Saturday, February 28, 2009

THE WORD/S OF GOD


Go, shout it out, rise up
Oh, ohhh
Escape yourself, and gravity
Hear me, cease to speak...that I may speak
Shush now
Oh, ohhh
Force quit and move to trash

Restart and re-boot yourself
You're free to go
Oh, ohhh
Shout for joy if you get the chance
Password, you enter here, right now

Oh, ohhh
You know your name, so punch it in
Hear me, cease to speak...that I may speak
Shush now

Friday, February 27, 2009

IMAGINATION

MY BODY'S NOW BEGGING
THOUGH IT'S BEGGING TO GET BACK
BEGGING TO GET BACK
TO MY HEART
TO THE RHYTHM OF MY SOUL
TO THE RHYTHM OF MY CONSCIOUSNESS
TO THE RHYTHM THAT YEARNS
TO BE RELEASED FROM CONTROL

My days are full of conversation and I have watched these conversations change rather drastically over the past few years. The past year and a half especially. People are afraid and the confidence they once had seems to not be there anymore. Truth is, most people's confidence is rarely ever grounded in anything real or secure. We have been shaped to trust in our own abilities to work systems that have been set up for us and these systems create such an environment that keeps us from seeing how we are controlled by them. It seems to me, to be such a good thing, that people's misplaced trust is being shaken.

What remains a bit frustrating to me is how it is people that are taking most of the hit/blame and "The System" isn't being questioned much at all...not really. The focus seems to solely be on the notion that people are the problem and the systems we have created are sound and good. As that scenario goes, it's all about people being here to serve the machine. Whether people serve the machine well or whether they are greeding and exploit the machine for personal gain, the machine is not a friend to us and the things that are most important. As it is worshiped today, it actually stands in the way of that which we need the most. Jesus was offered the CEO position of the machines in his time and he clearly wasn't interested. For me whether the systems are sound or not is not the issue...the systems just are what they are and I'm not all that interested in them anymore. If we can find enough freedom to imagine things from a different perspective...a perspective not determined by the system, we might just begin to understand that none of them have ever been what we thought they were and they have never been rivals to real freedom and the beauty and harmony to be found there...they just distract us from making the move to that space our hearts are longing for.

"The royal consciousness leads people to despair about the power to move toward new life. It is the task of prophetic imagination and ministry to bring people to engage the promise of newness that is at work in our history with God." Walter Brueggemann

Thursday, February 26, 2009

WHITE AS SNOW






I woke up this morning with a very heavy burden for the people of Afghanistan (yep, even the terrorists) and all of us who are caught up in this struggle and the fear dance most people are trapped in who are then left seeing killing as the best/only option.

Music/poetry/story/love/grace have a way of seeping into the deep places and doing something to us so different than what the rhetoric does to us. Such is the song White As Snow from U2's new CD.

Will we ever learn that violence will never produce peace because violence/force/domination has never set an imprisoned heart and mind free? My heart's cry this morning is to see a people living free of the destructive mistaken notion that the blending of the cross/the redemptive plan of God, with the flag of any nation does anything other than leave us all more deeply confused. It just keeps breaking hearts the world over.

Listen to it here

WHITE AS SNOW

Where I came from, there were no hills at all
The land was flat, the highway straight and wide
My brother and I, we'd drive for hours,
like we'd years instead of days
Our faces as pale as the dirty snow

Once I knew there was a love divine
Then came a time I thought it knew me not
Who can forgive forgiveness when forgiveness is not
Only the lamb as white as snow

And the water, it was icy
As it washed over me
And the moon shone above me

Now this dry ground, it bears no fruit at all
Only poppies laugh under the crescent moon
The road refuses strangers
The land, the seeds we sow
Where might we find the lamb as white as snow

As boys we would go hunting in the woods
To sleep the night shooting out the stars
Now the wolves are every passing stranger
Every face we cannot know
If only a heart could be as white as snow
For only a heart could be as white as snow

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ESSENCE OF THE TREE


This beautiful Japanese Maple Nursery website is a perfect example of why these trees IMHO are the most garden worthy trees available.


HER FIRST RECORDING


My daughter Ellie had her first experience in the recording studio today. Now she says it's time to begin to write some of her own material.

You can listen to her here.

I'M AN IDIOT :) hehe


And please, I don't need someone correcting me about speaking badly about myself. This post is a healthy excercise. I try to live aware of this reality daily.

This very morning on my drive to work I was enjoying a conversation with Julie as she was in her car driving home from her nightshift nursing job and something happened. I arrived at work and once I got to the door of the salon and was in the process of unlocking it I had this realization that I didn't have my cell phone with me. In the midst of patting my pockets I say something like "dangit" to which Julie asks, "What's wrong?" By that time I am on my way back to my vehicle to look to see if I have left my phone in my truck...hehe...still patting my pockets just to make sure I haven't missed it. I answer her by saying "I must have left my cell phone at home." It's obvious by now where this is going isn't it?

Julie then says to me "Where are you at?" and I respond "Walking in the salon" to which she responds with "What the hell are you talking to me on?" Let's just say it was quite a hilarious moment.

The cool thing is I don't miss the beauty/value of moments like these anymore. They help me keep from taking myself too serious. Myself and all the people I am surrounded by have serious challenges when it comes to perception. It's been such a vital learning experience for me, in this process of letting God be God, and helping me stay grounded as far as how I live in this world with others.

In just about every moment of my life these days, words of wisdom come rushing through my head and they usually aren't consistent with the "conventional wisdom" of our day and the moment I described above was no different. Here are a few of the things that came to mind.

"Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot
How can you stand next to the Truth and not see it?"

"Some things you shouldn't get too good at
Like smiling, crying and celebrity
Some people got way too much confidence baby"

and finally something that speaks to something that is so lacking in most of us that have been shaped by religion...an ability to acknowledged the truth about our limitations.

"Some people, including Christians (I think particularly of my Protestant friends), have the profound conviction that truth is "there." They say, for instance, that "the word of God is expressed in the Bible." Even so, I must be prudent enough to say that this word is conveyed through human language: witnesses who pass it on to other witnesses. And when I hear it, I understand it with my words, my verbal images, and I speak it with my language -- and I am not God, fortunately. If this were not so, human life would be closed. By these statements, I do not reduce the value of revealed truth in the slightest; on the contrary, in this way I respect it and recognize its special dimension and the depth and permanence that make it truth. If I claim to grasp and express it in its entirety, then it is no longer truth.

The connection between Word and Truth is of such a nature that nothing can be known of truth apart from language. This truth establishes itself over the duration of generations (Hebrew toledoth), in the ebb and flow of words, through our fellowship and our misunderstandings. This is where this marvelously human life is located. The most reliable thing speaks to the most uncertain world; my most flexible means expresses what is irrefutable."

