“And you may eat of any fruit of the garden – and by the way, you should really try the corn on the cob! It is excellent, and wonderful with butter and some sprinkling of pepper.”
I know there are some who might doubt the accuracy and authenticity of this Bible verse – after all, when you read the first two or three chapters of Genesis, for some strange reason, “corn” is not included as one of the holy words. However, since I could sit up, and grab ahold of an ear of corn, it has been to me the greatest, most marvelous and tasty non-meat food on the earth. I know, I know, immediately some of you will want to challenge that, and say ridiculous things like Brussel sprouts or lima beans are better, but we all know that’s just a silly stance to take. Of course corn ranks at the top, with corn on the cob sitting at the top of the top, and, as we know, “mexicorn,” that horrible mixing of red bell peppers in with beautiful whole kernel corn, that was served to us in elementary school, ranks at the bottom of the top. I really wonder how many gallons, or even tons of mexicorn was dropped into the trash cans from every single tray each year. It was sad, really.
But back to corn. If it’s not biblical, it certainly is worth meditating on. Last night, while the steaks were getting ready to go on the grill, I shucked a half dozen ears, and dropped them into the big pot of steaming water. And yes, I know that the rage nowadays is to grill the corn, or microwave the corn, or steam the corn, or whatever – but this is how I do it, and it has never failed me. It was a wonderful meal, and best news is that somehow, members of my family will often turn down the opportunity of buttering up an ear, and having it get messy all over their face. When I was young, I could consume probably six ears at one sitting. I love corn – did I tell you that? These days, however, I am content with about two ears, but like I said, the best news was that there was corn left over! Yes, two ears of corn remained unenjoyed last night, so that means that today, for lunch, they will be resuscitated, and buttered and enjoyed. Extend the feast, they say – enjoy the joy.
In a larger sense, corn on the cob for me indeed falls into that large category of things that make for joy in my own life. In that wonderful bin of joyful things, you would find all sorts of foods, and desserts and such. For instance, even though it is only August, yesterday I received my order in the mail for this year’s fruitcake. Last year, we couldn’t find any anywhere, and so I thought ahead, and will just leave it wrapped up and cozy in the closet until after Thanksgiving. Beyond the food, there items that I en-joy looking at or holding or simply admiring. I love old things, that have survived opportunities to destroy them. I have an oil cruet from Israel that is around 4000 years old – about the time the children of Israel crossed the Jordan and into the promised land. It is a small 4-inch pitcher that would have hung from the larger oil vessel, and you would dip it into the oil, filling the little pitcher, which then could be used to fill the small oil lamps. I’ve always be captivated by it, because it is not the lamp itself, but the go-between of the light and the oil – kind of an image of a pastor that I’ve always tried to claim. We bring the oil of Christ’s presence to fill the lamps of God’s people.
And of course I enjoy music of so many kinds – not so much to play an instrument, but I love to sing and it’s best when I am in the car alone, so my family doesn’t feel the need to restrict either the volume or the song selection… I enjoy seeing things of whimsy and hearing great puns and jokes, and interesting facts, and important conversations. In short, I’m like all of you – there are things you cherish, and en-joy, and you can make your own list of those items and activities that fill your own lives with the sense that life is worth living.
We remain trapped at the dance with this abhorrent virus, hoping that it won’t take our hand and lead us to the dance floor. And the greater trouble is, we can’t know when the dance will be over, or we can be allowed to leave and go back to our normal lives, if ever. The awareness of that painful part of our world can indeed rob us of recognizing points of joy that come every day. If we are not careful, which means intentional about how we look at our lives and our world, we can become so nearsighted that the joyful parts of our lives grow dim and bleary, and all we see is the virus, and its horrible friends of schools and universities closed, and death announcements, and ventilators and fear.
That’s not who we are! We may live in difficult times, but we are people of joy, created in the image of the One who created Joy itself. It is for us to continually remind ourselves and each other that life is fundamentally good, that Hope – which is the assurance that God is always with us, and for us – is one of our best friends, and that our task is to celebrate the day, and not be lured into living accidentally, wondering if the worst might come, instead trusting that the best is on its way. If you want something to fill your day – take on this fundamentally good and marvelous work.
And boil up some corn, if you have time – give me a call, and I’ll stop by.
Word for the day: paresthesia. If you are a medical person, you probably know this one. Pronounced pair-es-THESE-ya, it comes from the Greek (doesn’t it sound Greek?) para “disordered,” and aesthesis, “feeling or perception.” In short, something doesn’t feel right. In medical terms, paresthesia really is the sense you get when your arm or leg “falls asleep.” We use all sorts of words for the sensation: burning, prickling, itching, tingling – even “pins and needles” that we feel after we have laid on our arm, or, again, it somehow falls asleep, which it really doesn’t do, but that’s the only way we can describe it. Have you ever had to drag your arm out, and it feels like its not even part of your body? Congrats – you have paresthesia. The good news is that about 99% of the time it’s only temporary. What’s odd is that there is no obvious reason for it happening, except that your nerves seem to take a holiday or go to the amusement park.
At least it’s only paresthesia. If you want the creeps, there is also a manifestation known as “formication,” which is the sense of having insects crawling under your skin. No thank you very much…
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.