Anne sent this over. It is beautiful. I had never heard of this. Have any of you visited here? Read about the Hill of Crosses here, here, and here. Journeyman Pictures prepared and distributed this short video essay in 2007. Thanks, Anne, for this unique find.
Category Archives: daily goings on
Every day, there is something – and often, a number of things – that indicate to me that God is watching over me. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes they’re the big, huge events that need to be talked about. But usually, it is the little happenstances that occur almost in passing and almost would not be noticed except that I believe I am aware of God’s movings around me. Not a day goes by that I won’t stop for a few moments and inventory how something has taken place to help me, something happens to prevent me from doing something stupid, or something occurs that is simply nothing more or less, I think, than a quick flash from God saying, “Hang in there, it’ll be okay.”
For many months, I have felt vulnerable and less able to help myself than ever before. So these little pick-me-ups always come at the most opportune times and they also are indicators that God cares and he is carrying me through until something whatever anything gets sorted out.
I was recently at a store looking for some things. An otherwise worn out mom was herding her two pre-schoolers – her arms were full of bags and boxes. It was one of those trying times for a mom or dad when shopping at the store with wee ones. We’ve all been there. Anyway, the little boy got away from her. He liked what he saw in a store window and, basically, came over and stood by me looking in the window. She was frantic and nervous already but became more so when Junior decided to take off on his own and stand by me.
At the risk of having the police called out on me by mom, I inched over to the little boy and told him to look at some things in the window. I looked at mom and smiled and said, “He’s okay.” I hurt for her. She was, of course, nervous seeing her little fellow corralled by some big, ugly dude. I tried to be as non-confrontational as possible and kept looking at her and her daughter as they rushed over to me.
She had tears in her eyes. I told her he was alright and offered to help her rearrange her load. Fortunately, she got it together, thanked me profusely, and went off a bit more together with her ducklings in firm tow.
I needed to take care of someone. It was right. And not once was the little boy concerned or nervous. He was my bud. And I hope mom is okay this evening – it was, obviously, a difficult trip to the store. She’ll rethink it next time.
As I was driving home, I thanked God for being available to take care of her little cowboy. With today’s fear of strangers, concern for lost little ones, and so much more, somehow I accidentally and coincidentally filled the gap for someone else who was more or less out of control in a good, kind, and supportive way.
Accidentally and coincidentally? I think not, actually. It was another gentle and healing nudge and reminder that things will be okay. I stood and kept looking in the window for a few minutes. Thinking.
I live to tell the tale. I heard from Beth and she survived though she is at home with heavy medications and some long, strange trips. Not sure how Tiff made out (though I did receive a real gem in the mail today from her – thanks so much, T). And finally, Nick and Zak need to de-claim the iPads and laptops. Sorry. Next time.
Right now, I have melon-flavored fluoride pasted all over my teeth. The stuff usually hangs on for several days until it peels off. In the meantime, food, while filling, simply will taste like green cantaloupe.
On a more serious note, the nice check-out receptionist at the dentist counter – who has helped me and Regina for years – noted that Regina hadn’t been in for awhile and wondered if anything was wrong. For some reason, it hit really hard. It wasn’t her fault, of course, but I choked some sobs and teared up. (I can do this easily now. I’m no longer embarrassed.) I burbled that Regina hadn’t made it through a heart operation twenty-one months ago. The receptionist responded by saying how much she had enjoyed Regina’s visits and that she was real sorry to hear of my loss. I thanked her and told her it was okay and that I appreciated her kind words and memories.
As I was picking up my debit card and receipt from the counter to leave, she looked at me and said, “Can I hug you?” It threw me for just a second but I said, “Of course. I’d like that.” To which, she walked around the counter and gave me a long, sincere hug.
I like dentists more now.
There’s a good chance I will not be alive when this article is published on Thurs at 11am. I’m actually writing the evening before knowing that early Thurs morning, I have a dental appointment.
The dentist office is not a happy place for me. I’m sure the people are well-meaning but I have never gotten used to a dentist poking around in my mouth. I remember when I was little and had to go to a dentist. He had the swirly-whirly porcelain bowl of flowing water next to the chair that I was supposed to spit in. Well, I never could spit. For whatever reason, I was always swallowing so there was never anything to spit. I vividly recall never feeling very good after a dentist appointment – it might have been because of all the stuff I would swallow and not spit.
