Blog Archives

I Just Don’t Get It

laundry-basket-lgChores are one of those things in life that have to be done. No matter how long you put it off sooner or later dishes have to be washed, floors have to swept, furniture has to be dusted and clothes have to be folded…maybe.  I don’t mind doing most of the items listed except folding clothes. Doing laundry doesn’t bother me, it’s moving them from the laundry basket to somewhere else. Like making the bed, I don’t really see the point.

The need to wash dishes, vacuum the carpets, dust the furniture, are easy concepts but folding clothes seems like a waste of time. The clothes are going to be in one place instead of in a drawer, closet and a shelf. I can find what I’m looking for faster by turning over a basket than walking to and rummaging through three different locations. When they are in one place I can find pants, shirts, socks and never have to move.  I just don’t get it.

There are other more urgent matters I don’t get either. The government is “partially shut down.” I’m not sure if that’s like being kind of pregnant but I know it’s not a good thing. Both sides blame the other but neither seem all that eager to fix it. The Middle East, as always, is “one  bad bottle of Tequila away from all out war.” One leader is overthrown to be replaced by another who seems to be better but alas turns out to be worst than the first. Murders, rapes, kidnappings, homelessness, natural disasters, it’s overwhelming.

What can we do to make the world a better place when it’s hell bent on being messed up? We can fold clothes. When I fold clothes it forces me to sit and be still. It allows me a moment to clear my head. In doing something I don’t get I find silence, I find peace.

When I fold clothes my wife is helped. It’s one less chore she has to do after a long day at work. Although it’s not something that makes a difference in Washington DC or the Middle East it makes a difference to her.

This is how we change the world. We help by cleaning up a mess, organizing the disorganized, doing what we can. In our messed up world we take a moment, find the silence, set aside our preferences, and place one another ahead of ourselves. We do what we can and hope the world takes notice.

doing my best to get it,

bdl

Watch Out for that Tree!

balls_point_016_fsHis name was Addison and he was a stud! He played basketball, football and could out run, out shoot, out muscle and out hustle anyone, including adults. He was, and is an awesome guy. It was on a ski trip that Addison almost killed himself but it wasn’t on the slopes.

We, Addison and the rest of our teen group, were staying at a chalet for the weekend located near the ski resort where we’d be skiing. Up early on a Saturday morning we were ready to hit the slopes! At least the boys were, the girls, not so much.

In most of these cases, rather than listening to grown men try to answer the unanswerable question; “why does it take girls so long to get ready?“, usually the boys found other things to do. Breakfast, packing up the youth vans, banging on the girl’s doors yelling, “come on already!” However, this morning something else grabbed their attention. Next to the chalet was a very steep hill covered with trees and rocks. The incline looked impossible to navigate. One of our “adult” chaperones challenged the guys to see who could make it up this embankment. “I’ll give a dollar to the first one to the top!” With that kind of fortune up for grabs who could resist?

Before the word “go” was out of the leader’s mouth they were off. Up the hill, grabbing the trees, pulling themselves up, using rocks as their footholds. Of course Addison made it to the top first. There was never any doubt.

I had come around the corner when they first reached the summit. The ladies were ready to go and before I knew what I was saying, I yelled; “let’s go!” Like pavlovian dogs every one of the guys charged down the hill. The steep one with the trees and the rocks. “Wham, whack, pow“, every one of them tripped and fell before they could get very far. Everyone, except Addison. He was a stud. He was halfway down the hill before I could say, “slow down!”

As the words were coming out of my mouth Addison tripped on a protruding rock and began to tumble. Head over heels, rumbling, bumbling, stumbling, on a collision course with a tree. He couldn’t stop. I was too far to do anything but scream; “ADDISON!” This was going to be bad. How do you explain to a parent their kid died racing down a hill? for a dollar? Then, at the last moment, he gained his balance, righted himself, put out his hands and stopped his descent with the tree I thought was going to end his life. He smiled at me and carried on as if nothing happened. When my heart started beating again I made sure he was okay and we went on with the rest of the trip.

To this day I have no idea how he stopped in time. Even as I write this I just shake my head. A dollar! One lousy, stinking dollar almost cost this great kid his life.

Life is full of challenges and risks. Adventure and excitement are part of what makes this journey we’re on worth it. There are instances however, when the payoff in the end isn’t equal to the blood, sweat, tears, head trauma?, emotional and spiritual investment that’s required of us.

Before we accept a risky challenge or embark on a life changing adventure we must  begin with the end in mind.

