The present of a present presence

November 5, 2010

“About every ten years, you have a chance to look back on your life and, when you do, you can see the ways the Spirit has touched you, moved you, maybe even shoved you in certain directions. And the Spirit of God is there in the least likely of places, in the least likely of people, in everyone you’ve known and loved. And the Spirit has touched you through all of them. You’ll be able to say, ‘There’s the Spirit,’ and ‘Oh, look, there’s the Spirit again!’ What you know in the present is that you have to make decisions, you have to answer the questions your life and ministry bring you. Later, as you begin to reflect, you’ll begin to understand that if the Spirit was there with you in the past, the Spirit is with you now, and will be with you as you move into the future. If you want to know how the Spirit is working in your life, just look in the rearview mirror every once in a while.”

--Tom Talley

One of the problems with moving forward is that there are times that require looking back--and not with nostalgia.

I was recently visiting with a friend who is a Vietnam veteran, describing "then" and "now."

He described it like this: "When I came home, I sort of put all that stuff in a package. You know, when I was in country, we always said "When I get back to the world, I'm gonna...etc. etc." It was sort of like Vietnam was "another world." I knew it was a temporary world. What I learned to survive there wasn't much use to the world I live in now. But it was VERY useful to the world I was in at the time--it helped me survive. But sometimes I am surprised at how that package opens itself when I am not expecting it."

I think when any of us think back to what we would consider "traumatic life experiences," the "other worldliness" is very evident. They are places we don't care to look because they are laced with adrenalin and obscured in a cloud of fear. There is a heaviness to them. There are feelings of loss of control that people describe as being "trapped" or "paralyzed" or "feeling reeled in, unable to get any traction to resist."

I know for me, those things feel like I am trolling with a fishing rod in calm water, and suddenly hooked Leviathan. I can no longer control the direction in which the boat is going.... Read more at Kirkepiscatoid, part of the CCblogs network.


Dealing with the past

I think dealing with the past, especially the post traumatic, is the challenge of our life time. What my fear is that American pastors post Vietnam have relatively little experience with this. My thoughts have increasingly turned towards the notion that the surge in the Church after WWII was the result of the magnificent service done by chaplains during that war - the four awarded the Medal of Honor for giving their life jackets to young GIs being one example. Then in Vietnam a blanket exemption seems to have taken place, so that if you got in seminary you escaped the draft. It was a hard blow to the Church, and a line began to form between many pastors and returnees. It has deepened, I fear, in recent wars.
I have been trying to rethink this sort of thing, blogging as I go.
Robert Collie