Friday, March 27, 2009

DO PLANTS EXCITE YOU?

They do me and Dan.



Yes I get that excited about extraordinary plants. I am admittedly a plant geek. I can't believe I can't find my Heronswood Nursery Catalogs from years past. I'm not buying plants but Dan being the gifted writer that he is made his essays that were tucked into each issue something special for us plant geeks to read. Oh well, just fewer things for me to keep track of which sounds like a good thing indeed. His website will have to suffice.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SPRING


It's the first of my Japanese Maples to emerge.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

NO, IT'S NOT A RAGING FIRE

It's just a few pictures of tonight's sunset






Monday, March 23, 2009

OUR MIND OR OUR HEART


Love is what we need and something is standing in the way.

The ridiculous voices keep us focused on competing ideologies and these ideologies ravage the hearts of people by keeping them distracted with the fear dance that controls the mind. It can produce nothing other than, what to the eye might look like, winners and losers but truth be told...we all lose in this paradigm...always.

Now the heart that is being captured and set free by love also begins to free the mind and one begins to see these destructive ideologies for what they are. They keep us thinking like alienated self centered humans. I get the sense this is what Jesus was speaking to when he uttered to Peter..."Get behind me Satan." He wasn't calling Peter Satan...he was speaking against the way Peter was thinking, (processing what was happening). Which was completely other than what Father was up to.

The world's kingdoms and their ideologies come and go...it's always been this way.

If we don't learn to love, it really doesn't matter one bit as to what ideological veiw points are driving the systems we live in...and when we learn to love, it really won't matter what ideological view points are driving the systems we live in.



Sunday, March 22, 2009

A FIELD OF HELLEBORE AND A FESTIVAL



If I had the space it would be a work in progress. Actually they would be the perfect under planting in the Japanese Maple grove I would also plant if I had the space. And I would invite you all to come join me each spring for the Peace and Music Festival amongst the hellebore and maples.












Saturday, March 21, 2009

MOMENT OF SURRENDER...ALL OF THEM

Today I had a 2 1/2 hour phone conversation with a brother I met on The Shack forum many months ago and have had several email exchanges with. Connecting on the phone turned out to be a wonderful thing. Moments of surrender seemed to be be the through line of the conversation at least for me. It seems to be what all of this comes down to. We either surrender the independence we have picked up along the way and have grown so accustomed to or we live our lives in the misery of our self effort on the performance treadmill...feeling like losers or self righteous obnoxious people.

I'm convinced that Christianity is the most dangerous of all the world's religions and actually stands in the way of the needed moments of surrender. And I feel like ending this post with that because I can not possibly say anything to convince anyone else of this reality unless they have already began to feel it and see it for themselves. My brother Mike, from the phone call mentioned above, certainly has begun to see it and feel it. Even though he was expressing some frustration and impatience with the process, I sensed another dear soul on the brink of an amazing transformation that has already been in process for awhile now.

Walk On Mike

I head out tomorrow morning to meet another brother for coffee and conversation. It's a connection that has just come about this week through The God Journey. I'm looking forward to see what happens through this connection. I'm loving the space I find myself in. It's funny what begins to happen naturally when we stop trying so hard to make things happen in such unnatural ways.

Friday, March 20, 2009

WHAT THE SHIFT FROM LAW TO GRACE OPENS UP


What I'm hearing these days coming from so many in this country is just sad and troubling...even if understandable. The age old adventure in missing the point is alive and well and being stirred vigorously. People are still preoccupied with and living in fear of the wrong kind of bondage.
I understand why people are pissed off but the way the anger and fear is being exploited and channeled is not going to be helpful...at least when it comes to what we are really in need of, the freeing of our hearts, our souls and our minds. Grace and love are the only things that have the power to change us as individuals and in turn change the game. I get the sense that the momentum of the anger train will not be able to be stopped at this point, but with that being said, I will not let it distract me nor detour me from the only path forward that makes any sense to me anymore.

If we want to continue to go down the road of law we must remember that the law must be applied to ourselves in the same way we desire it to be applied to all the others. And to be completely honest...I have yet to meet anyone who lives like that. I'm not interested in a revolution that has as it's fundamental principles the idea that law is the answer when it was love and grace and mercy that was sent into this world to set people free.

