One of the fun outcomes of my sabbatical is learning how to preserve plant specimens, make leaf prints, and just generally mess around in my “herbarium.” I do marvel at the intricacy of a leaf or a flower and can understand why this past-time has been popular for so long. In the 1700s is it was quite the thing for young people to go out in groups and “botanize” throughout the countryside. They would take a portable plant press, magnifying glass, and try to identify plants according to the newly available Linnaen classification system. I know it sounds sort of silly now. Maybe we could all use more time out of doors, away from the computer and TV. Surely something will have to change in this world that does seem to have gone mad. And maybe how we spend our free time is having a greater effect on us and the world around us than we know.
What a terrible, heart-breaking tragedy in Colorado this week. Of course, everyone says that and politicans say things like “our prayers go out to the families”, but what does that really mean? What are they praying for? Who in this polarized political climate has the will to speak truth to power? The power of the gun lobby. The power of the entertainment industry that rolls out one increasingly violent movie or TV show after another. And the power of the hopelessness that we all feel when confronted with horror like this.
Of course, we aren’t hopeless any more than we are powerless. We have the power of the gospel, the good news, that says whether we live or whether we die we belong to Christ Jesus, Lord of the living and the dead. The world will change when each one takes that sense of belonging and allows it to changes us into the peacemaker, the reconciler. We do not have to buy into the madness that says things can never change.
Today I get ready for church tomorrow. I look forward to seeing all my Zion people and getting back into my routine. It has been a refreshing and renewing time away and I must say I have accomplished quite a bit. My trail guide is well on its way, but certainly not finished. Actually it’s a long way from being finished! The introduction, “tips for plant explorers”, and the first essay on one of my selected trails is complete. I want to get the essays for three more trail sections finished this summer. At that point I will have to think about illustrations and how to pull the whole thing together into something publishable. That seems a long way off and pretty daunting, but the basic research is done. I’m cautiously optimistic!
The dogs are sleeping off the excess of having me around the house for two months. They have liked it a lot! And we will have a tough adjustment as I get back to work and they are alone all day. We’ve had a lot of fun on our walks with their friend Carson. All in all, it has been a grand time. On the first Sunday of August, after church, I will make a presentation on my research and the sorts of things I’ve been doing and learning. Signing off on the sabbatical blog…..