Calm before storm, softly lit trees in dim living rooms
Like tombs of years gone before but passed, too fast to grab hold,
Scraping off the mold, like flakes of gold left behind by memories stored longterm
Knocking back the worm you’ve finished the glass waiting to be poured,
Ignored by others, your sisters and brothers but left behind for you to wait, to contemplate,
To exist in a state of mind promising not to bind you to what was, and less thrilled by what is
But this – moment that points to what will be. As still framed artwork from empty hotel tells you
This is the same in every room, every womb that carries expectant moments of hope
For those facing end of rope, for those with unpaid bills, unclimbed hills, or scars from falling down
Look around and find you’re not alone, not abandoned to roam as sea foam washed up on
Empty beaches, previously filled, children laughing at will, sun spilling through the shade of clouds
Too weak to intervene – and somewhere in this scene, you recognize the obscene thing
Is not to have hope, to try to cope, nor is it offensive to be burdened or feel uncertain,
behind the curtain, to to be hurting or elated, you are not fated to endure these moments solo,
To know there are plenty just outside, waiting for curtains thrown wide in invitation
Just waiting for relation’s sails to unfold, ship catching old winds
and launching into waters, departed to places uncharted but together, weathering whatever.
If only all would sever the binds toward such endeavors, instead of cleverly arranging
mortar and brick, in order to trick others into staying just outside their reach, impeaching friendship as a sail not worthy of raising, tasing those who try with shock waves of pride and cold shoulders, boulders way too heavy to entertain, strained to points of breaking simply by taking the chance on the uncertain, and trying to know the you behind the curtain.
So rise up from your position, wishing to be known but sitting on a throne surrounded by carefully crafted kingdom of silence and control, take a stroll through the eyes of someone who wants to know The ways you grow, so show the extro-version, the side you’ve tried to hide,
slide back the door, or at least trade brick for fabric,
A trick which allows you privacy but still parts the way
When seasons sway you toward a day where all seems lost, and cost seems too high
Hope embossed on invitations sent to everyone but you, to do that thing that seems with ease,
Locking your knees, pretending all is fine on center stage,
but with age those dog-eared pages of behavior lose their truth
The proof discovered on the shoulders of others you’ve allowed behind the curtain
I knowing thou, world seeing just how there might be hope for them as well
As swells of hope the waves crashing on shores around, surrounding and flooding
Where you live, the best gifts to give come unwrapped and ready, a steady flow
Of willingness to know and be known, your light shone and self shown
Pulling back covers, recognizing sisters and brothers where previously called “others”,
Remember that knowing a name is not the same as knowing person,
Clicking like is not making a connection, on deeper inspection we find souls thirsty
To interact, to shed the laugh tracks of hundreds to hear one genuine response,
And you – can be a first responder, the first to ponder,
On the scene, showing just what it means to be less obscene in our culture of obscenity,
To not accept the serenity of status quo, simply adding to the flow of what it means to know.
Pull back the curtain, but first your own, letting it be known, we are all wizards on tender thrones
Groaning beneath the weight of creating an image we know can easily shatter
So do something that matters, unfolding sails meant for winds of change,
No matter how strange it may seem, engines filled with steam gleam with polished potential
Powers elemental to our being, much more freeing than scrolling down with feigned elation,
Soften your heart, and set sail your ship to true relation.
Posts Tagged ‘peace’
Calm before storm, softly lit trees in dim living rooms
I remember working at Youth Haven Ranch as a teenager. Waking early to shower, and walking on my own to the giant red barn, a new addition to the campground since I’d attended as a camper. The dew on the grass competing with the beauty of the steam rising out over the field in the distance. The birds calling out to welcome anyone willing to rise early enough to wish them good morning. Coffee was not yet in the vocabulary of my palette.
With difficulties at home, it meant the world to have the confidence of Kyle, Mike, Bob, Dave, Joe, Scott and the others. These men who were leaders of the camp, placed me in oversight of the “Petting Farm” for the entire summer of 1998. Each morning I’d rise early to great the midwestern Michigan beauty that exists as an island between streams of somewhere in the sprawling farmland, otherwise known as a “campground”. I, neither “city kid” nor “country boy”, but rather a conglomerate of “raised by church-going single mother” and “growing up on a highway”, would open up the barn every morning.