"If you ever get a chance to hang out with Mack, you will soon learn that he's hoping for a new revolution, one 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. And one day, when all is revealed, every one of us will bow our knee and confess in the power of Sarayu that Jesus is the Lord of all creation, to the glory of Papa."


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

DISABUSED

To free from a falsehood or misconception

It was some time early last year when I saw this report. Being one who watches very little TV, it must have been one of those Sundays that I had been watching some of the PGA tour and CBS programing went directly to this 60 Minutes report. I never watch 60 Minutes. It immediately grabbed my attention when in the promo for the piece the researcher made the comment about Expectations. The area of expectations, and how they had up to just a few years ago defined my life, had been going through some serious disabusing. This turned out to be one of the most transforming/reshaping experiences of my life. The expectancy I live with today has opened my eyes and reframed every moment which allows me to see possibilities the confining space of expectations had never allowed me to see. In a sense, I was freed from many mistaken notions that make up the American Dream.

I also get the sense that when most Americans hear something like that it makes them balk and more than likely tune me out...well, at least those who still have their hope shaped by the rhetoric of our systems ideology...especially the conservative Christians I have been surrounded by most of my adult life. I also get the sense that an assumptive leap is made by such people which in their minds firmly places me into another one of the world's political and economic and religious ideologies. That would be a mistake by those making such a leap. All human ideologies have their problems and at the same time these ideologies have such a blinding effect on us we can't see nor admit to the glaring problems of our own and at the same time leave us thinking all the others are evil. Evil or not they all are problematic and work against our freedom.

The beginning of the disabusing process was a painful one for me to say the least. It left me isolated from everyone as they all watched things they look to for security in their own lives being challenged in my life. Being called a socialist, and a Marxist, and being accused of being anti American were all new experiences for me. Having left the civil religion of our nation 20 years ago I had become use to being accused of heresy and being outside the will of God, so I had become pretty used to that. As the curtain was being pulled back and the illusions were being exposed I was left with choices that weren't easy to make and continuing to walk into the disorientation went against everything I had been shaped to believe previously was safe or wise. That former controlling belief system turned out to be one of the mistaken notions that needed to be disabused.

The 60 Minutes piece has it's problems, but for us Americans or for most anyone that has been shaped by the ideologies of Western Democratic Capitalist Consumerist Societies, there is much contained there in that could help us in the process of stepping back from what we believe, so as to take a critical look at the confining/blinding mistaken notions we are living in that we too often are found guilty of accusing others of being trapped in.

And just in case you missed it...I'm not promoting a socialistic system, I've just been going through a process of admitting to having misplaced my trust in the illusory ideas that our system functions on that are at war with the freedom I had been longing for...the freedom I have begun to experience for the very first time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

THE WASTEFULNESS OF CREATION...AND HOW WE WASTE IT



















Do you ever feel so disconnected from the things most people are caught up in trying to squeeze life and meaning from? It's a feeling that continues to deepen in me even though it's something impossible to remove myself from. Part of who I am today has much to do with the out of sync personal experience of my own adventure in missing the point woven into it. And there also still remains parts of my own self longing to find more freedom. And let us never forget that our lives are forever intertwined with others who find themselves at varying spots along the road still caught up in a less-than-full-of-life-adventure struggling to find something real.

All of the realm that was created out of the wild and extravagant and beautifully wasteful imagination of the Creator is full of life and echoes from within everyone of us. But until the other adventure becomes burdensome enough to lead an individual to abandon it, the wasting of that hidden life within will continue and the ripples created by the jagged out of rhythm adventure will continue to touch us all in varying degrees. This is the human experience. And we all are in need of love and grace and some time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

AND MAYBE TO LOVE (AND LIVE LOVED) IS NOT SO STRANGE

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.”





I've said it many times already that I began to blog a few years ago as an exercise for myself. I'm not here as an authority on anything. I'm not looking to use this blog to teach anyone. It is an exercise in expressing the things that have been stirred inside me and make me feel so alive. I somewhat feel like Linford Detweiler of Over The Rhine in how he describes how he feels when putting his music out for public consumption.....

