Friday, January 18, 2008

my own private utopia

Sorry I’ve been away for awhile, I’ve been walking down the road of self-obsession. Its funny, when I first started walking down the path it was really exciting. Almost like the rush of a good drug leaving me wanting more. Like an addict, I couldn’t realize the effect of my condition on those around me. I was self-absorbed in my own world. In my own world there is more than enough to keep me stimulated and feeling alive… so I thought. Something happened last night, call it divine intervention, because I am still walking in a daze. I was jerked out of my own private utopia to find my real life here on earth I have a beautiful wife who is so thirsty for the deep drink of love yet is parched like a lost desert wonderer, and three loving daughters who are starving for the days when they can share daddy’s lap and just play till the evening bell tolls. It was as if someone who loves me came walking gently into my dark den of self-pity carrying a warm candle and found me with the needles of my addiction hanging from my arm. My eyes were changed; I look at the den that once gave me the reason do it again now feels like a dungeon that imprisons me from a true life.

The change is happening…the source of my wanting to live comes from not wanting to live for myself but to live my life for my family. May it be so, and may the One who leads the prisoners out keep my eyes and heart open to the Love that is right here! May I be fully present today and tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

walking the three leaf clover

Today is a great day. I love starting off my day taking a brisk walk around Lake Ella. Today I noticed that there is a small line of small trees around the lake and that across the street there are a larger group of trees that line the street. It is interesting to me that I haven’t really noticed the difference in trees. In fact, I haven’t noticed a lot of things lately. Mostly because I have been walking around with my head down. I missed the fact that that there are three fountains around the lake. I knew there were fountains, I just never thought about them collectively. I’ve never really thought much about the shape of the lake itself either. I pondered today, if I were to take a birds eye view from above the lake what shape would I see? I think it might be shaped like a three leaf clover. Interesting. As I walk along I begin to think about the diversity of people that walk around the lake, so many different social and cultural groups are represented. Here all these various groups gather around this beautiful water garden if you will and just for once the diversity isn’t the dividing line, they are part of what makes the place such an enchanting mosaic. It is just beautiful. So many ducks and turtles, how do they all sustain life around so much human commotion?

It is 6 tenths of a mile around the lake, so I usually go at least 5 laps around so that I know that I have made at least a 3 mile effort of the morning. Around the lake there is an American Legion Hall that is used for all sorts of events, a locally owned coffee house, and then there is a cluster of cottages that have been converted into small shops. Everything from gifts to yo-yo’s are represented by these little shops. It really is an amazing little place. The thing I like most about the little shops is that they are all so unique and cozy; there isn’t an air of pretentiousness about these quaint shops. It is really very refreshing. My wife has said over and over she would love to have a little vintage shop in there one day. And I completely agree with her on that, I hope that one day we will have a spot where we can add to the cozy corner of Lake Ella. It would just be grand to live, work, and play, near the park at Lake Ella.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

stickers and colored pencils

Sometimes things start coming together even when you don’t know how they are going to all work out. Mostly, I think I have given up trying make stuff happen and just make the most out of what comes my way. I think I might be closer to living a life bent towards Providence than towards possessions and prestige. I struggle though sometimes knowing that the identity is gone. I may have severely under estimated the rebuilding process for living a life.

Today was great, after I left my consulting session; I went to my youngest daughter’s school and met with her teacher to discuss her progress. I was so disappointed with all the structure of learning geared toward these “state standards,” trying to have an open mind about it, I did see the merit in learning to build a foundation of how to read. I think my daughter has a good teacher and I think she enjoys school for the most part. I really enjoyed being present at the parent teacher meeting. I can’t even remember being present or going to one for my oldest girls. What a shame I missed out on those. When I came home, my oldest asked if I would help her with a school project and my attitude was genuinely glad to help. Later we had to go get more supplies. We had planned to only go to one stop, but it ended up being a three-store stickers and colored pencils trip. I really didn’t mind. On the way home she thanked me and said she really appreciated me taking her to get her supplies and that she actually enjoyed the time together and that was the highlight of my day.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

i don't want anybody over for dinner

I have this question: Since leaving the organized church, has my life worsened or gotten better? At times it seems as it has gotten worse, but I say that because I feel so completely present in my life that it is really messy. By really messy, I mean the practical things like being a husband who listens and communicates well, a father who teaches, loves, and disciplines seems to be elusive at best. And lastly, what does it mean to be a man among men is a question that plagues me.