But I also remember the pain. Maybe it wasn’t bad considering the big picture, but I remember the pain that came with the poking and sticking of my gums. It outright hurt. And no one seemed apologetic. They kept talking and kidding and going about their business. “I’m dying here!” I was thinking out loud. No, going to the dentist as a little person is not a fond memory.
And then there were the Navy dentists at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, ME. These guys were simply hacks. Don’t believe me? Our entire crew complained so loudly – including our commanding and executive officers – that a formal letter was sent to the dentist murderers voicing our ship’s concern that there had not been one happy customer after the whole crew had had to undergo exams prior to setting sail.
So, if I don’t make it tomorrow (today, when you read this), Nick, you can have my iPad and Zak, you can have my laptops. All else goes to Goodwill. Prayers.
Boomers, move over! It’s not about us anymore.
Our kids and their kids will change the world. Our younger generations are interested in communicating frankly, instantly, and on their own terms from the keyboard side of a monitor in bursts of words, shock, innuendo, and emotion.
They avoid institutions that, to them, seemingly exist for no reason other than the fact that they seem to have always existed. It isn’t a choice of being single or married – it often is shades and degrees in between somewhere.
Long gone are the days of looking for a single career and planning to stick with it forever. Instead, the approach is to build resumes, relationships, and experience and move to greener pastures at every opportunity with nothing more than a 401(k).
What seems to offer the most amount of freedom and justice for everyone is the default position when it comes to figuring out what is right and wrong. After all, one thinks, who am I to say what is right and wrong for you?
If two people love each other, regardless of gender, then why can’t the two commit themselves to some kind of binding civil or religious ‘marriage’ relationship? There isn’t any higher principle, the thinking goes, than true love between two people. Let two people love each other and tell the world about it. Many desire to live the Friends-HowIMetYourMother-Seinfeld-BigBang-ModernFamily-TheOffice existence – we all exist to simply get along together okay. And by the way, having sex with another person isn’t about morals and ethics – it’s about being open to feelings, emotions, desires, urges, and personal freedom. Condoms and birth-control is no longer the exception – it is now the norm with many in order to mainstream with peers.
Drugs? It’s no different than the alcohol, prescription meds, and tobacco that my mom and dad take and abuse. It it feels good (and numbs the pain, sometimes), then go for it.
Having grown up since daycare days working, learning, and socializing in groups, everyone is believed to be part of the solution regardless of ethnicity, gender, or religious background. Whenever any situation or institution suggests there isn’t a sense of equality and equal-access, there is suspicion. While economic independence is important, it’s also important to be green, earth-sensitive, climate-aware, and socially responsible even if there is apparent inconsistencies in the application and manifestation of the two.
Millenials do not have a need to corner truth, honesty, and responsibility. Rather, they don’t mind living in tension and conflict of principles. YOLO (you only live once) is the guide star – we’ll deal with it tomorrow and whatever happens must be fated. Let’s don’t haggle over the details.
Sweating and working with hands to help others feels right – arguing and deliberating is generally a waste of time. Just do it, goes the popular commercial tag. Doing things for no apparent reason is fool’s gold – either be able to explain the reason behind it or it will be discarded. Next.
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Like preparing for travel to another country, some of us need to learn to be far more sensitive to the evolving reality. It shouldn’t be seen as a right vs. wrong contest. Rather, it needs to be seen for what it is – some good, some bad, some easier, some harder, some clearer, some more confusing. Regardless, it is what it is and it’s where are kids are now.
Personally, I think it is as important to be aware of and sensitive to where we are headed as it is to remember and hold on to where we’ve come from.
This video is shocking so don’t watch it if you are averse to domestic violence.
This past Sat, Mar 8, was International Woman’s Day. According to DomesticViolence.org, one in three women globally has been abused. In the United States alone, a woman is “assaulted or beaten” every 9 seconds.
Shouldn’t and can’t we, as Christians, be doing something about this?
