September 04, 2012

Ngong Dreams



My Ngong Hills


With certain Catholic punidts, if I can borrow a car driving analogy, and that is if you're really, really elderly and driving a car you usually get away with it until you're in an accident. Then it's time to put away the keys. Similarly it seems like if you're a public pundit and elderly, perhaps it's time to go private when you make that big a gaffe.

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Can't feel displeased by OU's stunning defeat of Penn State. It somehow seems of a "just desserts" given PSU's tarnish. Of course I suppose one has to tread lightly on that subject, given how much egg is on the face of the Catholic Church in that regard.

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Ran a 3-miler earlier in the day followed up by sumptuous rest and some goodly, even godly, reading. N.T. Wright's "How God Became King" is an eye-opener because it addresses so particularly that Christian sore, that one that asks how it is that Jesus came to establish a kingdom on earth when the kingdom appears somewhat deflated. Wright says that because Jesus didn't produce a revolutionary kingdom or the immediate end of the world, so most seem to see the coming of His Kingdom as sort of not applicable to daily life in these United States (or Britain, or Africa, or...). He says this has been brought on by Christians accepting Voltaire's (and the "Enlightenment" view) that Christianity failed and is part of the problem rather than the solution. That Jesus is fine as a moral teacher but the true hinge of history was not Christ's life and death and resurrection but the throwing off of superstition and non-scientific ways of thinking. Even Christians seem to have bought into this meme that the world really isn't better off for Christ having entered this world, despite the claim in Matt 28 where Jesus said that all power in heaven AND on earth is His. Wright scoffs at the view that Jesus didn't change the world. He says that is a major historical error.

Wright says that for centuries now we've divided ourselves into "Kingdom" Christians and "Cross" Christians, one bent on making this world heaven and the other bent on embracing the cross in hopes of seeing something better in the next life. Wright says that in the gospels cross and kingdom are not divided but interwoven and connected.

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So I took my dog on a one mile hike amid the four acre field in back of our house. Or actually, the four acre field behind the 4-acre field in back of our house. There sublimity reigns. I'm always astonished with what one can do with just a few acres, and these arranged in a seemingly inauspicious rectangle. There's little width, but plenty of length, and yet it has a pleasing maze-like quality full of a variety of maple, bush, evergreen, hickory and more, all with trees of a variety of ages. It's a wonder that grass grows under the trees but it does, and I can't help but compare it to uncle Mark's (or my own) and wonder why his backyard is, comparatively, so unlively. He has a similar random mixture of trees, evergreen and deciduous, and yet there's something lacking. Maybe simply because his trees are mostly all older or, much more likely, his backyard is square and small. There's no real sense of mystery in most backyards, certainly not in mine where the trees are all arranged in rigid straight lines along the edge lines for privacy purposes. But there's magic heading into my neighbor's acres, and it's there I most often feel a keening to own country land. I wonder why it's not enough, it would seem, for me to gaze along its borders - no I want to OWN the trees, in their electric pattern. I'm curious who designed it: the original owner? a landscape consultant for the original owner? Nature itself? Regardless, I rarely see such a beautiful variety of plantings like I do there. In some ways it's better than walks in state parks.

I hiked using the "Map My Run" GPS app and afterward enjoyed the surrealistic design showing the path as one big plate of spaghetti in the middle of nowhere. One mile covered in a small spit of land.

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So now, for vacation's sake, I carry my chair, a drink, this iPad and a table out just past the tree line which marks the end of our back yard. I set up camp on the high slope and look over a copse of trees, this open tableau, and wonder: why do I so little avail myself of the treats just beyond my own backyard, namely the vacant lot behind it and the swirling patch of trees behind it? Why do I drive to a lake? I suppose it takes a vacation, a sense of frisson produced by the anticipation of a string of days off.

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I feel all Isak Dinesen-ish, here on my Ngong hill. (Delusions of grandeur keep me going, as they say.) It's humorous that the whole summer passed (and many others previous) without my pulling up a chair and "setting a spell" in order to become entranced by the music of this open, private space. It seems I can run three miles but not walk fifty feet.

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I have a tweak in my left instep. A pain when I walk. Lately, after every run, I can feel the groan issuing forth via either my instep or heel and it's a feeling I oddly cherish. It means I made an effort. It means I struck a blow against the ravages of aging. It means I struck a blow against the greater ravages of laziness. I like the feeling of weekend warrioring, of feeling the gimp of step through which the body admits, "you did a decent run today".

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Funny youtube clip about the secret society of inebriates, those who have just under 2 drinks permanently in their system. Three drinks, the world is toast. No drinks, the same. So the steady drip of 1.5 drinks keeps war, hunger, etc.. at bay. And I heard via Tom of Disputations a verse in scripture supporting use of wine! From the book of Wisdom (Sir 31:27). Buzz-kill from my Collegeville commentary which says that that chapter is hardly revelation but just simple human practicalities. Collegeville is a dud! They need to drink up.

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I'm always impressed by how 99.9% of Americans 99.9% of the time are fully clothed.  Randy Travis notwithstanding, it still seems to me a minor miracle - and an indicator of the power of culture - that the dream about going to a meeting at work naked never happens.  Sure it's a relatively simple thing to put on clothes.  But you'd think in the heat of summer there'd be more non-conformists, more people who just don't have the time to put up with the bother.  People wouldn't cuss if it were more frowned upon I suppose. Even the most hardcore criminals in the middle of the 'hood have clothes on, albeit with jeans sagging to their thighs.  In all the time I've been outside, I've never once seen a naked person. That should say something, perhaps that where there's a will, there's a way.  While it's against the law to go around naked, it's a very light misdemeanor.  It seems that taboos in society, in this case against public nakedness, are pretty effective. 

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Starting the great American novel search.  Downloaded about fifteen promising novels and eliminated all but 5 quickly.  Now got to whittle down these to one.  I'm finding "The Darlings", one of the finalists, to be a very readable storyline but without the lyrical, poetic writing I crave.

2 comments:

Banshee said...

What you need to do is massage your foot down the middle, because that ridge of muscle is getting ripped from not waking up sufficiently before walking or running. Anyway, that's why your instep hurts, probably, and it can do numbers on your heel too.

There's a word for this. Plantar fascitis, I think. Anyway, I've had it and didn't like it, and I didn't do anything about it the first time until I'd hurt myself badly and could barely walk. (I was at Worldcon, walked miles and miles on concrete for days, and also bought and carried heavy loads of books. In non-tennis shoes. Not smart.) The second time, I recognized the pain and did something about it before it was beyond little massages. Not a doctor, but that's my worry for you.

TS said...

Thanks for the tips & info Maureen. Will try the massage!