The Wonder of the Finite
“The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run with it.” Amos 9:13
Amos was a shepherd familiar with the vastness of the hills and the skies. Through his wanderings, he learned to listen and found that the cosmos was not empty space. His writings are replete with the words and deeds of the Lord: “I will restore ruined cities and plant my people on fertile ground.” As the fruit that springs from the earth, we already have cause to celebrate even before the day’s work begins. When we listen like Amos, we find our lives dripping with God’s presence. These are grapes of joy, not wrath.
In our world, the pronoun “I” does not signify God is speaking. “I” belongs to the self and being a self can become a burden. I am the bearer of rights and liberties, I am the keeper of my conscience, I am autonomous, I am unique, I am the sum of my choices, I decide my values, I face death alone. Locked into an interior space, the self grows isolated and sad. This is not who we are.
Recognizing personal freedom is among history’s great achievements. Nations that ignore rights and liberty are fearful places. But freedom need not leave us stuck in separateness. Without the help of others we would never come home to ourselves. In God’s presence, we don’t disappear; we become more real. The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are addressed to “we”-- not I. Like the recovering alcoholic, we walk away from the shipwreck of our aloneness and realize how good to be alive together. Being small is not bad news; it gets better by the day.
In the psalm, truth springs from the earth and justice looks down from heaven. To uncover the truth of the finite, we reach for God and rejoice.
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