Friday, November 30, 2007

My 17-year-old son got a couple of hours of sleep last night. The presentation today on the Amazon Rain Forest was more important than a good night of sleep. His procrastination has implications for his parents—compromised sleep and stress to name two. A lot of what I see makes me wish he would just grow up. I don’t know how he might learn to do that. His peers don’t know anything about growing up and that transition was so long ago for his parents that neither experience nor knowledge have much that can be transferred.

A universal road map for growing up doesn’t exist, but somehow young people generally find a way (but not always).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

African-American women received four of the most prestigious poetry prizes this year. The $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize went to Lucille Clifton, Natasha Trethewey received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Tracy K. Smith won the James Laughlin Award, and Elizabeth Alexander received the new $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize.

I wonder if poetry is to literature what jazz and blues are to music.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The National Endowment for the Arts has released a new report that shows Americans are reading less. Two years ago their report was titled “Reading at Risk.” The new report is “To Read or Not to Read.” I’m not hearing clear and obvious solutions to the problem of declining reading. It seems to me that the talk of solutions takes on a bit of finger pointing. Authors, publishers, and booksellers are looking the wrong direction if they think educators, the media, political and business leaders, and librarians are going to fix this. These groups should be helpful, but I think it’s the publishing industry that needs to be on the front line. People are not going to be pushed into reading, but maybe they can be sucked in.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Here at Hometown Friends Church we’ve been looking at our mission: “a growing community, listening to Christ, changing in the Spirit, living out love.” Today the time for quiet reflection directly follows the message and I’m thinking about how self gets in the way of God and others. In my mind I’m playing with a cone-shaped image that involves oil and water—the oil being top and center. And now I’m thinking about emulsification.

I see in the schedule for the service that next we will be singing, “In my life Lord, be glorified.”

Friday, November 23, 2007

Yesterday I saw eight cousins, my two sisters, two of my wife’s siblings and her parents, two nephews, two nieces, an uncle and aunt, and the total swells as I add spouses and children of cousins and more. I don’t hang out with extended family much, but yesterday I hit three different family gatherings. I’m connected to these people by common ancestry and that by itself is enough reason to spend a little time together on Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Disconsolate—it’s not a common word, but it has a nice ring in the song that invites wounded hearts to the “mercy seat.” It came to mind this morning when I was thinking about some people. Staying with song lyrics but moving to more contemporary words, these are people who are wounded, outcast, lonely, and afraid. I pray they will find new names: confidence, joyfulness, overcoming ones.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Writers want to believe that if you write it, they will read.

The path between a writer’s mind and the reader is long, steep, and treacherous. Many good ideas have taken a wrong step, fallen down the mountain, and never walked again. Some ideas that have taken the shape of well-crafted words have reached a rock slide across the trail and found no way to get to the other side. And even published words don’t reach the summit until they get attention and accolades from readers. As difficult as it may be to get a book published, that part is easier than getting a book read.

I don’t know if there is any noise when a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The Young Friends Singers are singing “Saints of God.” The words turn them into saint wan'na bes and that’s a good thing. The song closes with the line: “For the saints of God are just folk like me and I mean to be one too.” May it be so.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I like hearing ducks and looking up to see the formation(s) headed south. I wonder if the lead role is shared equally or if a few spend well more than the average time at the point position. Who makes the decisions about where to spend the night and when to stop to eat? At what level does democracy function within the flock? And how is the flock formed? Is each group its own homogeneous unit with little room for diversity? Are their cliques or subcultures within a single V? Sometimes you see a smaller V moving to join the main flock. I wonder if these are the Republican ducks that have not made their minds up about gun control.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Caregiver and administrator don’t generally come in the same package. At our house Cindy is the one who keeps things organized and delivers the nurture. Today is her birthday and unfortunately the day lacks the level of thoughtfulness and attention that the rest of us receive on our birthdays. My best efforts fall short of what she does naturally.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The bell choir is playing and I allow this to be a time when I don’t have to think about the words being spoken or sung. Ron, Erinn, and their youngest daughter are sitting two rows directly ahead of me. Ron and Erinn are the age Trina would be. I use them as a mental/emotional point of connection with Trina since the three were such good friends particularly during high school. My eyes are starting to water and now a drop slides down one side of my face and then the other. It’s a part of who I am right now and I’m not going to reach my hand up to wipe it away.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

You see all kinds of people in an airport. Well, not all kinds because the poor are underrepresented. Everyone here has access to the resources necessary to buy a ticket. I’m in the Denver airport on a two and a half hour layover that has been changed to three hours. The Sacramento Hornets football team is scattered around the area I’m in as they wait for a plane. They played Northern Colorado earlier today. And now the Biola women’s basketball team just went by.

I should be on the plane in another hour and I won’t be able to eavesdrop on the bus stop stories being told by the three black women next to me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Money talks. In Oregon the tobacco industry has been talking, but what did the people of Oregon get from all the money spent? In a single word they got conned.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

“Becoming by grace what God is by nature.” It’s a phrase Collin Saxton used Sunday morning. It continues to have a gravitational pull on my mind. It speaks of process, facilitation, contrast, aspiration.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The speaker just mentioned the rhythms of gathering and scattering. It makes me wonder how much time and energy we should spend inside the bubble compared to outside. I expect the proper balance point is different for each person here. I’m also thinking that one of the ways to stay balanced is by keeping my faith active and relevant when I’m outside the comfort of the church community and to bring the needs of the world with me when I come back inside.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It’s unfair to analyze a book I have not even seen. About all I know is the title: Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You. I’m not buying it—the book or the premise. Gratitude needs a recipient and I don’t need to be encouraged to think about what thankful might do for me. My focus needs to be the person or events for which I’m thankful.