Monday, January 31, 2011

"Better Minds" -

This is the first of a new series of blogs by moi. I have gone on long enough about my life - which is, remarkably, like YOUR life! Isn't that a mystery!

But I am reading some great stuff so for a month or so I will share with you nuggets of my reading and how it affects me.

A friend posted a little quote on her facebook and many jumped onto the "like this" thumbs up button...but I felt like we were all being sucked in. There is a lot that is written (Christian and otherwise) that is complete drivel. The words might sound good but when the ideas are really tested they are nothing. Or foolish.

Okay - I know you are dying to read the quote - and I won't name the author - and I don't think this is the WORST quote I've seen, but it is exemplary of them.
"Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter" I am not sure if you need me to spell out why this is such a lame piece of writing.

Compare that to this:
"Transformation is foundational to spirituality. Unlike religiosity, which can involve nothing more than beliefs and practices, spirituality involves a journey. Much more than a mere identity, it is walking a path."

Both of these are pieces of guidance. I know we all want to write a book. But maybe we should write fewer of them, or maybe we should do what the above quote suggests, and be more afraid of reading things that don't matter than of failing to read what does. Is that what he is saying? I am not sure.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Last of a Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: on rhythm

One of the first things you learn about children when you have one of your own is that routine IS everything! The child does so much better when things are routine, when there is a regular rhythm and all the small things happen in usual ways. Sometimes the pain of disorienting the child can be enough to keep parents from wanting to do things that would normally be fun. It is just easier to stay home.

I am a long long way from my baby days - but the need for rhythm is still deep inside me. When people have regular repeated ways of sharing routines and rhythms something like meaning is added to life. My experience is that it isn't the occasional huge events that make us calmly sane and richly belonging. It is ordinary planned patterns.

Today a young single father with boys, 2, 4 and 18 told me that on Fridays he has a complete routine. They all go to McDonald's for lunch so the little ones can scramble through the play area, and then at supper he picks a movie (today it is going to be Marmaduke) and brings home pizza and it is the only night of the week that they eat around the tv instead of at the table. I know for fact that his kids will remember these routines with warmth in their heart. Something happens when we do things over and over together.

That is why I go to church. Some people go to church out of obligation, or to be seen, or to please God or to get a fabulous message - I go to church to practice my faith with other believers. I go to say things I don't say anywhere else, to belong. In this sense, the service doesn't have to be particularly good, the worship can be routine, and I am not looking for amusement. I go, over and over, to sit beside other believers, to speak my faith in unique ways and to belong there. Pretty routine stuff. But somehow it piles up over time.

I have other rhythms. Some may seem silly to you. But they make my life meaningful and gentle.

It is part of being human - from birth to old age.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


So. No one is commenting on my blogs. I know they are kind of intense lately, but if you know me AT ALL you know two things - I do not avoid what rises in my life and winter is always hard on my soul. It is hard for some of you too. I know you are out gentle readers!

That said, I have been thinking that I need to put something humorous or controversial here to give you and me a breathing space. Life is ridiculous in much of its unfolding and holds plenty to laugh about, but I warn you that my humor tends toward the absurd.

Anyway, this is the only funny thing that has brought me a chuckle in the last day or so. And I like it because it is SO not female, and I don't get it and yet it somehow tells me about my menfolk. So here is the story:

My grown son is embarking on a new experience - doing his own mechanical work on his car, in our garage. A good friend - mature man, fairly skilled mechanic, lovely human - has joined him as a mentor for this task. What used to look like a car now lies like a dismembered body over every square inch of the cold garage floor.

Our mechanical friend has three absolutes about fixing cars:
1. It will cost more than you think.
2. It will take longer than you think.
3. You will lose some of your progress in sanctification doing it.

So we are prepared for all three.
The first real problem comes in getting the old thing-ma-bob off the hoos-ee-whats-it. (Here is where my mechanical expertise becomes evident.) For a long while both men wrestle together against the rust and corrosion locking the bolt. My son, his arm torqued and stuffed into the mess of metal and belts and oil finally feels the bolt and nut slip.Suddenly - and victoriously - the bolt loosens.

There is a great cry of victory. I hear my son yell, "Ho HO! We did it!" Then, "I'm getting an erection... Is that normal?"

To which the mechanic says, "Absolutely!" And they proceed to work.

