Sunday, May 30, 2010

EMOTIONS AND CHOICES


"Most emotions are responses to perception---what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too."

What a mine field this life is. This quote from The Shack is so profound and more than likely something most people live their lives never giving any thought to. The extreme confidence we humans carry around in regards to how we perceive our way of seeing things, as reality, makes us dangerous people...landmines ready to go off (represented in our choices) at any given moment, causing damage to ourselves and to others. And all for what???...defending our little self serving world view that has left us incapable of owning up to our participation in the creation of the environment that leaves us all bruised and battered.

Walking alongside teenagers as they walk through the mine field created by the mines they have laid themselves and those laid by others is not for the faint of heart. And having said that, I must also add that walking in the world of adults, a world that pretty much mirrors that of teenagers, isn't any easier. And the reality that the adults of this world aren't any better off when it comes to the difficulties created by trying to walk through this life, full of false perceptions and false emotional responses, leaves the younger generations with few people to help show them a different way. And the destructive cycle just keeps repeating itself.

Until something changes the game for the individual (teenager or adult) and the renewal/transformation begins.

Friday, May 28, 2010

LIGHT AND SHADOW AND THE CALM OF EVENING

I love the drama of the one and the peacefulness of the other





Thursday, May 27, 2010

JUST A PHOTO...AND A THOUGHT

I just thought the photo was too good not to share

I snapped this photo this morning in the garden. Something about it just speaks of mystery to me. It actually set the day for me, thinking about the mystery that is life, and how wonderful mystery is, and how most people just seem resistant to embracing it. People seem to want to believe that life is more certain than it really is. Or maybe it's just that most seem to think it their job to make it certain? In the end, all that crazy manipulation just leaves us more confused, and yet unable to admit it.

This evening, once home from work, this photo and the mystery it brings to mind, brought something else to mind. This is an excerpt from an article by Richard Rohr titled...UTTERLY HUMBLED BY MYSTERY

"When I was young, I couldn't tolerate such ambiguity. My education had trained me to have a lust for answers and explanations. Now, at age 63, it's all quite different. I no longer believe this is a quid pro quo universe — I've counseled too many prisoners, worked with too many failed marriages, faced my own dilemmas too many times and been loved gratuitously after too many failures.

Whenever I think there's a perfect pattern, further reading and study reveal an exception. Whenever I want to say "only" or "always," someone or something proves me wrong. My scientist friends have come up with things like "principles of uncertainty" and dark holes. They're willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of "faith"! How strange that the very word "faith" has come to mean its exact opposite.

People who have really met the Holy are always humble. It's the people who don't know who usually pretend that they do. People who've had any genuine spiritual experience always know they don't know. They are utterly humbled before mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all, in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind."

Monday, May 24, 2010

UNDAMNED


The unforced rhythms of grace and the mysterious ways of the Spirit confound me and leave me amazed. Having just dropped some loud teenagers off at school this morning, and then finding myself in the vehicle by myself, I reached for the volume dial, and cranked my music up loud. What followed was a wonderful quiet time. OTR's demo cd, full of all their soon to be released new songs happened to be in. This morning, the song that up to this morning had been my least favorite song musically of the bunch, stood out like never before. The words had registered before and I had liked the message of the song, but this morning the song came alive with all it's pain and all it's beautiful hope. No one, and I mean no one, is outside the possibility of being gripped by grace and love. And the Grace Giver never gives up on anyone...there's an important lesson in that reality that we all need to also be gripped by.


UNDAMNED

Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist


Sometimes all we believe
Turns out to just be a scam
Just tryin to get my world
Get it undamned

It's been a lifelong song
Who'll take me Just as I am
Help me to get my world
Get it undamned

I've got a thousand lost songs
(Far too many they just got away)
I've done a thousand things wrong
(Far too many for me to name)
But I'm not too far gone
To fall
Headlong
Into the arms that love me

Don't count me out just yet
I'm not your little lost lamb
God might still get my world
Get it undamned

I've got a thousand lost songs
(Far too many they just got away)
I've done a thousand things wrong
(Far too many for me to name)
But I'm not too far gone
To fall
Headlong
Into the arms that love me

Sunday, May 23, 2010

....AND WE BECOME A MONSTER

This has been a repeat-performance-thought in my head for several years now. I suppose having come face to face a few years ago now to the reality of how I had become more monster like than Christ like can have that effect on you. I've heard it said several different ways before by others, that there is this strange phenomenon, where we become a reflection...the very manifestation of the thing we fear and the suspicions we hold to about others. Listening to U2 this week has been the source of the stirring and the honing of these thoughts once again.

They say that what you mock
Will surely overtake you
And you become a monster
So the monster will not break you

It's already gone too far
Who said that if you go in hard
You won't get hurt

This morning as I was at work in my mom's garden, it was these things that dominated my thoughts. Through it all, I couldn't help but be drawn to the man Christ Jesus...his life and his words. Since being restored to human again, out of the land of monster-like, is so important to me, I know of no one better to look to and to call upon for help when it comes to these things.

