lachrymose

Bloged in community, life, prayers by rod Wednesday April 18, 2007

Yesterday afternoon, when I drove to get Jack from track practice, I heard of the shootings at Virginia Tech. At the time there were still many questions and few details. Some details are becoming known, but there will never be answers. There can never be answers.
My love for Wisteria is known to any who’ve read these pages, but those who read closely know why. It is the purple tears of the melancholy blossom that speak to my soul. This flow of pensive and prayerful color that wells up from the earth tones.

lagrima

The brilliant pallet of spring brings joy and feels it with us, but the empathic tears of wisteria remind us that even creation moans with us in our struggles.
There are no words to bring comfort midst such devastating loss. Mourners needn’t empty words, but friends whose falling tears and lifting prayers water seeds of love and hope.

Kyrie Eleison
Christe Eleison
Kyrie Eleison

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kingdom 2.0

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, community, culture, metaphor by rod Friday March 16, 2007

A year and a half or so ago, I made a mirror site for my blog because Wordpress was so much more tweakable and I really wanted “categories” to help me organize my thoughts. I realized that I’d need to post simultaneously to both locations, so I bought the blog editing software, Ecto to do so. It was $18, and I’d never have to login to either blogsite to post. Woot.
A few months ago, Blogger began moving folks to their new version. Mine, being quite large was one of the last to go, but even before I went, the tweaks in the blogger system had rendered ecto suddenly inoperable, intermittently at first, then totally. Since then, I’ve had to post to blogger manually. Gee whiz.
That is until today. I got tired of copying and pasting and writing extra code, so I began to dig around blogger looking for a more accurate API access point. Eventually, I found a tweak of Ecto itself that fixed the blogger-caused blogger problem.
The guy who wrote Ecto also has a day job. He wrote Ecto for fun. He’s busy now writing a new version, Ecto 3.0, but he still took the time to write a fix to a problem that was caused by someone else’s software and that had rendered his already-paid-for product useless to all us who had spent the $18. Wasn’t that sweet?
But all of that is just back-story.
The front story is that it seems like this kind of business - community, and development for the sake of advancement rather than commerce only happens on the interwebs. Furthermore, it usually has to do with product that you can’t see, hold in your hand, or show to the manufacturer so that they can see what’s broken. In real life, it seems that once a product is out the door, it’s your problem. Inadequacies, flaws, and blemishes are cleverly hidden or downplayed until they are taken home. Can you imagine buying a car just before a road is repaved, and then having the dealership give you new tires that will work better on the new surface? That’s what happens everyday on the internets. It’s more of a web than ever before with every aspect so closely connected and dependent on others. In interweb land, what has long been forgotten in the real world is blatantly obvious daily, we are all dependent on one another. If there’s a problem with one element, we all suffer. Development forces development so that one doesn’t become the weak link.
When my blog is visited, nearly every piece of content on the page is gathered from different servers. The text is stored at google, the photos in the text body are stored in my server space at gracemonkey.com, the hit counter is loaded from sitemeter, the flickr badge comes from Yahoo, the moon phase calculator is drawn from elsewhere, and on and on. Right now, sitemeter is working to correct a data problem that has messed up my stat updates. They are reading code and deleting corrupted lines so that my FREE stat counter will be accurate. Each time something becomes incompatible with another element, work is done to upgrade the other element to insure that they keep working in tandem.

I live in a physical society that has seen parts of it upgraded over and over, while other parts have been ignored, and rendered incompatible and inoperable. As time goes by, upgrades to the upgraded parts become more and more advanced and frequent, while the neglected parts become further outdated and forgotten. Furthermore, certain features of the upgraded parts at various times have been designated less important than others and so they too have ceased to be upgraded and thus, become incompatible with the more newly upgraded parts. All effort is put into a smaller and smaller segment while the quickly receding obsolete parts grow bigger and bigger.
Ironically though, many of the writers for the increasingly narrowed upgrades, eventually begin to notice that much of the content needed to load the index page is found on the servers they’ve neglected and abandoned as obsolete. When needed, the content is unavailable – outdated, obsolete. Of what importance is a Commodore 64 in Web 2.0?
Apparently, a lot, and if some of the upgraded power is not used to update the neglected, the entire physical interweb suffers.

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the most beautiful thing

Bloged in community, friends, luna see, metaphor by rod Thursday March 8, 2007

Last night when I started home from the gym, the moon was just rising. It occurred to me at first glance that the moon is the most beautiful thing. I had to ponder for the rest of the evening whether it was actually a beauty that it contained in itself. After all, it’s just a big round rock in space. It gives off no light of its own, it has no colorful atmosphere, and its complexion is quite pockmarked and scarred. To call it “crater-face” would be no cruel exaggeration.

