Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Evangeline Paterson's poem "Deathbed" (which I will read as part of my uncle's service) says,
Fitting words indeed, for Passover or Passion Week or Ordinary Time.
"Why is this night different from all other nights?" Not to diminish Passover or its rituals, which I hold dear, but one reason is because this night is a night in which I am alive and others are not... even others which were alive just awhile ago. And those words remind me that I am called to live my life fully and well in the days and nights that remain to me. And that, as a Christian, there is One who has made the angel of death irrelevant.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
-- Thomas Kelly
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I smiled inside (and probably outside as well) when he said that.
I am blessed (I've decided took look at that way finally) with a name that gives people trouble. "Brent Bill" seems pretty straightforward to me. And I've never had any problem with keeping those two names in their correct order. But some others get it backwards "Bill Brent" or mangle it in other ways. My favorite is "Jay Brentabill." When I was a young person, I had one fellow who got so tired of trying to figure it out that he said he was just going to give up and call me "Charlie."
And, I have to say, it is pretty important to me that people get my name right. After all, it is a big part of who I am. And getting a person's name right is a mark of respect -- it says, "I care enough about you to learn your name."
Still, after hearing Homer this morning, I decided that, so long as Homer recognizes me as a friend of his, I don't care if he remembers my name or not. I'd much rather he remember me as a friendly face than keep my name straight. I'd rather he'd see me and smile with recognition rather than spend time searching his memory banks for a name he may or may not be able to dredge up
Besides, there is One who knows my name and who will never forget it -- or me. And He is watching over both Homer and me.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
-- Vincent D. Nicholson
Monday, March 15, 2010
Even though I was abed resting and no television or stereo was on and I was wrapping myself in silence as well as blankets, I heard, in the supposed silence, all these sounds. They reminded me of the ongoing beat of life... and how it makes itself heard. Just like a heartbeat ... so silent to the world outside, heard only by someone who comes close enough in silence to listen.
I am grateful for those sounds today -- even the doorknocking and telephone ringing. Even if I don't answer then.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Those are the dying words of early Friend James Nayler. These words of beauty and power have coursed through my soul and challenged me since I first heard them almost 30 years ago.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about that last phrase -- “In God alone it can rejoice.” That’s because I tend to rejoice in lots of other things – the good work that I get to participate in at the Center, the workshops my friend Beth and I are co-leading and the book we are going to write, and the disappearance of the snow! I find it easy to rejoice in God’s creatures and abounding gifts. I enjoy the beauty of the earth – am brought near to tears driving through the Hoosier countryside as the sun sets.
What then! In God alone I must rejoice?
Not in His creatures, His abounding gifts?
Yes, because Nayler and other saints knew, nature, people, and the arts are reflections of the holy. As beautiful reflections they can be distracting. They can capture and hold my attention so strongly that I fail to look beyond them to what they are pointing me toward – God. Nayler’s words warn me that I am are to look to God first and not settle for the image – no matter how beautiful or reflective that image is.
Until thou findest all things new, in Him”
There is a spirit that in God alone rejoices – may that spirit come and dwell in us so that we might “findest all things new, in Him.” Even in the midst of the sounds of business.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
"Spring must be coming."
"I love this warm weather.""The snow is gone!"
Ah, the sounds of spring -- human voices rejoicing in the grip of winter being broken. Of course, being Hoosiers, we will soon be complaining about tornado season and then the heat and humidity, but for now the sounds issuing forth were those of rejoicing.
And, as I thought of those sounds, I was reminded of how little I lift my voice in rejoicing. I am quick to whine; slow to sing praises. Of God, or spring, or even the people with whom I spend my daily life.
While I am as grateful as anyone for the warmth of the March day I just enjoyed, I am most grateful for the voices reminding me to be ... um ... grateful. For all with which I have been blessed -- which is much.