And I laugh. Because men are such a different kind of animal and I love my men. This is about being human, too.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: on pain

When did you last have so much deep emotional pain that your whole body sobbed? What has hurt so deeply that you curled up into yourself and released uncontrollable weeping? Have you ever climbed into the back seat of your car because it is the only place you can be 'off the radar' and hidden there (with buckles and lumps hurting your body) let emotions take over your whole self?When have you felt utterly alone in your pain? When has your physical heart ached because of a broken emotional heart? Do you know the experience of a cyclone of agony ripping through your body like a dam break of water down a cliff, wrecking its destruction? Have your eyes been swollen shut from crying? Has your head pounded and your joints ached from the crush of sadness? These are human experiences.

I look back over my life and see them like burning bushes: the ripping birth of a child's body from my own; folded alone in a rocking chair after hearing my gramma has died and I am 2000 miles away from anyone who knows or cares about her; standing beside my mom's death bed after a frantic day of flying from one location to another with Steve finding me flights just as I was able to make them. And well, yesterday.

Where do you go when your heart is breaking? Where do you go to wail and sob and not look like you're coping, for just a little while? It is hard to be a human, sometimes. And the hardness can pile up until something happens that crumbles our strong defenses and the hill comes down. (Could we establish weeping tents where a person could go to weep away their pain? Since we are imagining, these would be stocked with chocolate and pillows.)

In l995 I found myself in Korea on a prayer mountain. The weather is bitter. Drizzling rain, fog, cold that goes into my bones. The mountainside is set up as a prayer walk. [I will not go into the long story of my walk on that mountain - but just jump to this point.] I climbed forty (the number signifying a whole life) uneven steps hewn out of a side of a cliff to arrive at a natural cave about 20 by 20 ft. In front of the cave is a space of grass, maybe the size of an average kitchen. Inside the cave near the back, hidden in dank moodiness is a huge raw rock, over which a life-size statue of Jesus is positioned, his body thrown onto the rough surface and his face and hands distended in pain and tears. I am in Gethsemane. I am utterly alone.

I huddle at the edge of the cave, looking out, watching the rain fall with a sense that my very bad perm is becoming a mighty snarl - feeling biting cold in my bones and growing awareness of the awful pain in the scene behind me. My own soul feels utterly torn with my own pain, my own mountains of wound and sadness crushing any ray of light from my sky. The setting is an exact picture of my own condition.

Suddenly I realized that the weeping Christ deep in the cave is not just weeping for himself, he is weeping for - and WITH - me. Hot rushing presence sweeps over me, and my tears become wrapped in presence. Eventually I am calmed with the joy of being loved and I step out onto the dangerous slippery grassy ledge with no barrier to a rocky fall, and I lift my hands and dance with God. [I think dancing with God must be dangerous - the setting has so many insights to disclose.] I feel like a little kid dancing with my feet on the feet of my big daddy at a wedding.

Yesterday I felt the same identification with God - heard his weeping on the cross, the utter pain of all being torn away. Today I am coping with swollen eyes and aching joints. I feel like I was working yesterday, moving boulders. I ache that way.

Being human means having deep places of pain. There is no way around it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Copied from my woman's blog -

Krissi Thursday, January 13, 2011

A large lady
in a black bathing suit
bends at the her non-waist,
tucks short hair
into a rubber cap,
approaches the surf.
A timid June bug,
an ostrich past her prime.
She frowns.
First one foot, then the other,
she enters the ocean.
The waves take her.
Grown small
she begins to bob.
she pirouettes, sashays,
does the locomotion.
Round and lovely,
she is light as helium,
graceful as God.
Seagulls applaud.

--Nancy Thomas from The Secret Colors of God (Nancy is a missionary in Bolivia from my church back home in Oregon)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: when life is too much

"Today was too much for me, mom. I'll tell you about it on my commute tomorrow."(Rachel at a local homeless food kitchen.)

My daughter has a new full time work position. She is stepping out of running the home and caring for family things and working part time to join the full time work force.

Her email this morning makes me deeply sad. The words, "today was too much for me" describes so many of my days too. Those days come about too often when a woman would love to pull a quilt over herself and hide from the world for a while, too tired and pressed to even see the future, but no! she must soldier on.

This is the life of many women in our culture. That my comments are about women is simply that I know this journey personally. I fully acknowledge that men have heavy lives too, but maybe it is a different heaviness.

