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Showing posts from July, 2018

Ecclesiastes take four

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 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 

6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

The wisdom writer starts off with noticing and naming the extremes of life ~ birth and death.  She follows that up with the every day experience of the earth yielding and offering food to sustain our life.

It is the next couplet that I struggle the most with.  I realize t…

Ecclesiastes take three

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 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 

6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

The first set of couplets talks about being born and dying ~ planting and plucking up.

On the surface we know this is true.  We have held both a new born baby and the hand of someone we love who is nearing the end of this life.  We have planted a seed in a Dixie cup, watc…

Ecclesiastes take two

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 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 

6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

As we continue to experience and explore these words, it is good to note one other truth the wisdom writer is working with: chronos vs kairos time.  Chronos is where we get the word chronological time.  Linear time.  Time that we mark and measure every single day.  Chrono…

Ecclesiastes

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 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

Over the next few posts, I want to dive and dwell in these familiar word of the wisdom writer.  It is good to note that Ecclesiastes 1 starts off by talking about how all life is "vanity of vanities".  Or another way to translate this is all life is mist.  On the one hand, you might …

Beauty and Broken

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As the bread was broken,
You could see the priests hand work hard,
She sunk the tips of her fingers into the crust,
The tightness of her grip as she tugged,
Crumbs scattered across the white clothe.
It was like brokenness in our own lives.
When we face that which pushes through our tough exterior.
When a word sinks deep into the crust of our skin.
When our hand forms a fist and our soul grips.
When crumbles of our five-year plans scatter and shatter.

Broken bread can be like our lives.
Broken bread is what we see around us.
Children hurting and crying and hungry.
Fellow humans hurting and harmed.
People seen only as a means to an end.
Respect, love, God-bearing become like crumbs on the clothe of our common humanity.

But that is never the last word.
Christ takes a cup.
Ordinary yet beautiful.
Everyday yet extraordinary.
Overflows that cup with more than a trace of God's grace.

We come with hands in the form of a cup ready to receive.
We come ready to take the brokenness we know a…

Beauty Take Two

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I recently listened to an interview Krista Tippet did with Yo Yo Ma.  You can read the transcript or listen to it by clicking here.

And when asked about beauty, Mr. Ma said, "I can't say the word beauty without also equating it with the word transcendence, because it seems like there are so many different things that are beautiful to so many different people. But I think beauty is often an encapsulation of a lot of different things in a certain moment, a frame, let's say.  It could be music. It could be a poem. It could be an event. It could be in nature, and often, possibly most often, in nature. But, when that encapsulated form is received, there's a moment of reception and cognition of the thing that is, in some ways, startling."

Perhaps one of the reasons why we don't talk about beauty is that it is so startling...even unsettling.

Beauty won't be confined to words...or if it will sit still long enough for our human expression it is usually a poem...o…

Beauty

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“Beauty is that in the presence of which we feel more alive.” ~~ John O'Donohue

We don't talk much about beauty any more.

Perhaps it is because we are disconnected from nature.  Perhaps it is because what fills our ears and eyes is the dissonance and discord of division.  Perhaps it is because we sense that if we don't focus on the difficulties around us and within us, we do a disservice to those who are being hurt and harmed.  I don't believe we find the division more captivate or compelling.  In many ways, the constant bad news cycle has rewired our minds in such a way so we are blinded to the reality of beauty within and around.

While beauty can be a distraction, it can always be a window into the deeper truths of the world.  For me, it is the willingness to live in the both/and of life.  Yes, there is too much brokenness.  And yes, there are moments when I am in the presence of that which helps me feel more alive ~~ see the last three posts.  To suggest that the f…

Just One More

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At the risk of feeling like my parents when they would get out the old slide projector and show us hundreds of pictures of past vacations...I want to show you one more picture from my hike.

This one is near and dear to my heart because:
1.  I love rocks.
2.  I saw this rock initially by the side of the road at the start of my hike...almost picked it up and then didn't.
3.  Then saw it again at the end of my hike.

