Monday, July 25, 2011

Mourning Amy

Didn't know her. Had heard maybe 3 songs, ever. But I am mourning Amy Winehouse. The strange part is I cannot figure out why. I could cite the loss of a great talent or a boundary-breaker, but that's just what I've been reading in the reports. Apparently her vocal style and persistence opened up some pretty locked doors in latter-day British music. I learned that today reading only a few of the reports.

Personalities' public train wrecks bore me as a rule. So often they are the result of an egoistic life dogpaddling in its own narcissism: though the loss of a human soul is always tragic, the newsworthy details rarely are, in fact, newsworthy. We make it worse, having lost any sense of decorum, and follow such sad cases around like curs sniffing after cheap leather pants in the rain. We stay on the scent long enough to revel in our superiority, then look for someone else to sneer at. The inevitable outcome is predictable, the details rarely enlighten, and after awhile the simple fact of expensive brokenness is tedious.

So don't ask me why Amy's death draws me to pray for her, "may she find healing, Lord, in your presence."

Unless it's that I've known too many Amys.

Tomorrow, I'll pray for the ones I don't know -- the daughters and sons of friends who grieve and hope daily. But tonight, it's just about a girl with a broken soul, and the parents who have finally and truly lost her.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Prayer for the class

Lord, open the eyes and ears of my heart to take in what is holy and right from all that is said and done. Anoint Dr. Borden with your Holy Spirit, that Her word and life may proceed from his very being.  May we all participate in whatever you are doing here in and among us. Through the name of Jesus I pray.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grace-full hospitality

Back in CO, this time for school.  One of my Renovare Institute cohort sisters, Josi, invited me to stay at a guest house/retreat center her family operates. She and her mother were there to meet me. They showed me the house and the grounds, and the stocked breakfast pantry, and the coffee machine. Others are staying here too, a bunch of them I've heard, but I wouldn't have known it but for sleeping bags in rooms and cake in the kitchen.

Then Josi invited me to her family's house for dinner. Both Downing House (where I'm staying) and Josi's home are full of the warmth of love shared with strangers.  Their college-age kids were affectionate and helpful, even with friends there with them. Her husband was welcoming, putting me immediately at my ease.

But more than that, every person in both houses knows Jesus and loves the Lord.  God's grace and mystery are simply part of the atmosphere and the conversation. Hospitality is a given, because Christ gives us open and welcoming hearts.

When we move, and have more space to share, I want to share it with others. I want to God to create that kind of welcoming place in our hearts that cannot help but extend to our home. I want our child(ren) to grow up loving Him and us and feeling absolutely connected and welcome in their home. I want guests to come and stay, to be part of the family, and for me not to feel peevish for privacy. I want Jesus to so inhabit our thoughts and actions and practices and schedule that He pours out through us, and that we become a safe and inspiring place for others.

It's going to be a good week.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Take your part in the Big Story

"SAM:  I know. It's all wrong. By rights, we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really matter. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was because so much bad happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing. This shadow, even darkness, must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam? [Sam takes Frodo, helps him to his feet, looks into his eyes and speaks with quiet conviction.] 

SAM: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for."

Sam tells the Great Story, what we who are followers of Christ would call the "kingdom story." He gives Frodo hope. He points the way forward. He invites Frodo to understand his part in the story of the triumph of goodness over evil and life over death.

Evangelism is telling the story of God's ultimate victory over the darkness, in our world and in our own soul. Evangelism is inviting people to take their part in that big story.

Rick Richardson. Reimagining Evangelism: Inviting Friends on a Spiritual Journey (pp. 24-26). Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fill in the blanks

As we prepare to move out of town, out of state, and away from friends, my hardest challenge is discovering my next identity.  Now I'm disciple-pastor-wife-mother-friend-student-leader. But when I'm no longer the visionary leader of this congregation (which may have already happened without my noticing), "I" will be more like disciple-_______-wife-mother-friend-student-__________.  

I know what I'm being led to do in my next incarnation, so I have been trying descriptors on. Writer. Researcher. Fulltime student. Spiritual coach. Gardener. They all fit like a stiff new suit that needs tailoring, and a couple of them (writer, coach) are way too big.

I did take a step toward filling in the blanks: I registered a number of domain names, and wrote a note to the guy who bought my old one asking to buy it back.

Here's what I'm trying on; all are .org or .net: inthedust, dustoftherabbi, speedofthespirit, xncoach, xncoaching. And, simply elaneorourke.

That last one may be the only filled-in blank I have for awhile.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Redefining 'me'

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  (John 15:13)

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that."  (James 4:13-15)

A fruitfly in the 23rd hour of life has a longer attention span than I do.

Writing 10 mins later, having read and responded to email and hopped links on the web.

Part of the problem is discipline, or lack thereof. Nothing new about that.  What is new is the expansive changes occurring around me, and the deep changes within me these must incur. Examples: I'm trying on "writer" in place of "pastor". "Tennessee" instead of "Bay Area". "Student" rather than "wage-earner". When we move, I will no longer have anywhere I have to be at any particular time.

There is so much to do to prepare, and so little that can be done. Looking at houses is concrete and future-directed; writing sermons feels like pouring energy into the past. I can't even think about never serving Eucharist again. Moving. Prepping the house for rental. Tying up loose ends in church. Getting in every last teaching opportunity I have. Not saying goodbye.

Just hope I'm laying down my life rather than getting all misty. Though mist would explain more.