light and shadow

Sometimes, words are not enough.

Sometimes, words confuse, weigh down…

But sometimes, words are all we have to give.  And so these words are written, knowing full well how inadequate and superficial they are.  And the hope is that through the words, love is shared – presence sent – courage grows – a candle is flickers – the darkness is kicked – and daylight spills out and overflows just a little bit more.

—–

I was 17 when I moved into the dorms at Taylor – fresh from the jungles of Peru, a little overwhelmed and confused by the United States, by the culture, by life.  I was heartsick and homesick and felt desperately alone, wanting to be with people who knew me – with my family & friends – for my mom’s cancer to be healed – for death to take a step back from our lives.

There was a community of international students, missionary kids, and other fun people who lived in a home off-campus called “the Souphouse.”  For that 17 year old kid, this home and these people were a lifeline.  They understood me, listened, and provided a safe place for me to adjust, acclimate, and begin to process what was going on in my life.  Dave and Rhys were a part of that community, and I am so thankful.

—–

This morning, I sat at my computer, reading about their daughter Lia, who is in a hospital in Seattle.  I read, and I prayed, and I wept.  She is fighting for life, for freedom from pain, and her family is with her in the midst of that.  This is Lia.  She’s three years old.

Rhys wrote,

“…we’re not seeking a cure. we’re seeking to do as little harm, and hoping to introduce something good. the goal is to maintain, to hang on and get every bit of life from these moments…

…parts of lia dwell in God’s house already, her feet are dancing, and her mouth sings with the angels. her body runs without effort, and yet she is still tied to this earth. her body is ground-heavy, weighed with the brokenness of being alive. even as i treasure her, i know that her house is being built. it’s not brick and mortar, but a floor to ceiling windowed house that opens to jungles and oceans. giraffes run freely through the rooms, leaving behind little star shaped footprints. the ocean laps against her windows, and the dolphins come to speak with her. she holds a merry court with angels, and her body is strong.

 when i think about it like this, the promises don’t seem so hard. it’s just a deep measure of peace surrounding we two on the couch while we wait…”

—–

water in my eyes…

—–

As I was reading, I heard Gungor playing in the background:  ”

This is not the end
This is not the end of this
We will open our eyes wide, wider

This is not our last
This is not our last breath
We will open our mouths wide, wider

And you know you’ll be alright
Oh and you know you’ll be alright

This is not the end
This is not the end of us
We will shine like the stars bright, brighter

and once again, tears streamed down my face.  This is our hope, and our prayer.  For Lia.  And for the world.

—–

     “Praise, praise!” I croak.  Praise God for all that’s holy, cold, and dark…  I kneel down beside him till within his depths I see a star.

Sometimes this star is still.  Sometimes she dances…  Within that little pool of Wear she winks at me.  I wink at her.  The secret that we share I cannot tell in full.  But this much I will tell.  What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.

~Frederick Buechner (Godric)

As we wait, and hope, and pray, and mourn, and weep, and listen, and treasure, my mind keeps coming back to that last line.

“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”  

So we pray peace, and rest, and love, and ringing peals of little girl laughter to fill and overflow that hospital room, for today, and each and every day that remains…  And through the tears, we wait.  And through the dark, we wait.  We wait for hope realized.  We wait for all things new.  We wait for Easter.  We wait for You.  We wait…  Be near us in the waiting.

—–

For those of you who pray, or just want to know more, you can go here for updates, prayer requests, etc…  Thank you.  And if you want to help friends travel to see Lia in March, go here.

3 Basic Rules for Living in Community

Reading Father Martin’s endearing, intriguing introduction to Jesuit spirituality, I came across the following snippet that I thought was too good not to share, both in it’s applicability in my own life, and in all of my relationships (but especially as I struggle to be a part of an authentic community…)

“When John O’Malley was a Jesuit novice, an older priest told him three things to remember when living in community:

First, you’re not God.

Second, this isn’t heaven.

Third, don’t be an ass.”

Sometimes, we just need to be reminded of the simple truths in ways that get through our thick skulls…

Rev. James Martin, SJ
The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

Celebration

In just over a month, my friend Josh is getting married. He’s a favorite person of mine – thoughtful and deliberate, curious, intelligent, full of life, and always up for an adventure… So we met up at a state park in central Wisconsin – a bunch of guys who were drawn together for one reason – to celebrate Josh, his friendship, his upcoming wedding, and take some time to have an adventure.