Life for me is like that.  Sometimes I have a stirring or murmuring or inkling to do something.  I might hesitate or talk myself out of it.  But as I continue on, my thoughts return to my initial idea.

Sometimes an idea needs time to marinate.
Sometimes, even if we try, we might not be able to find the idea again.
Sometimes, like the rock above, we get a second change.

Is there something in your life right now that you circle back to again and again?  Maybe it is a place you want to visit or a friend you want to call or an experience you long to have.  Or maybe the rock …

Life and Death

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Another photo from my hike.

I love this one because it shows the juxtaposition, the intermingling of life and death.  In the foreground you see another tree that has fallen ~ albeit smaller than the one from the last post (which is another way to imagine the different size of obstacles). 

Now, I could focus on the tree that has fallen - the death part of the picture.

Or I can focus on the lush life of greenery all around it.

Or I can focus on both!

This holds true for our daily lives too.  There are things right now that are broken in my life.  Things that are not going anywhere or growing.  Things that feel cut off or hanging by a thread.  Things that I wish were better.  I can think of examples in my ministry, in my relationship with God, in my connections with family.

And there are amazing things happening...things that are going and growing new directions.  New ideas springing forth.  Consider these photos as one example...they have been on my phone for about a month before inspi…

Obstacles

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A few weeks ago, I was hiking in NC.  I came around a corner and saw this!  I am not sure the photo does justice to how massive the tree was that had fallen and was blocking the trail.  When you got right up to it, the truck was as tall as I am.  I have been prayerfully considering this image for the past few days.  So often when we reach an obstacle in life, we can tend to think:

1. I have done something wrong or that I have failed!
2. I will never be able to get over or around this obstacle!
3. I will never be able to clean the whole mess up...look how large it is!

This is why, I love what those who maintain the trail did in response to the tree.

1. They didn't assume they had failed or done something wrong.  Trees fall in the midst of storms.  Obstacles happen as we are hiking life's trail.  And we can get angry, upset, frustrate, blame, hoot and holler all we want...but in the end the choice is either press forward or turn back.  To be sure, there are times when it is saf…

Unplug

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85 times.

That is how often each day people check their cell phone. 

85 times of seeing if you have an email or a Facebook update or a Snapchat...of course all these apps will conveniently ding and buzz the second they come through with a push notification.

Or sites claim that we spend almost four hours a day...or others say the equivalent of 23 days a year.

Needless to say, its a lot of time.

Needless to say, right now you are staring at a screen reading this post.

We all need to unplug...stop gazing at the thousand pixels and turn toward other ways of engaging.

By no means am I saying we become a Luddite and eschew technology. 

I am not going to give up my smart phone or computer or Netflix account.

But I am also going to realize that I am a person beyond and outside of those things.

I don't have to rush, race to answer every text immediately.

I don't have to surf endlessly on a screen for entertainment.

I don't have to binge watch every episode...after all...they will …

Poem for the 4th of July

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On this 4th of July, I am drawn to the words of the poet, Langston Hughes who lived from 1902 - 1967.  While his words are now over 50 years old, they still sing to my heart for our homeland.


 Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I …

Vacation

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This week, our family is heading out on vacation.  I am amazed how one word, "vacation," carries so much baggage, perhaps both literally and figuratively.  On the positive, vacation brings anticipation and excitement about getting away.  Vacation brings a different rhythm and routine.  Vacation brings new sights, sounds, smells, tastes and encounters which can expose us to different parts of the world.  Vacations open us to new and different.  On the other hand, sometimes we can build vacations up so much that they don't measure up to our hopes.  Vacations can bring us to the bring of where we feel comfortable or in control.  Vacations can sometimes leave us exhausted.  I know I have uttered the words, "I need a vacation from this vacation."

One of the parts of meditation is to set intention.  We can get so wrapped up in packing, preparing, making our lists and checking it twice, trying to get the last bit of work finished before we depart that we don't st…