Posts

Showing posts from February, 2020

It's Lent

Image
It's been a few days.

Have you found yourself returning to this melody?  Humming it in the car or at the store.
Did you return to listen again, this time bravely and boldly picking up crayons to color a prayer?
Or are you just not sure what I am trying to do here, confused or confounded?
Or some combination of all the above.

Listen just to the melody again, softly hum along, riding the ascending and descending notes like waves on the sea.

Read slowly the first verse below remembering that hymns are poetry.  You cannot rush or race through poetry.  You cannot skim the surface of poetry.  You need to hold each word of a poem in the palm of your hand feeling its weight and exploring the contours/crevasses/cracks of a poem ~ every square inch.  Let the photos last Advent, you cannot glance at a poem, you need to gaze in order to reframe and refocus.  Here is the first verse of this hymn:

God of grace and God of glory, on your people pour your power; crown your ancient church's story…

It's Lent...Wait...Please Read

Image
Ah...Lent.

No more chocolate...no more singing/saying/even thinking the word, "Alleluia"...put on your serious and somber face as a spiritual practice.

After all, today, on Ash Wednesday, we will take burnt palm branches from last year and put them on your forehead or the back of your hand, saying the words, "From dust you came, to dust you shall return."  Thanks for that uplifting thought, Eeyore. 

Yes, recently, good pastoral people like myself have tried to reclaim and reframe Lent for you.  We have talked about rather than giving up...what if you took on a spiritual practice?  Or what if you volunteered more time.  Or what if you did something, anything, to connect with God?  But honestly in a fast paced, frenzied world where we wear our busy schedules as a badge of honor, giving up chocolate sounds a whole lot easier!

To give up or take on...that is the question.  What is the noble and needed way to connect with God in the coming forty days? 

What if it wasn&…

Grasshopper

Image
My mind was aflutter racing and running with things to do that day.  With each step I took, something new was added to the list.  Then, this grasshopper caught my eye.  He stood still, frozen in time. 

What was on his to-do list for the day?

Maybe find a leaf to munch for lunch?
Maybe see if he could leap higher than he did yesterday?
Maybe hang out on the glass door to see if anyone noticed?

Science website says that grasshoppers are not picky about what they nosh upon, they will eat fungi or moss.

They will rotting meat or weaker insects.

Okay, now I have lost my appetite.

They need to eat half their body weigh every single day.

No, I didn't ask this guy how much he weighed.

I stood there silently staring...
Wondering if he would be started and start to leap away...
And at some point fished for my phone from my pocket to snap the photo.

Who knew that on my list today was to do a photo shoot and spread for this grasshopper?
It wasn't there when I started the day.
Such a thou…

Collector of Quotes Three

Image
From Small Simple Ways by Vinita Hampton Wright

Every day I am formed.
Situations...
Pressures within and without...
And my own fears and desires shape me.

Through conversations and mundane activities
Such as...
Commuting
and preparing a meal.

Much of my situation is already formed/fashioned.
For example - I am committed to a marriage and I am an employee.
Those two relationship form me, day in and out.

However, I can choose to include influences that help shape me into the image of God more fully.
I can pray.
I can engage in conversations that encourage.
I can keep learning.
I can share and shine my light in loving ways.
I can list right now the forces of my life and be honest about which form me into the person I want to be. (pg. 7)

That kind of prayerful activity might offer a trace of God's grace every day.

Collector of Quotes two

Image
One of the things I love about quotes is that they can slow you down...make you really think...especially when there is a contradiction woven into the moment.

Life is too important...Wilde starts off saying.

Yes...life is very important.  Each breath is a gift of the present moment.  Every day hold mystery and magic and sometimes heartbreak or ache that we need space to process.  In the span of seconds congregating to become minutes forming hours and eventually a whole day, there is so much happening around us and within us we cannot possibly take it all in to our minds ~ let alone our lives.

Life is too important...Wilde starts off saying.

We can be uber serious and somber about it.  Grumbling and griping that this is the worst time ever.  Yet, I would suggest that living during the plague was pretty awful.  Living in fear and active persecution in Germany was really awful - especially for targeted groups.  Living right now in Syria is down right dangerous as people flee for their l…

Collector of Quotes

Image
Above photo was taken at the Santa Monica Pier in CA.

My mom collected salt and pepper shakers...my grandmother always bought a salt and pepper shaker everywhere she went...my dad was into model trains...and recently we held a celebration of life for someone who had over 500 nutcrackers ~ which we encouraged everyone at the service to take one (or six) with them knowing the person's fingerprints were all over this collection.

Me?

I feel like a collect quotes.

Quotes have a way of singing to my soul...they work and wiggle into my life.  One of my favorite quotes right now is, "Sometimes you have to let go of the life you planned for the the life you have."

See what I mean?

