Friday, July 15, 2011


What we need most, we do not have, until we discover that God is always with us. And in the mystery of God’s grace, the dominion of heaven establishes a presence in our hearts. It’s stated pretty well by writer Frederick Buechner:

If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think all of us are homesick for it. (The Clown in the Belfry, p. 152)

This is the blessing we receive when we come before God, ready to be filled. We pray for God to finish what we cannot. We announce how we depend on God for all things. We see how little we have within ourselves. And then the moment comes when we discover that everything we need has been given to us as a gift. In the end we pray not so much for confirmation as for clarity. Clarity to see the kingdom of God breaking in all around us.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


When you grow up like I did, you try to know-it-all. Everything depends on it. Supposedly.

It has been a long time since "growing up", but still some strange place in your head never quite forgives you for not holding together what was never in your power to hold together anyhow— the loss of a parent, hoped-for joys of holidays and ordinary days quashed by volatility, or some other such thing.

Trying to be right, to know it all, brings the need for control; after all, it's so much easier to be right when you understand the playing field, have set the boundary lines yourself, inasmuch as that is possible.

Then along comes Life with a suggestion: let go, drift. In creation there is an inherent sense that we are not in control. In creation there's a sense of encounter, immediacy, Presence that we cannot control.

For a time, I too felt such an invitation. Let go. Drift with green grasses, morning dew, the stars. Then it came to an end, partly because my commitments call me back to a sense of control and management, but perhaps too because God knew it was time to set me in a new place of encounter, where I could not easily be in control. 

At some point I must have wanted to relinquish the burden of being right, knowing-it-all (it is tiring, often perplexing). And this desire sent me on unlikely journeys— first into Creation, now into daily writing. The words sometimes come, and at other times do not. I worry, fret, labor, and finally give myself over to God’s grace, trusting that the words will come - and I am not in control.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This past week the Crescent Avenue Church and Watchung Avenue Church participated in a work camp at Stony Point, a Presbyterian Conference Center. We worked on demolishing four garages to prepare the site for a new Arts Center that will be constructed in 2012. On our last day I was asked to reflect on the day and the week. Here is what I wrote:

It’s Friday, not in the TGIF kind of Friday, but a Friday that has us packing and anticipating heading home.

We walked the shady drive following breakfast and worship this morning— fields and hills opening out beyond with tall green trees reaching to the heavens. We ramble past the herb garden and I think, this garden contains possibility— basil for red sauce, sage for French lentil salad, rosemary for new potatoes, chives for cream cheese. Henni, the cook here at Stony Point is in league with the Devil. Her food is so delicious that everything I encounter conjures up thoughts of recipes and our next meal. I must focus on the task at hand this morning, to remove the pitched roof, rafters, and plywood, the last hurdle of our whirlwind week.

Benji and Mike head up the ladders to begin removing the roof. Fernando just looks at Jake and myself and says slyly that the makeshift scaffolding only holds 600 lbs. I guess Jake and I are grounded for the duration of the roof removal. Mike and Benji work steadily, sure-footed, and safe as board after board comes down. I envy them their youth and endless energy until Benji puts his foot through the flat roof underneath. By lunch the roof and rafters are down. My mind wanders back to the herb garden and what awaits us at lunch.

Beyond the low cut building we are working on are the gardens. At the fringe is a locust tree. Shelby calls this the “tree of death”. It has a huge, weathered branch that Shelby pulls until a twig is released. We can see the large thorns as she makes her way to us under the sycamore tree. I silently wonder if Jesus’ crown of thorns were made of these. As I sit sharing water and a bench with the work crew I think of how fortunate I have been to spend the week with these amazing co-workers. I do not want to leave. The friendship, work, sweet peas, chicken paprika, corny jokes, and late night smore fires. I do not want to leave this day, this hour.


TWELFTH NIGHT/EPIPHANY      I read this line in a interview with Christian Wiman in Christianity Today:   "Jurgen Mol...