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Archive for March, 2011

It was almost easier before,

Don’t drink

Don’t smoke

Don’t cus

Don’t hang with those who do.

It was all about me….really

and what I did

to appear holy

righteous,

without blame

Yet now its almost harder

attitudes and assumptions

lurk beneath the

veil of my “holiness”

But still I am comforted by the

gentle call

a quiet but insistent

plea,

Whispering….Whispering….

“Was that the best way to say that?”

“You could pick up that trash.”

“Don’t tell them you paid for that.”

“You can sing for me with perfect pitch

But if you won’t forgive , I cannot hear a note.”

“Could you spend an hour with me?”

Before I was afraid of all I did,

Now I amazed by all I cannot….

Sorrow as the world knows,

Cannot compare

To the motivation

Of not offending Grace.

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I am blessed to live across the street from a tree-lined pond with a nature trail that surrounds it.  Three hundred year old oaks and evergreens embrace the banks of the trail,  course bramble and thicket hide small animals who are willing to brave the chill of winter.  I walk Cooper there  almost everyday, Cooper is my one  hundred pound chocolate lab who thinks the pond is truly his home and he merely sleeps across the street because that is where his subjects feed him.

In Summer the greenery is so thick it is difficult to see the other side of the pond trail, But in winter the trees are bare and the view is stark but serene, its barrenness provides a clarity the summer chaos cannot conjure .

Yesterday it was unseasonably warm and as I walked the trail in the early morning, the warm wet air-filled me with the promise of Spring.  The smell in the air mixed with the steam from my mug and sun breaking through the tree tops brightened my mood in an instant and I began spying for signs that earth’s slumber would soon cease. As I turned the bend by the wooden bridge I came upon a tree full of dead,  brown leaves of last fall.  It looked so odd among its naked friends, so sad and entrapped.   I began to wonder why this tree clung so tightly to what was dead.  Why it held on so  desperately that it wouldn’t have any room on its limbs for spring’s blossom.

I thought of all the times I had held onto things that were dead in my life .

and wondered what had connected me so tightly to the past

that I had not allowed room for any  new growth

things like, attitudes, prejudice, judgments,

beliefs that made me feel “right”.

I began thinking of Pharisees again,

probably because I would have been a really good Pharisee.

I like a good law to follow.

Just tell me what to do, and I will do it.

It’s easy that way, you know what is right, what is wrong.

There is no gray…..  But the longer I live,  I realize

that a lot of life is gray, And as much as I try to seek clarity by surety…

it still often presents cloudy, confusing and circumstantial

sometimes….

And I am reminded of  Romans 1:5

through him and for his namesake we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.”

Before Jesus, the Jews had been called to an obedience that was driven by the law.

A cruel and unrelenting master that dictated truth beyond what humanity could comprehend,

let alone obey.

And then Paul who was once one of them –

who fought for them-

killed for them,

so they could remain “pure”,

had an encounter with Grace

and it changed his entire world in an instant

obedience from faith?

what was that?

What is that?

It was down right unsettling at best

heretical to some….

But Jesus said it all really came down to two things:

love God

love your neighbor.

The rest will come from that.

It was and is the great paradox of simplicity.

How could it be that easy?

There were laws to follow

and rules to keep, rituals to perform.

regulations to uphold, committees to meet,

boards to….well…..whatever it is that boards do….

How could obedience flow from faith,

How could they tell who was following and who wasn’t?

I fully understand why the Pharisees had a hard time with Jesus, and Paul.

I would have been right there with them.

Afraid to shed my old leaves of the law,

it was what protected me,

made be beautiful,

made me perfect.

Jesus really shook things up…messed with the

way things were, things that were predictable and safe,

leaving them,

leaving me,

exposed in my own fear, and judgment.

Perhaps I will go back to the pond tomorrow

while there is still time

and give one of those trees a good shake

just grab onto the trunk with both my hands and

rattle it till all of its leaves have fallen.

maybe the shock of this crazy person doing something that seemed so out of line

would prompt them to drop those leaves of old

for the promise of new growth….

something that resembled what they had before

but much better….life

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