Showing items filed under “The Rev. Canon Dr. Victor Lee Austin”

Snow

It was supposed to rain all day, sometimes heavily with wind, but outside the window were snowflakes gently floating, some of them taking sideways turns, others moving up a bit before continuing down, light and gravity-defying like ballerinas. I was on the seventh floor. I was warm. I appreciated the show.

But it did rain a lot, and heavily, so that one premeditated every movement carefully. I had an appointment a mere half-mile away, a distance that on any other day would be easily walked. But instead I took a quick duck into the subway, waited for a train, went one stop, walked quite a bit underground, waited for another train, went one stop on it, then came up and had two blocks to walk. I had taken twice the usual time and paid for a fare . . . and was grateful not to be wetter than I was.

It was, I told them that night, a lovely gift for this erstwhile New Yorker now exiled to Dallas. I got to see snow. I got to feel wind and rain. But to indicate that I was not, as some of them were persuaded I must be, a downhearted exile, I wished them a happy Texas Independence Day.
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As a boy, I longed for snow, for scenery like one saw on Christmas cards, for sleigh-bells and snowmen and shovels. Once at seminary about two feet of snow fell on New York City. For half a day there were no vehicles on the streets, just beautiful white stuff and people walking through it. But it’s followed by a week of dirty slush: the beauty hardly lasts.

Then I got ordained and in due course had a parish. Snowfalls became expensive events: we’d have to pay for the driveway and parking lot to be plowed. They also tested the roofs and gutters. Snow was a strain on the buildings and budget; it was no longer fun.

But now I live in Dallas. I can visit places where snow falls. Like a grandparent getting the joy of having children without the everyday responsibility, I drop in and soak up the beauty. Snow is fun again.
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In the resurrection, Aquinas speculated, we will all be about 30 years old, about the age Jesus was at his death and resurrection. It is an encouraging thought. The burdens that come with the years will be lifted, and all things will be made new. Life, one might say, will be fun again. Or perhaps one should say, life will be fun as if for the first time.
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Out & About. On Wednesday, March 14, at 7 p.m., I will give a talk on Jesus as the friend on the cross. This will be at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 5100 Ross Ave., Dallas. You can come early at 6:30 for a light supper (no reservations; no charge), or at 6 p.m. for Stations of the Cross.

Rain

Once a sister-in-law visited us in New York City for a week. It rained the day she arrived and rained every day she was with us. As her plane lifted off from LaGuardia, the clouds broke. I was reading an old-fashioned paper in those days, the New York Sun, which gave meterological data on page two. So I could read: we had 16 inches of rain that week. The City’s average rainfall is 48 inches. One-third of our annual rain fell in that week.
    I love all my sisters-in-law, and begged her not to take the rain personally.
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    Here in Dallas it rained every day for six days. There was sun on Sunday, and sun on the next Sunday, but in between lots of wet. We had some local flooding, some leaks in our churches, and so forth. I was at a play on Tuesday night. At 7:30, when the show was to start, a voice spoke to us. She said that due to a technical difficulty, that evening’s performance had been canceled. We first thought it was a joke—maybe a twist in the plot. (The play was Frankenstein, after all; maybe Dr. Frankenstein had run into a technical difficulty.) But then the lights came up, and it was real.
    Water had seeped in somewhere.
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    Almost the first thing God made was the “firmament.” It is the sky, understood as a translucent stretched-out membrane that separates the waters above it from the waters below it. The firmament makes possible a space for air. Then God called for the dry land to appear—which means that the water below the firmament was pushed aside, or down, to make dry land possible.
    The world, in Genesis chapter 1, is a little island of order in the midst of watery chaos. There are waters below, and there are waters above. The world’s whole situation is precarious.
    When, some time later, God decided to start over, it happened by the earth being flooded. But it wasn’t just the waters above that came down on the earth. The waters below also swelled up.
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    We don’t normally think about weather in theological terms. But it can, and perhaps should, remind us of how delicate creation is. We are surrounded on all sides by chaos. Our existence itself is so delicate, so precarious, so transiently beautiful.
    I’m glad it stopped raining. But I’m also glad for the reminder.
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    Out & About. From Thursday, March 1, through Sunday, March 4, I am giving the Muhlenberg Lenten Reflections at Calvary-St. George’s in New York City. The talks are at different times, in different locations; details here: https://www.calvarystgeorges.org/muhlenberg.
    Wednesday, March 7, I will speak on “The Friend at the Last Supper” at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 5100 Ross Ave., Dallas. The talk is at 7 p.m. You can come at 6:30 for a light supper (no registration required), or even at 6 p.m. for Stations of the Cross.

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The Rev. Canon Dr. Victor Lee Austin is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Losing Susan: Brain Disease, the Priest's Wife, and the God who Gives and Takes Away."