Wednesday, May 28, 2008

music takes you places

I was listening to the radio this afternoon on my way back from an errand when I heard a song I hadn't heard before. It was a tune from Nanci Griffith, a folk artist who evidently has been around a long time and has had a successful career. This was all news to me, as I listened to one of her song's for the first time. Now the song was one of those catchy sing-a-long types, mostly in the range of folk, bordering on bluegrass. Instantly the song reminded me of a drive through the mountains, and even though I happened to be on a giant freeway with no mountains in sight, I was transported to a different place.

I love how music has that effect on us. You hear different styles and different artists and your mind takes you different places. I think it's amazing how God wired our senses like He did, allowing us access to such amazing things as imagination. We see beautiful things, and they capture our minds. We smell something aromatic, and we tie it instantly to an event in the past or a fond memory. We hear a song and our imaginations hit the gas pedal.

We didn't have to be wired this way. Being able to enjoy sights and sounds and smells isn't really all that necessary of a thing, but God thought of it anyway. They are all gifts, and fine ones at that. It's healthy for us to realize these things and be thankful for all the gifts that, while they may not have packaging and a bow, are nonetheless some of the finest thing's God has given us.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I couldn't pass this up

This is two posts in one day...i know, earth shattering. Anyways, I could not do anything else until i posted this video, giving you the chance to hear the legendary voice of Chuck Ohman, announcer for this televangelist guy on tv. i have not laughed like this in a long time. the announcer part is priceless.

the real ron burgundy?

When the sun is in the west

In this near-ending month of May I have read two incredible works of fiction, both by the same author. They read like a good strong cup of coffee: bright and rich. I haven't traditionally been much of a fan of fiction, but I guess that's because I just haven't read many good fiction books. These books, though, had such intricately personal characters. And that's such a hard thing to do. I enjoyed these books because of the stories they told and for the way they were told. These books had more inspirational moments and left me with more to think about than many of the self-proclaimed Christian Inspiration books penned by out-of-touch-with-reality folks. (Leif Enger, the author of the two books mentioned above, is a much wiser choice)

But of course I dont just sit around all day and read. In fact, I only spend an hour or so a day doing that. So what else am I doing? Well for one thing I'm getting back into running shape. I'm dragging out my sneakers and spending time in the merciless heat in an effort to discipline my body. It's hard business.

And today I replenished my reading supply for the next month or so. here they are:

Watership Down - Richard Adams: it's supposedly a really epic story

Walking on Water L'Engle: I'm looking forward to this one. A book about faith and art

The Shack - WIlliam Young: i've heard its a good story, I hope so

The Great Divorce - C.S. Lewis: I'm re-reading this classic book, taking notes, and am going to use it for some writing projects I have

The Book of the Dun Cow - Walt Wangerin: This book is similar to the Adams book, i've heard. I hope its good

Two more weeks in Texas then it's off to Birmingham for the rest of the summer


Saturday, May 17, 2008

help is just around the corner

I have only been under the enchantment of Summer for less than 48 hours, but it's already got me. I feel like I boarded a train that has taken me miles away from a few days ago. I'm in a new land, with newness all around. Maybe that's the excitement in me speaking too loudly, but I'm okay with that. There's a feeling a bird must have when it's been let out of a cage and I think i'm experiencing something quite similar.

This is a summer that lacks a big, overarching task. Two years ago it was to teach sports and share Christ with kids. Last year it was to work for a Relief and Development organization. This year, though, there's no such thing.

But in the absence of the Big Task there are a multitude of smaller objectives. I have so much that I want to accomplish this summer, and I have the necessary ingredient: freedom. I have, of course, an expanding list of books to enjoy (notice I did not say read, because I don't want to approach books this summer as ducks to be shot out of the air or math problems to be completed; i want to enjoy them). I've got a lot of thinking and planning to do (such a difficult task, i might add). I want to watch more movies, to volunteer, to exercise, and to work with my hands.