Living aware of our limitations and being able to laugh about it is a healthy thing. I'm sure that you all just like myself have much to laugh about ;)

This is clearly the word of the day:

"Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot
How can you stand next to the Truth and not see it?"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BREATHE

"Rolling Stone gives the new record five stars and a glowing review. 'Bono knows he was born with a good weapon for making the right kind of trouble: the clean gleam and rocket's arc of that voice,' writes David Fricke.'"It was one dull morning/I woke the world with bawling," he boasted in Out of Control' written on his 18th birthday and issued on U2's debut Irish EP. 'He is still singing about singing, all over No Line on the Horizon, U2's first album in nearly five years and their best, in its textural exploration and tenacious melodic grip, since Achtung Baby.' " taken from U2.com

THE MAGNIFICENT

Okay, Magnificent is my favorite today.

Magnificent

I was born
I was born to be with you
In this space and time
After that and ever after I haven't had a clue
Only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar



This so perfectly describes my experience. It makes me want to get up and dance.






I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise…

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
Magnificent

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love unites our hearts











Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
Magnificent
Magnificent

LET GO OF CONTROL...TAKE YOUR FIRST DEEP BREATH...AND LIVE



That’s the trouble with you and me
We always hit the bottom ‘fore we get set free
I’m so far down
I’m beginning to breathe

Over The Rhine

I’ve found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it’s all that I found
And I can breathe
Breathe now"
U2

Monday, February 23, 2009

ZEALOTRY



Zealotry seems to be on the rise, and as always, fear is at the heart of it. I'm just not interested in any of the methods the zealots always employ in order to accomplish their set goals. Fear will always produce fearful people and fearful people whether they be looking up from the bottom or looking down from the top of the domination pyramid have no ability to change the game. They just shuffle the deck and move the players around. The game always stays the same...it just takes on different flavors.

But love is different and it is this revolution of love that I refuse to allow the atmosphere of fear and the zealots to distract me from. I just love how this kind of change is expressed in the last chapter of The Shack.

It's a revolution of love and kindness---"a revolution that revolves around Jesus and what he did for us all and what he continues to do in anyone who has a hunger for reconciliation and a place to call home. This is not a revolution that will overthrow anything, or if it does, it will do it in ways we could never contrive in advance. Instead it will be the quiet daily powers of dying and serving and loving and laughing, of simple tenderness and unseen kindness, because if anything matters, everything matters."

The past two day (as you all know by now) I have been taking in the new music from U2. It's full of this truth about the revolution of love being the power that will bring us the kind of change we all long for and it stands up to the mistaken notion of fear driven zealotry. I'm not interested anymore in just any change...I'm only interested in the kind of change that can set us free. I refuse to waste any of my time being sucked into the propaganda of fear that is being spewed about by all those who themselves are operating from a place of fear.

But the moment of surrender doesn't come easy when the fear and it's accompanying ridiculous voices keep having their way with us. But Love is always at work to drive out that fear. When that happens...the choice becomes clear.

From the song MOMENT OF SURRENDER

At the moment of surrender
I'm falling to my knees
I did not notice the passers by
And they did not notice me

I’ve been in every black hole
At the alter of a Dark star
My body's now begging
Though it’s begging to get back
Begging to get back
To my heart
To the rhythm of my soul
To the rhythm of my consciousness
To the rhythm that yearns
To be released from control

Sunday, February 22, 2009

UNKNOWN CALLER


Well, musically and lyrically this song has emerge on this first day of listening to the new U2 CD as the stand out for me. As with plants and music my favorites often change according to which one I am looking at or listening to at the moment...so this could change and more than likely will back and forth several times. I'm really enjoying this new music.

As they often do they have placed in one of their songs something that more than likely is a hidden scripture reference and it happens to be in Unknown Caller. I did a quick google search on 3:33 and this came up. Who knows?

John 3:33
"He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true.
***You will see in one of the comments someone suggesting that this is a reference to Jeremiah 33:3*****

UNKNOWN CALLER

Sunshine, sunshine
Sunshine, sunshine

Oh, ohhh
Oh, ohhh

I was lost between the midnight and the dawning
In a place of no consequence or company
3:33 when the numbers fell off the clock face
Speed dialling with no signal at all

Go, shout it out, rise up
Oh, ohhh
Escape yourself, and gravity
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Shush now
Oh, ohhh
Force quit and move to trash

I was right there at the top of the bottom
On the edge of the known universe where I wanted to be
I had driven to the scene of the accident
And I sat there waiting for me

Restart and reboot yourself
You’re free to go
Oh, ohhh
Shout for joy if you get the chance
Password, you, enter here, right now

Oh, ohhh
You know your name so punch it in
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Shush now
Oh, ohhh
Then don’t move or say a thing

THEY REALLY HAVE DELIVERED AGAIN

Listen to U2's new music here No Line On The Horizon When you get to the link you will see the collection of album covers, click on the first one and the playlist will appear

I'm hearing familiar sounds from U2's past and I am loving it along with new sounds/new ground and I am loving it also. Magnificent began to play and it made me think of one of my all time favorite U2 CDs...The Unforgettable Fire. Unknown Caller began and I remembered Joshua Tree and Boy and the more recent song The Hands That Built America all together.

***addition: I'm hearing some Achtung Baby also***

Okay, I'm still in the middle of listening and this is distracting me....back to the music. I'll talk about this later. I LOVE MUSIC........I love how these guys express their faith in their lyrics and their lives. This actually works along with where I have been for the past few days thinking about DISCOVERY. As Bono says..."I am drawing a fish in the sand, it is there for those who are searching for it and it is not for those who aren't." Since the 90s though, things haven't been as hidden. Here are some random lyrics.

"Every day I die again, and again I’m reborn
Every day I have to find the courage
To walk out into the street
With arms out
Got a love you can’t defeat"

"Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot
How can you stand next to the Truth and not see it?"

"Go, shout it out, rise up
Oh, ohhh
Escape yourself, and gravity
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Shush now
Oh, ohhh
Force quit and move to trash"

"Sing your heart out, sing my heart out
I’ve found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it’s all that I found
And I can breathe
Breathe now"

Magnificent

I was born
I was born to be with you
In this space and time
After that and ever after I haven't had a clue
Only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise…

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
Magnificent

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love unites our hearts

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
Magnificent
Magnificent


FOR ONLY A HEART COULD BE AS WHITE AS SNOW

Saturday, February 21, 2009

THE AWE OF DISCOVERY

As I have made clear in a few of my recent posts, I am so enjoying reading Planthropology. Every time I read one of Ken's books, the stories he tells and his photographs stir many things inside me that I feel passionate about. He cultivated in me a love for exquisite plants. Many of which are difficult to find. The plants featured here in this post being a few of them. While hunting for specific plants I have discovered many other extraordinary plants along the way. Many of them are now a part of my garden and will be awakening soon as winter is replaced with the warming temps of spring.



