Nothing profound at all today…

So, it’s been a while… How have you been? Me? Oh, not so bad… To tell you the truth, things have been good, but no super interesting fodder for the blog. Except the following (mildly) interesting pieces of information.

1 – This morning I spilled a glass of orange juice all over my khaki shorts, and had to go through the rest of the day w/ orange stained clothes. The people at the bank who I had to meet with did not seem that impressed.

2 – This afternoon I did something mysterious. I may or may not be able to tell you about it. It may or may not change things in the near and/or distant future.

Happy Wednesday to all…

Another Day at the Falls

For some reason, whenever I come to Argentina, the weather decides to play tricks on me and turns freakishly cold. At least I have hot water at the hotel I’m staying in (which I didn’t last time). The first morning I checked in, I waited for about 20 minutes, and the water never warmed up beyond lukewarm. Imagine my pleasant surprise this morning when I decided I would have to suffer through a cold shower and the water was actually hot! So I took a few showers today. =)

And now that I’ve scared everyone away… I spent the day at the Iguazú falls again. I wasn’t expecting that much because it’s been so cloudy and icky weather. But somehow the falls are still breathtaking, even on a cloudy, cold, overcast day. These last few days of cold and rain have made the rivers fuller, the banks overflowed, the falls more majestic, and me cranky. You win some, you lose some.

There is one spot where you can follow a catwalk and end up practically underneath one of the smaller waterfalls (smaller is a VERY relative term). I ventured a few feet out, and was trounced by this strong wind that seemed to enjoy whipping the mist from the waterfalls through my bones, and my feet were half frozen, my sweatshirt soaked, and my lips blue after a minute or two… and I didn’t even get that close.

I saw a guy who was wearing a full length rain poncho stumble back from the end of the catwalk, a huge grin on his face as he laughed and babbled excitedly to his wife. He made me want to walk out into the midst of the storm – until I saw him pull off the poncho. His jeans were soaked, his shirt dripping, and he looked like he had just fallen in the river. He could not have been any wetter if he had tried. And while I am all for experiencing amazing, wonderful things, hypothermia and frostbite are not two of those things. Maybe next time, right?

An allegory

Once there was a cute little kitten. It was orange and gray and white, and was deathly afraid of any loud noises. We’ll call this kitten “Puxa” (pronounced poo-sha). She was a content cat – she would run around and chase her tail. She would meow piteously at the drop of a hat. She once opened a door all by herself. Yes, Puxa was a very special cat.

Yesterday cute little Puxa, who was very curious, was exploring the house she lived in. After many hours of exploring, she was quite exhausted, so she curled up in the nice pile of dirty laundry. Puxa was not the most intelligent cat, however, and had fallen asleep in the washing machine – a fact which she discovered when she was rudely awakened by the spin cycle.

The washing machine experience was not a good one for Puxa. In fact, it was almost a case of the old adage “Curiosity killed the cat.” But Puxa pulled through. She was injured, had a few broken tail bones, was pitiful and bedraggled, but very grateful when pulled out of the machine.

I took great care of Puxa that night. I tended her wounds, and petted and cuddled her and kept her warm. I splinted the broken bones, and was pleased with my work. The following morning I woke up early to take Puxa to the vet to look at her injuries. As we were crossing the street, Puxa was startled by a loud noise, jumped out of the box she was in, bolted across the road, and was run over by a bus. Puxa pancake. It made me quite sad.

Romero

A meditation for those who stress out over the how much there is always left to be done, and who take the weight of the world on their weakened, straining shoulders. A prayer for when our humanity and frailty and brokenness seems overwhelming. A promise for our lives. A vision of what one day will be realized.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom of Heaven is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow, we water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are the workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

May that future be filled with grace, peace and hope.

Amen.

~ Archbishop Oscar Romero

This made me laugh…

Hey everyone. I realize it’s been a long time since I’ve been on here. Things have been busy. But I wanted to put something up. I stumbled across this today, and it made me laugh. Enjoy the musings on “the Devil went down to Georgia,” and check out more fun stuff at McSweeny’s.

THIRTY-NINE QUESTIONS FOR CHARLIE DANIELS UPON HEARING
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” for the First Time in 25 Years.


By John Moe

– – – –

1. The Devil won that fiddling contest, right?

2. Because isn’t that totally amazing fiddle feedback thing the Devil plays (which sounds like Hendrix gone bluegrass) a hundred times better than that high-school-band piece-of-crap tune Johnny plays?

3. I mean, come on, right?

4. And since the Devil is so clearly better, why does he lay the golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny’s feet?

5. What kind of one-sided bet was that anyway, your eternal soul for a fiddle?

6. Shouldn’t it have been something like Johnny’s soul or the eradication of Evil?

7. Or maybe a golden fiddle against some object Johnny placed great value upon?

8. If the Devil went down to Georgia ’cause he was looking for a soul to steal, why does he arrange what appears to be an honest competition?

9. Was there actually some hidden theft or scam going on here on the part of the Devil?

10. Then why not explain that, Mr. Daniels?

11. And who was judging that contest?

12. Was it an honor-system kind of thing?

13. With the Devil?

14. Honor system with the Devil. How did Johnny get sucked into that one?

15. Does Johnny suffer from some—I’m trying to be delicate here—cognitive disabilities?

16. Was there some sort of arbitration board in place in the event that the outcome was not obvious?

17. If so, who served on this board?

18. It wasn’t the demons, was it?

19. ‘Cause even though they’re the only characters in the song, they’re kind of biased since they’re in the Devil’s band and they’re demons, right?