Thomas Merton echoed the Psalmists who spoke of all creation having special knowledge of God, and an awareness of the divine. The personified versions of these animals knew not only God, but could have significant discourse with me on passages of scripture, drama from home, or the latest girl counselor I might be crushing on that summer. Norma, the cow, was particularly wise and would share her insight with me – providing I allowed her to escape to the grassy fields before Jack – the lone donkey. As you might expect, he was little help anyways, always laughing when I’d ask his opinion.
The exuberance each animal met the dawn with, running out of their stalls to stretch, run, and snack, was equaled each week by new sets of young people – each eager to pretend for a week – that life was simple. It was a campground for economically and socially disenfranchised kids. Shedding the fear, the instability, and the harsh climates of home – by the 3rd day most kids understood they were safe and loved here. The animals knew the same as I entered the barn each morning, to care for their stall and feed them.
I attempted to begin most mornings, once the animals had been let out and immediate needs cared for, soaking in the silence of the big red barn. Breathing slow at the start of the day, I would go over the schedule of what groups would visit, and read some of the scripture from a recent message at the chapel times. I was experiencing for an entire summer, what many of the children there tasted for only a week – the desirable simplicity of life. To understand sabbath was less a day of the week, and more an invitation to rest and be content.
I want my kids to know that contentedness. Shoot, I want the world to know that contentedness. In my best moments today – I have it. The contentment Mary and Joseph felt when they laid their firstborn son in an animal food-trough, surrounded by the sights and smells of the barn. The breathing slow. Not knowing what tomorrow might look like, but holding enough in this moment to outweigh any anxiety that may threaten to surface.
There is so much to hold in this moment. You are beloved. You are enough. You are capable. You are able to contribute to the lives of others. Your smile can be a candle-light in the dark day of another.
There may be weeds growing – but there is so much wheat.
May you discover how it grows even today.
As we walk forward, toward the unknown we begin to roam in new altitudes,
and attitudes mixed with platitudes have begun to make it hard to breathe
the hot air just a little too thin, sunlight begins to dim and I realize
I’m in flip flops stopped at the bottom rock looking at the top of a mountain I’m unprepared to climb.
And I’m here today to say, I think that’s okay.
Because this is Mount Political Climate.
You may have noticed a slight decrease in temperature because it’s cold
A system way too old for anyone to question, we’ve steam-rolled the bold ways of discovery
And fell deep into the well of “this is how it’s been done”, and the sun continued to rise
so our decision must be wise. We disguise the misguided attempts at others to deconstruct
Those who might call it corrupt, because they’re simply outsiders, underperformers,
Unprepared misfits who couldn’t handle the climb
But it’s time those of us not clinging to the ledges to look up
And realize what we seek, might just not be the peak
Of Mount Political Climate. Refuse to Climb it. Walk Around.
The sounds should astound us at first, like a thirst that’s unquenchable
Things unmentionable aired out for public consumption, because that shows gumption
Whatever that is.
And the fad is growing to start showing your opponents weaknesses before they get a chance
To show you with your pants down. The town meeting ignores the fact that
you’re running to be a leader,
Because deep down, they’d rather be amused.
A in the negative, Muse meaning to think, we are a people not thinking
While our patterns go on stinking and bringing about change in ways
we never would’ve chosen On purpose
Getting nervous as we’ve only scratched the surface
The fact is, we deserve this type of leadership, because it’s only a megacosm
Of the micro we live every day
As we live to get paid, and sway situations to shine the sun on our day
I wanna get mine and protect it, and keep others out so they can’t infect it, but don’t try to inspect it,
because – like I told you, it’s mine.
My Mountain of Political Climate. Refuse to Climb it. Walk Around.
And so we’ve found that sounding an alarm might just do some good
And it could shake you and I away from what would, toward what should happen, as we’re mapping new routes
As we refuse to climb the foodholds set before us, though others may ignore us, or abhore us,
Our voices join in one chorus,
That healing won’t come by name calling, health is not built by a wall, and one sure way for us all to fall is to try and stand so tall everyone else seems small.
The ball is in our courts, to call our courts to once again view the human in their being.
To start seeing names instead of numbers, to welcome new comers to the table, and perhaps rising above all political noise, is the silent necessity of, Love.
The hidden wealth of nations is not found in vaults, or in banks.
That Power is not found in muscles, missiles and tanks.
That Happiness not found in tickets to Disney and apple pie.
We must go beyond a simple cry for change, and embody what we hope
Facing the ends of our rope, we come together, tethered to something greater than ourselves
Dusting off the shelves of a room we knew well when we were young
Before we became so high strung, and the songs we sung were a lot more inspiring
Not conspiring for one to rise, but to ignore such lies and seek the good of all.
