Friday, March 30, 2012

More & I Want

A pivotal milestone in speech therapy for any toddler--is the mastering of the word 'more.'  What if the toddler simply doesn't want 'more'?, I inquired of today of a speech therapist.  What if she doesn't want 'more cars' or 'more balloons' or 'more bouncing balls'?  She has to--at some point.  That's quite a profound statement about human nature.  I admittedly am not a speech therapist or trained in the discipline of child development--but, it seems logical to me that perhaps there are some things we may not want 'more of' no matter how appealing.  I have a friend who gets her fill of chocolate and never wants more.   I don't want 'more gossip.'  I don't want 'more negativity.' 

When a child refuses to say 'more' for instance, they might be making a big philosophical statement about their life--they simply don't want more of something that isn't stimulating to them!  I used more font to write this.  More size to project it.  My son knows what he wants more of.  More music.  More laughter.  More love.  More wiggling his toes as an example of his true contentment.  More reading with his daddy his Dr. Seuss books and My daddy and me.

He doesn't want more time in colorless spaces.  He doesn't want more cars in a room with a piano. 

That brings me to the 2nd 'catch phrase' of child speech development.  Evidently it is vital a kid learns to say 'I want.'  It seems like our society might be better off if a few million people spent 'more' time not saying 'I want.'  Apparently the fact that my toddler has mastered 'I kiss' or "I do' or 'I go' aren't as strong indicators for development as 'I want.'  I just stood in line at a convenience store watching someone spend $63 in lotto tickets.  Spending a million a year for 250 years--who wants that?

As I ponder 'more' and 'I want'--I'm going to  await the 11:00 results for the biggest lottery ever.  Ironically, I did something I don't even believe in:  I bought $4.00 worth of tickets.  This is ironic because $641 million wouldn't give me 'more of what I love and what I want--family, faith, friends, and a full heart. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Palm Sunday and Parades

Parades.  What a fantastic illustration of communal love for the heroes responding to the Chardon School shooting on Feb. 27 in the parade yesterday.   As the bus arrived with the 50+ heroes from the Governor's house, love blossomed like a plam tree in the desert.  Hearing about the parade of love , watching the news and media coverage, reminded me of what is good about community.  Communities that cradle hope springing in the midst of unspeakable chaos and loss.  Communities that find courage and bravery in the face of vulnerability and fear.  The community that gathered along the parade route for Jesus' entrance was unprepared.  And yet, in their unpreparedness the community that poured and flocked to the streets gave of themselves to show honor and respect.  Coats and jackets from their backs.  Simple palm fronds which quite literally mean 'save us now.' 

What do you need to be saved from?

What habits and behaviors do you eagerly seek to throw on the ground in a demonstration of anticipation of relief?

some of the best experiences I've had with parades in my life have been from pressing flesh with humanity around the parade route.  "Pressing flesh' was my mom's term.  Communities are built from realizing our oneness even in our distinctness.  Thomas Merton once said that standing on a corner in Louisville, KY he suddenly was overcome that everyone crossing on the busy streets was his brother or sister. 

Where do you sense community?  Where is it lacking in your life?

Palm Sunday parades and April Fools' Day.  Interesting ironies of the holy.  The foolishness for believers comes from the sudden reality that our Palm Sunday parade enthusiasm quickly turned (in 5 days time) to cries of disdain and death.  A lot happens between the cries of joy, the cries of Jesus on the cross and the waiting for resurrection. 

Planning holiday feast and Easter parties cannot be done absent a thorough awareness that Easter People come from first being a parade route observer. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Waiting Places

Dr. Seuss talked about the 'waiting places' in our lives. 
Those places where we find ourselves waiting.  He wrote that we wait for for the train to come and we wait for the bus to go.  Sometimes, he said we even 'wait for our hair to grow.'

In this Season of waiting for the expected birth of a transformative King of peace and justice and unconditional love, I wonder how you do at 'waiting.?' 

I've heard that if we live to be 70 we will spend a solid 3 years of our lives waiting.  Just waiting.  Waiting for the cashier to check out our groceries.  Waiting at Best Cuts to get my hair cut.  Waiting for the phone call from the local Howard Hanna fundraiser--to call and tell me 'you've won the gift basket in the Chinese Auction!' 
I'm not particularly gifted at waiting.  If Time Magazine's article/cover story this week is any indication--many of the folks that we surround ourselves with are not particularly gifted at waiting either. 
The article in Time talks about the anxiety that is so pervasive in our lives. 

Attitude is key for dealing with waiting and the anxiety that results.
I've waited for test results.  I've waited for the news that I've hoped for.

What sorts of things do you wait for? 
Your Cancer to be in remission?
For The Hornets to win the State championship?
Do you wait for justice for the devastating news of the murder in Mentor-on-the Lake?
Do you wait for a relationship to happen--a marriage proposal, a divorce decree?

What sorts of things can we do while we wait?  In these 4 weeks of Advent I'm trying to set aside 5 minutes each day to simply 'be' in the presence of God and wait.  I set my cell phone alarm to remind me to set aside 5 minutes.

5 minutes isn't much--but, it's a start. 

