Posted in Different Thoughts

of bricks and curtain

Calm before storm, softly lit trees in dim living rooms
Like tombs of years gone before but passed, too fast to grab hold,
Scraping off the mold, like flakes of gold left behind by memories stored longterm
Knocking back the worm you’ve finished the glass waiting to be poured,
Ignored by others, your sisters and brothers but left behind for you to wait, to contemplate,
To exist in a state of mind promising not to bind you to what was, and less thrilled by what is
But this – moment that points to what will be. As still framed artwork from empty hotel tells you
This is the same in every room, every womb that carries expectant moments of hope
For those facing end of rope, for those with unpaid bills, unclimbed hills, or scars from falling down
Look around and find you’re not alone, not abandoned to roam as sea foam washed up on
Empty beaches, previously filled, children laughing at will, sun spilling through the shade of clouds
Too weak to intervene – and somewhere in this scene, you recognize the obscene thing
Is not to have hope, to try to cope, nor is it offensive to be burdened or feel uncertain,
behind the curtain, to to be hurting or elated, you are not fated to endure these moments solo,
To know there are plenty just outside, waiting for curtains thrown wide in invitation
Just waiting for relation’s sails to unfold, ship catching old winds
and launching into waters, departed to places uncharted but together, weathering whatever.
If only all would sever the binds toward such endeavors, instead of cleverly arranging
mortar and brick, in order to trick others into staying just outside their reach, impeaching friendship as a sail not worthy of raising, tasing those who try with shock waves of pride and cold shoulders, boulders way too heavy to entertain, strained to points of breaking simply by taking the chance on the uncertain, and trying to know the you behind the curtain.
So rise up from your position, wishing to be known but sitting on a throne surrounded by carefully crafted kingdom of silence and control, take a stroll through the eyes of someone who wants to know The ways you grow, so show the extro-version, the side you’ve tried to hide,
slide back the door, or at least trade brick for fabric,
A trick which allows you privacy but still parts the way
When seasons sway you toward a day where all seems lost, and cost seems too high
Hope embossed on invitations sent to everyone but you, to do that thing that seems with ease,
Locking your knees, pretending all is fine on center stage,
but with age those dog-eared pages of behavior lose their truth
The proof discovered on the shoulders of others you’ve allowed behind the curtain
I knowing thou, world seeing just how there might be hope for them as well
As swells of hope the waves crashing on shores around, surrounding and flooding
Where you live, the best gifts to give come unwrapped and ready, a steady flow
Of willingness to know and be known, your light shone and self shown
Pulling back covers, recognizing sisters and brothers where previously called “others”,
Remember that knowing a name is not the same as knowing person,
Clicking like is not making a connection, on deeper inspection we find souls thirsty
To interact, to shed the laugh tracks of hundreds to hear one genuine response,
And you – can be a first responder, the first to ponder,
On the scene, showing just what it means to be less obscene in our culture of obscenity,
To not accept the serenity of status quo, simply adding to the flow of what it means to know.
Pull back the curtain, but first your own, letting it be known, we are all wizards on tender thrones
Groaning beneath the weight of creating an image we know can easily shatter
So do something that matters, unfolding sails meant for winds of change,
No matter how strange it may seem, engines filled with steam gleam with polished potential
Powers elemental to our being, much more freeing than scrolling down with feigned elation,
Soften your heart, and set sail your ship to true relation.

Posted in Uncategorized

another confession.

There’s something I need to confess.  Both personally, and professionally.  It’s happened more than once.  I’m not proud of it.  In fact, one of the reasons I’m putting it into words is to remind myself and others that it’s happened.  It may be happening even now.  I’ll give you a quick story to illustrate:

Once a week, the pastors & staff of our church gather to pray for the needs of our church.  These are “requests” submitted on the “Friendship Folders” found in every pew of our sanctuary.  On Sunday morning, our members do much more than simply let us know they’re sitting in the pew that morning.  Many of them take a moment to ask for specific prayers, and we respond by reading those, and praying.  It’s a really neat thing to be a part of, and I’m usually in awe of the faithfulness of some prayers, and the candid “specificness” of others.  This is usually the longest portion of our Wednesday staff meetings.

