Pondering power to heal, power to hurt

A friend of mine quietly left a church staff position because, as he said, “I realized I had the power to split the church, but did not have the power to heal it.”
That was over ten years ago, and the trajectory of his life in the ensuing years was positive, healing and hopeful in another community.

A couple of years ago I was on a retreat.  As I returned late at night from a prayer walk, I came upon four deer.  Three bolted, one remained.  We stood silently, about 15 feet apart, looking, watching, waiting.  After several minutes, my deer friend flipped up his tail and off he went, no longer my friend, but now retreating in deer anxiety.  A white-tailed deer…  What would it be like to be named for my fear response?

We all have power, the ability to effect change. Sometimes it is institutional power, sometimes personal power. In any case it is a stewardship that will be used, for good or ill.  What makes me safe to effect change, or to say it another way, to wield power?

First, am I aware of my own inner being.  Am I aware of my motivations, light and dark, good and bad, self-protective and self-sacrificing? Second, do I care? Or, better, what do I care about? I can be fully aware of myself, yet if I only care about myself, there is no chance that I will use power for greater good. If I care about others, then I am free to use my power to positively effect change.  Simply, my use of power reflects my love.

Will I share my power for good. Will I actually use my voice for the voiceless, my resources for the poor, my health for the healing of others?  Will I share my power with others. Will I act in community, collaboratively using power and giving influence and authority where it makes caring sense to do so?

Awareness of surroundings and awareness of myself combine to either express anxiety in retreat, or caring in embrace.   Awareness, proper love, power to heal.


Sudden change

A friend’s father died this morning.
Ponderings, musings, cogitations come to a halt and a hush, a hush of reverence, wondering, hope and doubt. It reminds me of the disciples in the face of the Resurrected Christ… “While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering…” *
In times of sudden change wonder, doubt, disbelief even, and joy tumble around, coexisting in the follower’s heart and mind.
Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan, after decades of study, reflection and embrace of Christ concluded: “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen – nothing else matters.”
Sudden change, hush, the next adventure is beginning.

*(Luke 24:41, New RSV translation)

52, Imagine that!

Paula and Robin and I went to Prescotts in Rochester last night to celebrate my 52nd birthday.  52…  That is the age my father was when I was born.  I don’t know why this seems significant to me, but it has captured my attention.  I imagine Dad, my age, welcoming a new child (#10 to be sure, but nonetheless, a new child 🙂 )I imagine…

Imagination is a gift.  Ephesians 3 tells us that God does immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine  That’s quite a bit!  More than anything, it is an invitation to use my imagination to envision a better future.  I know Dad did that for me.  When I was a small child, I climbed up onto his lap while he was writing the invocation for the welcoming ceremony for new students at Springfield College.  I became the inspiration for that invocation, and so I know Dad imagined my future as he invoked the Presence of God on that occasion.

Imagining the future motivates most of what I do.  Whether it is prayer or action, the future motivates my now.  Imagine a future with bread on the table, I will work for bread.  Imagine a future …  When imagination dies, so does energy and effort.  Part of the peril of urgent business is it curtails the imagination.  To be sure, there are urgent things that must be attended to, but if all of life is adrenaline and urgency, imagination dies, dreams die aborning, and the future is received instead of achieved.  Margin breeds imagination, imagination breeds vision, vision inspires prayerful action, and prayerful action brings forth a better world.  Assuming of course that my imagination runs in courses that are good, beautiful and true.

Wonder – Expanding, Exploring Gift

My mind wants to shrink things, down to manageable, understandable, controllable size. Wonder and amazement push back the boundaries.
After the resurrection… Luke 24

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.
And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Disbelief co-existing, for a season, with joy and amazement.  It is a gift to me to be with people who see life differently.  It is the gift – and the curse – of the analytical mind to reduce, simplify, and break things down.  I’m pretty good at putting thoughts in their proper place.  But to see the whole through the smallest of parts, that is synthesis, sight, poetry in fact.  On this journey of transformation we need each other.

Transformation requires a Divine action. This divine action opens the mind to understand and moves us from wondering and disbelief to wondering and worship.

Gratitude for this day!


I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

— Jane Kenyon

“Teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom” – Moses – Psalm 90:12

A Longer Longing Look

Almost always a longer look helps me in my present predicaments.

I have known for a long time that in the face of temptation a longer look is helpful.  The pleasure of sin is often short term and immediate, and the cost of sin is generally experienced further down the line.  Similarly, the cost of integrity and love is often immediate and the pleasure of love and integrity is often experienced further down the line.

Thinking further on this, how about when the issue is not one of moral weight, but of persevering perspective?  I think a longer look at my truest longings can persuade the impatient or frustrated me to persist in love and in trust.

Longer, Longing Look.  Choose longer.  Know my longings.  Take time to look.