This is where you’ve been called; these are the pitifully, painfully inadequate resources you’ve been given to work with; this is the talent pool from which you can draw; this is the weather that you find; and with wide eyes, you sow and sow and sow the very best seeds of life and love among those with whom you live and work.
-Br. Curtis Almquist
Full Sermon: http://ssje.org/ssje/2011/07/10/the-sower-and-the-sown-br-curtis-almquist/
RZA – Grits
Ultimately, no matter what one undertakes, there will be failure to some degree. Sports are a reference point many use as a gauge for tangible, measurable results. It is one of the subtle, gratifying offerings of sports, that being quantifiable results. In life’s opaque beauty, it’s often hard to tell what’s going on. What may appear to be a loser on the surface may actually be a very wise and content being,and vice versa. There’s even something satisfying about knowing precisely how adequate or inadequate one is in relation to the subject at hand. Even the most cynical of sports fan recognizes that a terrible player in a given sport is still supremely talented. A great hitter in baseball will fail 70% of the time. A great quarterback in football misses 30-40% of his throws. In basketball, free-throws are fairly short, uncontested shots, yet few can average better than 80-85% on those shots. The Christian life seems daunting, even unrealistic in many ways. Seemingly, failures will abound. Yet undertaking the path and focusing on that quest, not perceived tangible results are what matter, and where the miraculous emerges. And unlike worldly quests, where starting lines vary and challenges abound in unequal measure, a life inspired by Christ is freely accessible and open to all, and for those who undertake it, those perceived “failures” soon reveal themselves to be something entirely different – pathways to wisdom and stepping stones to a deeper peace and freedom, as perspectives and desires transform. The gentle, lilting chorus of this song from RZA’s album “Birth of a Prince”, seems to capture the fond memories of growing up lacking in some things, but apparently rich in others – those things which last reliably, forging a strong foundation for life. The grits RZA and his family ate may have been lacking, but coupled with the love one senses was present, it got him through and got him to a point in his life where he assembled one of the best acts in the history of hip hop, the mighty Wu Tang Clan. The second verse is intriguing because it sort of opens the door to a negative, albeit understandable path, as if he is sketching out a version of himself that either did or was tempted to follow this incomplete story of trying to fill those gaps of poverty with a gun. Is he speaking of himself? A fellow family member who took that path? Not clear, but when he returns to his memories, his fond recollection of building his own Big Wheel, back to playing with the kids in his neighborhood, he hints at some of the misery of poverty – not merely the lacking, but the mental grind of the prolonged struggle, the repetition of being poor day after day after day, knowing the things the marketing world all around tempts even small children with is unattainable – the line he uses to transition from that moment of dreaming of the veggie bacon that could be had by robbing is “now let’s take it back for real”. Take back the memory? Take back the hope which poverty depletes? Take back one’s own power and dignity? One of my favorite preachers always reminds listeners to NOT focus on circumstances – let God do that. I would also add not to be too concerned with results. Just do your part. Each day, each moment. The pieces do come together.