Oh, to return to January 1st, 2020. Do you remember when the biggest news was impeachment? I was with some teenagers recently. I asked them, “Use one word to describe the first 6 months of 2020.”
Destruction. There seems to be a dismantling of everything we thought was secure. Assumptions about health, education, economics, and racism have all been challenged. Everything has been blown up in the span of four months. Now we are all trying to make sense of the rubble, wondering if we can put things back together the way the were. Or, do we start from scratch?
I wrote this in 2016. These days, every day might be a "tenth day." Maybe you can relate.
"How are things going?" I'm asked.
"Every ten days I want to quit." I've given this answer a few times in recent months. Am I really going to turn in my keys? Probably not . . . but maybe.
Anything of significance is worth sacrificing for. And anything worth sacrificing for will leave you with a "tenth day." Nine days can be good, even great. But about every tenth we are sobered by harsh reality.
I was doing some video recording in our church building last night. The building was eerily empty. It will be quiet on Easter as well. Is it really Holy Week if no one gathers?
I believe this will be the most authentic Easter in your lifetime.
Keep death before your eyes daily.”
This instruction is found in the Rule of St. Benedict (chapter 4) which provides direction for monastic communities of the Benedictine order. Why so morbid? Aren’t Christians to be hopeful?
Snow globes are mesmerizing. Peaceful. Hypnotic . . . until a five-year-old comes, picks up the globe, and SHAKES IT!
Sometimes life feels like a snow globe shaken. We are cozy in our "silent night." Family gatherings at Christmas. Sentimental music. Comfort food. And then something happens and life is SHAKEN. A loved one is sick. The family can't get along. The child is lost. The account is empty. Life is disrupted.
Last summer I stopped by St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN. Like most monasteries, St. John's has a guesthouse that is open to any visitor, Catholic or otherwise. In the entryway is a wall hanging of chapter 53 of The Rule of St. Benedict.
"All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say, 'I was a stranger and you welcomed me.'"
In this rule, Benedictines bind themselves to welcoming the stranger as a guest, as if Christ himself. What would it look like for all Christians to adopt this rule, especially in the frenetic holiday season?
The impeachment proceedings have me thinking about power. Who has power? How are they using it? The characters are before us. Donald Trump. Nancy Pelosi. Mitch McConnell. Adam Schiff. And so on.
We tend to think this is an exceptional time in history, but the struggle for power is a repetitive story. Same plot, different characters. Caesar Augustus. Herod the Great. They were the power brokers of their time. Today they are mere footnotes in a history book.
Trump. Biden. Pelosi.
Even if I knew that tomorrow the whole world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." - Martin Luther
Is it worth all the work?
How much difference does it make?
What do I do when I want to quit?
Thanksgiving is in two weeks. We all have our rituals.
Turkey cooking and pecan pie baking.
Passing out in a tryptophan-induced food coma.
Vegging on the couch while watching the Cowboys or the Lions lose.
Another admirable Thanksgiving Day ritual is to “count your blessings.” Allow me to put a spin on that. On November 28th, count your curses.
I was on a date with my nine-year-old, Emily. Over ice cream, I quizzed her with a number of questions. I came to, "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?"
"With you, Daddy."
Cue the "dad tears." For now, I'm better than Disneyworld and the beach.
Too often, we hear that the stated goal of Christianity is heaven. It's not.