The entire week before I was overwhelmed and feeling swamped with papers and projects that were due – my perfectionism loves to rear its ugly head at times like these – and nothing was quite good enough until I absolutely had to turn it in. (It’s worse when it’s stuff I really care about, which is pretty much all my classes… sigh…) But, I promised myself, if I could get through the week, this camping trip/adventure/celebration would be my reward. Of course, a couple days before, Josh emailed us all and in passing mentioned it was going to be in the low 30’s and raining. But hey, who ever let a little cold and rain stop a bachelor party from being celebrated?

Dan and I pulled into the campsite a little after noon on Saturday, to find most of the rest of the guys already there, huddled in a semi-circle, rain jackets on and hoods pulled high. Gray. Foggy. Drizzling. Humid. Everything was damp in minutes. Windy. And cold. It felt cold.

A quick round of introductions, handshakes and smiles and a few bearhugs, and we were off. Originally, the plan was to go climbing, but the rain made the rocks a little treacherous in places – and no matter what anyone tells you, moss does not turn sticky when it gets wet… Kinda the opposite, actually. So we left the climbing gear in the cars, and instead we just hiked around the lake – through the woods and up the bluff, stopping to play whenever we felt the urge. Some trees just scream out to be climbed (especially when they are growing out of the side of a cliff 200 feet above the valley floor.) And sometimes we just stopped and stared off the cliff edge as the rain fell and the cloids boiled and swirled around us, and we fell silent at the strange beauty… And sometimes, we laughed and told stories and pretended we were hiking through the forests of Lorien, and orcs were about to come streaming over the hill… And sometimes we stopped to skip rocks in the lake and see who could throw them the farthest and who could balance for the longest time on the railroad tracks without falling off… But the whole time was sweet, and full of laughter and that deep sense of joy – of all being right with the world. And the whole time, the rain fell. Sometimes sprinkling. Sometimes drizzling. But always falling.

We got back to the campsite around dusk, and the rain stopped. It’s always easier to set up camp when it’s not raining. It’s also usually easier to set up camp when the ground’s not churned into a muddy froth. But you can’t have everything. Me and a couple other guys set up tents while Dan built the fire, and Josh and Zach and Terry got the venison stew heating up on the camp stove, and we gathered around the fire. Of course, it being December, by 5:00 it was pitch black – by 6:00 it felt like midnight…

The rest of the night was just a bunch of guys around a campfire – telling stories, laughing, eating food, cooking things in the fire… When you put it into words, it loses some of the magic that was there: the smell of wood-smoke, the crackling of the fire, the chill of December air, the glimmering stars peeking through the clouds, the taste of warm stew heating you up from the inside, the pitter-patter of rain falling through the bare branches onto the bed of leaves in the forest around us, sizzling in the fire, slowly drenching through our multiple layers of clothing… And it’s even more than that. You lose some of the magic of a few men who have taken a night to sleep outside in the mud and rain because we love our friend, and want to celebrate him. You lose the magic of hearing Josh talk about the woman he can’t wait to spend the rest of his life with, and laughing about the predicaments he has gotten himself into (and out of again.) You lose the magic of a bunch of strangers gathering and becoming brothers because they are all friends with Josh. There’s so much you miss out on. But that’s ok – ’cause after all, it was just a bunch of us huddled around the campfire, kicking at the darkness, telling stories of hope, and love, and joy, and life. It was life-giving – and just what I needed. I hope it was what Josh needed…

By this point, it was raining pretty hard, so we decided to call it a night. Dan and I went and threw sleeping bags and pads into the tent, only to discover that due to a combination of inferior tent (probably mostly this, if you ask me) and shoddy tent pitching (maybe more of this, if you ask Dan), the tarp that was supposed to keep the bottom of the tent dry had instead captured the water, turning our tent into a miniature indoor swimming pool. Spare clothes were soaked. Sleeping bags were dampened. Sleeping pads were drifting along, crewed by tiny woodland creatures on fantastic journeys of discovery. Thankfully, Dan had an extra tarp that we spread inside the tent in the vain hope that it would prove water-proof enough to let us make it through the night. And it did a pretty good job keeping what was not already soaked mostly dry. Except for our sleeping bags… You know, the things that are supposed to keep you warm when the temp drops below freezing… The synthetic material acted like a sponge, and slowly throughout the night the water wicked its way up the sleeping bags until by morning the bottom third of the bags were sopping wet. Let’s just say it was a long, cold night with not much sleep – and sleep, when it came, was fleeting. Every few minutes I’d wake and hear the rain beating down on the rain-fly, dripping into puddles that surrounded our tent, or rushing in rivulets down the hillside into the lake.

