Archive for July, 2014

Ridiculous

Monday, July 28th, 2014

We returned from vacation, well worn, well rested, ready.  Many thoughts …

 

The possibility to live without a lap top for a week is sweet

We tether oursleves to technology.  Much of it blessed.  Much of it obsessive and broken.  A tech “sabbath” opens a different space, a sweet reminder that most of my life, at age 49, I lived without constantly being “in touch.”  And being “out of touch” does not make one “out of touch.” It makes one rested.

There is no strategy to miniature golf

I am competitive.  My ego can’t let that one go … yet.   So yes we played miniature golf and yes I was sure I could strategize my way to victory.  Well I won – good for you ego – on a lucky hole-in-one on the 17th hole.  I promise … this was last time I will try to beat my kids at anything (until I start losing).

No sand castle can hold back the ocean

We built a sand castle.  It included pointed break waters.  Looked like an old painting of the sun, like the one in “Tangled” – spikes radiating out and all.  The boys built the spikes.  The girls built the castle.  The ocean won.

 

And with it all, with a week full, we reminded each other that God’s love is RIDICULOUS!   Deep, sweet, patient, present … all the things I am not.  But the ever gentle reminder of what could be.

 

Our desire for acceptance may render us invisible

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Jim Carrie shared this remark in a recent valedictory speech.  Rings true.

How does that work?  How does our desire for acceptance render us invisible?

Start with this idea from the 12 Step tradition … addicts are ego maniacs with an inferiority complex.   Most of us I believe harbor an addict’s soul somewhere in our lives.  Most of us, at least part of the time, live there, in an ego driven place both of superficial puffery and deep self loathing. We feverishly desire to both stand out and fit in. Or at least the ego does.   So we press ourselves into roles and persona’s that effectively render us, in terms of our souls,  invisible.  In trying to be all things we end up no-thing.

Our true selves however show us something far different.  They light a way, they sound a call to a settled place beyond standing out or fitting in.  It is a place of service, a place of love, a place of connection, a place of a blessed self forgetfulness, where questions of status or rank remain mute.  In the Epistle of James one striking line reads that we must judge by “The law which gives freedom.”  (James 2:12)   What is that law?  How does it fit?  What does it mean to judge things in such a way that we both discover and allow for such sweet freedom?

And there I have no clear, simple, communicable answer.  But I know God does.

Learning to Fall In Love With Everything

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Learning how to see. Not an easy task. And what I get more and more clear on is that God is asking us to learn to fall in love with everything, from our loved ones, to our enemies, to the present moment.

Many of you are following, no doubt, the events in the Gaza strip. The current strife was set off by the kidnapping and eventual murder of three Israeli teens. An article written while the boys were still missing recounted the stories of two moms, one Israeli and one Palestinian, each with a missing bed in their house where their teen son had been.

The empty bed and the suffering is not what connected them. Instead their religious beliefs and historical animosities filled that space with disconnection. The only connection remaining … a desire for vengeance in every widening spasms of violence. Their losses flung them apart.

So the work of love is not easy. Vengeance is many times simpler.

And that is where our role lies – for what churches could be/ should be. Not as collections of hurt but as voices for a re-imagined future where we willingly and sacrificially do the hard work of falling in love with everything.

Hidden at the bottom of a story about the violence in Gaza was a simple note. 350 Israelis going to the home of a slain Palestinian teen to stand in solidarity with his grieving family. A different connection.

 

Is Better Possible?

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

A beautiful question by Seth Godin.  And one he sadly noted in which “many people are far more comfortable saying ‘no’”

But better is always possible.  As Rev. Peter Gomes noted, the very definition of Christianity is that we are more than our biography.

That pursuit of better is not a chasing after the wind.  It is about the enlivening, God-centered work of being a good person, “… the exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope.”  We live such a life and in living such a life come to witness our capacities expand proportionally for just such a life.   Simply put, we get better…and the walls expand.

I remember coming of age in Pittsburgh as the steel industry, the very economic heart of the region, fell on hard times and eventually collapsed.  The Homestead Steel Factory I toured as a youth, which employed 5,000 plus at its peak, is now the cite of a water park.  There was little thought or conversation of “better” or “change” at that time, only a frenzied desire to stake out claims to a fast fading past.

I wonder if many churches are at that point.  I wonder if there is room for other conversations, specifically the question “Is better possible?”

 

 

Imagine better worlds

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

William Blake always capitalized the word “Imagination.”  Blake did that because he saw “Imagination” as the Holy Spirit, as what pulls us from what we see to what we don’t see.

So it is very close to the concept of faith.  Faith is not the search for knowledge.  Instead it is the search for meaning.  In that search for meaning, we find better worlds.

 

Lost at 200 Miles Per Hour

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

We get caught.  We get caught in believing that one more hour at work will make the difference, that one more call will seal the deal, that all work left for tomorrow creates a permanent stain on life’s chances.  There is almost no-one who dares to say slower might actually be better.

So we steer through life in a style that becomes increasingly complicated.   Look at this steering wheel from a Formula 1 Race car.  For many, we might view this steering wheel claiming “I could never drive that complicated a car.”  To which I would kindly add, “Many of you already (figuratively) are.”

It is hard to find our way out.  We struggle with financial pressures as well as pressures more spiritual in nature that mistakenly link our worth and value to job performance.   And I imagine if you are like me there is a very quiet voice deep within that knows the pace and complexity we place ourselves in is simply not sustainable.

Prayer, peace, contemplation, connection, family are.