Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 8

25
Jan
21

My Coffee Cup

Before I saw it with my own eyes, I would have told you it was not possible. 

But then it happened. I shifted my own paradigm. 

Just so we are on the same page here, the dictionary.com definition of the word “paradigm” is: “A framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a… community.” 

In other words, a paradigm (PAIR-uh-dime) is the picture I carry in my head of the world and how it works. 

All of us operate with paradigms – or maps of reality – that help us make sense of the seemingly random events in our day. Most of the time, they are reliable reference points for us as we navigate through the world.

Reliable, that is, until they are blown to smithereens by something that just doesn’t fit our map. 

The morning in question started innocently enough. I got up, went to the kitchen, let the dogs out, and made coffee. However, this time, instead of putting Joan’s coffee cup on the right and my coffee cup on the left, I switched them. And then, because the cups were in the wrong places, I poured the sweetened almond milk creamer into MY cup instead of Joan’s. 

And because I consider anything other than black coffee to be an abomination (I think you can find that somewhere in the book of Leviticus, actually), I was forced to drink my coffee out of THE WRONG CUP that morning!

It was horrible. For starters, Joan’s cup is too narrow.  It is NOT made of clear glass but rather opaque pottery. It holds far too big a serving. The handle is the wrong shape. But mostly, it is NOT the cup I have been drinking coffee out of for AT LEAST the last 25 years. 

As you can tell, I have become quite attached to that coffee cup. You can’t see it now, but on the outside of my coffee cup there once was a map of the world. The cup is sort of globular in shape and once had all the gridlines and continents visible there on its surface.

Drinking coffee from that cup every morning provided me with a tangible reminder that I am part of a vastly wider human community… a human community that encompasses languages, skin tones, beliefs, topography, and weather that do not bear the slightest resemblance to mine.  

My Nescafe “World Mug” has helped me remember that MY paradigm is not THE paradigm. It is one map of reality, jostling for recognition alongside a gajillion other maps. 

As shocking as it is to imagine, for example, the Kansas City Chiefs are not EVERYONE’S favorite football team! Some people also seem to insist that there are OTHER pies besides key lime to consume and enjoy… other cars than the Nissan Altima to drive… other TV quiz shows than Jeopardy to watch… and othergrandchildren than my eight to be doted over and spoiled. 

Can you imagine

Fortunately, all is not lost. When we encounter – as I did and as we all eventually will – those jarring events that upset our personal apple carts, it is good to remember that we can each have access to THE Paradigm.

It is God’s paradigm. And it is helpfully laid out for all to see, right there in the pages of God’s eternal word. 

When the Psalmist looks up in the night sky and rhapsodizes like this: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4, NRSV), it is to remind us of our smallness and God’s grandeur… simultaneously. 

And to reassure us that in God’s paradigm, we each occupy a sacred, unmovable spot.

When I am able to stop for a moment and remember that core truth, my heart skips a beat, then settles down a little.

I hope yours does, too.

Abundant blessings;

22
Jul
20

Is Regionality Really Real?

Wild WestThe other day, Patrick the dog and I were out walking in our neighborhood here in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Not an unusual thing for us.

As we walked along a street not far from our home, we saw a neighbor couple out working in their yard. Of course, I wanted to avert my eyes, pretend I hadn’t seen them, and keep on walking. But Patrick insisted on stopping and chatting up our “new best friends.”

I found out their names were Frank and Meredith. Frank hailed from Illinois originally, but Meredith was born and raised in Colorado. After explaining that I had only moved here six months earlier, I added, “My wife and I are just AMAZED at how friendly the people are here! It really is awesome.”

To which Meredith replied, “I’ll tell you honestly… it is because of the influence of all of you Midwesterners. People from Colorado really aren’t that friendly – and I say that as a native Coloradan. You folks moving here from Iowa, and Kansas, and Ohio, and Illinois are just rubbing off on us.”

To which I replied, “Huh! Isn’t that interesting?”

After exchanging a few more pleasantries with Frank and Meredith, it was time for Patrick and I to bid them farewell and resume the Hunt for Bunnies (aka, morning walk).

But Meredith’s comment stuck with me. First, I wondered if her observation was really true. I mean, I have met a lot of friendly people from Colorado. I have also met a lot of really UNfriendly people from the Midwest.

But it also made me wonder if there really are such things as a State or Regional Personalities.

Are Midwesterners – on the whole – extraordinarily friendly?

Are Coloradans actually stuck-up and aloof?

Do Californians really check themselves in the mirror every 10 minutes and inject the word “dude” into half their sentences?

And what about people from the South? How closely do they conform to the stereotype that paints them as abnormally bigoted and uneducated?

I remember a sociology teacher in college who told us that stereotypes are so dangerous because most of them, “… begin with a small grain of truth.”

I believe we are drawn to stereotypes initially because they promise to save us time and energy. We shake hands with someone from Rhode Island and think to ourselves, “Since I already know that people from Rhode Island are vicious gossips, I won’t have to wear myself out trying to discover that personality flaw in this guy!”

Too often, though, we stop working to understand that person once the stereotype rears its ugly head.

I am sure there was a day long ago when there was such a thing as “regional flavor.” But then we invented superhighways, and jet airliners, and television, and the Internet, and little by little, our regional quirks and tics all began to blend together. It is no longer unusual for someone to be born in Ohio, move to Seattle, then to Minneapolis, then to Kansas City, then to Chicago, then to Sydney, Australia, then back to Kansas City, and finally to Fort Collins, Colorado… which, incidentally, is the story of my life’s journey.

We are each as unique as our fingerprints. Our personalities and outlooks have been shaped by thousands of different things… including the part(s) of the country we have lived in.

But isn’t it great to be reminded in scripture that EVERY ONE OF US is made in the image of God? (Genesis 1:27), no matter where we hail from? That we each carry Divine DNA in our souls? That even people from Arizona are considered to be, “… a little lower than God…” and have been, “… crowned with glory and honor,”according to the psalmist in Psalm 8?

(Sorry, Arizonans. I had to pick on somebody).

Today I invite us each to pause and celebrate the supernatural ancestry that binds us tightly together in one human family.

But let’s also not forget that the BEST bar-be-que on the planet can be found in Kansas City…

 

Abundant blessings;




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