To know ourselves, what’s important and why, is the key to making sure we don’t end up head over heels, spinning out of control, with our lives on the brink for chump change.

minding what matters,

bdl

*names have been changed to protect me from Addison’s parents!

How I Saved My Stalker

orange-kitten-1600x1200-red-hat-wallpaper-1366x768Ever been stalked by a kitten? I have! A few weeks ago, while taking the Husky for a walk/run, there was an orange kitten that came out of nowhere to start meowing and running (as best as a small furball can run) after me. As soon as I saw the little guy I knew there was going to be trouble. Our Husky does not like anything small and furry. It has taken out its fair share of groundhogs, squirrels, cats, birds, mice and a horse one time! Both of our dogs are indoor pets so there was no way I could bring it home.

When this kitten started after us I began running away. Had to be a funny sight, a grown man, a 60 pound dog dashing away from an eight inch tall Garfield wannabe. At first the Husky thought we were playing so he ran and didn’t look back, but once he heard the meowing it was over. He wanted to go “play” with his new best friend.

This went on for a week. The furball would appear and give chase, I would run away dragging the Husky behind me. I became concerned about the cat, starving, getting ran over or eaten by another dog who just wanted to “play.” It seemed to be so lonely. FInally, I had an idea. Not far from this meowing menace is a farm and one day I noticed a lady working in her flower garden. Calling to her I asked if she and her family were interested in a needy, clingy, attention seeking cat. She explained her kids had just lost a pet and maybe this was the answer to their broken hearts. I told her where it was and went on my way.

It’s been over a week and half now and I haven’t seen the cat. I also haven’t seen the lady to find out if they adopted it. I’m really curious to know what happened. Did the cat find a home with this family? Did the cat find someone else to stalk? Did something find the cat?

None of us like unanswered questions. When someone or something is in need we help out the best we can. Sometimes we know how our assistance pays off and other times we might not ever know. The reason we give to those in need, protect the defenseless, strive to provide for those less fortunate is not to get a thank you or other recognition of our efforts. The reason we help is because we can.

I might never find out what happened to my other running buddy but in my mind’s eye I see him stretched out in a window seal, watching me and the Husky running by and smiling.

helping the best I can,

bdl

illusion

IMG_4423_turkey_vulture

with your beak stuck in the air
high browed and looking 'round
descending from on high
an archangel coming down

with keen crystal eyes
you see the world as yours to take
soaring with the clouds
earth bound creatures are your prey

talons outstretched, sharp and at the ready
squeezing, tearing, grasping that which satisfies
hunger driving you among lowly ones as they scamper
soiling yourself briefly then returning to the skies

perched majestically above it all
a belief you're God's crafted sculpture
but up close a lowly scavenger
not an eagle just a vulture

---
bdl

Head Spiking and Tongue Biting

She said she wanted my head on a stick!

This prickly lady wasn’t someone I wanted to be around but it couldn’t be helped. My job was to be a positive role model for her son who was in desperate need of a low drama, low maintenance adult he could depend on. Being there for him meant I had to be near her.

One Wednesday night, two nights before a big weekend retreat sponsored by another organization, she let me know her son would be attending this event. The problem was the deadline had passed. I had announced, emailed, posted and did everything that should have been done to let people know about the deadline. No one signed up and I made other plans. Now here she was telling me her son, and some of his friends, were going and she would be away for the weekend since he would be with me. I told her I would do my best to work it out, for him and for her.

She left and I went home. Less than 10 minutes later, before I pulled in the driveway, she called me and let me have it! Apparently I had called her a bad mom, didn’t know how to work with teenagers, hadn’t advertised the event and a host of other accusations that left me almost speechless. I apologized for what I said being perceived this way and made plans over the next 36 hours to get her son, and his friends to this retreat.

After a hectic weekend of traveling back and forth from my home to the event site, about an hour and half drive, multiple times because it was too late to find a dog sitter, teaching a class on almost no sleep because no one was available on such short notice and a host of other responsibilities I had committed to, I breathed a sigh of relief that the whole fiasco was over.

Actually it wasn’t. A few days later I received another call from Winnie* that she would like to meet with me. I could tell by the way she came in my office door, sat down and glared at me this wasn’t going to be fun. Verbally attacking me again, her tirade climaxed with my dome on a pike for the world to see.