My daughter has been a pastor's spouse all her married life. She is now a partner in church planting. If you haven't been in this place you have no idea the weight this is. She does not have the option of 'caving' and ignoring her world. She does not have the option of strings of days alone caring for her own concerns - engagement and care for others presses in relentlessly. I have seen her grace and willingness to live this kind of life. But on days when work is enough to wipe you out, and it is followed by family demands, people concerns and long evenings a person can become profoundly weary.

Every woman has her own particular loads. I watch women around me: friends, co-workers, women I pass casually. I know women who carry burdens that are crushing. Single moms working two jobs and still trying to give their kids enough of themselves. Women nursing aging parents, balancing needs and demands with hardly one space to care for themselves. A life like this has no end in sight - no way out of the storm.

I have no way to help my daughter. If I hover over her and lament and sigh she will feel like she has to make me better too. I don't want that. I can't make even one of her choices. I can't ease her body or her spirit. I can't help her get a nights uninterrupted sleep. What I do is pray for her, love her and when ever I get an idea of how to support her, I do it.

But lots of women don't have this support. Women are often at the top end of the care cycle and no one above or beside them is watching over their lives. No one paying attention. And as women age the dangers increase. Without the love of a family (biological or otherwise) a woman faces serious isolation. The qualities that typically attract people to women - beauty, sass, joy, etc - are not evident. Beauty is hidden inside a sometimes crumbling house. Only love can see it.

So today I want to say to my woman friends that I see you. We are not so far apart, you and I. Women know. We know and we need to radiate that knowing across parking lots, into the car next to us at a stop light, to the woman checking out our groceries - just a human moment of unity and knowing.

And if you can think of something that would gentle the life of a woman you notice (and maybe love,) do it. Even something small.

Because women are fighting for the next generation of the human race.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: on reading

I am going to get this quote wrong. But let me try. Benjamin Franklin ( might have been him or someone in his category of person) said "the saddest man on earth is a man who is lonely, in the rain, and can not read."

The thought of being pitiable because I cannot read immediately connects with me. Someone said we read so we know we are not alone. True. I think that is true. But I also read because it is an invitation into a larger universe. Have you stopped to consider the wonder of being able to reap, not just your own thoughts and growth, but the thoughts and growth of other human persons? When I read I am living inside someones formation, their invisible self.

Reading has been essential in my own journey to me move beyond the weights in my soul. These weights take up psychological space (my unprocessed and sometimes even unknown hurts and wounds,) spiritual energy (practices to which I feel obliged that do not bring life,) and create theological lumpiness (images of God that are distorted and actually keep me from loving and being loved by Him.)

Transformation is foundational to spirituality. If we are not being transformed, we are not living a spiritual life. Reading has fueled my transformation on many levels. Think about it - novels show me how other people dance and stumble and choose - what the possibilities are. Written prayers school me on how to meet with God. Books train me, inspire me, discipline me, make me furious, comfort me in sorrow, fill me with beauty. Reading is faux silence, full of every possible sound.

I remember reading "The English Patient" when we were in Hungary leading a retreat. I read through the nights in an unheated cabin, a quilt pulled over my head, my nose peeking out for breath, cold and red. The story took over my reality, (it is quite different than the movie, my inspiration to read the book.) When I finally turned the last page, finished, I began to sob, deeply. I had no other way to let out the emotion and deep radiance of the story. Steve mumbled from his cot across the room, "Are you crying? Are you okay?" I couldn't stop, just sniffled out, "It is so beautiful."

Without shared meaning like this I would hardly be human.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: on weather

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." Albert Camus (I know. Albert Camus. Let it go.)

I have a lot of winter in my heart. And if I am not mistaken, you do too, or at least most of the people around me seem to be trudging a little more than usual. Do you think this is the condition of us old folks, or are our kids feeling this too?

To let myself 'be controlled' by weather seems to trivialize my work of character development. But let's be honest. The world around us - our physical environment - is part of our formation field, and we are affected by it because we interact with it in a very immediate way.

Weather also holds meaning for us. When I was ten my family had a hard year and we lived the winter out in a big drafty house with no heat and no furniture to speak of. Six kids slept on a mattress in the second floor bedroom (like finches in a nest) and in the morning I would grab my clothes and run into the kitchen to dress in front of the stove which had been heated up and the door left open.

