Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SUMMER IN THE GARDEN

Some days I just want to crawl into it and live there. This evening while taking these photos just happened to be one of those times.






Sunday, June 28, 2009

THE GARDEN...AND THE RICH LIVES IT FOSTERS


I have just returned home from a visit with a friend in his garden. It's been a beautiful morning in many ways already. I've know Gary and Lee for several years now and I must say all of it has been a pleasure for me. I see Lee once a week in the salon and always look forward to our time together. I've mentioned her before...she's the one who tells her husband often on her return home to not ask what she and I talked about because she has no way of explaining what I was talking about :) She has listened to many of the drastic changes in my thinking brought on by the drastic paradigm shifts that I have stumbled through over the past few years.

But this morning was about the garden. They live on a beautiful piece of property and Gary has developed many wonderful garden spaces all around it. His mind rarely ever rests from creating nor does his body. And in light of Gary's physical challenges it's nothing but inspiring. Since I have known him he has had a couple heart attacks...a case of shingles the doctors said was worse than they had ever seen, so bad it has left much nerve damage in it's wake and now he is in the midst of recovering from the effects of a pulmonary embolism. With his limp and all, he marches on in a way that is nothing but inspiring. Lee, his wife, sometimes sees it as something other though :) He told me a story today about how he often talks with God while he is out in his garden. One such recurring conversation is expressing his desire in regards to falling asleep to this world. He would love for it to happen while he is in his garden. Well, awhile back he had a fall in his compost pile and because of all the things that he faces on a daily basis with his body it was a struggle for him to get up. He said he just kept sinking deeper in the pile the more he tried to free himself. While in this difficult spot he said to the Lord...."This isn't how I had it pictured in my mind.' I got a good chuckle out of that as did he.

Both he and Lee volunteer in helping the poor through a local charity that daily feed and offer other services to the less fortunate. Gary even mows the lawns of some neighbors just to help them out in their busy lives. Lee has served on the board of a Restorative Justice organization helping women transition back into society after spending time in prison. This organization is also helping the courts here in Missouri see in many situations that there is a better alternative to just locking someone up and removing them from their families that need them. I could go on because there is more but I think you get the point.

Gary and Lee give back out of the richness that fills their lives...and their faith in God and what he has given them is what inspires that generosity. But I get the sense that their garden, and God's larger natural world, and what it speaks to them about creating some beauty in this world that is often a harsh environment for people to live in, has a big part to do with it also.

That is not Gary's and Lee's garden in the picture above but it gives you some sense of what many places in their garden feel like.

Friday, June 26, 2009

THE SAME CHANGES

The act of attempting to hang onto something as it has "always been" with the argument that if we don't fight for it we will lose what we have "always had" leaves me scratching my head. For starters, has any moment in time ever really been what people have been led to believe it was or perceived it to be? And is there anything in this world that by nature isn't undergoing constant change?

Monday, June 22, 2009

ENFORCING THE RULES...OR ALL THINGS HAVING TO DO WITH LOVE


Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.


I've had something stirring around in me all day today yet was unsure of how to express what I have been feeling. It revolves around the conflict in relationships that seems to be the norm and leaves a trail of pain and broken and damaged lives. My 19 year old just gave me the nudge I was in need of to try to put some of this down. Maybe it will help someone else along the way as this process of writing always helps me?

Amie is doing an Internship this summer running a camp along with three of her friends. She stopped as she was walking by a minute ago to tell me she had to give her testimony today of what Father is doing in her life. She then said "You were a big part of it." To which I responded "Really? What role did I play in what you shared with them today?" She then began explaining how she described how Father is setting her free from feeling like she could never do things well enough and could never measure up. She is learning that she is loved and accepted just as she is. And she said that all began to change in her life with the changes Father had begun to work into my life a few years back. You see, Amie had had a lot of mistaken notions about Father shaped into her due to how I was living with her. I had been led to believe enforcing the rules and teaching them responsibility based upon the rules was how love worked. Turns out I was seriously wrong. Papa showed me that, as he began to help me see that he had never lived with me in that way. He had always been engaging with me with the kind of love described in the passage above from 1 Corinthians 13. As Amie was telling me these things her eyes began to fill with tears. And then she said that she read her favorite part of The Shack to them. She had never told me before that the moment with the blue jay was her favorite part of the book of which I will end this with.

