Sunday, August 30, 2009

SHADOWS

My time in the garden this morning was just lovely. The shadows just add an element of mystery that is not present with their absence. Add to that, it's August and the temps were in the 50s this morning and the highs today are only expected to slip into the low 70s. It's been a morning of simply soaking it all up.























































Saturday, August 29, 2009

FEW DARE EXPLORE BEYOND THE HOUSE THEY GREW UP IN

When any of the beliefs we hold dear begin to be challenged, the discomfort created by such a challenge is great. So much so, most people never allow the challenge to even register. Maybe the narrow gate speaks more to the reality that most people never allow themselves to be disabused and never find the life that awaits us here and now in this life if we would just allow the house of cards to fall.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

TO BE AT PEACE


One big manifestation of freedom....To be able to accept that you have never been in control of the unfolding events of your life (which includes people who are at the center of those events) and to not allow that reality to control you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

AS TWO WORLDS COLLIDE


"Grace...
whispers of
relentless affection
singing us all
into healing!"
WPY


My wife's mom is presently staying with us after some severe health challenges. By the weekend she should be in her new apartment just a few blocks from us so that we can be close to offer her assistance when she needs it. This morning she witnessed a conflict that myself and my 14 year old had as Sammie was getting ready for school. I don't think my mother-in-law was too impressed with how I handled it. Even though it would be for much different reasons then I was left bothered by it. What's funny is I am far more focused on the ways I allowed my emotions to be drawn out in an unhelpful way that left me less gracious and loving in the moment than I desire to be with my children.

Before I left to drop Sammie and her friend off at school I apologized to my wife's mom for the volume that accompanied mine and Sammie's messy engagement....And then two different worlds collided. She began by saying to me "If I had talked to my dad that way he would have killed me." My response went something like this "I hope to God that my daughters never describe their relationship with me that way to anyone." From there, a conversation/dispute about respect and disrespect and power and control and authority transpired. I was painfully aware of the reality that I more than likely wasn't going to be able to say anything that would help her see why I no longer live in a punishment/reward paradigm with my daughters, so I really didn't try. I just respectfully disagreed and told her that fear and threat and control was no longer a part of my life with my daughters...or anyone else for that matter. All she could do was shake her head and say "but Kent....(add in standard religious argument)!!!!"

One of the things that clashed is how we both view respect. She was so upset that Sammie had acted very disrespectfully of me. I was more upset with myself for having acted in a disrespectful way to Sammie. Was Sammie violating me? Sure she was. But me allowing her to pull me from my space of being in control of my behavior led me to violate Sammie also along with violating love and grace. When I think of respect today, I really only concern myself with how I treat others...unattached to how they might be treating me. Respect isn't anything I demand from anyone anymore...and respect is something I always want to give to the other regardless of whether they are able to do the same.

Grace lost out a bit in the moment with myself and Sam this morning. But based on the reality that a foundation of grace and love governs our home these days, Grace still won out. Sammie and I and her friend had a wonderful conversation about these things on our drive to school. Had I still been stuck in a paradigm similar to my mother-in-law who is the surviving wife of a Baptist-preacher along with being the daughter of a "fear based" Baptist preacher who fell asleep to this world before I came into the family, I would have laid a punishment out on Sam for her behavior and I can with certainty tell you the conversation we had on the way to school would not have happened. Grandma is more than likely still troubled by it all. And from where she views all of this, I can understand that. Sammie and I and Emily have moved on...having had our respect for one another take a big step forward and having been touched and hopefully changed a little more by the power of Grace

Sunday, August 23, 2009

SOME THOUGHTS ON CONFLICT AND HARMONY


As I sat on the hill side this evening a very common theme of my life over the past few years dominated my thoughts while there. Conflict...and what it takes to negotiate such things in order to find our way through it into new spaces where harmony begins to unfold instead of deeper levels of animosity?

It just seems that it is all around us. I sat for a couple hours this morning on the patio talking with a friend about life and finding freedom and living free of all the crap that this world is constantly trying to drag us into...the stuff that makes living free and at peace impossible. I get the sense that until we are free of such things we will never find the relational peace and harmony we all long for.

My friend is so overwhelmed by his internal conflict which seems to be the product of fear and it keeps being stirred by others around him and his attachment to cable news and politics and the economic chaos in the world and our nation. He always feels better after we have spent some time together but the pull of the ridiculous voices of the world rather quickly begin to descend upon him again after we part. We have to want harmony bad enough to break free of the things that give rise to the conflict. And even if we can find freedom from all of that... we are left with love and in love there are no rules that can be enforced...it's something that can only be freely given one to another.

Friday, August 21, 2009

LOVE IS NEVER FAR FROM DANGER



Safe environment? What is that? Risk and uncertainty and the potential to be hurt emotionally or physically cannot be removed from our lives. There is no sterile/perfect environment that can provide us that certainty.

Love has morphed before my very eyes over the past few years into something radically different then how I had known it before. I'm learning to allow it to be...Him to be...the dangerously wild thing it/He is. This kinda describes Love to me these days...