I thought, that winter, that we would likely all die. I still feel that way when the weather is extremely cold. I don't THINK it - that would be silly. I know we won't (likely) die from cold. But I feel it... that flimsy unsteady stomach flinch that sends a signal of distress to my hippocampus. (Take note of where hippocampus is - you have one too.(I learned that in Psych class... be impressed. But it doesn't help the feeling at all:-)Winter was lodged in my soul as a perilous time.

Maybe you spent your winters racing around on a snow mobile and later in warm cozy kitchens with laughter and hot chocolate. Winter would then contain quite different meanings for you.

Prayer has been a gentling process for my wintered heart over the years. There is, indeed, an invincible summer in my soul. But it shares space with encroaching winter gray. My guess is that this will always be my experience of winter... and I am a woman of very many winters. The best response I think is to own it and keep a quilt handy. A quilt and chocolate.

Because my humanity needs comforting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: what I am seeing

When I decided to do this series I was asking myself what my human life means. I am always seeking wisdom and trying to poke around what is false in me to gain a glimpse of what is real.

Upon reflection on what I am writing and what I have still to write, I think the most important things are these:

... Our humanity was never meant to be tamed. Oh, unquestionably it needs to be transformed, but transformation is not about stifling the freedom and richness of what is surely a ragged vivid experience. All our lives are ragged and vivid, you see, but we can come to believe they are best when lived out of conventionality - doing the right thing in other people's eyes, getting 'A' on every test - even if it means denying our own values, pretending to be okay when we are not, judging ourselves without tenderness - I could go on.

... Anything that denies our true experience reduces us as persons. When we hurry people to solutions and answers and force them into strange deformed ways of being completely wrong for them, we are acting against God.

God is always inviting us to become what he dreamed us to be. He is not worried when we are not 'victorious.' Instead of judging us, he just joins us in the journey through our vast and ordinary complexities, because, (though we often forget this) he remembers that we are dust.

... When a person cheats their own life by not embracing and living (joyfully or painfully) what is, they become an 'empty suit.' Just a set of clothes. It might be a very nice suit, but not alive. Alive is a big mess.

(I saw a short bit of Oprah yesterday interviewing a couple that had three toddlers killed together in a car accident. The parents described coming home to all their children's things, their beds and clothes, but no mess, no tumble, no noise, no fights. The MESS is precisely that which signifies the beauty and potential. The mess is a sign of our humanity.

As I ponder my own very human experience of life (which is just as complex and confusing as yours is) I feel my fear level going down. What can happen in the real world that can separate me from the love of God? Can fire? The sword? A bad day? A bad moment? Can someones opinion do that? Can bad hair or ill timed flatulence? Can unemployment? Or the loss of a friend? Or even a father?

The love of God is the source of our value as a person. And the love of God comes free and remains in the middle of all that is human about us.

And for me, that is pretty much everything.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: on doing what we should

Sunday,July 26, 1896 from the journal of Lucy Maud Montgomeryauthor of "Anne of Green Gables" and wife of local parish pastor.

"I suppose I must go and get ready for evening service - somewhat against my inclination for I was out this morning and I honestly think once is enough to go to church on any Sunday.

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest but in reality it is as hard worked a day as any in the week. We cook, eat, and wash dishes galore. We dress with weariness to the flesh and tramp to church in the heat, sit a long and mostly dull sermon out in a stuffy pew and come home again not a whit better than we went - not as good indeed for we have got a headache and feel very vicious for our pains.

I have an ideal Sunday in mind. Only, I am such a coward that I cannot translate it into the real, but must drift on with the current of conventionality.

But I would like to go away on Sunday morning to the heart of some great solemn wood and sit down among the ferns with only the companionship of the trees and the wood-winds echoing through the dim, moss-hung aisles like the strains of some vast cathedral anthem. And I would stay there for hours alone with nature and my own soul."

Steve and I began our pastoral work in a small church in Stony Plain, Alberta in l981. Aside from our two weeks of holidays a year we participated in an evening service every Sunday evening for the seven years we served there. I can tell you that this rhythm of evening services, while I attended them with grace, was daunting.

Think three kids. Sunday morning starts early. We leave the house before nine and come home around one. Dinner is ready to go because I set it to cooking before I left. I learned tricks. Did you know that if you put a big pot of potatoes on the stove and bring them to a boil, and then shut off the heat leaving the lid on, the potatoes will cook themselves? When you return four hours later they are ready to mash. And did you know that if you accidentally turn on the 'clean' program instead of the oven you can reduce a roast and bone to just, well, a bone?

