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This Is The Day

17 Oct

THIS is the day – It was not yesterday.  It is not tomorrow.  THIS is the unique, unprecedented moment in time when I am called by the Sacred Voice of hope and compassion.  Called, Prepared, Sent.

This IS the day – Without question, with no reservation, I affirm the “is” of this day.  What was has been.  What will be is yet to occur.  This moment “is”.  It belongs to now and awaits the filling of Love and Gentle Goodness.

This is THE day – Not “a” day in the life of all days, this one is fashioned for precisely this pristine moment.  No other day will fit this context of time or circumstance. THE day is both summons and assignment.  It will never happen again just like this.

This is the DAY – In the Light of this DAY, live for truth, do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God in gratitude and in compassionate care.

This is the day the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

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Angel Oak

27 Jun

Angel Oak

One thousand years before Christopher Columbus stumbled into the New World, this tree, The Angel Oak, welcomed the morning sun on what is now Johns Island in South Carolina.
This masterpiece of creation reaches 65 feet into the sky, boasts a trunk circumference of 25.5 feet, provides 17,000 square feet of shade, and stretches its longest arm 89 feet across the South Carolina landscape.

Imagine what Angel Oak has seen…and experienced. Imagine the stories this ancient one could tell. Words like strength and beauty and power, and even grace, seem appropriate.

Angel Oak is a living metaphor that offers plenty of shade for wondering. Take the time.

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The Embrace

25 Jun

The Embrace

The look on her face puzzles me.

Is it contentment? Is it concern? Is she happy or worried?

I think she’s just read the headlines about hundreds of children lodged in an old warehouse in Nogales, Arizona. Refugee children running from terror into a turmoil that they cannot imagine. And now she is embracing her child so tenderly, so powerfully that he or she disappears into the mother. From the womb to life…now from terror to tenderness. If only she could take the child back into herself, save him from the horrors of Sudan or Central America, save her from child slavery and scarring abuse. If only.

What do you think she’s thinking?
What are we doing to the innocents?
Why?

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June 11, 2014

12 Jun

June 11, 2014

Really? Nothing at all?

Significant days are not just or only notorious days, or celebrity days, or monumental days of great memory. Last week, while on vacation, I met an honest-to-goodness celebrity, watched as people clamored to get near her and fans focused cameras to catch the moment. Another day I ate the largest sea scallops I’d ever seen…the size of small bread plates…succulent, delicious.
That was followed by visiting what must be the largest oak tree in America (The Angel Tree) and marveling at this 500 year old masterpiece of creation. Those were significant days…I have the photos to paste in my scrapbook. Significant.

But what of the days in-between? What about the down days when nothing seems all that important? The days when the spectacular doesn’t show up?

I sat with the woman I’ve loved for 53 years on a towel on the beach and we watched the bubbling surf through our toes as we laid back together. We didn’t talk. We just looked. ¬†She took my hand, we closed our eyes and felt the warm earth beneath us. It wasn’t a celebrity moment, it won’t be recorded in history books, but it was significant.

I would put a plaque on that spot if the sand would cooperate. It would say: “On this site on June 11, 2014 something significant happened.”

Something significant…maybe even sacred.

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Coming And Going

9 Jun

Coming And Going

It’s only a matter of time. The waves will eventually capture the castle and it will return to its original elements. The sand from which it is made came from the ocean floor, was carried to the beach by currents and rolling waves, and it will return to its origins the same way. Its beginning and its end are the same. In between its arrival and its departure, the sand was shaped into something remarkable and quite beautiful…an original creation that had never existed before and which will never exist again in its unique, present form. The ocean which sent it to the beach will welcome the sand home, receiving it into the place it knows best.

The wonder of life is to recognize that beginning and ending are the same, and, in between, there is remarkable beauty.

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The Narrow Way

16 May

The Narrow Way

There are two places in the Christian scriptures where “narrow” is written. Both times the word comes from the mouth of Jesus, and in both instances the context concerns entering something. In one place, it’s a “narrow gate”, while in the other it’s a “narrow door”. And in both utterances, Jesus appears to be talking about how to get into the kingdom of God, or the fullness of life. “Narrow” was his description of the entry point; restricted and confined, not broad and easy.
Ever try to get through a really small space with a lot of stuff? Try getting between these two boulders with your backpack, your bed roll, your ice cooler, and your camping stove. It’s hard enough with a wide body, not to mention all the luggage.
Think of all the things we “carry” through our lives…the stuff we hang onto and think we can’t live without. Piled on, stuffed in, sit-on-the-suitcase-to-make-it-close stuff.
Some other words come to my mind when I think about the sacred teachings of my faith, words like “simplicity” or “accumulations”. And then “narrow” begins to make more sense in reference to that entry point to the real fullness of life. You can’t take it with you.
Things – unnecessary possessions, self serving ideals, accumulated trinkets and toys – won’t make it through the narrow door. It appears that the only way to pass through that narrow way is to strip down to bare essentials. And so I ask myself: what is it that I need to leave behind? It’s not an easy question…and there’s not an easy answer.
But the reality remains: the way is narrow.

