working out what life and call and prayer and silence are all about

Posts tagged ‘creation’

and it was evening, and it was morning. . .

I closed my eyes as I listed to the creation story this morning. The reader had a Texas drawl and I could just imagine her as a grandmother, eager children at her feet, begging her to tell the story again. “Let there be light,” and they ooh and ahh. “God saw that it was good,” and they smile contentedly. “And it was evening, and it was morning,” and they relax into each other, knowing that the story is long.

I am grateful for the storytellers in my life. On this Father’s Day, I celebrate a man who has never met a stranger, someone who strikes up a conversation wherever he happens to find himself, one who can tell you the same story again and again and tell it with even more passion the 23rd time. My dad has taught me the Southern art of storytelling, the way men and women have been passing down tales from generation to generation. It’s a way of connecting – with the people around you, with the events of the past, with our collective hopes and dreams for the future. It’s made me a better preacher and a better pastor, and for that, I’m grateful.

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I’m also thinking of another storyteller today: my mom. Today is her birthday; she would have been 64. She told me stories, too, but not always with her words. Her life spoke to me of challenges and accomplishments, of struggles and victories, of fear and faith. When she graduated from college, she and my dad moved hundreds of miles away from family in Indiana to start a new life in South Carolina. When life took several unexpected turns, she told me everyone who knew her expected her to go running home. But she didn’t. She stayed. And struggled. And built a life, one with meaning and purpose and filled with sisu (that’s Finnish for bravery and courage in the face of adversity.) Today I celebrate her life, her teaching, her determination to the very end.

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“And it was evening, and it was morning. . .” The creation story reminds me that life goes on, creating continues, one day at a time. Even if you’re not in a 12-step program, it’s still a pretty good motto. Each day is another day to celebrate the relationships in our lives, the love we share, and the support that is always available. Each morning we can give thanks for God’s presence within and around us, for the calling we receive in baptism, and for our role as co-creators with God. Each evening we can rest in the assurance that the Holy Spirit will take our efforts and multiply them like loaves and fishes to satisfy the needs of the world.

Today I begin my call as Campus Pastor to Texas Lutheran University. I am still in shock that God has called me to this new place, for this exciting new ministry. I am thrilled to be able to devote my time to young people as they respond to God’s call in their lives, both for the future and here and now. I am blessed to be joining a team of faculty and staff who view college as a time of formation, not just education. I come to the task bringing all that I am, all that I have experienced, all I have learned from the people God has placed in my life. It’s time for a new adventure with the Spirit, a new chapter in my ministry, a new challenge of co-creating with God. It will be evening, and it will be morning, and the journey will continue. I give thanks that God sees that it is good.

 

 

abundant love in the bounty of seasons

The first time I saw the tree, it was in the spring. I was here, at Bon Secours Retreat and Conference Center, Marriottsville, MD, in May of last year for our first Residency. In between the breaks of our very intense learning about contemplative prayer and leading groups and retreats, I would wander the grounds, reveling in the abundance of blooms. So much was flowering at that time: dogwoods and daffodils, azaleas and crocus. There were colors and blossoms everywhere I looked. The abundance filled me with awe at God’s creativity in living Technicolor.

I don’t know why I fell in love with this particular tree. Perhaps it was the way the branches leaned out over the water, as if wanting to go for a swim. Maybe it was the little birdhouse hung on the lowest branch. Whatever the reason, I was drawn to this tree, and experienced several poignant moments meditating on its beauty.

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Now it is winter. Late winter, to be sure, but still winter, as proven by last night’s snowstorm. We awoke this morning to the quiet beauty of new fallen snow. And I was called to explore! I had brought most of my snow gear from Flagstaff in the hopes that I would actually need it, and so I plunged into the crisp morning, reveling in the stillness. As I came around the lake, I recognized my tree, still standing proudly, with branches arched out over the small lake. And even though the landscape was void of color – covered entirely in white – the beauty took my breath away.

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The branches were bare of leaves and gently balanced the snowfall as gift and treasure. The buds that were just beginning to form spoke to me of the promise of spring, suspended in the reality of this last storm of the season (some would hope.) And in that suspension, there is the hope of transformation. Spring is promised, but not yet present. And yet the tree waits, heavy with the burden of reality while also pregnant with possibility.

Here is abundant life – that trees and bushes and creatures and all of us are held in that waiting time. That while we long for the transformation to come, we are supported and nurtured and guided by the Eternal Love that birthed all of creation. And so no matter what season of living you are experiencing – growth, death, birth, waiting – know that you are held by the One who holds all of creation in love. And in that certainty, you can live out your abundant life!

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