Saturday, November 20, 2010

Son sit still ( a tribute to Big E )

Our son Ellis turns one today. Here's a little homage to the youngin we affectionately refer to as Big E.

Here's to you Ellis, on your first birthday. Here's to twenty-five pounds of perpetual motion. Here's to being born a month early, but living as though you were born a month late and had time to make up for. Here's to turning every diaper change into a wrestling match with no clear winner. Here's to adopting the motto: why stop and smell the roses when it's much quicker to just eat them? Here's to looking like me but being more boy than I ever was.

We love you son. Your mommy and I are so glad you were born. I'm pretty sure your sister feels the same way, even though you have pulled more hair from her head than you have grown on your own. We love you even though you're one year old, and we have yet to rock you to sleep a single time. You like to move. You have places to go. We get it. Anyway, you're a precious little boy, and your smile is absolutely priceless. Happy birthday buddy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

How Do You Respond?

Poverty surrounds us. I mean all of us. None of us are so insulated that we are spared at least occasional contact with the broken. We know, of course, that poverty is not merely a physical issue. I would suggest that it’s not even primarily a physical issue. Poverty is all too often a complex network of brokenness that starts at the center and works its’ way out to the surface. Since we all see it, we may find it helpful to ask….how should we respond to it? Well, there are tons of wrong ways to respond. Denying, avoiding, and blaming would be a few. I’m learning though that there may be as many right responses as there are wrong ones.

When Bill Gates saw it, his response was to start a foundation. Through his charitable efforts, an inconceivable amount of money has been pumped into the poorest of poor communities. And he has raised as much awareness as he has money. A long, long time before Bill Gates was conscience- stricken by the presence of poverty, St. Francis had his heart stirred by the sight of beggars. His response? He stripped stark naked and ran into the woods. He gave away his possessions, spent the bulk of his time in prayer, and preached the Good News to the poor.

Here we see one issue provoke two profoundly diverse responses. Who was right? I think they both were. The contrast between them can be at least partially explained by their gifts. Bill Gates was given a keen intellect and a resilient drive. His response was measured. It was practical. St. Francis was given a sanctified imagination and a high tolerance for embarrassment. His reaction was absurd. Then again, so was the inequality he was faced with.

When you see poverty, how do you answer? Do you run to the bank or to the woods? Do you come up with a plan, or do you get down on your face? I guess the important thing is that we all do something. The world could sure use more conscientious entrepreneurs. LORD knows we could use a lot more naked saints.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

not alone

When I was younger, I rarely had occasion to be home alone. If my folks were both out of pocket, they generally left Matt and I in the fairly capable hands of our older brother Kris. But I do vividly recall one exception. Mom and dad were going to pick up Matt from camp, and Kris was working. I was only ten or eleven, but I begged mom and dad to let me stay home so I could watch Jaws. That's correct. Eventually they relented. They pulled out of the driveway. I was by myself, and excited for it. I cut on the TV, adjusted the rabbit ears and watched with rapt attention as a mammoth man-eater stalked his prey. Here's the deal with Jaws....Jaws is scary if you're actually in the ocean. I was easily a hundred miles from the nearest respectable body of water. But I was scared out of my mind. I don't know if it was the ominous music or the phantom dorsal fin that kept poking through the fuzzy lines on my television screen. Anyway, the reality of my aloneness hit me hard. The house felt quiet and empty. My family would return in a matter of hours, but I seriously felt like I would be alone for the rest of eternity. In my panic I did what any self-respecting youngster would do. I intentionally locked myself out of my house and asked my neighbors if I could watch Star Trek with them until my people returned. They obliged and I didn't feel alone anymore.

That's one story about one time that I felt alone.It's not the only story. Honestly, feeling alone has been sort of a recurring theme in my life. I haven't always felt alone, but there have been times when I have felt utterly so. Many well-intentioned people have counseled me to remember that God is there in spite of my lonely feelings. That doesn't really help. What did help was the revelation that God isn't just there in spite of my loneliness. He is in my loneliness. Actually, without getting too mystical about it, I have learned that God is my loneliness. He has placed within his children a deep, deep longing for him. It's a longing that God made but refuses to fill, even with himself. It is this longing that draws us slowly but surely to the heart of our Creator. We were created in his image. I take that to mean that there is a little piece of God at the center of us all. So my hunger for intimacy, and my yearning for security is nothing more than the action of God searching for himself. The truth that I am not alone is displayed by my loneliness. If I were truly alone, I would never feel lonely.

"Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there."