Next on March 12th, I went upstairs and sat in the observation deck of the Library looking down on the main square of the school. It really is true what my teacher said about people looking at the windows to check their appearance whilst walking around PCC. I saw a girl walk by the Theatre lobby windows, check herself in the window and adjust a hair. I saw no difference between her “before and after” from where I was sitting. I wondered: do we keep total disaster at bay by looking to the little things? If she had let that hair go, would another, then another, then another hair have followed the first’s rebellious example until we would have total hair anarchy, and Caleb Hardy on his viewing deck would notice?
PCC Sylvania Library and Arts Center
I may have a moderate eye for detail, but even if I had the eyes of Sherlock Holmes and could tell everyone’s trade by sight, this that overshadows all state of appearance would not go away: You have an eternal soul. Flee to Jesus for safety and salvation.
I left the Library and wended my way to the shuttle stop. I have missed shuttles before and, trying to miss missing a shuttle, I came quite early for the Shuttle to Cascade Campus.
“Hey. You should bring your violin to this party.”
I was not carrying a violin. Who was this guy? (So much for my great memory.)
“Yeah, my friend Bob is giving a house concert and afterward there’ll be jamming. No one’s ever brought a violin before. I’m trying to invite every musician I see. Last time it kind of became a dance party.”
“What kind of music is Bob playing at the concert,” I asked.
“Oh, it’s not the old style,” (the kind he seemed to wot that I liked). “It’s, you know, surf rock.”
“Like the….?” I asked.
“Like the Ramones. You should come – all the ***** girls will be like, “a ****** violin, and a ***** bow!”
I kind of doubted the bow would be so astonishing to the girls.
“There’s that girl I see like every day,” he said, referring to one he saw at the shuttle stop, not at Bob’s party. I couldn’t tell which girl from among those present he was referring to.
“She gives me the lesbian vibe. A lot of girls are into that, which is hot, but they just don’t seem to be interested in me. Would it be funny if I hit on her?” He asked from the bottom of his heart. He got on his shuttle. My thoughts naturally turned to myself. Had girls been sending me the lesbian vibe? “Don’t you dare hit on me, you man with a violin! I am a lesbian!” The thing is; that is surface. Whether a girl is sending you the interested or the not interested message based on what I look like is not the basis for deep love. Whether she is a ‘lesbian’ or not, she has a soul that if I get to know her I will care about.
Say a girl became “massively keen” on me (an expression I once heard a girl use. A girl I never saw. She was inside a medieval style pavilion at Warwick Castle, and I was walking by outside,) What if a girl became massively keen on me based on my appearance, and she to me looked like the queen of Elfland whose ‘peer on earth I never did see.’How deep is that really, and how far could it go? If I really got to know her, I could not continue with the whole fairy dream thing, but would love her as a real woman with a human soul, and once you move past lust to love you care about that person – you want her to be saved.
What’s more insulting than looking on someone’s body with shallow lust? Well apparently, judging by the offense people take at preaching: thinking that their appearance makes no difference in the long run, and that what does matter about them (the person’s soul) is bad and needs saving. And one of my conclusions is: It’s difficult to look to lust and think of the soul at the same time!
So does believing the Bible make everything but God and our eternity seem insignificant? In a way, but everything seems more insignificant if you do not believe the Bible.
As the shuttle pulled out of the Sylvania parking lot, some odds and ends, signs and tool boxes and I don’t know what that belonged to the shuttle shifted noisily in the back. I was sitting on the back bench, and those in front of me looked back. “Oh, just my stuff,” I joked. Everyone around me laughed. The white guy with his Karma Bike shop tee-shirt, the black lady, the fat man and the girl with the blue jacket with the 1890’s style sleeves. I thought of complimenting those sleeves, but she took the jacket off. And anyway, Marilla Cuthbert did not approve of puffed sleeves, so I have a little question mark planted by them.
Coleen Dewhurst as Marilla Cuthbert.
I got out of the shuttle and started heading toward the Library, where, in the olden days, there had been a free phone. I was going to call home for a ride. As I approached the building I could plainly see in the reflection on the glass door the girl, carrying her blue jacket, headed for that same door. I opened it for her. How courteous of me. Irrefutable proof that I’m not one of the evil people.
