Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reaching for the Stars

Our suitability to explore other planets is measured first in our stewardship of the garden we call Planet Earth. And our stewardship of Planet Earth begins with our stewardship of the square foot garden in our own backyard. If we cannot manage to discern between weeds and food or flowers, and if we lack the initiative to tend the soil we see every day, we are not suitable candidates for the exploration of the pristine worlds of outer space. If we have not learned how to think about and appreciate the life within arm's reach, we have no business reaching for the stars.

The world is vast and wonderful. But it is as wonderful in its magnitude as in its minutiae. We cannot compare one wonder to the other and judge the small as insignificant and the grand as great for they are all interwoven with the same core fiber of life. If the small suffers, so does the great. If the great suffers, it is because the small is under siege. In fact, it is our faithfulness over little, seemingly insignificant things that first indicates our suitability for grander responsibilities. If we cannot be faithful over little, how much less faithful are we likely to be over much?

Reaching for the stars ought to invoke a reverence as precious as that we experience when reaching out to hold our newborn infant for the first time. There should be nothing cavalier about our efforts. There is no room for trial and error when it comes to holding new life in our hands. We must value that life at least as much as we value our own. If we cannot do this, we have no business holding the baby.

If others were to judge our treatment of Planet Earth as the measure by which we were considered suitable stewards of other worlds, we would fail miserably. Our planetary report card would be all Fs. Economics -- F -- our world lives on credit borrowed from the next generation. Ecology -- F -- for the sake of industrial pride and profit we have shamelessly exploited and almost irreparably destroyed the balance of life. Sociology -- F -- nation rises against nation, kingdom against kingdom, a man's enemies are the members of his own household and yet we presume to be experts in human relations. Incredible!

Unfortunately, the most incredible thing about mankind as a race is our shared audacity -- an audacity as impudent as it is reckless. No, there are no As on our report card to commend us as suitable candidates for the exploration of other worlds. Our reckless treatment of our launching pad is predictive. If the cornerstone is so carelessly shaped and placed how unleveled and hopelessly out of square is the foundation likely to be. And if the foundation is neither level nor square, why do we continue to naively believe that our efforts will meet with success. If the concept is faulty the completion will be flawed!

So should we reach for the stars? By all means! But only if the original inspiring concept is true. Our motive ought not be to escape from the decaying world we've nearly destroyed. A nobler, more redemptive aim ought to be to glorify the Creator of heaven and earth. Here is the watershed divide. If there is no Creator the exploitation of life takes precedence over its preservation. If there is no Creator, life is merely a function of biology without value or purpose. But if there IS a Creator, then all of life is a mystery left for us to explore that we might discover the majesty of our God.

War, industry, technology -- if these are not sanctified they will be vilified by the base nature of men. If they do not bring equity and justice, they will only bring inequity and injustice. At its worst, reaching for the stars exalts men to god-like status without the accompanying godly character. At its best, reaching for the stars proves the capacity of man to reflect the nature and glory of God. If this is not the sacred trust with which we begin, our efforts will be forever doomed to revealing the limitations of mankind one awful layer at a time.

Michael Hennen

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

What's New? Chickens!

It was my mistake. I was perusing a hatchery web site and decided to place an order for 15 Rhode Island Reds. I clicked on this and that and when the final page came up, I realized that I had not seen a hatch date on any of the pages. The last web page said I would be notified by email of the hatch date. I placed the order, but had this nagging feeling that I should find out when these chicks were coming my way. After all, it was January, and I didn't want to deal with baby chicks until the end of February.

I had been keeping abreast of the blog news, and was well aware of the predictions of food shortages and rising food prices for 2011. I was thinking that it takes chickens a few months to mature before they lay eggs, so I thought that summer would be a good time to start having our own eggs. This thought that I'd better check on that hatch date kept coming to me, so I called the hatchery. This was on a Wednesday. I was told my chicks had hatched that morning and would be at my local post office the very next day, January 17th.

Scramble!!!! A quick trip to the farm supply store for a big washtub to keep them in, a waterer and a chick feeder plus some chick feed. We were all set. You are beginning to think, I am sure, do they have a chicken coop? The answer is no.

We drove to the post office the next morning in a strong snow storm, picked up a bolt in our tire on the way up and down the icy snowy hills from our house. The chicks were there all right, peeping away in their little box. Fortunately, we live in a farming town, so no one thought we were too strange sitting in the waiting room at the tire fixing place with a box of peepers on my lap.

We all arrived home safe and sound and got the chicks settled in their washtub. Then I realized what a predicament I had put my husband in. It was near the end of January and it was cold and windy. There was snow and ice everywhere, not a clear patch of ground to be found. We don't have a barn yet, just this little cabin. Michael looked at me and said, "Where and how am I supposed to build a chicken house?" Gulp.

The blizzard of 2011 on February 1st and 2nd along with several other snowy and windy events, slowed down his progress. Days and days out in the freezing cold till his hands were perpetually numb, and I was beginning to get the picture that I am far too impetuous. Yes, we needed chickens. No, we did not need to get them in the middle of winter. Believe me, I have apologized to him and to God many times.

All that to say, the chicken house is finished today. It is a balmy 64 degrees, the January thaw having come in February. It is none too soon, since the chickens are completely filling up the washtub by now. We are all looking forward to their new quarters, and some peace and quiet at night. Except for the coyotes howling at the gibbous moon.