Tuesday, September 20, 2011


It seems as if the more I feel the need to write, the more I struggle with any sort of coherent flow of thought to put down. Sometimes it seems as if I am just chasing a cursor across a screen trying to catch a fleeting bit of insight or meaning and it never seems that I can catch it. I’ve even put down the Ipad this morning and returned to the old standby to see if that has any effect. I’m trying to build in a few moments of space to enjoy the beach, enjoy the caffeine, and to allow my mind to wander free on a fabulous Fall day in Seattle. It still seems hemmed in though.
My mind drifts to my 2 week old grandson Aiden as, at this very moment, he is enduring the first major trauma of his life on this earth. To protect his privacy, I won’t say any more than that this is one procedure that the male species best participates in as a baby…and the younger the better. On a grander scale of the traumas that he’ll most likely face along his journey, this one is relatively minor, but at the moment, I’m guessing that he’s not seeing life that way. Someday he’ll be able to appreciate what is being done on his behalf today, but not on this day. On this day, he just knows pain and discomfort.
Trauma is like that I guess. It can be a very subjective occurrence. It is all about context and experience. A great deal affects what some people see as trauma and others see as a growing experience. Some people use it, others wallow in it, and others still struggle back and forth between growing and wallowing. In my realm of influence, as a pastoral artist, I deal with the whole spectrum of people, their traumas, and also their responses to them. The paradox is that, while I am helping them to put theirs into perspective, chances are that I might be going through one or two of my own. People have asked me about pastoral loneliness…That’s where the pastoral thing can get a bit lonely.
I’m sure that, right at this moment, it would be difficult to explain to Aiden why this is happening to one of his most precious parts. He is not going to care, even if the doctor gave him a complete scholarly dissertation on the procedure. The hardest thing to explain to people of faith, in the midst of their trauma, is that they are not immune to it. Somewhere back in time, things got lost in translation as far as faith goes. Someone began the rumor that faith trumps trauma and if you have it, you won’t have to experience it. That is a lie from the pit of hell. The authority that we have on this issue is the “Book of Books” and it is one case study after another of good people going through bad things. The key to each is not what happens to them, but rather what they did with the experience. So it is with us. I see so many who are stronger from perfectly horrendous circumstances. I see others who are victims of relatively minor discomforts.
In the end, Aiden will neither remember this nor list this on his list of life’s 10 biggest challenges. Right now, it doesn’t matter. But he does have one saving grace. When it’s over he gets to rest in the arms of a loving parent. I know him well enough to know that this is all that he’ll need to get through this time. It’s really all any of us need.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

forward and back

So today is my birthday… and to celebrate, I’ve wandered down to the beach to grab some coffee, a cheese Danish, and some time with my laptop to ease into everything else that I need to be about today. As far as days go, let me just say that this one is spectacular. There is not a cloud in the sky as the sun shines over the waters toward the mountains. It is one of those days, as Fall approaches, that begins with just a touch of a biting breeze but promises 80 degrees by mid afternoon. I guess that I couldn’t have scripted a better one, regardless of the occasion. This day isn’t about presents for me. My best present arrived yesterday afternoon with the safe delivery of an 8’ 3oz grandson. This day isn’t cake or ice cream or cards or balloons. Although I’m not opposed to celebrating at a happy hour with my gorgeous wife.
Birthday’s, in the past several years, have been like the center point on a teeter totter for me. On one side I get to stop just briefly and remember all that God has allowed me to experience this past year. On the other side, I want to imagine where He might take me in this next. I get to set down and own a dream or two as I reflect on those that came true since last time.
I have to admit that this last one will be hard to beat. In the past year I’ve been able to fall deeper in love with the one who really does complete me. We’ve been part of two journey’s to bring clean water to villages in Guatemala and Honduras. We spent two full weeks on our own wandering vacation/exploration up the West coast. We’ve spent this past year watching our granddaughter become more enjoyable every day, and yesterday experienced the joy of the birth of a new 8 lb adventure named Aiden. I’ve been honored to fall more deeply in love with the community we live in and the community we worship and serve with. I’ve begun a new sideline business/hobby to help other churches and pastors fall more deeply in love with their mission.
So what could I possibly have to look forward to moving forward on the teeter totter from here? Well… I guess in all things I’d just like to be more of everything I’ve been able to be. I’d like to be more of a husband, more of a dad, more of a grandpa, more of a friend, a son, a brother, a pastor. I’m not sure what it all looks like, but I guess I’ll see along the way. I’ve done just about everything that I’ve wanted to do with the life I’ve been granted so all that is left is to do it better.
Practically speaking… there are 3 things that I’d like to accomplish in the next year. Number one is that I’m going to finally get a tattoo… actually both my wife and I are…the only obstacle has been and continues to be the question of “what” to get. Number two is our next well drilling trip to Central America and along with it the ability to reasonably converse in Spanish. Number three is that I’d like to begin finally writing a book that someone will publish before my 50th birthday, so I’m on a two year plan. So another year starts right here and right now … see you on the other side of it.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


It's a bit early, even for me, to be down here at the beach. Morning came easy for me today, which is just as well since I have 2 days worth to get done in less than one again. The fog, or "marine layer" as we prefer to call it, is still fairly heavy over the water. The buses have just begun assembling to shuttle their cast of characters downtown. The question looms, "what does this day hold?", for all of us. It's still too early to tell.
Things look promising though. There is an orange glow in the haze where the city usually sits. I imagine a sunrise covered in the shroud, optimistically letting us know that the probability is good for another clear day. It's that time of year, late summer, when things look promising, but the verdict is still out. A new school year approaches...new teachers, new subjects, new friends...so much promise of what might be. It's still early though. One never knows, there could be things so much greater than anticipated...joy and challenge...laughter and tears. I'll take laughter for 500 Alex.
It seems like I'm in that phase everywhere I turn. I'm approaching another year older and deeper in debt. Really it's just another year older...my wife keeps us out of debt. I'm about to become g-pa for the second time. It seems like just last year that my little girl was married. Oh wait, it was just last year. In my life as pastoral artist things are gearing up for Fall. It's like the calm before the storm. Many new faces making new commitments. It has all the signs of being the best season yet as a community of faith, but I've been around long enough to know that it's still too early to know how much early promise will turn into actual practice.
The fishermen are out now and drifting across the bay. They don't question. The marine layer is just fine for them. The bus schedules are not a priority. For them it's never too early to tell. After all, everyone knows that a bad day fishing is still better than a good day at the office.