Today's reading, even though I have not yet seen the actual word in the book, has been about Fractals...geometric patterns that are repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry. Approximate fractals are easily found in nature. These objects display self-similar structure over an extended, but finite, scale range. Examples include clouds, snow flakes, crystals, mountain ranges, lightning, river networks, cauliflower or broccoli, and systems of blood vessels and pulmonary vessels. The Japanese Maple leaf below being one example of a naturally occuring fractal.

These kind of discoveries, at least for me, so clearly point toward a Creator who is so good and has placed within the created world the absolute certainty of his abundance. Humans just don't believe it and due to their condition of being stuck in a place of fear, end up hoarding and raping and pillaging instead. We even take created things like plants that have powerful healing attributes built into their very structure and use then for harm.
There is endless possibility right in front of us all and we are making choices everyday as to what we will do with those possibilities. Will we be a part of healing and beauty or will we take those things and create something twisted with them instead?


Can you imagine if we all became gardeners? Let us beat some swords into plowshares.

Friday, February 20, 2009

DISCOVERY


This speaks of the time I also grew up in and all my days as a young boy living on a farm trouncing through the woods and along the banks of streams and farm lakes.

Taken from the beautiful book Planthropology by Ken Druse

"I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time when children still wandered outdoors; when turning over a rock to see what lived beneath it was not done with fear but out of curiosity. Hundreds of years ago, it was curiosity and quest for undiscovered riches that lead explorers to comb the Earth in search of new plants that might promise cures for diseases, an end to hunger, or unfathomable beauty---a pursuit modern plant hunters still undertake. I learned as a child, and know today, that the most remarkable discoveries can be made everywhere and every day---just beyond the gate that leads to the garden."


As I read this today it brought back to me many rich memories. I remembered the fallen rotted tree trunks that myself and friends over turned in order to catch the salamanders that lived underneath. I remembered all the times of jumping on our motorcycles (or bicycles) early in the morning and riding all day long through the woods and fields until nightfall and often sleeping in the tent that we sometimes kept up for days during spring, summer and fall and would return to it when we wanted to sleep under the stars..out in the wide open spaces...just being kids.

The memories and the fun and the discoveries are too many to mention here. It's an experience that I so cherish and that I wish my three daughter were able to repeat...but times have changed and such activities are difficult to recreate for those that live in more developed spaces. But this doesn't mean that the life of discovery is impossible. Not by a long shot. But I'm not talking about shopping.

My experience tells me that most people miss most of the things that are right in front of them. We have been shaped into frantic multitaskers by the machine we live in and have become so focused on just surviving we can't see the big picture anymore and we also miss the unique simple beauty that we are surrounded by...even in the busy concrete jungle of the city in their parks and public and private gardens. In the frantic scramble to survive we no longer live well.

19 years ago Julie and I bought our first home in the inner city of St. Louis. It was in Soulard that I returned to some of my roots by taking up the hobby of gardening. You can see an example of what our home looked like here and read about the neighborhood. The Historic Soulard Farmer's Market allowed me once again to enjoy the rich home grown produce I had grown up with. We lived there for 6 years before moving to the home we now live in out in the western suburbs of St. Louis.

My dad taught me to farm and work the soil and I learned to garden with my mom. I wish I had enjoyed all of that during that time as much as I enjoyed exploring the woods and streams that were plentiful and waiting to be explored, but hey...somethings never change. When we are made to do things they just don't feel as exciting as free exploration always feels. Necessity is something we are forced to learn as we grow up and move out on our own and it is this space people are forced into that often now stands in the way of the excitement we once felt when we are younger. But we don't have to let necessity rob us of the most precious things of life.

"There is a Wind… that wraps itself around the edges of necessity, tugging and pulling until those boundaries become torn and begin to move to the motion of that which is not visible." Paul Young

That quote speaks to me about the life of the Spirit and it speaks of the freeing effect it has on us as we learn to let it move in us. It is a Spirit thing but it has tremendous effect on our lives in this realm of necessity that we live. That's actually a big part of the plan. Maybe the biggest part of the plan. Eternal Life is about quality. Whether we are aware of it or not, the way we live does have much to do with our choices. I got sick of the frantic multitasking life and decided I didn't want to live that way anymore. Gardening played a part in that transition but it even took 18 years of gardening frantically before I was able to experience gardening as I experience it today. As the insane grown-up world began to lose it's grip on me I began to hear once again the voice of the child that had been screaming inside me all along for it's release. I'm thrilled to say...it has been finding release.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

THE SUICIDE MACHINE AT WORK




It's going to be a very interesting year in my life. The landlords have decided to knock down the building that has been the home of our beautiful salon now for 14 years. It works out better for their "bottom line" to sell the property to a bigger operation then it does to keep it a beautiful salon and a pediatric office. I understand that, it's how our system works.

It will be interesting to see who's "bottom line" will now be hurt in light of the competition that will be happening on that corner with these changes. Walgreen's Pharmacy moved in across the street from us a few years ago. Just another one of their big new buildings that happen to be going up it seems every mile or so. The drug industry seems to have a bright future ahead of them, at least it seems?

From what we have heard another national pharmacy chain has decided to put up another big new building in the space that will be created once the building we are in is leveled. It seems these two are poised to go head to head and see if there is enough people needing drugs to keep them both profitable or will one emerge as the "top dog" and run the other one off that corner or out of business completely? We will have to wait and see.

When we leased our space 14 years ago we were paying $7:50 per sq. ft. Today we are paying $18. The spaces my brother has looked at in the area so far are running closer to $21 - $30 per sq. ft. How did this trend ever get spun as a positive thing and ever get sold to the public in a way that led anyone to believe that it was sustainable?

We will be okay and will figure something out but there are many that just get eaten alive by this machine that fights to keep the upward growth trend going. The sacrificing of the many smaller people will continue as long as the survival of the larger suicide machine remains the focus. And the lie that it is better for us all in the long run. Question is...how long will the illusion last?

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am presently reading PLANTHROPOLOGY The Myths, Mysteries, And Miracles Of My Garden. It so beautifully explains why I garden and why it does to me what it does. We were meant to love and care for this beautiful planet and each other...but instead have created a machine that we now serve, that rapes the earth for all it has to give as if it is here to serve the machine, and in the process we rape ourselves. I want to live as free of that machine as is possible. Gardening seems to be a better way to accomplish living with and loving our Creator and that which he created, my neighbor and this beautiful earth...than does being a supporter of the suicide machine.

