God is about more than just Beauty
Quiet snowy morning. Very peaceful.
Mo gave me a book on "Advanced Marathoning".
EDIT: When I look back at this entry, I wish I had written more. I am as perplexed as you. What DID I mean?
The minister's sermon today seems to cover a lot of what I've been writing about in this journal lately. It was from Matthew 13:?? about 10 brides-maids and how they needed to have the oil supply in their lamps topped up and the wicks trimmed. Prepare yourself for the coming of Jesus.
In PBG terms: prepare yourself, for opportunities to be a part of the Plan will not wait for you!
It's funny, I was just thinking on my run that I need to do some research. The PBGs wouldn't provide inspiration; the minister was interested but not forthcoming; the intern minister was swamped (80 e-mails over the past two weeks). Then out of the blue, a new lady talked to me about church demographics and my new boys group. She directed me to Noah's Arc and Paul's letters. I'm skeptical, but I'll take a peek.
It's been a while since I got out to run. My shins are a bit sore. I've been feeling a bit abandoned by the PBGs so I thought I'd risk the streets to plan my first Boys' Night Out session. The PBGs left me alone to plan. "It is your group, after all," they teased. What great Guys. What value would it have for me if they took care of all the details?
Details of tonight are firming up nicely. I just hope I can remember all "my" ideas.
I am going to call the sour lady at the bus stop "4 of spades" lady. I waved to her on the bus this morning. I know it is OOPBGB, but the details are still fuzzy (hint on Suggestion #6, don't push the plan...)
Today was my lion's baptism day. I left the house at 5:45 so I could be at the laundromat when it opened. The automatic lock, however, didn't seem to have the correct time.
I used the extra 1/2 hour to read about the story of Ruth & Naomi. Pity it wasn't something about baptism. Perhaps the why of that will come later
I was struck by the grace & humility of Shirley, the laundromat's proprietor; definitely a P ot PBGs. OOPBGB most of her life. I have a long way to go if I want to be as giving and selfless as her. Or as tough as nails too. They sure make them well out on the east coast!
The lion survived the rigors of the baptism, and didn't spill any stuffing. In fact, he could use a bit more stuffing. I wonder why he was discarded.
This was the PBGs answer for Mo's original "It is not what you do, it is how you do it," comment. Thank you Mo for your suggestion.
Nothing like running on an undisturbed path full of fresh snow. There were several short stretches of virgin path.
I also checked out the "river" in which Aslan will be baptized. They are open for self serve at 6 AM. There is also a change machine. I do believe the proprietor is also a Person of the PBGs.
Another thought that came today: My new friend at Bonnie Doon pool taught me how to break the ice with strangers. Too cool. Thank PBGs. On Official PBG Business (OOPBGB).
The PBGs are sneaky and relentless! So much happened on this run that I hardly know where to start. First there was the pursuit of the runner in the green coat. I saw him 4 times on this run. I get the feeling that he figures in my part of the Plan somehow.
Then there was the commitment I made today to share my talents and start a boys group at church. The PBGs admonished me for wanting Them to lay it all out for me. They suggested that it is me that has to make the decisions. Choose the outlet. Perform the duties. Get On With it Buddy! So I did.
I got the ball rolling. It was the easiest thing I ever did. Everyone I talked to about it at church was very supportive. Even eager. You could almost hear the pegs clicking into place. As if all everyone was waiting for was my acceptance of the task.
Needless to say, I am scared. Deep down, I know I can handle it. I do feel like I have jumped in the deep end though. Everyone except me seems to be confident in my abilities.
...And then there was the symbols I found on my run. Purple feather, just like I had imagined. When I took a closer look, it turned out to be a pen with a big downy feather.
Then there was the cheeky way the PBGs pulled me off the running path with bottles as rewards just to tell me to remember Suggestion #1. "Tim, keep a humble heart," They seemed to say.
Then to top it all off, They delivered Aslan the lion himself to me. I am sure that "he" will come in handy for many things in my boys' group.
Now I know the PBGs have a Thesaurus and ample vocabulary to communicate with me.
I almost forgot the man in the green jacket. I've seen him before on other runs. At the start of my run, I saw a can. Rather than carry it the entire way, I left it there to pick up at the end of my run. I commented to the PBGs "I wonder what significance this will have at the end of my run." Later, when I saw the man, I wanted to ask him why he only ran on the paths, never next to the roads. I caught up to him at one point but held back, fearing his reaction. He turned off just before I overtook him. "Opportunities come and if you wait, they fade away. They may come again, but they won't be the same twice."
I saw and greeted the man in green just as I went to get that pop can. Guess what, he lives across the street!
My mind is crowded with thoughts; not much room for the PBGs. They don't seem to mind. They are very patient.
Work, ferrets, relationships all jostling for a turn at the thought center of my brain.
Consequently, it was only at the end of my run that the PBGs managed to squeeze a thought in: "Even when it seems like We are far away, we are right there with you."
