And miles to go before I sleep...

The poet, Robert Frost, once wrote words that may be the most repeated in the English language.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I have been saying that last line over and over to myself the past few days - and miles to go before I sleep - because I have one of those damned winter colds and there seems to be so much I want to do right now! There are family feasts to share, connecting times with loved ones and friends to be forged to say nothing of the books and writing that sit before me urging me to go deeper.

What's more, one of my recent blogs - my sermon notes for Sunday re: nourishing a faith for children - has caused a fascinating little stir and there is so much I want to say in reply. But my head is so damned heavy with congestion and my mind not a lot clearer so... there may indeed, be miles to go before I sleep but I'm gonna have to take a nap!

With, perhaps, this one caveat: my favorite theologian, Douglas John Hall, notes that it is a good thing that Christianity in the mainstream tradition is withering on the vine. It will give us a chance to die and be reborn into something more authentic. If George Barna's research is true, there may be a withering in the evangelical realm, too - and that will be a blessing in time as well. But all death is hard. I've been with enough people in the journey from life to life everlasting to know that even a good death is hard work. And filled with pain and sorrow and a great deal of confusion, too.

In many ways we in the once mainstream and now side-line churches are trying to both manage the death and journey into a birth at the same time - which is pretty exhausting at times, yes? No wonder Robert Frost keeps visiting me... I want to reply to those who are offended by religion - or scandalized by the hypocrisy of the church - that they are right in many ways. I also want to wrestle with the limits of their vision that are as narrowly fundamentalist and biased as those they decry. I think the shallow critiques of the New Atheists - Hitchens and Dawkins et all - are simply the ugly mirror to the crass and mean-spirited religious fundamentalists they vilify (often in the most ugly and ill-informed ways possible.) I think of Bertolt Brecht's late in life poem confession: "Forgive us for we became what we hated..."

But now it is time for that sleep, ok? (Or at the very least, a little nap in front of the TV.) Blessings and Merry Christmas.


SGF said…
Rest my good friend....REST!
Black Pete said…
{John Wayne voice}Y'ain't no good to nobody walkin' dead, pilgrim. Y'all get t'yer bunk, see? Ride it out, there."
RJ said…
Thanks to you both, my friends. Off for a few days sleep and rest.
All my love...

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