Monday, July 31, 2006
'He is much fish still and I saw that the hook was in the corner of his mouth and he has kept his mouth tight shut. The punishment of the hook is nothing. The punishment of the hunger, and that he is against something that he does not comprehend, is everything.'
ERNEST HEMINGWAY, The Old Man and the Sea
Our yearning of that which we cannot comprehend, namely the mystery of God, can seem distant from our daily lives, because God's presence is, most of the time, elusive. I suppose it creates a tension between our own doubts and fears and the promises God makes. The maze of human experience if you like.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Seems Mike yaconelli's wisdom was more than helpful yesterday, so here's another of his musings for the benefit of your souls. A wonderful man who filled my life with big moments:
Me: "Hey, Jesus!"
Me: "I’m a youth worker."
Jesus: "I know. I’m Jesus—remember?"
Me: "Okay. Okay. But...um...why did you make me do youth ministry?"
Jesus: "I didn’t ’make’ you do youth ministry, I called you."
Me: "Yeah, right. Called might as well be the same as made. I mean, you made it so I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. You ruined all the other options, Jesus."
Jesus: "You’re welcome."
Me: (sigh) "Here’s the deal: If you wanted me to do this youth worker thing, you must think youth ministry is pretty important."
Jesus: "I do."
Me: "Well, how come the adults in church don’t think it’s that important? And have you looked at the pay scale lately? We’re always at the bottom of the priority list."
Jesus: "I can relate to that."
Me: "And all they want me to be is a recreation director. You know...plan nice activities and keep their kids from drinking, doing drugs, and getting pregnant."
Jesus: "They think youth ministry is about making young people nice?"
Me: "Well, yeah. I mean, they think you’re a nice guy and everything—and they want their kids to be like you."
Jesus: "Look, these parents think I’m a nice idea. They think I care about what they care about. They want me to be an enhancement to their lifestyles—and they don’t want me making their kids uncomfortable with their lifestyles. Basically they think I died on a cross to help their kids get good SAT scores, be captains of football teams and cheerleading squads, and have nice lives. They think I want to help their children become good Americans. Yuck!"
Me: "I didn’t think Jesus would say ’Yuck!’"
Jesus: "It’s a Greek word."
Me: "Oh...but aren’t Christians supposed to be nice?"
Jesus: "You think I died on a cross to make people nice? You think I want to be relegated to the status of motivational speaker? Listen, I don’t even like football, and I definitely don’t like nice people. Look at my disciples! Talk about loud, obnoxious, rude, flaky—hey, these guys were anything but nice. Remember when ’Mr. Nice Guy’ John wanted me to send fire down on a little Samaritan village because they wouldn’t let us stay for the night?
"Start telling parents that their sons and daughters should take a year after high school and do missions in South Africa and see how long you last. Tell them it isn’t a good decision to make their kids go to soccer camp instead of church camp and see how supportive they’ll be. Truth is, I came to ruin people’s lives—just like I ruined yours. I came to turn people’s lives upside down. Remember all that stuff I said about being a sword and turning parents against children? I wasn’t kidding."
Me: "But if I let you start ruining kids’ lives, we might lose some of them."
Me: "How can you say ’good’?! Look, I’m beginning to wonder if you’re really Jesus."
Me: "Why? Because everybody knows youth ministry is about reaching as many students as possible. We’ve been trying to reach every student for Christ by the year 2000! I mean, this year we’re going to have rallies and crusades nationwide with more than 100,000 kids at each of them. We’re going to link the entire world by satellite. We’re going to have the largest crowds ever!"
Jesus: "I don’t like crowds."
Me: "You don’t like crowds?!? What are you talking about?!"
Jesus: "I don’t like crowds. Go back and read my story. Yes, I had crowds from time to time, but most of the people in them just wanted more wine, food, and power. Then—when I didn’t give them what they wanted—they killed me. Nope. I don’t like crowds. Besides, my best work was done one on one. You know...the woman at the well, the crazy guy, the blind man, the prostitute. That’s when I did my best stuff."
Me: "But...um...that isn’t very efficient."
Jesus: "I know. I don’t believe in efficiency."
Jesus: "Let me put it this way. I believe in making disciples one at a time. Very slow stuff."
Me: "But Jesus, I thought you were into ’fast’."