Each Monday, more than 30 families gather and 'wait' for our Free Food Distribution at First Presbyterian Church.  They are patient at waiting. 
Patiently waiting for food--something no man, woman, or child should have to wait for, really!  sometimes people line up and wait for as long as 2 hours.

Patienly waiting is one of my favorite oxymorons.  You know, like 'jumbo shrimp?'  Patiently waiting--the words don't seem to jive.

What are the waiting places of your lives?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What you miss about 9/11

When I think back on the days and months after 9/11--I miss the unity that I felt
with even a perfect stranger. 
 I remember the feeling like this...
after 9/11 the country felt
smaller--the people closer--the bonds stronger.
After 9/11--it was like we all had a common story.   I liken
the feeling to the one I had when I lived in a small rural Kansas town.  
The thread was visible in our faces. 
The tears that poured from our eyes--weren't covered up--
we were just a country that was 'real.'
Along the way of the past 10 years,
the divides have crept back.
We no longer look upon our neighbors as 'us'--but see others suspiciously again.
What will you do to remember 9/11? 
Nearly every year I've kept a Christmas tree up for several months past Christmas. 
One year, three tiny trees stayed decorated and lit until July.  That year, as the Easter lilies bloomed in the July earth--and the trees shown brightly inside of our house--we had a miracle in our family. 
Miracles can happen from despair.
Maybe we should try harder to keep looking for the miracles of healing and unity 10 years after 9/11. 
Growth and rebirth
is happening--we need to turn our eyes towards the light
and sow more seeds of hope. 
What do you miss about 9/11?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Biggest Disease Today

Mother Teresa once said "The Biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody.  The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward one's neighbor who lives at the roadside assaulted by exploitation,
and disease." (multiple sources)

Where are there people in your life that you don't think it possible to love?

Casey Anthony still gets nearly 99% of the nightly news on 'Headline News.'
Regardless how we feel about her--isn't our hope that she can find a community that will love her?
The vengence that is preached by Nancy Grace doesn't seem like the right approach.  What do you think about
second chances?
Healing--is it possible for her?
Healing--what does that look like for her family?
Healing--what does it look like for a nation fixated on the case?

If forgiveness in our lives comes in threes:  from God, from one another, and from ourselves--does this apply to one we think unlovable?

Jacob in Genesis is certainly a bad guy--on the lam, a criminal who deceived his own brother and duped his own dad.  His mom seems to give him a brown bag lunch and says 'Run for it--'
Then he's on the road for 20+ years. 
I've been thinking a lot about Jacob as I listen to the ongoing Anthony saga.
If God can chase someone like Jacob and give a great purpose to his life--
maybe the same is possible
for someone
like her.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Playground Vandalized

A month ago, the church built a lovely playground sacred space for kids!  This past Saturday evening someone (or multiple people) took a lot of time and effort to break and destroy aspects of the playground.  The binoculars were forcibly broken.  The telescope for kids to imagine God's universe--was stolen.  The infant swing was stretched to the point that young kids can no longer use it.
What is wrong with the heart of people that do this type of thing?
The church constructed this space for the glory of God to honor young children and families.  In the past four short weeks, numerous neighborhood kids have had a chance to feel joy as they played. 
Something that was purely for 'good' in the world must be perceived to be a threat to some unhappy soul.
We dedicated the playground on Sunday!  As we were dedicating the play space
a car hit a squirrel who promptly went near the playground and crawled into a tire wheel, then an engine of a car.  The squirrel was rescued and is living a Penn Glen--squirrel 0763 11.  From sadness to the joys of children seeing adults gather around to problem-solve and rescue 'little Rocky.'
Where do you see joy this week? 

It is so much easier to destroy something than to build something new--thoughts?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Inside looking Out

So many of the people that I interact with never leave their homes/care facilities.
They are living their lives, oftentimes by no choice of their own, in places that they never leave.
On a recent day that was sunny and bright, my heart was inordinately heavy as I left one high-rise
and realized that my friend had not been out in many weeks--and then, only for a doctor's visit.
Consider time.  How does time pass when you are inside looking out at the world?  Does time still pass slowly when you are aging and feel un-useful to the world outside? 

 What would you imagine yourself doing differently with your life, right now, if you knew that tomorrow--you would never be able to leave your home again--due to mobility, disease, etc.?
The wind in the trees of the 9th floor apartment was so subtle today when I returned to my friend.  I imagined that my friend had so much time on their hands they could actually count the leaves.  What would it feel like to you to sit and look out and really only have your memories to sustain and energize your soul?
My Aunt, who lived to be 97, always said her memories sustained her.  She outlived a husband, son, her best friends, her childhood friends--and despised being alone.  She hated out living everyone.  I guess as I think about her--it might be fair to say she wrestled with God's timing and her timing.

 What is the most important thing in the world to you?  What would happen if suddenly that most precious thing was gone? 

I've been leading a Bible Study on Abraham and Isaac--Genesis 22.  I've come to think about being obedient to God as something all together different than being dependent on God.  Abraham was obedient--yes.  But, the story speaks more boldly to me when I consider his dependence on God. 

Does God test us?  Does God test you?  That Old Testament story and culture sustained that viewpoint of God.  What's yours?