Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Sighs, Signs and Smiles


Reading.
   in the early morning... 
      and the window 
                    behind me 
is allowing the sunlight to dance across the page           
                    before me
Blotted by shadows of leaves and tree limbs 
                          Wrinkling, rolling across the print
Like a gold and gray Rorschak hand waving to me...           
                                                                      "Hello!   I am here."
And I sigh and smile to no one but you.

Sometimes...I can't tell.
Where do I end and you begin?
Only because as I call my eyes to the search and my heart to listen,
I can disappear, and capture for seconds...
      Deep calling to deep.
Then you are gone, and it's me again 
Riding the train as it whines and shakes its way down the tracks.

I am realizing,
Each day lies in waiting; sometimes like a gift to be opened,
With color and promise,
and other days... 
like a thing that needs to be pieced together with a tiny set of instructions 
that requires reading glasses for me to see what's next
While the parts lay scattered on the floor.

And I ask you...
        To just make it count...please!....make it all matter.
Let the notes sing your song.  

My wife says, "I love you," from across the room and I repeat
to her the same.  
How glorious, how warm, how at rest is my heart.
To be right where I am.
Right here.
This is the day.
This is the year.
This is the life.
I want no other.
I am yours,
          and You are mine.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Legion

I know that my eyes and ears miss too much.  
Because of that, interaction with the homeless has always been a mire for me.  I strain to hear in conversation and help in situations that overwhelm because I can't see life in its completeness.    
Lately, I have been reminded that the truth I am missing, is understood in total clarity by The Christ.  So, I am trying to live into, and trust in that belief.

(In the short confession below, of my inadequacy, I am "they" and Jesus is the one who is calling.)

Madness...is what they say.
Madness...is all they see.
Standing at the intersection...or
On an island of isolation.
Lament of desperation 
And songs of fear
Signs that shout frustration 
Voices they cannot hear
And they pass on by...pass on by
While you push on.

Your Hallmark prose 
On cardboard shows 
The weight of all the voices
Calling for attention
Intended misdirection
All the voices...
Like Munches scream
Not just a dream
Your every, every waking day

Madness...is what they say.
Madness...is all they see.
Shouting at the intersection...or
On an island of isolation.

But, if you come to the shade of the tree
If you come to the quiet 
Where there's just one voice
You can be free
Me for you, and you for me
Closer than a brother
More than a friend
Just one voice...like a whisper
"Come on home..."
"Oh, won't you...come on home!"

Madness...is what they say.
Madness...is all they see.
In the frame of humanity
They can never loose the chains
Yet those ties won't bind
If you ask...you'll find
Release.
Release.
Now drink... living water
Now eat...the bread of life
Now breathe...
...for the first time
and for all time.

E




















Monday, December 7, 2020

Breaking In

I know that it's hard for us to connect with the idea of God. 

I've been around the church for over thirty years now, and there are still days when the decibel of what I hear and the tragedy of what I see, can nearly overshadow what I've held to as belief for a long, long time.

Yet, Christmas season is one of the times that most folks, will at least consider the work of God as something that could be a reality.

What if alongside all the usual things we associated with Christmas...

the shepherds, 

wise men, 

Mary and Joseph...

we took a look at the motivation

of the whole event in a different way.

What if it were at least in part, 

God, breaking into our lives.

In other words, he was so driven,

So earnestly desiring a better relationship with us,

So hungry for our touch,

So eager to bring healing,

So willing to be known,

So wanting to be understood,

So wishing to bring hope, 

and peace, 

joy and contentment and...

(add here, anything that your soul needs)

That he decided the very best way to achieve that, was not to wait to be invited,

but...to break in.

And so he peeled back the veil of time and space,

bridged the chasm between our humanity and his divinity, 

wrapped himself in flesh, a baby's skin no less, 

and joined us in our journey.

Wouldn't that be something worth thinking about?

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

(Phil. 2:6-8)




Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Looking For Jesus...

He was born, 
          in a setting that was...less than...by any definition of the phrase.
As a child, 
         he wandered into places unexpected 
                    and his frazzled parents had to track him down.
As an adult 
        he said we could find him among...the least of these... 

So, I looked that up....the term, "least of these" and it refers to those lesser distinguished...in rank and excellence: of persons.

And I thought...
- Why are we ranking others...and obviously placing ourselves somewhere within that ranking?  I'm sure that wasn't what he hoped from us, way back in the garden.  Yet he knew we would be doing it anyway, 
and just said, while we are in this habit, we should look for him among
the least.
- Then I thought...this also can be subjective...What if it means that in addition to those who are usually considered to be in this grouping...the poor, disenfranchised or ignored by society.  (Because you know it's  way easier to criticize Society for its lack of caring, than to look at ourselves)
...What if it also relates to my personal rankings of people?  And "the least of these" is related to anyone who has not been helpful, approachable or kind to me.
      ...Then, I have to deal with my own determination of anyone or any place I don't appreciate very much...they now have become "the least of these" in my world...perhaps. 
- So, lastly, I have come to understand, that if I'm truly honest about looking for Jesus...
He will probably be found in places I would rather not go and among people I would rather not be around.
And it will probably frustrate me to find him there.