"Nature's art is easy to see, and artists and artisans still, as they have for ages, depict plants in paintings and use them for garden designs or as motifs for decoration. In the mid-19th century, a group of artists moved to break down the class distinction that kept art from being available to all people. I feel a kinship with these artists who believed that beauty and nature could be the salve to treat the wounds inflicted by the Industrial Revolution; today, the injury is being caused by the industrialization of the planet." Ken Druse...Planthropology

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

REPENTANCE


What repentance has been turned into seems to me to be just another religious adventure in missing the point. It has become one of the most valuable tools used in an attempt to modify behavior in a fear and shame management system that has been reduced to adherence to a moral code and also tied to how "committed" someone is to the agenda of an institution. When repentance seems to me to be about something completely other.

It's something that happens as one begins to see Father for who he really is which sets in motion the changing of one's mind as they begin to see the destructive existence of independence for what it is, which in turns leads them to change directions and begin walking into the beautiful Life of dependence trusting Father. When it is seen in this reality, it just seems to me that it doesn't have much at all to do with remorseful wailing of "I'm sorry for breaking the rules...I won't ever do it again". True repentance has a way instead of sending people into moments of joyful delight and celebration.

***************************************************

I began thinking about all of that this morning as I was in the middle of a conversation with someone I had not talked to for a few years. She was telling me about the stress her husband and her live under as her husband lives/works to maintain the American Success Dream. And they are very successful by those standards.

It just reminded me of my experience that culminated in 2005 through my pursuit of "success" as the world defines it, and it having led me to the brink of exhaustion and frustration that was shooting out from my life in all directions as anger and frustration. I began to realize that I'd grown tired of living in what turned out to be the far off country. My "far off country" was rather clean morally so the season of repentence in my life had nothing at all to do with coming in line with a moral code.

I was eight months into 2006 before I realized those eight months had been a journey that would redefine what repentance would now mean to me. I had just given up the old way I had attempted to live and changed my mind as to how to proceed from that point. I changed directions. This is about finding freedom from the things of the world that has lured us away from our home...grabbing for things Father had not given. Things that really have no lasting value at all. When we clearly see what the trade is that we are making...there's really no remorse in that moment of repentance at all except maybe the moment we see the beauty and joy we have missed out on while on our adventure in missing the point. But that seems to fade rather quickly also when you see that groveling only keeps us from being able to take in the love that Father is extending.
I get the sense that part of the father's run to get to the son once he noticed him while he was still far off had a little to do with the father wanting to ease the boys pain as quickly as he could. There's just no time for begging and remorse in this family that is being restored...only celebration.

STORMS

To step out the front door this time of the year and be greeted by temps in the 50s and storm clouds and gusty winds just does something to me. That is why I speak of it often. I just love weather. The move from winter to spring and then again summer to fall for some reason is just exciting to me. More than likely today at work a co-worker will look at me and say..."I know, you love days like this!!!"

Hopefully spring will come in more like a lamb though as opposed to a lion. Some tension is exciting but too much tension as in tornadoes is just dangerous and scary. It's been a few seasons now since we have had to make our way to the basement, multiple times, when the sirens begin to scream just down the street from us in our local park warning us of the likelihood of a funnel cloud tracking towards our area.

And that is just fine by me. I would rather be able to stand outside with it happening over my head taking pictures and enjoying the wonder of it all.
Have an awe-filled day everyone.










Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ANTICIPATION


I pulled Planthropology off my bookshelf today and I am not sure whether it was a good idea or not. We still have over a month to go before my garden will be filled with magnificent plants like this Japanese Maple. The anticipation is growing.

Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream'

LEADING BY EXAMPLE OR PLAYING DICTATOR


A number of things have converge recently that turn out to be the inspiration of this post. A message from a friend this morning, a couple blogs posts and podcasts of another friend, and the everyday experience of being someone learning to live loved and by grace in the midst of a world addicted to the illusion of control brought on by overwhelming fear. Now mind you, most people don't see control (attempts to control) as an illusion...but once one sees it as such it ends up just feeling silly/sick to continue to live that way.

Awhile back I began a conversation on a forum by posting this conversation from The Shack dealing with freedom, fear, control, and law:

"Mackenzie," Sarayu continued, "those that are afraid of freedom are those who cannot trust us to live in them. Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control."
"Is that why we like the law so much---to give us some control?" asked Mack.

"It's much worse than that," resumed Sarayu. "It grants you the power to judge others and feel superior to them. You believe you are living to a higher standard than those you judge. Enforcing rules, especially in it's more subtle expressions like responsibility and expectation, is a vain attempt to create certainty out of uncertainty. And contrary to what you might think, I have a great fondness for uncertainty. Rules cannot bring freedom; they only have the power to accuse."

Based upon the circumstances my family was caught up in the first time I read this, these challenges to my way of thinking at that time were like a leg sweep and a light bulb moment all at the same time. Papa was so patient as I faced up to these things and even in the beginning allowed me to say things like: Well, I have some small issues of control I need to deal with. A few months later I would move a little farther and say: Well, control had sneaked into my life without me having been aware of it. To a few more months down the road finally admitting I had lived my entire life attempting to control everyone and every situation....and even God.

Law today looks to me just like scripture paints it out to be.....where law increases sin abounds all the more. Trying to live by it and train (manipulate and control) others to live by it had just made a mess. And when I began to see law for what it really is.....Grace came into view. Grace can change anything and grace is wrapped in freedom.

I love how John Lynch describes it in True Faced. It's the New Covenant gamble...will it work? Truth be told...it's the only thing that will work. People will cheat and take advantage of others whether under Law or Grace. But there is one big difference. Law can never ever achieve what Grace accomplishes. Redemption and freedom for the individual...as it displaces the fear that holds us all captive and keeps us caught up in the cycle of law and the illusion of control that works relentlessly to make us believe that it's working.

"Whatever you've got
I don't mind...

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear"






Monday, February 16, 2009

WATCHING THEM GROW UP

What a joy it is to watch these girls grow up into beautiful ladies. The road has also been rocky and full of pain for both them and Julie and I, but love and grace has a way making all of that bearable. We are learning to live with them in a way (Honorable Relations) that respects them and the process we all (children and adults) find ourselves in. I lived too long with younger people, as an arrogant adult, unaware that the process I was in was really no different than the process they are in. If one is not free, one is not free, no matter what age they might be. What a different world it would be if we all understood that.

One thing that annoys me beyond most other human activities is seeing people being hard on other people for doing very similar things that they themselves are caught up in doing and yet blind to it. This seems to usually stem from the reality that most people seek fulfilment and self gratification by using others. I want to believe they are doing it out of a place of blindness because the other option is just too ugly to imagine. But the result is still the same....a very harsh culture for people to live in and a difficult one in which to find enough space filled with grace so as to find a way out of the destructive cycle. It's my prayer for my daughters and a growing commitment between myself and my wife to create that grace-filled-space right here at home for them to fall into and to be assured of it's permanence.

