Archives for the month of: July, 2011

I was leaving the church after work when I saw a baby rabbit hiding in the flower beds. Since the church grounds were a second home to  the neighborhood dogs and cats, I knew it would be safer in the woods than in the lobelia.  So in suit, stockings, and heels I started to chase the rabbit. Ten minutes later my suit was sweaty, my stockings were snagged, my shoes were filthy, but I held that bunny in my two hands. Walking toward the woods I felt its  heart pounded against my palms.  I remember wishing it could know that I was only trying to do it good – only trying to save it.

Reflecting on my bunny-saving experience, it occurs to me that heart pounding terror is often involved when God wants to do us good – to save us.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are not our ways.  Often God’s way of moving us to where we need to be involves jerking us up out of some place where we had learned to be comfortable and putting us into a situation where we are not comfortable and not in control.  Perhaps the very time we feel most abandoned is when the hands of God are holding us most uncomfortably close.

We often think of salvation as something that happens in church accompanied by organ music and stained glass windows or a band and projector screens. But God is in the salvation business 24-7-365.  Most of the time God has to chase us down to do us good. So the next time your life is jerked out of control, try to relax. You couldn’t be in better hands.

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dance dumpster, St. Marys, GA


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I have heard basketball called an elegant game.  Maybe it’s just me but I can’t see too much elegance in sweaty guys in baggy shorts running up and down between two baskets.  However, I do feel something akin to that about baseball. Baseball is the only sport I care anything about, and I only really like it when I can see it played in person. I don’t watch on TV unless the Braves are in the playoffs or World’s Series (remember when?).

I love baseball – but  I don’t keep stats and know all the players’ averages. The players change so fast these days who can keep up? What I love is going out to the stadium at night (Friday preferably) with my husband, getting a beer, eating the picnic I’ve packed, and cheering for the home team. It’s usually hot (I take a funeral parlor fan). There are sweaty people in the stands as well as in the field. But there is something about the experience that is pure therapy.

I sit there and I am not in charge. I’m not responsible for what happens. It feels good. Another thing:  baseball is slow.  I find this comforting since I live in a place where life is stuck on overdrive.  At a baseball game the pace is measured. There are pauses when nothing happens.  Amazing.  At baseball games I also do things I hardly ever do elsewhere: I scream, I boo (is that really a verb?), I jump up and down, I talk to total strangers.

Then there’s the outcome- it does not rock my life.  If they win I’m happy.  If they lose, there’s always next time. Either way, at the end of it all I go away feeling a lot more relaxed and cheerful.

Thank God for baseball therapy and GO BRAVES!

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New Mexico

Hundreds of teachers changing thousands of tests … this is the news over the last couple of weeks about our Atlanta Public Schools.  Right answers meant money. Since the kids apparently weren’t producing right answers at a high enough rate, the teachers took things into their own hands.  The money flowed. I suppose some good was done with it.  If  so, does that excuse cheating? Absolutely, positively NOT.  But this whole mess brings up some other issues.

One is the ugly truth that for many years Atlanta’s public schools have been largely abandoned by people who could afford to send their children elsewhere.  The money, time, energy, vision, and passion for learning these families could have brought into the system instead went to dozens of private schools throughout the city.  The children who needed the most help were stranded in schools that then had fewer resources to cope with a disproportionately high amount of poverty, addiction, and violence.

As a pastor of middle class congregations I have always known that the private school issue was a third rail.  Raise any ethical critique of sending kids to private schools and you were dead. So I didn’t. And I’m sorry.  [Part of my resistance also was that I don’t have kids and therefore felt unqualified to speak; as you can tell I got over that.] So here’s my question: what would it be like if instead of abandoning the public school system, Christian families -especially those with money- banded together to be salt and light inside the system?

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pomegranates, Crete, Greece

A sentence by Dallas Willard has taken roost in my mind.  In Renovation of the Heart he says that some Christians seem to think it is more important to be right than to be Christlike.  I struggle with this demon  myself, the compulsion to be right AND to make sure other people know it.  I get my nose rubbed in this mess every time somebody has the audacity to suggest I might not be right.  Letting go of the need to be right has become a spiritual discipline for me.

I am thinking about this because the little piece of Christianity that I call home has had a power shift (among other things).  What happens when people who are used to being the majority are now the minority and vice versa?  How will it all shake out? God only knows.  But here’s an idea: what if for a while we put more energy into being Christlike to each other than we put into defending our need to be right?  Or maybe first we stop and pray that we can know what being Christlike across the issues even looks like.

I don’t believe truth and Christlikeness are mutually exclusive – the need to be right and Christlikeness may be.

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I have decided to post some of my pictures on this blog just because it’s mine and I want to.  They may have nothing to do with what I am saying in the post – or maybe they do – I’ll let you think about it.

IMAGE OF THE DAY: from Dixon, NM, 2009

This blog, Graycenotes,  is started in blind faith that somehow it might be useful to someone somewhere.

I think it might be useful to me as a way

  •     to point to things that make me laugh, cry, or drop to my knees in awe
  •     to reflect on what it means to live a God-powered life
  •     to encourage people who are looking for more grace
  •     to be disciplined about writing on a regular basis whether anyone is paying me or not

There is part of me that is wary about putting words out in cyberspace to float around forever.  On the other hand, another part of me has always admired those weird guys who wear sandwich boards on street corners saying “The end is coming soon” and such.  What intrigues me is not their message, but the fact that they are willing to get out there and wear their truth.  I think this blog is a way for my introverted self to wear my truth.  It’s an adventure!

To start here’s a photo of pure joy.

Molly lives on a farm in Australia and is the granddaughter of my good friend Susan Benke.