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December 19, 1998

Following the Buckhorn

The ground was heavy with frost this morning and there was a stillness that is hard to explain. It seemed as if everything was in repose except me. It reminded me of a scene in the movie Little Buddha where Siddhartha leaves his Father's house in a fog while everyone is asleep, symbolic of course that people who are unenlightened are asleep. They are not living life to its fullest.

Actually I had encountered the same stillness last night when I ventured out into the cold night air and observed the sky overhead. It was vibrant and alive in a way that only is possible in the winter air. There were no bombs incoming has I had witnessed in Iraq for most of the day with CNN on in the background. There was an occasional airplane moving slowly in the midst of the stars, but nothing more. In the distance a dog barked but that noise paled in comparison to the noise of exploding bombs.

So in the stillness of both last night and this morning I am left to ponder people far off. What is my responsibility to them? As they looked up the sky some eight hours before I observed the same stars the stillness that I experienced they did not. Am I responsible for the lack of stillness in their sky?

As I awoke to a sun that had shone over their land some eight hours before to frost covering sloping farm hills I wonder what they awoke to and what they saw.

I cannot help feel that the violence that seems so arbitrary in our world is at some root level my fault. My inactivity allows it to happen.

Is not this what most people fault God for? We may ask the question as to why God does not intervene as a convenient excuse for our modeling that very behavior.

A parable seldom quoted from the Book of Judges comes to mind for some unknown reason.

"Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, 'Reign over us.' But the olive tree answered them, 'Must I give up my rich oil, whereby me and gods are honored, and go wave over the trees?' Then the trees said to the fig tree, 'Come; you reign over us!' But the fig tree answered them, 'Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruit, and go wave over the trees?' Then the trees said to the vine, 'Come you, and reign over us.' But the vine answered them, 'Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men and wave over the trees?' Then all the trees said to the buckhorn, 'Come; you reign over us!' But the buckhorn replied to the trees, 'If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith, come and take refuge in my shadow. Otherwise, let fire come down from the buckthorn and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'"

Those with gifts are reluctant to lead, and those without demand a heavy price if we choose to follow.

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