Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Back to Basics

The brow furrows, the logic stalls,
the blood boils, the teeth grind.

Sounds like the hot place,
but happens every day on facebook.
Those wrestling with issues
of money, sex and power
and/or faith and doubt
won't accept poetic words.

Sometimes that crowd includes me.

Back to basics:
"Be still and know I am God."

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Tiles of Time

Gratitude is the birthplace of joy. 
~Brené Brown

Ten years ago, while house-hunting on Thanksgiving weekend, I toured the house that would become my home. Two disparate things captivated me: the panoramic mountain view and the unique ceramic tile in the master bedroom with its indigo-and-linen pattern adorning the fireplace.

As I wake today from a rare Sunday afternoon nap, the low sun casts a golden spotlight through the open window onto those eclectic tiles that remind me (then, and every day since) of a warm, joy-filled vacation through Cinque Terre, Italy.

Much has transpired in those ten years: birthdays, holiday celebrations, graduation, empty nest, road trips, reunions, weddings, dear visitors, grief and loss, sleepless nights, tears, prayers. I strive to tuck each one into the cedar chest of life memories. Major events coexist alongside the innocuous beauty of brief moments: a gentle word, lingering sunsets, breathtaking sky, small blooms, tender glances, echoes of song and laughter, surprises, campfires, a first-year raspberry, juicy watermelon and faithfulness. Each one, observed, becomes a good and perfect gift, no matter how tiny, squirrelled away in a precious nook or safe cranny of memory's trove.

Treasures and sadness, light and dark, joy and mourning; these are not opposites, but complementary. I do not despise one for the sake of the opposite. One cannot exist without the other, not until eternity. I seek to embrace both extremes and all the various in-betweens, since we mostly live the greater fraction of our lives in the un-sensational middle-ground of Average.

For all of these gifts, and the mosaic they make of my life, may I be truly grateful. Amen.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Darkness to Light

From the archives, on this day in 2013:

So grateful...
for the writers, poets and theologians in my life who challenge my thinking. 

Doubly grateful...
for the healing I found through Freedom Session

Beyond grateful...
for the friends and family who have stood with me, even carried me, through the dark night of the soul and through the deepest loss I have known. 

The beauty, truth and love embodied by each person provides one more taste of the Divine presence and I am transformed, touch by touch, word by word, song by song; my hand held, my voice heard, my heart healed, my soul renewed.

Picture: depositphotos.com #30835497, standard license

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Colors of Grief

The predictable thing about grief is that it will blindside you. I was not the only one to have this happen today.

In the middle of a lovely morning during a spectacular autumn, over coffee with my love, I decide to share a quote, which led to a Google search for the source, which led to a book excerpt. The book was made into a movie, which I've seen, but I was at a different place then and didn't remember this part. If you're in a tender place, maybe don't read this right now. It pushed some buttons for me and had me weeping in recognition.

But it switched on light, too.

About the nature of grieving and death and perhaps even certainty, that character trait that fades as we age and wisen.

Friday, September 22, 2017

September Musings

Perhaps it's the call of autumn, the crisp cool air, the brilliant colors...that set my mind to reflective mode. Here are some meditative excerpts from my journals for this September day in years past. These are meant to stir reflection, not well suited to soundbites, bumper stickers, or speed reading:


After reading Gerard Manley Hopkins: “As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame”

Are you being who you are? Can you see Christ playing? That is not a misspelling. Can you imagine Christ as One who *plays* - not just the holy icon that prays, but, rather, the Person who plays, like you, like the human He is.

A word to the wise is...unnecessary.

A visit to Blue Rock Wildlands, southwest of Calgary

Popular religion focuses so hard on spiritual success that most of us do not know the first thing about the spiritual fruits of failure. When we fall ill, lose our jobs, wreck our marriages, or alienate our children, most of us are left alone to pick up the pieces. Even those of us who are ministered to by brave friends can find it hard to shake the shame of getting lost in our lives. And yet if someone asked us to pinpoint the times in our lives that changed us for the better, a lot of those times would be wilderness times. ~ Barbara Brown Taylor

Grateful to be in Buhler, Kansas, my father's childhood hometown, celebrating with family the life of my lovely Aunt Jane Nickel, 97 years faithful, now heaven's treasure.

