The Lilies of the Field

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.

They don’t toil, neither do they spin. Mt 6:28

In the foggy early morning hours, I am looking out at one of the last hydrangea flowers of the season. Abundant June rains enabled these plants to explode in size and profuse flowers. The floral show this year was the best ever. Now, when most of the flowers have withered and turned to seed pods, I see one or two late bloomers pop out of the green hedge. I feel an affection for late bloomers of all kinds. A sage once remarked that “youth is wasted on the young.”

Lithographer William Blake didn’t start writing poetry until age 42. At 74, writer Norman Maclean published his first and only best-selling novel, “A River Runs Through It.” Many modern mathematicians began publishing and even writing their PhD dissertations in their 50s and 60s. It gives me hope to continue work along several paths.

Project #0: Grace Episcopal Church (programmers number their lists starting with 0) – A daily work of prayer, conversation, worship, planning, pastoral care and longer-term considerations. This congregation has undergone several important and necessary shifts in identity, missional understanding, role in community and liturgy. Given the business realities coming at us like a freight train, the survival needs of this church (and many others like us) will require changes to the system outside of the individual congregation. This leads directly to the next project –

Project #1: Analysis of our church structure and governance. While I love the Episcopal Church and what we stand for, the way in which we are structured and run our business operations is positively mediaeval. If the only means of communication we had was hand-written letters delivered on horseback, the current structure of the church would be fine. But that is no longer the case. For the church to survive, we need to restructure for the modern world. In doing so, operating costs for individual parishes could be reduced 30-40% while the average churchgoer would begin to understand that mission is what the church is all about. This will have important implications for the future of Grace Muskogee and many churches.

Project #2: I have several books in various stages of writing. Some are science fiction. One is historical fiction. One sci-fi book is based on the idea that bacteria in the oceans mutate so they can begin to metabolize plastic. How this plays out globally becomes a sci-fi thriller and perhaps, a cautionary tale. Aside from the occasional brainstorming session, these projects live on the back burner.

Project #3: Learning modern Greek. I was using my computer tablet and an app until the battery on the machine died and reset everything to factory settings (including several books I was reading ). I am fascinated how ancient Greek terms were co-opted into exclusive church usage and now they have morphed again into common, everyday meanings.

Project #4: Physics. This idea emerged slowly over many years. It involves re-casting classical physics using quantized space and time. Instead of the continuous functions of Isaac Newton’s differential equations and calculus, you have discrete math and very important error functions. I thought this might provide insight into Quantum Mechanics, but a friend and colleague helped me understand that it quickly plunges into Einstein’s Special Relativity and gravitation. I started looking at some math textbooks on topology and realized this is a huge undertaking. This will have to simmer on the stove a few more years. I would welcome a tutor on topology in the meantime

Hydrangea flowers emerge and give us their beautiful flowery display for one day only. The next day, more flowers appear and bloom briefly. The hopeful part is that each flower blooms and then produces many seeds for the next generation.

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