Category Archives: Made to Move

Out of the Ordinary

I awaken into the new day.

Already my mind is considering all
that has been. Is contending with
all I might do or be needed to do.

Do I pause ... to ponder 
The ordered way land, sea and sky meet, as the
the sun peers through the trees
the clouds form and fold
the light sparkles on the lake
soft ripples hint of a soft breeze.

That my lungs fill with fresh air
perfectly composed to supply
blood, uniquely equipped to carry
cells, satisfied and content.

That my legs lift and support me,
step one foot to the other 
with balance on sturdy ground
that promises to carry me into the day.

Do I consider this ... the ordinary?
that the day will take shape
as it does and always has.
that intake of air 
will refresh again and again.
that gravity will have its way
as it has this day and every day.

This ordinary.
This gift.
This miracle.

Not guaranteed
Not promised
Not deserved

And yet, why?
why do I overlook it?
why do I suppose it?
why do I rush past it?
Why do I forget to give thanks?

In the anxious of always,
we've been given the ordinary
to make life out of.

Gun Violence: I’ve reached my breaking point

You can tell a lot about a culture by how it treats its children.

I don’t remember who first said that to me, but when I heard it I knew at once it was true. The children among us … Do we support them? Do we include them? Do we honor them? Do we fund their endeavors? Do we prioritize our work with them? Do we care for them and hold them close? Do we respect them, whether they are part of our family, of another family or of no family?

This question was foremost in my mind several years ago when I read an awful account of the inhumanity waged against a child in the name of religious warfare. Unconscionable, I thought, How can one who bears the image of God act in such a way toward another who also bears the image of God?

I could only conclude that the one didn’t recognize this image in himself and thus didn’t recognize it in the other. If he did, I supposed, he could never behave so.

And that, naively, was the initial impetus for my book whose working title was taken from this blog, the Kinesthetic Christian, and which was ultimately titled Made to Move: Knowing and Love God Through Our Bodies. If people knew what a miraculous masterpiece they were and all of humankind was, how could we hate? How could we kill? How could we do other than honor all those we met?

Yet, here we are. Killing the other who is different, who is defenseless, who is innocent. Each one, created as a masterpiece and gifted with a life over which to discover and display it, denied it. God help us.

And God has. Through Jesus, God issued instructions, to seek to “Love God with heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourself.” Our lives are our practical exam. Our place to chisel away all that is not loving in order to uncover the masterpiece within.

However…

O Lord, we don't trust we are loveable.
We don't believe we are a masterpiece.
What we see in ourselves, we often don't like
And too often we take it out on others.

We say things we don't mean.
We act in ways that are "not us."
Confirming what we believe about ourselves, 
not the truth of who we are,
at least who we are truly meant to be.

O Lord, today I recommit to your life's work in me. 
I acknowledge and accept your assignment as my instructions, 
trusting that the world you created
and the circumstances in which you placed me
are designed to chisel away the ugly and leave the lovely.

My charge: 
To seek to act in ways which show my love for you and the whole of your creation: 
with whole heart, whole soul, whole mind, and whole strength
for the good of my neighbor because of Your Good in me.  

If the life I am leading is the practical portion of my life’s exam, I pray there is still time for me to earn a passing grade. And I pray the same for you. Each of us are commissioned into the work of our lives. Surely, in our day, there is enough work to go well around.

Today, I took my first step in addressing the gun violence being perpetrated in my country. I learned that my church denomination passed a resolution to end gun violence at its 2016 Conference. I will be participating in a group pledged to respond and to act on these measures. Not only is it way past time to do this but our very lives may depend on it. So many lives have already been given for it…

Perhaps, the same Spirit is prompting me that inclined the rich young ruler of scripture to fall on his knees before Jesus and inquire, “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life? ~ Mark 10:17

It is probably no accident that in the moment just before the encounter above we’ve just read, People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. ~Mark 10:13-16

If you would like to join the group we are gathering to learn more about the gun violence issue and ways we can address it, please send me an email here or leave your contact info in the comments below. 

Dust to Dust: the perpetual power of God to give life

Prayer: Father, you have made us temporal beings, yet you are forever God. We long to participate in your forever, but we have only one lifetime to do this. On this day, as we come before you repenting our shortfall, lift us up to see the brightness before us and your confidence in us as the mark of your eternal love.

Scripture: Genesis 3:19

By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”

***

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” These words I say quietly to myself as I shovel three times and toss earth over the coffin of my father-in-law, George, who now lay in the deep grave prepared for him in a remote Jewish cemetery. He, a Jew, and I, a Gentile. Prayers were uttered over him in a language I don’t speak, yet these words of prayer spoke themselves through me to his remains in this moment. His earthly body would be returned to the ground: human to humus. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Even his coffin, made with dove-tailed wood joints, would disintegrate with time. All would be but a breath. No evidence would remain.

Yet. Dust does not have the final word. This man did not know what lay beyond the grave; he told me so in our last conversation. But surely there is something more than we know. George had lain the groundwork for this ever-ness over a lifetime of creating, meticulously hand-crafting bonsai of such beauty they were celebrated across the globe. So wondrous, practitioners would come across continents in order to marvel. So treasured, their care would be entrusted to others soon after their creator had passed. This Jewish man had spent a lifetime creating what he knew would long outlast him. That they would have life beyond his death, he made certain.

As we enter Lent, we invest ourselves in this certainty. Because Christ died, we, though human, repent in dust and ashes to embark on a life that will outlast this one, a life that is truly life.

 ***

  • Take a moment to consider who has invested in you? A parent, teacher, pastor or friend? Is there someone in whom have you invested?
  • Have you ever engaged in a project or creation (without reward or notice, perhaps in secret) which you hoped would bear fruit beyond your lifetime? Last longer than you?
  • If you attend an Ash Wednesday service today, remember the significance to the Jews of the Shema carried with them, even strapped on their forehead. A mark of ashes, a pressure on your flesh, a sign of repentance.

***

Give thanks for the power that lives in you because of others.

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