Ellie is going into the recording studio at the end of this month to record two songs. She was performing one of the songs for some people over the weekend and I was just struck by the lyrics of the song and how it speaks of something she has been able to avoid up to this point in her life. It has saved her much confusion and heartache. My other two daughters have not been so lucky in this area and have already endured much pain and confusion in their young lives. It's so interesting watching how different experiences create different dilemmas/strongholds in people's hearts and minds in which grace and love will be necessary to unwind the complications that have been created. It doesn't matter if it is pride/confusion or guilt/confusion or I've-got-it-all-figured-out/confusion one is trapped in. They are all products of shame and fear and equally destructive prisons.

Grace and love are still the power that will set them/us free and keep them/us free. When I hear those words these days I always think of God's justice. It's what he sent into this dark world, while we were still acting like selfish morons, so as to set things right once again. Aren't you glad? And when I think of Jesus and his life I always think of Honorable Relations. He shows us respect and continues to love us regardless of what we are caught up in because he sees us as valuable and he knows the power of love and grace.

"I’m thinking of a word that has been
Knocked up and overused
You could say it’s lost all meaning
From so much abuse"

I want to live in a way that helps recover, what love really is, from all it's misuse because this growing up stuff is tough and dangerous and confusing...and that doesn't just apply to teenagers.




.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

ANOTHER U2 POST TO GO WITH THE OTHERS


I love spending time with these brothers by being immersed in the sound with them....wink wink.


Find out what I mean by that here

NO LINE ON THE HORIZON..."LOVE KEEPS RELIGION FROM ZEALOTRY" Bono



Later this year...another new ablum from U2

NEW @U2 U2 PLANNING ANOTHER ALBUM IN 2009
February 14, 2009
posted by: m2

The Observer has a terrific article by Sean O'Hagan about the making of No Line On The Horizon, which includes the revelation that U2 is planning to release another album before the end of 2009. Bono describes the next album as "a more meditative album on the theme of pilgrimage."

You can read Sean O'Hagan's article here

Excerpt:

The conversation spirals off into illuminating territory, touching once again on the Christian faith that is the key determinant of both his music and his activism. It is a subject he does not often talk about, he says, because it inevitably gets reduced or trivialised, and "it leaves you open to being accused of being a hypocrite, especially if you are of the hopeless variety, which I am. I haven't broken all the commandments," he adds, laughing, "but I've wanted to."

He says that a lot of people he most admires are non-believers. Bill Gates. Warren Buffett. "People who are prepared to spend their entire life's fortune trying to make the lives of people they don't know a lot better. These people are more Christian than the Christians. Zealotry and certainty are worrying for me. Love keeps religion from zealotry."

SOH So without love, it becomes another kind of fixed ideology?

Bono "Yeah, that's right! Anyway, there's loads of pops in there about zealotry, religious and otherwise, and you're the only person who's picked up on this in the lyrics. I mean, 'Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady.' Come on?"

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ANOTHER LOOK AT EXTREME CONFIDENCE


"Anybody half awake these days will be aware that there are many Christians who are exceedingly confident in their understanding of the Gospels, and who are exceedingly self-confident in their understanding of themselves in their faith. They appear to know precisely the purposes of God, and they appear to be perfectly assured that they are now doing, and in every circumstance will continue to do, precisely God’s will as it applies specifically to themselves. They are confident, moreover, that God hates people whose faith differs from their own, and they are happy to concur in that hatred.

Having been invited to speak to a convocation of Christian seminarians, I at first felt that I should say nothing until I confessed that I do not have any such confidence. And then I understood that this would have to be my subject. I would have to speak of the meaning, as I understand it, of my lack of confidence, which I think is not at all the same as a lack of faith."
Wendell Berry

COMMUNITIES OF GRACE? IS IT POSSIBLE?


Hell yes it is.


If one doesn't find a way to transcend law and hate and the merciless type of "justice" that travels at it's side....that one's existence will continue to look like the self-preserving dark dream that it is, full of ghosts that need crushed in hopes of not being crushed themself.

There is something beyond that regardless of what all the ridiculous voices are shouting.

"Love is always about giving up control, and people are trained to think of taking control—even of God. In my experience, most people would sooner be afraid and in control than in love and out of control."

And once again, U2's newest song seems to suggest that U2 believes so also. Watch the video here.

GET ON YOUR BOOTS

The future needs a big kiss
Wind blows with a twist
Never seen a moon like this
Can you see it too?

Night is falling everywhere
Rockets at the fun fair
Satan loves a bomb scare
But he won’t scare you

Hey, sexy boots
Get on your boots, yeah

You free me from the dark dream
Candy floss, ice cream
All our kids are screaming
But the ghosts aren’t real

Here’s where we gotta be
Love and community
Laughter is eternity
If joy is real

You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful you are
No you don’t know how beautiful / You don’t know, and you don’t get it, do you?
You don’t know how beautiful you are

That’s someone’s stuff they’re blowing up
But we’re into growing up
Women of the future
Hold the big revelations

I got a submarine
You got gasoline
I don’t want to talk about wars between nations...

Not right now
Hey sexy boots, no!
No no no...
Get on your boots, yeah
Not right now!
Bossy boots

You don’t know how beautiful
You don’t know how beautiful you are
No you don’t know how beautiful / You don’t know, and you don’t get it, do you?
You don’t know how beautiful you are...

Hey sexy boots
I don’t want to talk about the wars between the nations
Sexy boots, yeah

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Let me in the sound, sound
Meet me in the sound

Let me in the sound
Let me in the sound, now
God, I’m going down
I don’t wanna drown now
Meet me in the sound




Friday, February 13, 2009

FEAR HAS TO BE DISPLACED

This morning in a conversation with a client I have known for many years we ended up in a conversation about fear. It's just been within the past 3 years that other peoples fears and the effect it is having on them has become apparent to me. Before, seeing it wasn't even possible because fear still resided at the core of my existence. It governed everything. Even the "positive" "responsible" things I was doing were all being done from this place of fear and I was completely oblivious to it.

Knowing we are loved and knowing that we are secure in that love is the only thing that can displace the fear that resides in us. Is my client about to make that transition? I do not know but my hunch at this time tells me ...not yet. But my hunch also tells me that she is close. All the things she has placed her trust in and spent her time so responsibly tending to are at this time letting her down and leaving her more fearful and exhausted and frustrated. Like I said, I've known her for many years and this has been a growing trend in her for awhile now. The night is darkest right before the dawn.

We had a wonderful conversation and I as I always do, attempted to allow her fear to be as real as it is to her and at the same time offer to her the reality that will expose it for being what it really is. A reality that is always at work to displace that fear from our lives and set us free. The economic situation and politics and religion are doing in her life what they do best...manipulate our fears in order to shape our behavior. Until the One who is Love is bigger to her than the other things, fear and anxiety will control her and cause her to react in ways that just exacerbate it all.

