Last week I read _The End of the Spear_, a book by Steve Saint about evangelical missionaries who had gone to the deep Ecuadorian jungles in the 1950â€™s. The first five missionaries were killed by the natives, but the son a slain missionary (the author himself) returned to the place where his father died. He continued preaching and living among the people, eventually being fully accepted into the tribal family and helping hundreds decide to â€œwalk the God trail.â€ Steve Saint later spent 18 months with his wife and children deep in that jungle, continuing his ministry and showing the way to forgiveness and peace by the authority of his own life.
Given my love for Guatemala, reading the book brought back not only memories but desires to return, and the familiar guilt I sometimes suffer because I have so much. There were moments when I felt I could no longer bear living in such luxury or with the perpetual sense of haste and structure.
This morning, I was reading the Book of Mark and came across the words, â€œFor he [Jesus] taught with authority, and not as the scribes.â€ Put that on top of another book I read last month–_The Great Divorce_ where an Episcopal bishop is so concerned with his theological questions and so caught up in his speculations, that he cannot accept the REALITY of Heaven or Christ. He has made everything an abstraction and himself the great authority on the speculations he has come up with (such as the idea that if Jesus had just lived a little longer and had not been crucified, his religious thought might have really matured.)
So Iâ€™m writing a quick blog about blogging.
I should say that I truly enjoy blogging and enjoy the thoughts which are respectfully exchanged. (I donâ€™t care for contention, but fortunately that happens rarely on T&S.) I have a sense of the personalities of many of the Bloggers and like them a lot. Nonetheless, thereâ€™s something of the scribes in us commentators and philosophizers. We examine many important ideas and make fine points. But I am thinking about how stripped down the gospel is for me in Guatemala. It is the bare-boned, Jesus gospel–as it clearly was for Steve Saint in Equador.
My Spanish is good, but I canâ€™t expound on important subjects with the kind of vocabulary I can in English. My Cakchiquel is limited to the most basic conversational words. And I LIKE being linguistically limited, because it forces me to use other means of communicationâ€”body language, laughter, facial expressions. My limitations also prevent me from assuming any kind of â€œhigh-mindedâ€ position. My advanced degree is of absolutely no relevance in Patzicia. I am simply a fellow traveler.
I am always impressed by the knowledge of my fellow Bloggers, but Iâ€™m also curious about their lives. In Patzicia, I sometimes took long walks with my Cakchiquel sisters and we just talked, and maybe did a little shopping at the marketplace. We are also taking long walks as we have on-line conversations, but the fact that all we see of each other is our words (and educated words they are) does leave some gaps.
â€œJesus taught with authority, and not as the scribes.â€ For me, that indicates that it wasnâ€™t what his said or wrote which carried authority, but who he wasâ€”which others could sense. Thatâ€™s what I miss on blogsâ€”the actual presence of the writers, the eye to eye. I know that each â€œscribeâ€ is living a remarkable life, and I recognize evidence of great, courageous faith in many comments. Sometimes we read each other generously, and other times we donâ€™tâ€”but I suspect that kind of thing would not happen if we were physically in a room together.
Iâ€™m going to end this post rather personally by telling you that Iâ€™m a young-looking, past-fifty, redhead who loves the Lord, and who also happens to be a struggling mother, a loving wife, and (by the way) a writer. If I could take you to the sacred places of my life, they would include a little hut in Guatemala, where I sat by the first LDS convert of the city and sang Spanish hymns as he died. I would take you to the Provo temple, where I serve as a veil worker and where once I heard my friend Susie speak clearly–despite the fact that a stroke had robbed her of language. I would take you to the monument of Jane Manning James, who I consider to be the first Civil Rights activist of Utah and who I have felt as a very real presence in my life. I would introduce you to my four children and tell you how glorious each is, even though we get to deal with things like eating disorders and basic sins. I would introduce you to my husband, who is brilliant butâ€”far more importantâ€”is genuinely good.
These are some of the sacred places I inhabit and the people who are dear to me. And no matter how interesting or well-written (or how badly written) any of my blog posts might be, they will never fully convey who I am at my core, and why I cling to my faith as I do.