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Friday, March 18, 2011

Episode 19: March 27 - Time Out

Two children
played next door,
and I heard them use
a wonderful word—
a magic word—
“Time out!  Time out!”

One ran
and the other chased.
The one who chased
drew closer—
The one who ran
grew breathless—
“Time out!  Time out!”

And the running stopped
so each could
catch his breath
before they ran

It is a magic word
for the magic age
of childhood
A magic word
that does not work
for grown up
         real life

“Time out!  Time out!”
We run,
but cannot run away,
chased by time
we cannot slow.
We must run ahead
or be run down,
and fear that death
(boredom, loneliness, or
loss of identity)
will catch us if we stop.

God gives us no time out
but strength to run
and not grow faint;
no escape from time
but life that triumphs
over time.

“Call not,
‘Time out!  Time out!’
but know that
all time is in my hands,
and so cease your running
and turn to receive
         and health,
                  and peace.”

Episode 18: March 26 - You Have To go Through It

When I was a tour guide
through the wilderness of grief,
(we called it a grief recovery group)
one of our cardinal principles was
“You can’t get past grief
without going through it.”

People want to avoid grief.
They want to go around grief.
They want to ignore grief.
They want to deny grief.
They want to speed past grief.
Some people try to drown grief
(you know what I mean.)

One woman drowned it for 15 years.
She thought it was working until
she got clean and sober.
And there it was staring her in the face.
She joined our group
and went through her grief to
get to the other side.
It worked.

Whatever lonely wilderness your life path
takes you through,
don’t be lonely alone.
Allow a friend or two to hold your hand.
Even if they don’t understand,
and don’t know what to say,
allow then to be there anyway.
Insist that they be there anyway.
It will help you get through it
which is the only way to get past it..

Episode 17: March 25 - I Find That I've Been Found

How many people go on long journeys
      --literally or figuratively—
to “find” themselves.
Does it work?
Maybe for some.
Others find themselves only
when they return
Maybe they had to go on the journey
in order to find themselves
at home.

Some people lose themselves in their work.
Others get lost in drink or drugs.
Others . . . (fill in the blank.)

Jesus had another idea:                                                          (Matthew 16:25)
“those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Where do you get lost . . .
and found?

Episode 16: March 24 - From the Journal of a Wanderer - 3

Now I remember who I am.
I have been put back together again.

There are some experiences in life
that take us apart…

In those wilderness moments we may
forget who we really are
deep down inside.
We no longer act
out of the center of our being
but react
off the surface,
and may even feel
that is who we are.

Then there are experiences that
put us back together…

Coming out of the wilderness
I remember who I am again.
Life is back on the track.
I am free to be
who I really am
deep down inside.
And it feels good!

Episode 15: March 23 - From the Journal of a Wanderer - 2

Wandering through the wilderness
I had forgotten who I am.
It didn’t matter.
Getting from one day to the next
Getting to the other side
Getting the job done
I forgot that who I am mattered

Where was God?
I could not find God.
Not that God wasn’t there.
How could I find God when
I couldn’t find myself?
Where was I?
I could not find myself
alone in the wilderness.

Coming out of the wilderness
I found myself among friends.
Do you understand?
It is among friends
that I found myself.
And God was there too.

Episode 14: March 22 - From the Journal of a Wanderer - 1

The readings for the next three days are excerpts from the journal of one who wandered through a wilderness in life and got lost . . . and found.


For six months he wandered through
the wilderness.
more and more lost.

What had pushed him out there?
Forces from without.
What drove his seeking?
Forces from within.

He did not choose to go through
barren places;
the path he chose
went that way.
He had his reasons.

It was not the wilderness
he was choosing;
the path he chose
went that way.
What were the reasons?

Thats all that matters
after so long in the
“Who are you?”
It doesn’t matter.
Then he reached
the other side.

He had survived.
Was that all that mattered?
Why had he survived?
Why was it important to survive?
Who was he?

And finding himself
among friends
he remembered who he was
and why he had come out
and what the reasons were.

Returning home,
and those he loved
were a little more

Episode 13: March 21 - Wilderness

There seems to be a pattern
(1)   Mountain top
(2)   Wilderness
(3)   Living the new life

First there is an exciting
of a new way of life.

Then the unmerciful
of every fiber of your existence.

Only then is there the
of the life envisioned.

Jesus followed the pattern:
mountain top (baptism)
wilderness (40 days)
living the life (ministry.)

I’ve been through it too
in my own way.
And I see the value of it all.
But I do have a question.

Isn’t once in the wilderness
Why do I have to go through
the whole pattern
each time life is

Episode 12: March 20 - Second Sunday in Lent

“In” but not “of.”
Remember that from
last Sunday?

In but not of:
that’s how we are to live
said Jesus.
In the midst of,
but not participating in.

We can’t help living
in the world.
This is where we live.
But we don’t have to be of the world.
We don’t have to be worldly.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but
be transformed by the renewing of your minds,
so that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.”                 (Romans 12:2)

We are to be transformed
to be transforming
to be in the world as
            and salt
                  and leaven.

In but not of.
Reshaping the world
in which we live
into the image
of Christ.

Episode 11: March 19 - It's More Than A Name

I don't know what to call you anymore.
"God" doesn't seem as intimate.
"Creator" is too remote.
It was so easy to call you "Father,"
but that's too limiting now.
"Mother"?  That's just as limiting.
God, if I’m going to Call on you
I have to call you something.