I love my job and I love these on-going/unfolding conversations/relationships I have with people I have grown to care so deeply about. Jean was going to stop by B&N sometime today and pick up Richard Rohr's book Hope Against Darkness. The subtitle had settled it for her.......The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety. I thought that would be appealing to a Catholic who is at this time really freaked out and fearful. Her parting words to me went something like this, "I know anxiety well."

"Love is always about giving up control, and people are trained to think of taking control—even of God. In my experience, most people would sooner be afraid and in control than in love and out of control." Richard Rohr

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A NEW LOOK

Well, it had been three years since I began this blog and the look of it all had remained the same from day one. This morning I decided it was time for a change. There seems to be a lot of that happening in my life right now. A lot.

I'm in the middle of getting my taxes ready for my accountant and it has become obvious that I need to make some adjustments there also (again) to make it easier and less time consuming for me during this time of the year. With a daughter in college and having to fill out FAFSA forms I have to have my taxes back from my accountant by the end of Feb. instead of April 15, tax day. The changes I made three years ago in this area had a drastic freeing effect on my daily life. That change was a change that made 365 days a year better than they had ever been before in regards to my sense of peace and stability. Something that had always jerked me around and felt like a roller coaster no longer jerked me around and felt like a roller coaster. My security began to be disentangled from the economic illusion...the financial security lie. It was a beautiful change. So once again, adjusting some of my accounting practices is just one thing about to change among many these days.

This morning I feel like I have been able to let go of something that has been bothering me for awhile now. Last night had produced the darkest most frustrated internal moments in the whole letting go process of this particular situation. That's a realization that has just emerged as I'm writing this. I guess I'll have to wait till tomorrow to see how I feel then and then a week from now and a month from now and so on. But for right now, in this moment, I really do feel that the burden is lighter.

Life throws us curves quite often that we never see coming. It seems that most of the time trying to make sense out of them only complicates the already complicated existence that is life. I've come to realize that there is never any situation where I am able to see all the intricacies of what is going on. What happens to be happening, is what it is, but I only see it in part. Maybe the attempt to understand it all is just another veiled attempt at controlling things and people? I get the overwhelming sense that is true. And so I am left with a choice....to move forward to the next moment in all it's newness and possibility or to stay in the one that has already past and carry it's complications with me?

The video pictures don't apply to any of what I have mentioned today but the lyrics do. (But I must say, I also love the story being told with the pictures)

TRUISM

Nothing has been what I'd guessed so far.
Unforeseen, this most sweet, beautiful change.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I LOVE THE LAND OF WOMEN.....BUT......



I'm ready for the second (maybe annual) golf journey trip.

The emails and phone calls with Wayne just aren't doing it right now. They are better than nothing but still. I want to spend some face to face time with this friend. I really do feel like I need it.

I haven't seen Dan since last March when he came to St. Louis to stay a couple days with us. Spending some time with him is overdue also.

And I must admit that I am glad that it is not a total retreat from the land of women that I live in. One of my daughters and Sara will be a part of the time also and that will be fun. My daughter has never seen the Pacific Ocean and Saturday afternoon we all plan on making a trip to the coast for dinner and some fun.

I'm trying to shake a burden/pain that I have been carrying for a bit now and haven't been able to completely shake or understand...hopefully the timing of this trip is providential? We will see.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

LEARNING FROM LIFE



"Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way we like to dream about. The off center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don't get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limits. It's a very tender, non aggressive, open ended state of affairs."

A friend shared this on line today and I just love it. I think it's from Richard Rohr. Where else do we learn but in life? It will either make one ugly and hard or it will be the thing that is a part of setting one free. I've learned from my life and from some good friends that life is all about now...the moment. The past is over and any future is just an imagination. And more than likely it won't turn out like we imagine it. That's something I stopped doing a couple years ago and my life is much better for it.

The off center, in-between state is a wonderful place to live. It's so funny how the old me would see this new me as being irresponsible. I probably am according to what the world values but I just don't value those things anymore. When it comes to the world and how she works I'll do what is necessary but more than likely no more than that.

The "now" is that in-between space...the flowing tide. Dropping anchor just won't work here. Flexable becomes necessary. This is the place of verb/grace. It's the only place we have the opportunity for things such as confessing, repenting, loving, responding, growing, reaping, changing, sowing, running, dancing, singing, and so forth. I 've grown to love this unsettled active place.

Every time I feel myself gravitating back to the old place of noun/law, my mind begins to get twisted around and frustration begins to set in and I recognize what is happening. I know that space well enough and know that if I stay there I become Dictator again and I don't want to be Dictator ever again. What's so interesting to me is to watch how others respond to what I am doing in situations when they are looking for a Dictator. Often in those moments they look at me and see someone who is too lax and it frustrates them. That is, when it is someone else they want to see the law enforced upon. Oh but do they love this new space I am in when it is themselves that have made a mistake.

Just yesterday I could see the frustration on one of my daughters faces when I wouldn't respond with right-handed power in regards to her sister and her disrespectful behavior. I was fully engaged but not in the way she wanted me to be. I looked at her and asked----"How well did 12 years of being that kind of a dad work in our home?" She was silent. She knows all too well how it had worked and she knows how different the past 3 have been in comparison. The difference is as obvious as a mountain is in the flatlands.

A funny thing happened in my life when I began to see the power of treating my daughters (and others) with respect even in moments that most people would never think was appropriate. Things began to change...not due to fear but due to the transforming process of winning a heart by exhibiting a different way. Jesus' life is a wonderful teacher when it comes to all these things having to do with living in the off center, in-between state. It's a very tender, non aggressive, open ended state of affairs that is full of surprises.



LETTING GO

"The leaves on the oak tree
Hold on through the winter
They’re brown and their brittle
They clatter together

I can’t seem to let go
I’m so scared of losing
The deeper the love goes
The deeper the bruising"


Over The Rhine

Monday, February 09, 2009

THINGS CHANGE...WE ARE LEFT TO ADJUST

I might be forced to change this area of the garden due to the fact my neighbor chose to cut down a 60' River Birch that provided shade for these shade loving plants. You can barely see the trunk of the tree in the upper right hand corner of this picture. He asked me before he did it if I was okay with him taking it down. He was afraid of it falling on his home in a storm and was also in fear of the roots creating problems for his home's foundation. I told him that it was on his property and it was his decision to make. I was aware of the problems it would create for my garden since this area was designed with the shade that tree created in mind. Even so, I believed the decision was best left in his hands. Had I convinced him, based upon my desires, and then the tree created for him the problems he feared, I would have felt responsible.

