Wrestling Wounded (114)

In ancient churches an object called a diptych was pretty important. A diptych was a two-paneled list of those who were a part of a church. They would list the dead on one side and the living on another. They would include the names of the bishops with whom they were in communion. Keeping the diptych up-to-date was a way of clarifying who belonged to a particular fellowship and which churches were recognized  as continuing in the tradition of the gospel. diptychYet there is another very old use of a diptych: the word  can also refer to a two-paneled piece of art connected by hinges. Some icons were made this way. You might have two photos in your home that you display in similar fashion. Being able to place two images facing each other and hinged together can evoke a relationship. The reflections that follow take the form of a diptych: two stories, two panels, hinged together but distinct. One panel is the story of Jacob, the other is that of Timothy. We’ll put ourselves between the two and see what we might learn.   Read more

A Foreigner’s Praise

A pilgrim went to Mount Athos to learn about the spiritual life. Mount Athos is a small Greek island, quite difficult to get to, but one that is home to something like twenty monasteries. mt-athosAs the pilgrim approached the island by boat he noticed sun-bleached bones on the rocks above the level of the high tide. “What are those?” he asked. His guide replied, “Those are the bones of monks who thought themselves to be so holy that the laws of nature no longer applied to them. They jumped from their cells high on the cliffs.” Some ancient Egyptian monks would tell a similar story. The temptation seems not to be limited by geography. Read more

Saints and Victims – a short story*

I was driving home from work when I hit a guy. The light turned green, there were no cars coming, so I turned left. My victim was smoking a cigarette and had made it part way across the strip of pavement marked out by parallel white bars. At the last second I saw him and slowed, but I hit him anyway. Bumper to thigh. I stopped the car. Then put it in gear again and pulled through the intersection. He returned to the curb from which he had come and sat down on the embankment. A few people got out of their cars. Some made their world right by giving me the finger. A man in a ritzy SUV gave me a sympathetic look, as though he too had once smacked a pedestrian or maybe more than one. Read more