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Showing posts from June, 2020

Music Mondays

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This coming Saturday, the United States will celebrate the 4th of July.  To be sure it will be different than in years past.  I live in a community where there will not be a large gathering on the beach to watch fireworks light up the night sky, there will be no baseball games for crowds to congregate, and while there will be backyard parties and amateur firework artists; I am wondering if this year the fact that the pandemic has took up residence in every nation might cause us to reflect in a new way. So often what we have been taught and told about Patriotism can feel like a competition.  Some of the language we use to prove our national pride pulls others down to push ourselves up.  We have bought in to this notion of Patriotism as a ranking and rating rather than saying that this particular place we call "Home" on the planet earth has left soil in our souls in meaningful ways, but that it doesn't have to be at the expense of another person living in another place

Prayer Friday

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Like stacking rocks, O God, each day I try to find the balance point of my words and actions. Like stacking rocks, O God, there are times when everything comes crashing and crumbling down... And I have to start over. Like stacking rocks, O God, some tasks are bigger - I need to start there. Some are smaller - but also are important for the beauty of life. Guide me, O God, to notice that the big tasks are not always what I am paid for. Big tasks - being kind; listening; loving; learning how to be a better husband and father and person. Next tasks - being a friend; forming connections and community; staying open to traces of Your grace. Next tasks - the to-do lists that can sometimes try to dominate or demand to be dealt with; daily tasks of living and working and being in this world (from laundry to labor) The tasks on top - which often feel the heaviest but are rarely remembered, seem so vital in the moment but can vanish, quickly forgotten. What rocks stack to make your

Word Wednesday

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When you make a commitment you build hope...when you keep a commitment you build trust. Hope is future looking, but presently planted.  That is, realized that today doesn't need to be like yesterday and tomorrow can be new too. Hope refuses to be controlled or contained by what is happening, rather doggedly searches for the possible. Hope is a fuel that can fed our souls. Hope is more in short supply than toilet paper was in March! Hope gets this reputation of being Pollyanna or misplaced. Hope gets ripped apart by people who have not processed their pain and want their misery to have your company.  Hope is that sense that this world is going somewhere, while we get lost and take wrong turns and wind up changing a tire in a rain storm, the journey is one of grace. Where do you sense hope within us? Where do you find your mind offering evidence to contrary, claiming to be real? What do you hope for? What if you set your energy toward that? Might this actually be wh

Music Mondays

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As I write this...the coronavirus continues to increase. As I write this...we continue to wrestling the raw reality of racism. As I write this...the uncertainty and unrest hover/hang in the air. As I write this...people are struggling to make ends meet. As I write this...it is raining outside. Why would I post a video of U2's, "It's a Beautiful Day"? Here are the opening words: The heart is a bloom Shoots up through the stony ground There's no room No space to rent in this town You're out of luck And the reason that you had to care The traffic is stuck And you're not moving anywhere It actually starts off as a lament.  I am particularly taken by the line that the reason you had to care is no longer there.  When we feel stuck and stymied ~ stuck and stymied by a invisible illness and racism made painfully clear by countless videos.  Stuck and stymied by how we can respond?  Stuck and stymied by a systems that continue to hurt and harm

Friday Prayer

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One who strangely warms my heart, Who beckons me to draw near, That I might find a blessing in You, That I need every day. Thank you for the ways that You see me into wholeness. Thank you for an openness that receives my fruitless searches. Thank you for a holy patience and persistence that waits, While I fumble and stumble around. Renew me with a strength for the living of these days. Remind me of the ways I might speak Your truth in love. Restore me to relationships that have gone astray. Refresh me with a wholeness found in Your eyes. Send me out to be a conduit of compassion. Send me to the places and spaces where care is most needed. Send me to the people who I hold in my heart. Send me trusting that You go with me always. Let Your presence be a companion...a compass...a constant care I need every hour of this day. In Your boundless love hear my prayer. Amen.

Word Wednesday

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Since I brought up music videos in the last post...I thought it would be good to share one so that we can all bask in the 80s nostalgia I am living in right now.  Plus, I really am compelled by the second stanza of "In Your Eyes" which goes: Love, I don't like to see so much pain So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away I get so tired of working so hard for our survival I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive And all my instincts, they return And the grand facade, so soon will burn Without a noise, without my pride I reach out from the inside The first line is so heartfelt and honest.  I hear it as a prayer, "Love (or God or Creator or Spirit), I don't like to see so much pain."  I pray that every day.  "So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away."  Yes!  There are days when that describes and defines what I am feeling.  "I get so tired of working so hard for our survival."  Wow...did Gabriel

Music Mondays

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Flash back to the eighties!   The era of hair bands...leg warmers...music videos...and sit coms.  Ahhh, the decade that shaped me.  While I didn't listen to Peter Gabriel as a kids, but increasingly I have found his lyrics moving and meaningful.  The above song for Music Mondays is, "In Your Eyes".  The opening verse goes: Love I get so lost, sometimes Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart When I want to run away I drive off in my car But whichever way I go I come back to the place you are Those words capture and captivate my heart.  I have felt lost and empty heart-ed in the face of the world today.  Lost amid a virus that has made me afraid, closed off our sanctuary for in-person worship, upended my life, caused economic upheaval, and so many people to die.  Empty heart-ed when I turn on the news to see endless bickering and divisiveness, when African-Americans are killed at an alarming rate (both by the virus and police), when we don't feel safe.

