Light Lives

18 Apr

If there were no clouds, would the golden light be as bright?

Without the mountain, would the morning rays scatter across the sky?

The straight-line horizon serves as a very fine entry point for the early sun,
but nothing projects the beauty like those mountains. Cast in soft gray as the first fingers of light wave to the waiting world, the mountain plays the minor role, at least for the moment. Ah, but wait.

The sunset will come. And then the starring role belongs to the rugged canyons, the sharp peaks, the majestic stature of the Catalinas. Best of all, the play never stops. It is a treat to the eye everyday. Light shining through the somber gray of early morning. Light shouting to the world in the late afternoon. Light in the world…Light of the world. Light living beyond all restraints. Light filling the spaces and the spirits. Light lives and moves among us. Thanks be to God!

Has escuchado (Have You Heard?)

17 Apr

il est ressuscite

el he resucitado

BiH BOCKPEC

es ist auferstaden

vstal z mrtvych

a risorto

He is risen!

HE IS RISEN! INDEED!

GLORIOUS EASTER TO ALL!!

Waiting For The Light

16 Apr

I try to imagine what it must have been like for that handful of humanity in the first century who saw their teacher and friend arrested, tried and executed within a matter of hours. But I can’t.

I try to imagine what it must feel like to live under a brutal dictatorship like the one that existed in Germany in the late 1930s. But I can’t. Or to try to survive in a war-ravaged country like Ukraine as invading forces rip at the heart of the nation. It’s not possible.

When the sun rises on Sunday morning, we will sing and rejoice. And we must, but we dare not forget that suffering still exists around the world and down the street, that our celebration is also a call to sacred solidarity with the least and the left-behind. The Good News is not about possessing the combination to heaven’s gate, it’s about food enough and drying tears and standing with. Easter is not about what I possess, it is about what I profess…and about the principles that inform how I live day after day.

Easter re-defines the word neighbor. But that’s not a new idea, is it. “Who is my neighbor?” the curious man asked. Who, indeed. Ask the One who is greater than time or tombs. You’ll know him by his hands and his side. Watch and wait. He’ll find you. And when he does, he will lead you to the threshold of life. Crossing that threshold…well, that takes some Easter courage. But, take heart. You won’t be alone.

Waking Into Life

15 Apr

Now I rise from blessed sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should wake before I die,
give me strength to work and try
to share your love with no restraint,
to know your joy, to laugh and paint
the cloudless sky with brilliant gold;
O Lord, this day may my wings unfold
and lift me closer yet to you.
Then, when this lovely day is through,
may I find my rest once more in sleep,
trusting that you watch and keep
my soul in the palm of your hand.

Amen

Clear To Land

14 Apr
Gear down.
Flaps 20 degrees.
Runway in sight.
Clear to land.
Watch life and be amazed.
In fact, watch life and be humbled.
I wonder why human beings think we’re so special?
Wonder!

It’s The Light That Does It

11 Apr

It’s the light that does it. The flower is beautiful, but it’s the light that brings out the delicate textures and causes the flower to glow. Light does that. Think about that time when you were having trouble remembering something, then the lost memory came back into your mind and you said: “Oh, the light just came on!” Or, that time when I said to my friend: “That was very enlightening. Thank you.” Light brings clarity, reveals, renews, gives life. The stunning flower in the photo could not have lived without light.

May the lovely flower bless you today. We need beauty in our lives. And we need light…to see, to grow, to find our way through difficult or dark times. “I am the light of the world.” “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” Today we enter a calendar week in which it seems that darkness wins over light, evil prevails. But the beautiful truth is that neither terrible times, nor tyrants, nor tombs can overcome Light. The Light lived in the amazing life of Jesus, and The Light lives now as a spiritual Presence that shines in and through you. You are the embodiment of Light. We are Christ in the world. “Let your light shine before others so that they may see…” May see Christ yet working in the world.

The flower is beautiful because the light shines through it. You are beautiful because The Light shines through you. As I write this, the first rays of morning light are rising above the mountains. Fitting, isn’t it. Here comes the Light.

Signs Of The Time

6 Apr

A sign of the times. Pay attention! Summer in the Sonoran Desert sends people away, we call them Snowbirds. The human population is reduced. Watch out Michigan, Wisconsin and other summer-proofed states, here they come! And those of us who tough it out during the summer season begin to see signs, like the one in the photograph, reminding that we have new neighbors who are not as hospitable as the ones who just left. These new neighbors are reclusive, unwelcoming, very protective about their land and known to defend themselves with a wicked tongue. Come to think of it, I used to have a neighbor just like that. But he didn’t bite. Yes, we are in the midst of a population shift. A sign of the times.