Last night I watched one of my daughters get caught up in this space that just twists us up into such a state, that while in it, downshifting becomes nearly impossible. We all actually have front row seats to this kinda thing everyday as we walk through this world and too often ourselves are engaging in the same game. Not only does this space hurt others, it's a space of self-sabotage. When caught in the web of serving self , grabbing for what we want, when we want it, in an attempt to force others to service our needs, it's like being hit by a tsunami. Once there, we seem to have this ability to turn everyone who is not behaving in the way we want them to behave into a monster. It might very well be true that others are acting monster-like themselves, but one thing is certain...the space blinds us to our own monstrous behavior. We put the peddle to the floor and we plow in hard, leaving a trail of damage in our wake and at the same time deepen our own delusions of our 'right-ness'

Jesus is the antithesis to this less than human condition. He represents what it means to be truly human, and to act as such in this world that has people acting more like a monster. Love is what breaks the monster's back in our own lives and the lives of others. The actions of self giving, of love, of sacrifice, of dying, are the very things that expose beastly behavior. Anything other just changes us into a monster also and leaves us trapped there.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

THE ONLY BAGGAGE YOU CAN BRING

It had been awhile since I had listened to U2s ALL THAT YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND. Well over a year. Earlier this week, the lyric, It' a beautiful day...don't let it get away came to mind. So, that morning on the way into work I popped the cd into the player to listen. It didn't take long for me to be reminded of something else. Why these songs had been such an important part of a renewing and maybe better said...a birthing that happened in me back now a few years ago. I share this story in hopes that it might encourage someone who finds themselves in a similar struggle as I did during that season.

I had either through my journey up to that point in my life lost the plot, or maybe it's that hadn't ever before really known the plot. I think the latter speaks more to the reality of my situation at that time than does the former.

The title sets the stage, and 4 songs in, the answer comes...

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring...
And love is not the easy thing....
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind


These song are all about loss that leads to gain, and being stuck and getting unstuck, and living and dying, and through it all, the focus is on a way forward that many just don't seem to want to face and deal with because it's not easy. But none the less, it is where freedom is found, and life begins. It's where we are lifted out of the blues because we have found something true. And often those around you in the beginning of the new journey can't feel it, but it has become so real to you no one can steal it.

This morning as I drove my daughter and a friend to school, another lyric that always jumps out at me prompted me to sit down write this blog post.

I'm not afraid to die
I'm not afraid to live
And when I'm flat on my back
I hope to feel like I did


U2's recording that preceded this one ended with the song Wake Up Dead Man. It's a desperate cry (prayer) of a man who finds himself at the end of his rope. It's a cry for help. And even if it is a mixed up one, at least it's honest. It's interesting how people often perceive things when they are caught on the ravaged path of independence. And religion is certainly a part of that path. God's not holding out on us nor punishing us. And God certainly isn't dead. It's we who are dead at that moment in time. But for this honest desperate man...somewhere between Wake Up Dead Man and the next song we get from U2, the first song on ALL THAT YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND, something has happened. The plot has begun to come into focus. The cd starts out with this...The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground. Being at the end of our rope is not a bad thing. It actually turns into a blessing if we can just let go of the control.

From Matthew 5


"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule."






IT'S A NECESSARY THING


It's one of my favorite things...among many. I'm sitting near a window that is open and along with the cool breeze (59 degrees) that is gently blowing in, it is mingled with a light mist from the rain that is falling this morning. Rain always reminds me of the necessary things we need to be alive....physically and spiritually. Don't for a minute think it's not a beautiful day...and let it get away ;-)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A NEW SCRIPT IS NEEDED




Slow down. Take a deep breath. Then do it again and again and again. Learn to rest so that you can live. Look at nature and learn the natural rhythms of life. You will find it completely opposite the rhythm of the world humans have created that drags us around and keeps us in a loop that sucks the life out of everything. A tree doesn't have to work hard and fast and furious to produce good fruit. It just needs to be a tree. Some things are actually good to do on auto pilot. Things that help open the door to the things that are most important...like hearing the Spirit and loving and helping people...helping them find the natural rhythms of life...the rhythm of grace.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

IT'S NOT 'OUT THERE'

And all the while it's right here, right in front of us. Or should I say in us? And until we realize that we will miss the beauty that has freely been given and instead chase the things that have not...and trample under foot that which we are in need of.

"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


I'm just feeling the weight this morning, of the unnecessary suffering created by the lie, as it confuses and beats the hell out of people I care deeply about. And don't be fooled in thinking the lie only applies here to what Mr Berry speaks. The lie is much deeper, wider, and far-reaching than just that.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I CAN'T STOP THE UGLY. BUT.........


No, I can't eliminate the ugliness created by humans when they choose to travel the ravaged path of independence...but I can refuse to allow it to cause me to miss the beauty that is right in front of me at all times.

Just a few moments ago as I walked through my garden this afternoon, this scene caught my attention. The afternoon really is wonderful beyond description. The past week has been rainy, warm and very muggy...but not this afternoon following today's rain. Today's rain was caused by a cold front passing through. The haze in the air is gone which makes the sun reflecting off this maple, at this particular moment, the very thing I needed to pull me out of the less than pleasant thoughts that filled my mind as I began the walk through the garden. Such moments also help bring me back into a better present-moment-perspective and future hope. Love and grace and peace and joy and reconciliation I will not allow to be wrestled from my hands by the circumstances created by those still floundering around, looking for an answer, in the realm of law and power and control and manipulation.