It echoes a scene from the ferret book: Baxter has just discovered that even though he is a ferret fairy, he also has a guardian angel who is watching over him. He sees his angel briefly and is startled when it disappears. The angel says: "don't worry, I'm not gone." I didn't despair this morning, but it is still nice to know that I won't have to.
Just because I take a day off, doesn't mean that the PBGs do. Mo & the kids have been reading "Air Ferrets aloft" by Richard Bach. It has been a very long time since Mr. Bach came to call in our lives.
This book is very much, about the PBG conversations I have been having
Very interesting coincidence that this book would come to my attention when it did. Apparently it was brought to Mo's attention by her atheist father! Guess what the current book in the series is about? A writer ferret having trouble with his muse! (I just had to buy a copy for you Mo!)
I asked the PBGs what they had to say about Love today. Apparently not much. They hinted that "that was beyond their scope; have to take that to a higher power (chuckle, snort!)". Thanks, Guys. Big help.
When the guffaws subsided, they admonished, "What would you feel like if we withheld our Love?" I didn't have an answer to that, and they continued to withhold Their answer.
Tension was pretty high today. Mo is stressed about making her Halloween bug things. I haven't been too tolerant.
In church today, there was a baptism service. The focus was on relationship and love. I got to thinking about all the "conversations" I have had with the PBGs, not one of them has been about love, companionship, neighborliness, peace... Is that a lack in me? Is it my conscientiousness that has trouble with this concept? "Even the poet spares a thought for love"
Our minister told me briefly that there were no others interested in the Faith Inquiry so it has been cancelled. I hope there will be some other small group meeting to take its place. There is going to be a men's breakfast next week.
|The fact that you cannot perceive all of the PBGs Plan does not preclude you from being a part of it. Right or wrong, your actions make the Plan unfold.|
The PBGs have no hands of their own. They control the world through their Suggestions. But they have a much better way of changing the world: US. Since we have free will, we can choose not to listen to the carefully planned schedule of the PBGs. It is my assertion, however, that even that is built into the Plan. If the PBGs started creation and then sat back to see how things would unfold, the wouldn't need to be involved in our daily lives. Free will and an involved god implies that THE PLAN must be constantly adjusted and monitored in order to keep it on track. So every time a person makes a "Wrong" choice, the Plan must be altered to take that into account.
Or perhaps the plan is set up to work for either choice. More likely, with a caring, loving present god, the Plan is structured so that many trivial choices are used to practice for the really pivotal choices in our lives.
Then again, how should I know how the gods have structured the world... I am only a runner, not a PBG.
The turmoil of yesterday and this morning has left me confused and unfocused. It is dark & silent on my run today. My focus keeps coming back to the fears that are holding me lately.
I am sure I could go on. It is encouraging that some of these fears I am addressing.
PBGs be willing, I will be ready to jump when the time comes.
I met with our churches Minister today for lunch. I expected it to be 16 °C so I didn't wear a coat. I told him a little about the PBGs and he told me a little about his being a minister. I saw some parallels between him relationship with his brother and my relationship with my brother S. In the course of our conversation, I discovered that one of the strongest influences I had for creating the PBGs was a lack of direction. Up to this point in my life, I always had some goal and some hope of getting there. Now I have lost faith in all of my dreams and have no hope of attaining them. So, I require an external source of direction. Sounds like a perfect home for a roll-your-own deity to me.
Why invent one (two)? With my reluctance to make a fool of myself (be wrong?) it is much easier to believe in something I know isn't true than to risk saying I believe in something that cannot be proven and may in fact be total garbage.
My minister says there isn't much interest in the "Faith Inquiry"; just me so far. He says that perhaps we could form a small group of people; perhaps a book study or something.
I told him that what I was really looking for was some community. I also told him that I really didn't go for the "prayer" time or formal Christian tradition stuff. He admitted that most groups have that component, but that it usually was a small component of any gathering. I guess, from my limited experience, I agree with that.
Partly Cloudy, Relatively Calm, Mostly Quiet. My spirit collects in small dark oily pools. Calm, quiet, but not particularly clear. The dog barking in the distance; every bus in the city seems to be in Millwoods. My repeating sounds; Breath, plodding feet. My non-stop thoughts; work, home tasks, church concerns, kid concerns...
I am striving for a quiet, calm, clear spirit, but even at 6:30 the world cannot be entirely shut out.
Then the thought of the day comes (as it often does, near the end). Since the PBGs insist on free will (horrors!) and expect decisions (!) they must also proscribe actions. Independent, creative, "because I think it is important", actions. When deciding on actions I must keep Suggestions I, II & III in mind.
To have it any other way would not do. PBGs do not lead children through the forest with trails of M & Ms to ginger bread houses. Nor do they guide reluctant donkeys with carrots on sticks. They do not intend to walk with your bloated ego floating above them on a string like a bizarre balloon.