So how is it that a round, gray rock is the most beautiful thing?
moon of winds
The whole “most beautiful thing” thought occurred to me because at that moment of first sighting, it was the only thing I could see, save the roof of the Piggly Wiggly that was serving as a flat, tar-covered horizon out of which the moon was emerging. So it’s just the moon, no terrestrial accessories to spice of the beauty. No, come to think of it there is a diffuse mist causing a soft, out-of-focus glow around the moon that even spills onto the tar horizon of the PW.
When I drove down our own street, it had risen above the mist, and shone clear and brightly and unobstructed. Still beautiful, alone in the sky. But wait, by herself, I’d not see her at all. There’s that sunlight splashing off her face at such an angle as to shadow her top, right corner, and cast shades of designs across her scarred face.
When I reached home, she was shining through the trees in the back yard and was more beautiful than before. I realized that she truly is dependent for her beauty. Her beauty is found in her interaction with an infinite array of other beautiful things.
It’s a give and take relationship. She causes the tree limbs to shimmer light and cast streams of shadow on the ground. The tree limbs playfully obstruct her visage and create a flirty glance as she peers down. She perches atop a mountain peak, spills reflected sunlight on a lake that illuminates the undersides of trees on the bank, peers between two buildings, shines upon the soft face of beautiful girl illuminating a cheekbone, and shadowing a slender neck.
Perhaps she’s the most beautiful thing because she’s the common denominator among so many beautiful things. Back home in the mountains, by the river, a Caribbean beach, in the Grand Canyon, the Arizona desert, my backyard – she’s the common beauty. Stealing beauty, adding beauty, interacting with beauty. Reflecting the light of another, and spreading it all around.

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encouraging words

Bloged in church, community, culture by rod Monday February 19, 2007

A year and a half ago when I flew to New Mexico to attend the emergent gathering, I think I mentioned here that I was actually worried about how I’d be accepted there. At the time, so much of the conversation included frustration, criticism, and intolerance of church as it is, and many people were pulling away, leaving, and gathering among believers in totally new community paradigms. I, on the other hand, was leading worship in a contemporary church and teaching at a traditional, conservative Bible College. They were tired of talking and were doing, I was still talking and trying to open minds. Would they see what I was doing from within in any way connected to their pulling away and doing it differently?
When I arrived at the gathering, it took no time at all for my new acquaintances to become friends, and with me as newbies to the gathering were many others who were still trying to affect growth and change within their contexts. The reputation of my school is widespread, and many were outrageously shocked, but equally encouraged that I was there. Word traveled fast that there was a Bible College faculty member among them. I was sought out for conversation. But within my own contexts, I’m still somewhat of an anomaly. There are, however, signs that more are willing to hear, by necessity as we seem more disconnected and less effective with the students to whom we minister, and with the world into which we wish to send them. But I’m still a small, marginal voice in a big pond. Research still trumps experience.
Recently a much bigger voice began a series of chapel sermons here dealing with post-modernism that discussed the topic with a much more open, (dare I say intelligent?), teachable approach. Our President Emeritus, Robertson McQuilkin, delivered a message called “Post Modernism: Capturing it.” There is nothing new here, no new topics to bring into the conversation; but the encouragement is that it was delivered here. His words will be heard when mine sound squeaky and unintelligible, uninformed, naïve, and rebellious, and perhaps open ears to my own.
I’ve asked Dr. McQuilkin for permission to link you to his message and he was excited to give it. He did, however, voice the concern that he didn’t challenge the students enough to be self-critical and challenge some of the stuff they’re buying into. I believe though that he created an atmosphere that will allow him to do that more specifically and be heard and trusted. He will be able to point out specific areas of concern to him without throwing the baby out with the bath, and creating a false antithesis between, “biblical world-view” and “post-modernism”, as has always been done.

I’ve provided a link to this message, if you’re interested. Give a listen. More will follow. In any case, be encouraged with me.