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“I Don’t Know, Either”

8 May

I used to play Jacks when I was a child. Toss a ball into the air, scoop up as many little metal “jacks” as possible before the ball comes down, catch the ball. The more jacks you pick up, the better your score. Easy. At least, it sounds easy.
If you ever played the game, you will recognize that the strange object in the photograph resembles one of those little metal pieces…somewhat. Imagine what the ball must look like!
I don’t know what it is, either. A sculpture, of course, but…of what? About what? So I sat down on a nearby bench and tried to imagine the creative thoughts running through the sculptor’s mind. Stopping long enough to wonder about this bizarre shape, though, turned out to be the best thing that happened that day. While sitting still and paying close attention to the object and its surroundings, I heard the unmistakable song of a Cactus Wren who may have been wondering about this thing, too. The small, gravel rocks rustled behind me and from under a low, green bush a glorious desert lizard strolled lazily into the sun. And on the bush from which he came, delicate little shoots of new growth announced life and offered their beauty to the scene. What started out as pondering this preposterous piece of art turned into a few moments of living harmony. Colors. Sounds. Warm sun. Living creatures. Budding plants. It all came together, and it was good.
I still don’t know what that thing is, but I’m glad it called me to the bench because I might never have seen the quiet expressions of life otherwise.
Benches aren’t just for resting, are they.

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Baptized Again

14 Apr

Baptized Again

Water in my church’s baptismal font is so clear and clean that it reflects the colorful stained glass windows on the east wall of the building. Clear, refreshing water.
I was baptized at age twelve and again at age seventy-three…just a few days ago.
Well into a 30-mile bike ride, I ran short of water…something important to have on a 90 degree ride. Knowing that a water fountain was located close by in a public parking lot, I peddled to the site…only to find that the fountain was not in working order. My only option was the sink faucet in the restroom facility…better than nothing, although you might need to know that tap water in my hometown is not highly regarded by lots of people. It just doesn’t taste very good. Some would say “yuk”!
Now, full bottle in the holder, I started out of the lot onto the bike trail when a man called me to a halt. He had gotten out of a pickup truck, parked in the shade of a small tree, and he approached me with a bottle of water in hand. “You can’t drink that stuff”, he announced. “Here, take this”, and extended the fresh water. “I can’t take your water on a day like this,” I replied, but he insisted. “No, please. I want you to have it.”
As he drove out of the parking lot, I tasted cold, clean, refreshing water…and it was wonderful. If he looked back he saw me drink almost all of it and then pour the rest over my head and shoulders for the cooling effect.
Baptized again with generosity and kindness.
Baptized again at 73.

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Wondering

5 Apr

Wondering

I wonder what she’s thinking?

As she nestles her infant child in her arms, is she wondering about the recent UN report concerning climate changes and how we are slowly but surely walking down a narrowing path?

Or, maybe her mind is concerned about troops massing on various borders or Sudanese refugees or Syrian victims or terrorists whose passions erase the value of human life.

Or, perhaps she’s wondering about water for her child to drink or food shortages as the gap between the 1% and the 99% expands. And expands. And expands.

She looks like a kind and caring mother, as do all the ones on television each night weeping about the plight of their families and communities. She reminds me of mothers around the world who must be wondering what the future will hold for their innocent infants.

I wonder. Do you wonder?

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31,32,33…

19 Mar

31,32,33...

I drive along LaCholla Road everyday. Painfully, cautiously, and slowly.
Painfully because the major roadway is under construction and there are lots of unexpected bumps and thumps that rattle both the car and me. Cautiously because the safety-cone lined passageway for cars is narrow and twists back and forth as machines create controlled chaos on both sides. And, slowly because there is always a deputy sheriff concealed behind piles of dirt or rocks with a radar gun aimed at anybody who dares to go more than 25 miles an hour. Slowly, please, because construction zone fines can ruin your day.
One redeeming aspect of driving through the mess, though, is an opportunity to see artists at work. Thus the photo above. I watched for weeks as sturdy construction people placed the rocks you see one by one, hand to hand and created a lovely stone mosaic along the route. First the ground was packed hard, then wire mesh was laid, then cement poured and, finally, while the cement was still wet, a single line of construction artists took one stone at a time from a huge pile, passed the stone from one man to the next until the last man in line nestled it into the waiting cement. One at a time. Rock by rock. And, as you can see in the photo, there is a lovely line of white rocks flowing lazily through the many shades of brown. It’s quite beautiful.
But imagine the effort, the painful process of placing one stone and then another and then another, day after day.
Several things occur to me. I’m grateful for artistry all around me, in common things and in unexpected places. Stunning beauty is everywhere. Also, I appreciate the seemingly tedious efforts of people who often do common tasks, jobs that I pass by without a second glance, but who produce creative beauty in subtle ways. The waitress who delivered the colorful salad yesterday…the landscaper who turned my yard into a special place…the house painter next door whose meticulous care for detail shows in every brush stroke…the hummingbird building a penthouse straw by straw in my oak tree.
Perhaps I ought to slow down more often and observe beauty taking shape.
Slowing down is never a bad idea…especially when there’s a radar gun in the neighborhood.