Because, humanity, united we stand, and divided we will fall.
But it’s a Mountain, this Political Climate. Refuse to Climb It. Walk Around.
This morning, it doesn’t take long for the difficult words from this past Sunday to come whispering back into my mind… “Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a)
The world is broken, and mourning the loss of so many young lives. Attackers stormed a school, with automatic weapons and the indifference of knowing they too were going to die, and killed over 126 people – mostly young children. Largely between the ages of 12 and 16, the victims were just beginning to have grand thoughts about what to do with their lives. Daydreaming, passing notes, and looking forward to the weekend….many of their lives ended without being able to express what was really on their hearts and minds.
My prayers are with them this morning. The community that weeps. The parents whose homes have been torn apart. The friends who’ve lost their classmates. The young loves who’ve lost the one they were inspired by. The students who’ve lost a teacher. May God bring comfort, even to those who may not be able to give name to the source.
Certainly God didn’t have any of these scenes in mind when He gave us the words of Paul to the church in Thessalonica. Surely if God would have known we’d have things like this happening, he would have given a different command. Something closer to, “Rejoice when you can. Pray if you can spare the time. Give thanks before you lose it.” But we know better than that. Even as Paul gave those words, God’s people had known immense suffering. God looked across the suffering that would come to His people, and painted a picture of who we are to be…even in the midst of the brokenness of our world.
Not those who avoid it. Not those who seek it. But those who seek God’s presence in the midst of whatever may come. Those who are able to suffer with those who suffer, have “compassion”, and simultaneously be comforted by a God who has promised He is with us. Those who are able to celebrate blessings in life with the humility that sees the reality much larger than the moment. Those who recognize that the only way we become people with hearts grounded in God’s reality is to be those who “pray continually”. Not starry-eyed false hope that someday this suffering will all make sense. But a solid foundation of hope that today, right now, even in the midst of brokenness and ugly humanity – there is the presence of a God who says through His tears….”I love you. I am with you. Listen to my voice, and receive life that transforms.”
We cannot throw extra God-presence in a box, wrap it, and ship it to those suffering from this tragedy. But we can allow these moments to call forth transformation in our own lives. Give yourself time to pray today. Rejoice, as one Beloved by the Son. Spend time both speaking AND listening to the voice of our Father who loves you. Give thanks for the movement of the Spirit that brings New Life.
Allow yourself to feel the story, even in the midst of a day/news-hour that moves right on to the next thing. Allow the pain in your heart to enable you to cry out to God with them….”Lord, come. Lord….come.” And know that He has. Know that He is. Know that He will…
It’s not far, but it’s often a world away.
Today, I’ll say there’s no way it could be near. It couldn’t be here.
Because here is noise, busy, and hurry. Here’s worry. The scene is blurry,
And clarity? The lens hasn’t been cleaned for a while. You smile,
Holding tight the commitment you’ve made for tonight.
“I’m doing alright.”
And so are we all, but as Fall turns to Winter you realize,
There might be lies in the Truth. The Truth lies bare when given a moment to spare.
And there, in slow breathing and heart beating, you find it.
There is quiet.
Leaves have turned, and are falling. The silence is calling
For those willing to press pause on the pace, and face a world less moving.
Less proving, and more being. More seeing. Freeing you from shackles unfelt.
Moments melt into Sabbath. You catch your breath. There is life. There is death.
There is quiet.
Breathing deep, drenched in nothing.
Absence that feels like more substance than you’ve had in a while.
You smile, remembering what it’s like to wander.
In body and thought, you’re caught up in wonder, staring at the clouds
As if they contain a story you’re anxious to hear.
You stumble, lost in your surroundings,
A leaf-covered path, the aftermath of Autumn.
Emerging to a lake, you take it all in with a grin
And begin to lose yourself in the wealth found in the surface
Of water undisturbed.
There is quiet.
Heavens reflected in smooth glass
Trees stretching deep down into the sky
Fooling the eye, you sigh.
This is why
There is quiet.
You can’t stay in this place
But you scoop up the pace, and put some in your pocket.
Commit to remember, as you head into November
That there. Is. Quiet.
He came not to bring peace, but a sword.
Not a knife to spread the butter, not uttering words that pacify the masses
No rose-colored glasses here.
But Truth, Capital “T”, completely free of bend or filter
The off-kilter ways of sin, and what a mess we were in.