"That odd feeling when you realize that countless moments of your life, significant and small, are woven into the fabric of a place and its surroundings." ~Michele Phoenix


“I was hiding behind what was smart and it kept me from doing what was right." 
~Sasha Dichter: The Generosity Experiment (on TED.com)

Sometimes I feel like I speak a different language. I don't play online games, I don't watch much TV, I rarely go to movies, I don't listen to the radio, I don't read fiction. I work hard, I love to hike, camp, swim, take photographs, write poetry, sing. I like to find positive quotes, learn best practices, follow leadership blogs, tech gadgets, but most of all, I like listening to and connecting with people.

If you can find a path without obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.


"…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart 
with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, 
which in God’s sight is very precious." -1 Peter 3:4 ESV


"My times are in thy hand" Feeling stressed and harried trying to meet the priorities of others? Read how David felt in Psalm 31, it just might resonate.

Abundance: A walk in achingly beautiful creation, the trailing remnants of summer warm against autumn's brilliant glow, physical pain remedied by skillful massage therapy, conversation with good friends, capped off by an evening study of sonnets. What beauty will you see today?

What beauty will you see today?

Photo credit: personal collection

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Journey of Faith

From the archives, originally published August 6, 2015

A friend asked this question and I thought it deserved a thoughtful answer.

Everyone has a 'journey of faith'. What is your narrative? Describe it, with intellectual honesty.

My journey of faith is like a very long hike, following my guide, Jesus. The path sometimes feels like a scramble up a very steep, unstable slope. Rocks are falling from those who are ahead of me, and other times, these same folks reach back to lend a hand up and guide me to the best path around dangerous obstacles. I regularly consult the trail map (the Bible), travel with or simply confer with other followers of Jesus for the best routes and look for cairns left to mark the way. The path sometimes requires me to look down at my feet so I don't trip up and sometimes I look up to see my final destination.

There are many beautiful things I explore along the way, places and ideas I discover, I sometimes walk alongside others or stop for refreshment with a large group, and other times, I travel alone. The backpack of resources, memories, and burdens which I carry sometimes gets heavy. I have discarded some things along the way which I've outgrown, were mislabeled or weren't helpful any longer and I also picked up other resources along the path.

At times, I've relaxed beside quiet water, kicked off my boots, reflected on my journey so far, or even taken a nap. While the quiet moments of non-movement restore my soul, staying too long in one place on the faith journey is not healthy.

It's dangerous to travel alone. This mistake has cost me some painful tumbles in steep places where traversing alone was fool-hardy. There have been times my Guide, Jesus, has cautioned me not to go a particular route, but he won't stop me if I'm determined to go there. I've lost my sense of direction more than once when I didn't follow the One with the compass.

Ultimately, the majority of this interactive, dynamic, ever challenging journey involves steady, plodding, step-by-step movement toward eternity. Eugene Peterson calls this "a long obedience in the same direction."

Just like an aircraft has a flight path to which the pilot constantly must make course corrections to stay the course, my faith journey requires me to  keep in step with the Spirit, my eyes on Jesus and my heart fixed on the goal: the presence of God.

Sometimes this is obscured by cloud or darkness or my own blind determination to be self-sufficient. Sometimes I lose the path and need time to find it again. In those times, the voice I most long to hear is my Guide whispering "This is the way, walk in it." Sometimes I don't hear anything and then, I have to choose to continue walking, not doubting in the dark what I was shown in the light.

For we walk by faith and not by sight.

Do you have a different analogy for your faith journey? Share your thoughts in the comments here.

Photo credits: personal collection