Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gathering Moss


To say I travel a lot would be putting it lightly. Within the last few months I've been in, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado (twice), and Kentucky. I also hope to visit Tennessee, Indiana, and Wisconsin within the next few weeks before heading out to Utah for the summer. Traveling is the easy part for me. Personally, I find the in-between times, the waiting, the hardest. Stability is not something I'm used to.

So, you can imagine my fear upon reading the end of Chapter Three in G.K. Chesterton's Heretics, "Mr. Kipling [insert any traveler's name here] does certainly know the world; he is a man of the world, with all the narrowness that belongs to those imprisoned in that planet. He knows England as an intelligent English gentleman knows Venice. He has been to England a great many times; he has stopped there for long visits. But he does not belong to it, or to any place; and the proof of it is this, that he thinks of England as a place.

The moment we are rooted in a place, the place vanishes.

We live like a tree with the whole strength of the universe. | The globe-trotter lives in a smaller world than the peasant. He is always breathing, an air of locality. London is a place, to be compared to Chicago; Chicago is a place, to be compared to Timbuctoo. But Timbuctoo is not a place, since there, at least, live men who regard it as the universe, and breathe, not an air of locality, but the winds of the world.

The man in the saloon steamer has seen all the races of men, and he is thinking of the things that divide men--diet, dress, decorum, rings in the nose... or in the ears... blue paint [ink]... or red paint [ink]... The man in the cabbage field has seen nothing at all; but he is thinking of the things that unite men--hunger and babies, and the beauty of women, and the promise or menace of the sky.

Mr. Kipling, with all his merits, is the globe-trotter; he has not the patience to become part of anything... The more dead and dry and dusty a thing is the more it travels about; dust is like this and the thistle-down... Fertile things are somewhat heavier, like the heavy fruit trees on the pregnant mud of the Nile.

In the heated idleness of youth we were all rather inclined to quarrel with the implication of that proverb which says that a rolling stone gathers no moss. We were inclined to ask, 'Who wants to gather moss, except silly old ladies?' But for all that we begin to perceive that the proverb is right. The rolling stone rolls echoing from rock to rock; but the rolling stone is dead. The moss is silent because the moss is alive" (p.18).

So, what am I to do? It seems as if, when I travel everywhere, I am in fact nowhere... just a Dead. Rolling. Stone... I hope to have every experience, but at the cost of sacrificing the experience. Many times I can relate to Moses, the "stranger in a strange land," the only real security I have is that no matter where I go, heaven is my home. My family circumferences the globe and my travels do not kill me, but enrich me. I grow to love and learn about my surroundings, I feel stable although my schedule is flexible. The security I retain is in Christ.

But, if I did not have the faith, I would be lost... a babe tossed about by the sea... Earlier this year, I wrote a paper about Nature vs. Nurture in the church. It seems as if, especially in my denomination, students are accepted because the family is known. They believe if a duck marries a duck, they'll produce a duck. Of course, they'll continue their faith, they'll hold to the inerrant truths of Scripture... They'll live forever. Wrong.

It may be true that ducks make ducks and Christians should make Christians. But, as the world around us grows, it has become flat. Although we may never leave the city we grew up in, our minds will travel the world. We can become just as sterile as the rolling stone paging through browser tabs and newsreels. We may have been born into the family of the Church, but we are often nurtured by the media... we're often more likely to turn on the TV than page through a Bible. This transforms us. It emphasizes the importance of allowing the time and being intentional about growing in the faith. If we are not nurtured by Scripture, we'll be nurtured by something else (consciously or not).

Grow in the Word of God. And, as you do, you'll become fertile, heavier, like fruit trees on the pregnant mud of the Nile. No matter where you go, you will be grounded. Your roots will be strong, anchored to a worldview everlasting. You will live.

Start with Psalm 1.

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