Words in my mouth were forming. Phrases and rebuttals were ready to fly. I had enough of this lady and she was about to know it! Instead, after a few deeeeeeeeep breaths, I told her again I was sorry for the communication problem, I would be more attentive to details and that her son was a great kid. She left my office and I was shocked my tongue wasn’t bleeding from biting it so hard!

Looking back I realize there was no explosion because her son needed someone non-threatening in his life. I took her oral jabs and punches because this young man had already endured enough.

This week I am faced with a similar situation of having to bite my tongue for the greater good. It’s never fun and certainly not easy but it’s what needs to be done.

True humility, like true love, is to endure, without the expectation of blessing, simply because it’s needed.

doctor_secret-369x300

anyone got a band-aid?

bdl

*names have been changed to protect my noggin from sharp objects!

Getting Clean & Playing Jenga

Dish-Rack1Washing dishes is always an interesting adventure in my household. I have a certain way to do them. Water, soap, silverware, plates, cups, bowls, pots and pans saved for last. This way as I rinse and place on the counter to dry they are in a certain order and easy to re-store in the cupboard and drawers.

My wife on the other hand just grabs whatever comes first and washes it. She rinses and dries in no particular order. Instead of placing them in similar groups, some on the dry rack others on a towel, she stacks as many as possible on the rack and it looks like a game of Tupperware Jenga when she’s finished. Trying to untangle them without toppling it over takes serious skill. I really don’t understand why she does it this way and when I ask, the unsatisfactory answer is, “that’s just the way I do it! As long as they get clean, what does it matter?” I can’t stand it when she gets me with logic.

Each of us have those places in our lives that aren’t as clean as we’d like them to be. There are habits we’d like to break, lies we’d like not to tell, people we need to stop judging, addictions we wish didn’t have such a hold. At times well-meaning people tell us if we want to get clean there’s a certain way to do it. While we celebrate that it helped them it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the only way. Finding out what works for us might be a long, arduous search and what works might look like disorder and confusion. Remember, as long as we get clean what’s dirty, what does it matter?

It’s nice to have company on the journey of life but the path we choose must be our own.

now, who’s up for some Tupperware Jenga?

bdl

 

What You Looking At?

chameleonI wish I was a lizard! Not really, but some lizards, such as Chameleons, can move their eyes independent of each other which allows them to focus on two things at one time. This would come in handy.

About two miles from our home is an open field across the road from a golf course. At times this patch of land contains many golf balls from players who haven’t quite mastered the art of hitting their target area. Whenever I’m exercising near this field I keep a lookout for these lonely, orphaned little fellas and bring them home. My dogs enjoy chewing, chasing and burying them so it’s an inexpensive way to entertain.

The problem is I spend too much time looking for those balls and not enough time keeping my eyes on the road. It’s a big field and these small guys can be difficult to find. Many times, while scanning, I step off the road or an approaching car takes me by surprise.

Being able to focus on something is important, and at times needed, but when our focus blinds us to other things problems arise. When what we are looking at causes us to step off the path or not see avoidable difficulties headed our way we need to make adjustments.

Being able to see two things at one time would be helpful but not being blind to what’s important is an even greater gift.

see ya,

bdl

companions

couple

at sunrise they are searching as lonely often do
odd singularities who catch a curious eye
to think of them together raises many questions
what would be the bond that would link these two

at midday in the park they barely miss each other
vainly looking elsewhere as the day rushes on
determined to locate their long missing paramour
hoping resoluteness will bring two hearts together

it's chance that unites them, now in eveningtide
the fading light not dimming the spark at once is there
slowing to a snail's pace is the world surrounding
they rush to embrace and hold the other tight

midnight finds them gazing as partners often do
into eyes of one for whom they long have searched
wishing it hadn't taken a lifetime to discover 
coupling mortality and wisdom, death and truth

---
bdl

Taste the Fresh

6123Cleaning out the refrigerator is a dangerous endeavor! You’re not sure what you’ll find or if you’ll even remember putting it there. Earlier in the week my wife found some old watermelon that had been residing on the bottom shelf of our fridge for so long we should’ve been charging it rent. Pulling the pink snack out and setting it in the sink she assigned me the job of taking the container outside and dumping the once sweet, seasonal fruit.

What was ripe and delicious was now something else entirely. The juice had begun to coagulate, the texture more like rubber and the smell?…not pleasant at all. It was so bad even the pooches didn’t want a sniff.

The idea of cutting the watermelon into small pieces and storing it seemed good. This way a little or a lot could be eaten without the mess of carving off another wedge. The problem was we didn’t eat it fast enough. It went bad and left a stench behind.

