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Ink Cartridges

7 Feb

Sometimes it’s right in front of you, and you don’t see it. An answer to the problem, the car keys you’ve been searching for, your glasses, the TV remote. Right there and you looked past it or through it. Frustration builds, and, of course, that causes your pupils to close down into little angry laser beams. And there it was all the time.

I re-learned that lesson early this morning when I sat down to write. What to say? A topic that would be interesting, maybe even helpful. An hour later I was still looking for just the right idea or topic or subject or emphasis. Frustration is a tough opponent at 4 a.m. I pondered, prayed, sat in the Lotus position until my right leg went to sleep.

And, then, there it was. Or better said, there they were. On the desk, exactly in front of me, waving at me, calling my name. Seven empty printer ink cartridges waiting to be re-filled. Dry as a bone. No doubt feeling useless. The seed of an idea began to grow. The gift of a thought. You can write the rest of this, can’t you.

I am an admitted follower of The Way, the first name given to the work and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The Way. When Jesus said “Follow me” he meant it. Follow me, do what I do and don’t lose sight of me. I’ll be right there with you, just stay on The Way. But this morning by 4:10 and with no clear thought to weave into a meditation, I sat down on a rock along The Way to think about my problem. Concern turned into anxiousness which turned into frustration which turned into…and then I heard a voice: Hey. Hey! What are you doing? I looked back and I couldn’t see you. Come on, there’s work to be done. Lots of emptiness ahead. People who need to hear what I have to say, and I want you to be there. Right there beside me.

Lots of emptiness ahead. Empty people needing to be filled with good news, filled with new life. Seven empty ink cartridges staring at me. Empty. Refill. Fullness of life. I’ve got it! Thanks to you…but when I looked up, he was striding away. Suddently the rock was very uncomfortable. Wait! I don’t want to lose sight of you!

Here, friend. Take these seven cartridges. You write the rest of this. I’ve got to go. Wait up, Jesus. Here I come.

Relationships

3 Feb

There is no shortage of articles and books about how to establish and maintain good relationships. So much of our happiness and meaning is related directly to how we get along with other people. I don’t have to remind you, I’m sure, that relationships based on lies, deceit, or pure self-interest don’t last very long and the bitter after-taste is often in broken lives and deep scars.

I’m thinking of this because just the other day I listened to someone comment on the sixth chapter of Mark’s Gospel, focusing particularly on verses one through six. These verses tell the story of Jesus going back to his hometown, speaking in the local synagogue, and encountering harsh criticism about his activities and his authority to teach. Grumblers asked “who does he think he is? Isn’t this the carpenter? Mary’s son…” Their skepticism led Jesus to speak an often quoted line: “Prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometowns, among their relatives, and in their own households.” The text pulls no punches: “They (the townspeople) were repulsed by him…”

There was no relationship between Jesus and the local folks, at least not a good one. And it occurs to me that Mark is making just that point in telling this little story. If I have no relationship with fine art, then the works of the masters have no meaning for me. No relationship with sports and athletics, no interest in sitting through an agonizing nine innings. Without a relationship with gardening and growing things, I could care less about the landscape. And so it is with faith. No wonder the text says that Jesus was not able to do any miracles in the neighborhood. Nobody believed he could, expected them to happen, or really cared one way or the other.

Faith is based on the concept of relationship. To be told all your life that God is love and faith is good for you, but to never establish a relationship with God does not produce faith. Or, to be what is often called a “nominal” Christian, that’s someone who warms a pew every Sunday but never moves beyond that to establish a relationship with the Spirit, is to settle for a first-grade faith in a complex world. The barometer of a strong, healthy faith measures the quality of the relationship, not attendance, not contributions, and not the number of classes one attends. And so I remind myself that on those occasions when my faith feels weak, when the spiritual well runs dry, it’s time to tend the relationship. And that means, at least for me, re-establishing the conversation, getting outside myself in order to invest in others, and re-evaluating personal priorities.

Love isn’t love unless there is an object of your love. Friendship doesn’t exist if you don’t have a single friend. And faith isn’t rich and power-giving and comforting if there is no relationship with The Other.

Just something to think about.

Choose Life

2 Feb

In the cool evening breeze, they heard the Lord walking through the garden.
The perfect garden. Manicured and magnificent.
And they hid! Hid from God!
From the One who had given them life.
Because they were ashamed.
It is so sad when shame rules life,
defines reality,
controls and conquers the human spirit.
Shame is an acid that corrodes,
a malignancy that redefines
who we are
and drives us into the shadows.
But there is someone who calls us out
of hiding, out of the shadows,
out of our shame and into
the new Light of Life.
No one has to live in
shame.
It can be released,
restoration is possible.
There is an option.
His Way leads to life.
Shame leads to spiritual death.
There is an option.
His name is Jesus.

Life Giving Advice

31 Jan

Today I need not to think of these
pandemic days as depravation
and empty time…

Today I need not to hope for my
side to win at the expense of
the other side…

Today I need not to think in terms
of them versus us…

Today I need not to let my mind
be filled with name-calling,
resentment and anger…

And there is only one way to
make all of this happen…

Today I need to let my mind
remember ancient words that
invite me into a different world…
“focus your thoughts on all that is true,
all that is holy, all that is just, and all
that is pure, all that is lovely, and all
that is worthy of praise. Think on
these things…”

Life-giving advice.

Saguaro Choir

29 Jan

I heard the song, beautiful song,
so I stood with them and
sang to the mountain.
It was a happy song,
like one would sing at a
grand celebration.

The saguaro choir sang of
beauty – “How lovely your white
winter coat”, hospitality – “you
welcome us to explore and discover.”
The song echoed through canyons
and along narrow trails.
Big horn sheep lifted their heads
from the sweet mountain grass,
a ground animal started toward
his burrow under a large stone,
but stopped, sat upright,
and listened.

The saguaro serenade, a magical melody
of gratitude, covered the mountain
like the soft blanket in the newborn’s crib.
Please, never let this end.
Let this song of songs bless the mountain,
then ride strong currents of wind,
stopping at each star, filling the universe
with the joy of gratitude.

Would you like to sing, too?
Stand here, just beside me.
Feel your heart open as our song rises
to the summit of Mystery.
Lift your arms,
embrace the Eternal.
For this we were made.


Words That Make A Difference

27 Jan

“…if anything is excellent, if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is holy, all that is just and all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, or heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.”

“Be glad in the Lord always. Again, I say be glad!…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.”

“…but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and I press on for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. So all of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, and if anyone thinks differently, God will reveal it to him or her. Only let’s live in a way that is consistent with whatever level we have reached.”

“,,,do everything without grumbling and arguing…among these people you shine like stars in the world, because you hold onto the word of life.”

“…don’t do anything from selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves.”

Words that can change the world!

Walking Through The Day

25 Jan

On your walk through this day, stop for a moment and admire the golden colors on the small shrubs.

Feel the texture of the large wet stone. Is that frost on your hand?

Wish for the pine tree a good and peaceful day.

Do you see your reflection in the little pond? That’s you looking back at you.
Give yourself a big hug. No one is looking.

The mist over the pond and moving through the trees has come to greet you.
Good morning, soft and beautiful mist.

Follow the way. It’s tempting to stay in this lovely place. But, guess what
awaits you farther along the Way.

Now, repeat after me….”This is the day the Lord has made…”

The Book

23 Jan

Words on a page?
No. Light for a journey.

Irrelevant?
No. Irresistible.

Out of date?
No. Read behind the words.

Comfort and Encouragement?
Yes. Without question.

Lifegiving?
Not unless you read it.

Miracle Day

20 Jan

There’s a story being told all over town.
Have you heard it? It’s making the rounds.
Remember the deaf man who sits at the gate.
the one who holds out that nasty plate,
begging for coins or food?

They say he hears now, as well as I do,
and it’s all because this Jesus came through,
observed the poor man’s unfortunate state,
walked over to him, took his plate
and shattered it on the ground.

Then standing before the Nazareth man,
the beggar felt his gentle hands
as a hush fell over the gathered crowd
and, never speaking a word aloud,
Jesus opened his life to sound.

He restored his hearing, set him free
to hear a song, listen with glee
to children at play, a bluebird sing,
the voices of friends, so many things
he had never heard before.

The crowd was amazed, and I was, too,
but I remember now, there were a few
who frowned and scowled as they walked away,
these Temple leaders had nothing to say
about the deaf man’s miracle day.

The Day Begins

17 Jan

As this day begins,
this unmerited gift of Grace,
may you be drawn ever closer to
the Christ within your being, and may he
guide you through the hours,
comfort you in any sadness,
protect you from all harm,
speak to your heart’s longing,
remind you that you are loved,
share your laughter and joy,
open your spirit to the mystery of awe,
and tell you again that you
are wonderfully made —
spoken into life by the God
who knows your name.
Amen