Rain. “Pani ho!”
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
(King James version, of course)
Here in Kathmandu we are undeniably in monsoon, last night I slept comfortably under the quilt to the white noise of steady rain. The neighborhood dogs did not dare to bark. None of the usual four in the morning birds.
During the day I walked, wearing my nice backpacker’s poncho but this is an anomaly and today I will buy a black bumbershoot so I can fit in with everyone else. Amusing to see families here riding on a motorcycle but still using an umbrella. They can’t pull this trick if they go very fast. Last summer I had thought of using an umbrella while backpacking on the A.T., but did not…..
Living in the Flood Zone
Today I will cross the Thapathali bridge into Kathmandu proper, if only to see how the thousands of squatters on the riverbank will fare. Rows of bamboo shacks with blue tarp roofs on the flood plain, and outhouses right on the bank. Everybody knows this community has been on borrowed time, it’s valuable real estate when there is no rain, but…. There is not a lot of sympathy for them…. Where they will go I don’t know.
One pitfall of “Christian literature” is the tendency to overquote the Bible and/or to assume when you say the ch:v everyone automatically knows what you mean. (Take John 3:16 as an example, it’s become such a slogan that I am surprised some Christian brewing company somewhere isn’t producing John 3:16 beer).
And the idea of rain falling on the just and unjust – well – that comes up here because of the simple fact that it’s raining. I love the KJV prose because of the poetry of the language. Call me old school. Matthew 5:45 in this case, is the *punch line* of a longer point, though, and to choose this as a go-to, illustrates another pitfall of using a quick scan.
(Daily prayer: let’s not take this out of context, Lord. Let’s not surf the Bible. That drives me crazy). So, go to Matthew 5:44 and see what that says.
Which would be:
(American King James Version)
“But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;”
Turning towards Fundamentalism?
Now, that’s a much more fertile field to plow. And some terrific commentary to be found along with it. An old friend just sent a private email asking whether I have become some kind of narrow-minded Fundamentalist (“people change, Joe – I am just wondering”, she wrote). My first reply was that I hang around with all kinds of people. Through my professional life I meet a wider range of humanity than most – in Honolulu I regularly provide health care to homeless mentally ill persons for example, whose meds are way out of whack – and dating back as far as my BCH days I can recall conversations with convicted murderers, criminals of all kinds, people leading various alternative lifestyles (for lack of a better word), and of course, an even larger number of people who were victims of crimes involving trauma. People of all nationalities. My job *expects* me to talk with people I would never meet otherwise. This is one of the things I love about nursing. And so it seems natural to extend the interpersonal spectrum to include Fundamentalists, sadhus, international vagabonds, Hindus and Buddhists of all stripes, and of course, that subcult of humanity we call “musicians”.
Just because of this list, doesn’t mean I have embraced any of the above lifestyle choices for myself. (Someday, ask me about the details as to how I became famous for the “cushion of love” quip at U of Hawaii).
I’m “taking it all in”. God put us all here to *enjoy* the rain!
Every one of us. The focus is not the rain, it’s on the people under the rain. Conversely, let’s not become the persecutors….
Patan has been famous for metalworking for eight hundred years, and it was here on a long walk through that district that I learned to appreciate the intricacies of repousse technique, as well as spending time with one of the better salesmen, who actually also was an artisan, taking time to help me learn the key features of a copy versus the original, when using the “lost wax” technique (as well as the proper proportion of cow manure to add to the mud). How to judge quality and price. Yesterday I went to the same area, and the same guy was there.
Cool. I don’t think he remembered me, exactly, but this time he saw me looking at the figurine of a skeletal old man holding his hand up to cup his ear, as if he was deaf. The shop owner came over to explain that it represented Milarepa Tsok, famous for enjoying music and teaching his followers how to chant properly. Patron wise man dear to the Tibetans, The Saint Gregory of Tibet. This provenance almost caused me to shell out some rupees to buy a statue this time – some of my recent acquaintances would recoil in horror that I might spend money on a “pagan idol.”
Milarepa Tsok would complement the prayer flags in my apartment in Honolulu.
I kept the wallet in my pocket, mainly because I wanted to shop around. Nice tidbit about Milarepa, I did think the quality was nice. Eye-catching of course….
Let’s interpret the Bible
Anyway, I will leave today’s blog with a gem I found on the internet, one of the concordances that goes with Matthew 5:45. Let it be today’s retort to those who are consumed with the “Onward Christian Soldiers” let’s-go-at-it-with-the-jawbone-of-an-ass macho aspect of Manly Christianity.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
5:43-48 The Jewish teachers by neighbour (nature?) understood only those who were of their own country, nation, and religion, whom they were pleased to look upon as their friends. The Lord Jesus teaches that we must do all the real kindness we can to all, especially to their souls. We must pray for them. While many will render good for good, we must render good for evil; and this will speak a nobler principle than most men act by. Others salute their brethren, and embrace those of their own party, and way, and opinion, but we must not so confine our respect. It is the duty of Christians to desire, and aim at, and press towards perfection in grace and holiness. And therein we must study to conform ourselves to the example of our heavenly Father, 1Pe 1:15,16. Surely more is to be expected from the followers of Christ than from others; surely more will be found in them than in others. Let us beg of God to enable us to prove ourselves his children.
There’s some other fine commentary on Matthew 5:43-48 to be found, as well. Look for it yourself, you will remember it longer.