Wednesday, January 26, 2011

tomorrow

One of the things that I most appreciate about life is that it is different every day. Don’t misunderstand… some days just suck. The promising thing though is that there is always another that might suck less. It also could be magnificent, beyond anything you could have imagined. It could happen. This day is hardly the latter, but it could pass for one that sucks less. In the life of a pastoral artist, you look for inspiration and promise wherever you can find it. I’ll let you in on a few trade secrets. Some days in the life of one attempting to be a follower of Jesus, it’s not all Joel Osteen. My own personal opinion…with a smile like that, either he’s not really a pastoral type or he has Rembrandt for a tattoo artist.
Here’s some insight into reality. Some days it’s hard to find Jesus. Some days the last people I want to be around are other people who claim to follow Jesus. Some days the sermons are just terrible. It’s not a reflection on the message…strictly the messenger here. Some days babies die and grumpy old people live. Some days people who have never stepped foot into a community o’ faith and think that God’s last name is Damn take great pride in schooling me on how a “Christian should act”. Whatever…. many days it’s all I can do to figure out how humans should act. I’m expected to always have the answer and to never be annoyed at those who don’t. It’s assumed that I’m a walking infomercial for all things faith related. It’s more likely that I’m an episode of “Renovation Realities”.
Don’t take this as complaining. I love my life. I wouldn’t trade what I do for any real job that you could think of. This is more a reflection on reality when you are trying to follow Jesus lead day in and day out. It’s the same for all of us, paid or not. Just look at his life. On Sunday he’s riding into town like a Superbowl hero and on Friday he’s hanging on a cross. Why would I think that my life would be any different.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

moments

Did you ever have one of those moments that forced you to question the real value of all of your efforts? What I’m talking about is a moment that draws deep into your motives and methods and causes you to ask the underlying, “why do I (we) do all of this anyway”? It is a profound “What’s the point of this exercise” reality check that helps one look deep into Alice’s mirror and wrestle with what is real and what is not, what matters and what doesn’t.
Let me just say this; if you haven’t then you need to, everyone does. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the ones that we need to have do not happen with our choosing. They are thrust upon us unexpectedly. They are often induced by tragedy, either our own or others who might be close to us. For me, in my position as pastoral artist of a vibrant community o’ faith, it often comes as I witness it in the lives of the people I serve beside.
My problem is that I am a planner. I live in the future and I’m always planning on how we’ll all get there. I plot courses. I develop teaching. I seek new hills to climb and oceans to cross and I wonder relentlessly how to encourage people to join the journey. I am the one running ahead and then stopping on top to yell back, “come on, you can do this”. Most of this happens in my mind, somewhere in the future, and with the illusion that it matters and that people have nothing better to do that humor me and to run towards the sound of my voice. I am terrible at living in the moment, within the realm of everyone’s everyday existence. Ironically I think that this enables me to be halfway decent at what I do. But on the other hand, while I’m running along ahead like a five year old in a field of dandelions, those who I envision following me are living real moment by moment lives.
And here in lies the problem. These people…. In fact people in general… have to live in their moments. And in their moments, babies don’t make it to term, jobs are lost, relationships fail, and spouses die without warning. In short, what they thought was their future turns out not to be so and they are faced with the deep black abyss of uncertainty. And I’m left realizing that I’ve probably missed the point one more time. It seems almost heartless to be chattering on like a preschooler about the exciting things we’ll get to do in the months to come when some don’t even know how they’ll get through this day. It seems pretty pointless to be the one dancing on the top of the hill yelling down excitedly about the view to people who are too wounded to climb it or care about it in the first place. What they need is for someone to walk alongside, propping them up when necessary, and telling them that they’ll make it and its worth it and they’ll not let go till they get there.
Tell me whether or not you think this is true. All of us, to one degree or another, are in the place that I’m in. We have our lives planned out…or at least how we perceive them to be. They generally don’t turn out that way. We can dream about what it looks like on the top of the hill, but all we are guaranteed are the moment by moment climb up the side of it. Live in your moment, and live with others in theirs…and don’t be in too much of a hurry to imagine what it looks like from the top.

Friday, January 14, 2011

selfish

Holy crap I am out of sorts this morning….how’s that for a way to start a reflection for the day? One thing that speaks for itself is that it is Friday and I am just getting to sit down and write. I’ve made attempts the past 3 days to keep myself in a balanced equilibrium and to maintain the holy grail of my schedule, but here we are. This week, as school has begun along with some critical points of life in my community o’ faith, I have felt like the voice track in a Godzilla movie. I always seem to be one phrase off of real time. Just in case you were wondering, it doesn’t work well for a driven, perfectionist type of individual like myself.
Just as I thought that perhaps all was lost for this week, I opened my class site and God delivered once again in the form of conviction…not that I needed any more conviction, really. It’s just the way He chose to deliver it. In the opening of my section of journaling, a quote jumped out at me from Parker Palmer’s work Let Your Life Speak. In it he writes “Self-care is never a selfish act-it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.” I’m doing ok with the selfish part, but self care has been lacking.
So I’ve never really considered my life as a gift, however it seems to be true that it is the only thing that I have to offer others. I happen to believe that we are on this earth for two things, and only two things. It is to offer ourselves in relationship to our creator and to offer ourselves in relationship to His creation. In that light, it’s only when my own self is fully functional, that I have something to offer either area. It encompasses a great deal of area, spiritual, relational, emotional, intellectual, professional and all. Yes George Bailey, yours really can be a wonderful life.
I don’t know about you, but for me damaged goods can be a bit annoying. I don’t mean used, or previously used, or gently worn, or whatever the correct terminology might be appropriate. I mean the “broken with no attempt at putting back together before being delivered to me” stuff. This applies to stuff and to relationships. Each of us has the responsibility to make an attempt at “fixing our stuff” before trying to pass it off on others. Gone through a bunch of relationships? Quite possibly you are the common denominator. Filtered through a number of “career changes”? It might be you. It might not be, however we owe it to the next relationship, employer, spouse, whatever, to at least stop long enough to look in the mirror.
When I look in the mirror, I don’t always like what I see, and it’s not just because there seems to be more gray than there was. So allow me to seem a bit selfish while I take on a little more self care. Trust me, in the long run it’ll probably be the least selfish thing that I can do.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

refills

It’s dark down here this morning although there is also an unusually large number of people for a Wednesday morning. It’s generally an older crowd which now, unfortunately, I’ll have to admit to belonging to. Some days it still seems as if we’d just moved here, which would mean I was still in my 30’s. Other days, like this day, it seems as if that were a whole lifetime ago. Pink Floyd is in my headphones and I’m realizing that it’s now considered an “oldie”. Whatever….. It’s a new year and another year in which I can still live and work circles around my former age group.
Joanne and I celebrated the entrance of a new year by treating ourselves to a trip to Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island. It was actually our traditional Christmas gift of an experience that we began last year during our Advent Conspiracy campaign within our community o’ faith. Instead of shooting the moon with relatively short lived gifts, we treat ourselves to a memory building experience and then give the rest towards a new well being drilled for a village somewhere in the world without clean water. This year the well is in Honduras and our experience was in Victoria. It’s a beautiful city located on a beautiful harbor on the Island. It still has plenty of British influence, left over from days gone by, and was a very helpful lift over the hump of a new year.
While I was there I had an experience that I rarely have anymore.