"Almost as if on cue, a blue jay landed on the kitchen windowsill and began strutting back and forth. Papa reached into a tin on the counter, and sliding the window open, offered Mr. Jay a mixture of grains that she must have kept just for that purpose. Without hesitation, and with a seeming air of humility and thankfulness, the bird walked straight to her hand and began feeding.

"Consider our little friend here," she began. "Most birds were created to fly. Being grounded for them is a limitation within their ability to fly, not the other way around." She paused to let Mack think about her statement. "You, on the other hand, were created to be loved. So for you to live as if you were unloved is a limitation, not the other way around."

Mack nodded his head, not so much in full agreement but more as a signal that at least he understood and was tracking. That seemed simple enough.

"Living unloved is like clipping a bird's wings and removing it's ability to fly. Not something I want for you."

There's the rub. He didn't feel particularly loved at the moment.

"Mack, pain has a way of clipping our wings and keeping us from being able to fly." She waited a moment, allowing her words to settle. "And if left unresolved for very long you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place."
from The Shack chapter A Piece Of Pi

Fighting to enforce the rules is all about taking the freedom of others away and if 1 Corinthians 13 is an accurate description of Love, enforcing the rules is antithetical to loving people ....it's clipping their wings and grounding them. Amie seems to have begun flight school sometime after Papa got my attention and began to help me see the difference.

IT'S WITHIN...THE SPACE JESUS WENT TO PREPARE


"We don't enter into this kingdom by a sinner's prayer, going forward at a religious gathering, or reciting an orthodox creed, but by learning to trust who he is and by living in that trust no matter what life hurls at us." Wayne Jacobsen from He Loves Me

The kingdom being with us/in us has been something that for the first time in my life makes sense. Everything of the life of independence has to do with controlling the external in an attempt to find peace or feel at peace and it never works.

"The garden is the only place there is, but you will not find it until you have looked for it everywhere and found nowhere that is not desert." W. H. Auden

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WALTER BRUEGGEMANN

Many things come to mind (in the realm of art) as I watch and listen to this from Walter Brueggemann. He has helped me so much in imagining something beyond the cultural mindset that we have been shaped by. I ran into him in the airport a couple years ago by chance and he was gracious enough to stand there in the airport and talk with me for a bit which allowed me to thank him for pulling some rugs out from under me that needed to removed from under me....which created much disorientation that opened up into some much needed reorientation.

Monday, June 15, 2009

THE CLOUD APPRECIATION SOCIETY

Because of some news that has flashed across my computer screen in the past week it has come to my attention that the cloud formations I have had form over my home 4 different times in the past year have gotten the attention of the Meteorological community as they have been forming in different locations all over the world.

You can see my pictures here and here and here

You can read the story here. The clouds happen to be the Clouds Of The Month at the Cloud Appreciation Society. I have submitted my photos to both groups along with some of the weather information that was a part of these events at my home for the research these groups are doing at this time.

I also found this at The Cloud Appreciation Society and just love it. It pretty much describes how I feel and why looking towards the sky is something that has fascinated me since I was a little boy.

It's the Manifesto of The Cloud Appreciation Society.


WE BELIEVE that clouds are unjustly maligned
and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.

We think that they are Nature’s poetry,
and the most egalitarian of her displays, since
everyone can have a fantastic view of them.

We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it.
Life would be dull if we had to look up at
cloudless monotony day after day.

We seek to remind people that clouds are expressions of the
atmosphere’s moods, and can be read like those of
a person’s countenance.

Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked.
They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul.
Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save
on psychoanalysis bills.

