early spring breezes whirl soft,
But do not spin the battered blades far.

Up in the farmhouse loft,
The faithful farmer lays his head down soft.
The restless cattle are unaware,
There will be not water in the troth.

Thinking Mother Nature would show no shame,
To the east turned the farm's old vain.
Then the heavens poured out rain.
Then the heavens poured out rain.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Freedom in Thinking

Over Thanksgiving break I watched Dead Poets Society for the first time since about 9th grade. It was great! I forgot most of the plot line of the movie so it was almost as if I were watching it for the first time ever. My favorite character was Knox Overstreet, who uses his new found poetic abilities to woo a public schoolgirl. However, I cannot quit thinking about the story of Neil Perry. The young man that commits suicide after feeling his life and thinking do not deserved to be controlled by his parents. I kept thinking about the major theme of the movie and what that means in my future as I begin teaching. In my mind there is a conflict of tradition thinking and the new ways of thinking associated with the modern world. I have concluded there is a time and place for both. Nevertheless, Neil Perry's thinking was just (although his actions were tragic and wrong). Thinking should always be free. Throughout history people have been physically enslaved, but what keeps people alive is freedom of mind. We all should allow others that same freedom, especially the ones we love. I read a poem today that reminded me of this:


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
when the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that were picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than nay other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

- Seamus Heaney

All I have left to say is: carpe diem.