By the next morning, Dan and I were both curled up into balls in the top half of our sleeping bags, trying to keep toes from drifting into the icy depths of wet sleeping bag. And to finally give up all pretence of trying to sleep, and peel the damp wet sleeping bag off your legs and step out of the tent into a dry down coat felt heavenly. It had stopped raining at some point near dawn, and even though the sensation of not having freezing water drop down the back of your neck feels really good (especially after a day of it drip, drip, dripping), I found myself missing the rain.

All day as we hiked through the woods, leapt from rock to rock, swung from branches and sat in silence and awe, I was aware of the rain, and it was God’s love song. All evening as we sat around the fire, and the rain fell on my shoulders and then evaporated into a swirl of steam from the heat of the campfire, I was conscious of the rain falling, and it was God’s whisper. All night as I lay on the cold ground, and heard the rain pounding on the rain-fly, and felt the drips sneak through the sides and soak into my bag, I thought about the rain, and wonder threatened to overwhelm my heart with beauty. All day, all evening, all night, I was thinking of this:

 

“Water is always an invitation to imersion [for me], an immersion with a quality of totality, since it would accept all of me, as I am…
No rain falls that I do not at once hear in the sound of the falling water an invitation to come to the wedding. It is rare that I do not answer. A walk in an evening rain in any setting is to walk in the midst of God’s loving attention to his earth, and, like a baptism, is no simple washing, but a communication of life. When you hurry in out of the rain, I hurry out into it, for it is a sign that all is well, that God loves, that good is to follow. If suffering a doubt, I find myself looking to rain as a good omen. And in rain, I always hear singing, wordless chant rising and falling.
When rain turns to ice and snow I declare a holiday. I could as easily resist as stay at a desk with a parade going by in the street below. I cannot hide the delight that then possesses my heart. Only God could have surprised rain with such a change of dress as ice and snow…
Most people love rain, water. Snow charms all young hearts. Only when you get older and bones begin to feel dampness, when snow becomes a traffic problem and a burden in the driveway, when wet means dirt – then the poetry takes flight and God’s love play is not noted.
But I am still a child and have no desire to take on the ways of death. I shall continue to heed water’s invitation, the call of the rain. We are in love and lovers are a little mad.”

~ Matthew Kelty, Flute Solo,
Reflections of a Trappist Hermit, pp. 117-19

 

We broke down camp, loaded up the cars, and drove into town for breakfast and coffee (and dry warmth) at a local greasy-spoon diner – a great end to a time that was just too short. And in spite of my complaints about the cold, and the rain, and how my tent turned into a boat, I’m thankful it was raining. It fits Josh and DJ – who they are, and who they will be. And my prayer for them – my hope for us – is that they continue to take the time to go out and sit in the rain… to notice the poetry of God’s love play, to hear the call of the rain, the call to be in love, and just a little bit mad.

New favorites

The last two months have felt like trying to ride a bike on a treadmill – fun, but you just know it’s going to end badly.  Lots of stuff on my plate as I transition slowly from and to: complicated (in good ways) by beginning school again, work, and the delightful visit of my favorite Korean speaking sister (which included bike rides through the woods, visits to the apple orchard, road trips to Indiana, Peruvian food in Chicago, and lots of laughter and good conversation.)  But in light of all that (plus a few other things here and there), I haven’t made time to write.  But here’s the deal…  I want to.  I need to practice gratitude – search for beauty in my daily life – and live intentionally – and writing here helps me do that.  So, in light of all that, here’s a few things I have been delighting in about this transition:

– fascinating classes, exploring family dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and delving into theories of the mind…  challenging both my mind, heart, and spirit.  I’m loving it.

– four fun guys to share a home with – an oasis (and occasional place of celebration) in the middle of the city and the busyness.

