I don’t know about you but I have a lot on my plate right now.
I’m speed learning a whole new field and my new company encourages us to take our computers home with us just in case we need to catch up on stuff. To that end, I worked on setting up a dedicated home office in a spare bedroom. It’s necessary if I’m going to be doing as much work from home as I anticipate. I have stuff left over from 4 years of income instability that has piled up that needs somewhat immediate attention. There is a collaboration that needs attention as well. Plus, some recent unfortunate events in my family have kept me very busy on top of all of that. Don’t have a Christmas tree yet and haven’t done any shopping. Today, I had put aside for buying a much needed pair of boots. Nah-gah-happen. Will get the tree though even if it kills me.
So, how has your holiday season gone so far?
In the meantime, if you want the technical and scientific background to the climate agreements hammered out in Paris from real scientists who can write, check out The Conversation, the US pilot edition.
And here’s a blast from the past and particularly relevant this week, to me at least. It’s the story about the Sparrow in the Mead Hall:
The Venerable Bede (c. 673-735) tells the story of King Edwin of Northumberland who wanted to marry a Christian princess. She said she would accept Edwin’s offer if he agreed to hear the Gospel from Paulinus, a Christian missionary. Edwin was willing to hear the preaching but he called together a meeting of his council of elders, which included his pagan high priest, Coifi. Paulinus presented the gospel to him, and one of the chief advisors replied with this observation:
“The present life of man upon earth, O King, seems to me in comparison with that time which is unknown to us like the swift flight of a sparrow through the mead-hall where you sit at supper in winter, with your Ealdormen and thanes, while the fire blazes in the midst and the hall is warmed, but the wintry storms of rain or snow are raging abroad. The sparrow, flying in at one door and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry tempest, but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, passing from winter to winter again. So this life of man appears for a little while, but of what is to follow or what went before we know nothing at all.”
Oh, that clever Bede. Paulinus was the one who brought the gospel but it was Edwin’s heathen advisor’s words that we remember from this story. There are a couple addendem I wanted to add to this story. The first is that King Edwin did not immediately convert to Christianity. He took his time and thought about it. It took him several years after he heard the pitch before he bought it.
The second is that Edwin’s advisor presented his argument as a conditional. “*If* this new teaching has brought any more certain knowledge, it seems only right we should follow it.”
Some of us yearn for certainty. We want to know for sure what comes next. And that is comforting to us.
Some of us are not convinced that there is anything we can be certain about when it comes to what follows our flight through the mead hall but we are not afraid.
As Tolkien says, “Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.”