Where there had used to be a phone, I found only a jack. The pay phone next to it was still there, but that looked complicated to use. I went to another building where in days of yore there had been a free phone, but alas, only the jack remained. As I was walking out of that building, I heard this conversation:
“I just need come to class every day. I need to learn that kind of discipline and I will succeed. I just need to wrap that thought around my head.”
I liked the image of wrapping your head in a thought. Like it says in the Bible about the law: “these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes (or, bind them on your forehead) . And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (Deut. 6:6-9)
It is a nice walk home anyway. (You get to see the prettiest rose garden I have ever seen at Peninsula Park.) Turning homeward I passed through Jackson Hall, where there was a display of old quilts. The sign said most of the fabric was from the early 20th century. I imagined someone wearing a dress made out of this (The guy next to me at this moment says his Chemistry teacher is a liar and he should set her on fire. He says he is kind of flunking.)…. someone wearing a dress made of this beautiful red fabric with the white flowers with blue centers, going to a dance on Elk Rock Island. The red and blue were so bright. But just like the residents of the ancient island city of Tyre who dressed so beautifully and against whom God sent the Babylonians to scrape its surface clean, Elk Rock Island was scraped clean.
They shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water. And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard. And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 26: 12-14)
As I began my walk home, I heard a voice from an SUV. ”Hey Caleb, do you want a ride?” It was Annette the shuttle bus driver, whose husband works on the pipeline with my dad.
I got in the car. “Feels like spring,” I said.
“One day only.”
“Sounds like an ad,” I said.
“You have given me a lot of rides.” I mentioned.
I got home (“Thank you,” I said to Annette) and had a little time before I went to direct Children’s Choir.
The last song we sang was a 14th century Italian trecento song about spring called “Ecco la Primavera,” and we went outside into the spring day to sing it.
After choir, we all stayed outside and everything seemed soft in the yard behind the church – the air, the light, the ground, the smell of the Pacific Red cedar. It really was like that Blake poem: “When the voices of children are heard on the green and laughing is heard on the hill, my heart is at rest within my breast and everything else is still” – or rather the Blake poem was like this. This was real.
Nurse’s song from Wm. Blake’s Songs of Innocence 1789
I held my baby niece Mercy, who is also soft, as little children are. And thought – how can I believe in depravity and hell? But then I thought: The better things can be, the worse sin is. We attack and mar infinite beauty and life with our sin. Babies grow up to kill babies, or to consider changing diapers for a baby too onerous a chore for them to bring anyone else into this beautiful world, and where is the end of the repercussions?.
We must die. Sin cannot go on forever. Evil cannot continue. But man in his corrupted state still has touches of beauty. Jesus said: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Matthew 7:11
Our evilness does not totally preclude us from giving good gifts to some of those around us, but I’m not going to put my trust in that goodness or those gifts of the present age. To paraphrase Wilde: this is an age of surfaces. I am asking for a better gift from God. Jesus “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The eternal kingdom of heaven.
As the Beach Boys sang:
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long.”
At home that night, trying to follow the command to talk of “[God’s word] when thou sittest in thine house,” we read the story of Naaman the leperous general of the Syrian army. Everyone laughed when it came to the part where the king of Syria, based on the boast of a little Israeli servant girl that the prophet in Israel could heal Naaman, sends a message to the King of Israel: “Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:6)
The King of Israel responds thusly: “when the king of Israel had read the letter,…. he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.” (2 Kings 5:7)
Who could take away a horrible skin disease?
When the prophet in Israel heard that the king had rent his garments, he said “let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:8)
But when Naaman came to Elisha the prophets house Elisha did not even come out to see him. He just sent him a message. “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.”
But Naaman was offended. “Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.”
Again we could not help but laugh. He had his imagination of a dramatic healing and would not accept something simple. His servants spotted this lack of logic.
“His servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” Maybe they had experience calming their sometimes rash and haughty boss. Anyway, he went down ”and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”