Link: Post Modernism: Capturing It

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jumpsuits and pretty feet

Bloged in community, worship by rod Friday February 16, 2007

At any moment this week, I think I could have sat down and rambled on about what I’ve wanted to post since last Friday. I don’t think I’d have had any trouble finding words. Time is a different matter. There’s been none. Last week was that way too - suppose they all will be. But last week, tagged on bright and early at the end of the week, I was to do Chapel at Kirkland Prison, across the river from us. I had so much to get done last week that it was relegated to the back burner, where it still managed to steal attention from everything I did all week. And I was in a continuous fantasy that I was Johnny Cash getting ready to play at Folsom Prison or San Quentin. We’d gone to see John Mayer the night before and I had to be at the security check at 8:00am Friday morn.
When we got home from coffee sipping and friendship at midnight after the Mayer concert, I’d not yet done any actual physical prep for Chapel that morning, although it had swam in my head all week. I was pretty nervous.
This chapel is a part of the curriculum of a new Associates degree program that we’re offering. Everyone in the program is serving a life sentence. They’ve been moved here from prisons all over the state to participate, and are training to be ministers in the only community they will ever know.
All week, I’d wondered at what was appropriate, what might sound insensitive, offensive, disconnected to those guys, but biblical prison/freedom language kept playing in my head. By Thursday, I’d decided to stop worrying about the prison/freedom language because I realized that it was precisely the message of freedom that these guys were training to bring to their fellow prisoners. I focused on Jesus’ quoting Isaiah and claiming the anointing to proclaim liberty to the captives and set the prisoners free. This was why they are in the program and I was to encourage them.
I told them that Johnny Cash was my patron saint and that I’d pretended I was him all week. I wore black and talked with them, shared the scriptures with them, we sang together from Isaiah, I played guitar for them, and prayed with them. I seemed not to offend anyone, I think I actually did encourage them and they certainly encouraged me. A real connection was made, and I came away feeling even more like Johnny Cash than I had all week.
It was terribly refreshing to speak and sing with, to play for hungry people who weren’t distracted by cool songs, hot licks, pastel shirts, powerpoint. A room full of colorful men, all dressed in the same color jumpsuits with SCDC emblazoned on the back. A picture of the Kingdom. Prisoners given freedom behind bars, carrying the message of freedom to other captives. The Kingdom is an upside-down, inside-out, not-of-this-world concept. Men imprisoned in their freedom, but being freed in captivity. What’s that all about?
I bear the symbol of rebirth, of second chances, of death defied and conquered. We all shared the gift of Beauty from ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning, prison jumpsuits as a garment of praise instead of despair.
They shall be called Oaks of Righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
I saw the Lord’s splendor in that room last Friday morning in the eyes of those acorns.

Say to the prisoner, and to those in darkness, “come out and see yourselves in the light.”

paripatetic, parabolic proverb

Bloged in apprenticeship, community, life by rod Thursday January 11, 2007

Of course it’s a parable TES! You’re right, the point was more than to tell a meaningless story.

Greed itself will cut short our selfish gluttonous ambitions. But patience, perseverance, sharing and common sense are good to the last drop.

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fambly

Bloged in apprenticeship, community, family, life, parenting by rod Friday December 29, 2006

For some reason, Molly and I both woke this morning with the same blog in our heads. I typed mine up to a quasi-near-post-ready form, and came out to the kitchen. Molly said, “hey Dad, did you read my blog?” “You blogged?”, I said. “Yep, made Mom cry.” So I read it. Doggone it, it’s the same thoughts I was having. So now, I’ll never convince anyone that mine were original. Oh well, evidently great minds think alike.
I’ll post mine later this evening, but first you need to read this.

