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Showing posts from October, 2019

Jonah take Two

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One of the reasons I think we make Jonah out to be a fishy farce of a story is because if we bring it too close to our hearts, we will see ourselves in Jonah.  I have worn Jonah’s sandals when God calls me to go somewhere I would prefer not to go.  I have pretended to be confused or said, “Sorry, God, bad cell reception in here.  You are breaking up.  I’ll call you back.”  And then never try God back.

To be sure, the Ninevites to whom Jonah was being sent to preach/convert, were those people.  The enemy.  Imagine God calling you to talk to someone who voted for the other candidate.  God calling you to talk to that family member who pushes all your buttons.  God calling you to go to that place where you are all uncomfortable and even a bit scared.  I find myself saying, "Seriously, God, I would love to, but I am super busy right now."

I have worn Jonah’s sandals when I idealize heading somewhere exotic because that what Tarshish still is.  Even when our grandmothers said, &q…

Jonah take One

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 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, "Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me."  But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.  Jonah 1:1-3

If ever there was a story where creation was a vital and vibrant character, it is the book of Jonah.  And the truth is that there are some stories where a single scene is forever etched in memory.

Think of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader dueling it out when Vader says, “I am your father.”

Or Rhett Bulter, “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn,” which I think we all have muttered under our breath at a meeting.

Or Dorothy landing in Oz saying, “Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore,” which still gives me permission to talk to my dog.

So, if I we…

Prayer for Growth

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He pulled out the drive way for the first time on his own.
Alone.
Without us there to point the way.
Without us to push down on our imaginary brake.
Without us by his side.
Like the first step he took before tumbling to the ground.
Like the first day we dropped him at preschool.
When you hand the keys over to your 16-year-old, with his newly-minted, laminated driver's license that the state of Florida says he has earned, something within your soul shifts.
A rite of passage we call it.
A moment I remember how liberating and free I felt years ago when my parents handed me the keys to the blue Ford station wagon and crumpled ten dollar bill for gas.
Yet, there is something more here too.
This isn't just about driving, it is about time slowly slipping, almost silently, away.
You realize that soon, too soon, he will pull out of the drive way not just for a few hours, but for weeks as he heads to college.
You realize that soon, too soon, his socks will stop constantly be left layin…

Soul-scape - Breeze

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The wind has picked up stirring and swirling and softly cooling my skin.
You notice the breeze more when for summer months and days on end the humidity hangs heavy in the air, like a barrier the breeze has to work and wiggle to get through.
As summer gives way to autumn, the leaves don't change color, as much as they begin to rustle and wave.
They begin to dance with some delight.
Creation as God's first testament is a multi-sensory invitation.
God causes sights that capture and captivate.
God moves through sounds that can alert and activate all part of our brain.
God awakens smells some pleasant (flower)...others not so much (skunks!)
Creature is full of tastes that could overwhelm our 10,000 taste buds.
But the sensation of touch....
       for rain that drenches
       for sun that soaks in, baptizes and sometimes burns
       for wind, breezes that can refresh, fill sails, and causes pollen to get caught up and carried away.

The breeze silently shaping the sands of our so…

Soul-scape - Patterns of Creation

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Streaks of pink stripe the sky against the dark blue backdrop.
While the warm yellow sun slowly and softly and silently sinks.
Hours before the sky, bright and brilliant with blue.
Hours before the sun had shone down with such force to not be ignored.
But that was hours before.

Nature invites us into the paradoxical rhythm of life. 
Nature can be slow, steady, almost unseen in growth like rings of a tree added.
But sometimes nature picks up her pace in the blink of eye.
Blazing sun that relaxes and relents and releases after only a few hours,
Which in the span of time cannot even be measured.

To walk daily is to let creation, God's first testament,
Sing,
     show,
            slow,
                 silently invite you to wonder.
Wonder as you wander out under the sky proclaims the hymn.
Wonder as you wander inspired the Psalmist to compose and poets to create and paints to pick up the brush.
But we seem less concerned with the witness of creation today.
We'd rather check our…

Soul-scape - Prayer

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The leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations, proclaimed and preached John at the end of Revelation. 
Such a statement causes me to ponder prayerfully, what kind of leaves could heal the nations today?
Would the leaf be green with new growth?
Would the leaf be afire with autumn gold?
Would the leaf offer aloe for the soul, even as that soothing liquid hides behind thorns?
Would the leaf be purple, like the one above, causing our souls to delight and even dance?
I prayerfully commitment myself to constantly looking, searching for such a leaf today.

Then, I stop to wonder if by chance it is our life that brings forth the leaves of healing?
Is what I am saying offering balm to heal the sin-sick soul?
Is what blossoms and blooms new with life or stuck in the past?
Is what I bring forth helping or hurting or somewhere in-between?
Do I join in the dance of delight or do I stay stymied on the sidelines of cynicism?

The leaves are for healing.
Our lives are for healing.

These wo…

Soul-scape - Pathways

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Over the last several weeks, we have sought to find ways to be open to creation as a vital and vibrant part of our story and lives.  We have drawn near to elements of earth, water, wind, creatures, and photos that invite us to step into the sacred in the ordinary.

I offer this picture as a reminder that the pathways that shape our souls are sometimes long while others are short, these twin truths happen simultaneously in our lives.  For example, I think about raising my children now in their teens as a long road (with a lot of twists and turns, ups and downs - and that was just Monday!)  Serving a church is a long path filled with companions in faith.  Faithfully facing our aging happens with every birthday candle added to the cake each year.  Then, there are moments that shape our souls which last only a few moments.  I think of trips taken that still linger and have left a lasting impression.  I think of people who I have met and our paths have crossed, intersected just once, but t…

Soul-scape

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I know...its a squirrel.
Wait, don't leave yet to go watch a YouTube video...stay with me for just a moment, because there is a story and a point about the ways our souls are shaped.