Save some for a rainy day” is a nice quote but life is meant to be lived, experienced…now!  We get so busy planning ways to enjoy life later we forget to take a bite while it’s still fresh. To not take advantage of the season we are living in will be to experience the stench of regret and pain when it expires.

Waiting until we have enough money, enough time, for the perfect weather, a better job, the perfect mate, etc. all seem good until we realize this moment is the perfect moment because it is all that exists. The past is gone forever and the future is never certain.

Why not sink your teeth in a big slice today?

tasting more of life,

bdl

doppleganger

5358200206_356700b28a_b

I glimpsed a reflection of you today
in the face of a stranger 
suffocating my soul with memories 
frightened and barely breathing

plagued by the spectre 
of how we used to be
hovering in my consciousness 
haunting every moment

how do you let go of the past
when it possesses your present
how do you ignore a ghost
when it catches you by surprise

---
bdl

revolution

wind

wind whispered a rumor today
tickling heedful ears
a new regime sweeping through
drafts upon the soul

blades bowed to nature's touch
earth's shield buckles
strong limbs give up on their hold
wooden giants put down their armor

blue sky lit up with a flare
betrayed by a shiver
a mood to shift, make things new
first blast of insurrection

---
bdl

Jesus, the Baaaaad Boy

Gospel of Saint Luke 15:1-10

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3So he told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

What’s happening is… 

In Luke 5v29-32, Jesus was in the house of a tax collector named Levi. Of course this displeased the rank and file of the religious leaders and they grumbled in their hearts and out loud about Jesus hanging out with sinners.  

Following Jesus’ public relations disaster in Luke 14, with the crowd was at his beck and call, Jesus doesn’t give a rousing, running out of the locker rooms ready to take on the world kind of speech, instead he says to the people “only if you hate your family, hate your life, carry a cross and get rid of everything you own can you follow me. 

In the Jewish world a father’s wishes, desires and commands always came first. He was the first and last word on any subject (dads and guys are thinking “ah, the good ol’ days!)”. To disobey a father’s instructions, to go another direction, to stray from his direction was a serious breach of family values and would be considered separation from the the family. A good Jewish father would forbid his children from following unlawful teachings and sinful instructions as espoused by Jesus. A child wanting to follow Jesus would have to go against their father’s commands. This would be tantamount to turning their back on their family, pulling away from the ones who raised them, hating their father and family. Being disowned would be the result.

Jesus laid it all on the table when he emphasized that following him, being a disciple, would be to sacrifice anything that pulled you away from the way of the Master. No doubt that some who followed Jesus left everything behind, invested their very lives, physically and socially to be his disciple.

The words of Jesus take new meaning when he says, in Luke 18v19-21; “My mother, my brothers and sisters, my family are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

This table’s open

Luke 15v1 – Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.

Luke tells the reader that ALL tax collectors, sinners, law breakers and outsiders were drawing near and being drawn to Jesus. All of them! Think about that for a moment. The very people the religious establishment shunned, had been told weren’t welcome, pushed away, were flocking to Jesus. This is amazing…and condemning. It’s not that sinners dislike Jesus, they dislike a lot of those they find around him. See how that works? The religious leaders didn’t like the people hanging out with Jesus and maybe those folks felt the same way. Hmm...maybe this is why there are so many empty chairs in churches today.

Of course the pharisees, being the sticks in the mud they are, begin to grumble, mumble against Jesus being with these undesirables. They had a problem with Jesus allowing them to come to him, partaking of a meal with them, partying with them, most of all, sharing God’s message and love with them

Similar to their question, actually a complaint, in Luke 5v29-32 when they inquired; “Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?” in other words, “what do people like that have to do with God?” Jesus, gives a coherent answer to this bewildering question; “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” In other words, “those who know they need God, get God.”

Jesus had dared a host, in Luke 14, not to consider the influential, upper crust, well to do, can do something for you, folks the next time he’s sending out invitations to a party. Instead, welcome those who never get an invitation since they have nothing to offer in return, “…the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind…” Jesus practiced what he taught. It is those who have nothing to offer Jesus, and he nothing to gain, who are having their lives changed by him.

