Grateful Expectations

I have always been the type of person who had a notion of how things ought to be. And as I doggedly pursued that pinpoint on the perceived horizon, I have missed awesome opportunities along the way. I did not always understand that the path was a meandering backwater, and not a crisply paved interstate. The small towns with their waterfalls, Sunday picnics and barefoot children are still attractions that might be savored if we’re willing to take the round-about roads into the big cities. Even the Trailer Parks fulfill a wisdom that I did not know was available to be learned.

I finished the Old Testament several months ago and thought I would neatly put it to one side. I am surprised to discover that it still beckons as I search the New Testament. I return to it to reference cryptic passages in Matthew and Mark, and have enjoyed discovering the congruity between the Old and the New.

The failing that I am guilty of at the moment is that I’m finding the stories and parables of the New Testament to be not as comfortable and likeable as my expectations. While I was not presuming to digest these chapters as a twenty-first century adult as easily as I absorbed my childhood catechism, I do find them getting under my skin more than I’d prefer.

In the long run (if I’ve learned anything from my own experiences), it would be to take my time with the difficult as well as with the simple. So far it’s not going the way I had expected. But it doesn’t mean that I should race past all the tumbledown houses and see just what I think I’d like to see. There just might be a field of strawberries and a view of the mountaintops beyond.

As published in the September 2012 issue of "St. Peter's Press," the monthly newsletter of St. Peter's Presbyterian Church in Spencertown, New York. At the time of publication, Phillip was working on the writings of Luke, having finished Matthew and Mark.