First of all, allow me to wish our French friends a Happy Bastille Day! On this date in 1789, after a great deal of turmoil, the common people of France stormed the Bastille (it’s always referred to as “storming,” but what they really did was break down the doors, with many of them let in by the head of the Bastille, who was trying to avoid bloodshed). The Bastille was basically the federal prison, but instead of holding convicted felons or enemies of the state, it served to imprison persons that the king felt were seditious, and they were held by a writ that could not be appealed, nor brought to court. There were lots of developments during the storming of the prison, but it marks the day of independence of the French people. The strange thing was, it was very different than the independence of the Americans, who sought to be free from British rule. The independence called for on Bastille Day was in a sense a call for independence of the French people from themselves – or rather, from their king, Louis XIV, and his wife, Marie Antoinette. It practically became the day when feudalism ended in France. The other big difference is that when as a country you fight against each other, especially high society versus the common people, someone is going to end up losing their heads. That was indeed the case, as the guillotine became the preferred means of execution. Strangely enough, the person after whom it was named, Joseph Guillotin, did not invent the machine. He simply proposed used decapitation as the method of execution, instead of other gruesome ways of publicly killing someone. Anyway, during the Reign of Terror, as part of the revolution, royal after royal, and anyone who in any way was assumed to be against the revolution ended up losing their heads – literally. As bloody and fully of war as the American Revolution was, it paled in comparison to the significant mess the French went through.
It’s interesting today that on our kitchen counter, we have a bagel guillotine, designed to use a big blade to slice the bagels in two.
Whatever the results, the parades and other celebrations in France today are meant to celebrate the liberte, fraternite and egalite of the “new” nation of France.
However, thousands of miles away, with the smoke burning, not from the palaces and villas of France, but from the Canadian woods, the Crosses are on the verge of their own revolution of 2021. You see, our normal water bill from the city each month is just about $67. We can handle that, and everyone seems pretty clean from showers and washed hands, and the dishes and clothes are all clean – and the toilets all flushed. However, last month, our water bill ran over $110. This was due to simply turning on the automatic sprinkler system about once a week, just to replace what the sky was not doing. Like most of you, our rainfall has been pitiful, with a shot now and then, but mostly nothing, so it means we have to water from the ground up. Unfortunately, as dry as May and June were, July and August promise to be even drier, and much much hotter. The couple of days of 100+ degrees in June has become a nearly daily theme song. Heat plus no rain, as you know, spells drought.
Now, I don’t begrudge our farmers using irrigation to keep their crops running, as most of them will use natural bodies of water from which to pump the stuff to the fields. However, it’s becoming a real challenge to somehow keep pumping water from our city’s stores of water to keep a lawn green. Now, I am not a raging environmentalist, but as I looked out in the back yard yesterday, I came to the conclusion that we are just wasting money and resources in order to keep grass growing and green, especially in what is quickly becoming the hottest and driest summer nearly on record –certainly in the top five.
I stumbled across an article yesterday that helped me clarify things. The gist of the article said simply that there is nothing wrong with letting your grass go without water, and turn brown. It’s not dying, as we know. It is simply going through the natural process of dormancy, where it doesn’t waste the energy trying to maintain a nice green glow, but instead, just takes a nice summer nap, until the temperature drops down to reasonable, and rain actually falls.
This is kind of a foreign concept to us northerners, who are used to having the grass be brown or covered in white for seven months of the year, but enjoying pretty green shade for at least the summer time. But this isn’t a normal year. I expect I could spend four times the normal amount just to keep things green, and to frankly use up a lot of water while I’m at it. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. I’d rather spend a couple of hundred dollars buying a freezer load of good steaks to grill during these summer months.
So, after one more drenching of the grass tomorrow morning, I’m unplugging the system and letting it go dormant as well. I’ve contacted the guys who mow our lawn to let them know we need to make different arrangements for mowing, since they will very soon be just driving over brown, non-growing grass. And who knows? Maybe the forecasters will have gotten it wrong, and come August, which is normally our driest and hottest month, things will turn around and the green, green grass of home will once again emerge, and need mowing. Doubt it.
Frankly, between you and me, I’d like to turn the entire 1/3 acre that we have into a huge shrub garden, with lots more trees and all sorts of beautiful bushes, and get rid of the lawn completely. Cheri is not a fan of that, since she grew up loving the smell of new mown grass on the farm. So, we compromise, and simply let it go for now, and wait and see what God has in store in a few weeks.
You know, there are times in all our lives when it seems as though the rain just stops. We work as hard as we can, and it just doesn’t seem to produce a growing, green and beautiful life. Sometimes, I think, we just need to let things go dormant for a bit – not dead, but asleep, protecting our lives from wasting so much time and energy to try to produce something that’s not going to grow. We are satisfied to do that in the winter – it’s normal – so for this year, for this time, perhaps we can let some things go for a time, and focus on other things in our lives, simply waiting for a better time to come. That’s being intentional in a thoughtful way, instead of pounding ahead trying to make some thing look and act like it just can’t for a while. Think of your life, and what needs from time to time to go dormant, until the better time comes. Acting and accepting that with grace makes all the difference in our living a significant life.
Word for the Day: guile. Pronounced simply GILE. The word comes straight from the French, meaning “trick or ruse.” It’s a noun, so we have to use it with something like, “he used guile to get what he wanted.” To employ guile is to be very good at tricking someone. It’s kind of a nasty word, with not much in terms of positive nature to it.
There is a word connected with guile, however. Beguile is a verb, and as you would think, it means to employ guile in a situation, so it means “to delude, or fool.” However, in the 20th century, we have also allowed it to become a bit less negative, when we talk about someone who is “beguiling.” That usually means they are captivating or charming. In the positive sense, that beguiling person becomes someone who fills your head with enamored thoughts, or is that person when you first meet him or her, can’t seem to get enough of them. Of course, one might act charming in order to fool you and get something from you, but romantically, it’s only a beguiling spirit. Sort of makes you smile while they are picking your pocket…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.