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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Speechless

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. 
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; 
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. ~ Psalm 19

OEP is a little late this week as I've been hiking in the Colorado Rockies.  Thought I would share some speechless Presence - Enjoy!







Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Still Dancing!

~ John Lennon and Paul McCartney


The other night I fell asleep in a semi-dream-like state with brief images of my face and name scrolling back through time.  It was a slide show of someone named Andy Walton at different ages.  I knew each one intimately, yet there was a since of separation from the persons I once was.  There was also a strong sense of “this is how others knew me at that time in my life.”  The slide show eventually became a collage of countless Andy Walton’s, many forgotten by me, and even more unknown to me, all living somewhere in an irretrievable yet unforgettable past. I awoke the next morning with a profound sadness and sense of loss.

Now, I know enough about dreams to realize that they are made of thoughts, feelings, and events lingering in my sub and semi-conscious mind.  I also know these ghostly images appeared days after my daughter’s wedding and shortly before the anniversary of my brother’s death – both events of personal loss - one filled with joy and hope, while the other was painfully sad and final.  I had also recently seen numerous photos from the wedding in which I saw myself as considerably older than I perceive myself. “Who was that old man dancing with my daughter?”

Many of my contemporaries and older friends may be thinking right now, “Welcome to the crowd!”  And other may offer familiar advice, “You’re only as old as you think you are.”  Both are true, however there is a threshold on which all of us stand throughout life – the threshold of “nevermore and not yet.”  Perhaps all of this is my coming to terms with “nevermore” far outweighing “not yet.”

These visions and musings can also signal a letting go of the “nevermore” so all that’s left is yet to be.  As Robert Frost says, there are “…miles to go before I sleep.”  And besides, the man in the photo is still dancing!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Circles, Small and Large

"God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere."
~ attributed to many

For the past week our family has been celebrating the wedding of our daughter and her partner (and their 22 month old son). It was five days filled with final preparations, one on one time with my daughter, time with family and friends both old and new, a lovely ceremony in a beautiful setting, drinks, dinner and dancing, a honeymoon sendoff, grandson time, and then tying up all the loose ends.

I was honored to officiate the ceremony, which was one of the most difficult as well as fulfilling things I've done as a pastor and father. Right now, I'm trying to remember my own words, which were not scripted, as I shared by thoughts and feelings about two lives coming together.  

I spoke of the small circles of life, the ones we share with those people nearest and dearest to us, the people who we affect directly and who directly affect us.  Our small circles are the people who, when absent, we miss the most and who miss us the most. These circles are also our places of deepest disappointment and hurt, as well as profound pride and comfort.  As the traditional words say "for better or for worse."

We may accomplish many things in our lives and affect many lives for good or ill, however when all is said and done there will be, at best, only a handful of people to whom it really matters.  More than likely these will be spouses, children, grandchildren, and perhaps a few other relations. I can't help but think of my own mother and daddy, whom my two sisters and I hold in our memory.

One thing I wish I had said to my daughter and her new wife is that just as one drop of ocean contains the properties of the entire ocean, the small circle they now form with their son contains the same Love that holds the universe together. 

Our small circle is often much bigger than we think, while our big circle is usually much smaller than we imagine. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gratitude

Gratitude is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us…Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets all other presences.  
~ David Whyte


I’m writing this blog while sitting in the waiting area of a small locally owned auto service center. My laptop computer is connected to the Internet via the hotspot on my phone.  It’s only 8:00 am but already hot outside so the air conditioner in the window and the fan in the corner of the room are keeping the room cool.  The coffee pot on the table in another corner fills the room with familiar morning aromas.  The service tech asks me what kind oil to use and I don’t have a clue. He quickly adds that it’s no problem he’ll look up the recommended type online.

Sun streams through the window at a low morning angle as it continues to wake up our part of the world, including tens and hundreds of thousands of commuters who have filled streets and highways with their radios on and are learning of more violent death in an airport on the other side of the world.  Somewhere others are learning that people they know and love are among the dead and injured. My thoughts drift to those closest to me and my heart sings with joy, anticipating being with them to celebrate love and marriage this coming weekend.

Sitting alone with my thoughts I feel as if the whole world is with me.  Connected by the sun of a new day, power grids, world-wide webs of data, physical senses, streets, highways, flyways, oceans, radio waves, human pain and suffering, and human joy and love – I am truly grateful in this moment!


The quote above comes from one of the best statements on Gratitude and Thanksgiving that I’ve encountered. Please take time to read it. Then take moment to pay attention to the gratitude all around us.