Happy New Year Dr. WHO

2 01 2015

Happy New Year Dr. WHO.

Happy New Year Dr. WHO

2 01 2015
Happy New Year!

On New Year’s Eve, my son came in and we watched Dr Who episodes back to back on NetFlix.  It was great.  But, at the big moment, we switched back to live TV to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  Because, that’s what we do, and the future would feel incomplete without it.images

That’s sort of life in a nutshell today.  New opportunities, new possibilities, (streaming on-demand content providers like NetFlix are taking a big bite out of traditional TV networks) but we return to the familiar, however briefly, to welcome the next new thing.  2015!

Our lives are a confusing combination of innovation and tradition.  We need both.  We tend to see them as separate and distinct; often at odds.  But are they really?

This year, watching the ball drop, I noticed how closely innovation and tradition work together. Dick Clark is no longer with us, but the show is still called
Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.  At least for now while enough people still remember Dick Clark and it’s still comforting.  That won’t be forever.

I didn’t recognize many of the acts and they didn’t really interest me.  Elton John just looked old.  Reminded me that one of my resolutions needs to be “take off a few pounds” in 2015.  I think that was last year’s resolution too, come to think of it.

And Guy Lombardo was nowhere to be found, though having lived on Long Island close to Guy Lombardo’s hometown of Freeport where the main drag is named after him, I’m sure some iteration of his band was playing somewhere on New Year’s Eve 2015.

New Year’s Eve used to be owned by Guy Lombardo.  Until Dick Clark.  And now others vie for the territory today.   Things change.

Innovation allows us the freedom to respond to ever changing realities.  Tradition reminds us what’s important as we do.

What’s overlooked in that is how both serve as a correction and a balance to each other.

Without innovation, tradition doesn’t know what’s important. How could it?

Tradition just kind of memorializes everything without distinction and they become habits.  Good and bad.  Slavery, Segregation, Discrimination, Sexism, Racism; all were traditions as much as Aunt Minnie’s meatballs at the holidays.

Innovation says there are things that need to change and should be left behind if we are to truly live up to our Tradition. Innovation provides the excitement, the fireworks, that marks New Year’s Eve and the ball drop.

At the same time, the underlying values of Tradition provides grounding for Innovation.  Tradition offers a framework for understanding the present moment, and shapes our response to that moment.

Tradition provides the optimism and the hope that is also the hallmark of New Year’s Eve.

Without that grounding, Innovation would be vague and unfocused, like a leaf being blown by the wind.

Tradition reminds us who we are at our best and demands that those things are lifted up and provide a foundation for who we are becoming through the necessary process of Innovation.

And through this dance is the abiding presence of God. In both Innovation and Tradition.  It’s not either/or.  It’s always both/and.

We don’t say this much anymore because it seems so formal, but I think there’s a value in at least mentioning it once.  A new year is more than a number.  It is also an affirmation.

Welcome to the Year of Our Lord, 2015!
I can’t wait to enjoy a new season of Dr. Who with my son.

2014 in review

30 12 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

You Never Know Where You’re Going Til You Get There

20 11 2014

You Never Know Where You’re Going Til You Get There.

You Never Know Where You’re Going Til You Get There

20 11 2014

I’ve used a labyrinth off and on for many years as part of my prayer life. In fact, I keep one on the wall over my desk in the office. You may have noticed it and not known what it was. Not to worry. When I first saw one, I thought it was one of those optical illusion things you stare at and all the lines go swimming together in a psychedelic soup.  fingerlabyrinths17

Labyrinths were developed during the Middle Ages. It’s not clear why exactly. Many think that after the Crusades made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem the equivalent of Nik Wallenda taking a stroll across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope, labyrinths became a way of making that pilgrimage.   Which makes a lot of sense to me. I know which line I’d stand in at the pilgrimage ticket window.

For whatever the reason, labyrinths began to be included in the design of a many European cathedrals. The most famous is Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral in France.

Now, a labyrinth is not a maze. You can’t get lost. There’s only one path, and you follow it to the center of the labyrinth. At the center, you may pause for prayer, reflection, meditation; it’s up to you. Whatever your little heart desires…literally. Sometimes, you don’t know until you get there.

The focus however, is as much on the journey to the center as it is getting there. Probably more.

