Monday, September 29, 2008

Deep down inside

Yesterday, I felt the sickening feeling that accompanies a beloved sports teams elimination from the playoffs. I have felt this before (last year on the last day of the season) and I will feel it again (next year on the last or first day of the season?).

I tried to determine why this sick feeling comes over my body due to events like the Mets' choking. As I pondered, my mind wandered to the fact that I am repulsed by the feeling of not coming through for others when they need me. I hate when I fail to fulfill a commitment to a friend or simply let someone down.

There is a larger pattern present here as well. I have noticed that I tend to judge others in the exact areas that I struggle the most. This is a basic observation that I see in every other person as well. We judge others most harshly in the exact places we need help.

Back to the Mets... I saw them choke yesterday (this past week, this past month...) and I couldn't stomach, literally, the fact that they let me down by not coming through. I hate that in them but I hate that more in my actions.

SO, I will be thinking about how my stomach felt yesterday when I am tempted to not come through for others when they need me. I won't be perfect but I will intentionally work to avoid making others feel like the 56,000 fans who sat through the choke-fest yesterday at Shea Stadium in NY City.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Growing up

I have been reflecting on the meaning of "growing up" recently. I believe that I have been able to look at life with fresh eyes again now that I am somewhat settled into my new home. The past 5 years have been a whirlwind ever since Cambria was born and I decided to apply to Princeton Seminary. I am starting to re-experience the basic rhythms of life - a rhythm that isn't marked by "what's next?"...

One aspect of growing up involves taking ownership because nobody else is going to come to your rescue. This should be a basic observation but I am seeing how it hasn't been in my life. I have been blessed with parents who provided for me as a child and have been a tremendous help to me in many ways throughout my life. I can see now that I sometimes still fall into a child mindset when a challenge comes my way.

Tonight, I went against that mindset. Our kitchen sink was leaking and I was unable to fix the problem right away. I had a choice. The first choice was to cling to the reality that I am not a handy guy and give up. The second choice was to pursue a solution and take ownership of my sink.

First, I went to Home Depot and I actually asked for help. That was a big step. The plumbing representative gave me some things to consider but none of them seemed to fit my exact problem. Second, I returned home and saw the problem with new eyes (also after cruising some Kohler sink docs online) and I was able to fix the problem!

Right now, the sink is not leaking. Right now, I feel pretty good about myself. Right now, I feel like I took one more step in growing up.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A New Friend

I had the opportunity to meet with Earl Palmer recently at University Presbyterian Church. Our conversation focused primarily on his experiences in full-time church ministry. I asked him numerous questions and he responded with the wisdom and thoughtfulness that any person seeking a conversation with him would expect and desire.

I asked him how he has stayed fresh in full-time church ministry over the years and how he has avoided mediocrity? He immediately responded to the question with, "Preaching and finding ways to teach others how to study Scripture in a way that the Bible and Jesus Christ comes to life!"

I also asked him about his favorite authors and he shared a list that challenged me to expand my reading selections. He said, "Pick an author and befriend him or her. Read and read that author until you feel like you know them and they have known you as you interact with their writings."

A few days ago, I picked up G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy off my book shelf. I had purchased the book years ago after hearing Earl Palmer mention it in a sermon. I had saved the book until a time that seemed right and now is that time.

I read the first chapter where Chesterton focuses on why a person who relies solely on logic will go mad because he or she attempts to control the world. I was struck by these words,
Poetery is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite... To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. A poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.

I was challenged to consider how I as a logician (ask anyone who knows me well about this) attempts to get "the heavens into" my head and that sometimes causes my head to split.

He goes on to share that sometimes thinking less is a path to life for those who think too much...

I found a new friend. Chesterton helped me reflect on my life in a manner that I haven't since I read Augustine's Confessions years ago. Thank you Earl Palmer for your wise words and for introducing me to a new friend.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Good question

I am writing for the first time since May. I obviously bought into the Seattle area summer mindset - meaning that I completely check out of life during the summer. One of my numerous observations from my first year out here is that everyone checks out of responsibility when the sun is out. I understood why that occurred during the cloudy/rainy months but I did not anticipate it happening ALL summer long.

I have enjoyed making observations like this one during my time here in Maple Valley. I should write about all of them (4th of July insanity, why people move out here, etc.) but I'll have to come back to that another time.

Now to the question of the day. Who am I? That is a question that I know that some are asking in light of the fact that I haven't updated this blog in many months. I also have struggled to find ways to connect with friends in light of a newborn's (now 3 months) arrival (Carys) and the constant learning in my position at Maple Valley Presbyterian. I am still learning how to live post-seminary and post-technology.

You will know if I am in a better groove once I start updating this blog consistently again because I definitely still have many many many "thoughts as I go" about life and faith...