Ever so often I feel called to remind people who may be new to this blog, what the name means.
Read the book of Jonah--my favorite book of the Bible, except maybe for Luke's Gospel. I love Jonah because his journey is a lot like mine and because, of all Biblical texts, it ends un-resolved, with Jonah just sitting on a hillside pondering his life.
Like the whale that swallowed Jonah, my whale was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to divinity school. It took me away from a Ph.d. at the University of Virginia or a place in the graduate writing program in Iowa.
It also saved me from being drafted for Viet Nam. The only deferment in 1969 was to study in Seminary.
I was eventually spit up--as Jonah was spit up in Nineveh--on the Episcopal priesthood...somewhere I never wanted to be.
Jonah, in God's name, saves the people of Nineveh. But when that's over, he sits on a hillside asking God why he brought him half-way around the world to save a city God could have saved on God's own.
God causes a Castor Oil Tree to grow over Jonah to give him shade, then sends a worm the next day to kill the tree.
Jonah is outraged about God killing his tree.
But God tells him, "Jonah, you are upset about a tree you did not create, but not about all the people of Nineveh that would have died if you hadn't come to save them?"
And it ends with Jonah, still angry, pondering that.
I ponder still. I've loved my life as a priest, but I never wanted to live it.
Just like Jonah, I sit and ponder things.
That's why my pondering is called "Under the Castor Oil Tree".
Me and Jonah, pondering on....