I am wandering around a garden in my community with my camera.  This is fast becoming one of my most meaningful prayer practices and the way traces of God's grace surface in my life.  I am off in a secluded, off the paved path, place.  As I am standing in the shade, soaking in the breeze blowing in ways that are refreshing and renewing, I close my eyes and I can hear something rustling.  At first, I think it is just the wind.  But, then, no.  Something seems to be moving amid the shadows, just out of my field of vision.  Slowly and as silently as I can, I start to make my way around the tree.  Then I spotted Mrs. (or Mr...not sure how you tell the difference) Squirrel munching on a nut, having a mid-morning snack, up in the trees, glancing down at me as if to say, "How ya doing?  Care for a …

Poem - Prayer

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Note to Self When Walking (Because I Forget) by Carrie Newcomer

When walking in the woods,
Or on a path,
Or down the street,
In a store,
Or just upstairs,
When you are intent on going,
Wherever it is you are going,
Stop.
Stand still.

Notice how the mind can chatter,
Like purple finches in the trees,
Endlessly clicking and warbling,
Rising and falling and rising again.
Notice all your plans and longings,
All the things you got, but didn’t want,
All you wanted, and didn’t get,
All the circular conversations aimed at changing,
What was already said or unsaid.
Notice all the losses you are carrying,
With as much grace as you can muster.

Notice the sky, the feel of the air on your skin,
The sounds or what hangs in the silence,
The hard knot in your throat.
Notice all these things and more,
Because there is always more.
Then let your heart open,
Even just a crack,
A dribble or a dam break,
It doesn’t matter.
Because it is in that opening,
You’ll find a clear space
The one you keep finding

Soul-scapes - Sunset

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When the sun slowly sinks,
Kneeling,
Kissing the far horizon,
I feel my soul let off the accelerator as if to catch it's breath.

When the sun slips from bold, bright, brilliant in the sky to softly giving way to darkness,
I feel my soul realize there are moments to be brave and moments to sink back.

We have been taught and told that if we have a light, we have to let it shine.
Everywhere.
Everywhere.
Everywhere we go.

Really?
Everywhere? 
Can any of us really do that?  Can we do that when in a hurry or life is a flurry or our souls seem set to worry?
Can any of us really always shine our light, or eventually does our oil run out quicker than the Bridemaids in the parable Jesus told.
Do any of us what to shine a light with that person?  The one who causes anger to burn brightly or pushes all our buttons.

When the sun starts its descent, so our souls are shaped by moments of rest, renewal, even wrestling in the night.  We need deep sleep when dreams dance in our minds.  We need mom…

Soul-scapes - dawn

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The stars hung between wispy clouds slowing covering them like a sheet,
And a small sliver of the moon shone through,
While the other three quarters of the lunar circle stood silently in the shadows.

In that pre-dawn moment, gazing at the soon-to-be gone night sky,
I was re-introduced to a part, piece of myself.

Like the moon that Thursday morning, I to have moments when I want to hide most of myself.
The shadows of my life creep and crawl and cover over my light.
Shadows of questions about being good enough.
Shadows of about the thing I said yesterday I now wish I hadn't.
Shadows of vulnerability that seem strange, out-of-place, in a world of power and privilege.

We love the light.
The strength.
The ways we let ourselves shine.
Its in our posts, tweets, and social media feeds of always wanting to "win" as if life was a zero-sum game.

Yet, the shadow-side, the three quarters side, the you - you tend to conceal and contain, that side is of God too.
It isn't either, o…

Soul-scape - Prayer

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The concentric circles crossed and connected ~ like the web of life that supports us all.
The circles quickly faded ~ like a day we don't want to end.
As new circles appeared ~ the temptation was to compare and contrast.
"I like the previous circles better."
"Oh, they were much more rounder and beautiful-er"
"Oh look, that one is like Mickey Mouse ears."

All around us the world is shaping us.
All around us we interact and insect with the sacred still crafting and creating.
We miss so much.
But even if we tried to slow down and soak in everything, our minds and hearts and souls would be too saturated to take it all in.
If you were able to see everything, smoke might start billowing from your ears as your mind tried to process the beauty and brokenness ~ the ordinary and otherness of the world around us.

So, we do what we can.
We observe the world through the filters of our experiences.
And sometimes even through the lens of our perspective something n…

Soul-scape - Rain

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Zero percent.
Not gonna happen.
Impossible and improbable.

That was what the weather channel said were the chances of rain that day when I set out to the store.  But with a cart full of bags the rain fell from the sky.  Not a soft, gentle rain, but one that goes sideways because of the wind that is whipping all around.  Not an inconvenient rain, but one that soaked my shirt and sandals and skin. 

Rain can refresh and renew.
But it can also ruin a perfectly wonderful afternoon picnic.

Rain is necessary and needed for all living things to grow - including us.
But sometimes we just wish that it would wait a few moments...like until my grocery are in the trunk and I am safely inside my car.
Jesus centuries ago said that the rain falls on both the just and unjust (not sure who I was at that moment, but given what I said in response to getting soaked, I am going to lean more toward "unjust")  Rain cannot be controlled or contained.  Sometimes strangely rain can also fall in the f…