On the River Flows

Jeanie's photo
She had captured the river, leaning over an edge to see the liquid thread of life that created, and keeps creating, the grandest of canyons.

The Grand Canyon is . . . grand.

And then rattle off more glowingly descriptive and never adequate adjectives.

While heading for Colorado and a family gathering, we stayed in Flagstaff, Arizona for several days and couldn’t resist an opportunity to visit the nearby park. My wife Jeanie had never seen the breathtaking “hole in the ground.” I had visited the Grand Canyon twice, once as a kid, and once in my mid-twenties while in seminary.

Flagstaff, a boisterous burg in Arizona’s northern half, is an easy drive to the park’s entrance. Though limited by time, my cranky knees, and a dog in the backseat (pets aren’t allowed on the canyon’s below-the-rim trails), we at least wanted to buy an overpriced T-shirt and to make sure Jeanie witnessed one of the natural wonders of the world.

And yet she wanted more.

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S is for . . .


My recollection from long-ago seminary days is that synoptic is a Greek word meaning “one eye.” One view. It’s a fancy word, concocted by scholars, to emphasize the difference between Matthew, Mark and Luke sharing the (almost, sort of, generally) same story (thus with “one eye”) versus the very different (cross-eyed?!) John. One example I always remember is John’s Gospel placed Jesus in Jerusalem for three Passover celebrations. Matthew, Mark and Luke recall only one dangerous visit.

I could share other examples, reasons or meanings. But right now I’m just intrigued by the fancy word itself. I feel like such the Biblical expert when I say . . . synoptic. I’m the insider! And then the moment I muse about the word’s distinctive meaning, I realize I’ve become the outsider. Faith that matters most to me, within others and myself, is never about special or secret language, but about seeking and sharing understanding.

None of us see from “one eye.” But we all see (even the blind) and can learn from each other.