For two weeks I’ve worked late into the night, every night, on a presentation that I will deliver over the course of five Wednesday nights during Lent on Lectio Divina. Last night I finished my outline of forty-two pages and tonight I’ll begin to arrange them into a tighter framework, put them into Power Point slides as well as selecting a movie scene or two for illustrative purposes. It has been an exhausting but exciting process. For the past 3-4 nights I’ve been immersed in the subject of our fourth session: contemplation. It is a deep well from which to draw inspiration, but how to actually explain it? In the end I think I’ve found a way to do so, and last night I printed off the entire outline and will attack it with my red pen and highlighter tonight.
After shutting off my pc and the lights late last night, and while walking up our basement stairs, I paused at the halfway point and thought: why would I ever want to write anything ever again? Why would I sweat over words to type onto my screen and then transfer them into the blogosphere where they may or may not ever be read by one person, let alone dozens or more? Why not just squeeze all of the meditation, prayer and contemplation that I can out of my reading and settle my mind onto the higher things of this life by going deeper? Aiming high by going deep. I slowly walked up the rest of the stairs and into my bedroom.
I was still mulling over these questions when, before shutting off my bedside lamp, I read the following:
O Jesus, grant that like You I may live in continual union with God and at the same time give myself to my neighbor. May I lead a life of continual recollection, prayer, and contemplation, yet a life wholly devoted to the service of others.
It is the final prayer during the colloquy for meditation #64: Jesus and Mankind on page 180 of Divine Intimacy. God wasted no time in reminding me of what I’d spent the last two nights writing about: applying what we learn during our reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation into action, whether in our own lives or in the lives of others.
I’ve read a lot of commentary this week on the advertising and half-time show during the Super Bowl. Commentary that echoes much of my thought process as I watched the uniquely American spectacle unfold with my two sons. I can’t comment on Beyoncé’s halftime show because I had other things to do during halftime. I did think the ads themselves provided an interesting contrast in the America we were versus where we are now. Ben Shapiro thinks along the same lines:
The commercials, too, contrasted what used to be American with what is now American. The Chrysler Group’s Dodge Ram “Farmer” ad, which showed stills of American farmers over a voiceover from famed broadcaster Paul Harvey, “So God Made a Farmer,” received high marks from the crowd. It was a moving reconsideration of values now thought by many to be passé:
It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight…and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed…and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self feeder and then finish a hard days work with a five mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who’d laugh and then sigh…and then respond with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does.” So, God made a farmer!
He then notes one ad that I recall grumbling about at the time:
Contrast that ad with one from Coca Cola, featuring a series of security camera shots, and titled, “Give a Little Bit”:
Security cameras around the world … also capture … people stealing kisses, music addicts, honest pickpockets, and potato chip dealers … attacks of friendship, unexpected firemen, and peaceful warriors. Let’s look at the world a little differently.
When the caption reads, “Peaceful warriors,” we see a video of some moron tagging the word “Peace” on the side of a building. This is what it takes to create peace across the world? A powerful military presence irrelevant in comparison to graffiti? Spraying beyond the call of valor?
When I saw the ad refer to the vandal as a peaceful warrior I turned to my sons and said “No, he’s not. In the eyes of the property owner and the law he is a criminal.”
I’ve heard it said that during Super Bowl parties filled with partying thirty-somethings the room suddenly fell silent during the ad featuring Paul Harvey’s voice. I submit it’s because despite all our jaded cynicism people are still looking to set their minds on the things above.
The beauty of creation.
The joy of wonder.
The inspiration from things on a higher plane.
How we “lost” those things is a subject much larger than the confines of this simple blog or your humble writer. But in my next post I’ll provide a study in contrasts that I believe help to show how we got where we are today. I’ll do so because I have meditated and contemplated these things. And because I’m compelled into action to share them with you.