I'm getting ready for the return trip to Florida by compiling a stack of books. Dan gave me the complete novels of Jane Austen which I'm anticipating diving into and we have some books on CD for the car ride, including a Learning Company series on American Literature.
I'm looking forward to reading again, especially literature and poetry. Lately I've been reading a lot of nonfiction, which has been amazingly helpful as I've tried to think through a world view, and my own theology. But there is nothing like a story to help you either live in an alternate reality, or imagine one.
On Sunday evening, we hosted a gathering with some friends. I call them salons, because it's a fun word, and because we try to have a theme that draws the evening together. The topic of the night was mystics/contemplative writers. The potluck snacks were delicious and conversation was food for the soul. We wandered through St John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, and some contemporary poetry. One of our friends told the following story:
A Chinese peasant had a single horse. One day, the horse ran away. The neighbors came to commiserate on the bad news. The farmer shrugged his shoulders. "Good new, bad news," he said. "Who can tell?" Several weeks later the horse returned at the head of a herd of wild horses. "Good news!" said the neighbors. The man held out his hands and replied, "Good news, bad news. Who can tell?" A few weeks passed and one day the man's son was breaking in one of the wild horses when he fell and fractured his leg. Once again the neighbors came over. "Bad news," they opined. The farmer answered as before. "Good news, bad news. Who can tell?" It wasn't more than a week later when the emperor and his general rode into town to conscript all the eligible young men for an upcoming battle, The son with the fractured leg was allowed to stay home. Certainly this was good news! But once again the father said, "Good news, bad news, who can tell?"
For someone who loves to analyze, this story presents me (as it presented my friend) with an alternative way to view life. More open, more humble, slower to judge or presume to know. It reminds me that navigating the space between knowing and not knowing is the challenge of where I am right now.