I want a title for you
that is both
intimate and personal,
and non-sexist.
But we don't have those kinds of words in English.
Mom, Dad, Son, Auntie:
all of our intimate titles denote gender.
We have to know whether a person
is male or female.
And you are both,
or neither.
Or both and neither.
Since nothing else seems quite right,
would you mind if I call you
by your first name?

Does it make a difference what you call God?
How does it effect the way you think about God.
How does it change the way you relate with God?

With that we conclude our week of searching questions.  But not our searching.  Ever.

Episode 10: March 18 - The Dawning of Darkness

Suppose we turn it around:
The people who walked in light
have seen a great darkness;"
"Those who lived in a land of
bright light--
on them darkness has dawned."

Darkness dawned?
Yes!  The dawning of darkness
opens one’s eyes to the light.

When it dawns on you
that you have been living in darkness
and darkness lives in you...

When it dawns on you
that your own biases are not any
more enlightened than those of others...

When it dawns on you
that the evil in the world is not
all "out there"...
                                 …there is hope.

The message of hope
is for those who can look
into their own darkness,
and see the light dawning.

"The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of
deep darkness--
on them light has dawned."  (Isaiah 9:2)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Episode 9: March 17 - Freedom

What a hell of a gift!

Why, God?
Why that awful gift?
Why a gift that enables us to
--go in the wrong direction
                  until we are totally lost?
--waste our lives in a
                  million different ways?
--completely destroy ourselves
                  if that is our choice?
--make such a mess of our lives
                  there aren't even any pieces
                  to put back together?

Why a gift that enables us to
--hurt other people so much
                  when they need to be helped?
--use and misuse those who
                  are close to us?
--take advantage of people
                  when they are vulnerable?
--walk on people with total
                  disregard for their feelings?
--cut people up and throwaway
                  the pieces?
--make such a mess of other lives
                  there aren't even any pieces
                  to put back together?

Why did you give us a gift
that enables us
--to turn our backs on you?
--to take all your gifts and
                  use them for our own selfish
--to stab you in the heart by
                  all our cruelty to one another?
--to go to hell
                  when you made us for heaven?

When I consider
all the gifts you have to give,
I can only ask why, God.
Why did you give us a gift
that allows us to create so much hell
for ourselves
for others
and for you?

Is it the only way
you could give us the gift of love?

Love means nothing
unless it is given freely.
Love is not love unless
we are free not to love.
We could not share the gift of love
without the gift of freedom.

But why, God?
Why do we take this gift
that was given
so we might discover
that which is most beautiful
that which is most meaningful
and use it to cause
so much pain
so much ugliness?

It's a hell of a gift!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Episode 8: March 16 - Something More

"What are you looking for?"
I asked a bird
scratching at the earth
with her beak.
The answer was easy:
"Seeds for my breakfast,
and twigs for my nest."
Food and shelter
in most basic of forms.

"What are you looking for?"
I asked a man
scratching at the earth
with a backhoe.
The answer was not easy.
"I'm not looking for anything,"
he began.
"This is my job,"
he ended.

But that was not the end
of my question,
for he had not given
the answer.

"What are you looking for?"
I asked.
"For what purpose
do you have this job?"
"I have this job to make money."
"And for what purpose
do you make money?"
"To buy food for my family,
and a roof over our heads."

"Then like the bird,
food and shelter are all
you are looking for."

He paused.
"All I am looking for?
All, out of life?
There is more to life
than food and shelter.
There has to be!
I am looking for...
something more."

"What are you looking for?"
"I don't know."

I told you
the answer was not easy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Episode 7: March 15 - Who Are You? (A searching question)

Can you tell me
who you are
without naming
your occupation?

We have become accustomed
to categorizing people
according to their occupation,
and valuing people
according to their category.

But for you to tell me
that you are a farmer
does not tell me
who you are.
It only tells me
how you spend
some of your time.
For I have yet to meet
two farmers
--or teachers, or doctors,
or salesmen, or anything—
who are exactly alike.

It may be convenient
to put you into a category,
but it may blind me
to the real you
and to your value
as a person.

You are not a category.
You are a person!
What kind of person are you?
Can you forget the categories
other people put you into,
and tell me who you are?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Episode 6: March 14 - We're in Lent. Remember?

O.K., Sunday is over.
We’re back in lent.  Back to the waiting.
It’s like advent, a little.
Advent is a season of waiting:  waiting and hoping.
Lent is a season of waiting and searching.
God searching.

What are we searching for?
What are you searching for?
What am I searching for?
(Searching questions.)
Searching my self.
Searching for myself?
Searching for God.
Searching out God.
Searching for understanding.
Understanding myself.
Understanding God.

And while I am searching . . .
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
      and lead me in the way everlasting.”                 (Psalm 139:23-24)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Episode 5: March 13 - First Sunday in Lent

Sunday at last.
A little break from
the dust and ashes.

Do you know?
There are no Sundays of lent?
There are Sundays of advent.
There are Sundays in lent.

“In” but not “of.”
In the midst of
but not participating in.

Every Sunday is a little Easter.
I need that every week because
life can get heavy.
Especially during lent I need that because
lent can get heavy.

I need these little Easters
to keep me on track
to remind me why I am on
this heavy Lenten journey
as I move toward
the big Easter.

“This is the day that the Lord has made;
      let us rejoice and be glad in it.”                            (Psalm 118:24)