We are all the hands of the PBGs. They work with us, through us and for us. My mind and creativity are just as much at their disposal as my hands and my heart.
Not a lot of chatter around this one; it just popped fully formed into my consciousness. Prior to this Suggestion, I was thinking about the Purity laws and ritual purification. I thought today's topic (eh?) was going to be "Who is your neighbor". Who knows, it still could be. Just because my run is over doesn't mean I am through with the PBGs
Quiet. Too Quiet. The PBGs seem to be taking a holiday. More likely they are off somewhere else planning and scheming something I am not directly a part of.
Me? I was not a particularly attentive student anyway. Maybe I was not hearing the Sermon today because I was busy listening to the griping of my sore shoulder, the burning in my calves & thighs, aching knee and off balance posture.
So for most of my run I was content with the actuality of the PBGs' silence or my own reluctance to really listen.
The revelation came, (as so often happens, when you start to get tired or bored or both) near the end of my run.
"Hey there! There is no need to push," they said. Pushing in life, as in running, just wears a body down and decreases your overall endurance. Save your breath!
|A small coincidence can have a large meaning and a large coincidence can have no meaning; it all depends on your frame of mind.|
For me, the PBGs use "coincidences" for much of the conversations we have together. What I am thinking often meshes with what they have arranged to place in my path and, one would suppose, what I am thinking about. This is only a Supposition (I am inclined to think this is their word, from their thesaurus) because it only supports the other more important Suggestions.
I tried to introduce a Covenant with the PBGs today. Right off the bat, Covenant seemed too strong and definite a term for the PBGs. I asked them to inspire me with a better name, but even though they seemed to have a thesaurus, they weren't talking. The covenant I was trying to get them to agree to was that I would run along, thinking my thoughts, and anything they thought was important, they would mark with the appearance of a can or something.
The trickster of the pair, taunted me with a wayward rabbit. "I know you haven't chosen this path; follow me!" said the rabbit (Jack, the PBGs' pet rabbit)
The other of the pair, complied vaguely by providing two cans for the thought of documenting the "10 Suggestions".
In the end I will just have to be satisfied that they will do what they want, when they want. After all, it is their show, and I am but a bit player. I can only act (or choose not to act) out the role I have chosen in the manner that is most comfortable to me at this moment.
PBGs, I am listening, and questing. I hope you (and I) find myself worthy of the challenges you have planned.
Only the PBGs could arrange that my unique talent would be useful to give joy to those kids and to bring that family together that snowy morning.
That is a long and interesting story. Some of the answers to that question are contained in my journal entries themselves. Some of the answers are left up to you to find on your own spiritual journey.
For the impatient here is the quick answer: PBGs is a short code-word for Pop Bottle Gods.
And now for the longer answer. Here is what I have determined about the PBGs thus far on my journey.
I am a Runner (no, not a Jogger, a Runner) and I have spent many lonely hours pounding the pavement training for marathons. If I were to go into the reasons I run, this would be an even longer story, so I'll leave that for another day.
Anyway, over the summer I started a conversation (sort of a thought experiment at first) where I thought about God.
Now, don't get me wrong... I am not a 'religious nut' by any means. I go to church with my family, but for most of my life I have been a questioning Agnostic. I am not, myself, a member of our church. Until recently, I didn't think I had any kind of faith.
God was too big a concept for me to handle in my own musing.
So I imagined my own pair of gods whom I could interact with (notice the lower case 'g' on that folks). You may say "this guy is nuts! Not one but two gods!". Well that is what came to me. I have since learned not to argue with where my mind wanders.
Bear with me while I digress a bit more. I also pick things up on my runs. During my runs, I pick up grocery bags (usually stuck on bushes) and fill them with pop cans and bottles I find lying around. This practice started out as a way to justify buying expensive running shoes ($100+) on a very small running budget. Because of this habit of mine, I am always looking around and squinting at bits of garbage trying to determine if I am seeing a slurpie cup top or the bum of a beer can.
The PBGs came into the picture when I started wondering to myself about why some days there were lots of cans and bottles and other days there were virtually none. I invented small gods to be in control of a small aspect of my confusing world. The Pop Bottle Gods were born.
It wasn't until much later that I discovered that these small fragments of the 'bigger' God (you know, the one everybody else believes in) were simply a metaphor that made it easier to deal with my God phobia.
After my run, I would often relate what I had been thinking about to my well-read church-going wife. It stared out as a fun game and she would sometimes jokingly ask "How were the PBGs today?" We came up with the short hand name to hide our embarrassment for inventing a god (2 actually) and so that we could talk about it without people asking a lot of questions that required long answers.
One day, she said "You know, that sounds a lot like what I reading recently" in a book about spirituality.
After this I started paying more attention to the thoughts that occurred during my morning runs. In fact, I started a journal to record what the PBGs and I 'talked' about.