Tuesday, June 17, 2008

See the mockingbird

I was going to call this post "Listen to the mockingbird," which is the title of a song, and I have a film clip of the mockingbird that sings by my sister's house and it's singing. But I think the film clip is too big to upload, because I've tried and failed several times. Meanwhile, here's a picture of it.

I'm at my sister's house in San Jose, California. This is my little break reward for having completed the paralegal program at Whatcom Community College. Now next week I will start working full time as a legal assistant to an attorney in Bellingham. This week, I'm at my sister's house, taking it easy.

I once lived in San Jose. I moved from there to Lynden in November 1998. I remember because I vacated my apartment on October 31. That must have been a Saturday. The next day, a Sunday, I preached at the church I'd been a part of for 7 years, Friendship Agape Church. Then, Monday, my mom and I drove my car and my brother-in-law and dad drove a U-Haul, and I moved to Lynden.

Now it's 2008, almost 10 years later. I have been back to visit, but I think the last time must have been three or even four years ago. I don't know my way around as well anymore. I'm not exactly great at knowing where I'm going at the best of times. After years away, my old paths have faded from my mind. I don't have a memory like an elephant. I did manage to find my way to my sister's house. I kept seeing familiar street names and thinking, "I know there's a way I used to go on that street." But I reverted to the very first way I ever learned when I first moved here to San Jose.

How long ago was that? I think it was 1985. If I recall correctly, I lived in San Jose 1985-86, then Visalia, California 1986-87, then San Jose again 1987-98. Prior to moving to San Jose, I was in Grand Rapids, where I attended Calvin College. Now I have one niece who graduated from Calvin and another who starts there this fall, plus great-nieces and nephews and a new great on the way.

Today I watched "Stranger Than Fiction." The professor played by Dustin Hoffman said that tragedy and comedy are the two kinds of stories. Comedies are about the continuity of life, and tragedies are about the inevitability of death. As he put it, in a tragedy you die, in a comedy you get hitched. That really is the Greek concept of literature. Anyway, both are true. Looking back over those years since I moved to and from California, new lives have entered mine, in the forms of nephews, nieces, and greats, and one very significant life has departed from mine, my brothers. Inevitability and continuity.

For Christians, the continuity of life goes beyond new generations, though the creation of new life is a wonderful blessing, and the continuity of life means resurrection and re-creation.

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