It’s Tuesday July 31

It’s Monday.

Well, actually, it’s Tuesday. That I didn’t write anything for Monday may give you an indication of what my weekend was like. I’d like to tell you it was so consumed with joyous activity that I forgot to write my It’s Monday reflection. In truth, I was sad–sad for families thrust into the chasm of grief and loss that separates life as it was from life as it will be.

A mother succumbed to a decade long battle with cancer. Now her husband and two high school aged kids wearily navigate the chasm between life as it was and life as it will be.

A husband, father, and grandfather succumbed to the weight of life. Now his loved ones perilously navigate the chasm that separates life as it was from life as it will be.

In both cases, questions far outweighed answers; uncertainty trumped certainty; the pain of loss placed a stranglehold on the promise of life. A consuming abyss of why
gaped before each family member and friend daring them to spar with its vast consequence through pithy sentiments and quaint platitudes. “There must be a reason.” “This must be part of God’s plan.” Yet, no simplistic response could contend with the actualities of life and grief and loss.

What I did witness, though, was not the answer to the why, but the emergence of who– a patriarch speaking compassionately to his family both with piercing truth and tender mercy; a dying mother blessing her sons, speaking clearly through her faltering voice about how proud she was of them and what a blessing they had been to her; friends keeping vigil, extending themselves in ways both simple and beautiful.

I wish I could say I wasn’t sad anymore but that wouldn’t be true. I am. Yet, I am still hopeful. Hopeful that God continues to be made known in the ones who are willing to bridge the chasm that separates life as it was from life as it will be, the ones who show up, who extend themselves, who willingly offer themselves in love.

It’s Tuesday. Instead of painstakingly trying to answer the why questions of people’s lives, lovingly answer the who question. Be the one who shows up, who extends themselves, who willingly offers themselves in love. Peace. Kai

It’s Monday July 23

Parker Palmer, in his book The Promise of Paradox, says, “The promise of paradox is the promise that apparent opposites–like order and disorder–can cohere in our lives; the promise that if we replace either/or with both-and, our lives will become larger and more filled with light.”

This weekend we held life’s deep paradoxes loosely in our hands. We listened to teens report on their mission trip speaking of their ridiculous joy in worship, their compassionate service, and honest sharing with one another. The goodness of God had soaked a little deeper into their lives.

This weekend we were blindsided by the horrific news of a lone shooter violating our communal gathering spaces as he invaded the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado killing a dozen, wounding dozens more, permanently scarring the souls of hundreds, and breaking open the national wound that just won’t heal. The movement of evil had penetrated the chambers of our communal hearts.

So, what do we do? Embrace the good and deny evil? Allow evil to cast a long shadow on anything good? Is there a promise in our capacity to hold these disparate realities together as Palmer suggests?

The prayer of St. Francis has long been one of my personal guides as I navigate the paradoxes of life, allowing me to wrestle with the dark realities that circle around me and within me, all the while acknowledging the divine call to be instruments of peace, hope, and love. Palmer would call this the larger life-a life more filled with light.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

It’s Monday. How can you be an instrument of peace today? Peace. Kai

It’s Monday July 16

Eugene Peterson, in his translation of the bible The Message, draws the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to a close with these words: “When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying…”

“It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying…” As I read and re-read that line I wondered what sort of response Jesus would get today. Would he be greeted with thunderous applause or with the lightening quick cynicism that pervades our public conversation? Would he turn heads or would we turn up our noses? Can we even imagine a person “living everything he was saying…”?

The fact that I wonder about it says something to me. We’ve/I’ve become so jaded toward public figures that the assumption is they can’t be what they portray. (I say that acknowledging I, in my own way, am one of those public figures.) We live in an air-brushed world, a world where the exercise of belittlement comes disguised as our political process; a world where churches bicker about fragments of the truth while the truth of people’s lives fractures; a world where cynicism is elevated as the enlightened posture and optimism is mocked as naive.

Given that, maybe what’s being called for is a quiet revolution of character. No trumpeting of our great virtue. No demeaning those who choose not to follow. Simply and humbly doing what Jesus said. Living how Jesus lived. When compassion is called for we walk alongside. Where scarcity reigns we generously give. In loveless communities we step outside of ourselves, and love.

It’s Monday. What would a quiet revolution of character, Jesus’ character, look like where you are today? Peace. Kai

It’s Monday July 8

It’s Monday–NOT AGAIN! Does Monday have to come back around every week? Is it possible that some weeks we could have two Fridays and no Mondays? This Monday I’m heading back into my weekly routine after vacation. Candidly, I’m not feeling it this morning. I want my vacation routine of reading a book, riding bike, hanging on the beach with my family, working out when I wanted to, and NO CELL PHONE! Glorious.

Yet, as we all know, life is not a perpetual vacation. The rhythm of creation included days of work and a day of rest, not just days of rest! So, off to work I go. I should probably remind myself of the advice I give to couples who are not “feeling it” anymore in their relationship. If you wait until you “feel it” again, you may never move forward. In other words, I may never work again! But, sometimes you need to act your way into a new feeling. So, show up. Extend yourself to others. Do the work you are called to do. Breathe deeply during the day and remind yourself that the God who renewed you in times of vacation and rest, strengthens you for your work.

It’s Monday….AGAIN! Remember: You are Christ’s presence wherever you find yourself today and there is work to be done! Peace. Kai