August 29, 2010
I had the pleasure today of going to brunch with friends after church. We ate in the dining room of an historic old hotel in a small foothills town. We were seated by a wide unshaded window that overlooked a mountain stream lined by ancient cottonwoods. The cream for my coffee was served in a miniature glass bottle shaped exactly like the old glass milkbottles that the milkman once delivered door to door in slower days.
My friends (young by my standards) laughed at my delight in that cream bottle, and their amusement added greatly to my joy. It was one of those "thin" moments when perspective is broadened so that for an instant we experience life more deeply and more clearly in all directions. The present reached back behind us and pulled the past forward in the high old ceilings in the dining room, in the old hammered silver pattern of the new stainless steel spoon with which I stirred cream into my coffee. That small cream bottle was new but its shape was a replica of an old pattern; it was both same and different. We were laughing together, eating together in a place where others had laughed and eaten before us, and where others would replace us and laugh and eat other breakfasts in a world in which things both stay the same and change.
The Greeks reminded us that we cannot walk in the same water twice; I thought of that as I watched the mountain stream tumble in noisy energy through the ancient rocks below us. And I noticed too that the old cottonwood outside our window was already showing a branch of yellow leaves against the late August sky. The past is always present, we know, but it is also true that the present is in one sense already past. While we laughed and talked and drank excellent coffee, I looked often at the cream "milk" bottle bridging past and present. It was, I decided, a small utilitarian icon.
I found it an altogether satisfying lunch in every way. I know, however, that if I go again it will be both the same and different, as will I.
I'm thinking about change these days for many reasons. Pressing among these reasons is a class
I'm teaching this fall centered around the topic of change in the context of our faith. How does "spiritual formation" actually work in real life? How does choosing to be a Christian change us? Is change automatic? How does spiritual change and change related to time and aging differ? How are they alike? What is the significance of choice in the process of change?
And how are you thinking about change in your life?
If you're interested in thinking with others, please join us. The class will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 17707 West 16th Avenue, Golden, CO, beginning at 10:30, Sept. 12. Call 303-279-5591 for additional information.
See you next week.