Awaiting Sunday

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.

Imagio Dei

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, turk or jew.
Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.
-William Blake

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.

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Living Privileged

What a privilege it is to age.
Fullness awaits us at each stage; hope on every page.
The key is to live, truly live and remain with heart and voice engaged.

Old age does not come to everyone.  Some die young, before their time.  These young ones live as if they have all the time in the world.  And yet, death, the unexpected and uninvited intruder, robs them of experiences and cancels their plans.  The more conscious ones among us will do everything we can to increase our chances against death – eat healthy, exercise daily, drive safely, lather sunscreen abundantly – and still we cannot beat the odds.  Sooner or later, death comes.  So, whether you and I live beyond our teens, into our 30s, or up to 80, it is as privilege, as pure grace that we grow older.  It is truly a privilege to age.

So, how dare I hold back or postpone living for another time?  It is exactly because life is a privilege that I am obliged to live fully in each stage and into every turn.  Others may not or cannot, but privilege tells me I must live with full heart and voice into life.  For certain, life is full of hard stuff that provides ample reason to pull back or disengage.  And yet, experience tells me that the key to navigating the good and the bad is to live in the awe of privilege.

As I live into my 60s and as my mind and body brace for the challenges of decay and feebleness, to live privileged means I stay engaged with people, take on new challenges, and give myself to big and worthwhile causes.  And while living privileged does not make me the exception to the rule or give me license to live a wasteful or foolish existence, it certainly gives me permission to live strong and deep into everything and everyone around me.

If you and I shrink from living privileged, age will surely curse us and ultimately consume our hope.  So, with gusto say with me – ‘What a privilege it is to age!’

Adrift at Sea

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.

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Fear this, not that

The Church should fear God and not fear the world.  But only if and as it fears God need it cease to fear the world.  If it does not fear God, then it is not helped at all but genuinely endangered if it fears the world, listens to its oppositions, considers its attitude, and accepts all kinds of responsibilities toward it, no matter how necessary and justified may be the criticism it receives from this quarter. CD, I/1, pp. 73-74

Fear, the most basic and pervasive of human emotions, operates in two modes.  Fear of the first order manifests itself as a strong, unpleasant emotion caused by realized or anticipated danger or dread.  Whether rational or irrational, founded or unfounded, fear in this form is a terror, horror, or panic that captures us and puts everything into question. Continue reading

When the Ground Shakes

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

An Amazing Journey

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 Way Ahead

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

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