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kingdom is near

Bloged in apprenticeship, church, community by rod Saturday October 21, 2006

Everyone who’s ever been on a short-term mission trip, knows that it is never what is expected on many levels. The least important level, though perhaps the most stressful in the moment, is that nothing ever goes as planned. Usually however, everything seems to go as it is supposed to, though one never knows that at the time.
On a more important level, it is not what is expected because those who go to “minister” are always the ones ministered to. This seems like a profound surprise during the first short-term trip one takes. The real profundity though is experienced on subsequent trips when one believes in experience that he’s got it all figured out, will expect to be blessed as much or more than he blesses, but then as if he’s never done this before, is taken completely by surprise by once again being the receiver rather than the minister.
This has been my experience on several trips to Eastern Europe.
Two years ago, though, I experienced it vicariously when Allison went to the Philippines, and I posted some pics and a scripture. Greg’s response pointed out what I’ve said about the reversal of ministry and hospitality.
I have friends from the Philippines and if I were to make a general assessment of all Filipinos based on my knowledge of my friends, apparently I’d be dead on. Evidently they are the friendliest, most hospitable people on earth. My friends spent a weekend in our home a couple years ago, and though we thought they were our guests, they basically took care of us and fed us the whole time they were here. Not only did they do all the cooking for the weekend, but they also prepared and froze food to last us a good long while after they left. And all at their own expense. I blogged about this, and some interesting inquiries were raised. Greg wondered at whether Jesus may have prepared the meal for Zacchaeus. I wondered at the fact that Jesus had cooked breakfast for the disciples after they’d been fishing all night, and how he told the woman at the well that if she knew who had asked her for a drink, she’d have asked him for a drink.
My friends’ visit here and hosting us in our own home had a profound impact on me. I’ve pondered the whole experience ever since. Last year at the emergent gathering, I watched a missionary on furlough from Scotland come in and host everyone else. I have since learned that he basically does that everywhere he goes. Someone will invite him to dinner and then call and ask him what he’ll be cooking so that they can get groceries for him.
This week, all these thoughts have come together for me as I read the accounts of Jesus’ sending of the pairs of disciples. He appointed and sent out 72. At first, as I read, I thought about how Jesus seemed to be sending the disciples to experience precisely what I’ve described as the short-term mission trip experience. Go and be ministered to. And I guess that is in fact what he did. But the subtlety of the strategy is easily missed, especially by those of us who thought we were bringing something, but ended up receiving.
Jesus tells the disciples to take nothing for the journey, no food, no money, no jacket, nothing. Stay in the people’s home and be provided for. Hmmmm. Oh, yeah, and tell them the Kingdom of God is near. Perhaps we think we’re merely taking a message, but in fact we’re bringing a kingdom for them to participate. In this kingdom, people love and care for and provide for one another. We actually provide part of the message by providing the context for them to participate. Nothing exposes a person’s worth to himself like being needed and caring for someone else. The room is equalized by people serving together. Remember the woman’s response at the well? “How is it that you, a Jew, would ask me for a drink?”
Perhaps we are so hardheaded that this concept eludes us. So God causes it to happen, and we still feel like the beneficiaries of the blessing. How many times have we said, ‘no no, you sit, we’re here to serve you?’ And therefore, how many times have we messed up the picture of kingdom living to those to whom we’re trying to bring the message? Jesus said that he’d come not to be served but to serve. But sometimes he served by allowing people to minister to him and thus participate in his kingdom. He did this at Bethany for the woman with the perfume. He did this for the woman at the well. He did this for Zacchaeus.
Finally, I’m struck that my profound dumbfoundedness at being the receiver instead of the giver on these trips, seems to be the same as the disciples when they returned. Though Jesus had instructed them that if they were not received, it was actually him that was not received and that they should shake the dust off their sandals and move on, when they came back, they were ecstatic. Jesus responded with joy and prayed:

I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

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gathering 2

Bloged in church, community, worship by rod Monday October 9, 2006

So the week between “the dress looks nice on you”, and “full”, was full. Hey, even the full moon blog was 2 days late. But I did a lot of blogging, just didn’t get anything in a coherent form. I did a talk on Wednesday, that I will edit blogstyle and post, and the nice looking dress, part 2 is imminent.
However, there is a possibility that things may get sidetracked for a few days by other more immediate thoughts and responses. I’m writing now at gate 1, awaiting my flight to Albuquerque. I’ll be driving up to the Santa Fe area for the Emergent Gathering. This will be my second year to attend, and I am very excited.
As I left the house this morning, Jack hugged me and said, “blog every day”, so I guess I gotta. Stay tuned.

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cup o’ community

Bloged in community, friends by rod Monday July 24, 2006

Members of Allison’s Sunday School class have been gathering around the coffee bean at Barnes and Nobles on Wednesday evening’s for a long time now. They gather while I’m at rehearsal and after I’ve gone home, settled the kids, and visited the gym, I crash the remnants of their gathering to enjoy a cup of the black stuff and hear the summation of their world-correcting banter. Though in over a year, I’ve been the only testosterone to violate the sanctity of their gatherings, they’ve always welcomed me with smiles and even open arms at 10:15pm after the gym has closed, and I have to admit that I’m not actually fit to be seen in public at that time.


Leah

Gatherings of people around coffee cups are terribly alluring. Coffee creates its own atmosphere that seems to soften whatever non-personal, non-community atmosphere that may be the reality in any given space. The knit that has taken place in these girls’ gatherings is beautiful. I have watched it with a happy heart as they gather simply to be together.


Bug

At some point, one of them (lmb) shared a dream of opening her own coffee establishment, and with the unfettered support and egging on of the others, began taking steps to make a dream a reality.
A reality it has become. On Saturday morn, lmb had a private tasting, which I attended, having been told that she would serve Sumatra especially for me. As it turned out, for the first 2 hours, I was not only the sole male in the crowd of supporters, but as you might have guessed, the only partaker of the black, extra bold Sumatran blessing. Later, /sp’s My Mike showed up and helped me with the Sumatran.
I am ever so happy that this is happening, and I pray that deep and beautiful relationships are formed around the square tables and round mugs of fancy flavors.

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