After this, we go through an “absentee” report.  This report looks at the attendence records of all our regular attenders, and compiles a list of anyone who has missed 3 times in a row.  That’s usually a sign that something might be happening, and we want to make sure we’re making contact with those we’ve not seen in a while.  Not because “you gotta get in church!!!”  But because we’re a family…and if someone in your family doesn’t show up for a meal-time on a regular basis, love compels you start to ask questions.

thumbsupThat’s when it usually happens.  We’re all reading through the list of names together, and someone asks about a name aloud.  “Does anyone know how ______ is doing?”  More than once, I’ve responded in that moment.  Not out of relationship.  Not out of conversation that you and I had, during which you told me about something going on in your life.  From where, then?  Usually, something I saw posted on social media.  It’s made me realize a truth I need to confess, not only to the attenders of our church, but my own friends and family:

I make claims to “How you are doing” based on information I picked up second-hand.

This is probably not all that big of a deal.  Many of us actually post things online, so that people we’re connected to will know what’s happening in our lives.  It’s kinda the point.  The danger comes, when experiencing “relationship” by way of “information” becomes the default way we begin to relate to those we care about.  Far too many people in our lives want to be truly “known”, and not simply “known about”.  From the most important relationship I have with any human being, my wife…all the way out to someone on the edges of my relationships: we want to be known.  (see Martin Buber’s “I and Thou” to realize this is not a new need)

It’s something many of us realized about God at some point.  To know about Him is not the same thing as knowing Him.  Yet here we are, many of us settling for that same level of relationship with those we care about.  It’s understandable that it happens, really.  With the amount of data that streams into our lives on a daily basis, we are sometimes doing well to even notice the relevant information on those we care about.

Now, I’m not about to “give up” the ability I have to “know about” what’s happening in the lives of so many people….by dumping social media altogether.  But I do think it’s important to remember: information is not relation.

So that’s my challenge for myself:  To have more one-on-one conversations.  To call someone on the phone, and ask how they’re doing.  To look at my spouse across the table, letting go of the “information” I have about what’s happening in her life and genuinely ask as if I don’t know how to answer, “How are you today?”  To let go of the pictures I may have seen of my children posted/sent during the day, and curiously ask them with a smile on my face, “How was your day today??”

What does the challenge look like for you??

Posted in Uncategorized

say the (specific) words.

“The word ‘Love’, well it was once overused.  Back in the 70’s the word was abused. But I refuse to let love be diluted.  We can’t allow physical lust to intrude it.  Or pollute it cause their ain’t no excuse for the greatest gift of all to be abused.  So choose to lost the pride that may tug at you, don’t be afraid of the words ‘I love you’.”
– “Say the Words” by DC TALK

And so my teenage philosophy of being okay with the words “I love you” was formed.  Unfortunately, as with many young boys, I found it particularly effective in getting the attention of the opposite gender.  So many young people are afraid of “committing” to such a phrase, that for me to use it was effective in the few girls I was able to get the attention of growing up.  Until I met a woman who finally began to not be content with my version of love, but to teach me more about it.

As my wife and I dated, we’d have those sappy moments that young couples have.   We’d look deep into each others’ eyes over an well plated and overpriced en-tree (more realistically, over a plate of Strawberry Shortcake at Steak & Shake). Sometimes I wouldn’t know what to say that communicated my emotions well.  So I’d often opt for the old reliable…”I love you.”

This worked like magic the first few times, sure.  But then she did it.  She thwarted my plan for lifelong relational bliss forever.  She poked holes in my kite, and offered me a sailboat instead.  She did it all with a simple one-word question:


She wasn’t asking a self-deprecating question about how I could possibly have feelings for her.   She knew I loved her.  She knew I cared for her.  But she wanted our relationship to plunge beneath the surface of Hallmark cards and Disney movies.  What was it about her that, in that moment particularly, compelled me to voice my emotions?

Fast forward 14 years, to me wanting to love and bless my children, and  I’m so grateful for a wife who took the time and difficult conversations to teach me about love.   To teach me how to be a better father.  As I held my daughter this past Sunday afternoon, I began simply by hugging her close and saying, “I love you, Ruby.”  But the question of “Why?” was still echoing through the halls of my heart.  So I began a list… “I love when you hug me.  I love when you share your smiles.  I love when you pray for Phoebe.  I love when you do silly dances.  I love how big your heart is.  I love when you do somersaults.  I love to hear you make up songs……”

I wasn’t even done listing why I loved her, when my 4 year old began to snore on my chest.  She was still lightly rubbing my face with her hand.  I pulled the blanket over her shoulders, and took a deep satisfied breath.  This parenting thing is pretty spectacular.

Maybe it’s your spouse.  Maybe it’s your child.  Whoever it might be, there’s a big chance that someone you love could realllllly use a reminder of “Why” you love them.  Not because they question it, but because they long for a Love that dives deep into meaningful emotions in a world that confuses the definition of love on a regular basis.   Who will you love today?