Jesus: "Nope. I’m about slow. And small."
Me: "Oh, man. If I keep listening to you, I’m going to be fired!"
Jesus: "Good for you."
Me: "Good for me?!? Uh, Jesus, it’s not that easy!"
Jesus: "I didn’t say it would be easy. I said it would be hard."
Me: "But hard is...well...hard."
Jesus: "Tell me about it.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Couldn't sleep, watched the sun come up with endless coffee...decided that I don't know much. read this from my very much missed friend...seems he didn't know much either....maybe that's not such a bad thing after all....maybe
"I Don't Know"
by Mike Yaconelli
Dear youth worker,
Please tell me why God allowed innocent people to be murdered on September 11, 2001?
I don’t know.
Where was God?
I don’t know.
When Leslie Weatherhead, a minister in London during the Second World War, was asked by a member in his congregation where God was when his son was killed in a bombing raid, Weatherhead replied, "I guess he was where he was when his son was killed."
And where was that?
I don’t know.
Isn’t "I don’t know" too ambiguous? Isn’t "I don’t know" an unconvincing way to convince young people Christianity is true?
Actually, "I don’t know" confirms one critical truth about Christianity…it’s a mystery!
Jesus loves us, right?
So if he loves us, he protects us, right?
If he loves us…he is with us.
Jesus can heal, can’t he? And perform miracles?
Of course. Just not very often.
I don’t know.
What about God’s will?
My youth director says we’re supposed to seek God’s will. There are lots of verses in the Bible that tell us to do God’s will, aren’t there? God does have a will, right?
Trouble is God’s will is not like a to-do list. It’s more like an undecipherable code. The Bible definitely gives us some clues about the code of God’s will, which means we can figure out part of it; but, because it’s God, we will never crack the code.
Yeah, like, follow me, serve me, love me, live by my commandments, point people to me.
That’s it? Just follow me, serve me, love me and trust me?
That’s about it.
What do you mean "that’s about it?"
You don’t want to know.
Yes I do.
We get a cross.
Cross????? What does that mean?
I don’t know.
But God does heal people, doesn’t he?
And miracles do happen, don’t they.
So we can count on God helping us, can’t we?
We can count on God being God.
I don’t know.
And what does that mean?
It means we can trust God if we lost someone in the WTC or if they survived.
It means we can trust God when we have cancer and when we’re healed.
We can trust God if we survive a natural disaster or if we don’t.
We can trust God when we get a glimpse of Divine will and when we don’t.
We can trust God in the answers and the questions, in the good and the bad, in the light and the dark, when we’re winning and when we’re losing.
We can trust God even when the Truth doesn’t answer all our questions or leaves us with even more questions.
And, most importantly, just beyond our "I don’t know’s," Jesus is waiting with open arms to snuggle us in the mystery of his love.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Don't ask me why but I was thinking about crisps this morning (very surreal I know) and I was thinking about all the variety on offer these days, which consequently reminded me how few options there were available to us as kids growing up in the 70's.
Which then got me thinking of the worst ever crisps, the choice is great I know. After long consideration (12 seconds) I have decided that Walkers (long before Gary Bloody Lineker) Prawn Cocktail were/are the most vile gastronomic crisp experience......EVER!!!!
Be interested to know what blog world thinks.....answers on a comment please
Friday, July 21, 2006
During my busy morning of sitting while I rest and recover from this weeks adventures I watched a devastating and heartrending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska.
A docudrama that centers on amateur grizzly bear expert Treadwell. He periodically journeyed to Alaska to study and live with the bears. He was killed, along with his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, by a rogue bear in October 2003. The film explores their compassionate lives as they found solace among these endangered animals.
On his passing a friend said, ‘In Timothy's company, you knew you were in the presence of a spirit that loomed larger than life, who flew at an elevation that few achieve, who lived with a depth of conviction rare as gold in these shallow times. The sight of Timothy's blond head above a crush of buzzing children was like a flame crowded by moths - they, hungry for a moment in his light, in the electric current of his love for all wild hearts. Yet for all his brave, bold ways, there was a fragile, ephemeral nature in Timothy who seemed, at times, not of this world really - not slated, perhaps, to be long among pedestrians.’
