Aloha Friday Message – October 17, 2008

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Happy Aloha Friday, Beloved!!

This is a windmill you can find “in the lovely town of Holland Michigan, down by the inland-sea.” I was a freshmen at Hope College there in 1965 when this windmill was imported from Holland brick-by-brick, board-by-board, and I think maybe even cobweb-by-cobweb. It was quite a sight and quite a site. I thought about this windmill as I was listening to the news on TV last night, and then thought of it some more as I was listening to The Debates. Do you remember this lyric?

Round,
Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel …
There’s a lot more of that tune, of course, and you can see it here: http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/The-Windmills-Of-Your-Mind-lyrics-Sting-Police/F65A370A926E943B482568740037C5BB

The song itself is about love that somehow slips away but is still floating around inside. The images in the lyric speak to me about the conundrums we deal with practically every day. Does s/he like me? Can I survive this crisis in my life? Why is s/he happy and I am not? Why can’t I lose weight / build muscles / get well / get rich / catch a break / be happy? And so we go meandering on and on in the circles of our minds. Like the turning blades of the windmill, the same arguments pro and con whirl past and somehow inside all the gears and levers and wheels grind on. The same desires and disappointments, the same vanities and humilities cycle like the arms of the windmill or like a whirlpool in our hearts and minds.

As I listen to all the political rhetoric and the news about the economy, I find myself feeling that I’m caught in Edgar Allen Poe’s story “Descent Into The Maelstrom.” (http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/eapoe/bl-eapoe-descent.htm ) Round and round we go, and it seems like there is nothing I can do to break free from it. In Poe’s story, the man’s life was saved when he realized that safety and salvation from his dilemma required letting loose of what he deemed substantial and placing his trust in something he and his brother had considered less likely to be helpful. His brother goes to his doom clinging steadfastly to their wrecked boat, but the storyteller survives because he made a different choice. He rode the whirlpool by holding onto a water barrel.

Rather than charge the windmill like Don Quixote or ride the whirlpool like Poe’s character, perhaps we can find a way to follow a path that is less likely to keep us going round and round day-by-day. Now, for me the first answers that come to mind are “Don’t pick a fight with a windmill or try to cross a whirlpool.” Those work well if that decision process is within your sphere of influence. The big, sweeping, circular things I described above aren’t really things I can control, though; I have neither the strength nor wisdom to prevail in a situation like that. I need to depend on a source of strength and wisdom greater than myself and outside of myself. How in the world can I hold onto something like that? I don’t.

First, it is not in this world that I can find such strength and wisdom. The World is the Maelstrom, and I can be the flotsam – the stuff nature casts off — or jetsam – the stuff others cast off – floating around at the mercy of The World. Or, I can be in The World, but not of The World. I can be “out of this world” by sanctifying my life. I set it aside for a sacred purpose. My decisions in The World are guided by my Citizenship in The Kingdom. The World is the Windmill driven by forces in The World to do The World’s work. I don’t have to be grist for the mill. I can live on the Bread come down from Heaven. I need not be guided or influenced by The World. Know why? Just go look up the seventeenth chapter of John (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%2017&version=31) . Read it out loud. The World will fade away.

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

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About Chick Todd

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

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