Eating with outsiders though was more than grabbing a bite at Burger King…

A Jew’s commitment to purity, their sense of what God requires of them and their fear of risking exposure to the world which caused them to shun outsiders and criticize those who engaged, more than necessary, with non-Jews. To share a meal, have table fellowship, in the ancient world meant mutual acceptance, to receive, condone, not only the person, but what they represented. For the religious leaders, Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, violated their worldview. “Why would Jesus get close to the socially objectionable, to people like tax collectors and sinners? If Jewish people were the chosen ones, why bother?” 

Jesus makes friends with the lowest of the low. Sinners, sexually impure, thieves, diseased, poor, beggars, women, and worst of all? Tax collectors! Nasty, sell outs collecting revenue for the Romans, the enemy, the oppressors of the Jewish people!

Again, Jesus needs a good relations manager because he’s not good and winning the acceptable friends and influencing the proper people!

Little BO-Peep…

Instead of telling them where to stick it, Jesus tells one of his stories;  

v3 – So he told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 

When we hear this story it’s a reminder that whoever is lost, wherever the are, whatever their worth, Jesus finds them and brings ’em home. However, that’s not what the religious leaders, charged with the care of God’s children, God’s flock heard…

Prophet, speak against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them—to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord God: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat-lings; but you do not feed the sheep. 4 You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and scattered, they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with no one to search or seek for them.”

Whoa! This text is from Ezekiel 34:1-6 and it levels the so-called “shepherds of Israel.” Jesus is telling them “You’re not doing your job! You stink! You’re terrible! If you’re not going to do it then God will raise up someone who will! I wouldn’t have to be doing these things you find so repulsive if you understood it’s what God called you do!

What an indictment! Jesus is “strengthening the weak, healing the sick, feeding them, clothing them, binding their injuries, and bringing back the strays” because the religious leaders have forgotten it’s what their occupation requires. The sheep are wandering, lost, being killed, because they have no shepherd, their leaders have failed.

Before anyone is tempted to chime in regarding clergy, pastors, ministers, elders, deacons, boards and church leadership, Jesus calls all of his followers, every disciple, to do the things the Jewish leaders refuse to do…“strengthen the weak, heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, bind the injured, and bringing back the strays.” Hmm..maybe this is why there are so many empty chairs in our churches today. Again, just a thought.

Jesus says seek, not avoid the lost. Look for, not the other way. Carry, don’t add more burden. Heaven rejoices when the dumb, dirty, disoriented, sheep is found, so why do the religious leaders condemn it for being lost? Hmm..maybe this is why there are so many empty chairs…I digress.  

Jesus says; v7 – “…there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Who are these 99 who need “no repentance?” or asked a different way “am I, are you, one of those 99 who need no repentance?” (shaking head emphatically “no”) Exactly. If you have to ask the question you aren’t one. Only those who think they need no repentance seek none. Ironically, they are the most lost of all.

Change in the couch cushion

 v8 – “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’

Here, Jesus goes, turning over the apple cart again. This time the main figure is a woman! Jesus just can’t help himself making people uncomfortable. Our heroine is turning the house inside out, tossing the couch cushions, sweeping under the fridge, looking everywhere for her valuable treasure. She looks all day, doesn’t find it, gets dark, doesn’t stop. Broom in one hand, flashlight in the other, keeps on looking. Finally, after diving into every nook and cranny she locates the coin! Immediately she posts a photo on facebook, tweets out the discovery, texts her best friends, and calls everyone in her address book. “I found the coin! I found the coin! Let me show you the money!”(Jerry McGuire imitation)

Notice a couple of things. One, family isn’t mentioned. Remember, in Luke 14, Jesus just told them to “hate” their families. Chances are there are some in the crowds who left their families when they chose to follow Jesus on the way.

Second, there’s no formal repentance from the sheep or the coin. No special prayer is mentioned. Simply lost and then found. Granted neither the sheep or the coin is capable or repentance, but to get stuck here missed the point. This isn’t about us. Jesus is giving a glimpse into the heart of the Father and the Son. A look into their earnest desire for us. It’s about God and relationship not us and our response. 

Listen to what Jesus says in verse 10,

v10 – I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

God is after us, pursuing us, chasing us. Coming to us. Receiving us. He is the seeking shepherd! We are the dumb, dirty, disoriented sheep. The clueless coin that rolls away. Why? His love, his nature, who he is, compels him to do so. Motivates him to go to staggering lengths to prove his desire to to pull you close! We just need to be willing to be found.

Reflection

Psalm 79 says “O’ Lord, do not remember our faults and let your love and compassion find us. For we are lost and lowly. Help us, O God, for only you can save us. Deliver us and forgive our sins. We desire to be free. Let our cries come before you and according to your great love keep us safe. Let us be one of your sheep, part of your flock. We will praise you and give you thanks.”