Native Indians though thought otherwise, that ultimately he crossed an unspoken boundary that has existed for 7000 years…and maybe because of that, he paid the price. The argument goes on; did he really protect the bears or did he humanize them to the point of disrespecting them, and so doing more damage – that we shouldn’t be habituated to the animal kingdom…my take? I think with the best of intentions this genuine and caring man entered a spiral of destruction, and because of that he lost his life.
My experience is that a stay in the wilderness should inevitably direct one’s attention outward as much as inward. It is impossible to dwell in the margins without our mystical encounters calling us to the position of engagement – engagement with community. It was Bruce Springsteen, as he searched the mystery of love, who said that ‘in the end nobody wins unless everybody wins’. The call of the wild is always with certain people, but it only becomes useful when we learn the spirituality of the animal world: where having gone into the wild, the knowledge and experience acquired is then shared and incorporated into the lives of the rest of the pack.
It is a Protestant myth that salvation is only worked out individually. We need to get back to inclusiveness, friendships, belonging and community - these are the catalysts for effective spirituality from within our post-modern, post-Christian culture. And of course for those of us with children to feed and responsibilities at home, a literal trip to the wilderness may not often be possible. Perhaps we may to find sacred space closer to home to hear the Spirit’s whisper. Either way, spirituality has to reach into those dark places we would rather not visit. Not just the geographic borderlands, but also the wilderness of our soul. The wilderness is as discomforting as it is seductive, but philosophies in isolation are no good to anyone. It is from within these wastelands that we start our journey to spiritual maturity, so allowing a spirituality that will be earthed in the often mundane and broken lives of each other.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Curve balls come our way every now and then.
We can all testify to that.
They come in various shapes and sizes but what all curve balls
have in common is that they catch us off guard.
It’s the throw the pitcher uses to bewilder us all.
The great pitcher of life threw me one this week.
A suspected heart attack at 36
Can you believe it? Me? Shit!
Well, thankfully it wasn’t – still scared the crap out of me though!
Turns out it was Pericarditis.
Anyhow, it has meant that I have had a lot of time on my hand this week
Hospital bed after hospital bed,
and lots of reading.
My favourite has been my second read of
‘Innocent When You Dream - Tom Waits: The Collected Interviews’
One particular paragraph has got me thinking
Waits is being interviewed after the release of his album
‘Real gone’, specifically regarding some of the
obscure references in the lyrics (not really an original observation if I am being picky).
One particular caught my eye and imagination though.
On the song ‘Sins of my Father’ he mentions a ‘Tyburn Jig’
When asked about its meaning Waits responds:
“When someone one was being hung,
the dance they would do at the end of the rope
was called the Tyburn Jig.
It was called ‘the dance upon nothing’;
That kind of explains itself.
The reasons theatres traditionally have no performances
on Monday night is because Monday night was Hanging Night,
and nobody could compete with Hanging Night.
To this day theatres are dark on Mondays.”
Journalist Jonathan Valencia then suggests that most people would be
surprised how recently there were public hangings in the U.S.
Waits response is adroit:
“Well, we still do it today. It’s just a little more civilised:
How long after the discovery of electricity
do you think someone invented the electric chair?
Probably the next day.
How long do you think after they invented these picture phones
that someone put into their pants?
Less than a day.
Crime is always way ahead of technology,
waiting for it to catch up.”
Maybe when we do good things they get invested into some kind of divine bank account that we all draw from…sadly it might just work the other way round too….
Thursday, July 13, 2006
I can't remember the last time i blogged twice in one day, and it won't become a habit...honestly, but i just heard this song on my ipod on random and the words are so achingly beautiful i have to put fingers to keyboard...
It's enough to drive a man crazy; it'll break a man's faith
It's enough to make him wonder if he's ever been sane
When he's bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven's only answer is the silence of God
It'll shake a man's timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God
And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they've got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
'Cause we all get lost sometimes...
There's a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He's kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He's weeping all alone
And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God
(Andrew Peterson from the album 'Love and Thunder')
Picked up a little book of prayers at the Greenbelt meetings on Monday written by my friend Martin Wroe. He's a good man and he prays well. Here's what I mean...
'So i'm just thinking to myself, right...
I'm thinking that John Lennon said,
"Imagine there's no heaven..."
But I'm thinking, "Get lost John - think I
might imagine there is..."
A place where the buses run on time,
and women walk safe after dark.
