Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are You Salvaged?

It has quite a ring to it, doesn't it?

I think we should replace the question, "Are you saved?" with "Are you salvaged?" That way, askers would think twice. Would I really want to go up to a person and ask if he or she realizes he or she is a broken-down piece of junk? Would I ask, have you been salvaged?

My point is to recognize that we all have flaws and problems that could send us to the scrap heap. I shouldn't fuss over yours. I should be paying attention to whether I've been salvaged.

Thank God for salvagation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Richard Rohr writes that Jesus was asked 183 questions, but he only directly answered three. Evidently his job description wasn't to answer every question.

Be willing to look beyond the questions. What is driving us in our need to ask so many questions?

The questions themselves, we can let go.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ordinary People Who Know Things

The other day, I was in a conversation with Susan. I could just picture the trees. She talked about how she loves to go up among the trees at Mt. Tabor, standing, breathing, opening her arms. She might stretch herself tall and imagine herself a tree. Most of all she will just be.

Daily she serves her community, L'arche, in countless acts of beauty, showing God's love. She is known by many as Sister Susan. But Susan knows her life isn't about doing, but being.

Susan said, "I don't have to do anything to be me."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Small Things

I planned to make it a workday and tackle the house, shopping, cleaning and organizing. In my transformed environment, I'd write a chapter of one of my books, or engage in meaningful reading or prayer. Do something important. It turned out, I spent the day waiting in line and cooking dinner. It felt like such a waste. In the evening I blew a sigh at the kitchen counter, noticing the fortune cookie Lisa had given me a few days earlier. I broke it open to this fortune:

"We can do no great things; only small things with great love." --Mother Theresa

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ordinary People Who Know Things

"Religion is the Undoing of God." --my friend Carla

Saturday, February 7, 2009

There is No Starting Over

As a kid I hated messing up. Whether I'd neglected my chores or broken a rule, or skipped Bible study, I agonized about getting in trouble in our fundamentalist Christian home. In my mind, I had to start over. I was forever starting over.

My Dad said, "Why do you always think you have to start over?" But I was convinced I needed a new day, a new week, a new arrangement of bedroom furniture, a new outfit. Anything to help me in my new start.

This kind of thinking was perpetuated by church culture, wherein we were taught that being "born again" was all about a new start. Here I was, born again, but it wasn't enough. I needed more new starts. (Nevermind the fact I was only 13, or 16 or 18.) Every altar call, crusade, church camp experience, New Year's service - these were all new starts that I depended upon desperately.

These new starts were always tenuous, temporary and shaky, but I couldn't help trying.

The fixation with starting over is not just in the church, but has saturated our society. I love how it was expressed in a terrific play I saw some time ago, How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found, brilliantly performed by Portland Center Stage.

Charlie is an advertising executive with a stressed-out psyche, a maxed-out credit card, and an empty life. He encounters a fraud artist who can help him create a new identity with all the necessary identifiers, licenses, passports. Charlie becomes convinced that leaving Charlie behind - in essence, disappearing - is the answer to everything.

As humans, we're convinced that starting over means changing our identity, and it's the answer to the pain we experience in life. If we can just be somebody else, get a new "us," life will be better.

It's so hard for us to see God in the life we already have - that He meets us right where we are, as who we are, with all the shit we experience. But this is what real life is. Anything else is just trying to disappear.