– runs down by the lake, enjoying the play of colors on the water, the way the city looks like a different place depending on whether it’s a gray rainy morning, a blustery fall afternoon, a crystalline sunset, or the contrast of city lights shining in the darkness – the interplay of light and shadow…

– a cohort of solid, passionate, compassionate students who are learning with me.

– the gift of being with people who know you and know you well, even if it’s unexpected and short.  Spent a weekend w/ Liz and Car – we’ve been present in each other’s lives for over 20 years, and sharing a plate of ceviche and lomo saltado while savoring a pisco sour just made it that much sweeter.

– glimmers of community, belonging, rootedness, worship, and a place of service that I’m VERY excited about.

– reminders of beauty, hope, adventure, laughter, community, creativity, and play, such as this video by Ben Howard:

 

 

– near daily reminders and challenges (both in class and out of class) to take risks, to engage, to move forward, to enter into relationship and life with others, and not simply be content with safety and comfort…

Today in class, we talked about C.S. Lewis (in The Four Loves), who says:

          “To love at all is to be vulnerable.  love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung, and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

Sobering words, as I ask myself, what do I really want?  Comfort?  Safety?  Normalcy?  Complacency?

Or do I want risk?  Adventure?  Movement?  Growth?  Discomfort?  Failure?  A life lived for others?  Giant slip-and-slides down mountains?

Yes.

I’m thankful for the big “Yes” that this transition has been so far.  And I’m excited and eager to see what unfolds as I continue to respond “Yes…”

 

Instructions

“Remember your name.

Do not lose hope –
what you seek will
be found.

Trust ghosts.
Trust those that
you have helped to
help you in their turn.

Trust dreams.

Trust your heart,
and trust
your
story…

Ride the wise eagle
(you shall not fall).

Ride the silver fish
(you will not drown).

Ride the grey wolf
(hold tightly to his fur).

There is a worm at the heart of the tower;
     that is why it will not stand.

When you reach the little house,
the place your journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem
much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path, and through the garden
gate you never saw before but once.

And then go home.

Or make a home.

Or rest.”

~ An excerpt from Neil Gaiman’s Instructions

 

There are times when words, pictures, and images resonate with your heart. You may not be able to articulate exactly why this is the case. But in them, you find beauty – and power – and hope – and truth.

And maybe it’s the stage of life I find myself in – but the reminder to trust – to hope – is timeless.

Remember. Trust. Then rest…

Easter dreams and "the rest of the story…"

I’ve been reluctant to move on from Easter this year – wanting to slow down, to savor ever moment, to linger over the hope that is freely offered to all. And as I ponder what it means to be Easter people, to be captives of hope in a hopeless world, I am struck again and again by our vantage point in the middle of the story. No matter where we are in the story of our life, we are still a work in progress. Our dreams are growing, changing, coming to fruition in fits and starts, stalling and dying and being reborn in unexpected and unforeseen ways. We are unfinished, and cannot see where we will go, what we will become, or whose lives we will touch. And we never will, until we live out the rest of the story…

The disciples are a prime example of this. From our vantage point, the story unfolds with a certain inevitability and it’s easy to forget the roller-coaster of emotions that must have been present for those actually living it. From the ecstasy of vindication as they rode into Jerusalem with their Master on Palm Sunday to the cheer and acclaim of the crowds: “Surely,” they must have thought to themselves, “We are about to be rewarded for our service. Now is the day that the King has come to Jerusalem, and all things will be put to right – the Romans destroyed, the oppressors of their people cast down, and the restoration of David’s glorious kingdom.” Their dreams were coming true. They didn’t know the rest of the story.

Fast forward a few days – tension is rising in the temple courts as the teachers of the law and Temple establishment try to trap Jesus, tricking him into alienating either the people or the Roman authorities. Jesus manages to outmaneuver them time and time again. Fractures appear in the group of disciples, with Judas approaching the priests to betray Jesus and turn him over to them in the next few days, while the others stick close to him. This was the moment when things would fall one way or the other, and I’m sure the stress was incredible. Where was the story headed?

