Under the overpass of life
I am paused for a sip of refreshment from the Swell water bottle I’ve pulled from its cage which is mounted on my bicycle. I have chosen this spot for a water stop because it is nicely shaded under the highway overpass. Here I can shelter from this Florida sun I’m not used to — it is January, after all. Overhead, gigantic cement girders support a six lane highway. I can hear the traffic whizzing by… at considerably more-than-highway speed.
No, I do not lament the pace of life that is passing me by, ever at breakneck speed. Rather, I am perfectly satisfied to pause and sip in this shade as the other cyclists pedal by. I acknowledge some with a nod. Others pass without even a glance. A few alert me that they’re coming. “On your left,” they say. And they are for a fleeting moment and then grow smaller and smaller in the distance.
Suddenly alone with my thoughts, I let my eyes travel upward to the giant grey girders over my head, silent and strong but massive. For a very split second, I imagine what might happen if they came crashing down. But I dismiss this thought quickly. I am confident that a capable architect, an accurate building engineer and a diligent construction crew erected this structure. Certainly, all necessary precautions have been taken and the required inspections have been made to guarantee its structural soundness and assure safety.
Standing here alone astraddle my bicycle saddle, a cycling helmet the only form of protection I have, I suddenly realize I’ve put a lot of trust in a whole host of humans I’ve never met.
In this moment, something inclines me to look upward and past the girders.
When I do, the dazzling, impossibly-azure sky peeks from beyond the bridge’s span and compels my gaze. “Why,” it seems to say, “if you trust these chunks of cement to protect you, why do you not trust me?” The voice-that’s-not-a-voice goes on. “I am the architect of all that is, the designer of all that will be, the builder of all that is becoming. Why, if you trust the work of human hands, do you not trust me?”
The Lord of Universe now has my full attention.
Why don’t I trust the Lord of the sky to protect me as I go along my way?
When I look around at all that has been made, why don’t I trust?
When I survey all that has been given, why don’t I trust?
When I recall the many instances from which I have been rescued, why don’t I trust?
In that moment I turn my eyes again to the ghostly white of the cement girders, ominous in their row-by-row alignment overhead. I notice the rumble of traffic which now echoes in thunderous tones on all sides. I permit the thought which had been holding itself back: if I heard the structure of this bridge crack and start to give way, would I be able to extricate myself in time? Could I dive to safety? What about the other cyclists? What of the unsuspecting motorists?
No, I decide, I could not save myself. No, we could not save ourselves.
Slowly, I take a final swig from my Swell, carefully screw on its top and slide it back into its plastic cage. Looking to left and to right, I ease my bicycle back onto the trail and propel myself into an easy rhythm.
I probably won’t stop here on my return trip. I’ll pause in the shade of a nearby tree, greened by the sunny days and watered by the summer rains. And I’ll listen.
I Am not A.I.
A.I., you and I are different.
the rays of the sun warming my face,
the chill of the cold deep in my bones,
the pressure of your hand holding mine
and mine, resting in yours.
the jitters when test scores are posted,
the wrenching when news isn’t good,
the twang when I know I really shouldn’t
and the tap when I know I really should.
God didn’t create me artificially.
God created me realistically:
Do I dare feel?
Am I willing?
Not just to touch the hand
that reaches out,
but to take it?
there are places I’d rather not go.
I still feel them;
I still remember them;
I am not safe there.
You are safe everywhere.
not bothered by sensation,
not saddled with emotion,
not addled by fear or foreboding.
Fear is a place only humans go,
only humans can go,
The Lord of life takes us there…
and brings us through.
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)
A.I. was made for man, not man for A.I.
So the Son of Man is Lord even of the A.I.
Lions, Tigers and Bears, No Problem
There is a story about a boy, but not just a boy, a shepherd. He stood watch over his flocks day and night, protecting them from whatever might come to harm them. Lions and bears, he would fight off, with his bare hands, if necessary, for he had no weapons of war. No sword, no gun, no armor. But, what he had, that was enough.
The boy grew to be strong and courageous out there in the fields, watching and protecting what he loved against all that would harm it. You know this boy, for his story made him famous. His name was David and when all others trembled in the face of fear before a giant enemy, David did not.
The story goes this way:
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. ~ 1 Samuel 17:32-50
David did not fear lions or bears because he had defeated them with his bare hands.
But sometimes there is a tiger in our midst. And, with Dorothy of Oz, we are afraid — duly afraid of the three: lions, TIGERS, and bears, oh my! The lion and the bear maybe we can handle, but that tiger…
Didn’t stop David. That boy had been battling lions and bears for years. The tiger Goliath? He is just a striped lion. “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this (Tiger).”
David met Goliath and walloped him, with just a sling a few smooth stones. For “it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s.”
No matter who or what is your tiger today, may your battle be the Lord’s.