Sunday, May 10, 2009

First and Last

Kitten watches the ice cube dissolve
Swallowed by the surrounding water
of his steel saucer
He sees
the skeletal crystal shell
carve its clockwise course
and spiral from the center out
to the edges.
He stares, fixates
as the tiny frozen sliver clings to the side of his dish for
that final second when
the last remnants of its cloudy matrix disappear into nothingness
His hollow eyes search inquisitively for the substance of 
what once was.
I share his first experience with endings.

Why I Said "No" to Buying a Blackberry

"In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap-opera cries, sleep-walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction."- Ray Bradbury, 1960

Is it too late for me to back-paddle?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Finding God in the Thin Place

Tony Campolo speaks about meeting God in the thin place. The idea originated from the early Celtic Christians and can be defined in the following way:

Thin Places are those spaces in life where the veil between the holy and the ordinary becomes very thin…to the point that we experience an intense, intimate connection with the living God.

Although we know that God is with us all the time, the type of intimate experience found in the thin place is cultivated through disciplined, meditative, selfless prayer, requiring our relinquishment of worldly things and our active acknowledgement of God's grace.

Madame Guyon also describes this fellowship of the inner life:
The greatest difficulty you will have in waiting upon the Lord has to do with your mind. The mind has a very strong tendency to stray away from the Lord. Therefore, as you come before the Lord to sit in his presence, beholding him, make use of the Scripture to quiet your mind...The Lord once promised to come and make his home within you (John 14:23). He promised there to meet those who worship him and do his will. The Lord will meet you in your spirit. It was St. Augustine who once said that he has lost much time in the beginning of his Christian experience by trying to find the Lord outwardly rather than by turning inwardly.

I think my own search for the thin place probably starts with a deep, contemplative honesty with myself - an honesty that forces me to confront the sin in my life and lay it all at the feet of Jesus. I must surrender my cynicism and drop the defenses that I have systematically built over a lifetime and open myself to a disciplined practice of the presence of God. I know that God's chief desire is to reveal himself to us and I want to leave behind everything that will impede that process.

Our spiritual home belongs in the thin place. When Jesus died the veil between the holy and the ordinary was torn and a way was made for us to approach the personality of God. The Lord gives us the experience of enjoying His presence! He draws us to Himself and in that light, my own self is overshadowed and lost in His mighty love.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

How to Make Lancer Salad in One Easy Step

We may be purchasing a new car sooner than we expected. Phil and I were in an accident a few days ago and our little Mitsubishi Lancer now resides in the local body shop getting an assessment. We are waiting to hear about whether or not they will pronounce it a "totaled" vehicle.

The experience was traumatic as we were driving to meet some friends for lunch and crashed into the side of an older lady's car. Phil watched her not look to her left (as we approached her from that side) and she pulled through her stop sign. We didn't have a stop sign. The last thing I remember before we hit her was seeing her white car pulling forward directly in front of us and Phil saying, "She's not looking!" And then the sound of skidding tires, a hubcap flying through the air and this eerie crashing sound as metal hit metal. I think we spun a bit too, but it gets hazy at this point. Scary.

Later, the lady called us to apologize, which was a very sweet gesture. At this point, her insurance company is assuming the responsibility, which we think is appropriate.

It was weird. Immediately after the accident, we were walking around and seemed to feel OK, but in the days following, this weird stiffness set in with both of us. Our doctor told us to wait and see. Bummer. We have both been training for a half marathon and we have to put that on hold for a while.

It was funny though. Throughout the entire experience, I didn't think about God's presence in it and that bothers me.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Zen and the Art of Post-Holiday Clean-Up

Phil and I have been deliberating over the true meaning of Christmas. Phil (a self-proclaimed Scrooge) believes that the extraneous messages attached to this sacred holiday (in the form of Norman Rockwell paintings, Hallmark cards and even Dickens's "A Christmas Carol") combine to make up the chimera that interlopes on the Advent season. This gluttonous monster, subtly sneaks in and imposes its humanistic philosophies on what should be a carefully guarded and authentic Christ-centered holiday.

Contrary to my husband, I am the gal who excitedly sets up and adorns the precious *Wal-Mart artificial Christmas tree, hangs the red furry stockings (bought on clearance some years ago) with joyful expectation and throws twinkling lights on just about everything that needs a little razzle dazzle. can probably imagine how our conversations go every year at around this time.

But today as I am taking down the tree, I find that this is actually the period of the holidays that I treasure most - the clean-up. It's at this point when I can bask in the zen-like experience of minimizing. After every bauble is lovingly put back into the Rubbermaid box, I will dust, vacuum and place a single solitary white candle on the coffee table. Surprisingly, this is the environment that cultivates real focus on things that matter most - the spirituality that inherently comes with simplicity. This must be a piece of Phil's argument. We must challenge ourselves to cut through the distractions (even when they are well-intended) and focus on the unmistakable and profound meaning of the incarnate Christ. During this frenzied season (exacerbated by the idol of American consumerism), we must not allow ourselves to be misdirected on this critical point: God's love is interacting with us and in this season we celebrate its inception. Profound. Simple. More than enough.

*We bought this tree at Wal-Mart some years ago. We no longer purchase products from this chain. Email me if you want the details.