Archive | May, 2013
Aside

meditation 3b: seventeen

31 May

meditation 3b: seventeen

I had Barbara by the throat. She had just said “I love you.”

I spoke.

Never say that to me again.

I let go.

I had to get out of the apartment. Leaving, tearful, I got in our car and drove. The transmission was done by the time I returned.

After seven years of marriage, good jobs, successful returns to school, Barbara had told me she loved someone else. I was alone. But God reached for me that moment. Her Youth Pastor, who attended our wedding as a guest, jumped to my mind. Keith was someone she trusted, knew and spoke well of and often. He had returned to the city to pastor a Baptist church in Brooklyn. We called, made an appointment to see him and spent a year in weekly counselling with him.

It didn’t work. And if it couldn’t work with him, it couldn’t work. Keith never took a dime. He followed through in ways I still cannot understand or believe.

After we ended, I heard Keith preach a Good Friday sermon on Bonheoffer’s idea of Cheap grace and Costly grace. I committed all my pain, sin, anger, hopes and tears to this grace. I have never looked back.

Recently an older woman shared her thoughts on grace with me. She said, “God’s redemption at Christ’s expense.”

That’s what I cost. And I have to earn nothing of that back. It’s for Barbara too.

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Aside

meditation 3a: seventeen my next posts, 3a, 3b, 3c,

28 May

meditation 3a: seventeen

my next posts, 3a, 3b, 3c, will be about my being seventeen

I married at 17. It was 1972. Barbara and I were the same age, but different races and cultures. It was NYC, 1972, our first year at City College of New York. She was a nursing student; I an artist. From the moment she placed her foot on my chest at Cathy Richardson’s holiday party, I was taken. Barbara worked in Bloomingdale’s, wore fashionable clothes (at employees’ discount) and waited on the likes of young Robert Redford. Her light amber skin and mouth were attractive in ways I could not understand. Taken in, I lived in each moment with her. A strawberry sweater was matched by her strawberry lipstick. And the more friends and family said we were: too different; too young; too much in love for us to work, the more we lived in, for and with each other.  

12 August 1972 was the day we married. Barbara’s intelligence, beauty was in her desire to be seen. Once, she told me, a client said to her: Leave this country. Go to Europe. You would be idolized there. It’s different there. She didn’ t leave.

In L. P. Hartley’s novel, “The Go-Between” Leo says, “The past is a different country: they do things differently there.” I agree. But Barbara and I are the same there. That is part of our tragedy.

 

meditation 2: Seeing death of a soldier in London

24 May

Seeing death of a soldier in London

  First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?

Clarice Starling: He kills women…

Hannibal Lecter: No. That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does? What needs does he serve by killing?

Clarice Starling: Anger, um, social acceptance, and, huh, sexual frustrations, sir…

Hannibal Lecter: No! He covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet, Clarice? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer now.

Clarice Starling: No. We just…

Hannibal Lecter: No. We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don’t you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don’t your eyes seek out the things you want?

What did the two murderers of the soldier want us to see? As one said, see what our women see everyday. Evil’s rooting process is defined by Doctor Lecter in the film “Silence of the Lambs”: in itself evil covets our eyes.

British media serves these murders; serve evil by watching and seeing for us. The murderers forced people to film their hands, actions and voices. But the media does not have to show the sight. Even the woman who covered the body of the soldier understood this: she didn’t want the children leaving school at dismissal to see this soldier’s death.  Murderers desire to create terror and other terrorists by forcing evil into sight. They seek to kill all through their vision.

We need to see them as they are: pure evil, without honouring their deed by hearing their voices, their hands, their faces.

Meditation 1

21 May

prayers in thoughts and scriptures on biblical characters; images; principles; people; Word and feelings. For May 2013, I will be sharing meditations

 1st meditation:

 I am writing a series of blogs on good, bad and ugly stewards in the Bible. This week I have been focusing in on the 9 bad lepers of Luke 17.

 Why are they bad stewards? Because, even after they are healed, their disease controls them. They never stop to return and  praise God; they have to get back to community, family, homes, people. I get it: people need people.  Got it.

But…my wife Priscilla has Lupus, an auto immune disease. I asked her this week: do you control your disease, or does it control you? Her response:

“it’s complicated. Sometimes I am in charge, sometimes all I want is healing from the aches, the tiredness. I just have to be sensitive to my body; listen to it.”

My prayer: Lord, yet me hear your gentle touch. Let my senses be yours: sensitive to your body, the people and world you have put me into. I want to be still. Help me to listen

Amen.

Stewards: Terah – a bad steward

3 May

Image 

This blog was first posted on the Stewardship website, as part of the Stewards series. You can read the whole series here.

“Are you settled in yet? How are you and Priscilla settling in? Are you sorting things out?“

Following our move to the United Kingdom from New York City, kindly Brits have asked this ‘settling’ question of me more then a few times. (This is one of the key differences between a Brit and a NYC native: the seasoned New Yorker never asks if you are settled in. It is understood that isn’t happening till the end of a lifetime).

Yes, we are settling in. Yet, I worry about ever getting too comfortable. I hope I always go where the Lord desires me to be. I never want to ‘settle’.

Terah, Abram’s father, settled for Haran and is a bad steward as a result. Terah is so obscure in bible history that most people don’t know who he is.  His name in Microsoft Word spell check always comes up underlined in red. Even though he is Abram’s father, he is not known. Abram is known primarily by his God-given new name, Abraham. This illustrates a core fact of Abraham’s life: he was a man of faith. God, as his father, renames him Abraham and calls him to be a father of many nations.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God….And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11: 8-10; 12

Terah was called before his son Abram was called. He left his home and family in the city of Ur for the land of Canaan.

This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive. Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran. Genesis 11: 27-30

Note verse 31: But when they came to Haran, they settled there.  Haran is actually half way from Ur to Canaan. Terah moved from his home and set out leaving part of his family (his son, Nahor and Nahor’s wife, Milkah). He was supposed to go to Canaan.  He never made it to where he was called to. Why? The writer of Genesis gives us a clue that this is a failure through the two words, “but” and “settled.” They speak not only about Terah but to and about us.

What am I settling for? What are my “buts” when I can’t do or finish something? Do I really believe in my journey, no matter how long and tiring and difficult? Am I “settled?”

Whether Terah was weary of travel; in love with Haran; or lazy, the point is he settled for Haran. He never went where he was called to go. He didn’t follow through. In contrast, Abram, after his father’s death was told by the Lord, Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show up. Genesis 12:1

He didn’t know where he was going, except it was the land the Lord desired him and his descendants to possess. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11: 8.

He went by faith. He found out later it was Canaan, his father Terah’s original destination. The place Terah never got to.

Is ‘only going half way’ as bad as not starting at all?