Aloha Friday Message October 3, 2008

840AFC100308 – Faith and Wheelbarrows

OK, it’s a wheelbarrow. So what? Today it’s going to be a life-lesson about living with faith.

Faith kind of works like a wheelbarrow. Let’s start at the “business end” the handles. Call one handle Trust and the other one Knowledge. If you use only the Trust handle, faith becomes a kind of fatalistic mysticism. Things happen for reason we don’t understand and we attribute the cause to The Universe, or The Force, or The greater Power, of just plain luck. If you use only the Knowledge handle, faith is reduced to academic relativism. What you believe is based on what you know and the things that happen are just more things to know. They are nothing more than meaningless data. However, if you use both handles – Trust and Knowledge, you have faith. Notice that I capitalized those words. More on that later, OK?

Faith needs both in order to be functional. Ah, but having the handles does not a wheelbarrow make. In like fashion, you need more than faith to make a “wheelbarrow” of your life. How can you carry things around with only the handles? So, then, let’s take a look at the tray, the place where the “barrow” – the “mound” – is carried. The tray is sturdy, deep enough to carry a load, and fastened to the handles so that the load can be pushed and guided more easily than if one just picked up the barrow. Imagine trying to gather up 40 gallons of concrete in your arms so you can carry it to another location. Not very practical, is it? So in this little illustration, the pan of the wheelbarrow is the practical knowledge we have. Things like arithmetic, spelling, reading, tying our shoes, driving a car, riding a bicycle, cooking a dinner, even ballroom dancing – these are practical things that make it possible for us to “carry our load.” The help us contain and manage the task we must complete to get from one part of our life to another. We are able to roll along to our future guided by Faith and carry forward our work using practical knowledge.

Hmmm. Roll. Ah, we come to the wheel. So if the handles are Trust and Knowledge, and the pan is practical knowledge, how can we describe the wheel? Let’s think about that for a moment. A wheel is a simple machine, just as the handles are simple machines called levers. The wheel is actually a combination of two machines. The axle is the fulcrum for the levers that make the handles. The wheel is a compound lever that rotates around the fulcrum so that the amount of force required to move a load is reduced. The smaller surface area of the wheel touching the ground reduces friction and makes using the two fulcrums much easier. Imagine trying to push the wheelbarrow without the wheel!

So let’s say that the axle is consciousness and the wheel is morality. Say what? Stay with me here, OK? Consciousness is awareness of both external and internal attributes. It can include sensorial, metaphysical, factual, objective, subjective, in short any of the things we use to hold our life together. It is the axle and therefore the fulcrum on which we base everything we think, know, and do. Morality is the means of conforming to the standards of what is right and good. Morality can be approached situationally – what’s right for you may not be right for me or for the moment or the place or the time, etc., a teleological ethic where rightness or wrongness is based on the consequences of the action – or rules-based – what matters is that rules are rules and following the rules is our duty or obligation. OK, enough with the big words and philosophical concepts! How is morality the wheel?

The purpose of morality is to reduce the friction between us and the road, between us and the axle, between whatever and us. We are created to be community and so we need morality to help us stay community. Our morality rotates around our consciousness which includes our awareness of cause and effect. So if we accept that kind of stretch in this illustration let’s see what a whole wheelbarrow looks like.

We have the leverage of Trust and Knowledge to guide and help move forward or even change direction. These are capitalized because I am talking about Trust in and Knowledge of God, Trust in and Knowledge of Truth (see previous AFC about TRUTH), Trust of and Knowledge in Righteousness. (note that I switched the prepositions) The levers, our handles run the entire length of the wheelbarrow and are held together by consciousness and morality on which the whole of the barrow we carry rests and which supports and responds to the use of Trust and Knowledge. So what else is on the wheelbarrow? Well, as you can see, there are the legs, and they have an important role, too.

You don’t have to have the legs to make a wheelbarrow or to use a wheelbarrow, but life sure is easier with them than it is without them. The legs, I deem, are our family and friends. They support us, help us manage and balance our load, keep us from falling over, and keep our handles off the ground so we don’t have to do as much heavy lifting to get up and get going. There have been some folks in the past – and probably even now – who have managed to get along without family and friends – hermits for example – but that’s a different kind of moving with the spirit.

Had enough? Well, then have a wonderful Aloha Friday, a very happy weekend, and watch for the rest of us in the moon.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever — at your service!


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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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