Category Archives: Writing

SPACIOUS has launched

JUBILEE YEAR readers, I’m excited to share a new site with you.  I’ll be blogging there from now on.

And the site is the place to go to explore and imagine a bigger life, with more recess and fun, more adventure, and relationships of depth where you are known for who you are and celebrated.  It’s even a forum for asking life’s “What if?” questions.

We plan events; we consult on making your events and workplace more spacious; we write and speak.

SPACIOUS emerged out of a blogpost written on this site a year and a half ago. Read that story in Joey Katona’s biography on our site.

Check us out at: http://spacious.me, and send your friends too!

Slowing Down the Jubilee Writing

Ah jubilee… my companion project for two years.  I set out to do a jubilee year at 48 going on 49, and I’ve just rounded the corner on a second lap, ending at 50.  And it’s been fun.  In the way that conviction is fun….  Fun as in cleansing and challenging and interesting and transformative.

The most important thing I learned in these two years of reflecting on Biblical principles of how to let the land lie fallow, how to forgive debts, how to make restitution, how to return the land to its original owners (and many possible metaphorical manifestations of this in my middle-class American lifestyle)… the most important thing I learned is this:

When we rely on the Holy Spirit for change, we really do care about the things that God reveals to us in Scripture as His concerns: the poor, justice, love.  And when we are living our normal, selfish lives (yours may not be; mine is), we don’t care so much.

I learned this from day one in the project.  I’m still learning it after two years.

There really is a mind of Christ, a new creation… and these are ours if we ask.  But apart from God’s infusion of His power and spirit, we live in our old minds and as the old creations we are… and in that mindset, I’d just as soon not share, not forgive, not love, not lean into God and let some things be.

Yet I think I’m changed as a result of this project in mindfulness.  I know the difference between when I’m me, and when I’m touched by God’s spirit.  And it shows in behavior.

I don’t know if Dallas Willard said this, or someone else, but it’s true: “If you want to change your life, ask for the grace to change your behavior.”  We are what we do.  Regardless of what we intend.

So thanks for reading.  And I’ll be interspersing some thoughts on this topic into my “other” (main) blog: www.holyvernacular.wordpress.com insofar as that one is about seeing God in the commonplace of life, in everything.  So just about anything fits over there.   And I think I’ve explored jubilee as much in writing as I should… it’s time to act, abide, act some more.

I’ll see you over at Holy Vernacular!

Mary Oliver’s “Halleluiah”

Yes, I’m the last person on the planet to find Mary Oliver’s poems.  And here’s one I want to share today from, “Evidence,” one of her fabulous collections.  It’s as true a poem for a 49-year-old as for a 60+-year-old.

Everyone should be born into this world happy

and loving everything.

But in truth it rarely works that way.

For myself, I have spent my life clamoring toward it.

Halleluiah, anyway I’m not where I started.

And have you too been trudging like that, sometimes

almost forgetting how wondrous the world is

and how miraculously kind some people can be?

And have you decided that probably nothing important

is every easy?

Not, say, for the first sixty years.

Halleluiah, I’m sixty now, and even a little more,

and some days I feel I have wings.

Appropriating the Same Inspiration

I heard sociologist Peter Berger speak about his book In Praise of Doubt: How to Have Convictions without Becoming a Fanatic, and he made a point that I’ve been thinking about a lot.

Martin Luther King (and the Civil Rights Movement)and the Ku Klux Klan both used the song “The Old Rugged Cross” as an inspiration for their causes.

How often we see only one perspective and use data to support what we “know” or use other things to drum up emotions related to our cause.

Holy Sonnet XIV

John Donne is my man.  I’ve been living in the awareness of Holy Sonnet XIV since 1999.  It’s the summary of my spiritual journey.

Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Who else?  Other favorites?  Who saw W;T?

“Creation Groaning” Link

My friend Elizabeth Turnage said just what I’d want to say about the Gulf oil spill.  So at the risk of being labeled lazy, I’m going to direct you right to her post. “Lazy” I won’t claim (on this front) but “grateful” to know thoughtful people, I will claim.

Elizabeth blogs, often on scriptural reflections, in conjunction with her wonderful Living Story ministry, which puts on events to help people engage their own stories in the context of the Bible.

Read the first line of her post here:

“Oh, Lord, redeem our failure to steward this glorious creation you have given us with care and foresight.  Forgive us for greed and short-sightedness that has led to creation catastrophe.”

And then check out her whole post and her whole ministry.

Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer

I’m enjoying a book called Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer.  You can follow his interesting blog and learn more at: http://www.divinenobodies.com/blog/.  No I am not a paid sponsor.  A friend loaned me the book, and I’m enjoying it (Thanks, Laura).  In fact a bought more copies for others; mailing ’em out now.

ANYWAY, I digress (as usual).  I loved this line:

“… got me thinking about whether any theology can be ‘right’ if it doesn’t motivate you to treat people with love and respect.  Let’s just hope on Judgment Day that God doesn’t leave it in the hands of waitresses, cashiers, and all the other invisible people in our world who are on the receiving end of what’s truly in our hearts.”

I once witnessed a meltdown of a lot of people in a line at a fast food spot on the New Jersey Turnpike (Clara Barton perhaps?) when a woman whose command of the English language was minimal was moving very slowly and with not much efficiency… and people had to wait and didn’t receive exactly what they ordered (“Where are my curly fries?”).  It was chaos. It was war.

I do wrestle with my own lack of kindness when people in service roles are slow or not great at their jobs.  It’s like I have some sense of entitlement that my day go smoothly.  Today a grumpy clerk snapped at me when I attempted to spell my last name, unbidden.  I wanted to cry.  I felt it was my right to snap back.  Help me, God.  It’s not.

It’s my privilege, instead, to show her mercy and kindness and patience and to not be concerned with what she gives back. I know that’s not the way of the world.  But the way of the world isn’t working.  Jesus recommends countercultural measures.

I’ve got to de-escalate.

I appreciate the window into my own heart when I’m less than loving and merciful.  And I appreciate Jim Palmer’s excellent book and thinking.  Read it!