So, even though the season's first thunderstorms might roll in later this week and take some of the bloom off this season, I am grateful for the sun, the warmth, and voices that celebrated them.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Friday, March 05, 2010
As I did, the voices and sounds of ghost came floating to me. First, I headed from Linda's house through Valleyview and I heard my father's voice warning, "You know this is a speed trap. They'll get you for going 26 in the 25 zone." Sure enough, heading south on Hague, there sat the Valleyview Police Department -- radar gun aimed and ready. Then it was south on North Eureka, past Holton Park where I spent hours playing tennis 35-40 years ago. I could hear the ka-thwack of the ball hitting the asphalt and zing as it smacked off our wooden rackets. Then it was south and west to Lechner Avenue to Glenwood Park where I used to sled. My Mom would warn me, "Don't talk to strangers." It was close to the then Columbus State Hospital for the Insane and she was worried, I guess, that I was the sort to take up with them.
On down Columbia Avenue, across Sullivant to Hauntz Park, where I could hear my cousins urging me to light the candles in our decorated wagon (covered with chicken wire and tissue paper) for the "Lantern Parade" around the park and the crack of my little league bat hitting a ball. And Hilltonia United Methodist Church where I heard the world's longest, most boring Indian story while a Cub Scout... a story that ended with the line, "The smoke signals said, 'Squaw Bury Shortcake'," a pun I found execrable even as an 8 year old.
Then I cruised up Springmont, past my cousins' Jon and Jeff's old house (now for sale) at the corner of Nashoba and Springmont. I could hear their voices calling me to hurry up as we walked home from Mound Street Elementary School. They were a year older, wise second graders to my inexperienced first grade. They are both dead now, but I could hear them also trying to guess who I was at a Hallowe'en party we kids had down in the basement of that house. Other voices of other kids came back as I cruised that neighborhood where I lived the first nine years of my life. I saw our old house on Sullivant Avenue and then our "new" house on South Eureka. At first glance, it looked the same and I heard the voices of Mike Rader and Mike Riley and my other buddies. I saw John Burroughs Elementary School and heard Mr. Sarsfield, my sixth grade teacher, exhaling an exasperated, "Brent."
Other voices came as I cruised along. My grandparents' voices on Richardson Avenue. My teachers at West High School. Sunday school teachers at Highland Avenue Friends Church. And on and on and on and on.
Perhaps these were not "real" sounds. But they sounded real to me. Each sound and each voice came through with crystal clarity. And it reminded me that we never lose that which we have loved -- be they people or places; alive or dead. My friends and family, many long departed, traveled with my through my old haunts... and I was grateful for their company. And the blessings they imparted ... blessings they may not have even known that they were giving me. Indeed, blessings that may have gone unrecognized even by me at the time.
As I drove, I remember being deathly afraid of ghosts when I was nine and living on Sullivant Avenue. I had a recurring nightmare of a monstrous ghost that looked a bit like Godzilla appearing out of the evening mists around Hauntz Park. Today, though, I found the sounds of ghosts all very comforting... and was grateful for their company.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Monday, March 01, 2010
But the most remarkable thing -- fittingly for a day to begin "30 Days of Hearing" -- was the birdsong that was evident. From the moment I opened the garage door this morning until when I pulled back in this evening, the sound of birds was evident. Happy, chirpy sounds of tiny birds to the piercing cry of a white tailed hawk searching for food to the gentle calls of the bald eagles down the creek from us to squawking of geese flying overhead.
It was the sound of the world coming back to life, it seemed to me. It reminded me that, in spite of the snow and cold and gloom, that life was all around me. And that it often is, if I will just take time to notice it.
It also reminded me that our senses are intertwined ... so intertwined that we often take them for granted. I heard the bird songs as I walked and felt the ground under my feet and felt the wind on my cheeks. I heard the cry of the hawk and searched the sky with my eyes until I spotted it circling and soaring. I smelled the mud I stirred up as I tramped with my boots and the scent of the creek rushing by brought the taste of fresh water to my mouth.
I noticed all of this because I heard the sound of birds. And I was reminded of one of my favorite hymns, "For the Beauty of the Earth"
For the joy of ear and eye
For the heart and mind's delight
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise
Indeed ... the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight. A true gift from God that I recognized anew because of the birds singing their praises. Cardinals, jays, hawks, woodpeckers, eagles, and even an owl -- all singing out, declaring their Maker's creativity and grace. And someday, even a weak voice like mine will join with all of God's creation and
"And we will surely sing
With all the wonder of birds..."
Till that day...