And I can hardly imagine the cycles the of the disciple’s emotions on Thursday night – the sacred tradition of the Passover meal, the washing of feet, the embarrassment and intimacy, the delight and the doubt… The last teaching of Jesus to the disciples as they hung on his every word, at some level grasping the momentousness of this occasion… Prayer in the garden, falling asleep while they waited, and finally terror and anguish as a crowd of thugs melted out of the darkness around them cutting off escape… One last surge of expectation that maybe NOW was when Jesus would act… That expectation evaporating as Jesus was swept off to a hasty trial and public lynching… And over the next day, the devastation of watching their hope be dismantled, degraded, dehumanized, destroyed… Deeper and deeper and deeper into despair as they ran, abandoned their Master, denied they knew him, and committed suicide… The story was crumbling around them.

Then the burial, and the dark of night, and a long, quiet Saturday – disciples staring wide-eyed into space, some in numb shock, others beginning to feel the faint stirrings of anger and disappointment at Jesus, this man they had given up everything for, followed for years, who had abandoned them and betrayed them. Maybe some began to make plans for what their life would look like “post-Jesus.” Peter and Andrew mumbling together in a corner, wondering if their father would let them back into the family fishing business… Simon the Zealot ready to resume the rebellion against the empire that he had given up because JESUS had asked him to do so… Matthew wondering where he would go, what he would do – he couldn’t go back to tax collecting… Not after what he’d seen. But the money was so good. And if everyone was just going to die anyway, and the hope Jesus offered was a lie, then why not make the most of it while he could? John – asked to care for his dead friend’s mother – yet every time he saw her the pain of loss bubbled up anew…

Stories aren’t supposed to end like this – surrounded by blackness and consumed by the void. We know it deep in the core of our being, and we fight for it over and over in our lives despite all evidence to the contrary. Even in this world of death and destruction, of broken promises and disappointment, we fight for happy endings because we know, deep down, that we were made for fairy tales. Frederick Buechner explores this in my favorite book of his, “Telling the Truth: the Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale.” Our lives – our stories – are the stuff of tragedy. Brokenness and failure haunt our every decision, and even the most glorious moments of transcendence come to an end all too quickly. Yet in the midst of that tragedy is the ridiculous comedy that reaches in and declares that God loves us anyway – in spite of our lies, our failures, the way we hurt and betray and wound those we love the most. This fusion of tragedy and comedy declares that ultimately, life IS a fairy tale – that redemption is possible, that all hurts will be healed and every tear wiped away – that all things will be reconciled one day, and we will have life abundant and eternal, quenching our parched souls. This is the promise of the gospel.  This is the promise of the story we have been invited into.

Thankfully, the story of Easter didn’t end on Saturday. Looking back on it from a distance of 2000 years, we know what happens next. We can imagine the fear and bewilderment of the women who approached the tomb and found the stone rolled away. We crinkle with anticipation as we watch them run back to tell the disciples that SOMETHING has happened. We know a surprise is waiting – more glorious than any Christmas surprise, more life-changing than any long awaited birth. And we see the slow dawning realization begin to spread among the disciples – ever so slowly, from one to another…

“What’s happened?”

“Have you heard?”

“I don’t believe it…”

“Do you really think…”

“No.”

“But…”

“What if?”

And then the appearance of Jesus in their midst. The one who was dead and now lives forever. The one they watched crucified. The one they had loved. The one they had abandoned. The one they had buried. The one they had mourned. This one was in their midst, and he laughed with them, and reassured them and said, “Do not be afraid… Mmm, that fish smells good. I think I’ll have some…”

He was alive. He defeated sin, and hell, and death. Sin could not conquer him. Hell could not hold him. Death could not contain him. He was back – and he was himself – gloriously, surprisingly, unbelievably present and alive!

He is alive!  And those who saw him, accepted him, believed in him – they were never the same.

2000 years later, the story goes on…

This is my challenge, and yours: How do we remember that the story is unfinished? How do we realize that we are living in the tension of the now, of the tragedy and comedy of life, with questions and uncertainties and incredulity much more common than answers, certainty, and understanding? Because we don’t see the end. Not yet. Not fully. We are living on Saturday. But Sunday is coming. Hope is real. God is good. And the end of the story will be more glorious and poetic and full of grace than we can imagine now. I know this is true. And on my best days, I sometimes can begin to live as if I actually believe it…

…until, one day, we can clearly see the rest of the story, and all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well…

Maundy Thursday & Endings

The other evening I was grabbing a quick sushi dinner at the local grocery store’s deli when I saw him.  An old man sitting alone, eating his roast beef and mashed potato dinner.  He wasn’t the only solitary diner that night, but for some reason I couldn’t look away.  There was an almost ineffable air of sadness emanating from him.  He wasn’t used to eating alone.  His hand quivered as he ate, and he stared off into the distance, lost in thought.  I watched him for a few minutes, wondering what he was thinking about.  Was he remembering meals shared with a wife who was no longer living?  Did he look back on home-cooked meals in a warm kitchen, the sound of laughter mingling with the comfort of belonging?  Was he still saying good-bye, day after day after day?  Does he still mourn?  What fills his days?  What keeps him hoping when so much of what he loves is gone?

