Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 27 "30 years in 30 days"

I'm going to post this today because I'm pretty sure that I won't have any time to get it in by the 31st of this month.  The 31st is the day after our "30 years in 30 days" celebration.  If you've joined this show late, then you should know that the 30 years is the number of years that we've been married and the 30 days represents 30 different pictorial visions of moments in time along our journey.  On the 31st day we have chosen to renew our vows before God and friends and then throw a party to honor it.  This was all my wife's idea... the "30 days" not the vow renewal/party thing.  It's shaping up to be quite the event, which is fitting because so was the wedding.  Anyway, I'm sitting down this afternoon to imagine what might be contained in my half of the vows and thinking back, not only over 30 years of married life but a total of 47 years of knowing the most incredible person that I've ever encountered.
We have had an incredibly blessed, adventurous and eventful story.  If I could attribute the magic of it to anything specific I would have to pick the passion that she puts into everything that she does.  The key to understanding how my wife views her time on this earth is to experience the moment at a restaurant when one of our servers approaches the table and asks the fateful question "What can I get you?".  Her response is simple yet offers a profound glimpse into her view of life.  Very simply she says "I have a question".  Any who have been with us have experienced it and look forward to it.   A very simple question, but so very key to understanding her.  It means that, regardless of the descriptions on the menus and no matter how detailed the offerings, she is looking for something unique.  She doesn't settle and it reflects her thoughts that all of life is a chance to substitute.  A custom order is only a question away, yet its a question that most never ask. It used to drive me absolutely crazy.  I saw it as a version of high maintenance.  I tend to be a rule follower, black and white, what it says is how it is.  Over the years though I've seen some interesting, admirable, and actually life giving correlations between her ordering habits and her view of life.
First of all, I've discovered that its not high maintenance because if the answer is "no" or "we can't do that" she will settle for the menu.  However, all things equal, she doesn't want to settle, in ordering and in life.  I've seen that the overwhelming majority of the time, not only does she get it "her way" she often draws the servers into her delusional world of how it could in fact be better and, time after time, a bond is formed.  I've also seen her live a life in pursuit of Jesus that doesn't settle.  She prayers passionately and specifically and time after time I am thinking that one doesn't pray that way...it's not ok, and its a bit presumptuous. And then time after time I see her prayers answered in so much detail, just the way she has offered them ... so I have since determined to be more like her. "Come boldly before the throne" takes on a new and very real meaning and I believe that God anticipates and enjoys her "I have a question" interactions with him.  Her prayers fuel our journeys and weave through our stories.
I see a good many couples making it to milestones in their married lives and so many look like they are only halfway through a grueling marathon.  I feel like we are fresh and ready to start a new one ... fueled by questions that keep us from settling.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What's it gonna take?

Far be it from me to want to jump onto the bandwagon of internet remembrances of Robin Williams, his life, death, and legacy.  Let me just say upfront that I was a huge admirer of everything that comprised the life of this very talented and gifted artist.. the good and the bad, the honesty and the energy,the humor and the intensely serious.  I grew up with him... not literally, but figuratively from "Mork and Mindy" until yesterday.  Not wanting to be overly dramatic, I'll risk sharing that the news of his passing, particularly the way of his passing, seems to have burrowed deeply into my soul since yesterday.  It's an odd thing really.  It's not about any sort of connection or relationship that we had.  I've not shed tears of personal loss.  I don't personally identify, at least not that I'm aware of, with the level of depression that was obviously tormenting him.  I've wanted to walk away from a good many things in my life, but never life itself.  Something burrowed into my heart late yesterday and it's not gone away.  It's just a question .... loud, clear, taunting, haunting, and relentlessly questioning ... "What's it gonna take?"
As I've wrestled with the dynamics and implications of this, I've realized that the heart of the question is whats been lingering beneath the heart of my pastoral self.  It's multifaceted, it's annoying, and I'm not really sure that it has any particular resolution.  In fact it might be dangerously and tragically rhetorical. "What's it gonna take?"  Being in the pastoral arts profession, most of my wrestling comes from a community of faith, followers of Jesus,sort of place.  So I'll ask you who claim the faith that I claim, "What's it going to take?"

  • before we wake up to the destructive realities of depression and get us to quit treating it like there is a "pull yourself up by your own boot straps, fake it till you make it" solution and to act like a transparent community of broken and struggling wanderers on a common journey.
  • to convince us of the insidious nature of Satan and his propensity for separating and isolating.
  • to pull the ear buds out of our ears, pull our heads up from our "not so" smart phones, stop listening to Siri and start listening to each other ... and I'm referring to we, the "church/Jesus" people.
  • for us to take down the invisible, yet very apparent, "you must fit in" signs that hang from too many of our worship centers
  • to convince us that many of the broken people that we are called to love might very well not be homeless at all...they might in fact be "living the life I've always dreamed of".
  • to accept that Facebook and Twitter friends do not equal relational "how are you doing really?" types of relationships
  • for us to understand that "celebrity", even within the Christian context, is not the end of all want and need and the reward for a life well lived.
If this latest loss to our culture has done anything for me it has hammered home how much more we stand to lose while we, the people of Jesus, stand on the side and sheepishly withold  what we ourselves have already been offered ... love, caring, community, hope, redemption, healing, relationship, wholeness, salvation ... need I go on?