Repeat these phrases after me and reflect upon what the Lord has said to you in the service today:

God, we are lost and lowly...

Father, forgive us and free us

Jesus, you are my shepherd

God, we give you thanks…”

 

baby_lamb1

Empty Dryers & Empty Lives

Every so often my wife lets me do a load of laundry. It’s not her first choice or second. I know how but anytime I suggest it she flashes back to the first time I took her to a laundromat after we started dating. “How hard could this be?” I asked and proceeded to change almost every article of clothing I owned into a lovely shade of pink. Much training has happened since then and I can now approach the washroom without her going to Defcon 1!

Earlier this summer, while planting flowers, she tore her calf muscle when a pigeon attacked her (that’s a whole other story). Since then I have been taking care of much of the house keeping as she continues to mend.

Yesterday I was moving wet garments to the dryer and noticed it was tougher than it should’ve been. “Why wont the ‘stupid’ __t753_door_open_close_up_clothes_ppt_lo_resclothes go into the empty dryer?” …pause… “Because, smart guy, you gotta remove the previously dried clothing first!” Extracting the wet, then the dry, placing the wet attire back, I shook my head at myself. I told the story to my wife and received a look of; “so much to learn, so little time.

Reflecting on this moment a favorite wisdom saying comes to mind,

We may shape the clay but only the emptiness inside holds the treasure.”

We fill our minds with ways to prove our worth. A new discipline, another goal, an exciting hobby, so many ways to shape ourselves into what we think we need to be but too often obtaining more leads to less meaning.

Perhaps, our desire for the treasure of purpose and value, doesn’t start with cramming more things into an already too busy existence. Disciplines, goals, hobbies, other interests can certainly help lead us to mindfulness and wisdom. However, we need to empty ourselves first and then search for what will satisfy our quest for a life that matters.

pulling things out and letting go,

bdl

…waiting…

wait

wait (Photo credit: CmdrFire)

waiting...
...depth
waiting...
...glimpse
waiting
...tenderness
waiting...
...presence
waiting...
...touch
...waiting...

Get Off My Lawn!

Unique neighbors are not unique. For every strange, odd, eccentric, person and family you see in the community you call home chances are someone thinks you’re rather peculiar as well.

ImageOne of my outlandish neighbors decided over the weekend he would tack up “NO TRESPASSING” signs. Not just one or two but many signs in different places. They are on light poles, trees and even on the handicap ramp leading to his front door.

When these signs appeared I wasn’t surprised. His house is on my exercise route and in the last few months I’ve seen a huge dumpster in the driveway yet never witnessed anyone put anything in it. He’s had an exercise bike, a wheelchair, a TV, plants and a sign that reads “FREE” for anyone who desires these weather worn items. I’m not sure how many people live in his modest domicile but I am sure I don’t know where he puts them all.

There aren’t many things we have in common but we both like my Siberian Husky. Each time I pass his yard, dog in tow, we wave and exchange pleasantries. He reminds me to be careful at the nearby intersection because “those cars don’t stop!” He seems nice enough but what’s with the signs?

I’m curious, about the signs, about the man. What makes him tick? Why is he so strange? Why the weird yard art? Why the multitude of plastic gasoline canisters in the driveway? Where does he put all those people?

Maybe the signs are there because he’s afraid the folks who live on either side with their immaculate yards are going to start surreptitiously making over his lawn. Perhaps he’s worried someone might finally paint the handicap ramp he built. Alas, I’ll never know because he won’t let anyone get too close.

Sometimes our lives have “NO TRESPASSING” signs posted in different places. Ways we let people know they aren’t welcome or invited. Ways of doing things, of speaking and living that tell others to keep moving, don’t stop, look for someone else to bother. Maybe it’s easier to be thought of as independent, eccentric, strange or unique instead of building relationships and taking the risks that go with them.

If you notice you’ve put up a sign or two, why not take them down and see what happens?

wonderment and joy,

bdl

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

35104840 (2)A family meal, on a Sabbath Sunday, erupted into a gun battle after a father and son clashed over how to properly cook a chicken in Bluewell, West Virginia. The two men began to argue over the best way to prepare a skinless bird. It progressed into a physical confrontation and escalated to both of them shooting at each other with their own .22-caliber handguns. The son was struck by a bullet that went through the upper part of his right ear and lodged in the back of his head. He survived, was treated at a hospital and released. The father was not injured but was charged with malicious wounding. Both were booked on wanton endangerment.  Be careful who you invite to Sunday dinner.

