Friday, July 4, 2014

The matter of perspective

     Numerous prompts over the last week . . .
     1)  Last Saturday, I stood with my back to Pike's Peak, looking at a young couple who were "plighting their troth" to use the old language.  Congrats to Casey and Megan on their marriage!  Prior to walking down the "aisle", Casey and I had a final little conversation about marriage.  I noted (and he remembered) that, within a week following their wedding, my wife and I would be celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary.  He nodded, and said that he'd taken that "perspective" to heart as he recalled our conversations prior to the wedding.  Yes, I thought, thirty-plus years doesprovide a certain level of perspective on sustaining a relationship that newlyweds don't quite have (but I hope they will!).
     2)  Earlier this week I was camping with my son at, what I believe, is THE . . . BEST . . . CAMPGROUND . . . EVER!  (and, no, I won't tell!).  We were joined in the campground by a family from Georgia (although the wife had grown up in Colorado Springs). The kids -- new to camping in CO -- were blown away and kept saying, "We NEED to move here!" From a Georgia perspective, we, in Colorado, might take things a bit for granted -- although they're pretty awesome!
     3)  The same family quickly hiked their way to a rock formation that overlooked the campground (pictured above, with CO Spgrs grandpa on the left).  My son and I hiked up there the following day, and the view of our campsite from that vantage point was quite different from camp-fire level.  Well, it's a matter of perspective.
     4)  As mentioned above, at the point of celebrating a thirty-two year long marriage, I are reminded of how different life looks at this point than it did when we walked downour aisle those many years ago . . . in a very different setting than Casey and Megan.  Joys.  Sorrows.  Challenges.  Successes.  Moves.  Job changes.  Deaths of parents.  Advent of children.  Wow!  Do I see things with a different perspective now (that my kids don't understand!)!
     5)  Last evening, on the 151st anniversary of the end of the Battle of Gettysburg, I was watching the mini-series about that important event.  At many points during the movie, the generals tried to find their way to the highest point possible (a school tower, or a promontory, or even a fence rail), in order to gain a better perspective on how the various engagements were faring.  They needed to see things that the foot-soldiers were not. 

     6)  Today, I am writing on the 238th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America.  And I read regularly about the conflicts in other countries around the world who are struggling to build their own futures.  I'm often struck by how commentators (or "opinionators") forget that we have a perspective born of that history that those still engaged in natal struggle do NOT have.  The talking heads seem so quick to condemn others for not being as "enlightened" as we.  We often forget our backs-and-forths, our struggles, our controversies, that have led us to where we find ourselves.  We would do well to remember.
      Finally, I'm reminded of the end of the biblical book of Job, after Job and his friends argue over WHY Job-the-righteous has had to suffer all the calamities he's experienced.  God speaks:  "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge . . . Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  . . . Who determined its measurements--surely you know! . . . Have you commanded the morning since your days began? . . . Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?" (and there's more!  Job 39-41).  God forcefully reminds Job that his perspective isn't quite complete.
      The reminder that was this week is that perspective is crucial.  That doesn't mean that we should not use our experience -- our perspective -- as a launching pad for arguing our point in a marital conflict, OR seeking justice on a global scale.  It only suggests that a bit of humility might be a substantial aid in our efforts, a recollection that our perspective is not the only one.


Chaplain Gary

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