The open exposure created by the tree's absence has already produced some changes for me to get used to this winter and I haven't even had to deal yet with the drastic changes it will most certainly create in the garden. It effects many things. For one, my deck is no longer protected from the hot southern exposure and we have much less privacy in regards to the street. But hey, it is what it is. I could get all worked up about it in light of all of that, but that would change nothing but maybe my sense of peace. I've been in a process of learning to not let external things touch that. It's too precious to me. The tree is gone and the sun now invades a space it had formerly not invaded. It's just something I must now adjust to.

On the day my neighbor asked my opinion about it all I was faced with some choices. I could have voiced my concerns based upon how it would effect me but I chose not to. Instead I chose to begin to imagine the new opportunities the change would make possible. Time will tell what adjustments I have to make. It might be few or it might call for many. But either way the choice to live with my neighbor in a way that allowed him to act within his freedom to do as he saw fit feels way better than what more than likely would have happened had I attempted to convince/manipulate him to do as I wanted. This way the relationship between he and I is still on good terms. That's far more important to me than this garden.
Living and adjusting to the changing garden seems to be a better road to travel for all involved. Relational crap seems to create needed adjustments that end up being far more painful.



Sunday, February 08, 2009

LIVING WITH AMAZEMENT


A walk through the garden yesterday revealed that the Hellebore are just now poking their heads through the top layer of mulch. In a month they will look like this.
It's still hard for me to believe it all, whether it is watching the changes from season to season, or when I look up into the night/morning sky and see the moon, stars and the planets. I see God everywhere and I see his abundance so freely and lovingly given. And then I am left with another kind of amazement.....why all the fuss about the things that don't ever come close to comparing to what he freely gives us.

The lighter travel pack I am carrying these days makes the trip from moment to moment much easier and much more enjoyable. And I still get the sense that the pack has things in it I do not need and that do not add anything worthwhile to the journey. It's funny how elimination has begun to actually feel like addition in my life. Traveling light turns out to be wonderful for reasons I was unaware of at the time I began this process. Many new wonderful things have filled the space.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

AN EMOTIONAL REUNION

One at a time. You just never know the power of redemption that comes from love grace and forgiveness.

Watch it here.

THE ALLURE OF IT ALL...IT CAN LOOK AND SOUNDS SO RIGHT


My last post was a by-product of how I am feeling right now. It's a weird and strange place to be. I feel at peace on one level and at the same time I feel really annoyed. I'm annoyed at the reality that we all seem to be so susceptible to the very things that keep us from finding love and freedom and living there. And the result created in our lives in light of this is that it's impossible for us to live in a way that honors what we know as The Golden Rule.

Allowing the things of this world to allure us with the promises of security, satisfaction, sense of worth, value and significance, will surely be the very thing that keeps us from "knowing" security and living aware of our worth, value and significance. Accepting the world's substitute will set us up to always be faked out and it always sets us against one another...always...while creating justifications that make us feel okay with the violations.

It's what has me so annoyed. I hate it and yet I personally understand how easy it is for us to find ourselves caught up in it and unaware that we are caught up in it.

The excerpt from Hope Against Darkness struck me when I read it a few years ago and has stuck with me. The peace mentioned, I feel comes from the life in the Spirit...the annoyance seems to come from not being able to remain there completely yet.

I've highlighted the example of Saint Francis again because it just feels relevant.

Saint Francis stepped out into a world being recast by the emerging market economy. He lived amid a decaying old order in which his father was greedily buying up small farms of debtors, moving quickly into the new entrepreneurial class. Francis stepped into a Church that seemed to have been largely out of touch with the masses. But he trusted a deeper voice and a bigger truth. He sought one clear center and moved out from there.

The one clear centerpiece was the Incarnate Jesus. He understood everything else from that personalized reference point. Like Archimedes, Francis found his one firm spot on which to stand and from which he could move his world. He did this in at least three clear ways.
First, he walked into the prayer depths of his own tradition, as opposed to mere religious repetition of old formulas. Second, he sought direction in the mirror of creation itself, as opposed to mental and fabricated ideas or ideals. And, most radically, he looked to the underside of his society, to the "community of those who have suffered," for an understanding of how God transforms us. In other words, he found depth and breadth---and a process to keep you there.

The depth was an inner life where all shadow, mystery and paradox were confronted, accepted and forgiven. Here he believed God could be met in fullness and truth. The breadth was the actual world itself, a sacramental universe. It was not the ideal, the churchy or the mental, but the-right-in-front-of-you-and-everywhere----the actual as opposed to the ideal.

And, finally, he showed us the process of staying there---the daring entrance into the world of human powerlessness.

HOPE AGAINST DARKNESS

THE POSTMODERN OPPORTUNITY

"One reason so many people have lost heart today is that we feel both confused and powerless. The forces against us are overwhelming: consumerism, racism, militarism, individualism, patriarchy, the corporate juggernaut. These "powers and principalities" seem to be fully in control. We feel helpless to choose our own lives, much less a common life, or to see any overarching meaning in it all.

This became all the more evident after the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Everything that has seemed so important---stock options, consumer choices, increasingly affluent lifestyles---suddenly faded. Church attendance increased immediately. Religious websites experienced a surge in activity. We saw a wave of patriotism unseen in decades. Some people even had the courage to look into our collective conscience and start questioning if the developed nations have been doing enough to help eradicate poverty worldwide. All of it points to a long-standing, deep need in our society that we must face with more urgency.

More than anything else, I believe, we face a crisis of meaning. The world seems so complex, and we feel so small. What can we do but let the waves of history carry us as we try to keep afloat somehow?

But maybe we can look to that same history for some patterns, or for those who found the patterns. That is the thesis of this book, and in that sense it is a very traditional book, even though many of these patterns point to revolutionary suggestions. I am going to point particularly to the man who has one of the longest bibliographies of anyone in history: a thirteenth-century Italian called Francis of Assisi. He must have had some kind of genius to have attracted so many cultures and religions, and to be contemporary in so many of his responses eight hundred years later.

Saint Francis stepped out into a world being recast by the emerging market economy. He lived amid a decaying old order in which his father was greedily buying up small farms of debtors, moving quickly into the new entrepreneurial class. Francis stepped into a Church that seemed to have been largely out of touch with the masses. But he trusted a deeper voice and a bigger truth. He sought one clear center and moved out from there.

The one clear centerpiece was the Incarnate Jesus. He understood everything else from that personalized reference point. Like Archimedes, Francis found his one firm spot on which to stand and from which he could move his world. He did this in at least three clear ways.

First, he walked into the prayer depths of his own tradition, as opposed to mere religious repetition of old formulas. Second, he sought direction in the mirror of creation itself, as opposed to mental and fabricated ideas or ideals. And, most radically, he looked to the underside of his society, to the "community of those who have suffered," for an understanding of how God transforms us. In other words, he found depth and breadth---and a process to keep you there.

