Monthly Archives: September 2009

tonight: mysteries surrounding what is real about peace

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communion?

wake up and
find the ground beneath solid
unsteady feet pulled to Core, gravity’s brilliance recognized
the brevity of that calm
not mistaken for peace

give pause and
find the words swirling
incapable explanations thrown around silence staging
lengthening seconds of this calm:
experimental (experiential?) at best (risk?)
yielding unexpected results, well-made and stable
ferocious peace, unmistakable
communion.

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today: remembering the beginning so that the ending goes well

…as if his whole vocation
were endless imitation…
-William Wordsworth

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I am about nine years old in my estimation. We visit Grace Vineyard for the first time. When I say “we,” we are my family sans the youngest eight (!). Sam is the baby.

At the time, my parents were trying to work out how church fit into their lives and what that was supposed to look like. The prior years of my life in relation to church are a blur of memories: Catholic school and multiple masses a week until the end of first grade. Then I went to public school and attended Catholic church, but Mom had questions that caused her to start exploring other places of worship. For a while we attended three churches on Sunday and another on Wednesday night. The exuberance and/or desperation of my parents to figure out where to do church caused my small self to have but one concern as far as church went: what restaurant were we closest to at lunch time during our Sunday marathons of church-going. We lived in Florida during those years and sometimes went to the beach amid the array of services we attended if the weather was nice on Sunday afternoon.

By the time we moved to Texas a few years later, we found a church, and then it did not fit any more, and the Sunday I am remembering may be several Sundays combined into one because memory blurs over time. We are visiting Grace because we need a new church. I do not remember a lot about initial impressions, but I remember going to the children’s program and hearing a Bible story and playing outside. I remember a few kids from our school were there. I remember the music was loud. I like that.

My dad would tell me later that on that first Sunday we started to sing songs with the rest of the people at Grace, and that was status quo as far as church goes. At some point during the singing, James Jones, a regular at Grace turned to my parents and asked if he could hold their baby.

You should know that their baby, Sam, at three, sat in a wheelchair and was spastic. He could hold his head up but not much else. He was loud. He had grown to a size that people knew there was something about him, that he was one of those kids who would never run or play or speak. Sometimes people do not know how to be around someone like Sam. It is hard to know if you should look him in the eye or talk to him, and sometimes when you do, he reacts strangely, erratically. It can be awkward now, and it could be awkward then. People did not ask to hold my parent’s baby, and that was okay. He was different. We knew that.

James Jones, though, asked to hold their baby, and my parents stopped visiting churches after that. James loving Sam communicated something about God’s heart to us: acceptance and grace and compassion. We had found our way home.

today: the greatest, part two

Now the little boy doesn’t say a word, picks up his ball he is undeterred.
Says, “I am the greatest that there has ever been”
And he grits his teeth and he tries again.
And the ball goes up and the ball comes down,
Swings his bat all the way around
The world so still you can hear the sound, the baseball falls to the ground.

-“The Greatest,” Kenny Rogers

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I remember Jakey as a toddler falling in love with baseball. I can picture him in a long sleeved t-shirt, bare skinny legs squatted down, diaper dragging the ground. He was catcher, his form perfect even as a tot. He wore a glove. He called imaginary games. He made them up as he played each position in turn. When he was hitter, he’d swing an imaginary bat and run “the bases,” from the couch to the chair, down the hall, and then he’d slide into home. Every time. He hit a lot of imaginary grand slams.

Jakey always wanted to play baseball.

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As a toddler, Jakey idolized our brother Ben. Ben, eight years his senior, played Little League. Jakey is a busy kid (busy being a nice way of saying HYPERACTIVE!), but he could sit and watch a baseball game. He could memorize plays and retell the stories of the highs and lows of a game with detail and passion. He loved Ben’s games. When Ben broke his arm sliding into third, Jakey announced, “When I grow up, I will break my arm sliding into third.”

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Saturday was Jakey’s second ever Little League game. Ben no longer plays baseball, not having made the varsity cut this year, but he coaches Jake’s team. Seeing the two of them make this baseball effort together amazed me on Saturday. I watched Ben, who fueled Jake’s dream when he was a toddler. As he coached, he gave that dream legs to run. I watched Jake, a natural athlete, as he pitched and caught, hit and ran. The boy was made to play sports of some sort, and he owns a baseball field as much as an eight-year-old can.

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Ben taught me something Saturday. He didn’t realize he was leading Jakey when he was a little kid playing ball himself, but in giving his all and loving the game, he handed Jakey a desire to become something more than he was at the time. That’s leadership.

Jakey taught me something Saturday too. He maybe doesn’t know he is stepping into a dream that has been germinating in him for half a dozen years. But he is. And he is doing it with confidence and boldness and expectancy. He believes he is capable of greatness; he is willing to work hard to get there. That’s demonstrating the heart that, if he chooses to remain teachable, will lead him to a passionate maturity. That’s the good kind of life.

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today: the greatest, part one

Little boy in a baseball hat stands in the field with his ball and bat
Says “I am the greatest player of them all”
Puts his bat on his shoulder and tosses up his ball
The ball goes up and the ball comes down
He swings his bat all the way around
The world so still you can hear the sound
The baseball falls to the ground

-“The Greatest,” Kenny Rogers

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So… I am editing these photos of Ben and Jakey’s game Saturday (Ben is coach; Jakey is player.), and I get choked up. This happened last night and again tonight. They are so grown up. I am so proud. I will unpack this tomorrow.

Ben is a really good coach. From the sidelines, he and his bestie and co-coach Andy were so proud of their players. They are 16 and had a bad ref Saturday. They kept cool and encouraged the kids. They were at their best.

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And Jakey, well, he can hit. And he can pitch. And he is eight and has thought himself a baseball hero, well, since birth.

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Now that I’ve confessed my blubbering shortcomings at holding emotion in check while editing Saturday snapshots, I am going to bed. Full blog tomorrow.

today: only well

My only calm is you.
-David Crowder

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This is one of those days where I can only hold my hands out, thankful, for I see that I am being cared for. Well.

With so many changes on the horizon, my footing seems shaky and my focus, feeble. And yet (the glorious “and yet”), a fullness rises out of breathing deep and letting go. This is trusthopegracepeacelovejoyeverything. He who cares for me loves. Well.

tonight: words

“‘Peace,’ said the Witch. ‘I see what you are. You are a little, peddling Magician who works by rules and books. There is no real Magic in your blood and heart.'”
the Witch to Uncle Andrew, p 78, The Magician’s Nephew, C. S. Lewis

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disbelief costs more than frightened faith
engage, engage, engage
the heart cries, frightened faith fearful of
reduction to words
as fast as the ink dries they are forgotten
unless fleshed out
if they dance and bleed perhaps the more is
real
and the fear then?
holy. fleshed out.

today: thank you

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.”
-Richard Wagner (Stace wrote this in a birthday card years ago, and it became one of my favorite quotes.)

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Sometimes, perhaps more often than I’d like to admit, my focus fall short of seeing light. I see half empty glasses without recognizing I know where the water source is and am capable of filling glasses right up… Saturday was not one of those days. It might have overflowed a little, as it is Sunday night, and I am feeling the afterglow. Amber and I took photos all day Saturday, and we paused to eat good food and enjoy lovely, passionate people (more on that another day). And I can’t help but think how blessed we are, how blessed I am.

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I have all these things to work out.

All.
These.
Things.

And some of them are not easy. And some of them are scary. And some of them will require risk. Sometimes, though, a great omelet sandwiched between an endless array of celebratory photos is enough to cause a step back. That step back allows this realization: I am thankful for this life, all these things included.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank You.