And so we say to all who’ll listen:
Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and live life with your head in the clouds!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“I love the clouds… the clouds that pass…
up there… up there… the wonderful clouds!”
[The Stranger, Charles Baudelaire]



Sunday, June 14, 2009

UNTOUCHED BEAUTY


Ever feel like there's so much beauty still waiting to be tapped into and yet much of it just remains beyond reach? It seems that faith individualizes in order that each individual is set free as they are joined to the One that is life. If this process is missed we just keep looking for things from others they cannot supply.

THE ADORED CHAINS

Our minds have been so shaped by law, due to fear and shame and guilt and the fear of punishment, that this idea that the Father Jesus revealed to us just seems to be too good to be true, so we just settle for the old paradigm instead with a little language of grace and freedom added to it. Believe me, I know, I have lived in that dysfunctional environment myself for a long time. The dismantling of the dysfunctional environment I myself had been living in is by far the toughest thing I have ever had to face and then walk through. And yes, that environment included other people, but I'm more specifically referring to my inner core...my head, my heart, and my soul...my false self. The Spirit does business with our dysfunction with us as individuals. It's a real shock at first because the law has mostly kept us believing that the mess was mostly everybody else's fault and at that moment what others are doing doesn't seem to be causing a bit of concern to the one that has come to set you free.

These dysfunctional houses we build are very difficult to deconstruct, and on our own, it's actually impossible. The pain involved in the process can not be avoided and often we end up wrestling with and resisting the liberator that has come to set us free. I'd like to once again share something that speaks to the painful process of liberation. To be set free we must understand we are going to lose something/many things. What is so stunning is how the dysfunctional environment has become such a part of us...has become so familiar that we will fight God and others in order to hang onto it. Sometimes we have even convinced ourselves that the dysfunctional environment is God.

The move from law and bondage to grace and freedom is a radical move.

"Man is so much the prey of the powers, so closely associated with their work, enjoys himself so thoroughly to their profit, desires so much all that they offer, conceives his life to such a degree separated from God, that every approach of God, every positive work of God, appears to him as an unacceptable disturbance and finally an attack against him. When God comes to deliver him, he does not at all perceive his liberation; he protests against the breaking of those marvelous objects, which are his chains or the doors of his prison: the adored chains. This is clearly the situation of Man."

"And we must take account of the fact that every work of liberation (the process of freeing us) is in fact destructive of the evil environment. And that which assures his liberty is felt by Man as a frightful personal offense. "How can God who is good permit…?" In uttering this phrase so frequently, Man does not envisage for a minute, first of all, that the evil deed is most often the result of the liberty that God allows to Man and of the independence and autonomy that man has seized over against God. Man is responsible for what is done (and he has wished it), but he protests against God for what is done. In short, he would demand that God mechanize him and take his liberty from him."

"Next, that evil also takes place by the interplay of the spiritual powers who act in the world and in society. Finally, that which does ‘evil’ to him can very well be the act of God who liberates him. But this liberation causes suffering. I do not know anything better to compare this to than to an operation. The surgeon who takes out a cancer destroys the power of death to the profit of the living body. But he removes something of this body, which had become "flesh of his flesh’; he amputates something which had become the body itself. And the patient who does not know what has been done, from what he has been saved, could perfectly well interpret that as a frightful torture, as an illegitimate extraction, being aware only of the pain that remains after the operation is finished."
Jacques Ellul

Thursday, June 11, 2009

THE LIFE THE CREATOR GIVES IS GIFT


It's been a strange yet lovely transition, the move away from a possession governed life to a people governed life. I so enjoy this garden but I don't worry about it anymore even in moments like last night when the storm was bearing down on us hard with wind, rain, and hail. In the case of the garden, if nature takes it nature takes it. Today though I get to enjoy it for another day. It's all gift, every moment I draw breath and I don't want to forget that.

The way I see it is the Creator gave us three things. He gave us his self in all that Father like no other fullness. He gave us the beautiful breath taking created natural world. And he gave us each other. I've come to experience/to know first hand that everything else is just a distraction...a distraction that keeps us from enjoying and caring for what he has given us.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FREEDOM

The world doesn't even begin to understand it and often when it sees it calls it something else.