Lent starts today. My tradition doesn’t really acknowledge Lent. That’s okay. Lent, for me, isn’t about whether some of my tribe plan to “do” Lent or not. Over the years, Regina and I had pretty much decided to move a bit differently than some of our fellow travelers. It wasn’t an intentional effort to separate or put ourselves in the spot of judging others. Rather, it was about being less concerned with “we don’t do that because…” issues and more about “we can do this because…” stuff.
We both were highly sensitized to the Easter story through our experiences in Romania – the physical lamb, the sharing of the meal, the symbology associated with Easter Day. We also learned much about the Lenten season prior to Easter – denial not for denial’s sake but for the purposes of focusing on God in whatever we intentionally planned to involve ourselves with for the forty days leading up to Easter. If denying was our purpose in Lent, we learned, then we were missing the whole purpose of Lent. Rather, we came to understand, Lent is about focus and clarity. (I’ve written about Lent and Easter here, here, and here.)
I can hear it now. “But we can and should be focused on Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection year round. Why pick a time and just do it then? Besides, the Bible doesn’t say anything about Lent.” I understand, of course, the faux argument because I used to say the very same thing.
First, I respect your opinions and would never try to convince you otherwise about this season. Be confident in your opinions, if you can. We can still be friends and companions even if our preferences differ. But second, I’m having a harder and harder time trying to disregard God and his influence on everyday life. So we can see God in the full moon, babies, and beauty but not in the powerful, symbolic messages of the Lenten, Easter, and Christmas stories and seasons? Isn’t this being just a bit intellectually dishonest? I’m not so much hung up on the names and seasons as I am with the ubiquitous and positive influence Christ has obviously had on the lives of millions of people who, for centuries, have overtly and often dramatically displayed their remembrances and celebrations of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. Frankly, I want to be counted among the number of humanity who publicly, honestly, and communally acknowledge the earthly workings of Christ in the lives of people instead of being counted as a naysayer, gripe, and distractor.
Finally, I depend on, serve, and think about God year round – yes, I do! For me, the Lenten and Easter season is like icing on the cake. It makes God even more delicious than he already is. This season doesn’t distract from or replace all the other opportunities I have to worship and serve year round. Rather, it’s yet another means and method to focus on and bring clarity to my understanding and thankfulness for the God who has enough grace, mercy, and love to even spend a moment taking care of me.
Now that I travel this journey without a close companion, thinking about Christ’s sacrifice and his subsequent resurrection brings me hope and sustenance. In rising from the grave, Christ brings me remedy in my personal crisis. If Christ exists in Lent and Easter, which I believe he does, I want to be there to see him pass and be able to touch his garment (Luke 8:43-48). And when I see him passing all of the other times during the year, I desire to do the same.
Like the wee, little man who did whatever he could to see Jesus (Luke 19) – I am driven by the same motivation. In Lent, I desire to make an effort to be in a perch, so to speak, to see the passing of Jesus. It never gets old.
May your Lent and Easter be a time of renewal, dedication, and greater understanding. Jesus is reaching for all of us.
Due to little or no planning on my part, I have, for several months, somehow had tickets to two concerts on the same weekend. In that much of my current existence is by the seat of my pants, I was somewhat surprised about a week ago when I realized that I had two concerts in DC this weekend. Thankfully, they didn’t conflict and, other than the drive into and out of DC twice, both concerts were and are something I have looked forward to for quite some time.
First, I went to the 9:30 Club last evening to see St. Vincent, one of my faves for the past few years. She’s original, talented, and not too subtle. She writes and plays her own stuff with the backing of a small but talented band. She makes me feel good – she’s personable, happy, artsy, and kinda weird-funny. The 9:30 is a small venue – room for a thousand or so standing fans – which looks, sounds, and feels appropriately big in a small way. And what to my wandering eyes should appear but the eclectic @thanksvision of WUVT-FM hosting fame? Nice to see you there, buddy!
This early evening, my classical concert-going partner Niki and I will attend the final show of my season’s package with the Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center. This evening’s show, entitled The Essential Verdi, will celebrate the 200th birthday of Giuseppe Verdi. The show, which promises to be awesome, will feature some of Verdi’s most popular operas and choral works. I love the Washington Chorus!
With worship assembly packed in on Sun morning, this is proving to be a very busy weekend. I’m blessed to live in a place where the arts and culture is so prevalent and I’m privileged to have friends to be with at these most excellent concerts.