Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Vines Over Skaha Lake, Okanagan Vineyard, oil painting by Ken Gillespie

And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.
Amos 9:14-15

The prophesies of Amos warn of the capture and exile of the people of Israel and Judah, long before the Assyrians, and then the Babylonians carry out this prophesy. It is perhaps the earliest mention (766 BC) of the exile, a warning repeated and embellished by all subsequent prophets, as it begins to unfold as predicted. In the last few verses of his book Amos offers a glimmer of hope with the idea that a small number of God's people (a remnant) would return from exile, and a promise that once reestablished they shall no more be pulled up out of their land.

Amos was able to predict a future outcome, but this is not some sort of magical fortune-telling, this was inevitable outcome deduced by cold logic: if this, then that. Prophets saw the future because they assessed the present with an observer's eye. While most others lived in the moment, the prophet stepped back to view the bigger picture: the past and the gift of God's commandments; the present breaking of each of those commandments; the future inevitability of falling apart with no civilising structure to hold society together. This was a simple cause-and-effect calculation. Above all else the prophet had the gift of stillness and reflection.

We can all cultivate this gift though. It is not the exclusive domain of a chosen few, but a gift we all have in potential. It is known as the observing self.1 Although considered a human given2, i.e. a resource we are born with, it is one that we need to nurture and cultivate for it to be effective. While most don't subscribe to the idea that life is pre-determined, we'd probably agree that outcome is determined by present form. By anticipating, and altering that form we can alter the outcome, and plan a decent future for ourselves and our race.

1 The Observing Self by Arthur J. Deikman, Beacon Press 1983
2 Human Givens: The New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking by Ivan Tyrrell and Joe Griffen, HG Publishing 2003 (2nd edition 2013)