Posts

Showing posts from May, 2018

One Good Quote

Image
Isn't it funny, how day by day nothing changes; but when you look back everything is different?   C.S. Lewis

There is such a simple and sacred truth to what Lewis is saying above.  This morning, I got up and it was raining...like it has been the last several days as we reach "build-an-ark" levels of saturation.  I had my cereal and coffee, like every morning.  I talked with my wife about our plans for the day, nothing unusual there.  But, inside us, like a seed that slowly transforms and transitions, there is something at work.  As the poet says, "To trust in the slow work of the Spirit" day-by-day is the invitation.
Part of the ways we can train our brain, soul, heart, and our lives to pay attention to those millimeter movements of our lives.  We do this through silent meditation, through reading poetry (which has be done slowly letting the words sit/simmer), through listening to music, through taking walks outside disconnected from our phones, through breathi…

Transitions

Image
This week, my son passed the mile marker from being a middle schooler to the cusp of high school in a few months.  The day of his 8th grade graduation was moment of reflection for all of us.  First, while it certainly did not seem that way when we walked him for hours every night before he fell asleep as a baby, time really does move fast, in the blink of an eye.  My son is now taller than me.  My son is certainly smarter than me because his math homework looks like random numbers all hanging out together.  As we sat at the restaurant after the ceremony, we talked about highlights of middle school...which were many.  Some of the regrets.  I saw someone who is not only transitioning to a different location, but also a different stage in life.  So often we lump life together in stages, like a linear time line.  We define and distinguish childhood/school years from marriage from children from middle age from retirement.  And while those are certainly important markers, there are million…

One wise quote

Image
“The world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home.” – Wendell Berry –

I am a collector of quotes.

I love the way words, when arranged in certain ways, can stick and stay with you like a green piece of spinach in your teeth.

I love the way wisdom doesn't need pages and pages to indoctrinate or instruct or influence you.  Just a few words that cause your mind to stop, your heart to strangely warm, and your soul to shout, "Yes!"

I love the way such sentences can roam around your mind and find ways to escape across your lips in certain situations.

The world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles...Berry says.  So often we think we have to go somewhere, rather than learn to be content here.  We dream of exotic locations or vacations, thinking that if we just leave the stress and strain…

Being the Prayer

Image
Being a prayer...rather than seeing prayer as something we do...can seems strange to many of us.  After all, we tend to compartmentalize and categorize prayer.  Prayer is a running monologue with God.  Prayer can be listening or singing music.  Prayer can be walking in creation.  Prayer is sitting in silence.  All of these are true.  But just as a doorway is not the whole house, neither are any of the above.  They are the beginning.  Paul in First Thessalonians 5:17 says we are to, "Pray without ceasing."  That might mean mumble and muttering constantly, continually.  It might even mean a returning, running, reoccurring spirit that we step into.  Or, as I hear this invitation, that we would be the prayer.

But I think part of prayer, the part that frustrates so many and confuses all the rest of us, is that we are not in control.  Prayer too often treats God like a vending machine, trying to get what I want.  Or like a teenage pleading to her parents to let her do something. …

Prayer

Image
Last Friday, we heard once again of another shooting at a school.  The narrative so familiar, the words said in response predictable as a record stuck on repeat.  We are caught up in a culture of violence.  We anger stokes the fire of more anger.  We constantly wound ourselves and others.  In many ways, we have not named and claimed that part of the violence begins within ourselves.  Our running internal commentary and critic shouts at us both about our own short comings while at the same time telling us that, "Those people are the problem."  Violence seems to be woven inside us - just think back to the last time you tried on a shirt and the voice said sarcastically, "Don't you look great."  Or think about your reaction and response to someone who cuts in-front of you in traffic.  Why exactly are we so mad about that?  It is because we swim in the sea of violence that starts internally and is expressed and becomes fanned to flames externally by those around us…

Friday Prayer

Image
Light one candle for love...one bright candle for love...Christ brings love to everyone, Christ comes, he comes. (Advent hymn)
Summer is beginning to creep and crawl finding ways to settle into Florida for the coming months.  Summer sun is starting to shine down, warming our skins. Humidity has taken up residence in the places and spaces where our seasonal friends, who wisely fled back north now, have left in our wake. Clouds come rolling in late every afternoon, blocking for a few moments the heat of the sun. Rain starts to fall, splashing on hot concrete and sometimes causing steam to rise. The weather report sounds like a record needle stuck. Hot...muggy today...chance of rain in the afternoon. Same tomorrow...and the tomorrow after that...and the month after that.
So, I dream of December when the humidity breaks on one crisp morning and the air temperature drops to 60 degrees and humidity moves away from 90 percent. I dream of a candle lit that dances with delight proclaiming God …

Help us Accept Each Other

Image
The words of this hymn are a beautiful prayer...because if ever we needed help accepting each other...it might be today.  It is wonderful to talk about loving your neighbor, until you find out that your neighbor votes a different way or goes to that church or does something that is particularly difficult to accept. 

Part of the reason why we struggle to accept others, is we don't accept ourselves.  Paul Tillich in the 1950 talked about the struggle to accept that we are accepted.  Then, we go to church, which tells us that we should do this, volunteer for that, and give this much (usually not enough).  So much of life declares that we are not enough, we need to do more.  But fortunately for us, the person saying this can sell us this amazing wonderful product that will clearly solve all our problems.  I remember as a child seeing endlessly the commercial for the knife that would chop celery, cut through a tin can, and then cut a tomato.  First, who exactly does that?!?  Who think…

Come Thou Fount

Image
There are some lines of this hymn that stir my soul and teach me truths about my life. 