Where eating chocolate reduces cholesterol,
smoking is relaxing but doesn't cause cancer,
and you can't get headaches or hangovers.
I'm thinking of a place where nurses earn as
much as company chairmen,
policemen are liked but not necessary
and teachers don't want to be anything else.
Where children run multinationals for fun
and grown-ups are sent to bed every time
A place where you can be busy
if you want to be,
but you can buy extra time when you need it
(from an extra time shop).
A place where you can go to sleep
when you're tired,
deep, deep sleep so you wake up feeling like
you've had a life transfusion
like your life has been heated up.
I'm thinking of a place where nobody notices
and species aren't endangered.
Where you've got all shapes and sizes...
but no one great or small.
Where people meet you
and don't even notice your bone structure
or your colour
because they're so stuck in your soul.
Where they hear your spirit not your accent
and everyone knows that everyone's only a
this heaven is not just a religious place.
I mean there'll be no Jehovah's Witnesses at
your door (who needs a witness when Jehovah's
down the road?)
and God won't be a rumour because he'll have
a front door.
You won't have to pray because you can talk.
There is no need for churches,
mosques or temples.
No one tells you how to live your life
because no one needs to.
There'll be no streets of gold
or pearly gates or harps,
no big dad god and little boy god
on matching thrones.
but a place where every time you bump into a
you can feel a 'because'.
There will still be bad language.
Words like 'bomb' and 'bullet' and 'rape'.
There will even be the odd four-letter word
But some words will not be abl to be spelled
because these words will come from
an ancient language
no longer understood
occasionally studied but never spoken.
I'm imagining a place called heaven.
A place where you can eat chocolate
and fight heart disease,
take a long, slow drag on a fag
to cure someone of cancer,
climb through the air on wings like eagles,
run but never get tired.
(Taken from 'When You Haven't Got a Prayer: A journalist talks to God' by Martin Wroe, Lion Publishing 1997)
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
What does the word “soul” mean? What actually is it? Not sure anyone has or can or give a definition of the soul. But i supose we know what it feels like. Maybe the soul is the sense of something higher than ourselves, something that stirs within us thoughts, hopes, and aspirations which go out to the world of goodness, truth, and beauty. Just maybe the soul is a burning desire to breathe in this world of light and never lose it – to remain children of that mysterious light...maybe...
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
'There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by'.
Mata, was talking about the work of Annie Dillard and i had forgotten how good she is - full of wonder and beauty - a truly gifted writer who notices small graces and the big impact they leave if we would only try and notice ourselves...in truth sometimes we have to look with more than our eyes....
....here's what i mean
'I open my eyes and i see dark...i close my eyes and i see stars, deep stars giving way to deeper stars, deeper stars bowing to deepest stars at the crown of an infinite cone. "Still," wrote van Gogh in a letter, "a great deal of light falls on everything." If we are blinded by darkness, we are also blinded by light. When too much light falls on everything, a special terror results.'
(Taken from 'Pilgrim at Tinker Creek')
Monday, July 03, 2006
Am reading Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
I don't believe there is a writer alive who can communicate the doubts and struggles of post modern (whatever that means) culture...his ability to tap into the hearts of dysfunctional misfits and somehow bring them home is inspiring to me; his genius is to weave a grace that brings meaning and hope into the broken, shattered and mundane world of the refugee...
...here is the opening page of Eleanor Rigby
'I had always thought that a person born blind and given sight later on in life through the miracles of modern medicine would feel reborn. Just imagine looking at our world with brand new eyes, everything fresh, covered with dew and charged with beauty - pale skin and yellow daffodils, boiled lobsters and a full moon. And yet I've read books that tell me this isn't the way newly created vision plays out in real life. Gifted with sight, previously blind patients become frightened and confused. They can't make sense of shape or colour or depth. Everything shocks, and nothing brings solace. My brother, William, says, "Well think about it, Liz - kids lie in their cribs for nearly a year watching hand puppets and colourful toys come and go. They're as dumb as planks, and it takes a long time to even twig to the notion of where they end and the world begins. Why should it be any different just because you're older and technically wiser?"
In the end, those gifted with new eyesight tend to retreat into their own worlds. Some beg to be made blind again, yet when they consider it further, they hesitate, and realize they're unable to surrender their sight. Bad visions are better than no visions.'