Friday, October 10, 2014


It is the cool smell of Fall on the breeze this late summer afternoon, such a scent on such a day fills to overflowing the well of my soul, nearly pushing tears up over the edges.  Why?  Why is it a smell can reach somehow so deeply into me?  

Are we all meant to bloom in some certain season?  If so, I believe my blooming season to be Fall.  It has always struck me as the most beautiful of the seasons.  Gone is the joyful chaos of Spring and Summer’s oppressive heat.  Fall is thoughtful and sober, though not somber, as it prepares for Winter’s arrival.  Fall is a time to savor the beauty that does not stay the same, the beauty that changes when it returns the next time aroundFall is a time to acknowledge mortality with eyes wide open to all the beauty carried on its breath.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


A flower's beauty lasts but a moment, just long enough to convince passing birds or insects to collect and spread its pollen.  There is purpose in beauty and beauty in purpose, but the flower itself is unaware of both.  It does what it was made to do, what it was intentionally and purposefully designed to do.

Will anyone notice its beauty?  Will the pollen it shares be put to good use?  Will it do what it is supposed to do before it fades and withers? These are questions it does not ask.  It does not wonder why it exists or what it should do.  No, it wonders at the morning dew that quenches its thirst, at the warm sun towards which it opens and reaches, and at the rich dark soil on which it feeds.

The flower lives in wonder at all the ways in which the Creator gives it life, and it is but one such creature thus sustained.  Perhaps I will find more purpose in this life by wondering that I exist rather than wondering why I exist.  Life is proof of purpose, mysterious though that purpose may be.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Healing in Ferguson

A suburb of St Louis is in turmoil over the shooting of a young African American man by a White police officer.  There has been protesting and strong police response.  People are angry and afraid.  The young man's family is angry at what seems to be the senseless death of a much-loved son.  The officer, his family, and the police department, along with the community at large, are afraid of what may happen next.  

There are so many questions in this story.  What if a young man with a solid past and a promising future took things a little too far and stole some cigars?  What if he and a friend are later stopped by a police officer for something unrelated, like walking down the middle of a street?  What if this normally well-behaved young man gets scared?  He has heard stories of police brutality and abuse of power, and he doesn't want his promising future to go down the drain over a few cigars.  What if the police officer, also with a solid past and a promising future, comes upon two young men walking down the middle of the street?  What if he has never had to draw his weapon in the line of duty and has no reason to believe he will need it, but he has heard stories of routine traffic stops turning into shootouts?  What if he, like every officer, is just a little scared, a little keyed-up as he approaches the two young men?  What if they are nervous because they think they are being stopped for the robbery?  What if the officer notices their nervousness and it ratchets up his nerves?  What if everyone is pulled taut before the interaction even begins?  What if something happens in that moment that causes everyone to react on reflex?  What if no one has time to think through consequences?  What if that flinch, that sound, that look causes a moment of panic?  What if that moment forever irrevocably alters the futures of two families?

There is no second chance this time, there is only the way forward.  The way forward, the way of healing, I believe, is first between two men, two families.  True healing must begin in a room with a grieving father and a broken-hearted police officer.  Two families must find the strength to lay anger, fear, confusion, frustration, sorrow, guilt, bitterness, and truth on the table and mourn together the unspeakable tragedy of those few moments that changed everything for all of them.  

True healing will never take place behind walls of lawyers and spokespeople.  Those of us on the outside looking in can argue until the end of time about things like whether young Mr Brown was a thug or Officer Wilson was a racist, but that is all it will ever be, an argument without end.

The unavoidable truth in this tragedy is neither the Brown family nor the Wilson family will heal completely without the other.  They are now bonded forever.  The Browns need Officer Wilson's broken heart and Officer Wilson needs forgiveness from the Browns.  Try to imagine how much such healing between two broken families could change this story from one of conflict to one of reconciliation for a community, a city, maybe even a nation.  

May God grant these two hurting families the strength, resolve, and courage to do what seems impossible and may they find peace in the midst of this storm.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


There are times when I find myself impatient with a task, wanting to rush, frustrated with the time-consuming details.  It is not that I lack the time to do the task, so why do I get impatient?  Why do I want to cut corners when time is not at issue?  Would it not be better to slow down and enjoy the process of doing a task well without the oppressive burden of time?  It is good to learn to engage fully in each moment’s task without worry for whatever comes next.  

Being home is a good place to practice patience, especially when your work seems futile.  House work is repetitive without end.  The same tasks must be done regularly if the house is to be kept in order.  Why should a house be kept in proper order?  Why should any work be done by anyone?  We were made to be productive in some way.  We want to work, but we want our work to matter.  We want to be recognized as useful, competent.  When our work doesn’t seem useful or no one seems to notice, then we become restless and unmotivated.  Why are we, or perhaps it is only me, not satisfied to do a job well when there is no one to see it?  It is not enough to believe I have done a job well.  For some reason I need a second opinion, or a third, or more that affirms me for what I do.  How fickle and fragile is the human ego?  

