Friday, June 24, 2011

Seeing the Sacred in the Everyday

John "No Man is an Island" Donne

Seeing the sacred in the everyday calls for a new way of seeing for some of us.

A cursory glance will not suffice. Beating a path through one's to-do list in record time leaves little room for noticing our surroundings. When we live rushed, frantic lives, we miss too much.

In 1622, John Donne reflected on the miraculous in the everyday. Donne said that if the mundane occurrences all around us were rare, we'd be astonished.

If it were unique, we'd behold it with wonder! Think about that possibility.

The sky darkens with rolling clouds, thunder cracks the air, rain arrives, driving downward from the sky, and passes. A rainbow appears in the East. We pause a moment to catch a glimpse of it, then go about our business. We've seen rainbows before. If this sequence were done but once -- or even every 100 years -- we would stare in awe and wonder. We would try desperately to capture it and record it for others for they would otherwise find it incredulous.

But, it's just another spring rain. And so we move on without noticing.

How many times do we do this? The sun rises and sets each day. Glorious colors fill the sky, and we fail to lift our eyes. It's just another day.

Some will protest that our lives would grind to a halt if we beheld the wonder in the natural world, the miraculous in the everyday. I think not. Rather, I believe our lives would be greatly enhanced by a new awareness of all that we fail to notice when we move through life on autopilot. Our senses would be heightened and our hearts attuned to subtleties only perceived by those who choose to look carefully.

It takes no more time to live with an eye for wonder, but it does take desire. And living into our heart's desire infuses our time with intensity and meaning. I thought about the simple acts of nature that rolled into today's welcome summer rain, and gave thanks.

John Donne, 1572-1631, Jacobean metaphysical writer of songs, poems, sermons and translations.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I am profoundly grateful for a loving father in this life. I know what it is to love and be loved by one who takes seriously the high calling of fatherhood.

"Daddy" is one of the most beautiful words spoken. I love my daddy!

Our culture is sorely lacking in rising to and respecting the role of fathering. Even a brief survey of the greeting card selection displayed for Father's Day reveals the telling truth of what sells in America: scratch and sniff cards abound with jokes of hogging the remote and yukking it up with bathroom humor. We appear to be a people uncomfortable with honoring and being affirmed by fathers.

Sadly, too many never know what it is to be loved and supported by our earthly fathers. I can understand how this imagery is a barrier -- even a huge obstacle -- to women and men alike in relating to God as Father. None of us can live into our roles and relationships without error. Ours is not a perfect world. Yet, Jesus offers a model of redemption for us, showing One who is mindful of us. The Abba, Daddy always awaits and yearns to be present to us. Even those who have known no father have a loving heavenly father who redeems the wasted years the locusts have eaten and who is able to restore unto us a sense of acceptance and love that many yearn for all their lives.

Our Heavenly Father is neither a distant judge nor an aloof cosmic magician, but, in the Great Mystery, a very present help in time of trouble. A companion today through the Spirit. God's very name is I AM.

Loving us NOW.
Loving us as we are.
And loving us too much to leave us unsatisfied and unfulfilled when there are dreams to awaken and lives to be lived with the power and conviction God offers to each of us.

May we learn to forgive imperfect fathers who are absent or otherwise unavailable to live into the opportunity that is or was theirs. It was their loss, but it need not be our bondage.

May we learn to walk gracefully into a future equipped with the knowledge that we are cherished and beloved by One Who loves with a perfect love.

O, wondrous love is this, oh my soul!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


"The value of things is not the time they last, but the intensity with which they occur. That's why there are unforgettable moments and unique people."

~ Fernando Pessoa, beloved Portuguese poet and translator, and one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century, (1888-1935) whose birthday was celebrated yesterday.

Follower Teresa from Lisbon, Portugal introduced his quote to me in her writings, I Got the Sun in the Morning . Thank you, Teresa.

There are moments that take our breath away. They do not have to last long to be enduring in memory -- a beautiful truth! Pay attention to the 'great moments' in this life and delight in them long after they are past.

Which reminds me of another great writer who lived at the same time -- this one from Mississippi:

"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
William Faulkner, US novelist (1897-1962).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Seeing the Big Picture

Snapshots are helpful for remembering.

We are enjoying a family wedding weekend and are surrounded by the presence of friends and siblings and extended family who have come from far away to celebrate tonight's marriage of Mary and Jeffrey. My sister created lovely flowers from kumquats, lemons, kiwi and citrus flowers in the morning as the weekend began. I wished for a way to capture last night's dinner under ancient cedars and oaks at Quiet Shades plantation on the skirt of the Mississippi Delta, but the camera could not take it in. I could never see the big picture in my camera. The view finder was severely limited by what was immediately in front of it.

So as we looked upon the massive cedars standing as sentries towering upward into the evening sky, the camera's eye revealed only a limited tree trunk view. As I gazed upon the broad porch of the old home with guests spilling onto the lawn which was spread lavishly with round tables bearing elegantly draping skirts topped with white lilies beneath the shade of a monolithic oak, music and laughter filled the spaces between the fireflies and the candlelight at sunset. Yes, it was quite a picture. I felt transported into a movie scene. I yearned to capture the images to remember and share, but it would not be constrained into the small format of my trusty camera. No matter how I adjusted the focus or tried to expand the wide angle view, I could not take in a picture big enough.

Some things in life are too big to fit into a small box.

Have you had that experience also? We discover certain scenes -- relationships and emotions, as well -- that are too large to be stuffed into a box. They defy containment.

When we live life in its fullness and experience God as reality with God's Spirit present with us, we learn that our faith will not be reduced to a sentimental keepsake like a lock of hair or worn love letter from the distant past. This is no 'snapshot faith' for the scrapbook, but a vibrant, living relationship with One Who calls to us I AM.

The God of the universe is bigger than our view finder and larger than our limited experiences will allow us to capture. We can, however, know the power of God's Presence in the present and trust in God's provision for all the tomorrows that lie beyond our field of vision. May we find contentment even when we cannot see the whole picture in this life.

" ...A mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace. " Romans 8:6a The Voice