The depth was an inner life where all shadow, mystery and paradox were confronted, accepted and forgiven. Here he believed God could be met in fullness and truth. The breadth was the actual world itself, a sacramental universe. It was not the ideal, the churchy or the mental, but the-right-in-front-of-you-and-everywhere----the actual as opposed to the ideal.
And, finally, he showed us the process of staying there---the daring entrance into the world of human powerlessness. His chosen lens was what he called "poverty" and, of course he was imitating Jesus. He set out to read reality through the eyes and authority of those who have "suffered and been rejected"---and come out resurrected. This is apparently the "privileged seeing" that allows you to know something that you can know in no other way. It is a unique baptism that Jesus says we must all be baptised with (see Mark 10:39). My assumption in this book is that this is the "baptism" that transforms. It is larger than any religion or denomination. It is taught by the Spirit in reality itself.

One can argue doctrinally about many aspects of Jesus, but you can not say he was not a poor man, that he did not favor the perspective from the "bottom" as a privileged viewpoint. All other heady arguments about Jesus must deal with this overwhelming given. Francis did. It became his litmus test for all orthodoxy and for ongoing transformation into God. Who would have thought of it, except God?

For Francis, the true "I" had, first of all, to be discovered and realigned (the prayer journey into the True Self). Then he had to experience himself situated inside of a meaning-filled cosmos (a sacramental universe). Finally, he had to be poor (to be able to read reality from the side of the powerless).

Francis taught us, therefore, that the antidote to confusion and paralysis is always a return to simplicity, to the actual right-in-front-of-you, to the naked obvious. Somehow he had the genius to reveal what was hidden in plain sight. It was so simple that it was hard to get there." Richard Rohr.


Friday, February 06, 2009

I'M FINDING THAT IT IS BECOMING TEDIOUS

The constant drone of the economic crises and the way it is being discussed/framed by the "talking head experts" which then leads to how it is being talked about in public has reached at least for me a fingernails-on-chalkboard level.

The wealth that had been created in the market and through inflated home prices and the value attached to other things wasn't all real. And so came the day the illusion began to fall and the illusory wealth just evaporated. I had a client today that just couldn't understand that some rich fat cat wasn't sitting around counting the money that had disappeared from her portfolio and now was in his. It's gone....it evaporated.

And I'm sure it is obvious that I am not an economist but I do know enough to be able to say that the economists don't fully understand it all either and certainly never tell the public the actual truth....if they did the economy would fail. The illusion must be maintained for it to work....that is, work beyond the simple buying and selling that has happened between individuals for a long long time in order to survive. That exchange has to happen unless we as individuals become self sufficient in the things we and our families need to live.

But modern day economies in the industrialized world have expanded well beyond survival and we in the West are way out ahead in that expansion. We have lost touch with reality and when it comes to how much of the rest of the world lives...out of touch with reality doesn't do justice to what has actually happened to us who live in the land of plenty. This system has taught us to believe there are really no limits when it seems to me reality is that this is unsustainable and has always been so. And we all suffer because of this lie. Even the rich fat cats. He/she who dies with the most toys does not win.

I've posted his words here many times before and they bounce around in mind often in this climate we all find ourselves in. Even so, it's been beneficial for me to keep reminding myself by thinking about things that have been spoken in regards to these things of the world system. The sermon on the mount is a straight forward damning critique of our economy that is all about continued growth....which is another way of saying: GET MORE or move out of the way.

"We have many commodities but little satisfaction, little sense of the sufficiency of anything. The scarcity of satisfaction makes of our many commodities an infinite series of commodities, the new commodities invariably promising greater satisfaction than the older ones. In fact, the industrial economy's most marketed commodity is satisfaction, and this commodity, which is repeatedly promised, bought, and paid for, is never delivered." Wendell Berry

"If the Golden Rule were generally observed among us, the economy would not last a week. We have made our false economy a false god, and it has made blasphemy of the truth. So I have met the economy in the road, and am expected to yield it right of way. But I will not get over. My reason is that I am a man, and have a better right to the ground than the economy. The economy is no god for me, for I have had too close a look at its wheels. I have seen it at work in the strip mines and coal camps of Kentucky, and I know that it has no moral limits. It has emptied the country of the independent and the proud, and has crowded the cities with the dependent and the abject. It has always sacrificed the small to the large, the personal to the impersonal, the good to the cheap. It has ridden questionable triumphs over the bodies of small farmers and tradesmen and craftsmen. I see it, still, driving my neighbors off their farms into the factories. I see it teaching my students to give themselves a price before they can give themselves a value. Its principle is to waste and destroy the living substance of the world and the birthright of posterity for a monetary profit that is the most flimsy and useless of human artifacts."

And finally, I have become convinced we have lost this very thing partially due to the effect our economic system has on us all. The ability to live with and love our neighbors in the same way that we long for them to live with and love us.


“We clasp the hands of those that go before us,

And the hands of those who come after us.
We enter the little circle of each other's arms
And the larger circle of lovers,
Whose hands are joined in a dance,
And the larger circle of all creatures,
Passing in and out of life,
Who move also in a dance,
To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it
Except in fragments”




Thursday, February 05, 2009

THE BEAST

It's funny how things happen that remind us of something we had wanted to remember and yet had somehow lost in the jumbled mess that is often our minds. Yesterday I had a conversation with a client about our children and the shrinking grace period the world allows them and then how it continues in their lives/our lives as adults through the methods used in an attempt to create cohesion among the population. Somehow I had forgotten about the content of that conversation until this morning when I logged onto The Shack forum and someone had asked what the title of the chapter In The Belly Of The Beast meant. My memory was jogged and the log jam created by all the other conversations of yesterday broke free and the conversation came flooding back in.

We really do live in the belly of a beast. The system might be beneficial (I even wonder about that these days) for civil society but I get the sense that it actually perpetuates the mess humanity finds herself in. The system/systems are oppressive and the more civil the society is the more subtle the oppression is which makes recognising it for what it is more difficult. Recognising it is the beginning of learning to live free of it's influences. Living free of it's influences creates enough space to where the important things begin to come into view.

I love how Jacques Ellul describes living in it but not being of it.

"It is not a question of getting rid of it, but, by an act of freedom, of transcending it. How is this to be done?"

"The first step in the quest, the first act of freedom, is to become aware of the necessity. The very fact that man can see, measure, and analyze the determinisms that press on him means that he can face them, and by so doing, act as a free man."

Everything about the beast has to do with fear. And it's impossible for anyone to convince others of this reality. Until they "see" it for themselves they just can't see it. Instead, what they see is a system that provides them safety and protection when in actuality it has never produced security for anyone. It crushed them and imprisons them and tries to keep them there by the use of language and offering just enough of a good feeling or at least the hope for one that makes them think it is something that it is not.

Jesus shows us how and gives us the ability to be in it and not of it, and the way he lives through us as love and grace and sacrificial service really is how the beast is overcome. That life is a violation of the system.