Some call it obsession
I call it commitment
I make my confession
I make it in public

I hope that it’s helpful
That others can use it
That it’s more than my ego
And my need to abuse it

I am without a doubt a morning person by nature and always have been, and due to the joy and peace and love that have filled up my heart and mind, it's good to be able to say today that the day time and night time make me feel the same way the morning has always made me feel. That morning feeling for many years would begin to slip away as the cares of the day would begin to press in and weigh on me. Over the past couple years that old feeling has only come around a few times and even then it just hasn't had the power to get a hold on me. The tangible presence of the Holy spirit...the very life of God the Father has remained so close to me...in reality it's been my awareness of that ever present reality that has changed. The cares of the day and the worries of tomorrow just don't feel like rivals anymore to the indescribable love that has helped me find my way back home.

I want to make the most of every very day because it is gift and I'll never pass this way again...and for me that usually doesn't entail cramming it full with all kinds of busyness, even though sometimes that might be something I can't avoid.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

AN ACT OF FREEDOM: LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS

"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."

I think it was Richard Rohr that said that. When I think about living in the "in-between state" I'm thinking of the moment. It's all that exists. Hanging onto the past...good or bad...or expecting an imagined uncertain future to materialize just sets me up to be a manipulative control freak and that's anything but a tender, non aggressive, open ended state of affairs.

I've always got an eye to the sky, especially the morning and evening sky or as storm clouds are rolling in. There is never two that are the same and this is a great reminder to me at all times that the moment I am presently in will pass and never ever happen again. Expectations keep me all knotted up and set me up to miss it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

WRAPPING YOUR BRAIN AROUND ALTERNATIVE THINKING

While listening to the latest God Journey Podcast Wayne shared something about expectations that he had just heard someone say on a radio program he was listening to. "Expectations are remembrances of things we haven't had yet." I began to laugh with joy when I heard Wayne's and Brad's discussion about the profundity of that statement. Three years ago I would have been left with responding to such a statement with....WHATEVER!!!!!

I've had such a transformation in my level of peace and joy since coming to a realization a few years ago that my life was being governed by expectations that I had of myself, my wife, my children, my friends, my clients, and everyone else beyond those I just mentioned. Religion had even trained me to place expectations on God...the one who created the cosmos. Today it all just seems so absurd.

During the season that the Spirit began to shake many dangerous mistaken notions that were jerking me around and had made me a very unhealthy/unsafe person for others to be around, I remember so clearly the difficulty I had in trying to wrap my brain around the idea that it might be a good idea for me to let go of all of my expectations. All I could think of was how it seemed so irresponsible. Which led to another rug being pulled from under me. I was in serious need of letting go of the Responsibility paradigm also. This turned out to be another difficult thing to wrap my brain around.

I was a year into this wrestling match with my brain (and the way I had previously lived) when a friend shared these words with me. The problems created by expectations had already began to click...the difficulties created on the responsibility front began to open up to me a few months later.

Here is part of the issue at stake here, and it is true for both the word 'responsibility' and the word 'expectation'. Both words regress to a static existence rather than an active one. What I mean is that they exist with no reference to time, like the Law...they hang in space, outside of yourself, impinging their heavy presence on your life and dictating choices and actions from 'outside' you. The work of the Spirit is from the inside and continues to be from the inside. It is also moment by moment, and focuses on the present tense. (Having begun in the Spirit, are you now going to be perfected by the flesh?) But what is anticipated by expectancy and by an ability to respond...is a living dynamic relationship in which you hear the voice of Jesus speaking. It is the Word of God that set you free (not as in Scripture, but as in Jesus - not that Scripture may be the avenue through which you are nudged, but not necessarily or essentially). When we are not used to living by His life in us, or hearing His voice, it is easy to revert to something 'outside' by which we can base our performance on, forgetting that apart from Him we can do 'nothing' (no matter how righteous it looks), and whatever is not of 'faith' - this inward, living union - is sin (no matter how righteous it looks).

