The Road Goes Ever On

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
~Tolkien 

Dear Reader, I launched this blog five years ago last month. When I started The Life of Things, Rachel and I had four of our five kids. I was a carpenter by day and student of theology by night.

I needed a place to share my love for the Bible and my love for reading. At the time, I didn’t say things that way. I talked about ‘The Great Books’, Western Civ., and the ‘Western Canon’. I was a carpenter who caught the learning bug, and I wanted to share things with the world.

I finished studying for a theological degree and started blogging about Christianity and Culture. I wanted to see how Christians could benefit themselves and their surrounding culture by reading their Bibles with more knowledge and the great literature of the west with more heart.

I’m thankful I’ve never lacked for good friends willing to talk with me about these things: Ole’ Abe, Adam, Joshua, Nathan J., Chris, Thomas, and Nathan F, and Matt Bulman, who has worked the angles here on this blog.

Following my ordination in 2017, I wanted to write for new reasons. I wanted The Life of Things to feature a conversation, a picture of the many sides of evangelicalism making its way through the sea of discipleship and culture. At the same time, I wanted to write more about my own life. I still plan to continue the project that I and others started at The Life of Things, but I wanted to share another project that I’ve been working on. 

A few months ago (sorry for hiatus), I began working on another blog to be able to write from my perspective as a husband, father, and pastor. Dear reader, would you mind checking out my new site, bdlocklear.com? Take a moment to subscribe, there won’t be any cross posting from this site. To give you a feel for what I aim to do on this new blog, I’ve copied the following from my ‘About’ page below:

I’m an assistant pastor at Grace Bible Church in Winston Salem, NC. I’ve been married for fourteen years and I have five children. My writing here reflects my calling as a husband, father, and pastor.

As with my marriage and parenting, my pastoral work came with a learning curve. I initially understood pastoral work to look something like the life of a monk- hidden away for the labors of reading, writing, and preaching. I wasn’t prepared for the need to become a generalist, a practitioner of the everyday. Greek grammar and old books (as important as they are) need to be coupled with small talk, prayer, and life together with the congregation.

Pastors are more like shepherds than church CEOs. This blog reflects my effort to be an observer- to ask how we’re handling ordinary life and finding ourselves being formed into the people God intends us to be. Many of us complain today that our mental lives are distracted and shapeless. I’m writing here to pause, to observe, and to pay attention to how we’re making our way through the Babylon that is our American culture.

I’m learning that the pastoral calling is often a haphazard and messy process. Eugene Peterson once shared an anecdote about William Faulkner in his memoir, The Pastor:

William Faulkner was once asked how he went about writing a book. His answer: “It’s like building a chicken coop in a high wind. You grab any board or shingle flying by or loose on the ground and nail it down fast.

Like becoming a pastor.

Hope to see you there. The peace of the Lord,

Bobby Locklear

Lewis on Growing Up

[I]f we are to use the words childish or infantile as terms of disapproval, we must make sure that they refer only to those characteristics of childhood which we become better and happier by outgrowing; not to those which every sane man would keep if he could and which some are fortunate for keeping.

On the bodily level this is sufficiently obvious. We are glad to have outgrown the muscular weakness of childhood; but we envy those who retain its energy, its well-thatched scalp, its easily won sleeps, and its power of rapid recuperation. But surely the same is true on another level? The sooner we cease to be as fickle, as boastful, as jealous, as cruel, as ignorant, and as easily frightened as most children are, the better for us and for our neighbours.

But who in his senses would not keep, if he could, that tireless curiosity, that intensity of imagination, that facility of suspending disbelief, that unspoiled appetite, that readiness to wonder, to pity, and to admire? The process of growing up is to be valued for what we gain, not for what we lose. Not to acquire a taste for the realistic is childish in the bad sense; to have lost the taste for marvels and adventures is no more a matter for congratulation than losing our teeth, our hair, our palate, and finally, our hopes. Why do we hear so much about the defects of immaturity and so little about those of senility?

C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

The Pulpit

Nor was the pulpit itself without a trace of the same sea-taste that had achieved the ladder and the picture. Its panelled front was in the likeness of a ship’s bluff bows, and the Holy Bible rested on a projecting piece of scroll work, fashioned after a ship’s fiddle-headed beak.

What could be more full of meaning?- for the pulpit is ever this earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God’s quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.

 

~ Melville, Moby Dick

A Contrast

It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet, tender joy. The mild serenity of age takes the place of the riotous blood of youth. I bless the rising sun each day, and, as before, my heart sings to meet it, but now I love even more its setting, its long slanting rays and the soft, tender, gentle memories that come with them, the dear images from the whole of my long, happy life-and over all the Divine Truth, softening, reconciling, forgiving! My life is ending, I know that well, but every day that is left me I feel how earthly life is in touch with a new infinite, unknown, but approaching life, the nearness of which sets my soul quivering with rapture, my mind glowing and my heart weeping with joy.

~ Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov, Book IV “The Russian Monk,” Chapter 1 “Father Zossima and His Visitors”

This paragraph is reminiscent of what the poet William Wordsworth would have called “sensations sweet, felt in the blood”. The blend of memory, grace, and glory rolled into the metaphor of life as a rising and setting sun captures both the poignancy and the “deep power of joy” Wordsworth wrote of in Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey… 

Seeing Into the Life of Things

Like Dostoevsky’s Father Zossima, Wordsworth wrote of the glory of nature, its power to subdue the heart, to summon memory- the sublime and blessed memories that lead us with their aching joys and dizzy raptures.

Wordsworth and Dostoevsky also give hope of an old age to come, accompanied by sober pleasures, elevated thoughts- an autumn characterized by a mature love of quietness and beauty. No longer swimming in the throes of thoughtless youth, we will celebrate “our cheerful faith: that life is full of blessings.” Serenely, we accept our setting sun, seeing the joy and peace of our souls sustaining our beloved through their portion of “solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief.”

But another influence clamors for attention. There are more ways to look at time, aging, and death. It rages and warns in a whisper. Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

A sobering contrast only the hubris of youth could ignore.