Our Southern California trees grow in desert environments, and find moisture with a web of surface roots. When the wind twists them, they often have no deep tap root. We too may grow shallow surface patterns in a superficial culture. Do we root deeply, press down through rocks and soil to a solid base?
1. Fallen Trees.
Three hundred down in our village. Our street is still blocked by great piles of debris. We marvel at the Santa Ana winds that sweep off the desert with such power, and this time the air current streamed through our village, Claremont, the town of trees and PhDs. Yesterday at last we could visit the greatest of all among the survivors The Majestic Oak in the botanical gardens. We sat and talked of Isaac Villegas’ article in last weeks Christian Century, “The Witness of Trees, ” and his hope and wisdom in planting a sapling prayerfully. “If you hear the messiah has come and you are planting a tree, first plant the tree then go to give welcome,” he quotes. We have a lot of planting and praying to do in Claremont.
2. “The Anti-vaccine Right Brought Human Sacrifice to America.”
This is a jolting article that we keep quoting, by Kurt Andersen, Atlantic, January 25.It names the elephant—no the Tyrannosaurus Rex—in the room. The campaign against vaccination has claimed thousands of lives for no ethically justifiable purpose. Or did we toss humans to Moloch to keep the stock market from crashing? We shared the piece with friends at a distance, and one of the brightest wrote, “A lot is required to shock me in these times and given my many years of life, but I found this information truly shocking.” Like James Mininger, we too are shocked, and shocked again by the loss of life near and far.
3. It is Black History month.
We recently went back to the marvelous article by Willie Jennings, published last November 3 in Christian Century. “The Geography of Whiteness” is like a Cat-skan of our inner structures of race, prejudice and their foundation in Judaism and Christianity with the theology of a chosen people, a holy race, a privileged sector of the population with rights and opportunities and power and expoitive self-permission. What a discussion of distorted ways of seeing the world that afflicts and affects every one of us in our multiracial house church. At the end, we asked each other Willie’s closing question: “With all our talk of Anabaptist reconciliation, do we consider ourselves as the hosts, imagining our position at the center bidding others come to join us? Or do we seek to lose ourselves in caring for the other? “
A surprise phone call from a friend who explained the surprise of her loving attention by using a word from her Plautdietsch speaking ancestors. “We have all been feeling and acting too “currick “. It means “curdled. clabbered.” That is how we feel during the pandemic, “clotted and soured” by isolation, by our need to stay safe and secure. She is making calls to friends who sometimes remark, “this is the first time anyone called to ask how I am doing.” After a warm conversation with us, she ended with the gentle nudge to give our friends a call. Reach out and touch someone, the phone company used to invite us. Will that make us less currick?
5. The Ukraine.
It may be a battlefield by the time this is published. We pester heaven with our pleas for peace. (Lord, hear our prayer) Leann’s ancestoral home was in Gnadenfeld from 1788 to 1874 when her family immigrated to America. Now neighbor’s children’s children may be endangered, now the remaining people of peace suffer again, now swamps Mennonites drained to create firm farmland may become no mans land. (For a people in danger, Lord, have mercy).