Today this all makes sense because my eyes were opened and I was able to "see" the old law/expectation/responsibility/contol paradigm for what it is. The paradigm of love and grace is of another realm and the evidence/fruit are proof enough for me to continue on the path these changes set me out on even when people look at me askance as if I have lost my mind. Losing the ol' mind turns out to be a good thing :)

Is it true that perfect love drives out all fear
The right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear
Oh, but a change of heart comes slow


It's not a hill it's a mountain
when you start out the climb

Friday, March 13, 2009

RIDICULOUS VOICES


In a conversation this morning with a couple people who are clearly in an uproar over the change the new administration is attempting to push through in this country and the world, it got me to thinking about the depth of the mess we find ourselves in. And I'm not talking about the Obama administration. And in saying that, that is not an endorsement of the Obama administration and what they are doing.

I don't know if I have announced this on this blog before now or not, but I haven't voted in the past 2 national election. I just can't do it in good conscience anymore. Politics are about power and domination and competing ideologies...a new improved or a new ideology all together is not what the human race is in need of. Humans need new hearts and minds and ideologies can't bring that needed change about. They only deepen the already existing problem.

The conversation this morning highlighted something that seems to be a fundamental problem we all face today. COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN.

Why in the hell do any of us believe what we are being told on TV? And how did we ever come to accept that any beneficial communication could ever happen outside of a dialog that we can participate in? TV is not a dialog. Most face to face conversations are not a dialog either these days in our polarized culture of self absorbed people.

I have lived with my wife for 22 years and we talk face to face many times in a day...and we still misunderstand each other when it comes to what the other is attempting to communicate on a regular basis. But the cool thing about communication within the context of a respectful/loving relationship is that we keep going back and forth with one another because we have learned/are learning how important understanding each other really is in order for us to "live well" with each other. I don't know if anyone is paying attention, but politics haven't ever helped any of us live well with each other.

So, as for myself, I see not only no political solution...I see politics as a system that keeps us distracted from the kind of life that can bring real change because it is a life that can actually change hearts and minds.

If I had any examples in scripture of Jesus being caught up in the pursuit of change through politics I might be able to find justification and inspiration enough to continue such a pursuit in my life. But I don't have any such example. And even if that example existed I would still find myself conflicted and frustrated and at a loss as to how to go about it, having to count on all the information that is being feed to me through a medium that has no ability to ever put the information they are feeding me into context. Not to mention the messengers more than likely themselves are blind guides and just common purveyors of ridiculous mistaken notions.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

LIVING WITH THE SELF-CENTERED



It's in moments with rude self-absorbed people that I realize I have still have a ways to go in this journey of being transformed and set free, so that when I find myself engaged with such people I can remain loving instead of turning into a rude person myself, giving back to them what they are giving out. And then I'm left asking myself this question...How often do I still get caught up in my own self absorbed moments? Still more often than will happen in the day when LOVE and GRACE capture more of my heart and mind than they have at this moment.



I want to be kind and loving and gracious to rude and self absorbed people, because it is love and grace they themselves don't understand and need help in understanding. Grace really is like a beautiful song being sung in the midst of a rude world that knows nothing else...and has no hope of knowing anything else as long as it remains in it's self-absorbed blindness. And that grace song is the power that can untangle our own self absorbed mess along with the self-centered existence of others.


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

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

GOD CREATES BEAUTY...HUMANS, NOT SO MUCH

I came home from California and found these beauties blooming in my garden.
Walking through my garden and photographing these Helebore is how my day began. I was left in amazement of the beauty of God's natural world. This evening my heart is heavy with the news that one of my daughter's friends that tried out for poms with her and another friend didn't make the team.
Tonight I'm left not at all impressed with what humans have created...a world of competition where some win and some lose. A fight to gain turf that we are told will make us feel significant...well, at least those that win. A world where this win/lose scenario is praised as a wonderful thing. It might be wonderful for something but I get the sense it's not what's important.
I have so many stories of broken/strained relationships and folks suffering under the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams/expectations swirling around me these days and I find myself less and less impressed with what humans have created. And even in light of all the disappointment...this actually feels like a healthy unfolding in my life. As these things play out before me, the contrast between that which is beautiful, juxtaposed with that which is not, helps in keeping things in a proper perspective a little easier task.
It really is a beautiful day somewhere down underneath all the crap created by the activities of broken humans and our destructive systems. When one begins to see the one for what it is and begins to set it aside, the beauty begins to come into view and you are left wondering why you have wasted so much time on the ugly.