Valuing money over time, entertained by crime, the signs were all there
Jesus looked it square in the eye, and dared evil to deny –
It was fooling you and I. Sure enough, evil sighed.
More like roared, seeing the sword as wolves surrounded the sheep
Daring Christ to keep each one safe, taunting with flashing teeth
And clenched jaw. But what evil saw next was powerful.
All-powerful God became lamb. Jamming signals of the expected.
Rejected by men, by those He came to save,
Brave wasn’t the aim, the lame walking and the mute talking had one word on their message:
Not love with construction paper hearts, sweet tarts, and doilies glued on for measureNot treasure tempting us to come near, appearing like the obviously better choice
But a soft voice, speaking divisive words, beginning with “Follow Me”
Not because it’s easy, because you’ll probably die. And as he cried, he knew
His fate, the plate would not pass from him, nor does it leave our tables,
He enables us to follow, to swallow the red pill, releasing our will to His
And the life that He gives echoes our first breath.
But to the world, looks like death.
And so, a sword.
Man against his father, daughter against her mother, not apologizing
Or making excuses, just revealing what the Truth is,
and the Truth. Is. Love.
The Truth is, it’s enough.
The World wants a conquering savior, flashing sword not meant to divide but to slash and kill.
To spill blood like wolves on dusty ground, but instead? the sound of sheep.
Not threatening, they bleat, and keep following their master in ways of love.
In a “one-up” contest, they’re one-ing down. Setting down crowns of gold,
Crowned with thorns, receiving the scorn of an empire built on sand, no demands
Freed from the burden to sway the uncertain.
Not called to win in His name, but to realize He’s changed the game.
When the swords cease to sound, and fall to the ground, they’ll finally realize
And they’ll stop fighting for it.
It was earlier this week, as we sat around the breakfast table, gathered around “Fruit Spins”, milk, and the advent wreath. Last week we’d talked about “Hope”, and it was easy to talk to the girls about what we each were hoping for. The poignant moment coming when it came to our 4 year old daughter, and she was hoping for “God”. I asked her to clarify….”What do you hope God will do?”
She smiled and said proudly, “Whatever God wants to do!” Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the faith of a child. 🙂
So I was waiting this week, for what new nugget of wisdom my own kids were going to throw back at me as we moved into a week focusing on “Peace”. But “peace” is a bit more complicated than “hope”. So daddy decided to talk a little about why we need peace. I asked the girls what they’re afraid of, and what makes them worry. I received many of the expected responses: monsters (no, not really, daddy), being sick, scary dreams, and “sometimes when I walk down the stairs and it’s dark in the middle of the night, I think maybe there are some animals coming down behind me who want to eat me.”
Definitely scary, and worth worrying about. So we talked about peace, and then daddy decided to get down on their level, and talk about what makes daddy anxious/worried. That’s when it hit me like a sack of bricks. I covered it well, but I felt emotion in those moments that I don’t usually give word/time for. The honest truth is this:
I worry about my family. My wife. My kids. Every time I’m away from them, there’s that back of the mind “thing”. I can’t wait to hold them again. To be near them. To know that they’re alright. But even in the most peace-filled moments, I’m reminded by the world I’ve lived in so far – there’s no guarantee. Even when Super-Dad is with them, my children, my wife, and my home are never 100% protected to the point where I have no reason to worry. There’s always the chance of something unexpected happening.
I remember hearing the phrase growing up, “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7). I would smile the silly smile of a young teen who’s confident this verse means no matter what happens in life we’re supposed to smile…to prove we’ve got some sort of “inner peace” that doesn’t make sense to the world. But twice that age now, and having experienced quite a few situations where a smile is not the appropriate response – I’m thankful for the context to verse 7.
“Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace OF GOD that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe IN CHRIST JESUS.” Philippians 4:5-7 (emphasis added)
It’s not about me coming up with the ability to have peace in the midst of life circumstances. It’s not about me never having a concern. It’s centered on approaching every concern I have in the context of God, who can handle the big picture. In the context of Christ being more than capable of keeping our hearts and minds safe. I’m not to have peace because I have peace. I’m to have peace because God has peace.
Not in a way that denies horrible things happen. Because they certainly have, and do, and will. Nor do we deny these horrible things will shake us to our core sometimes. We will experience pain, and offense, and brokenness. But the promise of peace still comes to us, in the presence of Jesus Christ. The child born in a manger, in whom God proclaims to all of creation, us included, “I am with you.”
And in that….we receive God’s peace which transcends our understanding/abilities.