Music Mondays

We continue to let the music of Les Mis guide us and open us to truths around/within us.  The above is sung by the character Javert.  There is a bit of a background to this character that will be help before you listen to the song above.  Javert is born in a prison.  There is a warm and fuzzy feeling for you today.  And this past pain in Javert's life forever haunts him.  For Javert life is black and white, right and wrong, either or.  There is very little gray in his life.  Whether he does this because of the past pain in his life or a deep desire to have order in a time of disorder, the truth is, we all know people like this.  We know folks to cling to a point of view and perspective.  I have empathy for those who are in this place.  Often they are a reminder that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and that if you give an inch some will take a mile.  There can be a slippery slope that if you allow something for this person, you will have to work harder to justify why…

Friday Prayer

Creative and constantly crafting God,
In the beginning, Your first act and song was to separate light and dark.
In the beginning, Your first move was to define and distinguish a rhythm to the day.
In the beginning, Your wisdom call all creation to find the daily beat of the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.

In our lives, we have sought to control light and dark.
In our lives, we want our own rhythm to be the one we dance.
In our lives, we want to define and distinguish where and when the light pours in.

Remind us again and anew, O God, of the wisdom that comes from morning and midnight.
Let us lean into and learn that You are there every hour with a truth we need.
When the lights are on we can feel at ease and also see more clearly our brokenness.
When the night settles in we can find rest and also wrestle with all that is unresolved.
Day and night offer moments we need.
Day and night are both gifts.

So be with us in these moments.
Drench our day with Your love.

Word Wednesday

First, thank you for continuing to read, especially after the Music Monday.

Second, in the midst of the struggle, our nature/normal intuition is to seek out the light.  We don't always want to learn to walk in the darkness.  Because of Thomas Edison, we rarely need to.  Every room in my house has the ability for light to flood into any room with the simple flick of a switch.  I don't need to build a fire at night.  I don't need to have a ready supply of candles.  Light is right there all the time.

My mind unconsciously applies value to this reality.  I often think, light is good and dark is not so great.  Yet, night is great for sleeping.  Night is great for seeing the stars.  Night is necessary to really see the way the flames of a fire dance.  Night is helpful for cooling down.  Night is necessary for all of life to slow down.  For example, we know that the grass outside takes in energy from the sun all day, processing that after sunset, to inch its way taller.  You als…

Music Mondays

Continuing to let the melody and music of Les Mis guide us, I invite you to listen to the above recording of, "At the End of the Day".

While the tune is catchy, if you listen to the lyrics, it is certainly not one of the most up-lifting songs you will ever hear.  Lean into the opening words:  At the end of the day you're another day older; And that's all you can say for the life of the poor; It's a struggle, it's a war

I am sure your first reaction is, "Um thanks for this, Wes...I think I'll go watch the news which will be more inspiring than this."  But stay with me for just a moment.  What I find profoundly powerful is how these words are an honest lament.

Life can be a struggle, especially for those who are pushed to the fringes of our society.  Life is not easy for the most vulnerable.  Often, those of us who have a cushion or bubble around us, don't see that. 
Life can be a struggle for those whose economic status is a bit better.  The…

Prayer Friday

Prodigal God who welcomes us with open arms,
You invite us to choose life that isn't some mathematical equation but a mystery.
You do not keep a balance sheet where our good deeds have to weigh more than our bad ones.
You continually embrace us as the Father did of the prodigal in Luke's gospel.

We confess this is not the way of the world.
We are more accustom to eye-for-eye and what goes around comes around.
We prefer our ways of justice to Your's, O God.

So we name aloud a person we struggle to forgive.

A family member
A friend

We name that person not because it will magically make everything better,
But because the person is a beloved child of Yours.
We name the person so that we see him or her as a person.
Fully human with all the frailty and fumbles; broken and blessedness
That stares back at us when we look in the mirror.

The power of speaking the person's name can awaken us in this time of prayer.
We entrust that person to You.
You ask for You, O God,…

Word Wednesday

In the opening minutes of the musical version of Les Mis, we see the juxtaposition of eye-for-eye justice in Javert and the forgiveness of the Bishop.  This will be a unfolding theme throughout the musical.
Who offers forgiveness?
Who clings with a tight fist to legalism?
And more importantly, why?

Forgiveness so often is portrayed as a one and done act.  In some ways you could see the Bishop as simply forgiving Valjean for stealing.  But for me, forgiveness is a continual process.  Forgiveness can be one step forward, three frustrating steps back.  Forgiveness doesn't even start with the other person, it starts with me processing the pain ~ anger and hurt and harm.  While I try to not get caught in either/or thinking, in some ways the choice is between the pathway of forgiveness or holding a grudge.  The choice is between letting go of my claim that I was right and the other person was wrong OR seeing the that I may not fully understand what motivates the other person's acti…

Music Mondays

One of my favorite stories of all time is Les Miserables.  If you have never seen the musical, read the book, watched one of the many movie adaptations; I encourage you to dive into this narrative of what grace and love looks like when the world is less than perfect.  The above will take you to YouTube where you can listen to the Broadway soundtrack, which leaves out some of the transitional songs ~ many of which are important to understanding story.  But, if you have some experience with the various versions of Les Mes, the above will awaken your memory.

If you are unfamiliar with the story line, you may want to watch the PBS version of the musical live on stage by clicking below...warning it is over 2 hours...but will be helpful and in my humble opinion well worth your time.

This story seeks to deal with questions like, what happens when life is unfair?  How do we live in the midst of suffering, stress, and strain?  Sound familiar?

In the opening we meet Valjean who was arrested fo…