Posts

Showing posts from July, 2019

Moonlit

Image
I love how a half moon ~ which that glinting glimmering of halo light is above ~ sends and shines forth as a full circle.  Now, had I had my a camera other than my iphone, you might have been able to tell that it was only a half moon.  But I still found it wonderful that the moonlight sends forth a glow in all directions.

When Jesus said, "Let your light shine," he didn't mean just toward the people you liked.  He didn't mean just in the places and spaces you will/want it to go.  Light escapes in all directions.  Once a candle is lit, the only way to stop its benefits from being sent/shining forth is to extinguish it.

Of course, we are great about doing this.  We would rather stumble, fumble, and fall in the dark than let someone we don't like get some of our light we don't think s/he deserves.  We want to cling to control.  We want to determine the direction of our energy.  We want to be the master of our destiny and destination.

But light being light doesn…

Flow and Flowering

Image
I took the above photo one week ago when I was in Chautauqua, NY.  I was struck by first the beauty of the lilies.  To be clear, I am not the biggest fan of this flower.  Or more to the point, my allergies are not a fan of this flower.  It's potent pollen invades my head like a hostile takeover...it storms into my sinuses stomping on every nerve until my head is pounding.  As you can imagine, Easter Sunday at the church is in two words...good times!

But since this flower was outside.

But since I had my camera with a really good lens that I could stand back to get this picture.

But since there was not a whole field full of this flower, just a few scattered here and there, I could take in the beauty of the flower.

But after studying the purples and pinks blending together...the black freckle spots randomly dancing across the petals and the bright orange anthers dangling down...it was like creation was putting on a fireworks display that didn't disappear or dissipate after a bri…

Tangled and Twisted

Image
Where does one branch end and the other begin?
Where in this tangled, twisted mess is order?
Like a ball of yarn in the paws of a cat,
Or the Christmas tree lights hastily put away last year,
Or metaphorically, my life, things are not always neat and tidy.

Relationships are tangled in words spoken to prove points.
Silent moments to commune with the swirling sacred are set aside so I can look busy.
Energy is given to that which does not evoke and invoke life.

Nature declares the holy truth that tangled and twisted can be beautiful.
Scripture declares that for creation to spring forth, there needed to be playful chaos.
Our lives are a living witness to this truth.

What feels tangled and twisted in your life today?
Whether it is your spouse...your friend...your family...your co-worker...your connection to God...your whole enterprise of trying to paint on the canvas called, "life" and all you keep getting is something that looks like a mess.

Is there any holy in that?

I stare a…

The Things We Miss

Image
This summer, I have let loose my inner Ansel Adams and explored the beauty of photography.  There have been sweet, serendipitous moments when through persist patience...and sometimes just stubborn doggedness, I have been able to capture a moment like the one above.

But, as much as this photo makes me smile...and I pray it might evoke and invoke something with you too...I don't necessarily want to talk about just one photo.  Rather, I am excited about the creative process that leads to one split second when my finger finds the button to snap this one.

A bit of background.  We were at Sunken Gardens.  We had just started to wander around.  We saw some turtles, who were most cooperative at moving slowly so I could capture their picture.  We saw the yellow variety of the Golden Shrimp Plant, which I am sure you remember from high school biology class is really Pachystachys lutea.  And yes, I did totally Google that because even though I was just at Sunken Gardens...even though that S…

More than a Cliche take Four

Image
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!  But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.  The Message

I don't see things as they are...I see things as I am.  The mirror is smudged and smeared with our own experiences, encounters, bias, and beliefs.  Or as Anne Lamont says, "Of course, we think our opinion is right...otherwise we would get a new opinion!"

Today, I want to offer you some space.  Room to breathe and be.

Rather than tossing and throwing a bunch of words at you.  I invite you to re-read 1 Corinthians 13 by clicking here.  Read slowly and savor each word.  Read slowly letting the tiny space…

More than a Cliche take Three

Image
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. - 1 Corinthians 13, The Message

Paul never met a list that he didn't love.  Paul never met a run-on sentence that couldn't use just a few more words to make it better.  Paul never missed a moment to pile on more and more images so that your mind was swirling, soul saturated, and heart soaked.  Paul had a flair for the dramatic.  I like to think he was the kind of person who puts out the candles on his birthday cake with a fire extinguisher!

I mean just look at that list above.

Put others first, don't covet, don't boast/bra…

More than a Cliche take Two

Image
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.   If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.  1 Corinthians 13:1-7, The Message

Paul starts off his challenge to the bickering, bitterness, and brokenness by pointing out that love is the source that can energize and enlarge our lives.  But he realizes that goes against the grain of conventional wisdom - both in his day and still in our time too. 

Conventional wisdom that says, "Might makes right."  Or, "Life is a game of winners and losers".  Or, "You gotta get yours while the getting is…

More Than A Cliche

Image
So, you opened this post, saw the words at the top, and I wonder what were your first thoughts?

Maybe you thought back to a wedding you recently attended where the passage was read.
Maybe you recalled a sermon where the pastor pointed out that Paul penned these words not to a couple getting married, but to an entire faith community.  The image of love is not just for two, but for a whole house church to try to embody for and with each other.
Maybe there was even a bit of cynicism that crept in or you even thought, "That is so cliche." 

