Monday, January 23, 2006

Permanence and Change

photograph by Dan Heller

AN ENCOURAGING WORD for January 26, 2006 -
written by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus,
Monroeville First United Methodist Church

One of the oldest and most persistent illusions of humanity is that some day we will get all our life situations perfectly adjusted; and then we will freeze-frame them in that perfect form, and live in perpetual happiness. I have chased that ghost more miles than I care to confess. After all these years, I have never gotten all my life situations in such condition as I would be willing to freeze-frame all of life. And, those areas I thought I had adjusted keep coming unadjusted. The images of permanence and perfection do not fit very well in the real world.
We have known better for a long time. Most great literature, including the Bible, takes a rather dim view of the idea that our world (or ourselves) are perfect or permanent in this dimension of existence.

In 560 B.C. there was an Ephesian philosopher by the name of Heraclitus whose basic idea it was that everything in the world is in a constant state of flux. His most famous illustration was that it is impossible to step twice in the same river. You step in the river - you step out - and you step in again - but you do not step into the same river. The water has changed. It is a different river.

Nothing stays the way it is. If you do not like something, take courage, it will change, or you will change, or surrounding factors will change, and the situation will be altered. If you are very happy with things as they are, do not become dependent on the situation - it will change. This is why the Bible speaks of life as a pilgrimage instead of a permanent living arrangement. The only people I know who have a permanent arrangement with life are dead – and I am not so sure about that. We are wayfarers, not permanent residents of the realm. Therefore, we are cautioned not to fall in love with the things of this world. We can enjoy things for the moment, but since we are pilgrims, we cannot take them with us.

In order to survive and find meaning in an ever changing world, we must remain flexible and adjustable. Stop and smell the flowers along the way. Read the book, do the act of kindness, speak the word of love – do now whatever you intend to do, for you will not pass this way again. We are pilgrims in a changing world, and we are changing also.

(Marialena's note: Rev. Thomas L. Butts ( is a personal acquaintance of mine. I came accross his inspiring piece of work through a friend from the States and I've been reading his articles in any given chance)

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