Friday Prayer

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We have come to the end of the reflections on Les Mis.  While there are many more songs that I could have reflected upon, I did not mean for this series to be exhaustive, just to open you to hear how God's wisdom can be found in a wonderful musical and powerfully powerful story written by human hands.  God moves within us.  God sings within us.  I find this finale song to be a heartfelt prayer that we would live.  I find that words, "To love another person is to see the face of God," to be ones that cause my heart to surge and stir...to be a prayer worthy of my life.  I pray you find more than a trace of God's grace as you listen to this prayer sung to you.  Blessings ~

Word Wednesday

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The word that stirs within me this week is, empty.  Often times we hear this word as something negative.  To be empty is to be lacking, needing, less than.  We live in a culture that worships the idol of abundance and extravagance.  We think that every moment our cup has to runneth over.  We know our portion sizes at restaurants have grown, our homes are McMansion compared to sixty years ago, our necessities of electronics that are designed to last only a few years cause us to constantly consume.  Okay...if you are still reading this...thank you, but I realize that the above is not exactly uplifiting. But, I also think that the word, "empty" has gotten a bad rep.  Empty can be open and spacious and ready to receive.  When you are empty, just a bit can begin to fill you...but when you are overflowing, just a bit more won't satisfy.  I think of communion where a tiny piece of bread and sip of juice we preach/proclaim is more than enough grace to sustain us. It isn&

Music Mondays

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While there are many songs in Les Mis that stir my soul and give me goosebumps, the two below are in the top five.   The first is the song, One Day More.  It is sung by all the members of the cast about how all their lives are at a cross roads and new chapters were beginning.  I think about the day of my wedding.  I think about graduations.  I think about the times as I was leaving a church and about to begin a new call.  There are momentous moments our hearts tell us, "Pay attention, this is important".  Of course, such significant times can be hard to capture in words all that we are feeling as we face an ending or new beginning.  I look back at the last three months of the current pandemic, we knew that something significant was stirring...we know that life has changed...we know that there is so much pain and suffering - both from those who are grieving the death of a loved one to people who have lost jobs and businesses that have shuttered forever.  In order for hope to

Prayer Friday

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In the far away places, tucked in my soul, where I prefer to keep roped off to You, O God, Enter in with the refreshing rain of love, Disrupt me with the beckoning rays of sunlight to be open. In the vulnerable, wounded, places I prefer to keep hidden, Enter in with a renewing sense that there is nothing that keeps us separated from You, O God, Nothing means nothing. Not our boneheaded mistakes. Not our less than brilliant actions. Not when we grade our performance today as a "F" ~ for faulty and flawed and fumbling. Open us, O God, for You are open to us. You open Your grace through flowers. You open Your love through words of others gently coaxing us to be ourselves. You open Your presence through this moment right here. You are the circle whose circumference is everywhere And whose center is nowhere.  Enfold us. Hold us. Call us back to who and whose we are this moment, And every moment this week. Amen.

Word Wednesday

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Metaphorically, we all have a bit of Javert within us...places where like the flower above we are closed, not ready to open.  We swim in a sea of this reality as politically we are more polarized.  We swim in a sea of this reality where we force ourselves to form an opinion quickly and defeat that position no matter what.  We push down pain to places deep within and sweep brokenness under the rugs of our soul. I know this to be true for me, so I am compelled by Javert and how he holds a mirror up to my own fastidious and frantic ways I can cling to my way or the highway. The reality is that the flower up above did open. The reality is that which we push down will eventually boil up. The reality is that moment can break us open or make us bitter.  While I try to not be dualistic or get trapped by either or thinking, the truth is that often times my own frustration that I push down and put on a happy face will eventually come out to play ~ often at the most inopportune times h

Music Mondays

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We continue to let the music of Les Mis guide us and open us to truths around/within us.  The above is sung by the character Javert.  There is a bit of a background to this character that will be help before you listen to the song above.  Javert is born in a prison.  There is a warm and fuzzy feeling for you today.  And this past pain in Javert's life forever haunts him.  For Javert life is black and white, right and wrong, either or.  There is very little gray in his life.  Whether he does this because of the past pain in his life or a deep desire to have order in a time of disorder, the truth is, we all know people like this.  We know folks to cling to a point of view and perspective.  I have empathy for those who are in this place.  Often they are a reminder that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and that if you give an inch some will take a mile.  There can be a slippery slope that if you allow something for this person, you will have to work harder to justify wh