I have been having the weirdest dreams lately. Really, the first weird part is just that I'm remembering them (I almost never do).

Last night I dreamt that I was hanging out with a good friend and his wife in our college library. I looked down at his books, and realized they were the same ones I read early in discernment (albeit in a different language). I was shocked that he was interested, and it was clearly an open door to communication.

The book that struck me most, and that I remembered as important after I woke up was Eugene Peterson's Under the Unpredictable Plant.

Which got me thinking about the 4th Chapter of Jonah. As a hat tip to Mr. Peterson, we'll go with The Message version:

1-2 Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, "God! I knew
it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That's why I ran
off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered,
rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of
punishment into a program of forgiveness! 3"So, God, if you won't kill them, kill me! I'm better off dead!" 4God said, "What do you have to be angry about?" 5But Jonah just left. He went out of the city to the east and sat down in a sulk. He put together a makeshift shelter of leafy branches and sat there in the shade to see what would happen to the city. 6God arranged for a broad-leafed tree to spring up. It grew
over Jonah to cool him off and get him out of his angry sulk. Jonah was pleased
and enjoyed the shade. Life was looking up. 7-8But then God sent a worm. By dawn of the next day, the worm had bored into the shade tree and it withered away. The sun came up and God sent a hot, blistering wind from the east. The sun beat down on Jonah's head and he started to faint. He prayed to die: "I'm better off dead!" 9Then God said to Jonah, "What right do you have to get angry about this shade tree?" Jonah said, "Plenty of right. It's made me angry enough to die!" 10-11God said, "What's this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can't I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don't yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all
the innocent animals?"
My job is not to decide whether or not I feel warm and fuzzy about where God sends me. My job is to respond to call. Something to think about when the church makes me nuts.

Jonah Window, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Holyoke, MA, Designed by Rebecca Leiter, 1996, Lyn Hovey Studio

1 comment:

  1. Yes, but we're trained to see what others have and want their portion. It's very hard to go the less-traveled/less-glamorous path.

    I think this is one place where discernment could use some bolstering - why is it so hard to be told, "No, I think you are better off over here"?

    (I think it could be because I see the upper escelons of the process as being fickle and not at all "sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered.")


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins