28 December 2010

Ice and Stars

In summer months,
I've explored these waters
In small boats,
Propelled by paddles and arms and back -
But now, in winter,
The dock lights shine off the ice and snow
Which crunches eerily under my moccasins.
By these lights I guide my steps,
For the sky is dark,
And the stars too faint to illuminate
The water's frozen pathways.
Yet Orion is not too faint to see
And I look at him and think of you.
Can you see him? No.
Day is gathering
On your side of the world,
Preparing to thrust itself
Over the eastern horizon.
I hope you find - and spread -
Joy in that day.
And when this earth spins round,
And day finds me,
And night finds you,
May you find joy in the stars, too.

23 December 2010

Darkness and Light

Darkness is a harsh term, don't you think? And yet it dominates the things I see. - Mumford and Sons

Flint is gray city. The snow is gray, the sky is gray, the buildings are gray. With the gray comes a certain gloom.

Andrew is disabled. He can't - or won't - eat, and he can't - or won't - speak. He's five, but has the body of a two-year-old.

One of my friends just lost his sister and her husband in a plane crash. The plane smashed to the ground and burst into flames. They were a young, vivacious couple, spreading joy everywhere they went.

And yet, there is color in the grayness. There's joy in Andrew's face. And the young couple now knows the joy of heaven.

Flintians are still enjoying life. My friends and I walk around downtown, go to the Torch, have fun. One of them lives downtown, walks to work at the Flint Institute of Art, and lives Life. Andrew is delighted with an old phone as a toy, walking around with it, offering it to me so I can take the call. He crawls in bed when I tell him, waits for me to kiss him and tuck him in before he dozes off. The news story about the great young couple who so tragically left this earth has given their families opportunities to share the hope that they have with audiences large and small.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:5

19 December 2010

Mist

My spinouts in the BSU driveway hadn't prepared me for this. Now both front and rear wheels were sliding.

The conditions had changed so fast. One minute, the pavement was dry and clear. The next, with light, floating snow, my back end slipped. I slowed, got it under control, kept my speed down.

Going 45, my back spins out. I start drifting into the other lane. I overcorrect. Start spinning to the right.

"No, no, NO, NO, NO!"

I remember it all. The stars lit up the snow and the mountains as they twisted around me. I faced back down the road. I was going in the ditch. I remember wondering - and recalling, calculating - how fast I was going. Too fast. I wouldn't be able to drive out of this one. My Jeep would be crushed.

My rear end slid off the road, into the ditch. Suddenly, I was stopped. I paused. I'm alive. My Jeep isn't crushed. I slipped in four-wheel, off the brake, off the clutch, on the gas. Nothing. Am I spinning? That would suck.

No. It stalled. Let's turn it back on. Four-wheel. Easy. Drive out. Got it. Pull off the road, push on the four-ways. Grab my Surefire and check for damage.

Jeep looks fine - not even a scratch. There are no parts in the snow where I went off. A couple cars go by. I get back in, pray, thank God for keeping me safe. Drive off. Stay in third gear, four-wheel drive.

Whew. Thank you, Lord.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. - James 4:14

06 December 2010

Grin

If you're up against a bruiser and you're getting knocked about --

Grin.

If you're feeling pretty groggy, and you're licked beyond a doubt --

Grin.

Don't let him see you're funking, let him know with every clout,
Though your face is battered to a pulp, your blooming heart is stout;
Just stand upon your pins until the beggar knocks you out --

And grin.

This life's a bally battle, and the same advice holds true

Of grin.

If you're up against it badly, then it's only one on you,

So grin.

If the future's black as thunder, don't let people see you're blue;
Just cultivate a cast-iron smile of joy the whole day through;
If they call you "Little Sunshine", wish that they'd no troubles, too --

You may -- grin.

Rise up in the morning with the will that, smooth or rough,

You'll grin.

Sink to sleep at midnight, and although you're feeling tough,

Yet grin.

There's nothing gained by whining, and you're not that kind of stuff;
You're a fighter from away back, and you won't take a rebuff;
Your trouble is that you don't know when you have had enough --

Don't give in.

If Fate should down you, just get up and take another cuff;
You may bank on it that there is no philosophy like bluff,

And grin.

Robert William Service (1907)

05 December 2010

Manhattan Declaration

Christians have a reputation of being judgemental bigots, holier-than-thou hypocrites, and oppressive preachers.

And, truth be told, many who call themselves Christians are all of the above. But there are many others who are much more like Christ, who love the unloved, defend the defenseless, free the oppressed, heal the sick, clothe the naked, and house the homeless.

And Christians are right about the dangers of modern culture: the devaluation of human life, the glorification of promiscuity, and the oppression of all religions by governments.

Those grievances are carefully and thoughtfully explained in the Manhattan Declaration. It's definitely a worthwhile read.

Here's a few pithy quotes to whet your appetite:

We must be willing to defend, even at risk and cost to ourselves and our institutions, the lives of our brothers and sisters at every stage of development and in every condition.

We confess with sadness that Christians and our institutions have too often scandalously failed to uphold the institution of marriage and to model for the world the true meaning of marriage.

We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's