Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE


Automation certainly does allow humans to accomplish more. But how were we ever duped into thinking this was about more? Machines will make more possible, but in too many cases what is produced leaves much to be desired and beside that, the process it subjects humans to robs us of something important.

Could I install an automated watering system to take care of the water needs of my garden? Sure I could. But like all systems it would have to be calibrated by looking at the garden as a single unit...which it is not. I know these plants because I am the one caring for them on a daily basis. I have now been at work in this garden for 15 years. There is no automated watering system that can know what I know and adjust to what is needed...just as there is no system in this world that can take each individual human being and their unique needs into consideration. Life is personal business. It requires we slow down and pay attention and pick up signs so as to know what is going on so we have a better chance at knowing what is needed. And as we learn to do that we will come to find out there is more joy and peace and beauty and rest to be found here than one can even begin to imagine.

Learning to slow down and beginning to do more with my hands again has allowed me the time to see clearly what had been taken from me by this fast paced world. Time has slowed. The meaning of Eternal Life has also drastically changed for me...it's about quality of days, not quantity. Even though I still think quantity applies as well in some unfathomable mysterious way.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

GARDEN PHOTOGRAPHY 2010

I will be sharing on this blog again this year, as I do every year, some of my photos. The frequency will more than likely be on the increase now that the plant world has come alive once again. I never get tired of this and it never loses it's mystery.














































Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SPREADING THE WEALTH AROUND


While doing some clean up in the kitchen late yesterday afternoon, I thought I heard some voices coming from the back garden. As I looked up to glance out through the window I saw some movement. It was my brother from across the street walking through with some of our friends. I stopped what I was doing to go out and join them. It's not a rare occurrence to have visitors wandering though the garden...and I so enjoy it every time it happens.

These friends yesterday have been through a rough couple years. They lost their home during this economic downturn as many others have. As the wife of the couple walked through she kept seeing Japanese Maples that she wanted. They are at present renting a small home from a friend who has set the rental price at a reasonable level that they can afford with the agreement that while they are there they will put some work into fixing it up. She loves gardening, so the fix-up-focus this spring has moved outside. She wanted to take a maple with her.

Towards the end of the tour I reached into some of the maples and grabbed one and handed it to her and told her she could have it. A giddy smile filled her face and was then followed by some tears. She was elated and full of gratitude. Her husband seemed more shocked. We men often seem a little slower when it comes to these things. Maybe it's because when it comes to money, we have been more deeply malformed by the stewardship/responsibility script that has been handed down to us that more resembles greed?

That encounter was the third special encounter of the day. My morning, after beginning as they always do on Monday, at the salon cleaning, had already began on a high note. I had been invited to join a friend for coffee. We hadn't seen each other for several months. She had asked me to meet with her to discuss living with teenagers (their family is just entering this land) in a grace-filled way instead of the tension packed approach defined by power and authority in hopes of getting teenagers to submit to a parent's attempts to control their behavior. It took us awhile to get to that conversation since the first hour was used up by just catching up with one another. Part of that had to do with this family also having lost their home this past year. There's a lot of pain out there if you haven't yet noticed. It seemed the conversation about living with our kids was helpful and encouraging. It was good for me also to get to spend some time with her.

Then shortly afternoon a client/friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was helping with an auction to raise money in order to assist people suffering with cancer. She was wondering if anyone knew where she might go to get a plant or tree or shrub to offer in the upcoming auction. I responded to her and told her to stop by because I had a Japanese Maple I would give her. She was just in the salon a couple weeks ago and had mentioned that she would love a tour of the garden sometime. It looks like that will happen very soon.

I have this dream that includes people and my garden and even part of my work as a hairstylist. A dream that was stirred and awakened inside me many many years ago. A dream I then lost during the years of getting caught up in the soul-diminishing-frustrating-adventure of expanding my standard of living as my income level began to go up. I often can find myself thinking that dream has not yet become a reality and then I am reminded by days like today to not despise small/humble beginnings.

Spreading around the real wealth we have been given, love and grace, is what we have been invited into, along with being generous with all we have. And don't ever think something that might look small is less significant. It more than likely will feel much bigger to the one on the receiving end.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

THE MOVE FROM LAW TO GRACE IS A DIFFICULT ONE

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 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

Friday, April 16, 2010

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE


But most keep trying and making a bigger mess as they do. Father tells us what he will do and we choose to go and attempt to do it our way.

“Cain has no way of knowing that the mark (which he cannot see) will suffice to protect him, even in the depth of his sin, from his disobedience, from his separation from God. And n...ow Cain will spend his life trying to find security, struggling against hostile forces, dominating men and nature, taking guarantees that are within his reach, guarantees that appear to him to be genuine but which in fact protect him from nothing.” from the book The Meaning Of The City by Jacques Ellul

It seems we don't find freedom from this situation as a group through the teaching of sound biblical principles.....it comes to the individual through personal revelation. And it changes everything. A whole new world opens up in a way that could not be seen before and the old mission that has always been impossible is now seen...not as mission possible....but MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

STILL HAVEN'T FOUND WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR

















It's been an afternoon of drastic contrasts. I want to be here...and I don't. I see beauty all around...and I don't. In front of me I have this Japanese Maple glowing in the afternoon sun causing me to feel like I want to jump out of my skin and do something crazy and directly behind me I have this scene of cool blues and greens that call out to me...calm down and rest.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

LEARN TO BE STILL








"Each life needs it's own quiet place."

