On Ponds

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

I Corinthians 13:12

When my family moved from Los Angeles to Morrow County, Ohio, we moved to a farm my Grandfather owned and sold to my Mom and Dad.  The farm was 80 acres. It had about 60 tillable acres and at the back of the farm was a woods.  The farm had a house built in 1901 and two barns.  It also had an apple orchard.  When we moved in there was no pond, but my grandfather decided he would put in a pond and stock it with fish because he liked to fish. He would do random stuff like that. For my brother and I it was cool to watch the pond being dug.  A couple springs were unveiled in the digging with really cold water and my brother and I got quite muddy on more than one occasion as we investigated the digs on days when the workers weren’t there.  I even remember getting my boots quite stuck in the mud once and my brother helping me pull first my foot and then my boot out.

Once they finished digging the pond, it filled rather quickly with water and then we had an amazing place to swim, fish, and ice skate in the winter.  It was idyllic! In fact, the truth of the matter is, I had a pretty great childhood between my experiences in both California and Ohio.  There is one thing about pond water…since the bottom is a natural dirt (mud) bottom, the water is murky.  You can’t see through it.  This is no big deal as long as you are not squeamish.  Remember, our pond was also stocked with fish and so when we swam it was not at all unusual to bump up against a fish swimming by or occasionally you might get gilled by a fish that felt threatened.  So you swam knowing you couldn’t see what else was in the water with you.

I think we live life not always knowing who or what is in the water with us.  We don’t have perfect vision so we sometimes make choices based on our own assumptions.  We don’t pause to ask questions or dig deeper for the truth.  But even when we do, we still, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, see only a refection of what is true.  We can’t know it all even though we tend to act as if we do.

I am currently and slowly reading through a “Book of Hours” by Thomas Merton.  It is a devotional style of book and I am not using it as it recommends by stopping four times throughout the day and reading the reflection for that hour…it is why it is called a book of hours…but I am taking my time reading each reflection and then doing what a reflection begs us to do…reflect.  So…I am reflecting on the words I have just been reading for Thursday’s “dark” hour. In this reading Merton wrote the following line: “How long we wait with minds as dim as ponds.” And the line grabbed hold of me and quite frankly hasn’t let go just yet.  It immediately brought me back to our farm pond and I remembered how murky the water was. I couldn’t help but think that a pond is a good metaphor for how murky our minds can become when we let them get muddied by all the things of this world.  How murky our minds are when we clutter them with all the “isms” we have created and how murky our minds are when we forget who we really and truly are: sons and daughters of the Most High God, creator of all that was, is and ever will be.  That is a powerful identity. And yet we have forgotten who we are and our minds are as dim as ponds as we wait…but wait for what?

Which also made me wonder…what are we waiting for? Are we waiting for someone else to make a difference in our world? Are we waiting for someone to fix our problems? Are we waiting for some magic potion that will make all the bad stuff just disappear? If you are…I am sorry to burst your bubble…because the person you are waiting for is you! The murky water we try to see through distorts reality and our thinking and so we wait for others to solve our issues, or to do the work God created for us to accomplish. If we continue to wait we will end up accomplishing nothing at all.

But here is the thing: just as pond water can be made clear by filtering out all the impurities, we can see a little clearer when we filter our thinking through the teachings of Christ.  A good place to begin is by reading the Sermon on the Mount.  And then work to develop the eight character traits of the beatitudes. Maybe we might be more inclined to develop them if we began to call them beautiful attitudes. Please know in doing so it won’t mean life will magically become easy.  The simple truth is: life is not easy and for some it is darn hard. There are situations that occur that have no easy answers…and sometimes there are no answers at all. Even when life is difficult, that doesn’t mean we have to be difficult.  That is why I think we prefer to believe those beatitudes are eight different kinds of people and not eight different characteristics each person should work to develop.  Even and maybe especially when life is hard.  And if ever we are all living during a hard season…it is now.

That is why I believe it is important to remember that no matter how much we filter out the impurities in our life we will never see clearly until we rest with God. And then, just as Paul taught, our vision will be crystal clear and everything will not only come into perfect focus but it will also be perfectly understood.  Until then…keep filtering everything through Christ who is our example. And work on living life, no matter what your circumstances with those eight beautiful attitudes Jesus teaches us in his Sermon on the Mount.  You won’t regret it.



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