For the last ten years of my life while I was in church, I was told that all of these things had to look a certain way. The problem was that very few people were really honest with the practical way these things looked. Everything was held up to the status of how God expects us to love and forgive. I went to teaching after teaching to learn how to live the christian life as a man of God. I think sometimes I was at so many meetings I had no chance at putting these things into practice. The busy life of a churchman not only blinded me at seeing the truth, but kept me running after a goal I could never reach.

So left alone to walk these things out, I find myself looking closely at how do I love my wife, my kids, and those I come in contact with on a regular basis? I feel so raw and insignificant that I can't tell if I am compassionate or not. Most of the time I feel like I am not. I say insignificant because my career and church life ended at the same time. And those two things really defined what I thought about myself. That is so ridiculous!

Do I believe that I matter even if no one tells me so? I should.

I say raw because that is what it seems like; everything has been stripped away and I am left to look at the way things really are. Reality is sometimes so difficult to see that I look for just about any distraction so that I don't have to deal with it, whatever "it" is. I am really tired of doing this alone. And I mean just me and my family are alone.

Hope is not lost. Last night a ray of hope and relief came by way of our friends Dave and Trish. They came over for dinner and drinks. Darla was honest about the fact they they had just caught us in one of those moments where we were just fed up to here with each other; I was not so honest. Dave and Trish just smiled and said "that's OK." The girls played a board game and Dave and I watched House of Flying Daggers. Without saying anything their visit spoke: we love God, and we love you, so let's be together in it.

Love came to dinner and lingers even still.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007

a tale of two christianities

(chart found on page 15)

I am reading what could be described as a very dangerous book. Dangerous in the sense that it risks being seen as challenging to the status quo. The books is Marcus Borg's "The Heart of Christianity." Marcus Borg is the Professor or Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and has written several books about the Historical Jesus.

I think this book is good for me because the approach of the earlier paradigm doesn't work for me so much. Borg is a scholar, fellow faith traveler, who is exploring with deepest sincerity the heart of Christianity. I am not saying that I agree with everything he says, in fact I find myself wrestling with a lot of what he writes. Nevertheless, his unending discussion and search for "how we can be passionate believers today" is worth the time to take part in.

Friday, July 27, 2007

what is social capital?

"those tangible substances [that] count for most of the daily lives of people: nameley, good will, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse among the individuals and families who make up a social unit... The individual is helpless socially, if left to helpself... if he comes into contact with his neighbor, and they with other neighbors, there will be an accumulation of social capital, which may immediately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social potentiality sufficient to the substancial improvement of living conditions in the whole community. The community as a whole will benefit by the cooperation of all its parts, while the individual will find in his associations the advantages of the help, the sympathy, and the fellowship of his neighbors."

written in 1916 by L.J. Hanifan urging the importance of community involvement for sucessful schools, he invoked the idea of "social capital" to explain why.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

a new venture?

"A good barometer to determine whether something will be of benefit materially, is whether it is the proper thing to do spiritually. A business venture that implies breaking your moral principles will also be detrimental materially.

At times, we experience tremendous pressure when our ethics seem to stand in the way of success --but this is only an illusion. The spiritual and the material are in conflict only to our subjective eyes. In fact, they work in harmony as one."


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

find the spark

"In every hardship, search for the spark of good and cling to it. If you cannot find that spark, rejoice that wonder beyond your comprehension has befallen you.

Once you have unveiled and liberated the spark of good, it can rise to overcome its guise of darkness and even transform the darkness fully to light." rebbe wisdom

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

paper tiger world

"There are two paths:

One: Everything is for the good. Perhaps not immediately, but eventually good will come out from it.

The other: Everything is truly good --because there is nothing else but He Who is Good. It’s just a matter of holding firm a little longer, unperturbed by the phantoms of our limited vision, unimpressed by the paper tiger that calls itself a world, and eventually we will be granted a heart to understand and eyes to see. Eventually, it will become obvious good in our world as well."

A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
-words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman