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Down ... But Not Out

You'll have to forgive me.
I was desperate.
There I was six minutes into scrolling through the thread on my phone, just hoping no one peeked over my shoulder and caught a glimpse.  But I couldn't stop.  Not now.  Not before I found out whether he was going to make it out of this one.  
Keep in mind things were not looking good.  Everything was stacked against him.  Foes on every side.  Physical pain.  And somewhere out there a grave that was going to get filled with something or somebody.  So, I just kept on scrolling.
Like everything else, I blame it on the pandemic right now.  I can't remember the last time I succumbed to this weakness.  Late high school?  Maybe.  I know it was really bad in junior high, enticed as I was by all the grit and glamour, all the spandex and sweat and grunting and flying bodies.  Blame it on Hulkamania for sure.  Blame it on the marketing geniuses who figured out a way to turn Rowdy Rowdy Piper and Mean Jean and Tattoo Lou into a Saturday morn…
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Different Can Be Good

I could see it in his eyes as he sat next to me last night.  We see each other at our kids' events, and here we were at the end of a swim meet we weren't even sure was going to happen a few hours earlier.  We talked about all the things everyone else is talking about:  the crowds at the grocery store, the run on toilet paper, the uncertainty of whether the kids would even be in school next week.  So, there it was in his expression, and in mine too, even as we joked:  uncertainty.
Over the last 48 hours, we have all been waking up to the reality that things are going to be different for a bit, that normalcy is quickly disappearing as fast as those rolls of toilet paper.  Work will look different.  School will be different.  Church will be different.  And this will be okay.  It really will.  This "different" will be a good thing for those around us.  It will slow the spread of this virus and allow us to indirectly extend care to those most at risk:  our health care wor…

Ash Wednesday - Crying Out from Our Wound

It is no fun being in the belly of the whale.No fun at all.
Have you ever been there?
You would know it if you have. The feeling of being stuck. Isolated.Groping around a bit for answers, for a way out.
That is the hardest part.There answers don’t come very easily, if at all. The way out can take a while to happen.When will this end?

But, let’s back up.Let’s back up and consider how we can end up in the belly of the whale in the first place.
And for that, we’ll rely upon two stories:story of Jonah, which we just heard, and the story of St. John of the Cross.
We know why Jonah ended up in the belly of the whale.There was a stubborn streak in the man.There was a good bit of ego.God had a specific desire for Jonah, and Jonah couldn’t accept God’s plan for his life.He wasn’t humble enough to embrace the charge, the call, the mission, the invitation.So instead of following the Lord’s command and heading for Nineveh, Jonah set sail for Tarshish.And we all know where it went from there.
And we know…

Life in Greencastle - Letting the Spirit Take You to New Islands of Grace & Ministry

What a gift it is to share this fellowship with you, and to know that - together - we are but a part of God's work going on here in Greencastle.  There are weeks, like this one, where I often marvel at how lucky I am to be surrounded by individuals and families who are doing such good and loving work for our community.  I've just emerged from a chat with Carol about her role as a CASA volunteer.  I often bump into Patti Harmless as well and think of this valuable work in our community, a work begun in many ways by Diana LaViolette.
Carolyn McKee stopped in yesterday to both say hi to Trisha and check in with me about some ideas for a daycare fundraiser.  She went on to share about how the members of her Tri Kappa group had just taken up a spontaneous collection for the Non-Food Pantry, an incredibly valuable ministry that provides immeasurable help to many in our community faced with limited financial means and ever-present life needs.  
Kara Jedele and others will donate foo…

Breaking Free from the Circle Game

It's happened again.

It just keeps happening.

I've often joked recently that if I were the devil (which some people may assume that I am), here is what I would do.  Anytime there was any piece of news or issue or potential opportunity for political dialogue, this is what I would do.  I would immediately cast one side against the other.  I would immediately try to make an enemy of the other and see if I couldn't cause both sides to circle the wagons in defense of a position, batting down the hatches and arming for war.

The strategy seems to be working pretty well.  So, as I sat watching the Shakira and Jennifer Lopez on Sunday evening, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the two sides encountered one another and prepared for all out trench warfare.  You know.  Dig more deeply down into your position and lob some attacks at the other side.

That's how it goes.

And it creates this strong desire to protect those on the inside of our own circle.

But, there has to…

Letters from the Land of Advent - Attentiveness

Congratulations to all of you at home enjoying your second snow day in a row.

Or, maybe I should put that another way.

My prayers are with you.

Snow days are wonderful gifts, and there's a reason why Barbara Brown Taylor speaks of them as our last cultural moment of collective sabbath.  When the call from the school comes, parents and children are released to spend a day enjoying good books, playing out in the snow, and watching a movie or two together.  An openness of heart proceeds from the openness in the schedule.  Besides, there's nothing better than the sights and sounds of sledding, boots by the entry-way and gloves and hats defrosting on the heating vents.

But, the second snow day can be a bit more ... shall we say, challenging.

On the second day, things can become a bit more testy.  All that freedom and unstructured play can turn into a lit bit of a mad house.  You can't help but feel like Carol Burnett playing Miss Hannigan in Annie.  Meanwhile, dishes start to p…

Letters from the Land of Advent - As Clear As it Gets

"Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the world.  He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word." - Hebrews 1:1-3

There's a lot going on this time of year.  Am I right? 

A lot.

Traveling through December is the emotional equivalent of strapping yourself into a rollercoaster at Holiday World.  You're bound to ride the highest highs and feel your stomach drop as you plunge to the depths.  You'll get whiplashed by the twists and turns of the family drama.  All the while, the marketers will be trying to grab your attention through any means possible:  radio, internet, your Instagram feed.  Today, I heard a report about Mattel's efforts to push out the Baby Yoda plush toy just in time for Christmas.  For $25 you can pr…