Wednesday, November 30, 2005

the lost art of forming the family circle

“The room had been cleaned, the floor swept and beautiful rugs had been put down, rugs covered with flowers woven into the wool. We were told to sit down and listen… I remember now that we had gathered for this purpose before… We made a big think circle.. I crossed my legs, as were the rest of my family… Mother spoke of grandfathers and grandmothers who had married and gone on… Both the men and women had been repeating what she’d been telling, in order to Remember it.” Boy Jesus age 7
Excerpt from Christ the Lord by Anne Rice

I copied this in my journal on November 9th. It impacted my soul when I read it. Something deep in me connected with the imagery of a whole family gathering together to share their story, all of it, the good, the bad, and the unspeakable. I have not blogged about it until now; for fear that it would only be a good idea and not a reality for my family. Today I am writing to celebrate that the story has come full circle. Sunday night the Winn family came together in the middle of the living room floor and began to share our struggles and pains as we grow as a family. Each one of us shared from a place that may have been a little awkward at first, but came easier as the night grew. Something special was given space to grow.

In the middle of our time together one of the little girls said with eyes beaming in delight, “this meeting is GREAT! I love our family!” Then the other one said “telling our stories is good because we can all know where we are coming from.” I couldn’t have explained it better myself. My Father in heaven must know the inner desire of my heart to grant us this precious gift. His will is done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

We are reclaiming the formation of the family circle… a place where hearts, fears, and hopes come together in the sacred place of the story of us. By gathering this way, we are entering into a tradition that is as old as the earth itself. By redeeming the practice of remembrance, we are remembering… The Lord has done great things for us! Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 21, 2005

who is john carryman?

I have been intrigued by a man who has been traveling down a main thoroughfare near my house over the last month or so. He walks alone carrying his pack. He appears to be homeless. Each day I have wondered what would it be like to walk in his shoes. A few days ago I blogged about "the tunnel" which was stirred by a journal entry that I sketched out depicting a tunnel and in the image there was a man traveling into the darkness. I guess this painting is my response to the image that has been wrestling with my soul.

Filled with compassion, my daughters named the man carrying his bag John because they wanted to pray for him. I have been thinking about interacting with him, but I have wondered if I would be intruding on his way of life. I would love to know the God he knows. Maybe his god doesn't have a name, maybe he does. If I were to give him some money would that be ok? How would he receive the money? I don't think of him as a charity cause but rather I genuinely want to enter his world to see how it looks through his eyes. Maybe he knows the same God that I know but knows him more intimately than I do. Maybe he completely trusts God to supply his every need and I only trust God to fulfill my wish list and to answer my questions. Who is John the carry man? What truths does he carry in his bag? What could I learn from the man who has entered my world and captured our thoughts and prayers? May the LORD who holds all things guide our paths, and may his face shine upon us. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 18, 2005

who am I missing?

I have often thought that there is something missing in my life. It is one of those things like a vacuum in a place where you know there should be something of great value that extends beyond temporal satisfaction. Over the last few months Darla and I have been searching for what seems to be eluding us – relational community. Is it possible that it could be right there in front of me? Is there someone or a group of people that are so desperate to hear our stories and for us to know theirs yet I have neglected them or looked right passed them? How can I be so short sighted? In looking for souls to connect with I have failed to see the love in their tender hearts?

Why is it that I am brought to this same frame of mind once every couple of months? Oh that my heart would be changed to think of them everyday in ways that they become the real community that I am intricately woven into with my heart, soul, and strength. Praise be to God that I have not had to lose one of them to come to this place of sensitivity and awareness that they are my first community, my precious ones, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, the ones that call me daddy.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

where are we going? who are we becoming?

