the personal touch

I spend a small amount of time considering the question of “legacy.” Not in the presidential sense but rather in the sense that everything I do contains a little bit of me, my thoughts and habits and so simply by breathing in the air in a particular place (church) I tend to have an effect on the culture by a) being in a leadership role and b) by portraying to the world my own worldview.

Each end every day I am modeling something, concern, care, selfishness (hey, not every day is a good one) without any intention of doing so as all of us do and so there is the conundrum of being a role model and creating a culture in subtle ways while all the while trying to be intentional about actions and behaviors. There are limits to how much self-analysis I can manage in a given day and so, so much of this behavior is unconscious and unevaluated that is weirds me out to think what it is that might come about because of this fact of life; that we create reality by living in it.

The thing that brought this to mind is that I am feeling a bit nostalgic these days and have struck on the idea of casting back into memory and resurrecting habits and traditions of past years to make Christmas into a moment that we can inhabit not just for the season but also for the whole year. What would it be like to have that kind of child-like anticipation of graces and joys to come? Could we recapture that without turning it into something else, the typical impatience that we all suffer through with the help of the media constantly telling us that we deserve a break today, not tomorrow today!

It could be that since I was raised in a presents-on-Christmas-morning household, that I have simply learned to be patient about those kinds of things. There was no rush, the morning would come when it came and that was all there was to it. The morning could be bleary eyed for my parents, yet joyful exuberance for my brother and me.  Having never owned a cell-phone I was actually happy with new sweaters. Knowing that we were not wealthy (as much as we think that we didn’t know, we all did, we had wealthy classmates and they got different, better stuff) we knew that we got the things that we needed and we looked for that morning to dawn with eagerness.

simple  childlike  free

Did that just disappear with childhood?

Gracious Lord, giver of life and of love and of freedom in Christ have mercy on us. Show us the way to be at peace with our world instead of at war with it, constantly having to seek advantage. Let us know the sweetness of just family and just love and just hope, time spent in community, after all, “it is not good for people to be alone” and we’ve lost that a little bit. Show us the way.

Published in: on September 30, 2009 at 10:16 am  Comments (2)  

Absolute suffering

The bagpipe played “Amazing Grace” and a family walked out of the church with the knowledge that their Son, husband, father, brother, friend, mentor had passed and the only thing visible to those of us gathered was the absolute suffering that was etched on their faces.

I for one am not a fan of Amazing Grace played on anything but a bagpipe. Something stirs the blood in such a case and there is nothing you can think about but the fragility of man and the eternal, patient grace of God.

We bid farewell to one good man today, but we got a glimpse at the redeeming power of faith in the eyes of those who wept, for their own losses to be sure, but in love for the family and friends of the departed, for the love of them who remain and must now try and make a life without . . . well, just without.

Why do we try and fill such times with happy thoughts? With too many words? Job’s friends had it just right when they showed up and simply sat with him, in company and sympathy. When they opened their mouths, nothing good came out. Sometimes all that is required of us is “Man, that sucks!” because that is the only truth sometimes, the pain here and now, blotting out even the promise for a moment, blotting out even the eternity the cusp of which we are riding every day.

The pain will ease. With or without us the pain will recede because life is a persistent force. Then the Word is a true comfort because we will no longer be screaming out our pain.

There is a time to just sit and cry. But that time will pass.

Probably not today.

Published in: on September 26, 2009 at 9:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Arrogance and swagger

I wonder how a pastor can assert his authority these days. Tenuous ground to be sure in days when church shopping has made any one church a disposable commodity in people’s minds. Sometimes you must preach the law and instead of finding conviction, you see that backs of their heads as they leave the church, sometimes not to return.

I’m not one to mince words, conviction is conviction and most people need more of it rather than less of it in their lives myself included, and I don’t think anyone could accuse me of being too quick to pardon myself so I guess I just wish that we had a culture that respected honest debate and honesty in the service of the truth a little more. We’re too conditioned to be suspicious of each other’s motives to listen with an open mind. In equal measure, we’re too acculturated to seeking rhetorical advantage to just speak the truth in order to have it spoken.

Isn’t that what we are called to do, please comment, since I can only speak from the position of the one in the puplit, aren’t we supposed to call Bull%$#t when it truly is bull%$#t? And not necessarily just to point and blame, but to accept equal measure of culpability, mostly in the realm of sins of ommission, since they are pretty much the American way. We must have the most advanced necks in all of human histiry the way we turn away so often and so well.

Feeling a little grumpy, sorry about that. Got to get Caitlyn to Basketball, got to do Bible Study this evening, got to, got to, got to . . .

still want to though, which is a blessing beyond measure

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

the sounds of silence

maybe the reason that this song resonates so much is that the people who wrote it were New Yorkers.

There is no silence here. Instead of Oxygen bars there should be little places where for $5 you could just have 15 minutes of silence, pure and complete. Because there is no time at which this city even approaches silence, it’s never even quiet here.

How can you hear the Word? How can you listen for the spirit above the honking of horns and the rumbling of buses and those are just the ones that are obvious, the rumbling of the subway is so far to the background that you’d have to eliminate 90% of the other noise to even hear it, but it destroys the very possibility of quiet.

OTOH, there is a lot of cool stuff in this city. Caitlyn wants to see the statue of Liberty so we’re taking the Staten island ferry today, checking out the place where Debbie gets her flute work done and maybe have a reuben in this nice deli across the street, and then szechuan in Queens this evening with friends. All in all not bad, but this place really never sleeps . . .

Published in: on July 25, 2008 at 4:22 am  Comments (1)  

Streetcorner Preacher

I remember a time when, in seminary, we had gone as a group with a professor as a facilitator into the various contexts to which we had each been assigned as students. Debbie and I lived in a challenging neighborhood called West Phillips in Minneapolis and our contextual “cluster” visited with a pastor not four blocks down the street.

We were discussing the needs of the neighborhood and where the church might fit in and somewhere in the midst of the conversation (more of a lecture really) this pastor mentioned that he had some competition in the neighborhood, (not meaning the church where I was assigned, less than a quarter-mile away, we were no competition) a street preacher named Brother Bill who preached up and down the block.

He then sighed and shook his head and said that it wasn’t really much competition, Bill didn’t have a church to call home so there wasn’t much to his preaching.

I don’t think that it occurred to me at the time what an incredibly pompous thought that this was. Looking back I have a hard time not thinking of this devoted servant of Christ as a sadly insulated soul, stuck thinking that the trappings contribute to the Word, or that their message is not valid without them. While I understand that given a replay of his comment he would deny that this was the gist of the comment, you still cannot get it back into the tube, so to speak, like toothpaste. It is the defining thing that has formed my thinking of this man and I wonder how many stupid, conceited, self-righteous things I have said that have formed the central nugget of peoples’ thoughts about me?

In any case, Debbie heard Amos Lee on NPR the other day and heard him perform his song Street Corner Preacher and it made me think of that. Nothing special, just wondering how people would react.

Published in: on July 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

garden update

so we’re going on vacation in a couple of weeks, apparently just as the garden begins producing in earnest. We’ve gotten some radishes and some sugar snap peas, but now we’re getting squash, and tomatoes will be ripening soon, and tomatillos will be coming along (Yayyyy! Salsa!) it is an amazing thing to walk into every day.

here’s a peek:

quite a bit of growth since the past picture, I’m actually cutting two tomato plants back so they don’t tip over.

and these cute little variegated eggplant, aren’t they adorable?

and little, tender Mediterranean cucumbers, so tender you don’t have to peel them.

It is a wonder and a blessing amidst my fatigue and everything else, to have this little patch of wonderful to retreat to, to fuss over, to feast from.

Published in: on July 10, 2008 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Man is it smoky!

Caitlyn and I foolishly drove up north to try and get away from the smoke this past Monday (23rd) because the only fires on the news were in Napa and Santa Cruz.

What they didn’t mention was that there were over 100 fires in Mendocino County and so instead of driving into the clear blue sky we were driving into a scene from The Fog.

so we went, and later found out that the place we were going (Caitlyn has a favorite place to get her Carhartt overalls) was on the border of the areas being evacuated in front of the fires.

All in all a failure if the end of the adventure was to avoid the smoke, but a pleasant day with my daughter. And what could be better than that?

Each day is a blessing beyond compare. let us stop trying to compare them with other things.

Published in: on July 1, 2008 at 11:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Feed me!

if you want to know the kind of Land of the Lost world in which I live, check out this plant in front of a house down the street.

I think that there must be a sleestack under that tarp, torturing Marshall, Will and Holly.

Published in: on June 10, 2008 at 4:11 pm  Comments (1)  

trouble in paradise

so I’ve been having some struggles to get posts formatted the way that I want

hence there will be several posts here

no particular order

welcome to my world

at least my world in June.

Published in: on June 10, 2008 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Last day of school

many pictures of the last day

Caitlyn and Kaylie, lunch friends

I am going to miss showing up on Tuesdays and Fridays and watching her class. We’ll try and see as many friends over the summer as possible. Maybe some of the kids from her class can come too . . .

What is it that makes us love? Is it chemistry? Is it Kismet? Is it common cause, the knowledge that we’re all in this together, striving that our children will grow strong and sure. In You, Lord, we have that common cause with all who have heard your word. Make us joyful listeners.

Published in: on June 10, 2008 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment