It’s not impossible no matter who tells you otherwise.
Jesus, as he was slowly dying from suffocation, nailed to a Roman cross, prayed forgiveness for those responsible for his death.
When Truth Isn’t Truth –
This past Sunday, on a news show, President Donald Trump’s attorney uttered an interesting phrase; “Truth isn’t truth.” I don’t want to get into the politics of why it was said and how similar the statement was to Bill Clinton’s; “It depends on the definition of what ‘is’ is.” For those who know their history, this whole investigation is eerily similar to what happened in the late 1990’s except the two parties have switched sides.
My question is; “What is truth?”
It is the same question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus before he was crucified. In the gospel of Saint John, chapter eighteen reads; “Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.”
Pilate’s world was politics, not conviction. He was stuck in this black hole of a place called Jerusalem and wanted to get out as soon as possible. Jesus had upset some influential people and he wanted the mess to go away. Later in the chapter, he gives Jesus over to these people to have him killed and even “washed his hands” of the whole situation as if choosing not to be involved is not being involved. He even questions Jesus, stands toe to toe with the Master, declares that he has no evidence against Jesus, but allows his crucifixion anyway. The truth was too dangerous.
“What is truth?” “Truth isn’t truth.” “I am the truth.” “Know the truth and it will set you free.”
Wisdom is the search for truth and to accept it wherever it leads us. The problem is that the truth leads us on a journey that often stands against power, sides with the poor and downtrodden, make choices that angers influential people, puts us on the side that often loses. Truth has never been and will never be an easy way.
In Memory of –
This is a strange holiday for me. It’s not strange in the sense that I don’t understand it or think it necessary but strange because I did not serve in the armed services nor lost a loved one while in military service. I don’t know what it’s like to charge up a hill with my unit, share foxholes with people who I depend on for my life, find the courage to carry out orders that put my life and others in danger and know not everyone is coming back from the mission. I don’t know what it is to get a knock on my door, a phone call, by servicemen or women to inform me a loved is not returning home. I can’t imagine the pain, heartache, loss, or pride that comes with Memorial Day.
I once served on a staff with a war veteran and we liked to talk politics, history, and war. He had seen action in the military while I sat in the safety of a university classroom. We’d have conversations about the justifications of war. I’d voice my opinion that Christians should follow Jesus’ example and be pacifists, opposed to all violence and then he’d tell me when and why I was wrong. I didn’t agree with everything he said about the military, nation-building, and protection but I was also humbled and silent as he spoke. I understood that he had served, put his life on the line for us to disagree and still be friends, still call ourselves by the same name; Americans.
“The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Blessings & Thank you,
At a health council meeting today a speaker gave a presentation on going the extra mile. She asked; “Where did this saying come from?” I thought for sure someone would answer but no one did so finally I replied; “Jesus.” She smiled and moved on with her talk. She explained in the time of the Roman Empire there was a rule that if a soldier or other important dignitary asked you to help carry some of their weaponry or baggage you were obligated to carry it one mile. Jesus, however, in Matthew chapter 5, said; “If someone has you carry their stuff one mile go ahead and make it two.” The speaker continued; “The first mile is obligation the second mile is voluntary. It’s the second-mile people remember. When you move beyond your comfort zone, when you give more than what you can afford to, do more than you were asked or expected, offer kindness, grace, and love abundantly, extravagantly.”
As I reflected on her presentation it was a good reminder that what the world expects and usually gets is the minimum, the essentials. When someone digs deeper, cares greatly, meets the greatest of needs, it matters and stays with the one helped and the one helping.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” #MayaAngelou
Today is Holy Saturday. The Master is dead. Hope is gone. Failures are many. All that’s left is silence and the stench of death in a dark tomb.
I went to the dump today and had to take some cardboard to a special container. The big enclosed metal holder was almost empty and dark. I had to take the pieces of cardboard to the back of the container and when I came out of the dark, smelly thing I thought of Jesus leaving the tomb.
On my way home from the refuse and recycling center, which takes me down a long isolated road, a man signaled me to stop and stated that he needed a “jump-start” to his truck. He had been working since early and had forgotten to turn his lights off. We hooked up the cables, waited a while, tried a few times that didn’t work and finally, his battery was charged with enough power to bring his engine back to life.
I thought of Jesus, the Light of all lights and how he had given all his light to those who would extinguish it.I wondered what happened in the empty tomb. Did God the Father have some sort of spiritual “jumper cables” and shock his Son back to life? Or did he gently breathe new life into him like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden?
Holy Saturday. A day of disappointment. A day of fear. A day after and a day before.
This afternoon, before the person remodeling our bathroom left for the weekend he rigged a shower and a working toilet for us to use. I took my first real shower in almost a week about an hour ago and it was wonderful! Standing there as the water flowed I was reminded of those around the world who have no water due to poverty, homelessness or lack of clean water in the areas they live.
Blessings are in abundance for so many of us and yet we miss the wonders. They are bountiful and flow into our lives like a giant waterfall. Unfortunately, we have become so used to them we take them for granted and dismiss their importance and rarity.
Today is Good Friday, the day the Master died. Because of his death, we in the Christian faith are showered with grace, love, kindness and mercy from our Father who is in Heaven. We’ve grown up with the story. It is so familiar that we miss the importance and the rarity of the God-man who came to our world, clothed in our skin, and made a way for us to bathe in the presence of the Father for all eternity.
For Good Friday, Eternal Acceptance, and showers we thank Thee, O’Lord.
Earlier this afternoon I took the dogs outside and noticed an elderly couple parked in a church parking lot that is adjacent to our house. The man was changing a tire while the woman stood over his shoulder watching, supervising (insert joke here). Several cars were leaving their church parking spaces at this time but none of the ones I saw stopped to offer help.
Once the pooches had done their thing we went back inside and I went out the front door to see if I could lend them a hand. However, by that time someone had already pulled over and was assisting them. The person helping looked as if they were headed to a lake or pool.
I was thankful for the good Samaritan but concerned by the perceived apathy of the “Sunday morning crowd.”
The last several weeks I’ve seen plenteous Facebook posts, listened to loud complaints, witnessed brothers and sisters in Christ speaking and acting in non-Christ like ways as they’ve lamented gay marriage, attacked Planned Parenthood, berated the Muslim faith and lambasted politicians on both sides.
Some of these issues are worth our concern, prayer and action to be sure but if we drive past folks who obviously need our help, without even a second glance, I just don’t understand what we’re doing or who we’re actually doing it for.
It was a simple request from one of the men in my incarcerated fathers group. It was the week after Easter and he wanted a piece of holiday candy, preferably, a Cadbury Egg. I told him I would check with the correctional facility’s supervisor and if she said; “yes” I’d bring some with me to our next meeting. The Lieutenant gave me permission as long as they ate the treats immediately and I collected the wrappers. This was no problem and on Wednesday evening I brought the guys some bite size candies. Unfortunately the store I went to didn’t have any Cadbury Eggs but that didn’t seem to matter. They relished each bite of the three pieces received. They were thankful for an act of kindness and that their request, that they, weren’t forgotten.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’”
–Gospel of Saint Matthew 25
Basic. Simple. Kindness. Love. Grace. Gospel.
I had breakfast with a friend this morning and the conversation shifted to difficult people who inhabit our lives. We both agreed that some of the most contentious, complicated and frustrating folks are those who are focused on others and not self aware enough to discover and admit their own problems. They talk about others as a way of avoiding their own inner journey. They cause problems by gossiping, outright lying, attempting to control others or try to destroy another’s life or livelihood through nefarious means.
Each of us have people in our lives who are either unwilling or unable to truly see themselves. Looking deep within ourselves, coming to grips with our egos, biases, ugliness and evil takes courage. It is a path that can only be traveled through humility and honesty. It’s easier to look at everyone else, every day, for all our lives, than to see who we really are even for a moment.
“The teacher appeared again and the people gathered around him as he sat down to teach them. The educated ones brought in a woman caught having sex with a man not her husband. They humiliated her by making her stand before everyone. They said to the teacher, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. We’ve been taught to stone such women! What do you say?” The teacher knelt in the dirt and began writing on the ground with his finger. After a moment he looked up and said; “If any of you are without sin throw the first stone, then the rest can join in.” The teacher looked down again. Silently the accusers began to slowly walk away, one at a time, until only the teacher and the woman were left. He stood up and asked, “Where are your accusers? Is there no one left to throw even one stone at you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Neither will I.” he said. “Go now and live a life worthy of being saved.” The Gospel of Saint John, chapter 8
We throw stones because people watch the stone instead of the one who threw it. When we become aware of our own sin, weaknesses, habits and hangups, we’ll be unable to judge others because we’re able to truly see ourselves.
The culture and religious wars found a new battleground this week in the small town of Walkerton, Indiana. At a little Pizzeria joint, named Memories Pizza, the religious right and the progressive left dug trenches, set up barbwire, and declared the opposition as intolerant bigots, amoral and immoral, self righteous hypocrites and absolutely un-American.
Into this morass stepped Ann Coulter, a conservative author and speaker, who felt Republicans and Christians were getting a raw deal. She boldly stated; “Christians would rather get praise… for changing bedpans of Ebola patients in Nigeria, rather than stand up to the New York Times and fight against abortion and fight against these bullies!”
This statement struck me as interesting and odd to make on Holy Week. As Christians across the world are solemnly remembering the days Jesus was unjustly accused, beaten, tortured and ultimately killed without any protest, demanding of rights, or fighting against the bullies who would ultimately take his life.
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb is silent before the shearers, so he opened not his mouth; in his humiliation, justice was denied him; and who can express the wickedness of the people of his generation? For his life is taken from the earth.” Acts 8:32
So, changing bedpans or fighting against bulllies? Shouting, lobbying for rights or showing love and kindness to others, even those with hate in their hearts?
The question isn’t; “what would Jesus do?” but; “what did Jesus do?”
A blessed Holy Saturday,
Winter has decided to go; “out like a lion.” For the second day in a row the frost was so heavy it crunched under my boots when I took the dogs outside. We turned the heat on inside to chase the cool away and my breath was thick in the morning air. Winter is going reluctantly; scratching, clawing, roaring as it leaves.
In worship today the minister told us a story about a time he and his family visited Washington, DC and found themselves in the midst of a militant atheist rally. Protesters of faith held signs which read; “So Many Christians, So Few Lions.” Ouch.
It’s easy to enumerate the sins, mistakes, wrong turns the church has made in the history of our nation and indeed the world. We talk too much, our egos are too big, we pick fights instead of ending them, scream for our rights while wanting to deny them to others, model hubris not humility, plenteous prayers for personal salvation not many for sacrifice, a willingness to join the next crusade but no desire to carry a cross.
Perhaps a more accurately descriptive sign should’ve read; “So Many Christians, So Little Jesus.”
Today is Palm Sunday. The would be Messiah arrives in the city of Jerusalem amidst the shouts of those who hope he’ll ascend to a throne. By Friday, however, they’ll clamor for his body to hang from a tree and the Lion of Judah complies, laying down his life for the slow witted, fickled, lost sheep.
Maybe the protesters were right… so many Christians, not enough Lions.
“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
This morning I awoke early. This isn’t uncommon lately with so much to do before we move. I try not to let my thoughts get away from me when I wake before dawn in the hopes I can drift off to sleep again. Alas, this morning I could not so I got out of bed and began to get ready for an early breakfast appointment. Part of my morning routine is checking email and when I opened one today I was blindsided by grace.
The message was simple but it included an incredible gift to me and my wife. It was a profound and generous act that took an enormous burden off of our shoulders. It was both unexpected and deeply appreciated and we are very thankful!
At times we can become so focused on a task, an occurring or upcoming event that grace must come out of nowhere and jolt us out of our myopic state so we are able to see the incredible love and compassion that surrounds us.blessings, bdl
Guest Post by Tish Cambers
People using the word “shy” is a sore spot for me. A four year old girl hiding behind her mother’s leg when a stranger approaches is shy. A 23 year old woman who doesn’t talk much is not. Once upon a time, I was absolutely that shy four year old hiding behind my mother. You could say I spent most of my childhood and adolescence being shy, sure. But somewhere in my post-secondary years, I did indeed start to “come out of my shell”.
It took a few more years still for me to not just overcome my “shyness”, but to accept it as who I am. I am an introvert. Through and through. I am proud to say so, and will happily explain what that means to people who think I’m shy, timid, socially anxious or just plain weird.
People who met me when I was 20 years old starting my first job as a cashier, not knowing me before, would use words like “shy” to describe me, which felt like a punch in the gut. I knew I had come so far from my timid, socially anxious teenage self, but apparently that still wasn’t good enough for people.
The catalyst of my journey from social anxiety to social acceptance began with my first year of college. I was fresh out of high school. At just 17 years old I was dropped off by my parents in a new city, far from home, left to fend for myself. My first challenge came just hours after my parents and I had exchanged a tearful goodbye; I had to walk to my new school by myself, ask for help to find the classroom by myself, and sit in a room of peers while completing an entrance assessment by myself. I did it. All by myself.
Over the next few months, I did all sorts of new things all by myself. I went to school. I spoke to classmates. I went grocery shopping. I even acted in classmates’ (new friends) student films and developed a crush on a boy who, by some miracle, actually liked me back! The rest of the school year had its highs (my first boyfriend and my first kiss) and its lows (depression, failing classes), but by the time I came back home for the summer, my friends were commenting how outgoing I was being around people that I wouldn’t have said much to before. I felt like I had grown so much. And I had.
Skip forward four years and I’ve been to college again, worked a cashier job for almost three years, been a cake decorating class instructor for one year and just started a job in a bakery. I’ve come a long way with the socializing thing. I can small-talk now, if I have to. I can exchange pleasantries with strangers. I can even make new friends. Yet, this word “shy” still haunts me. Some people just don’t seem to understand that there could be any reason for not speaking other than out of fear. Is it really so strange for me to not chat while I’m concentrating on decorating a cake? I like my work, I like the people I work with, but being an introvert means that I don’t always remember social interactions that come naturally to people. Things like replying “And, how are you?” after responding to their same question with an perfunctory “Good” don’t come naturally to me. I’m not rude, inconsiderate, or self-centered. It’s just not wired into my brain to be curious about other people, I guess.
After a good day at work, feeling confident that I got everything done properly that was assigned to me, it’s a real kick in the pants to hear my boss tell me I need to stop being “shy”. Augh! That word! I’m trying my best, but sometimes it feels like my own personality, my true self, is just sabotaging me in my professional life. Can we get Introvertism declared some sort of official medical condition, so that employers cannot discriminate against it? I don’t think it’s fair to point out my personality as something I need to work on in an employee assessment. Next thing, they’ll be telling me I need to change my face. (I’ve suffered from chronic “mean-face” my whole life. I actually had a customer say to me “No, I think I’ll find someone who actually wants to help me.” after just looking at my face.) Why can’t people just understand that there are different types of personalities, that people have different ways of socially interacting? I might have to start listing “Introvert” under Skills on my resumé to warn people. Or hand out a pamphlet to everyone I meet; “Introverts: Care Instructions”.
Over the past few years, I’ve gone from wishing I was different, that I could make friends and go out and party to being very comfortable in my introvert skin. I spend the majority of my time alone, as I live alone, and only have a few friends to hang out with occasionally. But thanks to the Internet, I can keep in touch with old and new friends, and be a part of online communities that make me feel less isolated. I’m quiet around people because I don’t have anything to say, not because I’m scared to say anything. I don’t go out of my way to make friends because I’m happy with my handful of real-BFF-since-high school friends, and frankly, I haven’t run into anyone that I’ve felt a kinship towards in a long time.
So, you can say I’m quiet. It’s true, even when I do speak it’s not very loudly. You can say I’m a hermit. It’s true, I don’t venture outside unless I have plans with a friend, I need groceries, or perhaps I want a picnic in the park on a sunny afternoon. You can even point out my “meam-face” because I’ve seen it for myself. But, please, please, don’t dare call me shy, timid, scared, anxious, or weak. I am confident in my introvertness. I am strong. I am proud. I am capable of great things. You just won’t hear me say those things out loud, because, frankly, I don’t talk much. And that’s okay.
Read more by Tish Cambers
Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passivity until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Lets’ be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.
—Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
There are days when Henri Nouwen speaks directly to me, this is one of those days and I hope his words touch some of you as well.blessings, bdl
I have a scar on my left knee that reminds me of the difficult task of learning to ride a bicycle. The scar is from a large rock I discovered when I fell on my grandmother’s semicircular, dirt & gravel driveway.
Once you learn how to ride a bike they say you don’t forget and so far, so good, but occasionally I still take a tumble. The bigger, faster, mountain bike I now ride is more fun but can also be more dangerous depending on what’s around the next curve of the trail.
Life is like riding a bicycle. Learning balance, staying upright, keeping your bearings, is hard and sometimes no matter how much experience you have you’re going to take a tumble.
Each of us bear the scars of this wild ride called life. It seems about the time we think we’ve figured it out is about the time we take the next spill. When, not if, we fall what do we do? We get up. We might be dirty, bleeding, hurt and tempted to quit but we refuse to surrender.
from The Lion in Winter:
Prince Geoffrey and Prince Richard are confined in a dungeon, the end seems near as their father, the enemy, approaches:
Richard: He’s here. He’ll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn’t going to see me beg.
Geoffrey: You fool… as if the way one falls matters.
Richard: When the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal.
This is either going to be a huge success or an unmitigated disaster!
Ever put two things together and bad things happen? Two good friends, you know will hit it off, end up not liking each other? A blind date which goes horribly wrong? Hired for your dream job and it ends up a nightmare? Vacation with family…
Not everything goes together, not everyone gets along.
Last night, on my way to the campus, I was thinking about a new situation I will soon find myself in. It will combine people and places I love but there is an uneasiness in regards to putting it all together. This uncertainty of mixing several ingredients and what will result had me feeling apprehensive.
However, after more reflection, I realized my anxiety was in not being able to predict the future. I do not have the ability to foresee if the upcoming situation will be a success or failure, good or bad, mistake or sound decision.
What I can do is allow the path to unfold in front of me, walk it, and carry as little baggage of expectation and worry as possible. Wisdom tells me this is how we are to live life, always.blessings, bdl
It’s almost always the little things that give us away, tell on us, blab our secrets to the world and often at the most inconvenient times.
I wish we could capture the way we see ourselves in a photograph and the way others see us in another and then compare the two. Actually, it would probably be hundreds or thousands because different people see us differently.
Holding our picture and the other snapshots, looking at them, realizing we weren’t fooling anyone as much as we’d think or like, would we have the courage to ask; “what gave me away? what were my tells? what about me dispelled the illusion I was trying to cast?” We might be shocked by the answers.
We spend so much time trying to appear as something other than ourselves. Often we listen to inner and outer voices as they suggest, “maybe don’t do this, hide that side, avoid this behavior, hold back, be more assertive, insert suggestion/criticism here: _____.”
What’s interesting is the way others see us is an illusion that’s based on their own upbringing, biases, desires, and ideas of what would make a “better you.”
No matter whose illusion we try to grasp, wisdom tells us it’s only a vapor. To know our true selves, the strengths, weaknesses, dreams and fears, to be content with not being perfect, nor striving to be, is to let go of that which we will never attain.
Look at the pictures again then throw them to the wind, you weren’t fooling anyone anyway.blessings, bdl
To find beauty in ugliness, desperate times, trashed relationships, polluted words and corrupt actions takes a certain kind of vision.
Most times, when our lives are inundated with the messes created by our and other’s choices, we tend to focus on what’s wrong with the picture. Our eyes get fixed on what’s spoiling our environment and believe only when it is removed will there be beauty again.
Mindfulness and wisdom teach us to accept the truth that life will never be perfect, pristine or picturesque.
Whether it is a situation or a someone, when an eyesore becomes all we can see we are unable to capture the truth of a beautiful life in an ugly world.
This morning I had breakfast with one of my favorite people. We talked about important things, laughed about silly things, ate good food, drank too much coffee, and had a good time.
My friend, as he almost always does, picked up the check. I texted him later and told him “thank you” for the food and the conversation, they were good the body and soul.
There is something about sharing a meal together. Most families, cultures and religions incorporate special times which revolve around the “breaking of bread.”
Just as food and drink are necessary for survival of the physical, also a sense of community, the sharing of lives, is needed for emotional and spiritual well-being.
We were not made to travel the path of life alone. Together we add flavor, sustenance and texture to this banquet we call existence.