Thanks for the interruption Papa.





















Wednesday, May 12, 2010

UNBELIEVABLE

........and a stunning natural fractal to boot.









Tuesday, May 11, 2010

CONTENTMENT


The journey of learning to accept things for what they are has been a very freeing experience for me. And I've done pretty well over the past few years of being able to remain in that space. Well, at least most of the time. But every so often I come face to face with a situation that challenges that place of peace and freedom. In those times, often my first thought is to exercise the freedom I have to choose and flee whatever it is that is threatening to invade my space and infringe upon my freedom. At first glance it might look like the thing to do, but then a deeper reality begins to set in...the freedom I am thinking of in that moment isn't really the freedom I'm in need of.


Freedom isn't what we in the West have come to think of it as being. The exercise of choosing where to shop...where to vacation...where to live...where to work...whether to work...where to play...etc. etc. etc. isn't freedom. And that exercise of choosing to come and go as we please and to set up our days as we would like them to be is a very fragile thing indeed. It's never guaranteed that we will always have the ability to make such choices. Contrast that fragile misinterpretation/misunderstanding of freedom with the real freedom...the one that no one or no circumstance has the ability to take from us and you might begin to see something radically different. It's what I am in need of right now. I am grateful to know the difference between the two. Now, all that's left for me to do is to once again relax and lean into the One who is peace and who is freedom. It's there that I can live content regardless of what circumstance I might find myself in.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

BY GRACE


"Reject the worldly lie that says life lies always up ahead

Let power go before control becomes a crust around your soul

Escape the hunger to possess and soul diminishing success

This world is full of narrow lives,

I pray by grace your smile survives."


This photo along with the lyrics from Michael Card reminded me of a response Paul Young made to me a few years back in a conversation about simplicity and how the ravaged path this world offers brings much complexity to our lives and squeezes the simplicity out. The journey is to be a move back towards simplicity.

"It seems that the world takes children and makes adults out of them, and then the Spirit enters these adults lives with the intent of making children of them again. A healthy child lives in the present, not the past and the future is hardly considered. A healthy child doesn't know (yet) that they are valued based on some standard of performance. (The world system does have a 'grace period' for children, but even that seems to be getting shorter and shorter). A healthy child does not keep destructive secrets. A healthy child lives in wonder and fun and creativity.

The world comes and crushes the child into it's pre-set molds of performance and piles complexity upon complexity. Then when we as intelligent and sophisticated adults come to the reality of the Spirit we want to bring to it all the same ways of thinking that we have now been trained into. But a child? How complex is conversation, is sharing, is loving, is having fun, is being with someone, is trusting, is not being ashamed, is receiving forgiveness and asking for it, is moving on from mistakes, is laughing and dancing.

The realm of independence 'is' the realm of performance 'is' the realm of complexity."

It feels like such a daily fight against the pressures that press in on us adults and also our children/young adults. The struggle is jacked up even more by the reality that most people, even though they might feel it, really don't seem to feel the need to pay close enough attention so as to recognise the threat in order to live free of the controlling external soul diminishing pressures. And even if they do, it seems most feel powerless to do anything about it.

It also seems that the trend of young adults not wanting to grow up/but wanting to grow up too fast at the same time continues to swell. The warning signs are all around us that something is wrong but as Walter Brueggemann says..."we are ambivalent about disengaging and relinquishing the failed script, because we are indeed well-off, comfortable, and by any standards better off than most of the world can imagine." It's seems to be quite a quandary. A world that sets out to squeeze kids into it's mold...kids not wanting to grow up based upon what they have seen of it by watching the adults around them looking and acting like angry-frustrated-exhausted-walking dead. Which brings me to another observation shared by Anne Lamott in her book Plan B

"My friend Mark, who works with church youth groups reminded me recently that Sam doesn't need me to correct his feelings. He needs me to listen, to be clear and fair and parental. But most of all he needs me to be alive in a way that makes him feel he will be able to bear adulthood, because he is terrified of death, and that includes growing up to be one of the stressed-out, grey-faced adults he sees rushing around him."

For us adults to be here for anyone else and be a help to them, including our children, we need to be alive and free. Grace and love is the only hope that exists that can turn this around. That's not a new thing....it just seems to be a forgotten thing.

Law=performance=complexity=soul diminishing=dead.

Grace=love=simplicity=LIFE TO THE FULL

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

THIS RESONATES DEEP


"I do not desire to reach my former lofty goals. I do not wish to be great any longer. Echoes of words gone by, shadows of my former heart and its destiny of greatness (at least in my mind) haunt me now, embarrass me, prod me, humble me. Obscurity is such a blessing; that men would ignore me, pass my little sail boat on their yachts and ocean liners as they power toward the shore I once sought. It brings perspective to my quivering soul; to be trampled upon by other’s ambition is not pleasant, yet somehow fitting, somehow healing." ML