20. So why—why—does the Devil take the dive and throw the contest?!

21. I mean, the Devil can’t be hurting for cash. How much is it going to cost him to buy a new golden fiddle?

22. I’m thinking maybe $18,000. Does that sound right to you?

23. If you’re Johnny, what do you even want with a golden fiddle?

24. Doesn’t the metallic surface of a golden fiddle create an unpalatably tinny sound as opposed to the nice resonant sound on a wooden instrument?

25. Does he think he’s going to display it in his home and tell people the story of how he beat the Devil?

26. Who’s going to believe that?

27. Or does he try to sell the fiddle?

28. If so, how does he go about getting something like that appraised?

29. Or does he just melt it all down for the gold?

30. That sounds awfully hard, don’t you think?

31. And is Johnny haunted by the question of why the Devil let him win like that?

32. Was there some catch in the contest that Johnny wasn’t aware of where the Devil really does get his soul anyway and Johnny didn’t notice it because he’s not all that smart?

33. And even if he didn’t get Johnny’s soul, what is Johnny going to say to God in heaven when he has to explain that he bet his soul, the essence of life, God’s one true gift, on a fiddle contest?

34. Johnny knows deep down that he’s not really the best that’s ever been and that’s the source of his insecure boasting, right?

35. Was it really necessary or wise to invite the Devil to come on back if he ever wants to try again?

36. ‘Cause what does Johnny need, a second golden fiddle?

37. Or maybe a golden viola the next time?

38. Why would the Devil need an invitation?

39. Are you implying, Mr. Daniels, that Johnny actually wants to get hustled?

– – – –

Hola desde Buenos Aires!

Hola queridos desde friísimo Buenos Aires – me parece que me estoy congelando cade dia más y más – pero, es tan bueno estar aquí con mis amigos los Forcattos.

Sorry – this language switching thing gets me confused at times. I´m not going to be on this long, but here´s a fun fact for many of ya´ll. Did you know that at this time of year, Buenos Aires is COLD! (with a capital C – and all the other letters too…) Buenos Aires is close to Chicago or Indianapolis type latitude… and that means for this kid from Rio who owns only a few lightweight sweatshirts that he´d be half frozen if it weren´t for the generosity of his friends who he´s staying with (Walter and Adriana) who have graciously lent him sweatshirts, gloves, coats, hats, and a sleeping place right next to the heater…

No time for fun stories, but I´m saving them up. Just wait… ´til then, tchau, y cuídanse amigos. Até logo, e com muitos abraços, Benjamín…

fun w/ the neighbors

The other day my neighbor found an old answering machine and brought it by the house wanting some advice on how to make it work. It was tough for him because first of all the instructions were in English. Second, this answering machine is probably as old as I am. It’s almost the size of a small briefcase, and it uses actual cassette tapes (the big ones) to record on. After a few minutes of messing around w/ it, I had it pretty much figured out.

Then over comes Kaiwan, our neighbor’s almost two-year-old son. (I’ve mentioned him before – he’s great, and I love him…) Kaiwain likes to push buttons. So he and I sat on the floor my living room pushing buttons on the answering machine and listening to it intone “You have no messages…” Every time it said this, he would giggle.

I finally was able to show him the button that let you record a short memo, and he babbled away into it in his baby-talk/Portuguese. Then we sat there for another ten minutes as he pushed “Play” so he could hear himself speaking. He loved it.

The following day, as I was leaving the house, I saw them trying to teach Kaiwan how to flip people off… I guess it’s one of the many things you need to learn young when you grow up in the favelas. It was funny, yet sad too…

mas infelizmente, por agora, a vida é assim, né? é…

abraços

Rainer Maria Rilke is cool

Tomorrow morning I am leaving town. I am taking the Servant Team on a retreat/debriefing time. (and I just now remembered a great Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Calvin is imagining he is Spaceman Spiff, captured by the hideous aliens. They are taking him to be debriefed. With a wicked grin, Calvin snickers “Little do they realize, but our hero doesn’t WEAR briefs…) sorry. That was stupid.

Anyway, we’re going to this little coastal town down the… coast. hmm. Beach, mountains, streams, swimming, nature… I’m excited for it. A large part will also be giving the team time to listen and reflect and ask themselves “What now? What do these last four months mean for me and the world? What am I called to do? Who am I called to be?” (Questions we can all ask ourselves… I digress.)

While they’re doing this, I am planning on having it be a time of listening to God. I just want to be in His presence – to be refreshed. To be washed and recharged and put back together. To sit and hear His voice. To be patient as I wait. To live the questions… and I’d love your prayers. I’m sure there will be a funny story or two upon my return. And maybe even an epiphany or two…

on that note –

…be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek then answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Something to try…

Hey everyone (both of you that read this) –

I’m recommending this to ya’ll, even though I haven’t tried it out yet, cause I want to try it out. There’s this program called Skype that you download (www.skype.com) that allows you to make free phone calls to other users… From what I’ve heard from some other WMF types, it works really well (say from the US to Nepal…) So I want to see if works as well from Brazil to the US, Peru, Africa, Asia, etc. But to do this, I need you to download it, then add me to your contact list (similar to an Instant Message program) and then when we’re online, we can talk… So get it, tell me about, and then we’ll try it – and remember that my buddy name is benmichaelmiller – look forward to chatting…

ben