——-

I just finished reading a book called “How it Ends: from You to the Universe.”  The main concept (which is pretty self-evident when you think about it) is that everything has an ending.  From may-flies to macaws, walruses to whales, hamsters to humans – we all will die.  Snails and sequoias alike will one day meet their end.  And as much as we may not be aware of it, everything has an expiration date: from the Sun’s impending (in 9-10 billion years or so) transition to white-dwarfdom, to the eventual cooling and heat death of the massive black-holes at the centers of galaxies (1098 years, or a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion years into the future) – everything comes to an end.

11 years ago I spent four months studying in Jerusalem.  One of the highlights of our time there was participating in the drama and pageantry of Holy Week.  We dove into every experience, reading along with the events of the last week of Jesus’ life, often in the place they were said to have taken place.  Many of us went to a Palm Sunday celebration and waved palm branches on the Mount of Olives.  We spent time on Thursday evening praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  And then, a few of us gathered in a basement classroom at JUC and spent some time singing, praying, listening, and washing each other’s feet.  This intimate act of service drew us closer, and cemented in my mind the kind of life I wanted to be living – a life marked by acts of extravagant beauty, fierce kindness, and deep grace, even when the world is crumbling around you.  After all, this is what Jesus spent the last night of his life doing – sharing a meal with the friends he loved, teaching them, serving them, washing their feet, assuring them of his love and care, that in the end “all shall be well…”  A few short hours later, he was taken, arrested, and executed.

——-

I’ve been thinking a lot about endings recently.  They’ve been all around me, it seems.

The other day I drove by the cemetery where my mom is buried.  We talked about her and her death the other evening with some ladies who knew her, and remembered, and laughed, and then grew quiet.

A few weeks ago I sat in the cancer center of a local hospital and interpreted for a patient who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and only a few months to live.  I was the conduit for the flood of information and emotion between the doctor and this family who were informed that their husband and father was going to die soon.

I could have easily been killed in my car accident a few months ago, and in a hundred other situations throughout my life (well, at least 20 or so…  that I know of…)

The other day I interpreted for a family that had lost their newborn baby.  I sat in the hospital room as the priest baptized the dead body of this tiny infant that never really had a chance to live, as the mother and father wept, and as we mourned a life that was extinguished before it began.

In the past few months, dreams and relationships have changed, ended, and are no longer what they once were.  Every one is a little death to be mourned.

The week of the Passion is upon us, as we remember Jesus’ final week of life and ministry here on earth before his death and resurrection.  All these things seem to be pointing me towards something that I’d rather not think about.  They remind me that even though we live in a culture that denies the reality of death, that values youth, beauty, and vitality – even so, we are all going to die.

All things come to an end.

Our only choice is how we will live our life in light of the fact that one day, it will come to an end.  When relationships fall crashing to the ground, will we retreat into a shell to avoid being hurt, or continue to step out in authenticity and vulnerability, risking and giving our self to others?  When loss seems to haunt our every step, does our faith in God’s goodness grind to a halt?  When questions and doubt overwhelm, where do we turn?  And can knowing that all things come to an end actually enable us to live a little more wisely?  Love a little more lavishly?  Forgive a little more extravagantly?  Trust implicitly?  Dream a little larger?

What does it look like to live as Jesus did, fully aware of the endings, and the questions?

These are the questions that are bouncing around in my head and my heart as I seek to enter into the mystery of these next few days – trying to, as Rilke would say, “live the questions…  Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

What are your questions this Maundy Thursday?  What are the things ending in your life that need to be mourned?  What are the choices you need to make in light of endings?

Thought for the day

“The great commandment is not ‘thou shalt be right.’ The great commandment is to ‘be in love.’  Be inside the great compassion, the great stream, the great river.  As others have rightly said, all that is needed is surrender and grattitude.” ~ Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs