Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Water, Water, Everywhere

I'm at home today because there has been a catastrophic water leak in DeKalb County, and everything is shut down, including the church.  We've cancelled all our children's rehearsals, dinner, and other activities at church, leaving only adult bell choir and Chancel Choir rehearsing as usual tonight.  Lucky for them!  Turns out there was a 48" water main that ruptured under Buford highway. 

Image result for water main break buford hwy
Some portion of the water in that picture was headed
for the toilets at church.
They claim as of an hour ago they are slowly bringing pressure up to normal throughout the county.  I've never seen any government work that quickly.  I was sure we'd be out of school for the rest of the week!

You might say there's water, water everywhere.  And, for much of the county, not a drop to drink.  It reminded me of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."  You may have read the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge back in high school.  It looks like the kind of poem I would have read in Mr. Moran's class.  We would have asked a bunch of questions about the strange words, and somehow he would still ask questions I couldn't answer I'd get a 3/5 or so on the quiz.  I never got a C in my life except in Mr. Moran's English class.  I also never learned more than in that class.  But I digress.

In case you've forgotten... (this wound up being kinda long, so if you want to skip the summary, you can head straight to the "Day After Tomorrow" movie poster and save yourself some time you'll never be able to get back again).

You can read the whole thing here if you're so inclined.  Get out your dictionary.  Again, this will be time you will never have to do over again...

The Ancient Mariner stops a wedding guest to tell him a story.  He just launches into the story without introduction.  He doesn't care if the guest wants to get to the party.  He grabs his hand.  When the guest tells him to let go, he does...but then "He holds him with his glittering eye."

Image result for ancient mariner
His eyes are always following you.
The Mariner tells this...really long story.  Let me see if I can break this thing down for you.  His ship heads south, and it gets blown further toward the Antarctic by a storm.  There's a bird (an albatross).  He kills it, about which his crew is less than thrilled (because they thought it was a good omen and the source of their wind).  They decide maybe killing the bird wasn't such a bad thing...until they are blown north into the Pacific where the wind promptly stops.

The crew gets thirsty.  Kindof like a bunch of students at a school with no water.  They can go hours without getting a drink unless you tell them they can't get a drink...then they're dying on you.  As it turns out, the mariner's crew was actually close to dying when he saw a ship in the distance.  He was so excited he bit his arm and drank his blood so he could tell them all about it.  I think I'd have just grunted and pointed, but that's just me.

Turns out the ship that's coming is actually just Death and Life-in-Death shooting craps for their souls.  Life-in-death wins the mariner's, and all the other sailors die.

Image result for ancient mariner
But...we didn't kill the stupid bird!
Too bad, sailors.

The reproachful gaze of the dead sailors bothers the mariner, and he tries to pray about it.  But he can't.  Then he notices some water snakes, and he realizes that creation is beautiful...and maybe he shouldn't have killed the bird after all.  Only then can he say his prayer (and the albatross, which the crew had hung around his neck because that makes all the sense in the world, fell off and sank into the sea).

This is just the kind of story you want to hear at a wedding.  Perhaps he should have offered the toast?

The ship heads home, operated by the reanimated sailors (who leave as a chorus of angels when they get back home).  His boat sinks, and he is saved by the pilot and a hermit who nearly die themselves when the mariner starts talking to them.  So he rows them to shore and asks the hermit for forgiveness.  The hermit asks who he is.  So he tells this totally believable and reasonable story.

Doh!  He doesn't have the albatross for evidence (sorry, Coleridge. That's my addition to the story).

So the mariner says to the wedding guest he feels compelled to tell his story as he goes from place to place, and he knows by looking into folks' eyes if they need to hear it or not.  The moral of his story is that you need to pray, and you pray better if you love, particularly creation.

Image result for day after tomorrow
Basically it's an older, more artistic,
and less generally bad version
of that Dennis Quaid movie.
Whew.  That's a pretty long executive summary.  I hope you skipped it.

Obviously the moral is that if you don't pray, you're doomed to wind up on a ship with sailors (all of whom are ticked off at you), drinking your own blood so you can tell them how excited you are to see a boat coming that's really just there to kill them.  End of lesson.

Maybe that's not exactly it.  I know.  It's probably about creation care and how it's a generally lame idea to shoot birds with your crossbow for no reason at all (becuase if you do, you're doomed to wind up on a ship with sailors......)

Maybe that's not it either.  I was actually thinking about the story itself, and how the mariner is compelled to tell it over and over.  It's a story that has shaped his life--made him what he is.  And it means so much to him that he continually seeks people who need to hear his story, presumably to learn from it without having to experience it first-hand.  The wedding guest awakes the next morning sadder and wiser, after all!

What stories define you?  Are they worth telling?  When was the last time you shared them with someone?  Obviously I work in the church, and you may have guessed that I have a certain story in mind.  I did think of the story of it has shaped our world collectively and a number of us individually.  I also thought about family stories.  My own (parents, siblings, etc).  My new family stories with my wife and children in Atlanta.  And I thought about stories from choirs.  Rehearsals.  Retreats.  Music missions.  These stories are all woven into the fabric of who I have become.

I share my stories easily.  Perhaps too easily, some might say.  You might instead choose to keep yours to yourself.  Stories of your faith and how it has sustained you.  Or stories of your friends and how they have sustained you.  What story is so imporant to you that you are compelled to share it?  What wedding guest will you tell?

1 comment:

  1. good stuff, John. Enjoyed reading it.