Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Weather Report: 03.10.09

This morning as I sat by my computer that overlooks a frigid, snowy and windblown parking lot I am considering how just days ago it was full of puddles in the 35 degree thaw. Today temperatures are below zero and the wind gusts are up into the 30 mile per hour range. In the upper Midwest March storms can be the most brutal and surprising. Perhaps it is because we have experienced a taste of spring. Or perhaps it is because we simply expect winter to be over.

This made me think of a scene from Lord of the Rings where Gandalf fights the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dum. Gandalf appears to have defeated the Balrog who unexpectedly sends up on last fiery tendril and grasps Gandalf by the leg and pulls him into the abyss. First time viewers or readers are horrified that the grandfatherly Gandalf is pulled from their sights.

Though Gandalf does not exhibit an inappropriate triumphalism, I have always read this scene as a warning against an attitude of attained achievement. I cannot help but to wonder how this sense of triumphalism has snuck into our theology. When we boldly declare our salvation, our theologies and definitions of truth. When we consider all such things as completed we run the risk of being blindsided by one last whip of winter or tendril of the Balrog.

We do well to remember the seasons of salvation, that the Kingdom is present and still coming, that truth can be known but only in part and through faith, and that though we may be wealthy there are still poor and starving. While the Kingdom may be at hand, our work is not done.
Lent being time for self-reflection is only aided by such weather where I prefer to stay inside. Here I am challenging and consoling my sense of achievements with process and incompleteness.