Those words have profound power and can evoke something within you.  After all, we are taught to have a dream and doggedly pursue it with passion.  We are told that if we happen to let the stumbles and set backs along the way cause us to give up, we have failed.  We have bought into the Disney quote, &q…

Reconcile

Image
What if today rather than boxes of chocolate and cards, you sought to show love to someone who frustrates you?
What if today rather than only hanging out with those who are easy to love, you did the riskier thing of loving your enemies?
What if today rather than only speaking about sappy, sentimental love, we delve deep into just how radical love can be.

Love is patient and kind, not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude, the Apostle Paul prophetically and powerfully wrote.
We read those words over couples promising, pledging, covenanting to spend their lives together.
Then, we promptly forget them the second we walk out of the church to go to the reception.
Because that kind of love is demanding.
That kind of love is draining.
That kind of love would challenge and change us.

Love is patient.  I think of how I sit in the car waiting for my family to finish just one more thing, but I want to leave so we won't be late.
Love is patient.  I think of listening to someone even when I…

Clouds

Image
As the shadowy somber clouds sail across the morning sky,
Occasionally permitting a sliver of the late night moon to peak, peer through.
I marvel at the mystery of the moment unfolding before me.

I know these clouds and they know me.
The usually come in the day time disguised as stress and strain.
They often introduce themselves as grief,
Tension in a relationship,
Vexing problems that won't be easily solved,
Pain that sits unprocessed in the arm chair of my office waiting, wondering if I will ever slow down long enough to pay attention...

The glimpses of light appear too in the comments of people who care,
In those who are willing to risk and dare,
In the loving sight of my wife and childrens' stare.

The light and darkness are always playfully interwoven into our lives, but we have bought into the false narrative that somehow we deserve...or have earned...or we should always yearn toward the light.
But from the beginning God crafted and created light and dark...the only day …

Torn

Image
It was the middle of January, I was in the fourth grade, and I was wearing my brand new, recently unwrapped from Christmas corduroy pants.  They were tan.  They made that swooshing sound with every step I took.  They were awesome.  They were supposed to be reserved for Sunday mornings only, but I decided just this once I would wear them to school and to show them off to my friends.  Looking back, I don’t think anyone was impressed or even noticed.  After school my friends and I were playing, and we went to climb over a chain link fence.  I reached the top, I swung my leg over, and my guess is that you already know what happened next.  My beautiful, brand new corduroy pants got caught and I tugged to get free.  I don’t know which was louder, the ripping sound of the fabric or the sound of my heart breaking as I realized what had happened.  I raced, ran home, tears in my eyes, which because it was January in Iowa my face was half frozen.  My mom calmed me down, gave me some hot choco…

Things Noticed While Driving Today

Image
These are a few of things noticed while driving today.

1. The brilliant red of the stop light as time seems to stand still waiting for the "go" of green.  I feel my shoulders tense and tighten wondering/worrying if I will be late as I try to breathe in to the count of four, hold my breathe for the count of five, and exhale to the count of six to calm down.
2. The sound of a good song coming from the radio that I instinctively turn up the volume and begin to drum the steering wheel off-beat along with the music.
3. The person in the car next to me staring intently forward as if willing the light to change using the Jedi mind trick.
4. The person bicycling on the road as I safely swerve to give the person more space to pedal.
5. The mother walking her daughter to the bus stop, carrying her "Paw Patrol" back pack in one hand and grasping her daughter's hand with the other. 
6. The world outside the wind shield rolling past ~ lives I might never intersect with but…

Things Seen While Washing the Dishes

Image
These are a few of things I noticed and can names as I washed the dishes today.

1. The sensation of warm water as I plunge my hand in, grasping and grabbing the first item I find beneath the soapy suds.
2. The soft soapy suds that cling to my wrists and forearm as I pull the dish out.
3. The apple smell of the soap that raises from the sink to my nose.
4. The wash clothe at first meeting the resistance of stuck on food and the tense strain of my muscles in response. 
5. Eventually, the way the residue of the meal gives way and the smooth surface of the plate which my wash clothe glides over.
6. The sounds of my children laughing in the living room watching some television show that I am only catching bits and pieces of.
7. My bare feet on the rug, the splash of water freed from the sink that lands on shirt, the way the cloudy and more clogged the water becomes with each clean dish.
8. The way my hand searches amid the murky water for a stray, lost knife that I know has to be somewher…

Things Seen While Walking My Dog

Image
One of the spiritual practices I enjoy is taking my dog for a walk.  These are a few of the sights, sounds, smell, and sensations that stirred within me as we strolled this morning:

1. More colors than could be contained in a box of crayons.  There were orange and soft red berries mixing with green and yellow leaves of a bush; variations of gray in the sky; a blue toy block by a car left behind by a child; and a tree leaf that left the branch right as I was walking past.
2. A family hugging their goodbyes, finding ways to linger before letting go.
3. The rush of wind that whooshed and swooshed past me as if in a hurry to get somewhere.
4. Sun trying to poke or prod its way through the clouds, with a few radiant rays that were successful.
5. The smell of bacon from someone's breakfast.
6. The hum of a motor from a lawn service vehicle and the engine of a car going past.
7. A squirrel that teased and taunted my dog dashing across our path playfully as my dog's tail shot straigh…