There are areas of my life that are like a garden that has not seen care in quite some time. And its time that I endeavor to this garden to clean and spruce it up.

I could write more about this, and I will, but I will leave it be for now. I've got the feeling you get when you first arrive in a new place: readiness mixed with excitement.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

now and then these feet take to wandering

I'd much rather be writing this post from the friendly confines of the finisher's circle, where, it seems, everyone else is. I've still got some time left on the clock, and the exams still aren't over. But they will soon be a thing of the past.

I'm learning to put into practice the whole principle of everything in life mattering. It's easier for me to just apply this to more blatant ministry settings, but that just robs the whole concept of its power. If everything really matters, like I've been learning, then even these last-few-drops-in-the-cup days matter. It'd be much easier for me to sign off, just make it through the exams, and receive my grades. That is what usually seems to come easy to me.

But I feel the nudge, somewhere down deep inside me, to finish the end with the same energy I started out with. To finish off these last-few-drops like I approached the full cup to begin with. It's not nearly as fun, and there's certainly no great ovations waiting at the end of it all, but its the right thing to do.

The right things oft seem to be the least glamorous and the least appealing choices. Dangit.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

life is better off a mystery

There is a certain mystery to our days. But they don't seem too mysterious unless we really choose to enter into the greater reality. Sometimes it's so much easier to stand on the sidelines of life and watch from a safe distance as other people do work, live life, and help other people. In fact it's much easier to take a seat in a lawnchair and watch all the patient activity, observing and critiquing yet never getting out of the chair.

I suppose this is the way that many of us live life. I guess by "us" i'm referring to college students, but you could maybe broaden it out to include a bigger part of society. Whatever the case, I think all this cynicism is getting us nowhere.

The sidelines. Oh what a great place to be. There is no difficulty there, there is no movement required. There is really nothing at all that challenges. In that space a yawn is louder than a whisper.

Honest to goodness, though, I'm flat out tired of all the watching that is going on. All the analyzing. All the comfortable cynicism, leaving only enough room for a tolerable amount of faith.

Brother Paul seemed to be pretty tired of this too. In Letters dripping with truth, Paul shows over and over again that faith is a process, indeed a work in progress. Faith is a beautiful thing, and its free, but there's hard work involved. We've seemed to grab hold of the whole justification part of salvation, without realizing the whole Kingdom coming down into us, transforming us into Lighthouses in a dark world.

There is something to be said about quiet faith, seeing needs and meeting them. There is something to be said about a quiet faith, diving headfirst daily into the waters of the Word. There's something there that we moderns can learn from.

Faith is a daily thing. It is both inside us like a burning fire and is evident outside of us like a glowing candle.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

from greenest pastures

This morning I awoke to the sounds of thunder clapping against the clouds. Pellets of rain smacked into my window, providing me quite a symphony to wake up to. And maybe the best thing of all is that I woke up realizing that it was Saturday morning. Probably my favorite time of the week is Saturday morning. It's a deep breath of fresh air. it's like walking outside into the sun after being in a chilly room. It's these things and many more. I like to think of it as a gift. A simple gift. Time.

This afternoon I took my book (Leif Enger's Peace Like a River) and walked outside to sit and read. No, I didn't survey the ground for ants, but I found a good spot nonetheless. The ground was soft and mushy where the shadows prevented the sun from shining. I could see my footprint in the soft, pliable earth.

It's a phenomenon much like our hearts, this whole soft, pliable firmament. When the ground is soft you can see footprints really easily. You can see the footprints of Jesus in certain people's lives as well, and they're usually the ones with soft, pliable hearts. The sun is a beautiful, warming thing, but it can harden the ground like nobody's business. It's like the good things in life. They can be so refreshing, warm, and bright, but they can slowly harden our hearts to the real Giver of all good things if we're not careful.

...careful to soak in the goodness of life, but to realize at the same time that there is more than this good stuff. There's a higher calling. There's real faith, and hope, and love to be had and to be realized, in every part of our lives. That's quite a high calling.