TERROIR

“Terroir has become a buzz word in English language wine literature. This lighthearted use disregards reverence for the land which is a critical, invisible element of the term. The true concept is not easily grasped but include the physical elements of the vineyard habitat – the vine, subsoil, siting, drainage, and microclimate. Beyond the measurable ecosystem, there is an additional dimension – the spiritual aspect that recognizes the joys, the heartbreaks, the pride, the sweat, and the frustrations of its history.”

James Wilson, Terroir: The Role of Geology, Climate, and Culture in the Making of French Wines

 

 

 

THE DOMINANT STORY IS DIVORCE

“The dominant story of our age, undoubtedly, is that of adultery and divorce. This is true both literally and figuratively: The dominant tendency of our age is the breaking of faith and the making of divisions among things that were once joined.

This story obviously must be told by somebody. Perhaps, in one form or another, it must be told (because it must be experienced) by everybody.

But how has it been told, and how ought it be told?

This is a critical question, but not a question merely for art criticism. The story can be told in a way that clarifies, that makes imaginable and compassionable, the suffering and the costs; or it can be told in a way that seems to grant and easy permission and absolution to adultery and divorce.

Can literature, for example, be written according to standards that are not merely literary?

Obviously it can. And it had better be.”

Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle

A BEGINNING OF A NEW DAY

This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it or use it for good.

What I do today is important,
because I’m exchanging a day of my life for it.

When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever,
leaving something I have traded for it.

I want it to be gain, not loss;
good, not evil;
success, not failure;
in order that I shall not regret
the price I paid for it.

Heartsill Wilson
Paul “Bear” Bryant famously carried this prayer in his wallet.

PATIENT TRUST

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

YOU GO DOWN

I was standing in the galley of a plane with a rabbi at 2AM when I learned what my name meant.

Rabbi Ben had joined me in the rear galley of the plane. I was stretching my six-foot frame from sitting in the 24-inch cell we call “Coach”. We were halfway across the Atlantic Ocean and hours away from Tel Aviv.

“You’re such a downer”, he said it and then let out a deep chuckle, the kind you’d expect from a rabbi telling a joke. He could tell immediately I had missed the joke completely. “You don’t know what your names means. Do you?”

At this point I’m thinking a few things. One, I’m not certain I want to learn what my names means at 2AM in the galley of a plane from a rabbi and two, I desperately want to know what my name means.

My parents had told me the story of how my name came to me. It was a collision of my father watching country westerns and reading the genealogies in Genesis. It all makes perfect sense if you’re the son of a Baptist preacher born in Oklahoma.

Jarrod Barkley (spelled J-A-R-R-O-D) was the eldest son of the family in the western show The Big Valley. He was educated and refined and handled all of the family's business affairs. Jarrod preferred the law to settle disputes, but was known to resort to frontier justice when necessary.

Jared, (spelled J-A-R-E-D) was the great-great-grandson of Seth, the son of Adam. Like Adam and Eve son of Adam. Bible Jared has a son whose name is Enoch. And, Enoch is the one who walked with God. So, my parents are thinking he has to be a good dad. And it’s really not important, but incase you get stumped in Bible trivia I’ll mention that Jared’s grandson is Methuselah. Who’s that? He is the longest-living human mentioned in the Bible with an age of 969 years.

Of course my parents chose Jared, J-A-R-E-D, the biblically accurate one.

My parents gave me a little plaque when I was in grade school. It has my name written in that Old English handwriting and under my name it has the meaning “God’s Descendent.” That’s what I’m holding on to in the galley.

Honestly, the only liability I saw with my name as a kid is I could never find it on the little license plates in the stores in Estes Park when my family was on summer vacation. I had only met one other Jared, we were in college together, but he spelled his name wrong, he was R-O-D, the western, not the biblical, chosen one like me.

Rabbi Ben looks at me and begins. “Your name, Yared, is like the river, the Yardan.” It’s 2AM but I’m keeping up. Yared = Hebrew of Jared, Yardan = Hebrew of Jordan. The Jordan the river that goes down from the Galilee to the Dead Sea. He sees I’m tracking. He continues, “Yared is the man who goes down, the man who falls down. Yared, you are a downer.” He let’s out another deep chuckle. “Such a downer.”

I’m thinking I’m in the galley of an international flight, above an ocean, hours away from a cigarette, and there’s a whole tray full of mini Jack Daniel’s right here.

An uninvited tear enters the corner of my eye. I think Rabbi Ben notices it. He is softer, for a rabbi, and he continues. “The picture of who you are is in three men.” I’m thinking I should have my journal to write this down. Ends up I could not forget all this even if I tried.

“Joseph, he is the man who goes down into the well, goes down into Egypt, goes down into prison.” I nod slowly. I know the story.

“Jonah, he is the man who is thrown down into the water and then is swallowed by the fish.” I know this story too. I never thought as a kid that Jonah would end up causing me so much heartache as an adult.

“Jesus, he is the man who they lay down in the grave.” This shit just got real. Who does this? Who uncorks this kind of meaning on someone in a plane galley at 2AM?

“That’s who you are. You are Yared. You go down.”

Well, fish, grave. You have to give it to God, He is great with word pictures.

I spent the next decade being the man who falls down.
The man who falls down is the man whose churches attendance dissolves.
The man who falls down is the man whose marriage ends in divorce.
The man who falls down is the man who slowly comes to trust that identity is not found not in the ascent, but in the descent.  

“That’s who you are. You are Yared. You go down.”

I return to my 24-inch Coach cell. I stare out the plane window. It’s still hours before the plane will descend.

That flight was over ten years ago. But Rabbi Ben’s words leave a lasting wound.

Years later I’m remembering the plane, the galley, and the conversation. It is early. The predawn light is coming in the window. I am sitting on the couch with a candle, coffee, and quiet.

And then, as unexpectedly as finding out what my name meant on the plane the meaning of my name is redeemed.

“You are the man who falls down.” I breathe. I listen.

It starts with a trickle, then begins to flow into a stream, now a river. Just like the River Yardan. “You are the man who falls down.” The “you” has moves and I see.

Jesus, You are the man who falls down carrying the cross. But bigger and before and beyond that act You are the God-man who comes down. The incarnation, God becoming man, is the ultimate picture of Yared, “the man who goes down”. The greatest of descents was from beyond the cosmos to created dirt.

I breathe. I remember. Redemption comes at a price. Something has to be given up.

What have I given up?
I’ve given up being the man who wants to always be moving up.
I’ve given up being the man who never falls down.
I’ve given up believing there is any other way to know who you truly are than to go descend.

I never would have thought my B-list Bible celebrity name could mean so much.

Yared. I am one who goes down.

I sometimes imagine being back in the galley of a plane with Rabbi Ben. I’d thank him for his untimely joke and his deep chuckle about being me being such a downer. I imagine pulling out two minis from the tray and saying, “How about a toast? To the ones who go down!”

Jared Ray Mackey

NO LONGER A FRIEND OF NARNIA

“My sister Susan is no longer a friend of Narnia.”  

“Whenever you’ve tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia she says, ‘What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.’”

”She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up.”  

“Grown-up indeed. I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.” 

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle