Janus, the personification of thresholds, beginnings, and endings, has had many depictions over the centuries. Common to them all and distinguishing him from every other occupant in the pantheon of Roman deities were his two faces opposite each other on either side of his head. He looked both ways with his two faces, and this, the Romans thought, made him the perfect god to preside over the boundary between any two given situations: war and peace, earth and heaven, past and future. He was the doorkeeper, the boundary master.
One conspicuous difference you’ll notice among Janus’ many depictions is that in some, his two faces are identical, and his head a perfectly symmetrical mirror image; while in others, his two faces are markedly different, one side bearded while the other side is not, or one side visibly aged while the other side is youthful.
When I was a kid I lived in a neighborhood that was relatively safe to run around in and explore. There was a small creek that ran through the neighborhood, and I used to play on its small muddy banks. I’d take the route from my house that wound through my neighbors’ back yards, through dense foliage, between trees, and behind fences, until I could hear the faint babbling of the water and saw the sun only reaching the ground in a few thin shafts that squeezed through the dancing, leafy canopy above. The somewhat isolated creek had its own character and feel, and its banks and surrounding grounds became a secret garden. I was probably only a few hundred yards from my house, but it was a world away. Continue reading →
Take about 10 seconds, close your eyes, and think about the Garden of Eden.
What all did you think about? A lot of greenery, and maybe some exotic animals? A few rivers if you remember your Genesis story well? How long did you last before picturing a snake, a tree, and an apple? If you’re like me, your imagination usually telescopes past that indeterminate period of time between Creation and The Fall. Any attempts at imagining the garden are lost pretty quickly in thoughts of not having much to do and being naked. Though I’m sure the world as God created it was much better than I can imagine, until recently I had never really tried to imagine it. What was going on? God created the world and said “good,” but what was that world like, before the fall? Continue reading →
As modern American Christians, we seem to know that we ought to worship. Whether we’re new to the church or we grew up in it, we’re pretty aware that “worshipping” is part of the Christian life. We figure that’s mostly accomplished through singing and praying at church. But since we’re at church a comparatively small amount of time throughout the week, we may wonder if our worship is supposed to go beyond that. How do we worship outside of church, though? What does that entail? Continue reading →
This is the most paramount time in the liturgical calendar. The season of Lent has led us to Holy Week. Holy Week has overlapped our time with Jesus’ last week of ministry in Jerusalem, bringing us to the night he broke bread, washed feet, and was betrayed, and finally to Friday, the day he was murdered. In order to make present the day, events, and sorrow of Jesus’ execution, Trinity held a Good Friday service with somber songs and scripture readings yesterday. The focal scripture was from the book St. John wrote. His account shows us not only specific events in a place and a time, but also the fulfillment of a story that began…in the beginning. Continue reading →
The other day on my way to work, I was driving by a small railroad yard that I pass every morning. This particular morning was still cool from the chilly night before, but was being warmed by a quickly rising sun. The familiar location was blanketed by a lingering mist, lit up in a pale gold by the sun rising over the trees. Where I could have normally looked down the distant rail line slowly curving under a bridge was hidden from view by a veil of shimmering cloud. A usually drab and industrial scene was turned into a magical place. It kind of excited what’s left of a childlike imagination in me.