"When there's all kinds of chaos
And everyone is walking lame
You don't even blink now, do you
Or even look away"

Richard Rohr has been traveling with me today. No, not physically, just in word. Love has a way of leaving us disarmed...no longer preoccupied with things like "What's this going to cost me?" "How can I get back in control of this situation?" "How does my self-image demand that I react to this?" all of those reactions will lead us into a stand off, a battle with the other who we sense poses a threat to us. Yet I'm coming to understand that Love never feels threatened because Love is not afraid.

No ones's personal chaos...no one's struggles or sins that leave them limping or even cause them to be a threat...can cause Love to blink or look away. And with no scolding and no condemnation, this Love is showing me that when I do something other than enter into those situations with the other...disarmed/undefended, there is something about Love that I'm not yet understanding, that there is a place somewhere inside me Love has not yet won. And as this dangerously wild Love continues to come more and more into view, I want nothing more than to go with it. And I'm becoming more and more convinced that Love never fails while all other options do.

Friday, August 14, 2009

FEAR INDICATES THE ABSENCE OF SOMETHING


Wendell Berry has come to mind a few times today so I went with it and when I got home from work I pulled his book Sex, Economy, Freedom, Community from the book shelf. The first section I turned to pretty much answered why Wendell Berry has been on my mind.

Breaking free from the mistaken notion of Christian Nation and Christian Religion and the idea that our form of economy and political system had been established by God as a blessing to the world was a tough one to break free from. But what a marvelous thing it has been. It's still torturous at times hearing the rhetoric and witnessing the behavior coming from those who still hang onto it as if it somehow reflects Jesus into the culture/world but hey...we've never been promised an easy road to walk where everyone would agree with us...even the religious community. Maybe especially the religious community?

Things seems to be in a time of great shifting in the world once again and these kind of times will produce in people much anxiety and fear and sometimes even revolutions. I long for a day when the earth is full of a people that are no longer afraid and no longer fall for the lies coming from those peddling fear and who in times of shifting stand out as peacemakers and heralds of the good news that love and freedom have come into this madness, and by the way they live, the peace and joy of which they speak is a visible reality. Something that is painfully absent in what we see coming from the Christian Nation crowd.

“Despite its protests to the contrary, modern Christianity has become willy-nilly the religion of the state and the economic status quo. Because it has been so exclusively dedicated to incanting anemic souls into heaven, it has, by a kind of ignorance, been made the tool of much earthly villainy. It has, for the most part, stood silently by, while a predatory economy has ravaged the world, destroyed its natural beauty and health, divided and plundered its human communities and households. It has flown the flag and chanted the slogans of empire. It has assumed with the economists that “economic forces” automatically work for good, and has assumed with the industrialists and militarists that technology determines history. It has assumed with almost everybody that “progress” is good, that it is good to be modern and up with the times. It has admired Caesar and comforted him in his depredations and defaults. But in its de facto alliance with Caesar, Christianity connives directly in the murder of Creation. For, in these days, Caesar is no longer a mere destroyer of armies, cities, and nations. He is a contradictor of the fundamental miracle of life. A part of the normal practice of his power is his willingness to destroy the world. He prays, he says, and churches everywhere compliantly pray with him. But he is praying to a God whose works he is prepared at any moment to destroy. What could be more wicked than that, or more mad?

The religion of the Bible in practice, is a religion for the correction equally of people and of kings. And Christ’s life, from the manger to the cross, was an affront to the established powers of his time, as it is to the established powers of our time. Much is made in churches of the “good news” of the gospels. Less is said of the gospel’s bad news, which is that Jesus would have been horrified by just about every “Christian” government the world has ever seen. He would be horrified by our government and its works, and it would be horrified by him. Surely no sane and thoughtful person can imagine any government of our time sitting comfortably at the feet of Jesus, who is telling them to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you…” (Matt. 5:44).

— Wendell Berry

Thursday, August 13, 2009

SATAN NOR GOD ARE TO BLAME

"The biblical God lets us make our own history, and goes with us on the more or less unheard-of adventures we concoct." --Jacques Ellul

And some crazy history and self sabotaging adventures we humans do make. Turns out that we are our worst enemies but can't see it, so the adventures in self sabotage and brutalizing others continues.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THAT?


Let go of the mistaken notion of certainty and the false sense that it in some way makes you secure and you might be surprised when the familiar "fixed" view you have had of things begins to be dismantled and following the Spirit who is like the wind begins to look not only doable...but actually exciting and awe producing in it's simplicity.


The mistaken notion of certainty creates people that live on auto-pilot. It freezes in place assumptions and perceptions that on a good day are more than likely only partially accurate and on most other days, completely wrong. It makes the correcting of the inaccuracies difficult at best because open-listening-self-reflecting-dialog isn't a part of
the lives of people who have become certain about their thoughts and beliefs. And when it comes to critical reflection....forget about it. All that's left is self-justification and the surrounding of one's self by people who feel the same.