Monday, March 09, 2009

HOME FROM CALIFORNIA

I'm so glad Amie was able to make the California trip with me this year. It was a great time. She was a bit freaked this evening during our flight home due to the turbulence as we flew through some pretty rough storms. She looked over at me a couple times to ask me if I was was nervous, to which I responded "No" and I think that put her a little more at ease. She actually had a couple other moments over other issues earlier in the trip and it gave me an opportunity to help her face some things she needs to face. I'm so proud of her and how she is facing life at 19. She is a beautiful young lady.
California is a wonderful place. Being around mountains and water just does something to me.


























The time with friends was the real reason for the trip again this year and the time together did not disappoint. There was a lot of serious talk about life and we were never too far away from moments of hilarity and laughter. We did a lot of that. And I can't believe I don't have a picture of the other person that was a big part of the weekend. Wayne's lovely wife Sarah. She really was a big part of the weekend. Andrew and Julie and Tyler and Amiee and Lindsey came and spent some time with us also. Wayne and Sarah have a lovely family.






Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

ONLY LOVE UNITES OUR HEARTS

30 years ago the charismatic christian group these guys came to faith in tried to force them to choose between Jesus and the music they loved. Bono and Edge almost fell for the lie. Bono was the last one to come to the conclusion that the zealous christian group was wrong and there wasn't a problem...it was the Christians mistaken notion that was the problem. All these years later these guys message, not only through their music but what they live out through their lives has remained much truer to the simplicity of the beautiful gospel than has the complicated unintelligible mess that the religion of Christianity has all too often been spreading around the globe.

I say...let's live our lives in the simplicity of the message, living loved and loving, and watch that love and grace and sacrificial service trump what has more than likely become the most strident opponent to Jesus in the world...the religion that has high jacked the message.

I was born
I was born to be with you
In this space and time

Monday, March 02, 2009

TWO BIG PROBLEMS


Yesterday ended on the same note as today began. Yesterday it was a conversation with a friend...today it was a conversation with my brother. I am so grateful to another friend for the helping hand he offered me a couple years ago during a time when the Spirit had begun to overturn some mistaken notions in my life. And I am also thankful to him for having introduced me to another brother that has helped much in the untangling of the complicated web that I began to see myself caught up in. My entire life had become politicized. The two big problems go something like this: I was caught up in the political illusion and influenced by a religious world view that had been shaped by the same illusion. None of it could withstand the season of critical thinking that the Spirit had led me into. And that season of critical thinking would have never happened had it not been for the growing trust in our gracious loving Father that was a direct result of His love displacing the fear that the Powers were always busy at work to exploit in me.

The politicization of freedom, justice, peace, security, prosperity, and fulfillment has made the realization of all these things an impossibility. And yet these things are real and living in them remains possible, but as I have found out, the abandonment of the illusion must happen for them to ever become the tangible reality that they are.

Below is an excerpt from the Introduction to Jacques Ellul's book The Political Illusion. It at least for me takes on such startling significance in light of the chaos the world is caught up in today...and always has been.

"As a result of this politicization of all aspects of life and of the orientation of all thought and energy toward politics, men increasingly turn to the state for a solution of their problems, though the state could not solve them if it tried. And everywhere in the world this increasing inclination to turn to the state leads to three evils: boundless inflation of the state's size and power; increasing dependence on it by the individual; and decreasing control over it by the "people" who think they control it, whereas in reality they merely surrender all their powers to it."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

WEEKEND OF PREPARATION AS I LOOK FOREWARD







As the day warms (expected high of 39) this first Sunday of March, I will be venturing outside to begin clean up in the garden. Next weekend looks as if it would be more cooperative with temps in the 60s but I will be in California instead. The Hellebore will be in bloom any day now and for them to look their best the leaf trash needs to go. So, that means I must get my hands dirty today :) The mulching will begin the week I return from the west coast.

The winter has left me a bit of a mess to clean up.


If nature cooperates and I do my part, we will be here in a number of weeks.