Thursday, August 27, 2009

Six Feet of Shelf

There is a shelf in my home that is about as tall as I am. In looking across the inches of this shelf I found a great diversity of books from bird watching to marriage, from philosophy to novels, from cycling to banking, from prayer to short stories.

I kept looking back and forth across this shelf and realized that is was something of a book graveyard. The tombstones rooted downward to a host of disconnected people, united only by the soil that pointed them upright.

Some of these books I have never even looked at the opening page. Others lack only a few chapters of being completed with their bookmarks sticking up at mini tombstones demarcating where the words fell dead. With a handful of exceptions most of these were unfinished words.

Each was receive with anticipation and excitement, brought home and either begun immediately or place in view for just the right moment to buy. These purchases and gifts were collected with joy and anticipation to diving in.

Today I’m thinking about why it is that we would much rather read than live, collect than engage, and consume then dwell. Books are like people. Some received with excitement and others silence. Some are checked out and others lost. Imagine the number of books that never make it off the shelf, or through the checkout or even off of the discount table. Many many books simply have no life. Today on my favorite day, I am going to attend to the words of the people that God puts in my life today. Today I will be present and available to their hearts and lives. I will read even only the few sentences and paragraphs people offer me, treating their words as novel to be enjoyed today. Fall is coming, summer is passing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


A week of meetings – hour after hour, day after day – is the wake of my week. I had been looking to this week in dread of a looming inability to get anything done thanks to the quantity of meetings.

The word means the “act of coming together” or and “assembly” or a place or point of contact. After completing a week of meetings, I’m drained of life and sapped of excitement. Yes, I came together with others. Yes, I was part of a large body. Yes, contact was established. However, relationship does not always result from “meeting.” Relationship goes beyond introduction, beyond contact, and beyond the surface to a deeper level of community.

Certainly things were done or accomplished at one level. Information is exchanged and contact is maintained and tasks are delegated; yet people remain disconnected. I fear that the weekly or daily encounters in our lives are often not more than a mere rendezvous.

A parallel might be drawn with meeting God. We have those points of ‘meeting’ God at church, in a Sunday School class, through a quiet time, or some other ritual point of contact. But what is the connection or disconnection created by these meetings.

Meeting is different than communing. To commune with someone is to “talk together usually with profound intensity” or “to be in intimate communication or rapport.” Today I am thinking more about what our lives would look like when large groups of people communed with God and one another. I wonder what small groups of people would look like who communed with God and each other.

Meeting and communing are worlds apart.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Kicked Through the Night

There is one thing that I’d like our family to lose this summer – the stomach virus. What is the point of having a family vacation if one by one by one our family is reduced to a convulsive outflow of everything inside moving quickly out. Living at the mercy of the toilet for 24 hours is no fun. But when you have to anticipate it, observe it, and then endure it, 24 hours is not the proper description for this virus.

Okay, so Nathan got it first and I held trash can after trash can for him (home). Then, my daughter coated her great grandmother’s room with it (Altus, OK). Finally, my wife greets me opening the door of our hotel with “gimme a trash can” (Quartz Mountain Lodge, Lone Wolf, OK). You get the picture. This is common to humanity.

Well, that night we were split guys and girls. My sick wife and daughter in one bed and my recovered son and me the lone wolf still healthy. It is hard to sleep with your kids when they are well (let alone ill or in a strange place). Nathan simply treated me as an extension of the bed – a pillow, a blanket, the mattress, a punch bag, a trampoline – but certainly not a human being.

I was laying there in bed and it felt like as if my spine was an escalator that he was running up to catch a connecting flight at DFW. As I felt him sprinting up my back, I thought, “he has no idea what he is doing.” We are right her as close as to humans can be and he does not know that he is making me into a human concourse. He has no knowledge that I'm here.

And then a connection flashed through my mind. I wondered about the times in my life when God is so close that I am running all over him, but I have no recognition of God all. Maybe you could say this was my "footprints in the sand" moment. Ha! These times when the separation between me and God is indistinguishable to God but completely lost to my oblivious sleep. Sure, I know, this is “all the time,” right? When we look at beautiful solid quartz rock mountains that pop up out of a flat farmland reaching for the vast blue sky, we see God. When we hear the laughter of a child squealing with delight, we hear God. When we go to a work at a job that we may hate, we thank God for a job in this sunken economy. Even when we are with out a job, in the midst of looking for work we can thank God for a healthy family. God is as close to us as our skin and we hardly notice.

My thought is that I want to live my life so in the presence of God that I am kicking him with my concerns in the middle of the night. I want to live so close to God that even my unconscious motion is affecting him. I want to live so that God indeed reigns over my waking and my sleeping, my eating and my walking. Prayer is not just for church, at the table or in a moment of desperation. Prayer is a lifestyle of seeking the presence of God. Prayer when it permeates our subconscious can and will kick a loving God who is always silently right here with you.