This passage appears only in Luke’s gospel.  Jesus has been on his way to Jerusalem ever since 9:51.  Along the way, he heals, casts out demons, teaches the disciples, crowds and mourns over Jerusalem 13:34-35. 

A Dinner to Remember,  Luke chapter 14

1On one occasion when Jesus[a] was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. 2 Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had abnormal swelling. 3 And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?” 4 But they were silent. So Jesus[b] took him and healed him, and sent him away. 5 Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child[c] or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?” 6 And they could not reply to this.

The scene opens with Jesus on the way to the home of a pharisee to eat a meal on the sabbath.  This is a formula for disaster! Talk about a reality show waiting to happen!

A Greek symposia is a dinner followed by a discussion/debate. Often meals such as these were places for vigorous political, social, and class conversations. Pharisees were not overly wealthy but better off than most of their constituents. An invitation to eat in a home of a Pharisee would’ve been considered an important invite if Jesus was impressed by such things. Too bad he isn’t.

Jesus had run ins with the P’s before. What Jesus did and didn’t do on the Sabbath in Luke 6 and Luke 13 told the Pharisees quite a lot about his politics and theology. Jesus had embarrassed them, on their own turf,  and Luke tells us in 11v54 the Pharisees were “lying in wait for Jesus, to catch him in something he might say.” 

Chapter 14v1 says again; “they were watching him closely as he made his way to the dinner. Is Jesus on his best behavior? Depends on what that phrase means. He stops and heals a man with abnormal swelling on the Sabbath and then questions/grills the P’s about  it. Jesus isn’t concerned about impressing those in power. He heals the poor, helpless and lower crust of society because they need it, not because they can do something for him.

Contrast this with the guests at the dinner he’s attending who are choosing “places of honor” in verse 7.  They are trying to “move up” in society by finding the best place to sit down. The most prominent place would be the position nearest the host of the dinner. Important banquets and the seating that accompanied them were of great importance to high society.

Watching them tussle over where to put their keisters, Jesus makes an observation

8‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place”, and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher”; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’

This isn’t a normal Jesus’ illustration, parable or story. It’s more like him instructing these supposedly highfalutin, sophisticated types how to act properly in these occasions for maximum effect.

Don’t push your way to the front, don’t assume, play it cool” Jesus says. What happens if someone more important than you shows up and the host tells you to get stepping, take a back seat, move out of the way for this VIP. How embarrassing and shameful! It’s more prudent to stay back and be invited up front.

Finished with the guests, Jesus now turns his attention to the host…

Not the high and mighty”, Jesus says, “but the low and weak should be honored guests.”

12 He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 

Jesus’ words to the host are confusing! Perhaps Jesus doesn’t know how the social game is played. The host invited those who would enhance his social standing. This dinner party, those invited, the seating arrangements, all evidence of the importance of those attending and how this, in turn, would elevate the social standing of the host. Only impressive people were asked to come, no one of low social standing, little political or religious power.

Jesus challenges him to turn this on its head! Make the dinners and social occasions about those with no social standing, who can’t help you get ahead. An opportunity to not promote one’s self but giving the least of these a moment to shine.

Jesus is casting a worldview, a reality where a chance to advance, improve the life of another is the goal. A culture where people aren’t used to serve our means, our upward trajectory, our aspirations but where giving, helping others is the aspiration.

14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

You will be blessed,” Jesus says. Blessed when? Blessed how? In what way? By being a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Blessed to be among “resurrection of the just.”

Wrapping it Up

When Jesus comes to dinner he has a way of making what is held dear, value and treasure seem silly, then reorients the heart to hold dear, value and treasure the things that really matter. 

Reflection

Psalm 143 “… O Lord, answer us… Please do not hide your face,…Let us hear of your steadfast love today, for in you we place our trust. Show us the way we should go, for to you we lift up our soul. 9 Save us, O Lord, … 10 Teach us to do your will, for you are our God. May your good spirit lead us on a level path….”

Prayer Phrases to Reflect on Today

Show us the way we should go…

Teach us to do your will…

May your good spirit…

Lead us on a level path…

bdl

*September 1, 2013

Get Off My Case!

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Life is complicated but mindful simplicity is a choice we should make more often.

