Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Life, death, spring

Spring is the iconical and literal season for new life. Babies are being born, trees are starting to show their new blooms, the grass is getting wild and love is in the air. Okay, maybe that last part is a stretch but who knows, maybe not. Spring is a time for newness and fresh beginnings, so death really has no place in this happy season, right? With beautiful flowers popping up in yards all over town and children laughing and playing, how can the pall of death spring up?

As inevitable as spring may be each year, death is equally so. Like it or not, death reminds us that some things must go away even when so much is just coming into existence; it’s all of that ‘circle of life’ business. Maybe the better way to put it is to say that in some cases, it is death that precedes new life. Personally, I like to think of it that way.

Death also has a funny way of helping us clear up thoughts, emotions, habits, routines and opinions. Many people have trouble with this simply because change is not always easy. We carry around a lot of extra weight on a daily basis and it is death that exposes that excess. For a brief moment following death, we carry around despair, but eventually we develop new thoughts, emotions, habits, routines and opinions. Out of death comes something new, every time.

Understanding this new direction is important, it helps us cope and manage in difficult times. Most of us do not welcome death for death’s sake, but fear it for fear’s sake. As a result, we are often scared prior to death because of the unknown nature that follows. If you grab hold of the spring that rises out of your winter, you will see the new life that awaits you.

This isn’t some inspirational speech but more of a wake up call. We all need one occasionally in order to recognize that which is still living around us. Getting caught up in that which is dead harkens to those habits and routines we carry around. When a tree loses a branch it doesn’t die, it learns to get along. That may be a harsh representation but imagine if the branch was blocking a view of the mountains. We now have a new view; an angle we hadn’t noticed before.

New life simply means new perspective. Our ideas are rarely born out of our ruts; they are usually created by plowing a new road. This is not without work mind you, but the reward is always an easier path, even if it comes with a few blisters.

As a new season dawns here in the High Desert, there are bound to be some heavy hearts that are aching with the grief of death. If you are among them, take heart, there is something new on the horizon. Welcome the spring, breathe in some fresh air and see that every day is brand new; a day that has never existed before, a view you hadn’t noticed. You may never look at spring the same way again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


*This is a post from September 2009 when I was writing for a blog called Black Sheep...

So this is hello…

It’s possible we have met before but I won’t pretend that you remember. I have a tendency to blend in and look as if I belong in nearly any setting; call me a chameleon. What sets me apart and makes me memorable is when I open up in dialogue. It is then that I become something completely different, someone without many close friends, a person with deep seated convictions that run contrary to so many of the people I blend in with.

I am a leader.

My positions are numerous but I will do my best to sum up this person you now see before you. I am the oldest of four, the leader of the pack from a psychological perspective, the alpha male. I am the only person in my immediate family with a college degree. I say this because I seek to rationalize the chasm that exists between me and my sibs. There is much distance between us and it is not only miles. My faith has exposed a wicked difference in the midst of those with whom I share a blood relation.

I am a follower.

My faith is central to who I am and all those who know me understand that. I make no apologies for my understanding of scripture but instead listen close to how others interpret Jesus’ words so that I might glean further. As I dig further into the red letters of the New Testament I am moved to not only be like Jesus but to understand the minds and hearts of those who were closest to him at the time. I want to grab a hold of what went through the mind of Peter. I want to listen like John. Mostly I want to fully grasp what it means to deny myself.

I am a liberal.

Politics are one of those topics that can turn a good conversation into a mind numbing waste of one’s time. For better or worse we are all subject to politics of some sort. Whether we are talking about national stories like healthcare or we are talking about the next youth pastor at the church we attend and the troubles they may face with the existing staff, politics are a part of our everyday lives one way or another. Unlike most of my contemporaries and peers, I am not a Republican. For the sake of disclosure, I am also not a Democrat. It is important to define the word liberal first and then understand that I am a Diplomat.

I am a husband and a father.

My family is next in line after Jesus. Under this header I am also a coach, a mentor, a teacher and a best friend. I find great joy being all of those things; this is where my heart is often.

I am a black sheep.

I have been ostracized because of my public distaste for the Christian Right. I have been ridiculed because of my position against war. I have been questioned for trying to bring tough topics to the table and opening up these dialogues to atheists and agnostics. I have been outcast just because of the way I have voted in the past, especially when I admitted that I had not voted for G W Bush. I have been pushed away because of my faith.

This is who I am in a nutshell. I will ask hard questions and demand an answer. I will push the very edge of the envelope. I will not toe the line. I am hungry for debate but believe it or not, I am desperate for your side of the story. I will not suppress this Jesus who lives in me.

This is hello.
My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


**This is a post from October 2009 when I was a guest blogger on a different site....

Without looking up a definition to this I am struck by the immediate thoughts of steaminess and lovemaking and silk sheets and candles and a rug in front of a fireplace. This all sounds great but is that all there is to passion? Could there be more than that of my libido? Maybe that’s all we need is passion like that, to think of sex and pleasure that is fulfilled by having such a desire. Why dwell on the subject, why search the dictionary for an alternate meaning when we can enjoy some carnal thoughts about that sort of passion in our lives?

To me, passion is the culmination of emotion, mixed with love, sprinkled with insanity and wrapped in an intensity that is incomparable with any other feeling.

Passion is a deep word with deep meanings but I look less for what Webster has to say and more for what my own friends have to share. Passion is not just a desire of the flesh; it is something you want with heart, soul, body and mind. When we are passionate about a particular subject matter, even if it is another person, we have a great desire to be around whatever it is, as often as possible.

Passion is a longing. Those things that we long for are regular attendees of our minds. When we wake up in the morning, it is not long before our thoughts drift to that which we long for. Are you longing for a connection with another person, or just dying to get back out on the soccer field? You can have a passion for many things by simply longing for them. The passion comes when you apply your heart and then chase after it.

Passion is also a hunger. Not unlike your favorite ice cream or favorite cut of steak, food is more than just essential to most of us. We crave certain things and sometimes we make late night runs just to have them. Passion is just like that. It is at the top or near the top of your mind at all times. It is something you concentrate and dwell on in a way that brings out a hunger; a thirst for more.

Let’s go deeper yet…does passion have to have reins? Think of it this way; is passion, without control, a train wreck waiting to happen? There are times when our emotions take over regarding something or someone we care deeply about. In those moments we have a heightened sense of passion as we are so singularly focused on one subject while exhibiting an emotion that is raw.

There’s another thing though and that is the refinement of passion in our lives as we age. Under the age of ten I would suggest that a person is infatuated or possibly developing senses of strong interest, but there comes a time when that interest turns to a passion. In our twenties and thirties it seems we try our best to manage emotions that are in fact raw, but intensely powerful. We are physically strong while also mentally aware of new feelings and motives.

As we age it seems to me that we refine our passions to concentrate on one or two specific desires. I really think that when we are young we are passionate about more than just a few things, it is only as we age that we narrow that field to something we can manage. It is then that our passions become so clear to everyone else. The progression of passion in our lives can be like a puppy. In the beginning we tend to jump on everything but as things change we learn to be selective about where and when to jump.

I have this realization right now that I am passionate about a few things. My desire is that I am seen for having those passions and staying true to them. My fear is that what I feel is a passion is more of an infatuation and time will strip me. Maintaining clear motives towards deep seated feelings will determine the reality of my passions.

I am convinced that where there is passion there is a heart that is beating wildly. My prayer is that my heart never outgrows its mo-hawk and tattoos.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.