Last night my wife and I were discussing what kind of community of faith we see ourselves becoming a part of. This question was prompted by my 6 year old asking the question "when are we going back to church?" I told her that we were learning what it means to be the church where ever we are and where ever we go which means to love one another, share our stuff, and be kind to those who are in need. She said she missed learning about Jesus. I thought to myself, heck, I am still trying to learn about the real and difficult things about Jesus. Our conversation ended as we arrived at the store. My wife said maybe we aren't doing a good enough job in relating that learning about Jesus is not about knowing the stories, but living a way of life according to the truths behind the stories. But for all of her (my daughter's) life, all she knows is the church as we know today.

This morning I recieved a newsletter from theOoze by Frank Viola entitled AN INTERVIEW: with a Modern-Day, Sunday-Morning, Church-Going Christian. Wow! What a great narrative that really captures the desire in my heart about what a community of faith can look like. My hope is that one day the people of the realZoo can grow into a group of people who are living life together encouraging one another though the chaos.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

finding yourself in a huge tunnel

“At last we embraced the gates (of the Temple in Jerusalem), and to my surprise found ourselves in a huge tunnel. I could barely see the beautiful decorations all around us. The prayers of the people echoed off the roof and the walls. I joined in the prayers, but mostly I just looked around myself, and felt the breath taken out of mine again, just as surely as when Eleazer had kicked me hard and I couldn’t breathe.” – Excerpt from Christ the LORD by Anne Rice in the person of Jesus age 7

Thinking of the immediate surroundings of a tunnel is very easy to fall into by focusing on the fact that you are surrounded by darkness. Maybe the bigger picture here is that a tunnel is a pathway, a gateway from one side to another. It is a location of transition as you move from one place to another. You enter one side but when you emerge on the other side the conditions and environment may have changed completely.

In the case of the tunnel at the gate of the Temple, the difference is when you enter the gate of the Temple, you are leaving the world and all its expectations and you are moving toward the Temple which in the early 1st century was considered the very dwelling place of the One True God of all things.

Did they move in and out of this location of transition – the tunnel of the gate of the Temple – with the idea that it was better to be “in” rather than out? Obviously the Jewish people thought it was good to be “in” because they would travel for days and risk their lives just to get there. Why did Yahweh bring these people to this ideal that it was good to be “in” the structure? When later on He would illustrate that people would enter “in” to a place of worship that was not built by the hands of men?

What did it mean to the Hebrew people when they sang the Psalm “The LORD shall preserve my going out and my coming in from this time forward, and even for evermore?”

Why did Jesus say things like I am the way, and I am the gate? What did that mean to the listeners of the first century? Surely that must have had an impact on them culturally because these were symbolic customs they had grown up with all their lives.

What does the tunnel of the Temple gate look like to day, if the Temple has become people of Yahweh?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Mending the broken and shattered

Yesterday was truly a Real Zoo kind of day; I say that because on 3 separate accounts I was privileged to be trusted with 3 soul level conversations. Dealing with doubt, fear, and insecurities, I found myself in the middle of real life stories. Being trusted with the intimate yet broken details of some of my close friends is a great honor one that I do not take lightly. My hope is that maybe by speaking out their doubts and fears they are somehow following through in what the healing Spirit of Yahweh is bringing them through. Engaging one another at this close heart felt level, I believe is the scent of real community the kind that transcends the pseudo-community we have accepted as the norm but leaves us feeling empty and alone.

I wonder what the writer of James was getting at when he penned these words:
“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” Maybe my catholic brothers and sisters were on to something in the ideal of confession, but maybe it goes further in that we are all called to listen and to speak the difficult words from our souls to one another so that we might not me separated from the Way of Life that was completely fulfilled in the life of the Man from Nazareth.

So to my brothers and sisters who might be reading these words, may you find yourself emerged in the mending process of the broken and shattered pieces of your life and in the lives of the people of the world around you that we may all know the healing name of the One True God.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A new book from Anne Rice

When I came across the news that Anne Rice author of the Vampire Chronicles had written a book about Jesus, I thought I was going to fall out. Needless to say my wife bought the book from Barnes & Noble this week and we are eating it up. I came across Anne's blog this week, here is what she had to say about the new book:NOTES FROM ANNE ON CHRIST THE LORD: Out of Egypt

October 28, 2005
"Dear Ones,
Tomorrow, October 29th, I leave on my book tour for the promotion of Christ the Lord. So far, the reception of the book has been quietly astonishing. Reviews have been far more kind than I ever expected, and the the talk on the internet is far greater than I ever imagined it would be, if I imagined it at all.