Yesterday I got a new phone. Today a new case was on the menu. I hopped on Amazon.com to peruse their offerings. The problem with most online sites is when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for it’s difficult to choose because there are so many options!

There were hard cases and soft cases, belt clips, kickstands, flips and pouches. Pink ones (not my color), blue ones, brown ones, yellow, orange, black, white. Cases made of leather, nylon, silicone, plastic, aluminum, carbon, bamboo, kryptonite? Otterboxes, Boxwave, Belkin, Samsung, Verizon, Amazon, were just a few brands. It was selection overload! Finally, I made my decision and I’m still not sure it’s what I really wanted and very sure it cost more than I intended to spend.

Buying online is a great alternative to going to different stores, comparing and contrasting but I like to hold something in my hand before I purchase it. Not being confident about my earlier acquisition I stopped by Staples when I was in town this evening. Nothing much there but a thunderstorm was dropping buckets of rain so I meandered up and down the aisles. In the paper section there was a leather notepad case. I picked it up and discovered it was the right size, right color and made a great case for my phone and it cost a whopping $2!

We don’t choose life to be so complicated, it gets that way all by itself. There are so many choices, decisions, selections and we can be overwhelmed by the amount of mental, emotional and spiritual energy it takes to keep our heads above the chaos and not drown. We do our best to make good decisions, choose wisely, live mindfully and not be distracted but there are days when it just seems too much!

I had some place to go tonight and the storm delayed me…or did it allow me a moment to pause, to remember, to wander down the path of simplicity just long enough to catch my breath from a world that has too much to offer. Life is complicated but mindful simplicity is a choice we should make more often.

grace and light,

bdl

Charge for a Change

The FedEx truck delivered my new phone today. Not really new but a “new to me.” It looks just like my old one, same brand, color and model with one BIG difference. This one charges!

The problem began a few weeks ago. I noticed one morning the battery percentage indicator had not increased in spite of the phone being plugged in all night. It seemed to be okay once it was rebooted.  A few days passed by and it happened again. Not being sure what was going on I tried different charging cords, cleaning the connectors and discovered that if I placed the phone at a certain angle, with the charging cord just so and didn’t so much as brush up against it, it might possibly, maybe, would charge. However, even this was temporary and as the weeks passed it became worse until I was able to get only a minimal charge even after several hours. Finally, I took it to the Verizon store and explained the problem to the sales rep. He determined it was the charging port and ordered me a replacement. So today my new phone arrived and I’ve spent most of the evening trying set it up.278342-samsung-galaxy-s3

Do we do this in our lives? Keep running with our batteries low, barely getting a charge, hoping to make it through another day? Trying to be mindful, restful but demands and commitments make these almost impossible.

We recognize we are tired, drained and listless. We try energy drinks, reading time management books, downloading new organization apps and vainly search for a way to be all things to all people at all times in all circumstances. It doesn’t take long to realize that aspirations of this kind and keeping even a minimal charge is wishful thinking.

Maybe we need to replace the lives we are trying to live, the people we are trying to be with someone else. Not new people just “new to us” and “new to those around us.” People who can do more than make it through the day. Folks who have the emotional, mental and spiritual energy to connect with life that is all around them in every moment.

a restful and reflective evening,

bdl

Rejection is a Beautiful Thing!

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I was rejected today. Passed over for an opportunity I’m not sure I wanted, in a place I didn’t really want to go, for a position I’m not certain I was qualified to hold. Still…I WAS REJECTED! When I received the news, in the form of a lovely email, it took me almost an hour to get over it (which begs the question; “if you’re over it, why are you writing about it?”).

Rejection is probably too strong a word. They weren’t rejecting me, they really didn’t know me, they were accepting someone else.  They liked me enough to call, gauge my interest level, inform me that I, and a few others, had been chosen out of many, gave me details and in the end…sigh… rejection.

Why are we so averse to rejection? Why do we take it so personally? Why is it such a bruise to our fragile egos? People are rejected everyday. Bank loan officers say “no”, Wal-Mart cashiers turn off their register lights, a facebook member unfriends us, the person you have a crush on prefers to “just be friends”, family members don’t call, etc. Rejection is and should be normal.

Imagine if everything you ever wanted, desired, hoped and wished for was granted. How would you ever know what you truly need? Being mindful brings an awareness that with every rejection comes another opportunity. Not getting something new is a chance to be thankful for what we have now. Every path not taken is a new way discovered.

Rejection….it’s a beautiful thing!  Ok, I really am over it….I think.

peace and light,

bdl

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