Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cooperating with Life - Going “With” not Against the Flow

“Always fall in with what you’re asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it over your way. My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever’s going. Not against: with” –Robert Frost.

I had an instructor at technical college when I was a pre-apprentice, way back in 1983, who used to say in a thick and polished English accent regarding our interaction with the older apprentices, “You younger guys have got to learn to blend into the woodwork...”.

We all used to laugh ecstatically whenever this refrain of his would slink out. But, as I reflect now, he had a very good point. There’s a lot to be said in ‘quiet achieving,’ a la the old BP Oil Company by-line.

It reminds me a very good theological truth locked away in the rear of the Ezekiel (47:11-12). The prophet has a vision of the temple and the river flowing from under its threshold toward the east. As the prophet is led into the river by a man and he goes from walking ankle-deep to wading to swimming depth. As the two reach the side of the river they both survey the river, discussing its flow, interacting with the Dead Sea.

There is the gentle, rolling, ever-cascading flow of the river, and then there’s the swamps off to the sides of the river, which are not fed and kept alive as they should or could be; they’re disjointed from the flow of the river, disconnected somewhat.

And this is what occurs in our lives when we go against the prevailing flow of life--we get stuck down incongruous and cavernous spiritual swampy creeks. We go to the Meribah’s of our conflicted souls.

Going with the flow of life, accepting and not rejecting, and making things over to our way, no matter how they turn out, is simple flowing wisdom--a spiritual river teeming with life.

Blending into the woodwork in a compliant sort of way doesn’t have to be about submission at any cost. It is simply choosing the hill we’ll die on wisely. We can’t win, or even influence, every battle. Choosing our battles wisely, now that’s got to make sense.

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