Watermelon and Herons

Note: Next week we will be on the new platform, “A Pilgrim Diary.” I will explain what this shift is then and why we have gone from Holy Breadcrumbs to A Pilgrim Diary.

Last Holy Breadcrumbs blog

“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

That is the answer (with the original patriarchal language) of the First Question of the Shorter Catechism to the Westminster Confession of the PCUSA. I know this because it is the last remaining vestige of the 107 answers I had memorized perfectly 35 years ago to win a contest worth $1,500. I had it good. It used to be that confirmands had to memorize the whole thing, stand in front of a congregation, and be ready to recite two or three answers picked at random just to become a member of a church. No $1,500 prize money for them!

I share this with you because this answer has been showing up in my consciousness more frequently lately. People who know me know that I have a history of working hard for things that matter (the “glorify” part of the answer). I have struggled with creating space for the “enjoyment” side of the equation.

kayak on estacada lake
Kayaking on Estacada Lake

Lately I am focusing more on that simply as a survival tool. I can’t imagine how I would cope with the weight of daily living these days without the promise to myself that every day I will hike, cycle or kayak and pluck away for thirty minutes or so on my guitar. I suppose I can’t quite categorize those activities as pure enjoyment since I am using them as coping mechanisms, but that’s probably as close as this tightly wound dude will get.

But my real reason for sharing this is that a pattern seems to be developing that tells me that this isn’t just about me, but a sign of something that is occurring among all of us.

I want to be careful not to read too much scientific certainty into Facebook likes, but if Facebook could be an indication of the energy of our community then something is definitely happening.

In recent weeks, I have invited us all into an important conversation about trying to find common values in this time of divisiveness and nastiness. There certainly has been some response. Interestingly enough many of the responses reveal a hopelessness, as if the issues are so overwhelming that no one can really see a successful way forward.

Heron
Great Blue Heron on my daily walk on the Clackamas River

At the same time, I have posted on several occasions pure moments of joy and grace in my daily living. A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of a great blue heron perched on an old post in a cove near where I live. This weekend I posted a picture of diving into some cold watermelon about half way through a forty-mile bike ride on one of these muggy hot days we have had recently. Both of those pictures elicited dozens of likes and hearts—nearly ten times the number of responses my “serious and more important” posts get.

Is there a message for me here? Is there a message for all of us?

I remember a few weeks ago when I spoke to the gathering of some 100 plus presbytery delegates at our June meeting. I told them the story of the Native American who was asked by a white observer, “With all that you have been through—displacement, disease and genocide—how do you cope?” The Native American answered, “We sing. When things are tough we sing.”

Watermelon“The chief end of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy God forever.”

Things are tough right now. Maybe the way through is not solving our problems, but singing, kayaking, cycling, hiking, knitting, card-playing, snuggling on the couch, taking a bubble bath, eating cold watermelon on a hot day, and laughing with grandchildren and grandparents.

Enjoyment. Could the answer be as simple as that?

Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades

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