When we sing out about, "Tune my heart to sing thy praises," that feels to me like one of the deepest prayers for my life I could pray.  I want not just the words of my mouth or the countless thoughts to be caught up in proclaiming and praising God, but also my heart - that which is at the center and core of who I am.  Yet, the heart is valuable real estate.  Certainly my family has a claim on my heart and has left a deep/abiding impression.  The people of God with whom I serve have impacted/imprinted their presence and love on my heart.  Those who struggle and suffer.  Those whose friendship means more than words could ever express.  The question becomes is our heart just a parcel that gets divided OR is our heart so inexhaustible and ever expansive that actually the more people we love, the larger our heart grows?  (By the way, this is the central question of the Dr. Suess book, How th…

Call of Abram ~ Novella

Image
Part Three

"The voice," both Abram and Sarai said together softly.  The words seemed to reverberate and ricochet off the walls.  The words slowly settled to the ground like a feather in free-fall floating, riding the air currents.  The voice.  They had both said it.  In their eyes danced amazement, bewilderment, concern, doubt, elation like a burden had been set free, and yet once a secret is on the loose we lose all ability to control or cling to it.  Once a secret has been spoken you can never stuff it back into the cage where you had held it.  Once a secret is shared, it takes on a life of its own.  Now, a secret once thought to be held by one is suddenly not as unique or odd as you thought.
"The voice," both Abram and Sarai said together again, a bit louder.  The words themselves were like another presence in the room.  Yet, three can be a crowd at times, especially when you are used to being a duo.  It took time for Abram and Sarai to sink and settle in all th…

Call of Abram - Novella

Image
Part Two

Inside the tent, Sarai's nervous energy kept her pacing around, stirring up a cloud of dust from the dirt floor.  She couldn't sit still  What in the world was she supposed to say to Abram?  After all these years, how do you tell someone something you should have said well before now? 
For her, the voice constantly made her smile and even laugh out loud!  The voice could be a bit sarcastic even.  When Abram's relatives made snide comments like, "Oh, Sarai, what I would give to be like you, my children are such headaches."   Their words were like daggers.  But the voice would say something about the aunt's nose that made Sarai smile and helped her keep on keeping on.  To not have children in her day was not a choice.  It was seen as a punishment she bore the blame of alone.  The voice reassured her to be patient and persist.  But how much longer?  Sarai was no longer a young woman.  While the ancestors had lived welled passed one hundred, there were o…

Call of Abram - Novella

Image
Prologue: The call of Abram is recorded in Genesis 12, you can click here to read.  The call is surprisingly succinct with both God and Abram being short on details. It can also feel abrupt. If you look at chapter 11, you get a genealogy leading up to Abram, then the next word is God telling Abram to leave...to go...at age seventy-five.  This makes me wonder, what happened between Genesis 11 and 12?  What happened between Abram's birth and age seventy-five?  Was this the first time Abram was introduced to God?  What stories might fill the small space in the Bible between these two chapters?  This is one amateur attempt to fill that gap.  

Part One


Abram licked his lips, in the cracked crevasses he could taste the small grits of sand that silently hid there. His mind was racing and reeling.  The voice seemed so clear telling him to, "Go".  But that inner critical voice with its constant running commentary was working overtime right now.  "You were just imagining it. …

Friday Prayer

Image
At the end of the week...
I look back over words said...
Meetings led...
Meals that fed...
Books read...

How do you evaluate 120 hours?
Miles driven
Faces seen
Silence taken
Joy observed
Pain let go
Projects crossed off
Compliments received
Criticisms processed

Who is to say what makes a week, "Good"?
Our boss may have one definition...
Our spouse and children another...
Our neighbor and person in need another...
Our lawn that needs to be mowed yet another...

Who is to describe and define a week as "Sacred"?

Maybe that is why our Jewish brothers and sisters stop on Friday night.
Do nothing for an entire day.
Let your body feel the exhaustion coursing through your feet.
Let your soul catch up with your heart.
Let the wind baptize your skin and bird sing to your heart while you sit outside.

Maybe prayer is less about words soaked into dark wooden pews.
Maybe prayer is less about seeing results.
Maybe prayer is just this one moment...so full of past...so ripe with th…

Re-joice Part 2

Image
Rejoice sounds like to re-joining in the joy around us and within us.
Rejoice tastes like letting an ice cream dripping slowly down the back of your hand.
Rejoice looks like the wink from your wife across the table.
Rejoice feels like holding hands with someone or a hug from a friend.
Rejoice smells like bread baking in the oven.

Rejoicing engages our whole selves.

Yet, I think the blurry pace of modern day life blocks us from these small experiences bring us much joy.  Instead of listening/hearing the joy, we let Tweets take over.  Instead of tasting, really tasting each bite, we shovel the food in our mouths before racing off to our next commitment, which we are already late for.  Instead of seeing, really seeing the person in front us, we glance around or check our phone to see who just texted us.  Instead of feeling, we become numb...instead of smelling we don't even notice the roses.

Our ancestors would probably shake their heads at the pace of life today.  Around about the …