We usually had company for dinner. It was the way of the community. Usually also, the company stayed all afternoon through the headache hour, and returned to church with us in the evening. That meant I would clean up a large meal and later root around for adequate snacks for a hungry mob before church - maybe grilled cheese sandwiches or home made pizzas. It was a day of much work.

The evening service was not always (usually) very good. And then we would haul the kids home and put them to bed. Having guests drop by after church was also common, and they would sit and wait while we got the kids to bed.

You can't have too much of God but I have to agree with Lucy that you sure can have too much of church. Creation is also a revelation of the divine, and time in nature heals my soul. I once had the cheek to say, publicly, that if I get to heaven and it is like church I am going to ask to go somewhere else. Maybe a finer tuned soul would think of it differently.

But I am only human.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: on moments outside the box

Eleanor Roosevelt is a hero of mine. I have read her writing and biographies about her life and I admire her quite completely. She was not beautiful but she was smart. She navigated her life with class and wisdom and impacted not just her nation but the world.

At the same time in history another intelligent woman was gaining reputation as an entertainer. Gypsy Rose Lee was a stripper who, they said, left on more than she took off. She was really a comedian, and had brilliant wit and intelligence. Gypsy Rose Lee and Eleanor Roosevelt were considered, simultaneously, the two most influencial women in the world.

It is reported that on one occasion Eleanor sent Gypsy Rose a friendly telegram that read: "May your bare ass always be shining."
There is something about this that charms me immensely. I think it is simply that Eleanor did not lose her humor or her ability to respond in an utterly human way to another person, despite the status and weight of responsibility she carried.

Charm, to me, is the ability to respond appropriately and yet with unexpected depth of human connection. I want a life that is noble and wise and has influence. But I also want to be able to send a few telegrams of my own.

I guess it is just because I am human.

A Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: on the middle places

"Time to get out of bed and resume the suffering."
(Quote from a depressed cowboy on Prairie Home Companion, Jan. 8/11)

I heard this said in a radio skit and laughed out loud. The irony was not lost on me at all. Most of life happens in the middle spaces, as several writers have phrased it, and those middle spaces can drive us nuts.

N.T.Wright, theologian, points out that the Christian creeds omit any mention of Jesus' life between the miraculous beginning and redemptive passionate end. And because we do not know what else to do with his life, we reduce it to 'an example,' and finally a red rubber WWJD bracelet.

Well, my life has some amazing moments: joys, healings, divine interventions etc. I think I have had more than my share of remarkable, if not momentous events. My experience of finding Mark will always be a highlight of my life. My mother's death and the month following it was so focused and human I still taste it in my mouth. I think most of my remarkable times hold sorrowful suffering and outrageous joy in tension - and certainly have been dosed by love. LOVE! Big Love.

But the reality is that more of my life is ordinary, mundane and middle bound than those bigger things. Every day begins around six, includes Special K, the news (often bad), a choice of clothes, a battle with hair, a list of things to do and lunch in a bag. My life moves around the same people, the same corners, the same physical challenges and the same routines day in and day out. Routines cannot really be said to be suffering.It is just that routines are so ordinary and repetitive they can wear out my soul while they wear out my boots. By their very ordinariness they become a weight.

Maybe the problem is that these long periods of time hide their meaning from me. When I was a young mom with three babies at home I used to sometimes lament that 'I had no reason to get up but to get three kids up who had no reason to get up.' Oh the birth was profound: celebrations, transformations, blessings - and then work. Oh the work. My work sometimes seemed so meaningless - a routine of wiping and feeding and cleaning and then doing it all again. Meaning got washed down the toilet with the diaper rinse.

So I am talking about the journey. The journey is often not exciting. But it matters, it very much matters. On the journey I am being shaped into a certain kind of person, depending on how I respond. Someone said that life doesn't happen to us. We happen to life. On the journey the new is still emerging, but in a quieter, gentler way. The journey through the middle matters. It just sometimes pulls me down.

So on this January day I am simply owning the drag of the quotidian (everyday repeated things) and lifting my eyes from the stony path. Because life is an amazing miracle even when things are impossibly ordinary and the treasures of middle spaces are found in the nooks and crannies, not at the tourist attractions and rock concerts. I am going to go slow when the going is slow, and remember to smile.

Because it is all part of being human.