Tuesday, June 09, 2009

MOVING INTO SUMMER

It's beginning to feel more like summer around here with the temps warming up, the typical Midwest humidity hanging in the air and the summer garden beginning to bloom. I spent the weekend clearing out the trash left behind from the spring flowering plants and now must turn to some weeds that are wanting to take over.






Saturday, June 06, 2009

MAYBE SOMEDAY...MAYBE NOT????


I have a dream that began to grow in my heart a few years ago. To move to a piece of property with a modest home and design a garden around a small studio salon and guest cabin. Maybe a quiet meditative Japanese Garden or a quiet woodland garden. Either way, I know it will be a quiet space, one that whispers to all that enter, that life is found in the quieting of our minds...the silencing of the noise created by all the ridiculous voices that surround us and stepping out of the soul diminishing/crushing pace that this world is hell bent on dragging us around in.


I don't feel compelled to knock doors down to make things happen anymore. But if such a door presents itself, I might just walk through it.















. If it doesn't, I'm pleased to say that I'm okay with that also. I'm learning how to live in peace right where I am at

Friday, June 05, 2009

THE REFRAMING OF THINGS


This might sound insignificant to most people but to me it just seems to be the product of a huge shift that has happened in my life over the past few years.


We often hear stories in the bible presented in ways that to me place the emphasis on the wrong reality. The prodigal son parable being one of them. As a friend of mine often says about this story...it's more about the Father than it is about the wayward son. The shift in emphasis makes a huge difference. And beyond that the telling of the story was really focused on the older brother in a sense, not so much the younger 'rebellious' one. Jesus was talking to the pharisees to expose their wrong thinking. Not to use the younger boy as a "morality lesson"


The other story that has become one of the most profound accounts in scripture for me is when Jesus is brought before Pilate. When I have heard it told it is framed in that way....Jesus before Pilate as if Jesus was the one on trial. I see it today completely differently. This was Pilate and the world system being brought before Jesus the King. The world system was on trial that day....not Jesus.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

THE PAINFUL LIBERATING PROCESS OF RE-THINKING EVERYTHING

I must admit that the past few years have been a very interesting/challenging/stretching time for me when it comes to being willing and even desirous of "hearing" the viewpoints of others. My thoughts on history have changed drastically in many ways. One being that in most cases the writers and framers of the historical account that make it into the accepted history books of a culture are the ones that happened to win the battle. I've learned that in this world we find ourselves, that often, just because someone has won the battle doesn't always mean they were right. And when it comes to the message I care most about and it being lived out, it most often doesn't come out on top in a world that function's by power and domination driven by fear and hatred, attributes that are diametrically opposed to the gospel.

I'm not one that puts any hope in there being a political solution to the world's problems but I also at times still find myself wanting to believe that a nation can strike a tone of humility and tolerance and demonstrate a willingness to own up to her mistakes in judgement that have cost others dearly and at the same time people not react to such an admonition as being a denial of the help we have at times been to other peoples of the world. The Nation I live in is a mixed bag of caring for others and at the same time harming others. It is what it is. Which is the reason I so desire for we who proclaim to be followers of Jesus and heralds of his message to drop the slogan and give up the fight to proclaim that America is a Christian Nation. It's not a representative of Jesus throughout the world and has never been. And all that slogan does is fans the already raging fire and it keeps people from seeing Jesus for who he is and hearing his liberating message of love and grace and forgiveness and reconciliation.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

ROUGH MIDWEST WEATHER

This first photo of this Japanese Iris was taken right before a severe afternoon storm hit our area. It had become so dark (2:00 in the afternoon) I had to use my flash















I had just stepped back inside the house when the downpour hit.














All of these pictures are from after the storm that brought us strong winds that brought trees down throughout our neighborhood, followed by hail, and rain that transformed the walkways and streets into mini rivers. Midwest storms are wild weather events.






READY TO FLY

It's like watching a butterfly emerge from it's chrysalis. The Japanese Iris will be in flight soon. Some time lapse photography would be cool to have as these expand a little more with each passing hour until they unfurl into blossoms the size of your hand.