Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Letter to my younger self

My weekly guy's group decided to tackle the project of writing a letter to our younger selves. Following is my piece:

April 2015

It’s 2015 for me, 1975 for you. You are in Salem, first year of marriage and last stretch of college. Your focus is your new life with Connie, school (OCE), church (Salem Alliance) and ministry, friends, family and driving (school) bus #206.

In a few years you’ll learn of a book called The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck. It begins with the phrase, “Life is hard.” In your case it might have helped if he had added, “…and you don’t need to further complicate matters…” Remember Jesus said it before Peck, “…in this world you will have trouble…”

You’ve known fear, anxiety and anxiousness throughout your days and they will always be with you. Get used to it, but don’t let them rule or guide you. You will be much better off if you learn to make decisions and take actions based on your greater commitments and values (in spite of the discomfort you feel or the lack of approval, support and understanding of others).

Your default choice will often be to focus on avoiding mistakes and failure. You’ll think that knowing and following the rules and not effing up will protect you. It won’t. This angle will be about as rewarding as watching the Blazers playing not to lose.

Control is often the initial knee-jerk response to fears. It will ultimately fail you and usually result in a worse situation than that which you are trying to resolve or avoid. Certainty, sounds nice as well, but is shortsighted. Learn to live and love the tension. Life is much bigger than you can imagine and you will, hopefully, have many years to work things out.

Tenacity will be one of your better life strategies, but it is only helpful when you are being tenacious for the right thing(s).

I’d love to point out your blind spots and give you the quick fix of how to avoid the troubles they bring. Can’t do it. You can’t, and or won’t, see them in the moment. Sometimes they become painfully, lightening flash clear in reverse, other times they linger in the shadows with little if any direct awareness but ongoing impact. The best I can say is 1) you will always have them 2) be cautious with certainty, 3) keep seeking and listening to wise counsel, 4) learn and live with humility toward others and, lastly 5) be patient with yourself. Through a glass darkly…

I am guessing this section may cause you to question that we are in any way connected, but here goes. Belief is easy; faith is the challenge (and opportunity). You’ve been taught and accepted a very specific way of knowing God and being Christian. You’ve got it all figured out, because it is clear, simple and you have to. …by faith, not by sight…

You are young in life and formation. Get ready for challenging and crumbling of systems, beliefs and practices. This process will eventually help you grow closer toward wholeness. Belief that can be reduced to words, doctrinal statements, creeds (which you know little of at this point) and systematics is basically information one can intellectually agree with. Faith is more dynamic and thereby more risky. It is a process of living into and becoming a person changed by God. In this season of life I’ve learned to love the mystery. I hope this doesn’t sound trite; God loves you and will be with you. Deep and wide…

Career and jobs can bring joy and fulfillment. Your path and personality will take you to places in which you will essentially give your whole self to your work. Remember such situations are temporary. Most of what you are going to want to fight for in work settings is not worth the energy, emotions and effort. Don’t give more to a job than it asks, deserves or gives you. Sorry for sounding like Oprah (you’ll know who she is in a few years) but remember to find your value as a human BEing, not a human DOing…

Relationships are worth working for and working at. They cannot be forced. They will bring sustenance over the years. Marriage will be central. Connie and you will experience deep joys and the edges of despair. Hold fast, it will be worth it. Children (and grandchildren) will shape your family in unimaginable ways. Good luck understanding extended family and in-laws. I’m still working at both and wouldn’t begin to think I have them figured out. Love one another…

Friendships will be rooted in diverse settings. Some will last decades; others will grow within and last for a specific context and season. You never know which will become those that hold you in storms or join you in joyful celebrations. Do unto others…

Forgiving others and yourself will be a challenge (understatement). Each glimpse and step of progress will be painful but worth it. It is a cycle of death and resurrection. Dying to self, to your ideas and to being right. Remember, without death there is no new life. Forgive as you have been forgiven…

Patience will be another ongoing challenge. The need for patience is woven through most of what has been mentioned. It will come little by little with the hard cost of life experience. Do your best not to resist the opportunities to learn, live and grow in this area. Let patience finish its work… 

Be ready for surprises. There are people you don’t yet know and situations you can’t imagine. There are books, stories and songs I wish I could share today, but I trust you will appreciate them more when you encounter them step by step along the way.

Keep listening, learning, seeking, serving, reflecting, breathing, recreating, resting and laughing. Lastly remember, all things are being made new…

Shalom, peace be with you

Monday, April 20, 2015

Like Pompeii

Will it be like Pompeii
when Baker finally blows?

Will runners be eternally frozen on their second,
or possibly third, loop on the backside of Padden?
Will Lummi kids be caught forever playing chase
on the riverbank near Marietta?
Will cars be perpetually jammed at
border crossings in Blaine, Lynden and Sumas?
Will newborn calves be calcified suckling
their mother’s teats on farms around the county?
Will the neo-punk, quasi-hippie, post-grunge,
sort of goth street kids be forever huddled
on the corner of Railroad and Magnolia,
bantering with the spandex-clad city cops
astride their requisite bikes?

Will the Governor be secretly sparring
with FEMA and Homeland Security
while the Red Cross steals the lead
on the evening news?

Will a rapidly produced, “sensational, gut-wrenching”
Made-for-TV movie be the inevitable dénouement?