The labyrinth over my desk is a finger labyrinth. Instead of physically walking the path, you trace the path with your finger. The effect is pretty much the same as walking when you close your eyes and focus your attention on your fingertip as it follows the circuits of the labyrinth.

But, however you travel, by foot or by finger, it always begins to feel like more than an ordinary journey at some point. It feels like a metaphor for your life.

And here’s the thing I am always struck by. The first circuit of the labyrinth takes you right around the center. You walk in and think, ‘How easy is this?” I’ve already made it! Drinks for everyone.

But not quite. Instead of turning into the center, the path to the center leads you away from it. Each circuit, another layer between you and your goal, until you are traveling along the perimeter of the labyrinth, as far from the center as you can possibly get.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

You begin to feel like, “how did I get out here? How have I gotten so far from where I was going?”

I don’t know about you, but I feel that way a lot at this point in my life!

When I started, I thought I was right at the doorstep of where I was going. Piece of cake. Excuse me this will just take a second. That was something like 30 years ago.

I have this wonderful four-year seminary education that’s mostly useless, and sometimes downright harmful, when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel today. Now I realize I might just as well have spent those four years learning how to repair telephone booths.

Now, I worry about my kids trying to establish themselves in life with a mountain of debt and opportunities that are few and far between and totally disgusted by today’s political leaders who are intent on helping… but mostly only themselves.

And, going to see my mother now is like going to some kind of reverse flea market. She’s on hospice, and I’m still getting used to the idea that the time is getting shorter. Each trip is closer to the last trip. This time a green oxygen tank was propped in a corner with a no smoking sign in Spanish and English, just in case.

I’m still getting used to getting on I295 South when I leave her house in New Jersey. I have to remind myself to go past the northbound ramp I’ve taken just about all my life.

Now, I walk in the door which she leaves open because it takes too long for her to get there to unlock it, and she’s like, “can you use this?” “Do you want this?” “How about this?”

Pointing to pieces of her life. Pieces of my past life. Clocks. Pictures. The dining room furniture. The curio full of Hummels. It’s like being in the museum of me during a fire sale. I stand there not knowing what to say as a lifetime is offered bit by bit, yours for the taking.

There is a terrible vulnerability when you offer your treasures to someone, and they just stand there, or they change the subject. I suggest we talk about it later, and her face falls, but she doesn’t push it. She gets out her list. Take out the garbage, fill the birdfeeder, unscrew the lids on jars in the refrigerator, go to the grocery store.

She thinks it’s because I don’t want to be bothered with her stuff. But, what I really want is the one thing I absolutely cannot have, and that’s the way it is for all of us. What a realization when suddenly every precious and sentimental thing is seen for what it really is, a consolation prize.

The labyrinth teaches you there are no straight lines in life. There’s a lot of twisting and turning and doubling back. It can all be quite confusing, and a little tedious. And the labyrinth also shows you that none of this is a distraction. The twisting and turning is just how you get to where you’re going.

Meditating on labyrinthHere’s are the instructions God gently suggests to me in the labyrinth: close your eyes and trust the path you’re on. Just when it feels like you’ll never get there, the path will turn and drop you smack in the center of it all. All that time you were confused; all that time you thought you were lost; you were on your way here all along.

The Beginning Of Something Else

3 11 2014

The Beginning Of Something Else.

The Beginning Of Something Else

3 11 2014

I found an azalea bloom this morning by our front door. A burst of crimson caught my eye above the dried oak leaves huddled beneath the azalea’s pre-winter skirts. One bloom, out of place and out of season, offering its irrational hope in the face of mounting evidence and inevitability.FullSizeRender 2

I just took the plants in yesterday that could be saved until next year. The hibiscus is flagging, bravely putting out blooms that are smaller, like cup saucers and pinched with bitterness. Their leaves are curling from the cold overnight. We have no southern window in our house to keep it alive. I’m sorry.   It will not be long now. We’ve needed heat the past three mornings. The hummingbirds are gone. We all know what’s coming.

I fished my phone out of my pocket for a picture of this wayward bloom, held against the heart, hidden in the depths of things. It is a strange vindication I suppose. A small gesture against the darkness and bleakness ahead. In every season, in every time of life, there is a burst of color hidden deep down.   Something thriving and blooming that shouldn’t be. Reminding us, if we let it, that there is always more to come.   Nothing ever really ends. It’s just the beginning of something else.




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