Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Faith Works 6-11-16

Faith Works 6-11-16

Jeff Gill


Water will out, always



You can eyeball a stretch of floor or pavement or lawn, and say it's flat. You can put a carpenter's level down on one stretch, but it only indicates for where it sits. If you really want to know if everything is really on the level, pour out a bucket of water.


A yard alongside a house might look straight across, or a landscaper might even up the terrain, but the reality is that sooner or later, rain or even heavy dew, let alone gutter runoff or buckets dumped from washing the car, will tell you where the slope is.


It all goes somewhere.


Up at camp, there was rain the first night, and someone tried to dig some drainage ditches to dry out the road past Franklin Lodge, soaking the back of the circle where the Cub dens stand. It all goes somewhere.


Our church's Mission Team likes to re-tell the story of a mucking-out they did on a half-ruined house, shoveling buckets full of mud out of the basement, passing them along to the head of the stairs, and passing them along to the level stretch alongside the home . . . or so it seemed.


After a while the crew wondered why they didn't seem to be getting ahead in digging out the mud, and looked around to find a window well in the back that had a slow but steady trickle of liquid mud dripping steadily down into the basement. They went out to see where it came from, and traced a grand arc of muck from the window well around the side yard and up to where the crew was dumping the buckets.


It all goes somewhere.


Water will out. It finds its level and an outlet, filling up an area until it can start overtopping somewhere and flowing out and down.


Look at interesting geology or landforms more generally, and there's a story of how water will out behind almost any terrain. Work on landscaping, and you find yourself thinking like water, trying to determine where it will go, and learning that you have to work with it, giving it a place and a path. You may try to impound it or hold it in reserve, a reservoir, but even then you have to allow for overflow, passage through.


It all goes somewhere, and water will out. We can't treat it as an intruder or unwelcome guest, because we need it. Dry out the lawn too much and you have to end up watering it; raise up your beds for gardening, but then you're working out how to keep the crops from getting parched.


Most of our house architecture, most of human architecture when you get right down to it, has to do with taking the local materials at hand, and building up walls and stretching out roofs while making allowance for the inevitability of water. Rain, dawn damps, snow as the frozen form of it, water trickling here and there but always seeking a path down. The Seventies were cruel to churches and schools as architects overestimated their materials and underestimated water (Frank Llyod Wright could sit in Arizona and dismiss guttering, but even adobe has to take rain into account, sooner or later). Flat roof construction is, to most ministers, a hole into which churches pour money year after year.


Even so, a steep pitch and good drains can't keep water from sometimes backing up and working down through the shingles or roofing, drip by drop by trickle. Inside architecture has to bow to the needs of water management as well, in repairs if not in allowance.


Water will out, because it is a quiet and inexorable force that will go on through, no matter what we try to do to stop it. It's like time, in a way. Despite your best efforts, you can't stop it from having an impact. As is well-known, water can wear away stone just in a very slow drip; it also can pull down ceilings and undermine walls and bring down hillsides if it's of a mind to. It all goes somewhere.


Water is a source, some say *the* source of life; you can drown in it, and it can destroy, but without it at all you have desolation and dryness. That's why, I think, we read in the Bible so often of God as giver of springs, source of rivers; in the Psalms again and again, and in Isaiah 43:19 the prophet tell us that God says – "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."


Water, and God, will out.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him what metaphors of the spirit and the divine catch your attention at knapsack77@gmail.com or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Notes From My Knapsack 6-9-16

Notes From My Knapsack 6-9-16

Jeff Gill


Different pace, different drummer?



So I spent a big hunk of last month getting honked at.


Not in a good way.


To explain, I have to go back to the end of April. I was coming back into the village, heading west down the hill on Newark-Granville Road, slowing to pass the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses where not infrequently a Granville police cruiser is sitting, passing the time as it were.


So I know where I was, as the hill leveled off, and I know my speed, because I checked, having made an involuntary contribution to village coffers at that spot a few years ago. I was over the speed limit by a good five miles per hour . . . and was passed, at a fair clip, by a vehicle whipping around to my left and zooming on ahead past Welsh Hills School (20 mph when children are present).


Of course, there was no cruiser present that day. I shook my head at the blazing impatience of the passing car, already long ahead of me, and kept on my way. At the Cherry Valley Road intersection, a found myself behind my high-speed acquaintance, who was stuck as we often are behind someone trying to turn left, waiting in the face of a stream of oncoming traffic. Such is life.


When we all were released, the parade rolled at a more stately pace into Granville proper, and we both veered off at College St. at the foot of Mount Parnassus, and I couldn't resist. The distinctive vehicle in front of me didn't have much farther to go, and turned into a driveway. I pulled in immediately behind, and pulled out a pen and paper and started writing down the license plate number.


The driver got out, glanced back quizzically at me, then walked to my window, pointing at my pen and paper. I rolled it down, and said as cheerfully as I could "You know, passing inside village limits, on a double line, at 50 mph or more, just strikes me as a bad idea." The intrepid motorist looked on aghast as I reversed, backed into the street, and went on my way. I can only hope for some anxious thoughts over the next few hours or so, since I threw the note away not long after, doubting that such a citizen's report would do either of us any good: I was going for the look of horror, and got it, and hope the lesson was useful.


It was to me. It got me thinking about impatience, and impetuousness, and speed, and I tried an experiment. I spent the next thirty days doing my level best to drive the posted speed limit wherever I went.


Yes, that's right: 54 or 55 on the expressway so-called, and only 70 or even 69 when going on west along our new superhighway. There, I just got odd stares from people passing me, which pretty much everyone but farm equipment did.


It was in Granville and Newark I got the honking. And lots of it. If you stop thinking about the infamous "10 mph cushion" that even driver's ed teachers tell us about, and actually follow the driving instructions as posted, you are stuck trying to keep up with changes (25, 35, 45 mph within a single mile sometimes), and I for one was struck by the fact that I was either always having cars – or trucks, oh those pickup trucks – right up against my rear bumper, or passing me wherever they could and even when they really, reasonably could not. But they did anyhow.


What's the message here? Well, on one hand, I think there's a saturation point on speed limit guidance that's going to take some study and attention. Too much monkeying around just makes people ignore what's posted, so there's that. The counterpart question is simply: what's the hurry? Really, why are so many so quick to leap around at turns on intersections, pushing and flashing along residential streets, and honking at cars going the speed limit?


In any case, my thought to Granville and environs: ease up. Slow down, even. Take it easy. And no, I'm not sticking to the speed limits anymore, but I'm not zooming past them as quickly, either.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's usually in a hurry, but tries not to rush whenever he can. Tell him your high-speed troubles at knapsack77@gmail.com or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.