Prayer

 

Dear Father… You are patient and gracious far beyond our deserving. Let us hope for your forgiveness when we can find no way to forgive ourselves. You bless our lives even when we have shown ourselves to be utterly ungrateful and unworthy. May we be strengthened and renewed, to make us less unworthy of blessing, through these your gifts of sustenance, of friendship and family.” – prayed by Jack in Home by Marilynne Robinson

You would have to read the book to understand how beautiful and sad this prayer is.  Jack, the “black sheep” of the family prays here and it nearly broke my heart. This is the prayer I need to pray. Every. Single. Day. I identify with the ‘no way to forgive ourselves’ sentiment. And the being blessed even while ungrateful and unworthy.

Prayer doesn’t change things, but prayer lays hold of God who changes things and Who, in prayer, changes you. And sometimes in the midst of it all He gives you the assurance that your plea has been granted. – from The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis

I like that part about how God changes us in prayer. And gives us assurance.

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

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Glory thought, ‘That strange and particular grace a man’s body seems never to forget. Scooping up grounders and throwing sidearm.’

from Home by Marilynne Robinson

Baseball. If ever there was a game that drew you home in more ways than one, this was it. This is it. A slice of Americana in a ball park on a summer evening. It’s the sport that takes you back to the empty fields of your childhood ala The Sandlot. It’s the slaw dogs, the popcorn, the cotton candy, and sometimes the beer. It’s the crack of the bat, the cheer, the organ. Each ballpark has its own personality, knitted together by grass and clay and bubble gum. Some might even be a Field of Dreams.

The announcers for these games seem like guys you’d want to have to dinner. Take Vince Scully for example. Just this morning my husband relayed something Scully said about Sandy Koufax in 1965: “A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts… I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world…. Sandy into his windup, here’s the pitch:Swung on and missed, a perfect game! ” (the crowd cheered for 38 seconds). There is a real connection here, a passion. Heart.

I wish more people could experience the comfort of being at a game, whether Little League or Major League; where it feels like one big family. Where little kids can run up and down the bleachers or run around the bases, where the fans come to expect the seventh Inning stretch and a round of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. There’s just nothing like it.

With the passing of Jose Fernandez, America has turned it’s eyes and hearts to baseball, at least briefly. Fernandez had only become a citizen in April of 2015, and the story of his journey to citizenship is one worth reading. And after you’ve read that, get yourself to a ballpark before the season ends. You’ll be glad you did.

Besides the ones mentioned above, here are some of my favorite baseball movies:

  • The Natural
  • Fever Pitch
  • Trouble With the Curve
  • For the Love of the Game
  • The Rookie
  • A League of Their Own

God’s Love & DNA

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“…there is an absolute disjunction between our Father’s love and our deserving.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I came across this quote I’d written down while reading Gilead and it was the word disjunction that caught my eye. I’ll explain about why later. Disjunction means a lack of correspondence or consistency.

There certainly is no connection between God’s loving us and us deserving His love. I speak for myself, but I know it is true for us all. What in the world can we do to deserve God’s love above anyone else? Or at all?  There are no works we can do to merit His favor.  There is a multitude of works we can do, though, to show our love for Him.

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,

I Timothy 6:18

So, back to the reason this word jumped out at me. In my latest long-term substitute gig, I’ve been teaching 7th grade science. We are learning genetics and just yesterday we talked about nondisjunction. As an English teacher at heart, this word threw me because it seems to begin with two negatives.  Even though my math skills are poor, I know two negatives make a positive, so now I’m confused.

Nondisjunction occurs in the process of meiosis when homologous chromosomes fail to separate properly during cell division. So, to back up, junction is the process of joining. So, that would seem to mean that disjunction would be a splitting apart. Which makes sense; it’s a lack of connection. So, it seems like NONdisjunction would be a lack of splitting apart. But, no, it is actually a lack of splitting apart correctly. NOW I get it! I feel much better.

Back once more to the original quote –  I am trying to put these thoughts all together. God’s love does not come to us because we deserve it. We could not apply the word nondisjunction to this situation, because there is NO correct nor incorrect lack of splitting apart of these two ideas – God’s love and our deserving. These two will never correlate.

One thing I do know is that as I learn the intricacies of DNA, I am more awed than ever at the way God created us. And more overwhelmed at the fact that He loves me.

 

Under the Surface of Life

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“There’s a lot under the surface of life, everyone knows that. A lot of malice and dread and guilt, and so much loneliness, where you wouldn’t expect to find it, either.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

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I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop. –  Psalm 102:7

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Matthew 6:26

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:31

Hold On

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“I just always loved the feeling of how strongly you held on. As if you were a monkey up in a tree. Boy skinniness and boy strength.” From Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

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When I read this quote I immediately thought of my grandson. When I was at his house last October, when he was almost five, I let him climb around in a tree in his backyard. I thought of the fun I had as a kid – playing in the woods, building forts, pretending. I want this fun and freedom for him and his sister. I want their carefree days to last as long as possible. I want to protect them from the big bad world. So, I pray for them.

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. – John 17:15

Search the Scriptures

“You can know a thing to death and be for all purposes completely ignorant of it.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

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This is exactly how I feel sometimes about the scriptures. I think many of us do.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. – I Corinthians 13:12

The thing is, we can never fully understand it. But we should never give up trying.

“…they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” – Acts 17:11

The Amazing Moon

“It was one day as I listened to baseball that it occurred to me how the moon actually moves, in a spiral, because while it orbits the earth it also follows the orbit of the earth around the sun. This is obvious, but the realization pleased me. There was a full moon outside my window, icy white in a blue sky, and the Cubs were playing Cincinnati.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

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Yesterday we went to a family reunion in Covington, Georgia. It was a Bell reunion, but as it turned out my husband and I were the only ones there with the name of Bell.

Anyway, we had some good conversation over a delicious potluck meal. Some of the delectable morsels I had were cousin Nancy’s green beans and her fantastic sweet potato casserole, a tasty quinoa dish, squash casserole, and creamy banana pudding made by the hostess.

Fruit Cove, FL

Fruit Cove, FL

But, back to the conversation. I’ve heard for years about Uncle Dan’s Feeding Times guides. My brother-in-law swears by them. Yesterday I met his son, Dan Jr., who talked quite a bit about his dad, who died in 1994. He remembers his father telling him about the tides and their purpose. I would have loved to have known his father. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never caught a fish in my life, but I was fascinated with what I learned about how the phases and location of the moon affects fish and other animals and the way they feed. He related that his dad told him to think about how the tides put oxygen into the oceans for all the life there, just as the leaves on the trees provide oxygen for life on land. Of course, he told it much better, but the point was that it is no coincidence. God’s creation is intricate, precise, brilliant, and divine.