reading the signs

Posted: August 14, 2007 in reflections

“When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? [from luke 12]


does the world happen to you – or do you happen to the world? is it that simple, or is there a constant fusion of action & reaction?

i wonder how it is we read and interpret whats going on around us – the ‘signs’ as such. or perhaps we should ask how is it that we receive and understand messages. emotionally, physically, cognitively, intuitively? through touch, image, smell, music, story, poetry or other senses?

if we are to be spiritual people with some level of authenticity we need to interpret and read whats going on around us. We also need to understand how it is we receive and give messages.

Its one thing to look at the cloud blowing in over Mt Keira and think ‘its gonna rain’ – its another to be perceptive enough to be life giving to yourself and those around you. when a friend of mine is confronted with hostility or negativity instead of taking it personally he often asks a question like: what might be going on in their life for them to react that way?


We are bombarded with 1000’s of messages and signs everyday? which ones are important – which ones do you chose to absorb, which ones do you block?

which ones are life giving?



  1. Luke says:

    What signs was Jesus pointing to when he said that and what did he believe they signified. This makes me think about my critical literary theory course, about the sign and the signifier,
    structuralism – poststructuralism, Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthe, damn that was hard, and damn you Dave for making me think about it!

    Apart from the red and green pedestrian crossing signs and the yellow line at the train station,
    which are both good signs to pay attention to if you don’t want to die or get horribly disfigured,
    the signs the environment is giving us that it’s not coping well with our polluting behaviour, the
    signs our current government and other major parties are giving us before the upcoming elect-
    ion signifying different visions of Australia’s future

    I wonder what the terrorist attacks in the United States, Britain, Spain and Indonesia in recent
    years tell us about our world and its future, if they can be considered signs – not that I think
    they’re signs of the end times, the apocalypse, the coming rapture, Judgement Day or the Second Coming of Christ. Some argue that they signify a need for the Western world to alter
    its relations with the Muslim world – to help better the economic, social and political environ-
    ment in these regions of the world so that people no longer feel the hatred and need to kill themselves in order to kill others who they perceive to be their enemies and oppressors. On the other hand, people argue that they represent the last violent outbursts of a dying world-
    view that is imperialistic, repressive, life denying, misogynistic and anti-intellectual, against a
    world of increased freedom, equality and tolerance.

    Is that the NRSV you’re using Dave? It says “interpret the present time” but do other versions
    say something like “signs of the times”?

    I suppose the thoughts and emotions we experience from day to day are also important signs to pay attention to and interpret, they may tell us who we are, what we believe to be good and true, what we want to do with our life, but at the moment I’m having trouble interpreting or finding the significance of these, or maybe they’re telling me I don’t know who I am, I dont know what I believe to be good and true, and I dont know what I want to do with my life.

    Thinking of poverty as a sign, when I see images of it of people sick ans starving, and I look
    at the images I see around me day to day, images of prosperity – in my home when I sit down
    to eat dinner,when I go to the supermarket or when I see people’s happy faces, and large waist lines it draws me back to the reality that we live in a world of massive inequality, not matter how hard I try to ispel this reality by thinking that everyone will be fine as long as individuals and families work hard enough. It also draws me back I think to the reality that I
    have a role in that situation good or evil, and the reality that I’m not doing anything about that situation, as far as I am able to do so.

  2. unitingspiritually says:

    thanks for your comments luke!

    I’m not exactly sure what Jesus meant, and to be honest i don’t think any of us can ever really know. I suppose that passage sparked something in my thinking about the signs we encounter everyday and how it is we explore those messages or reject them.

    I like what you’ve said about the poverty as a sign – a reality as such? – but perhaps the message we are told that ‘everyone will be fine as long as individuals & families work hard enough’ is something we need to critique further…


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