The trick is getting to the place where we do what we do with all we have and without excuse, apology, or fear.  To learn from success and failure alike, but not to dwell much on either is good practice and will lead to satisfaction more often than merely seeking approval from others.  We should not be ashamed when we get it wrong nor arrogant when we get it right, but rather humble in either and willing to earn.  

We are all looking for God’s message to us.  Be honest, be humble, and do not give up the struggle for truth.  I search for truth because I know where I find it I find God.  Truth is not hidden in far-off places.  No, it is woven into the very fabric of the universe, and it can be found wherever we look.  We were made to notice, and what we notice has been imprinted with truth by God’s own hand.  So, what is God saying to us?

Friday, July 25, 2014


So often I find myself caught in the endless routines of daily life wondering about the point of it all.  Routines are part of keeping our bodies alive, but I am realizing they can also become distractions from the real business of living.  More and more I see it is the interruptions, the breaks into my routines, that stir up and quicken my soul.  

I don’t want to be interrupted.  

I want life to be easy.  I want to be left alone to do my thing, whatever that may be.  I don’t want to make room for anyone else in my world, and yet it is precisely in the making room I begin to live life to its fullest.  

The irony is heavy, and Biblical.  You must give up your life to save it.  You must give away your life to enjoy it. Holding too tightly to your life is losing it.  A caged bird is only half alive, it was made to fly free.  We were made to share our beauty, to give, not to take all we are able to get.  Daily routine is the silence between the notes of life, the music plays in the interruptions.

Friday, July 4, 2014


A girl with sad eyes walked around the store today while I was there.  She looked lost in every way.  Beauty is sad in this life because she knows she cannot last.  We want beauty to stay the same but she doesn’t.  She moves, she changes, she runs and fades and hides so we must always look for her.  

That sad-eyed girl was beautiful and sad because beauty isn’t all.  Beauty doesn’t stop the pain, it only promises something better beyond the pain.  True beauty is God’s hint to us of what will be when all is set right again.  When we mistake beauty for the truth toward which she points, we exploit her, thinking we can take from her something she is unable to give, something she was never meant to give.  

Beauty is a messenger and we are most moved when we listen for the message rather than try to capture and hold captive the messenger.  When we ask of something beautiful, “What are you trying to say?” we move closer to God, whose messenger it is.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014


In the United States, and increasingly in the rest of the world, we tend to turn everything we like into commodities.  I wonder what we lose when we no longer have to give something of ourselves to do for others and we have little opportunity to express gratitude to those who make what we use.

Take food as an example.  I have had the privilege of enjoying multiple meals with friends over the years.  It is a gift to enjoy food prepared by the able hands of someone who actually knows you and spends hours getting a meal ready.  How different it is to go to a commercial establishment where you never see who prepares your food.  This separation makes it all but impossible for the preparer to include anything of himself, any love in the preparation.  It also makes it easier for the consumer to withhold true gratitude or even common courtesy if things are not to his liking.  It is about the food rather than the gifts of service and gratitude.

When we become consumers we lose any sense of gratitude.  This happens in so many areas of life.  It is a cancer eating away at our world and rendering us increasingly selfish and unloving toward each other.  It is at the very core of our addictions to food, sex, and “love” today.

We have turned the gift of love expressed physically into a commodity and have made it about desire rather than giving.  We have flipped it backwards, thus trivializing it.  Food and sex both appeal to our senses, which tell us we need more of whatever feels good, but when we focus on taking rather than giving we bury our very souls beneath a mountain of greed, lust, and gluttony.

How do we recapture and reassert a sense of gratitude and sacrifice in a culture saturated with consumerism and selfishness?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


We have to use general labels to describe ourselves and each other because that is the best we can do.  The problem so often is we limit ourselves and others to those labels.  When I now tell people I am a stay-at-home dad, they filter that label through their experiences and information.  A stay-at-home dad could conjure very different pictures for people depending on their life experiences and information.  

When not used precisely, words are of very little use in getting to know someone.  Words can help us understand each other, but they can also separate us when we do not use them carefully.  

Labels can be a huge source of misunderstanding when we do not ask clarifying questions.  A label is a beginning, a conversation starter, not a definitive statement about who someone is.  Our labels just help us determine the right questions to ask if we want to know and be known.  We use labels because they help us describe what we are like, but they are not specific enough to tell us who we really are.  

God alone knows our true names, our unique identities rather than the collection of labels we wear throughout our lives.  All those labels change, but what part of us endures through all the labels?  That part dances just beyond the reach of our intellect because it gets lost in the inevitable inaccuracy of human description.  That is who we really are.  It is the soul and it yearns to be called by name.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Words, words, words, they come in, they go out.  They move, they flow, but what do they carry?  What do they know?  Words are everywhere, inside, outside, in quiet and in chaos.  You cannot hide from them and you cannot run. They are always there, lurking or advertising, whispering or shouting.  This world is made of all sorts of things, but mostly it is made of words, words we know and words we don’t.