‘Tis Good/Holy Saturday, and the media has been surprisingly reticent this year about trying to disparage the Good Friday – Easter observations of the Church. That is somewhat amazing for them, but then again, they are more concerned about the followers of an almost 14 century ago heretic who didn’t do anything noteworthy but make war and take very young wives. They are the new “endangered species” of the moment, and all the impo’tent and beautiful people are out and about on that holy task. To all spotted owls reading this – Take Note!
I appreciate the respite.
I have been noticing the decidedly agnostic writers have been spending much time writing about life, thought, and various strands of philosophies that have raised their head over the many centuries of life on this old globe.
One that caught my eye especially this week was speaking of a gathering of quite literate computer guys, out on an 18th century farm, observing spring come into being and the sudden burst of life among the animal kingdom – observable both in domestication and in the wild. Their discussions eventually led them to the topic of AI – artificial intelligence – and its potential to replace humans. It was mildly amusing that even raising the topic of artificial life becoming alive is sheer idolatry, man worshiping his creation that becomes greater than he; but they haven’t yet dared to expand their thinking to such a degree . . . YET! The writer did marvel at the intricacies of life that surrounded him on his “way deep in the country” farm, but managed to pull that off without a single hint of a reference to the Lord God Almighty. Two generations ago, the very best of the best in animal husbandry – James Herriott – wrote a series of books. The one entitled “The Lord God made Them All“ summed up his life’s work of caring for the creatures of the animal kingdom which, even before Adam, God has so lovingly created for His new world and His greatest creation – Man!
I have always been a bit of a mystic, and Good Saturday has my mind out traipsing where few go, pondering the imponderables and in general appreciating the fact the God purposely intended for any number of things to remain mysteries to us on this side, and perhaps our real day of reckoning will occur when we all accept that as fact. I don’t look for that to happen anytime soon. And such discussions as that mentioned above, I personally have found quite boring. Introspection of our navels only displays the lint in our brains. I opt for cow pies. I have a wistful desire to be among them, and contentedly marvel at the glory of God’s creation, and not our shallow imitations of life that lead us to imagine ourselves masters of His Mysteries.
And here, I could easily detour into Luther’s exceptional insight into the human condition in what I consider one of his finest pieces of writing outside the Cathechisms – On Bondage of the Will. The situation necessitating its writing are most intriguing and worth hours of study alone, but the book is a masterpiece. Yes, Amazon has it. But gird your mental loins if you decide to plunge into it! It is a most appropriate book to read during Passion Week, and at any time!
Now, where was I. Ah, yes – cow pies . . .
In the early 60’s, I was the quintessential “free-range” kid. My parents made the valiant attempt to set physical boundaries for me, but I, like Calvin and his feline side-kick, considered those something to be freely ignored whilst off on my figurative sled. Pshaw! I was going exploring, and explore I did. I still particularly remember when our 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Fuller, was attempting to teach us about bugs. We were to make and present an insect display, in which we were to pin a variety of creepy crawlers with their scientific names and a short explanation. Boh-ring! Needless to say, in the middle of all of these elaborate displays of bugs obviously done by parents trying to outshine one another, sat my conspicuous collection consisting of a housefly, a horsefly, a mosquito (I HATE MOSQUITOES) – all found in the kitchen windowsill, and a dead earthworm I found in my fishing tackle box, along with a not-so-still-frozen shrimp I couldn’t use, from one of my numerous trips to the small, but deep saltwater channel about a mile from home. I have many stories of my yute on fishing, few of which I EVER told my parents!
Anyhoo . . . naturally back then, teachers would publicly ostracize students. It was par for the course then. She pointed to all of the magnificent examples of those who had followed her instructions lined along the window, and then pointed to my paltry collection of 4 extremely dehydrated bugs pinned to the bottom of the top of a Thomas McCann shoe-box, hastily labeled, and covered with plastic wrap that I could never get fully unraveled earlier that morning. I was supposed to show remorse for failing to do my assignment.
“Mrs. Fuller, have you ever been to the tree-surrounded pond on Goolsby Dairy’s farm?” Her eyes kinda glanced around in the beginnings of panic. “You ought to ask Mr. Goolsby if you can take us on a field trip to the grove and the pond! There are thousands of bugs out there, even creepy ones that come out of cow pies with the mushrooms (I was not yet old enough to know about magic mushrooms and psilocybin, unfortunately.) And it is so cool, the cows lie around in the shade, or go into the pond to get cool and lie there. And there are weird gnarly old trees that don’t get much sunlight and there are some bullfrogs – big ones – and a weird crab-like thing that crawls out of the water and eats some cow pie, and then goes back underwater. It’s really cool!”
We got dismissed for a special recess, all of a sudden. Mrs. Fuller looked like she wasn’t feeling good. But I knew she listened. I got a “C” on my bugs (I think she would have given me an A+ if she would have put on her mud boots – for the cow pies – and let me take her cross-country to my magic grove). Anyway, I knew she was listening, because she told my parents about all of my explorations in a note I had to take home in a sealed envelope. I got grounded for a week to the backyard, so I just got the guys to come to my yard to play ball. Then on the 8th day, I was off to my magic grove again! Heh!
But you know, for a young snot like myself, alone with cows and cow pies and the flora and fauna of the grove, I did a lot of thinking about God and Creation. And since it had been over a year since I had my “vision” in the downstairs bathroom, puffing on a Newport menthol I had snitched from Mom who was nursing a bad cold, and suddenly saw myself in a clerical collar and knew somehow what I would end up becoming – so I was already about my study of the First Article of the Creed without intending to be. And I should mention, I have probably been bitten by more bugs, not counting mosquitoes and horseflies, than few other human beings. I even agitated one of the cow-pie eating crabs or whatever they were to pinch my finger with its little claw. Didn’t hurt, but I startled the cows when I began laughing. They began looking at me – they usually ignored me, and a chorus of moo’s began for a few minutes. They all settled back to normal, and they ignored me again. Mama’s even let me pet their calves, so I had an “in” – in the magic grove. I had an angry little poop-eating crab staring at me defiantly, and cows mooing. Nature’s orchestra! Mrs. Fuller would have given me an A+ for sure if she had gone with me that day!
All of which I have written to make a point or two about today’s modern mystics who wonder if robots will attain full sentience and take over or eradicate mankind. They have watched Arnie as the “Terminator” a few too many times or sumpin. I’ve got I Cor. 15:45 pinging around in my brain!
Ahh – so where was I really going? Yeah – Holy Saturday. I always called it “Good Saturday” – even when I was a kid. I knew why Jesus had died on Friday, so I figured Good Saturday was probably a good day too, since it would be followed by Easter the next day. A budding theologian already thinking too much. As an RCC, I was first communed at 7-8, and all I knew was the priest had told me that Communion was Jesus from the Cross inside me to rise on Easter. I never, ever questioned his explanation, and I still do not!
So I always thought God had set aside Good Saturday for me to think about Jesus being in me. It’s worked all these years since, so I am not about to quit a good thing. So that’s what I am about doing for Good Saturday.