A Series of Epiphany Posts on Being Human: on fathers

My father has arranged his life in such a way that to sustain it he must reject the family he helped create. One result of his choices is a deep estrangement from me and one of my brothers, an estrangement that has now been reaffirmed by him with a fair level of hate and cruelty, no doubt fueled by shame. Being as I am unable to process this by taking my three days of paid time off to attend his funeral (since he is only mostly dead) I decided to write something about my human experience of loss of father. (I am not seeking sympathy, please. I am just thinking out loud and maybe you will resonate in your own life.)

The need for father-love is primal. Even an absent or wicked father doesn't kill the father longing inside me or those I see around me. I don't know if this is universal (I expect it is tied to our need for God-love) but I am guessing it would take a fairly violent series of experiences to finally crush it. I do not crave my father's attention or his particular form of presence in my life which has never been life giving. In fact, I could say I am finally just walking away from a painful and bad thing. Except that my inner self feels flimsy and the powerful suction of depression is pulling at my soul.

So I will not talk about the experience of all of humanity, I will only talk about the experience of being a particular person in this situation. As a middle child I have always felt responsible for the success of my father and for his rarely achieved happiness. (I found out recently that my kids have called my dad "sad Grampa" for years.) Letting go of this inner compulsion to protect is not easy, even if it was a burden.

I have always had heightened ability to perceive the emotions and underground currents of people/groups. I knew when things were not okay and spent my life trying to right a tipping canoe. Letting go my grip of the sides of the canoe and the weight of all that is in it might be freedom, but it might also be a possible swamping. On the other hand, a swamping means release from the canoe as a vehicle. Maybe that is the gift in this - not just survival but actually moving to a whole new way of travel, via swamping. (Is this what baptism really is?)

I cannot immediately move from "my father is no longer my father" to "God is my father." Both of these are flimsy to me now. I know this is my 'religious obligation' but it is my spiritual obligation? In a time of grief must I jump across the trauma of my life into the arms of God or can I travel on foot with a limp in that direction? In no sense am I removing God from the equation.

I am simply being human.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


In April I will be leading a spiritual retreat for women in my home city of Calgary Alberta. I am particularly delighted to be invited to this task because of my many close relationships in Calgary, as well as a long standing respectful relationship with the retreat center there.

My communication with the retreat leader includes, of course, travel plans. The group is inviting me to choose my own flights (a necessity for me) and offering a generous budget. In return, I assured them I would choose the most efficient flight.

The leader responded with this: "We appreciate your wanting to find the lowest airfare, but having as few plane transfers/stops as possible is a priority. We also want you to have an enjoyable time getting here and returning. A friend just reminded me that one of the goals of the weekend is to have fun, so please ensure your travel arrangements do not make the trip onerous."

A response like this is rare and beautiful. It is stunning in it's rarity. This group is not flush with money, but they are choosing for life. I feel the respect and love that motivates this kind of generosity.

The response of the team to my travel needs is formational wisdom. In a moment they take the burden of expediency off me and restore a profoundly free and honoring sense of lively humanity. I love it, particularly in light of the fact that the content of the retreat is human formation.

Thank you Pauline.

Monday, January 3, 2011

for Steve

"Ash Wednesday"
by T.S.Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice.


I love you hon, just as we are, together. We are one. And we are two. And in our difference there is laughter. And in our sameness there is peace. I do not hope to turn again, but rejoice in what we now construct. Happy New Year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

...who comes into a life...

In my reading of Robert Kegan I read this, "Who comes into a person's life may be the single greatest factor to what that life becomes."

We are not our selves all by ourselves. We are part of a moving river of relationships, moments, interactions and gifts.

I do not do 'New Year's resolutions' anymore, but if I did I might reaffirm that I want to be a person who adds life to every person I encounter. I don't see how this can be possible. Even in one day my way seems crowded with hoards.

A memory comes to me, though. I am at an airport. I am nervous about an upcoming ministry in a strange city. My eyes scan the crowd of faces, every single one a stranger. But in the scan I lock eyes on a man, an ordinary man, who in a second offers a smile that cuts across the room and lodges in my anxiety like a sugar cube dropped in a cup of coffee. The smile seeps out into my nervousness and I relax a bit. I go my way to the meeting.

Later I see that man again, from a distance. He is going through a door at the church which is my destination. He is the speaker for the men's group - we had not met before and had not seen pictures. We were never actually introduced. I don't remember his name. But if a moment like that can produce a radiant spot of peace in me, maybe we can radiate our love further than we imagine.