And now comes the time when I resume posting schoolwork

(For World Religions class we had to write a one-page piece about a moment of awe in our lives. I wailed and fretted all around the internet, but I’m not actually too ashamed of this page. So I thought I may as well put it up here.)

In Awe

Last Thursday, I rode three planes as part of my quest to make it home to rural Newfoundland for my brother’s wedding. The third and final flight was a tiny propellor plane, the type which has rows one seat wide and which holds a maximum of 18 people. It took off out of St. John’s in the dark, after nine. I had made my connection with six minutes to spare, after fog delayed the flight out of Halifax. We had been flying in fog most of the day.

When leaving St. John’s, airplanes take a course over downtown and out to sea, turning to head down the flight path to their destination once they’ve come abreast of Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. As the plane started to turn in the air, I realized that I’d see my family again in just half an hour. I could probably count the minutes to reunion.

And then the flight tipped to the left, in that curious gravity-confusing effect of sharply banking aircraft. The horizon twisted away, and I was either looking at the ground or the sky, but for a moment it was hard to tell the difference. The view outside my window had turned to a jewellery-counter spill, gold, silver, emerald and ruby on black velvet. I recognized familiar city landmarks as the lights outside my window resolved into a net of gold underneath us.

I don’t see well enough to see the stars. Most evenings can provide christmas-card smears of brightness. But this moment was clear and wondrous, and in that moment these familiar man-made constellations held all the wonder of the cosmos.

David and Jonathan

[Warning: The Following Contains Christianity. Interesting stuff though, I think. I hope.]

So over the last week our school had a week-of-prayer, with a little prayer room set up. There were art supplies and a lot of paper, (and some Bibles), and some prayer books. The idea was that you would spend an hour at a time reading, or writing, or painting, and just talking to God. A bit more mediative than the desperate OH-GOD-SAVE-ME prayer I’m used to, and I found the difference really intersting. So I painted a bunch, and wrote little notes to tell people that they were awesome, and I read a bunch of a Celtic Prayer book.

If anyone wants to get me this for Christmas, I would love you forever.

It had daily readings and devotionals that were more useful or less useful as the case may be, but I was extremely caught by the reading for November 10th. In it, they were talking about David and Jonathan, and what it meant that they’d sworn a blood oath, a covenant, regarding each other. They were more than just good friends, they had become the local equivalent of blood brothers. The oath, (as reconstructed through SCIENCE (or maybe tradition)), is this;
This bread is my body, all my strength is yours, and this wine my blood which I will shed willingly on your behalf. Your enemies become my enemies, too. All I have is yours by right.

So you know. Legit. And why would Saul have then gone crazy and done his best to kill David when he heard they’d done this? Because they’d both become each other’s heirs. If for any reason Jonathan died (perhaps in battle, he was a crazy military leader after all), the crown would go to David. And because Saul was all about personal power MY FAMILY MINE I AM THE GREATEST THE CROWN WILL EVER BE MINE BECAUSE I AM SO AWESOME LOOK AT ME GO, he found the idea that the crown would go to someone else to be a trifle offensive.

Anyways, we know how that ended. Jonathan died in battle, and David was crowned king by the whole nation, who said “We can follow the son of the crazy guy or we can follow the military strategist who the prophet tells us to follow. Looks like the Prophet is SPEAKING TRUTH.”

But when I heard saw that passage for the first time, those phrases sounded familiar. If you’ve been in a church setting a lot, you’ve probably heard communion taken. And then if you look at Matthew 26, it goes;

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
— Matt 26:26-29

So this is like– SIMILAR. And I know it’s not an exact match, but it makes sudden SENSE to me that when Jesus was saying those things, he’d be referencing some cultural context everybody knew. “Look, we’re blood brothers, my job is on you and I can totally die in your place. Which I’m gonna do. CAUSE WE”RE BLOOD BROTHERS now drink up.”

I am so heretical.

Bros

But like– *points from passage to passage* doesn’t it look like it matches a bit? Cultural references? Because I was always baffled as to why Jesus would say something like that. Why are you talking about blood and bread like that?

It’s because Jesus is talking to his BEST FRIENDS. And he’s saying that they’re family now, and when he says for everyone else to keep sharing the bread and the wine, they’re becoming blood brothers with Jesus too. (And each other? Yes? Yes?)

And I suppose that also means we have Jesus’s imperative to help the poor and be friends with the people who society treats as worthless or “sinners” and stand up to the establishment and tell them to stick their heads in buckets of water and boil them, etc.

Historical context makes thinks make sense, I am SO MUCH A FAN.

And so there’s that.

UNIVERSITY HAS NOT KILLED ME YET DESPITE TRYING HARD.

NEXT WEEK WE ENTER LEVEL TWO, IF I GET PAST THIS BOSS FIGHT THIS WEEKEND.

Ahem.

No really, things are going pretty well for me! I am basically flirting with Death financially, but I have at least until the end of the month until I start paying my line of credit with my Visa and thereby escalating to making out with Death. Hopefully before that time I can get a job. In hopes for AVOIDING keeping Death as my boyfriend, tomorrow I’m going to go harass the local burger shop and coffee shop and two grocery stores I applied at last week.

Now on the flip side of the coin, classes are a mixture of extreme fear and extreme interest. Ancient History seems like it’s going to be lovely. It’s focusing on the Old Testament (to no one’s surprise) but I feel like I’ve heard those stories enough times that I actually know them fairly well. And then I can focus on the awesome surrounding history, including orgy-tastic (direct quote from teacher) fertility rites, and the rise and fall of other empires, and how different empires subdued their conquered areas– etc. I am looking forward to that class. 😀

French is challenging, again to no one’s surprise, but the teacher is making a strong effort to make it both fun and comprehensible for those of us who have no language history. (Hallelujah!) Plus, any subject where I can watch a comedy and feel legitimately that it was homework-related because it was in French (I read the subtitles) is a win! I am quite determined not to do what I did with Latin and fall so far behind I am unable to catch up. Actually I should be listening to my vocab now… psh I’ll finish writing this first.

Let’s see– International Studies shows great potential to be awesome. It’s a discussion-based class, and there are some strong opinions on either sides of several debates. We started out today with a discussion on whether socialism is a realistic response to an anarchistic situation, which I think was heard two streets up. And a major part of my mark will be building a website/blogging, which is clearly another win.

I haven’t had the philosophy class yet, as it’s in an intensive format, but I’ve done the reading. And the reading is scary. Many words I don’t know. “Logical Positivism,” for example. ‘Nuff said.

And then we come to English. English is weird. Weird for my brain to process. Taking someone else’s words and taking them over, running away with someone’s images and using them ENTIRELY the way you want to, with almost no attention paid to what the author wanted, just your reading that is important– that’s bizarre to me. I’m committing the fallacy of intention left right and centre. 😀 But aside from the AUGH I”M DOING IT WRONG panic attack, I get to read lovely poems. I never liked poetry before, but I’m starting to learn how it works, and I’m making friends with it. 😀 (Yes, you will see more poetry here in the future.)

So that’s the download of my life. Have a good life OH WAIT ONE MORE THING!

Several of the classes require journaling, blogging or otherwise regularly responding to material. So, in an attempt to make it comprehensible, I will probably cross-post it here. Be prepared for verbose blogging!

Hopefully.