Leave Rage Alone

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Stillness defines life at the cabin. It’s quiet. The only sounds are bird calls. It is this stillness that draws us here by the wetland. But my heart is not still. It’s preoccupied with evil. This morning’s assigned psalm from The Book of Common Worship (BCW) speaks to my condition.

Do not fret yourself because of evildoers…

For they shall soon wither like the grass…

Be still before the LORD…

Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers,

the one who succeeds in evil schemes.

Refrain from anger, leave rage alone;

do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil. (Ps. 37, BCW)

“Leave rage alone.” 

Last night, after a quiet swim, I put my hearing aids back in, returned to the cabin for dinner, and listened to last Monday’s episode of The Beat, a podcast downloaded from a to Kay’s iPhone by means of WiFi earlier in the day. Back home in Chaska, we watch The Beat with Ari Melber because it suits our outrage over what is happening to America. But listening to the podcast welcomed back the toxic rage I forsake for the quiet beauty of the disconnected cabin on the wetland. It felt like a fatal assault.

1947 Pontiac hearse

Steve Shoemaker’s 1947 Hearse

Midway through the podcast, I removed my hearing aids to distance myself from the sceptic fret of rage. I was swimming in poison. It was the tone of voice that felt like death or a foreign invasion. 

The pond and the wetland are changing every day. So is the world. The Trumpeter Swans that brought such joy a month ago are gone. So are the red-wing blackbirds that earlier had feasted on the cat-n-nine tails. And the grass? Like the cat-n-nine tails, the grass is green and growing again. But the psalm reminds me that the green grass will fade to brown this autumn about the time the Trumpeter Swans return from Canada.

Meanwhile the calendar reminds me to call the company that empties the sceptic tank before it gets full and no longer works.

  • Gordon C. Stewart by the wetland, July 19, 2018.

Falling

Fall is the season of falling. Falling leaves. Sap no longer running. Flowers fading. Red, yellow, purple dying into brown.

Each season reflects the movement of the soul, the eternal motion of the tides we sense within ourselves. Over a lifetime we move from the temporary wrinkles of birth to the etched wrinkles of aging. We love to look at babies. Old folks not so much.

More than a century ago Adalbert Stifter wrote of this in Der Nachsommer (English translation –The Indian Summer):

“Great beauty and youth capture our attention, excite a deep pleasure; however, why shouldn’t our souls gaze at a countenance over which the years have passed? Isn’t there a story there, one unknown, full of pain or beauty, which pours its reflection into the features, a story we can read with some compassion or at least get a slight hint of its meaning? The young point toward the future; the old tell of a past.”

Fall is a favorite season for many of us. At my age, I no longer wonder why.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand forever. [Isaiah 40:7-8]