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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Here Forever!

"Let's stay here forever, Papa!"
the young boy said to his grandfather
"Ok. Let's." replied the old man,
stretching out on his back
in the shallow water of a warm tide pool
while proclaiming
"This is the life!"
A broad grin filled the boy's sun kissed face.
"This is the life!' he mimicked.
They laughed as one.
"Where will we sleep, Papa?"
"Right here. Under the sun and stars."
"What will we eat?"
"I dunno. Tiny crabs maybe.
What ever comes into our tide pool."
"Maybe a big fish!" the boy stretched his arms
nearly as wide as his grin.
"This is the life, Papa!"
"Yup! This is the life.

Silence settled in.
They both watched
wet sand sift through the boys fingers.

Here forever
knowing without knowing
forever is here
in a moment
in a tidepool
on a beach
under the sun
wrapped in laughter
held in silence and wonder.

Looking up from the sifting sand,
eyes toward the sky
as if he knew the sand's source
the boy said
"Let's talk about planets, Papa."
"Ok, let's."

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A Better Place?

Yesterday, while a quarter of the people of the "United" States of America were voting, word came  that a parishioner had been admitted to a hospital with chest pains. I went to check on her. It turned out that she had already been through a corrective procedure, was in a better place, and looking to go home in a day or so.

On the elevator back down to the lobby I struck up a conversation with a woman with an armful of cards, other papers, and a flower arrangement. Her forty-something daughter had been in the hospital for a month and was going home - under hospice care. I offered empty words of consolation for which she thanked me. Her parting words were, "At least she will soon be in a better place."

A better place. We all seem to be striving for a better place. Some walk across Central America and Mexico escaping violence, poverty, and oppression most Americans can't even imagine. Many Americans simply want adequate health care, or security in old age. There are others simply looking for meaningful work that provides shelter, food, and comfort for family. There are even those who appear to have everything anyone would could want or need, yet they too look for an even better place. And yes, some look to death for their better place. We all have an idea, hope, or dream of a better place.

The elections are over. Some people feel, at least for now, they are in a better place than they were yesterday.  Many are still walking, still wanting, still looking, still needing a "better" place in life. Our hope, to quote Thomas Merton, lies in "...labor[ing] with inexhaustible patience and love, in silence, perhaps in repeated failure, seeking tirelessly to restore, wherever [we] can, and first of all in [ourself], the capacity of love and which makes [humanity] the living image of God.”

There is a better place.   

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Reformed and Always Being Reformed

I'm thinking about Martin Luther this morning and wondering how he may have felt five hundred years ago when he nailed his grievances against the empire on a church door. As he looked around his world,

  • Did he see power and wealth in a few people who used their privileged positions to manipulate and control the masses? 
  • Did he see persecution of people as a way of dividing, conquering, and turning fear into loyalty? 
  • Did he see truths of faith being twisted in order to portray God as the source and authority for the absurdities surrounding him? 
  • Did he have any idea what he was starting and how his courage was part of an unleashing of freedom that would change the world?
  • Did he have any idea that five hundred years later there would be the need for another list on another door, another unleashing of freedom?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

How Much Is Enough?

What does is profit a person to gain the whole world but lose their soul? ~ Jesus

When speaking of someone considered to be rich and exactly how rich they may be, I often quip, "Let's just say they don't have to worry about paying the light bill."

Last night somebody in South Carolina won the largest single jackpot in lottery history, 1.6 billion dollars. Yes, that's "billion!" They definitely won't have to worry about paying their light bill. However, they are probably in line for many other worries never dreamt or imagined.

All of this begs a question - what is my/your benchmark for being "rich?"  If it really is "not worrying about paying the light bill" then a whole lot of people are rich, even those who don't have a light bill to pay. Some people will immediately go to a broader definition of "rich" and talk about the riches of family, friends, community, etc. Others may consider safety, freedom, or security as riches. But whatever our commodity, we all have, or need to have, a standard for how much is enough. Finding this standard is not so easy in a culture of production and consumption that survives and thrives on creating scarcity in order to convince us that we never have enough of anything.

Once we can come to our own personal place of enough, anything over and above is superfluous and available to help others reach their place of enough. And there really is enough of everything for everyone to have enough.

Enough, whatever the commodity,  really is the place where we begin to find our soul.