Monday, September 29, 2014

early morning driving

We are in the process of moving from the rim to another hub across the state. My wife, who is also a minister, but with a different denomination, has accepted a call to pastor to a small congregation in a Wisconsin village of about 1500. This weekend we moved her and two of our dogs to a small room she'll rent until we can buy another house out there.

But this time, instead of living on the rim and working in the hub, which we've done since moving west in 1994, we'll be living in the hub and she'll be working on the rim. This is a different sort of plan for us; while both of us have lived in cities before, and even in one city together, we've never done so while having our beasts (now numbering eight). Fortunately, her sister is buying our house here on the rim, and will retain her dog that we've been hospicing for nearly a year (no one expected her to live this long: she has a spinal disorder that most of us estimated would have progressed to the putting-down phase by now), so the number will be reduced to seven, but that remains six beasts more than we had during our previous city stay.

Yesterday, as I had chapel services at work starting at three o'clock, I left the room she and the small rat terriers are staying in at six and managed to get back here by noon. But what's compelled this post is the interview I picked up shortly after leaving. It was a roundtable discussion hosted by Krista Tippett and comprising the Dalai Lama, Rabbi Lord Jonathon Sacks, Seyyid Hossein Nasr, and Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori. The topics ranged from happiness to suffering, from god to the divine in people, from the mind to the body's role in it, and focused not simply the similarities but on the differences too between the four religions. What I was most impressed by was their exhibited personalities. The Dalai Lama often laughs at his own comments (which has given him a reputation for having a sense of humor often lacking in relligious leaders), but Rabbi Sacks had an impressive British dry wit and nearly every comment was evidence of that (favorite examples: asked about happiness, "Reading through Hebrew scripture and history, perhaps 'happiness' is not the first word that comes to mind..."; and in condensing the teachings of scripture, "They tried to kill us. We survived. Let's eat"). Strangely, to me, as I have read and heard more from them, Nasr and Schori were almost subdued in the presence of these two. Neither, I thought, seemed cowed by the company they were in, but neither did they seem elevated by it. Their comments were dry and so low-key as to have been overwhelmed by the othere two.

But the discussion was fascinating and I resolved to reread Nasr's books I have and find something by Sacks, whose speaking style I hope will be as enjoyable rendered in print. But the early hour, the coffee I drank, the radio signal getting fainter and fainter the further I drove, the large vehicle I was piloting (we'd borrowed a friend's van) and the road stretched out before me for miles and hours was missing only a cigar to have completed my experience of living on the road. For a while I was back there and then, and that felt very good.

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