I suffer sometimes from the symptoms of EDOS* Syndrome, although I don’t have a formal diagnosis. So I stepped out of the door this morning, looked at the gorgeous ice on the pond, and started taking photographs. I stopped, got organised, and strode off to walk my Janathon mile. It was about 2 degrees celsius, and I soon started to slip on ice.
I am not the steadiest person on my feet at the best of times (no, it’s not the gin, it’s the weird foot), so I smartly reduced my pace and concentrated on staying upright. As I did so, I was pondering the nature of reflection, partially because I’m meant to be writing a dissertation on theological reflection, and partly because someone had asked if I kept a spiritual journal. “No, not usually” I replied, and that is true – I tend to reflect on things as they occur, and lay them aside. If they are important, they crop up again. But someone else had replied that they did – and took grave exemption to being labelled an introvert on that scant evidence. Well, journalling is essentially a solitary activity, so if one takes the definition that an introvert is one who replenishes their energy by being alone, it’s not a bad inference. If it’s the act of articulating the feelings and thoughts which is the energising thing, then the label of introvert probably isn’t all that accurate.
But of course the label is only a shorthand for a model which attempts to describe the inexplicable being which is a human. We have enough trouble reliably modelling some processes, it’s hardly surprising we can’t really come up with a good model for ourselves. (If you’ve made it this far, stick with me, there will be a point soon.)
I’d reached this far in a well worn thought pattern when I noticed the grass and the dead leaves and the frost..
and then I realised that today wasn’t a Janthon jaunt, it was a Janathon photo shoot. So I stopped worrying about ice and speed, and wandered over my usual route with my phone in my hand taking photographs. (For personal friends, they are on FB, for blog friends, they’ll provide material for illustrations for future posts.)
My earliest spirituality, and that to which I return, is of God as creator. (I don’t mean I’m a seven day creationist, that’s a myth/model several thousand years old, recorded in the Bible, and superseded on better evidence by the Theory of Evolution….which may itself one day be superseded by a better model.) I see nature, and I see evidence of a God who creates, and the care which goes into each tiny thing points to a God of love and wonder for me. But then I thought about the destructive power of fire, of flood…..equally of nature, but with horrible impacts on people’s lives. And I’d claim to see God in those things as well. Because seeing dead leaves reminds me of death…my own, and that of others. That dead leaf is one of millions which grows new in spring and dies in winter. And from the perspective of the leaf, that individual falling from the tree and dying is of immense significance. Yet we know it to be an inevitable part of the seasons – God doesn’t “have it in for” that leaf. I don’t believe God “has it in for” people who die as a result of natural disaster either. My Christian faith speaks of resurrection, of eternal life, of a death as a transition. I cannot answer the problem of evil…because the battles we fight against it are lost regularly – but I can rejoice that the war is already won.
My model of God may be rooted things of beauty in nature, but it also encompasses death and destruction. And it is only a model. My relationship with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit alters as I learn more, as I experience different things and as my eyes are opened. And if my eyes are opened with the help of a camera, that’s fine with me. In the course of a slow mile I took photos, prayed for friends who are suffering, and gave thanks.
*Easily Distracted, Ooooo Shiny!