Monthly Archives: March 2009

today: here we go

“‘If I thought I could help you,’ Dumbledore said gently, ‘by putting you into an enchanted sleep and allowing you to postpone the moment when you would have to think about what has happened tonight, I would do it. But I know better. Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it. You have shown bravery beyond anything I could have expected of you. I ask you to demonstrate your courage one more time. I ask you to tell us what happened.'”
p695 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling

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The best of books take you to a place where you can see the world in a fresh view. Your perspective grows as the story captures you and pulls you in. After I move away from this apartment, I suspect one of my most pronounced memories will be late nights with Harry Potter. I anticipate reading these books aloud to my children somewhere down the road… should I ever arrive at that point in the road (we’ll venture into that digression another night). For this is neither a blog about my future nor Harry Potter.

(And the faithful reader thinks, “Thank God. We’ve had quite enough.” And the writer thinks, “Harry Potter ended before anyone had quite enough.”)

This is a blog about the gospel of John, the book within the compilation of books that makes up the Bible that I have read and wrestled with most. How I love John’s writing, his intentionality, his methodology of introducing the life of Jesus. I love the hypnotic use of repetition and the rhythm he creates to keep the reader intrigued. John’s intelligence, emotionally, spiritually- humanly- stands out to me. He got something about the telling of the story of Jesus. He knew he needed to engage his audience on a real, raw level. So he tells the stories of other people’s stories. He tells us what happened. He tells it from lots of perspectives.

I am reading John, sometimes uninterested and sometimes mesmerized on this go-round. Something new that stands out is the use of the senses in the writing of the book. John mentions a person seeing and hearing, a person touching, a person tasting… He describes stories in this way. I love the way John provokes faith in someone unseen by telling the story of what he saw. John’s storytelling becomes a challenge to the reader: will your faith in someone unseen play out in the stories you see? We lack the luxury of a physically present Jesus.

The world aches and groans with the struggles of sickness and death. And we lack the luxury of a physically present Jesus. So John writes the words of the story of Jesus: water turns to wine; a paralyzed man walks; a child not in the presence of Jesus is healed by his words from miles away; 5,000 are fed from one lunchbox; a blind man sees; a dead man lives… lives literally, physically transform. Some believe. Others don’t. Jesus changes everything.

And then towards the end of the book, John writes some words of Jesus that invite the reader to ponder their place in the way things have changed. “Greater love has no man than this,” John writes, echoing the words of his Savior, “than he lay down his life for his friends.” And then Jesus lays down his life for his friends. And in so doing, he overcomes death. Then he tells his friends that they’ll do greater things than him.

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John tells a grouping of stories to tell the life story of Jesus. All along he’s showing his readers a different way to see. He’s showing them how to see people honestly, for who they are. He’s showing them how to love them in the midst of their brokenness. He’s showing them how to heal them in their woundedness. He’s showing them how to lay down their lives for the sake of love. By the end of John’s gospel, you don’t necessarily realize you’ve just realized that perspective is much bigger and more creative than you ever hoped or imagined.

But it is so much bigger and more creative that the world couldn’t contain enough volumes of books about how full the story of redemption will be, how full it is.

We are left with great hope. And we are left with the great and beautiful responsibility of working out how we live in light of this great hope. I think it means waking up to the reality of the best and worst of humanity and committing to live fully present. Here. Now. And as we go, we keep revising the story to tell what has happened as we realized that our perspective continually needs a little stretching so vast is the love of Jesus. The more we stretch, the more he fills. And the risks may be large, but it is SO. VERY. GOOD.

Incomplete thoughts but what I got tonight…

today: busy day. busy weekend. full life?

Let me let you in on a little secret: being home on Friday night with nothing to do often makes my week. Friday nights, for many, fill up with
movies and
dates and
errands and
parties and
drinking and
dancing and
eating and
living…

And at the end of the week, I sometimes need a break rather than the trappings of entertainment and relationship (though I love those things). I need alone time. Maybe I don’t need it; I sure do love it.

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So tonight I am editing old photos… from Phoenix… and remembering how much I learned. I find myself wanting to apply it all tomorrow. Immediately. I think I’d be better off working methodically through the list of lessons and practicing to the point of learning before moving on to the next thing. Time does not always allow such pragmatism. Photography sometimes forces it, though.

The magnetism of photography I discovered in photojournalism is time travel. I get to go back to the desert in Phoenix where I met formed friendships while we learned together… I get all that back by looking at these images:

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A memory captured may be inadequate to allow change to what happened then. Moments cannot be relived. Revisiting them, though, ah, I love that. Enough. I’m just writing to write and do not have anything more to say. Have a great weekend. Drop a line as time allows.

today: it’s a journey, silly.

The stone was semi-precious, and we were barely conscious
two souls too smart to be in the realm of certainty

-U2, Moment of Surrender

Bono bewitches me with the ease of an aged rockstar who knows he’s not going to win with skills. So he puts himself out there and goes for it. The crowd roars. The ground shakes. Something nearing glorious happens… And I love it.

Maybe, just maybe one of these days I’ll master the art of living enough to remember that this is a journey. Lots of days the weather is clear enough to see horizon lines. Those are the days to roll down the windows and let the wind destroy the order of my hair. Those are the days to look and look and look at all there is to see. Something nearing glorious happens, but most days I’m too busy with the volume on my i-pod, listening to an old Irish guy singing about something I’d like to be living.

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Crap.

today: journeying towards spring

I started to think spring was coming the other night on my front porch when I saw this:

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1. Go to Joni’s blog and watch her Mexico slideshow. It will do your heart good.

2. Look at this photo (somehow not as sharp on here as on my computer screen). I have been thinking today that some things that are unresolved in relationships are because we don’t know how to fully see someone. We see what we want to see. Or we don’t see what we don’t want to see. At least, I do that.

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3. Resolve to live somewhere bigger, fuller than that. And as the details emerge, perhaps you’ll find yourself seeing the light that is grace. And then you can forgive. And then you can live fully, hands loosed from the grip that didn’t seem to know how to let go before. And then you can let some things die quietly. And this might be the best possible way to live. At least, that’s what I think.

It is the recognition that in stepping into the light that is grace, spring turns a new leaf. Winter falls asleep. Redemption comes in season. Jesus is faithful.

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tonight: a prayer

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please, please, please
make me someone who
sees, sees, sees
and finds ways to give
where hurting grieves
and find ways to love
where utter disbelief
robs the world
of this grace so free
but first, first, first
help me believe
that as much as it’s for them
it’s real for me

today: how we see what we see

“…We do not know the worth of one single drop of blood, one single tear. All is grace. If the Almighty is the Almighty, the last word for each of us belongs to Him. That is what I should have said to the Jewish child. But all I could do was embrace him and weep.”
-Francoise Mauriac in the forward to Night by Elie Wiesel (which you should read if you haven’t)

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Tonight the human determination to see beauty struck me. I was watching television and editing photos of last week’s Mexico trip. I wondered that the stories told in the world of entertainment entertain by telling of humanity at it’s best and worst. We tell and retell these same stories over and over again. It’s not just that we’re caught up with what will happen to Oceanic Flight 815. It’s that we care that Jack emerges heroic in the end. Kate finds love. Sawyer settles his demons…

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For the last four years or so, Mexico has been a part of my life. I love the idea that we can go somewhere foreign and carry a message of hope and love and grace with us. That’s a piece of why I go. Last week was a different sort of trip, though, because we rubbed shoulders with so many hard things. I mentioned Jesus Roberto in a recent post. We’ve known his grandparents and sister for a couple of years now, but I held an abandoned little boy in my arms last week. His ten pounds felt heavy in my arms, the weight of a life already fragmented with loss. And yet, the resolve of his abuela Naomi and the tenderness of his sister Karely struck our team. We wanted to take that little boy home with us. We didn’t want to see Naomi burdened with a boy she so loved. She is old, too old for this story.

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We bought diapers, spoke a blessing over the baby. We left.

Our days were filled with teaching English in the school. Many of the photos that I love from this trip are portraits of the faces of these little ones we met. We noticed some are eager students, others timid. Some shied away from us; others clung to our words, our hands, our hearts. We know some of these kids go home to lonely houses, because their parents work long hours to put food on the table.

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We tried to look at them and love them all. They are beautiful, amazing children.

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Jose, the little guy pictured below, doesn’t speak very well and lagged behind the other children a bit in the classroom. For the last four years, I’ve seen his little face every time we’ve come around the colonia. He runs with the other children. He plays hard. He hangs out with our teams from the moment we arrive until the moment we leave. His eyes have always been joyful, this skinny little boy covered in lice and bites with confused words…

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Tonight I find myself achingly hopeful for this community. Jesus and Jose make me long for resolution to their stories. I don’t want poverty’s consequences and injustice’s heaviness to break their little souls. It’s not just that I’m caught up in seeing some of the big picture messes of the colonia cleaned up: running water and food supply and providing jobs and hope… these are important things.

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But these kids, these precious little kids, they matter. And I go because I want them to know that. I will always go because I want them to know that. I believe it is God’s heart. They are created and valuable and loved. He loves them so. They matter.

today: little friends, together

“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Most weeks I get to hang out with some little friends. We play and laugh and read. Children fill the world with sounds of hope and dreams of a most magnificent tomorrow. I so need that.

Saturday we played out front and paused for this:

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I think the right word is bliss.

The Mexico blog is coming today… drop a line as time allows. May you experience moments of bliss today.