I Don’t Know

Back in my lawyer days I often found it hard to convince witnesses that it was OK to say, “I don’t know.”

But “I don’t know” is a perfectly fine answer.  In fact, in many situations it is the only appropriate answer, because it is the only truthful answer.

We all have a tendency, I think, to resist admitting we don’t know something, especially if asked a question to which we think we should know the answer. Of course it’s also true that in normal conversation we don’t expect absolute certainty.  We’re usually comfortable answering a question as long as we’re reasonably confident of our answer, even if not absolutely certain of it.

It seems to me that there are probably few things of which we can be absolutely confident.  In fact, we ought to be suspicious of any claim of absolute certainty.

So I think we’d probably do well to say “I don’t know” more often.

But I’m not certain of that.

The Ocean

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.
John F. Kennedy

Over half of the population of the U.S. lives within 50 miles of the coast, as does about 44 percent of the world’s population.

Is that because our Paleozoic amphibian ancestors crawled out of the swamp onto dry land and we have tended to stay close to shore ever since?  That explanation would probably be too simple.

Maybe it’s because humans have tended to settle along trade routes.  That would make sense.

We also know that ecosystems are most robust at “edges.”  There is a lot of life where rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, and oceans meet dry land. So maybe we tend to be near the water because that’s just a natural place for living organisms to be.

But maybe we tend to settle near shorelines just because we like being on the coast.  That seems as good a reason as any to me.

Of course not all civilizations and societies have a love for the sea. The ancient Hebrews, for example, who were hill-dwellers and they feared the sea–perhaps because their traditional enemies were sea-faring coast dwellers.  In Biblical imagery the sea is a foreboding and dangerous place.  On the “new earth” imagined in Revelation, there is no sea.  No beaches in heaven?  That might not sound heavenly to the beach-lovers among us.

It used to be a regular part of my life, but it’s been a long time now since I’ve been to the beach.  Maybe I need to change that.

Just dreaming of a warm sunny beach on a cold winter morning…

Another Snow Day

So it turns out that last week’s snow was not destined to be our only snow of the year. Yesterday we woke up to this.

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In a few days we’ll have temperatures in the high 50’s again, so this won’t be here long.

And now the question becomes, what kind of March does nature have in store for us this year?

Rethinking Your Lenten Fast

On Sunday Seedbed published a blog post by me on the subject of Lenten fasting.  Go check it out HERE  if that sounds interesting.

Here’s the conclusion:

Rather than merely taking a temporary respite from some minor personal pleasure, perhaps we should see this Lenten season as an opportunity to commence a “perpetual fast” from “inferior appetites,” such as food that we know to be destructive of our health. At a minimum, might we not be able to identify one or two things that we know to be harmful to our health, and in the spirit of the solemnity of Lent begin the process of removing them from our lives altogether?

Snow Day

It started snowing last Monday afternoon and continued through the night. On Tuesday, we woke up to this.

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For many of you this snow would be unremarkable. For us, 3-4 inches is a big deal.

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Ginny’s ancestors are from Labrador. She’s enjoying our record cold temperatures.

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Looks like the wind carried away a shutter.  It didn't notice that until posting this.

Looks like the wind carried away a shutter. It didn’t notice that until posting this.

The Fatties don't seem to mind the snow.

The Fatties don’t seem to mind the snow.

It made for a beautiful day, but these kinds of things don’t last long around here.  A few days later we had 58 degree weather and it was all gone. I don’t miss it.  Still, it was pretty while it lasted.

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Noticing Things

Sometimes we can see things so many times that we just stop noticing them, no matter how striking or beautiful they were when we first saw them.  That happens to me at least.  Back when I worked in an office visitors would comment on what a beautiful view I had.  But I’d long ago stopped noticing. The same thing happens here sometimes (but I’m trying harder to resist it here).

Or it can small things that we’ve seen so many times we no longer really notice them.

Take my closet for example.

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I’m sure your eyes were drawn immediately to a strange-looking thing, which seems weird and out of place in a man’s closet.

Here’s a closer look at it.

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My daughter made it for me in pre-school about 20 years ago.  It’s a coin bank and I’ve been emptying my pockets into it for a couple of decades.  It has an outline of her hand on it and is precious to me.

But these days I can go years without really stopping to contemplate it. Happens all the time, with all sorts of things.

Oh, and there are a couple of other unusual things in my closet too.

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I found these on the farm years ago near one of the old houses, separately, at different times and places.  It seemed a shame to throw them away, so I put them in my closet.

I thought they were interesting.  Still do.  But I’ve seen them there for so long I don’t really pay any attention to them any more.

The closet opens into our bathroom.  Recently Cherie told me that we had a plumber over once doing some work in the bathroom.  She said he kept glancing nervously over into my closet and she reckoned it was because of the head.

But I can understand that.  I’m sure it must have looked bizarre then, because that was before I got rid of the spider webs that were in the eye sockets.