Let me make a few statements before I leave you for an extended period of meeting my readers face to face. First off, there is much misunderstanding about this book floating around, and misinformation about me.

This book, as I've already explained, is a sincere attempt to bring to life in fiction the world of Jesus of Nazareth, whom I believe, is the Son of God. The Four Gospels are definitely the main framework for the story, the main source for it, and the firm structure into which any fictional liberties are carefully placed. Use of the Apocrypha is extremely limited in this novel, and the reasons for the use of early legends about Jesus' childhood is fully explained in The Author's Note in the book.

I do not have any particular interest in the gnostic gospels. They do not figure in this book at all, as far as I know. Also I have not written anything at all resembling the Da Vinci Code. I thought the Da Vinci Code was a scream.

Regarding my return to the Catholic Church in 1998, this had nothing to do with my husband's illness, as he did not become ill till four years later. And it had nothing to do with my own illness in 1998 which happened afterwards.

My return to faith is described in The Author's Note as well. It was not something that happened over night. It came about over a period of years.

I make these statements because as I check out the blogs at night, I'm amazed at the momentum of false statements about me and the book and the opinions generated by these false statements. There is something frightening about seeing the same mistaken assumption repeated over and over again from blog to blog. Of course this chatter will undoubtedly die down at some point, and it may or may not affect the fate of the book in the Public Square. Whatever the case, if you've followed me this far, let me ask you to be open minded about Christ the Lord. I am not exaggerating when I say that the book surprises people.

I'm very much looking forward to this tour for all the obvious reasons: I'll see my readers, hear their voices, experience their presence in positive and fortifying ways. And this publication is especially thrilling to me because my conversion was so intense and so total, and this book represents for me the pinnacle of what I have attempted in a lifetime of writing. Understand, I've never written anything without zeal. But I do feel that all my previous research and all my earlier writing was preparation for this.

Please do email me at with your comments on the book, or with any questions you might haave, or about anything really. Use the subject line if possible to give some idea of your reason for writing. I answer as much of the mail as I can. And the subject lines help me to keep it in some kind of order in my mind as I proceed. Be assured that I appreciate completely your interest in this book, or whatever interest prompted you to read this message. And I will be reading and answering mail on the road.

Take care and be well, and love, Anne." Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 03, 2005

What Classic Movie Are You?

What does SAFE mean?

When people talk about a safe place to… what do they mean by that? Is it this is a safe place to hide from the evils of the world or a safe place to come hang out and be comfortable with some other people who are just as scared as you are, a place where you can avoid dealing with the issues in your life that are causing you to decay from the inside out? Where did this idea of church being a safe place come from?

When Jesus was with his group of followers I wonder if he told them, Now I want you guys to know that while you are with me you are in a safe place, a place free from trouble, free from pain, free from struggle and strife, a place of comfort and relaxing. Scanning the surface of the gospels I don’t see this kind of promise. In fact what I do see is the Great Teacher of LIFE bringing his followers into the most difficult and awkward environments so that they might realize their need of Him. He was always asking questions that made them think about their “inner stuff.” These questions weren’t aimed at trying to make people feel ashamed of their deficiencies, but rather to “go there” and face them head on trusting that in His presence mending the brokenhearted and setting the captives free was his deepest desire.

In light of this observation of Jesus’ life teachings, it could be safe to say that his idea of SAFE had a completely different flavor. A flavor that may be bitter at first but the result was sweet, sweet like grandma’s butter biscuit covered in home-style syrup. As a close friend of mine said recently let’s stop pushing the candy coated gospel according to snickers because it just isn’t so…