Anything else going on that we might call a cosmic shift? There are some signs out, like the black smudge you got on your forehead weeks ago on Ash Wednesday, or the palm branches people will wave soon, or the Maundy Thursday reenactments of the Last Supper, or the cross you wear on a chain around your neck, or that “special” sunrise when people gather to watch the dawn break in a new and hopeful way. And, of course, there is the big rock formation that resembles an ancient tomb. Signs of the time. Get ready. Be prepared. Somebody special is moving into town. By the way, I heard that he was asked one day: “Who is my neighbor?” and you know how he answered? Everybody! I’m going to ask him to move in next to me. Sounds like somebody I’d like to know. Pay attention to those signs. Quite literally, they are about death and life.

Morning Over The Mountain

30 Mar

I happened to look out the window this morning, just at the right moment. And what I saw
was a very quiet morning trying to slip in over the mountains with little fanfare. Sliding silently,
hushed. And her entry was beautiful. Even elegant.

Beautiful things, lovely moments, often come softly into our awareness. Roses don’t ask permission to grow. They just unfold. So, today be aware of the quietly developing beauty around you. You’ll have to look because astounding beauty never announces her presence, rather like the Spirit’s movement among us. Now, there’s an idea. Why not spend time today watching for the presence of the Spirit? Better than reading that book or watching TV. Look! There’s an example right over there!

People Of The Table?

27 Mar

What if the symbol of the Christian faith was not a cross, but a table…as in food, meals, feasts. So wonders the Christian author-commentator-teacher Diana Butler Bass in her blog called The Cottage. In today’s installment, Butler Bass visits the parable of the prodigal son but instead of focusing on the brothers or the forgiving father, she takes a different approach and looks at the meaning of hospitality in the first century, especially Jesus’s apparent fondness for celebrating with his friends, eating with “tax collectors and sinners” and using table fellowship for some of his most important teachings.

It is interesting, she writes, that the setting of his final fellowship with his disciples, on that “night when he was betrayed,” was a meal, the upper room experience when he instituted the sacrament we know as the Last Supper or Holy Communion. It is very likely that the evening was not all hushed tones and somber faces. Surely they laughed and enjoyed each other’s company as they had done many times before. Put that experience alongside meals with Mary and Martha, the Cana wedding feast, dining at the tax collector’s home, breaking bread on hillsides, and as the risen Christ, sharing a meal on the Emmaus Road, etc, etc. So, writes Butler Bass: how would our faith be different today if we were known as people of the table, rather than people of the cross. No one is trying to diminish the meaning and power of resurrection, but it does make for good speculation.

The table of life, of inclusiveness, of diversity, of abundance vs. the cross of suffering and death. Perhaps repentance and even a changed life – resurrection – can occur around a table, too. What if we were a Maundy Thursday people instead of a Good Friday people? “What would it be like if Christians shifted the spiritual import of the Passion away from Good Friday and toward Maundy Thursday,” she asks. “What would Christianity be like if it saw the central act of Jesus’s last week as a meal instead of an execution?”

She concludes: “It would probably look a great deal like this parable (The Prodigal Son parable)” where redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness, and new life all focus around the lavish feast the father orders for his repentant son. I don’t think it is Butler Bass’s intention to start a campaign to replace the cross with the table. The cross is the traditional symbol of historical Christianity and will remain such. But her point does make for interesting consideration. Do symbols change over time? I suppose her musing might have some bearing on her understanding of the Kingdom of God concept. But that’s another column for another time.

Just food for thought.

Do What You Can To Make Things Right

20 Mar

Do what you can to make things right.
Leave no stone unturned, consider what might
be the best way to say “I made a mistake,
what can I do? What will it take
to open the door to friendship once more?”
Do what you can to make things right.
It’s a cold wind that blows through the darkness of night
when two friends can’t find common ground.

It takes courage to admit that a wrong was done,
especially if you have been the one
to cause the friendship to fall apart
by a careless word, a jealous heart.
If the blame is yours, just speak the words.
It takes courage to admit that a wrong was done
and to bask in false pleasures of a victory won
is to cheat yourself and your friend.

Forgiveness bestowed restores and heals;
forgiveness received so often reveals
the rebirth of hope, light in the night
dispelling the shadows, focusing sight
so that friends can walk side by side once again.
Forgiveness bestowed restores and heals.
Try to imagine the joy you will feel
if you do what you can to make things right.

Regardless of blame, in that cold winter’s night
it really won’t matter who’s wrong and who’s right.
Two friends will wait for the dawn.