Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Blogging Toward Sunday

Walking on Water for real -- "The pool now has two WaterWalkers, special bubbles which allow people to walk on water, with your clothes on, and offer a new way to exercise in the town this summer."

In today's story, Jesus really is seen walking on the water and not in a big plastic bubble.

Imagine it -- springtime in Israel. The winter rains had come and the hills were greening up with vegetation. Around here that might mean stormy weather. It was also the time of the Passover. That meant usually meant Spring Break in Israel -- a nice vacation packing up the family donkey and heading to Jerusalem to chill with the relatives.

It was also a sad time for a lot of people -- John the Baptizer has just been killed by Herod. This was the death of a great leader of the people -- one who called for reform and repentance. He was Jesus' friend, relative and co-worker for the kingdom. Not only were John's disciples mourning, so was Jesus.

Jesus went off on his own for prayer and meditation again -- he went to the Mount he used probably for the sermon on the Mount -- the Mountain of Beatitudes. He had just fed 5000 (or 20,000) people with 5 loaves and 2 fish -- he wants more time alone. He sent the crowds home and he sent the disciples out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Now this is a very small sea -- more like a large lake -- only eight miles wide and thirteen miles long.

While Jesus was praying on the Mount, a storm blew up on the sea. Since this is a shallow freshwater lake, it really didn't take much for there to be huge waves in this little sea. Archaeologists and whatnot have shown that storms can blow up suddenly and violently. (See also all the interesting stuff about the Jesus Boat. The Jesus Boat is plenty big for 15 people and 5 crew, so 12 people sleeping the the boat is quite within the realm of belief.)*

About three o’clock in the middle of the night, the storm woke the sleeping disciples and they were literally scared to death. Suddenly they see Jesus. Now some translators think that the phrase "walking on the water" (peripateo epi thalassa) could be translated as "walking by the sea" (which would be peripateo para thalassa as is used earlier in Matthew), but John 21:1 is also epi thalassa and always translated BY the sea.**

The scriptures say that the disciples were frightened and cried out that he was a phantasma -- and apparition, a spirit. I'm not understanding this reaction. I try to imagine it. All I can imagine is that they are out of their minds with fear. They didn't say, "Hey, look! There's Jesus!" But they were disquieted, troubled, anxious -- Afraid.

What ARE people afraid of? (from various sources)
  • Snakes, Spiders, Rats, Bats, Alligators (OK, that's me.)
  • Heights, Darkness, Night
  • Storms
  • Water
  • Public Speaking
  • Confinement
  • Public Transportation
  • Tunnels, Bridges
  • Crowds, Being Alone
  • The Future
  • Death
  • Nuclear War
In this narrative the disciples are 1) alone 2) crowded on a small boat 3) in a storm 4) on the water 5) at night 6) alone without Jesus &) threatened by death -- lots of the common fears.

Results of fear:
Fight or Flight
  • heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible
  • veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the "chill" sometimes associated with fear -- less blood in the skin to keep it warm)
  • blood-glucose level increases
  • muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps -- when tiny muscles attached to each hair on surface of skin tense up, the hairs are forced upright, pulling skin with them)
  • smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs
  • nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions
  • trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)
All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life (thus the term "fight or flight"). Fear -- and the fight-or-flight response in particular -- is an instinct that every animal possesses. (From How Stuff Works)

The kids increase in fighting this week is a part of their fear of going back to school -- fear of the future, fear of new situations (the unknown), fear of the crowd maybe, fear of unknown expectations and in general anxiety.

ehow suggest that we:
1) DON'T WORRY. Everyone is just as nervous as you are. Actually, what your mind creates and what you actually experience are two different things. Normally, reality is better that your thoughts.
2) BE PREPARED. Make sure you have what you need at least a week before school starts. If you like to make lists, do that. If you like to wing it, do that. Just make sure you're ready and expect to make changes after the first day.
3) FOCUS ON THE GOOD STUFF! Attitude is everything. There will be times when you fail. There will be times when you feel embarrassed. Successful people don't dwell on the negative but keep the positive clear in their minds!

From a Google Search of "Do Not Be Afraid"
  • Do not be afraid of dirt or grime; most things clean up nicely.
  • Do not be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.
  • Do not be afraid of debt, but use it wisely, monitoring rates of interest, which could increase substantially over time.
  • Do not be afraid of selling at a loss. Instead of waiting for the stock to recoup its losses, try switching to another stock with greater promise.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions and advocate for yourself. We’re here to serve you.
  • Do not be afraid to purchase insurance leads because you think that they will be difficult to decipher.
  • Do not be afraid to survey clients and ask them about their satisfaction level.
  • Do not be afraid to ask the seller questions about the item for sale.
  • Do not be afraid to come down to help us to fight this intimidation.

“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that's bull. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you're letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.” -- Jim Morrison

Faith flows like water and heals -- "It's as if the water of the grotto buoys people up, supports them, makes them weightless. When Jesus called himself the Living Water, maybe he meant more than merely quenching thirst. Maybe he also meant he will sustain people, carry them, take those who wade into him with a faithful heart and make them feel light, supported, weightless."

*The Sea of Galilee Boat or The Jesus Boat was an ancient fishing boat from the 1st century AD/CE (the time of Jesus), which was discovered in 1986 on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The remains of the boat, which are 27 feet (8.27 meters) long and 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) wide and with a maximum preserved height of 4.3 feet (1.3 meters), first appeared during a drought, when the waters of the Sea (actually a great fresh-water lake) receded. (Wikipedia)

**This can cause plenty of quibbles. There are people who get stuck in rationalizations of HOW the miracles occur -- who see this as "magic" or who get so tied up in the HOW they don't ever get to the WHY and more importantly the WHO.

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