Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Wanted To Be A Scholastic Monk Who Wasn't Fat and Made Great Spaghetti Sauce

I may seem as is I am rambling today because I am sorting out thoughts. Sometimes thoughts are like socks in the dryer when you pass forty because random ones disappear, and you cannot find them anymore. You know they were there once because you are looking at the result of the thought, i.e. a post it note or some unknown item that you purchased and stowed away for a special occasion which never occurred. This is probably why I keep a gift box under my bed. Sometimes I re-gift things which I have received and did not want to various individuals, and sometimes it seems like I am re-gifting when it is only the first time I remember ever seeing it.

Today, Mr. Sinta is off four wheeling with the neighbor, and I spent my extended off day prayer time praying and cleaning the spare bedroom where I generally read and pray. Then, I started praying about rearranging my life, and simultaneously started rearranging the room. Probably that made it a prophetic act, if you talk to people in the know. My prayer cell needed a reduced spider population, clean floors and general rearrangement, but so does my life.

Life can sometimes be evaluated by the decisions that we make at key times which influence how we spend individual days which make up the seasons of a life. As I was on my knees killing arachnids and scraping up dots of white paint, I pondered my new bookcases again. I got a great, super and fantastic deal from Mandi on some big green bookcases that I keep in my basement. They are so loaded with possibilities that I was overwhelmed, and I have done pretty much nothing with them.

I think that I know now what I am going to do. I am going to use them to get an education. Education ranks really high on my list of important things, and at various times I have pursued it on a full time or part time basis; I am referring to university study. However, as much as I want a degree, there is no money for it at this time. Period. End of story. I am taking classes at church for a year, and I will eventually graduate with a year of non-transferable credit at a ministry school, if I can keep from getting kicked out. I love it. I am learning a great deal. It stretches me and makes me think.

However, it is not the kind of Western civilization studies combined with the best of English literature education which constitutes admitting one to life's great conversation that I want. I am admitting to you that I want exactly that. At the library cheap shelf the other day, I bought a book I have wanted for years and years. I have actually copied pages and pages out this very book because it was a reference work and could not be checked out. For some reason they were discarding it, and I got it for 50 cents. It is: The Lifetime Reading Plan by Clifton Fadiman. My explanation is that God provides a way when He gives a desire like that.

I will be rearranging my shelves and my life to work on this season of my life. I already have a lot of the books. The truth is that in order to accomplish this goal, I need to thin out the books that I have. Initially, I am going to throw the thinned books into a box for at least a year. Some of them, I will give away. It is going to be like a intellectual marathon, and I need to throw out the junk books.

The funny thing is that I was getting rid of a book on the minor prophets that I really felt contemptuous about, and I gave it to a really good friend and confidant who is an evangelical, since it is an evangelical book. I explained to her that I despised the book because it was so incredibly shallow. I think of it as shallow because I compare it to some Catholic commentaries on the minor prophets that I own. I do not agree with their assessments of the Scriptures, but I appreciate the incredible amount of time that they have spent evaluating the Hebrew, and the light that they are able to shed on what the words actually mean. They compare how words are used in different contexts in the same book, etc. They do not have a grip on literal interpretation, but I can glean enough from their research to come up with my own ideas of what God was actually saying by the prophets. I have read some of them, especially Amos, again and again. I do not believe that the evangelical book referred to any of the detail or beauty of the original language at any point, and drew really just a few thoughts from each book, condensing them almost in comic book style. I love my friend, and she was not at all offended that I was giving her a shallow second rate commentary on the minor prophets. She is not shallow or second rate in any way, but she is a lot more humble than I am, and she can learn from just about anybody. The most helpful thing in the book I gave her was a page with a one sentence summary of each book of the minor prophets. I kind of wish I had made a copy of that one page. It is really good that I was never a monk because we still would not have a complete copy of any manuscript. Too many decisions.

I am also working on losing 50 pounds so I can make another stab at a marathon next fall. Without disclosing my method, I will simply say that I plan to consume less, eat healthier, and stick with it until I meet my goal. I am giving up running, this sounds like sacrilege to some of you, until I can lose a significant proportion of that weight because I believe it is hard on my body to make it carry that much extra weight. Trust me that I want to run. I will be walking in the meantime, just three lousy miles a day.

I also want to write. I have a novel in my head and I am ready to start it. All the current ideas fit on a four by six card. When I get it actually going in a week or two, I will let you know more.

The other thing that I really want is a Biblically renewed mind. I want to really think and live and believe and act just like God intends. I think that somehow all of these goals are kind of tied together. It is time to start a new season, in which I am concentrating on hard, but doable things, things within reach. I trust that as I am a faithful monk, or monkette, or monkess, if you prefer, that by putting one foot in front of the other on a disciplined daily basis, that my life will get cleaned and rearranged, just like I prayed.

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