Words matter, as they frame understanding, shape identity, and motivate actions. Words matter.
Love matters, as it gives reason to our humanity and grows us into divine likeness. Love matters.
Patience matters, as it offers ultimate witness of our trust in Jesus Christ. Patience matters.
Saturday morning, all hope lies dead in a grave,
Tomorrow stands empty, hurt capturing us, enslaves.
Saturday noon, no faith can act, this life to save,
Tomorrow stands empty, fear mounting like waves.
Saturday evening, love alone points beyond the daze,
Tomorrow stands empty, awaiting the life he gave.
Daybreak comes, Jesus chases the sting of death away,
Sunday brims full, as faith, hope and love crown the day.
And all must love the human form,
In heathen, turk or jew.
Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.
The human forms I encounter along the way are creatures formed by God, to reflect his image. No matter the extent to which that image has been rejected or marred, traces of it remain in every person I chance upon. My task is not to assess how neglected or perverted God’s image is but acknowledge its presence and embrace it in each person.
On bed of straw a child behold,
in human flesh does God appear.
With small gifts of lamb and gold,
to our king we offer all that’s dear.
The key is to live fully with the people around you and the stuff that finds you
and not to worry about who or what could or should be.
With every turn, at each stage, new people and different stuff come our way. Some of these are of our choosing, and others choose us. One key to living fully is to love those in front of us and to lean into stuff dealt us. Some people and stuff come to us by chance or via the natural course of life (transitions, aging, etc.) In some cases, however, I believe God gives us colleagues at work, registers students in our classes, arranges conversations, and places us in conflict – for a larger, divine purpose. I am unable to say to what extent and exactly how God is involved in the people and stuff of life, but I choose to believe he is. This causes me to see my students, colleagues, the clerk at the store, my travel agent, and the dental assistance in a redemptive light and allows me to lean into sickness, disappointments, conflict, and difficult assignments with purpose and reason.
The sum of the matter is that ‘could be’ and ‘should be’ detract from people and stuff right in front of me. Could and should become excuses for not being present with people and neglecting difficult situations. While some may label such a view as passive resignation, I see it as active resistance against cynicism and resolute determination to find hope and love within every turn of life – whatever the stuff, whoever the person.
For many reasons, a good number of people around and close to me have lost hope. Hopelessness can be seen on their faces, heard in their voices. The weight of loss sits on their slumped shoulders and is seen in their sad eyes. A variety of weighty matters fuel their loss – bad economic news, dismal job prospects, family conflict, deteriorating health, broken relationships, and failed dreams. The people, places, and prospects that once filled their lives and gave them purpose have collapsed beneath them. These friends now drift on a sea of hopelessness, not sure of where they are going or what is beyond the horizon. Their loss of hope is more than a funk or a phase. It is a deep malaise that engulfs and rules.
On April 5, 2009, Giampaolo Giuliani, a researcher attached to Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics, announced that an earthquake was imminent. Emissions of higher than usual amounts of radon gas detected at four meters he had placed around his hometown of L’Aquila convinced him that an earthquake of at least a 4.0 magnitude would occur within 48 hours. Naturally he began warning the people of L’Aquila through the Internet. Authorities decided he was a contentious crackpot causing unnecessary panic, so they placed him under an injunction that prevented him from issuing public alerts. Authorities even removed notices he posted on the Internet and threatened him with imprisonment if he reposted or made public announcements. Restricted in what he could do, Giuliani went house-to-house warning neighbors, friends and family. Once night came, he, with his immediate family, went to bed fully dressed, prepared to escape the anticipated earthquake and to help those who would survive. Just before daylight he awoke to a series of violent quakes that were not a 4.0 magnitude but 7.0. By the end of the day, a total of 308 people had died and 80,000 were left without shelter.[i]
To the inhabitants of L’Aquila, life had appeared stable and safe, calm and certain, and yet forces in the depths of the earth were shifting in opposing directions and tension that had been building for some time suddenly erupted into a massive earthquake. Surely they thought, ‘How could such a cataclysmic event happen in our town?’ Continue reading
Recently I visited a number of friends who have moved to other countries within the last six months. They have relocated themselves and now live with new foods, languages, ways of relating, means of transportation, mediums of exchange, roles, and neighbors. These friends have done well, leaning into so many changes and adjustments. And yet, the more significant journey they have made has not been to obvious cultural or external realities. Rather, they are on an amazing journey within themselves. Continue reading
The following is a quote from a student’s paper …
“… fear weakens and paralyzes us … hopelessness is a kind of death; one is immobilized by the dark and threatening visage of the future. But hope enlivens us. When viewed with hope, the way ahead is open and inviting. Hope draws us into the future and in this way it engages us in life.”
– Glenn Tinder, The Fabric of Hope: An Essay (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999), 13.
Thank you Katie.
The will to control … is it good or bad, necessary or excessive?
Being in control is good, isn’t it?
-When I am in control, I am able to make sure that what is best actually happens.
-When I am in control, I am able to effect the most beneficial outcomes.
-When I am in control, I am responsible and productive.
-When I am in control, I am able to effectively lead others.
-When I am in control, I able to prepare and execute plans.
Being out of control is not good, is it?
-When I am out of control, I cannot predict or anticipate what will happen next.
-When I am out of control, the outcomes are not always the best.
-When I am out of control, I look irresponsible and lazy.
-When I am out of control, others do not benefit from my leadership.
-When I am out of control, my plans come undone.
Most everything is beyond my control, isn’t it?
-When things around me fall apart, I realize I really do not control what happens.
-When my controlled outcomes hurt others, I see that I don’t always know what is best.
-When I fear looking irresponsible and unproductive, I am overly concerned with image.
-When I have to control others in order to lead, I am manipulative and scheming.
-When my plans come undone, unintended and uncontrolled forces take over. Continue reading