Dining Room Table of the Soul

Grandma kept it laden with five course meals for a dozen — though we were four in number — an altar to our stomachs and to her ego.  She fed us well.

Grandma kept it beneath a thick plastic sheet (the spills!), a lace table cloth (the neighbors!), and a custom-made insulated pad (the heat!).  She protected it well.

But now the table is mine to keep.  The plastic, the lace, and the pad are gone.  Come spills, come neighbors, come hot pans, I’ll take my chances.  I have no time for pretense.  I will not disguise the very thing I intend to protect.  The grain of the wood glows beneath my plate in ancient beauty, brown and deep. 

Grandma kept the table as she kept her soul.  Now I will keep it as I keep mine.

Published in: on September 22, 2007 at 11:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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Life Outside of Time?

Time is uneven, if linear, for mere mortals.  We do not experience it with the regularity of a stopwatch.  We all remember summer days that seemed to last forever, bittersweet goodbyes that did not last long enough, or your life flashing before your eyes of your last car accident.  In moments like these, the subjectivity of time peeks through. 

God is outside of time.  If He created time, why should His experience and perception of time be as linear and constrained as it (usually) is for us?

If the God you follow is outside of time, could He ever bend the “rules” for you?  The idea is this: God blesses us when we do not deserve it, but he also loves to be generous to us in the ways that we are generous toward Him and to others.  If we give freely of our resources (money, time, service, care), should we not expect Him to give freely of His?

I think of God’s admonition to His people to bring true sacrifice in Malachi.   “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.  You are under a curse– the whole nation of you– because you are robbing me.   Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.   Malachi 3:8-10 

I think of Christ’s promise to His disciples.  Instead of running after food, drink, and clothing — what your body needs — “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33 

In this passage, God does not promise free food and clothes.  Do not quit your job.  Be a responsible worker, but remember that those responsibilities come second.  You are more than your job.  Seek first the Kingdom of God.  Live in light of your love of Him and of your neighbor, by His grace. 

We can be courageous in sacrificing time and energy in order to serve others and to pray, even if it means that we won’t be putting in twelve hour days at the office.  But don’t be surprised if God blesses you even more abundantly with what you truly need than if you had spent a month of twelve hour days. 

And we must be wise, knowing that some days we should love God and other by putting in those extra hours.  But we cannot make the mistake of depending on a lifestyle of long hours and our own efforts as the source of blessing.   

You may end up with more time than you think you had.  Joshua tells us (10:13):  the sun stood still for him over Gibeon. 

Treetop Prayer

Lord, where will I meet you?

On bridge of steel

or bridge of stone

or in the water

that binds life to life?

On a blank page

in the autumn air

up in the branches of a tree?

You are more

than everything

and not

any thing

but everywhere

I see

You.

best climbing tree ever

Published in: on September 18, 2007 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

God’s Facebook

In contemporary terms, this is what religious — and especially theological — folks tell you when they want to tell you about God: come see God’s facebook page!

We can describe Him.  What He likes.  Or She, depending on who’s describing.  What He doesn’t like.  What movies He approves of.  What political issues.  Whether He’s pro-zombies or pro-pirates.  Etc.

We can describe Him, but these different versions don’t match.  There’s one hundred variations what God is like.  Who are you going to believe?  On what basis?

I can describe Him, tell all about Him.  But knowledge about is head knowledge.  Knowledge of, true experiential relational knowledge is of the heart.

 I can describe my mother.  But the older I get, the less certain I am that I truly know her.

Maybe you know about God.  But do you know God?  Have you seen Him face-to-face, and not just facebook-to-facebook?  I will someday.

“Tell me all your thoughts on god, ’cause I’m on my way to see her….”  — Dishwalla

Love vs. Usefulness

Somewhere on my way to class yesterday morning, it hit me.  My life’s goal has pretty much always been to be useful.  This is how I was raised.  We’re all hard workers in my family and we typically express our love for each other by doing useful things for each other.

But this mindset often leads me astray.  When I wake up in the morning, I ask myself: “How can I get the most work done today?”  The problem is that I often get burnt-out and put people on the back burner, whether I intend to or not.  Plus, this isn’t exactly what the Bible teaches.  I think of Jesus chastizing Martha (Luke 10:38-42).  Work is important, but God and others are what is the most important.

“How can I love people today?”  Working hard is part of the answer.  But I need to look up from the grindstone, slow down and see who needs some extra encouragement.  When I’m reading John Henry Newman for class, maybe I’ll start wondering “How can I best respect and represent his ideas?” not “How can I turn this into a paper?”  (And not Jerry Seinfeld exclaiming with disgust, “Hello, Newman….”)  Maybe I’ll be in less of a hurry and start to love what I do.  What could be more useful than that?

Published in: on September 6, 2007 at 9:33 pm  Comments (2)  

Justin Timberlake: “Manslut”

Gone are the days when a man is a “pimp” or a “playa” for behavior that would earn him the status of a “ho” if he were a woman.  Let us usher in the era of the “manslut.”  That’s what they are.  Let’s not be afraid to call ’em like we see ’em.

What worthier recipient of the new term could there be than Mr. Timberlake?  He’s been around the block more than a few times… and show’s no sign of stopping.  He’s got the rhythm.  He’s got the moves.  He deserved to be crowned as the new King of Pop.  But he’s also a skanky, male ho.’  The inauguration of his “Futuresex Loveshow” tour should be evidence enough of that.  (Don’t even get me started on how little sense the title makes.)

Here’s to you, manslut.  The double standard stops here.

Random Dude on the Street Gave Me $$$!?!

Ten minutes late, I parked my car on the edge of Forest Park and dashed across Skinker, dogding traffic as cannily as any SLU student (we all have minor’s in Jay-walking).

Before I could turn up the steps to my church, a random guy approached me on the sidewalk.  He was wearing a ‘wife-beater’ and had a bright orange Hawaiian shirt draped over one shoulder.  Good thing my wallet is empty, I thought.

“Are you going to church?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

He reached into pocket and pulled out a clear plastic bag containing a folded-up one dollar bill and about $2.78 in change (my best guess based on years in customer service and counting my piggy bank).  He pulled out the dollar bill and handed it to me.

“This is how I want to be a blessing.  My name is ____.”

“Thank you,” I said, baffled, as he turned and quickly continued on his way.

That just blew my paradigm for half-a-dozen things and it wasn’t even 11:00 yet.  What a way to start the day!

Be a Blessing!

God’s original promise to Abraham was to make him the father of all nations, “so that through you all nations might be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Orthodox Jews want to fulfill that promise, but the believe that they must bring all Jews back to God first.

Why wait?

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

I hear a lot about Christians going around and cursing people: not “cussing them out” cursing, but “calling down fire and brimstone” cursing.  I don’t think that Jesus leaves us any room for that.

Why pray for riches for yourself, which do not satisfy, when you can pray: “God, make me a blessing to others!”?  Your co-workers.  Your spouse.  Your children.  Your parents.  Random dude on the street.  Use your imagination.

The world is changed by such simple, small prayers as these.  You might not make any headlines, but you will make someone’s day, if not someone’s eternity.  What could be more satisfying than that?