When a passage becomes so familiar that we think we have exhausted every possible meaning.  When a passage becomes so drenched and dripping with our own comfort and we think, "Been there, done that."
When our minds start to wander or we even excuse ourselves from trying to dive deeper into a passage because it just doesn't seem fresh or new, I wonder if we do this both to distance and even dismiss the demands these words invite …

The Meaning Music Evokes take Three

Image
"Music washes away the dust of everyday life" so wrote Berthold Auerbach...

Which by the way...Berthold might just be the coolest name I had never heard of before.

But I also want to add to Berthold that music has a way of helping us make sense of the dust in our lives.  Sometimes the muck and mud...the dust won't scatter so easily.  Sometimes the thick layer of the past doesn't even budge when the winds of change swirl in the room.  The dust of life can be stubborn and cling tightly.

Because maybe that dust is trying to tell us something.

You see if the goal is only to clear and clean our lives of dust, most of us will not pass - I am talking both literally about my living room AND metaphorically about my life.  There is dust on the shelves and on my soul.  But that dust...the remnants/remains of past might actually be important for this moment.  Sometimes what lingers and lays in our life is trying to tell/teach us something.

Maybe the goal is to eliminate all the…

The Meaning Music Evokes take Two

Image
What songs...melodies...are moving around you this week?
Which notes are nudging you in new directions?
What lyrics are awakening you to the traces of God's grace all around?

In the last post I offered a quote from Charles Darwin.  And recently scientists have been hopping on that bandwagon studying the positive impact of music.  Recent research suggests that music releases dopamine - the natural feel good chemical of your brain.  Music can, at the same time, decrease the stress hormone cortisol.  When you are working out (walking or running or biking) music has been shown to boast your performance.

To be sure, I am not convinced that all music does this for every single person.

You probably known of music today that doesn't do any of that.  Music that can sound more like a cat screeching on a hot tin roof or nails being run down a chalk board.  Some music may make your soul shout/sing out...but for the next person those notes only produce a yawn and a glance at his cell phon…

The Meaning Music Evokes take One

Image
Recently, I have found myself invited into music that was evoking and invoking traces of God's grace. 

Music has a profound power in our lives.

The notes stir the soul.
The words awaken new ideas and insights.
It can take us back to our childhood and grandmother humming hymns as she baked bread.
Or dad's bass voice booming from the choir.
Music is ingrained within us...and can bring us together in ways that prose - no matter how poetic or prophetic - may not.

Vincent Harding, the civil rights leader, recalls the way people would constantly sing before, during, and after marches.  "We Shall Overcome" wasn't just some words to pump up the crowd...it was a heartfelt prayer of African-Americans being denied rights and liberties.

Music has a power to transform us from the insight out.

This only makes scientific sense since inside each one of us is a beat of a heart...a constant rhythm keeping us alive.  There is a time signature to our breathing.  There is a melody o…

Sitting at the Table

Image
The last drips of coffee have crossed my lips...the last spoon of granola has too.  Outside a neighbor's noisy saw cuts and chops away at an overgrown bush, dropping branches on our side of the fence.  Our dog lets her protest be known by barking at how this is interrupting and disrupting her nap.  I wonder sitting here at the table, what today might hold?  What will unfold as the seconds slip past and minutes pile up making hours?

I know what is on my list...but I wonder if in the small spaces in-between the lines of my list...God might be move in mischievous ways?  I wonder if God beside me, here at the table, might pick up the pen and start to scratch out other priorities and tasks...like laughing, listening, being, breathing, staying open, noticing...along side vacuuming and washing the floor.  Is God's to-do list for me different than what I have written?  Or is God moving in the midst of every moment?

I love the quote that says God is the one whose center is everywhere …

I Had to Hurry take Two

Image
In the last post I shard a picture and poem about capturing the beauty of the clouds when I was out walking one morning last week.  I was taken by the ways orange, red, and pink were all playfully painting the sky...but also noticed how the gray was starting to erase the colors.  The thought, "I have to hurry..." crossed my mind because I wanted to get a picture of the beauty before it disappeared.

Which makes me think about how much in the blur of life I might miss those traces of God's grace because it isn't on my calendar.  I mean, why can't God schedule the burning bush moments or text me when I should pay attention?  Perhaps that is why Paul encourages us in 1 Thessalonians 5 to, "pray without ceasing." 

Yet, I am not sure I was every taught or told how to persistently present and open and aware/awake to God's swirling presence around/within me.  It is a practice.  Rather than the rut of getting stuck in my schedule (as I am wont to do)...or s…

I Had to Hurry

Image
I had to hurry...
Not because I was running late.
Nor was it because of a date.
Nor to avoid a line where I might wait.

I had to hurry...
Not because of a calendar demand.
Nor for me to stay, stick with my daily plan.
Nor because someone would be mad.

I had to hurry...
Because the pink of the cloud was fading away.
The brilliant beauty was starting to turn gray.
In a few moments it would be gone to my dismay.

The fleeting, fading glory that greets us each day
I too often miss because my schedule holds sway.
But not today! The red, orange, pink invited me to pray.
And not miss the beauty as the colors in the sky played.

I had to hurry...
To soak it all in with a smile on my face.
To know that in that moment I was in the right place.
To sense the holiness in this trace of God's grace.

And may you be quick and open to such sacred moments that saturate each day this week.

Grace and peace ~~