Saturday, September 30, 2006

in the beginning...again

Here we are at the beginning, again. My brothers in the Jewish faith maybe onto something in celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. It has been said that life is a series of cycles. Those who live well are the ones who can recognize the cycles and learn to live them more skilled than they did the last time. Finding it a challange, they look forward to the trials and difficulties hoping that this time around they might choose "mitzvoh" the good deed. Each good deed is in some way bringing about a more complete circle of the way it is in Heaven.

For some life is a divine service, for others life is a race to buy and consume all that can be had.

I think over the last decade I have unfortunately been in the later camp. But maybe this time around I will choose a life of divine service. Darla and I began our journey together almost 17 years ago in small town called Panama City. It was from that town that we struck out to make a life for ourselves. Today we find oursleves back in Panama City ready to embark on a new journey. Over these last few months we have introspectively looked at where we have come from, it is from this vantage point that we move forward. The past has served as a road map to the choices we have made with our time, resource, and thoughts. As a result of some of those choices, we have found ourselves in a trap of commitments wieghing us down. The weight of these commitments are such a heavey burden, we can barely take more than two steps at a time. So as we go back to the beginning again, we hope to make different choices with what the One who gives neither proverty nor riches but only our daily provision.

Living in the daily, we no longer must carry the weight of tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself. Realizing that our daily needs will be met, we can then be looking for who might be in need and become a hand of the Divine to meet those needs. Maybe it is the beginning of living the giving away of our lives for others, not in obligation, but in joy to be in harmony with the Great Song of Restoration playing in our ordinary every day living.

So here is my prayer today, let the shackles of the exiles fall off, and let the horn of freedom sound, and may we step out into the new day!

Friday, September 29, 2006

searching for Life

What if I had the words to say what I was feeling on the inside? What if I could articulate the journey that is taking place beneath my skin? It is as if I am caught under the ice and am grasping for breath hoping to find a break in the surface that I might burst through. In the beginning of this journey, the One who is Truth seemed to lead me to this phrase…I came that you might have Life.

I have searched high and low and have only grasped a glimpse at this Life. It seems like most of the time it eludes me and at other times I ignore that it is possible. It seems that the Life looks nothing like I thought it would. No fame, no riches, no accolades of men, so what is this Life. The Rabbi once said, “One must lose his life in order to find it.” I think I have found the first part of that verse to be true. I have most definitely lost my life. Meaning the life I have lived over the last decade has completely vanished into thin air over the last few months. No wonder few people intentionally set out to lose their life because is it down right terrifying. When one comes to the end of themselves, it is absolutely unnerving. So where am I? Where is the real me? Can my Rabbi find me and lead me through the valley of this unknown land? Can the One who gave me my first breath cause my heart to beat once again for the purpose of bringing hope and healing into the land my feet daily traverse? And so I wait…

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

the rhythm of laying bricks

Another project I worked on this weekend was laying a brick border around the mulch garden beds along the side and back of our house. Once again this is a project that I have neglected to do while we lived in the house, and now that we are selling the house it seems odd that I would put hours of work into something that will be enjoyed by someone else. Nevertheless, I picked up 60 bricks to start. According to the real garden pros I did it completely backwards. I laid the mulch and planted the ferns and then came along with the brick border. As I laid each brick I found it very interesting that the edge of where the mulch ended and where the dirt was the obvious place the brick would lay. It was like the bricks had a certain place to lie, I just had to get down on my hands and knees to touch feel and see where the place was. I remember thinking, God are you helping me with this project today? Do you already know where each brick goes? Why do you allow me to lay the bricks? What if I put them in the wrong place?

Somehow in the humble position bending down, I seemed to enter into the rhythm of the way the bricks were going to go. If I saw some weeds in the path, I pulled them out. If I saw the mulch was too clumped together, I would spread it out or shape it to the path of the brick. Again the rhythm of laying the brick seemed to guide me on its own. Near the end I realized I was going to run out of bricks, so I went and got 40 more bricks. I was really exhausted, but I knew I was in this really awesome brick border grove. I couldn’t stop. My shirt was soaking in sweat. My face was getting sun burned. My legs, thighs, and lower back were just throbbing, but I had to complete the work.

I laid the bricks, brick by brick. With a short pause, I reached into the wheel barrow to select a brick to lie down. So there must have been some connection not only to the path but to which brick would go in what place. Everything seemed to be connected, yet I was unaware that there was a connection. I was just busy with the work.

As I looked up at the end of my toil, I enjoyed the work of my hands. I enjoyed that what was once debris, weeds, and shapeless void had know become a path of growing beauty full of potential. Somehow I found real joy in knowing that one day someone else was going to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Here is the plain truth. Our house the inside, the outside, the roof and everything in-between, has been completely cleaned or repaired bringing it to a condition better than it was before we bought it some 10 years ago. I can not help but to have this deep sense that now not only is the house ready for its new owner, but we have completed the preparation for the new owners. It is finished.

Who will the new owners be?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Finally getting around to it…

What happens when a decade of little worries pile on year after year? Like leaves falling from the huge oak trees of difficulty in our lives, the unsaid words or emotional wounds left to decay the roof of our souls. How risky is it to climb up on the roof and began the cleaning process? Can it be done alone? Or is there someone there to hold the ladder of hope while one climbs onto the severe pitch of the roof?

Pushing the debris off the roof is only the beginning. Some of the leaves will make good mulch, some will need to be thrown away. Once all the debris is down off the roof, and is in plain site, it is really quite overwhelming. This is not a quick job. Keeping one’s roof clean is not a one time event either.

This weekend I spent two days working on this very project with a very close friend. He will never know how much help he was to me. For almost 10 years my family and I have lived in this house and not once have I ever cleaned the roof. Not only did my friend help, but he did most of the work. He was on the roof; I was on the ground. He dealt with the slippery slope of the roof, and I dealt with what was pushed off. I remember looking up at him on the roof and saying this is what real discipleship looks like. It is one person helping another person work through the difficult issues of life. It is the most basic form of real community. It is taking your ordinary everyday life, your eating, sleeping, and cleaning out your junk, then offering it completely to the One who gives the very breath of Life in hopes for a longer and healthier life.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The gospel according to Spiderman

Yesterday in our local paper there was a free issue of a Spiderman comic book. Pete Parker’s life is very interesting. During the day he works an average job, but is it really an average job. Somehow his relationships and contacts in his day job are the inroads to find the marginalized, oppressed, and the victims of society. It is very interesting that Peter Parker goes into disguise when he fulfills the role of hero. He doesn’t seem very interested in receiving recognition for his good deeds in the community.

I wonder if Pete Parker thinks his life is dualistic. Does it seem like his life is compartmentalized into a day job that just pays the bills and another life where he does the work that really matters?

In a time of transition of my own, I find this perspective of the Spiderman story intriguing. I realize that I am a messenger of hope no matter what occupation I find myself, because each relationship and every situation I find myself in is connected to a larger life picture.

It really makes Paul’s letter to the people of the Great Hero meeting in the city of Rome come home:

“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

Sunday, September 03, 2006

looking with new eyes

"First we meditate on Jesus, and then we go out and look for him in disguise."
Mother Teresa