The first snow here in Potsdam, NY happened two weeks ago. It was a mere dusting. The first real snow (predicted to be 3 inches in all) came this morning just before dawn, along with 20mph winds gusting to 40. Because the wind here is relentless year round.
In all, for this part of the world, it’s still not a lot of snow. But the streetscape outside my window is gray and desolate. It will remain that way, likely, until sometime in May.
Adirondack is a name derived from Mohawk word meaning “tree eaters”. It was a word Mohawks used to describe the neighboring Algonquian tribes that lived in this region. The story is they had to eat the bark off the trees because the winters here are that desolate.
Some people insist on calling this “God’s country”. And maybe it is. I’ve often thought maybe we should let God have it back and go somewhere warmer.
In past years we’ve taken the week of Thanksgiving off to do just that. We’ve gone to Puerto Rico. But this year Puerto Rico is also a place of desolation. It seems there is no escape. It’s been a year of desolation in America. Desolation of our politics. Desolation of the environment. Desolation of the soul.
The traditional translation of the beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, make no sense. To be desolate is not to be blessed. Desolation sucks. But then again, the traditional translation is completely wrong. The correct translation is, “Rise up! You who are poor in spirit.” It’s in the sense of Motley Crue’s “We’re not gonna take it anymore.” Jesus was preaching to a motley crew of desolated people. He told them not to take it any more. Is it any wonder the authorities murdered him? And is it any wonder powerful people mis-translated what he said, adding insult to injury: “You’re desolate, so be happy!” Bullshit.
Before Christianity was “Christianity” there was just Jesus, the renegade preacher, telling desolate people not to put up with it, to insist on being heard and seen, to persist in calling out the bastards who were grinding them down, to take their place as fully vested members of the community with a place at the table.
“Illegitimi non carborundum.” Not a bad motto for the modern church.