Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Let the Door Swing Wide

Joe, the owner of the beach house I am staying in, told me he thought I would like Kim Kalman, a local musician that leads worship at his church and sings in local restaurants. So today I went to hear her at the Beach Bread Company and he was right. She has a great mix of her own originals, classics from the 30s, 40s and 50s, and two Christian cds. I bought her latest, Let the Door Swing Wide.

Lessons from the Sea

I watched the sun rise over the ocean this morning. I am blessed to be in a beach house on the shores of the Atlantic in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the extravagant gift of friends who like to bless people in ministry by offering the gift of a vacation in their beautiful home on the ocean. From the beach house window I watched dolphins jump in synchronicity. A wide eyed crab seemed to pose for me in the sand as I took his picture. All day I have listened to the powerful roar of the waves as they crescendo and crash.

In my first year out of college I became a certified scuba diver. I have done enough diving and snorkeling to know that as I look out over the blue waves of the ocean there is another world below its surface. Underneath, the ocean is teeming with thousands of species of multi-colored fish, sea turtles, lobster, stingrays, sharks, porpoises and jellyfish. Oceans cover more than 75% of the earth’s surface and most of the life in it has never been observed by a human eye. It’s just there, wonderfully complex and beautiful.

I enjoy backpacking in the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. I love going to the book stores in the areas where I hike. I have to restrain myself. Alongside shelf after shelf of books about birds and trees and animals, I have seen books identifying at least 10,000 different types of mushrooms! And you can buy animal scat guides. It’s amazing what you can learn from the excrement of the animals on the trail. I have become especially interested in using this method to identify the beasts I might encounter while hiking. Every animal’s scat is different. Come on, God, did you have to pay such attention to detail?!

As I trek along the ocean beach and through the mountains and the woods I am amazed by the variety of species of plants and animals. God could have created one kind of flower, or perhaps two or three, and the world would have been beautiful. But there are 40,000 identified species of Orchids alone! There is an effusiveness to God’s character, an overflowing extravagance. St. Augustine called it the “plentitude” of God, the lavish, overflowing love and creativity of God is bountifully displayed in nature. I want to live in that place of extravagant love, creativity and generosity, the kind of generosity I am experiencing from the friends who have provided this vacation for me, and in the effusive plentitude of God.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Teri free falling

Here's a picture of my 24 year old daughter, Teri, after she jumped out of a plane!

Soul Collage

My friend Carolyn Durgin leads soul collage workshops. The practice facilitates self discovery and attentiveness to the soul. Here are four collages that I have created in the past year.

NIMBYism in Park Ridge

Here's a link to a Chicago Tribune article about Carl Morello, the pastor of St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge, and his attempt to open a PADs shelter in a gym in the church. While most Christians would probably say it is important to follow the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 25, there is still a prevailing prejudice that screams NOT IN MY BACK YARD!

Matthew 25

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45 "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

Ahh, the mountains, the woods!

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Colorado where I backpacked with Carolyn, a good friend from college. Remind me when I get stressed to head for the woods. I see and hear God in nature and it fills me up! It was also great to have lots of challenging and inspiring conversations. Thanks Carolyn!

Black In America

On July 23 at 9PM and July 24 at 9PM, CNN will premier a series, Black In America, a story of success, struggle, pain and pride.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Complicity in Poverty and the Goodness of God

I read this great article this morning from The Other Journal at Mars Hill. Author, Christopher Heuertz put into words the philosophy undergirding our BUILD groups based on many of the writings of Paulo Friere.
Practically speaking, after our community passed around copies of Education for Critical Consciousness, we set out to implement what we had absorbed from Freire. In part of the book, he shares from his experience of "culture circles" of dialogue, which are methods used to reflect on one's reality and move one toward a reshaping of that reality.

By forming friendships that are characterized by true mutual reciprocity, we are granted the courage to engage in the pain of our shared realities, and this unity is itself a gift of grace, a hope that human dignity thus realized can transform society.

The courage to admit our complicity in poverty, embody this grace, and struggle to overcome this reality is, as Freire notes, real education.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Compassion and Justice classes at Willow

I taught the Week Two session of the Beyond Charity: Living a Life of Compassion and Justice class at Willow Creek last Wednesday. Here's a link to the audio and video streams.

Chicago's Working Poor Are Struggling to Eat

Crains Chicago Business issued an article today about a study conducted by the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the University of Chicago. They surveryed 301 working-poor residents of Cook County and found that 61% of them said their families had faced financial difficulties in securing food in the past year. Breakthrough provides supplemental groceries to 225 families in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on Chicago's west side. More than half of the community of East Garfield Park has been determined to be a "food desert" by a study commissioned by LaSalle Bank in 2006 entitled Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Obama to Expand Bush's Faith-Based Initiatives

Here's a link to an interesting article about Senator Obama's plans to expand the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He says,
"In time, I came to see faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the Lord's work."