Unless, I begin to see it all differently.
                           Unless, I learn to see the image of God in everyone...
                                                                           no exceptions.
I know this to be true...
I will never get there on my own.
It's not in me.
Therefore, I will need his help, if my hope is
To keep finding him
                       and to join him in whatever he's doing because...
That's where he was in birth, 
                                         in life, 
                                               And in the end, even in death, 
                                                            there he was again, 
                                                                      between two thieves.

So it only makes sense, 
              that during these days of broken-ness, confusion, disease and pain 
He is at work in ways we can't imagine.  
                      In people and situations we would not be drawn to 
                               With a level of power and completeness that we have never seen before.

It's time to get busy in prayer that he would help me
to see his face,
                                                       among those in the shadow of what has been
                                                                       invisible to my eyes....until now.












Monday, October 5, 2020

Hell Is A Place Where You Don't Need Any Help




There was a day when our youngest grand-daughter came to my wife and expressed her heart in the form of a request.   She was maybe 4 years old at the time... 

The house was busy with conversation but her demeanor quiet.  She pulled her Grandma's ear close to her tiny mouth, and said with a sigh, "I wanna be a policeman...but I'm gonna need a little help."

Help.  Assistance.  A "leg up".  

We often struggle with these words.  

It is the revelation of dependency.  

The need to lean on another, or many others.

In relationship, to a friend. 

Or family.

Or a community.

A village.

A church.

God.

I believe that commitment to standing alone doesn't make us stronger, it just makes us into islands that no one visits, and maybe what I've heard is true... "Hell is a place where you don't need any help."

I wish we could live our lives like there is someone coming down the ramp at the airport whom we haven't seen for too long....And they come bearing joy on their faces...while we stand waiting for them with a bouquet of roses in our arms, because we are gifts to each other.



Saturday, September 26, 2020

Unmet Longings



The one working against us, appeals to "the unmet longings" of our selfish heart.

                He does it through distortion..
                              distraction...
                                  half-truth.
Hoping that we will be captured by what we believe
                            we do not have and cannot live without.              

The other...gives.   
        As in, his own son.
            A costly grace.
               The absolute.
And if fully received...he does not draw attention to what is missing,
                        but points to all that we already have...even what we can let go of and still be free.


The one working against, will bring us "knock-offs" every day and in every way.
It will look similar, or sound "close to" the offering of The Son, but with not quite the whole of the thing. 
It will seem like enough... at first.


It will appeal to our hurt, hunger, vulnerabilities and look so much like what the Christ offered, but instead it will draw us away from Him and towards the copy.
In the smallest of ways it will do this
....at first. 
But eventually we will be battling against things we used to agree upon, in our covenant with Him. 
We will engage in things we used to walk away from. 
We will be envious of things we used to be free from. 
And then we will be stuck in a place we never expected to arrive at.
                                                                  And we will feel so alone there.

The Son fills.
He completes.
He makes whole.
He restores.
He is joy, in spite of...
He is contentment.
Wanna see what the Father looks like? Look at his Son.
   Wanna know the way to the Father....follow him.
      Wanna know what truth sounds like...listen to him.
         Wanna know what grace looks like....watch him.

I know it sounds too simple...but to quench the hunger of our unmet longings....He is all that we need.




Monday, August 24, 2020

Blue Collar

"He was a refugee from Egypt who became a blue-collar worker from a backwater town..." - Skye Jethani

So...in the places in your mind where hope rests, 
where beautiful scars are just now finding strength to speak...

Who is the Christ that you see?

Are his hands dirty, dry and rough, 
like someone who had spent a great amount of time at a carpenter's bench.

Is his hair coiffed and perfect...
Or is it matted and tangled from sleeping in a field,
                                                        Or amidst an orchard of fig trees.

Is the tunic he wears bright and shiny white...
                     or is it stained, with sweat, tears...or just the sediment of the day.

Are his sandals weathered... 
Does his face show the pain of contemplation, empathy and compassion... 
Do his eyes see into yours... 
                with a gaze that somehow brings peace AND challenge...         
While a forgiveness that you feel deep in your gut; 
rises to your heart...
              And your eyes well; your mouth curves into a smile,
                           finally unsullied by regret that hung on you like 
cobwebs until...HE SPOKE FREEDOM INTO YOU.

I don't care who it is that you see when you hear the name, 
                                     "Jesus"
except that... 
         He would be someone you don't just revere, or hold in awe.  
                    (Though He is deserving of that also)
                 But my prayer, 
                   my hope... 
Is that He would be someone you can see yourself run to...
                             with abandon...
                                 without fear, or hesitation
                                    or need to prepare yourself, fix your make-up, 
                                      adjust your attire.

Because He couldn't care less about the shell of who you are
       HE JUST WANTS YOUR HEART TO MEET HIS AND THEN LIVE THERE...

                                                  FOREVER.