And sometimes it's impossible to have that physical quiet place, and with that being the case, learning to find the internal quiet place becomes all that more important.

Friday, April 09, 2010

CONFORM OR CONFORM


"You can't heal your sick shame filled worried mind with your sick shame filled worried mind.

We are healed by grace.
Where sin abounds grace abounds.

The five rules of human life in America:

1. You should not have anything wrong or different about you.

2. If you do have something wrong or different about you, you should fix it.

3. If you can't fix it you should fake it. Pretend your okay.

4. If you can't fix it or fake it, you should just stay away because it is just too painful for everyone to be around you.

5. If you insist on still coming around you should at least have the decency to be ashamed.

With that being the human experience, it is a radical act to just show up"


It was Anne Lamott I heard say that a few years ago. Anne is right about her observation in regards to this being what life in America is like. And I actually think she is being kind. It's much worse than most are even willing to admit. Maybe it has to do with people not even recognizing something is terribly wrong? So many have been so shaped by the mistaken notion that this country we live in is God's gift to the world...it's easy for people to just believe it's the way it's suppose to be...and that it's good. If you have the courage to step outside it all to take a critical look at it, the harsh punitive behavior that is typical of the culture actually fits pretty well with the god that is presented by the dominant religion of this culture also.


We're all responsible to some degree when it comes to the very hostile/harsh/illusory environment we find ourselves in. Whether it is the politicians who can't ever be honest, or other's who desire positions of power, or if it is our children, spouses, friends, employees, employers...etc. etc. etc...we get what we have built into people. People are afraid to be real because of the punitive environment and those that do take a chance with it are branded rebellious/disrespectful along with many other things. While listening to some music earlier this week this line from a U2 song, a song about two people caught up in drug abuse, stood out to me.

Two souls too cool to be
In the realm of certainty
Even on our wedding day

The realm of certainty is a real tough place to live for those learning to be or desiring to be honest. Have you ever given any thought to the possibility that people who get caught up in drugs or other forms of "checking out" might just be people who long for more reality...not less? Now I'm not saying that drugs create more reality for those who use them. What I am suggesting though, is that this realm of certainty is in reality so opposite what it claims to be, which in turn makes it incredibly superficial....it's a space which is really difficult to live in for those who long for something real, something healing, something redemptive, and find it impossible to conform to what they see the culture demanding of them in order to be accepted.

The harsh environment, defined by the punishment/reward paradigm, will either produce conformity that leaves people juggling countless masks depending upon who they happen to be with at any given time, or it creates people who act out in many destructive ways towards themselves or others. It never sets a heart free. Now if you want to talk about Grace, that's a completely different story. It opens up possibilities beyond our wildest dreams.


Monday, April 05, 2010

IF GOD GIVES SUCH ATTENTION TO.......


Sometimes we share experiences with others that are so similar. Such is the case with this from the book Planthropology by Ken Druse

"The lure of the garden has always been strong. As a child, I eagerly awaited the colors and scents of spring, imagining they heralded a spectacle of blossoms and blooms meant just for me. Summers were spent spying on bees as they buzzed from flower to flower, and butterflies as they sipped nectar from their blossomed perches. Now, as a passionate gardener and nature's observer, I know of course it's not for me these plants are blooming---it's for the bee, butterfly, ants, birds, bats, and myriad other creatures that plants need in order to thrive. And yet, sometimes, when a particular bloom unfurls, I still like to imagine it's nature's gift to me, in return for my time and devotion."

There is only one thought here from Ken I find myself seeing much differently. I don't have to imagine that it is natures gift to me when a particular bloom unfurls...I am convinced that the blooms and all things in the natural world are most definitely gifts to me and to you. It's all gift...it's all grace. And it's for us to enjoy as we go along on this journey of discovery and to live in awe of as we go.

Friday, April 02, 2010

POPPIES...DEFERRED HOPE...AND THE LAMB AS WHITE AS SNOW

Poppies are one of those plants that I think about with every new spring when I begin to see the new plant varieties being introduced to the nursery trade. There are many garden worthy poppies being offered these days.




And then like many of the other plants I grow that offer such stunning beauty for our gardens and healing abilities to boot that can actually save lives...I'm reminded of the destructive dark side of these plants in the hands of humans stuck on the ravaged path of independence. Afghanistan comes to mind when I think of these poppies where they are grown for the Opium they produce and then used to produce heroin. The fallout caused by the addiction to this drug is just the tip of the iceberg. The economics of it all and the political powers that uses it for leverage just complicates things even more and destroys even more lives in the process.




And then I am reminded of another aspect of this destructive complicated dangerous game the world is caught up in. An adventure that takes something else so beautiful and healing and makes it nearly impossible for people to see. Bruce Cockburn refers to the blinding nature of it in his song Pacing The Cage....

Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage

The combining of a nation state power and her flag with the cross of Jesus Christ might sound like a good idea to many. But if looked at a little closer, I think something far more troubling and sinister might have a chance of coming into view. With all this problematic mixture that has been created...how are people to see the lamb that is as white as snow?

U2 does a wonderful job capturing the misery caused by deferred hoped and the difficulty of people actually seeing the One we all are in need of seeing and how often we are the very ones that make him harder for others to see as we collude with the powers that are constantly kicking up dust and fear and in the process distorting the love and grace of the Lamb as white as snow.