February, and I'm excited to be heading to MN... for a few days, anyway. I know. You'd think it's the worst time, and yet -- to share warm conversation about books with family and friends and friends-yet-to-meet -- is an especially sweet pleasure in the midst of winter's hold on the north. And word's getting out. This morning's New York Times ran an article about the surprising pleasure of trekking into the frozen wilderness of Minnesota's border lakes -- the waterways we share with Canada. They snake their way through piney islands, rocks, and fiercely clear air for more miles than you can imagine,... and there's not a motor in sight or auditory range. It's awesome in ways we seldom experience anymore but that, with no warning or fanfare, lay bare our deepest and perhaps truest connection to each other and this great green-blue globe of earth. To touch a little such wildness, or be touched by it, can be transformative, as the whole biblical book of Numbers ("In the Wilderness," as the Hebrew title identifies the book) attests. Dangerous, yes, but good.
Results tagged “winter” from Kristin Swenson
A hot summer day, slow river, cooler of bevs, swimsuit, and a few good friends -- ingredients for a lazy day of tubing. At least that's what "tubing" brings to mind around here in Richmond. Drinking, chatting, napping your way through an afternoon on the James in July. In cold weather places, tubing is a winter thing, too. But qualitatively different. You take that great big inner tube like the ones that go inside semi-truck tires, hike it up an icy hill, climb inside, and with a push, commit yourself to fate. Bouncing, whooshing, and careening down the hill, tubing inevitably sends someone to the hospital. The responses I've received from posting my interview with Virginia Currents host May-Lily Lee to Youtube some time ago have been a little like winter tubing. Most were really fun responses and exchanges with people interested in the stuff of Bible Babel, but there was also a great krr-smash(!) -- inevitable, I suppose, when dealing with the Bible. In the interview itself, I got a bit brain-and-tongue twisted at one point. Meaning to note how ancient the biblical texts are, but recognizing that they don't all date to the same ancient period, I fumbled around for "...years ago." I suspect that was where the trouble started, sort of like hitting a tree root that sent me barrelling against a guy who totally misunderstood me. The especially bonkers part of it is that he was furious with me for exactly the opposite of what I think or do. He thought that I was taking particular biblical texts and plopping them down in our time and place as immediately applicable, with no appreciation for their ancient historical or literary context... oh, and that I think I have all the answers. If only I did! But I know that I don't. Besides, I love the questions, the conversation and multi-faceted interpretations. That's where it's at. And when it comes to talking about the Bible, there's no clean slate. Everyone's got a "take" of some sort on it, so we trudge our tubes back up the hill for another wild ride.
Is it possible to overdue the thanks bit of Thanksgiving? -- to get a bit cynical and scrooge-y (to borrow from the holiday on deck) about all the "I'm thankful for..."? Dear Abby runs her annual prayer, comic strips go sober, and the local news features some feel-good story of triumph thanks to X (family, friends, pets) over Y (tragedy, trial, loss). It's all so... nice. And yet, and yet. We just can't help it. We're built for gratitude, it seems, well-placed or not. Thanks-giving takes us out of ourselves, if only for a minute, to recognize a personal benefit that we enjoy but had nothing to do with. By someone or something, by some peculiar grace, I am enriched. So the illogic goes. Each one of us knows that wonder and, aware of it, is grateful. But hey, for some of us, the thanks can get a bit cloying this time of year. Then, I welcome the corrective reality of winter, close on its heels -- severe, hard, dark, and cold. A reckoning season. And this native northern Minnesotan is, well, grateful for that, too.