Minding the Seasons

Read: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Coming originally from Southern California, the concept of season is relatively new to me. In So. Cal we have three seasons, hot, damp, and on fire.

Now, that I live in North Carolina, especially in the mountains, I am beginning to understand them more and more.

There is spring, summer, winter, and fall. These seasons are not so much defined by a set period of time. That time changes. But each season, whenever it comes has its own distinct characteristics. There is spring, the season of new life; summer, the season of extroversion, of growth and vigor; there is fall, the season of fading and cooling; and there is winter, the season of sleep, darkness, and remembrance. All of these are necessary, especially if you grow plants.

My wife is growing a garden. She could tell you: there is a time to plant, a time to water; a time to harvest, and a time to let the soil rest. Not to mention the season where you rotate the crops and let certain patches of ground alone. All these are for the good of the harvest. We heed them to our betterment. We ignore them to our loss. All these seasons have things which must get done. And of course no one season has total claim on all the things. There are elements of all of them in all of them.

As you go through life, know that you, like the Earth and the plants that grow on it, live life in seasons. This is natural and good. We are not static creatures. Look around you. Identify and mind the season you are in. Find peace in the season you are in. And, of course, when the time comes, have a very happy harvest.

Shadow People

It’s easy to live in shadows. We’ll have full conversations, live lifetimes with people that aren’t really there.

We’ll celebrate victories we’ve never had, fear obstacles we’ve never faced.

We’ll content ourselves or beat ourselves up for being people we aren’t at all.

My friends, shed light on the shadow people. Seek truth where it can be found.

Life is meant to be experienced not in imagined experiences, but in real events we can learn from and savor.

The Desire to be Known

I think it’s fascinating that,

as long as the disciples knew Jesus,

they had they hardest time knowing Him as He was,

Savior and LORD, God of the universe.

The concept was just too high for them.

Yes, they did not yet have the discernment of the Holy Spirit

while He was with them in flesh,

but I don’t think much has changed since then.

The more years I spent with Jesus,

the larger and more intimate and mysterious He becomes.

He reminds me that He is LORD and I am man,

but He want to be known just as I would know my wife

or parents or friends.

So, in a way, that invites me to appreciate the mystery of those

around me, to constantly be amazed by them,

as they lower their guard and I lower mine,

and we all catch a glimpse of something beautiful,

something God designed in the very beginning.

The Performance of a Lifetime

My wife and I were watching a documentary on a burlesque troupe the other day.

I loved, as the narrative unfolded, the reoccuring themes that began to appear.

They spoke of freedom, of expression, of overpowering the shame hurled upon us by the powers that be.

We all have a unique gift to share with the world. Though we are always tempted to conform, even in art, to express ourselves only in ways we think we ought to act, think, and behave.

But there is richness to be found in self-discovery, a heavenly wink found as we uncover who we really are (and who we are not).

We think if we give the audience what they want, they will be happy; but they will be happier still if we give them what is true.

IF we are alive and engaged, it frees the audience up to do the same.

Shalom Bayit: Domestic Violence Training

Shalom bayit (Hebrewשְׁלוֹם בַּיִת; lit. peace of the home)

Hey friends,

Tomorrow, I’m representing my church at a local domestic violence training course. The information they give you in preparation for it in heart-wrenching. There are so many victims to this needless crime, and too often the church is not only guilty of doing nothing to stop it and even, in some cases, actually enforcing the systemic sexism that feeds its root.

Please join with me in praying for our women, our men, our children, and our society; that we would work together to put a stop to DV’s destructive and dehumanizing cycle.

Much thanks,

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P. S. Below are a couple artistic approaches to raise awareness to the problem:

Don’t lay a hand or even an eye on her,

 anything that aims to

rob her of her dignity

or steal away her life,

for she is most precious to God!!!

Smoggit’s Apprentice: Part 5 (Christmas Eve Special)

It was late in the evening when Pamela Gausón woke with a slight chill. It was not like the night not too long ago, when she had woken up in a cold sweat. No, this night she woke slowly, as if the cold were an affectionate ice beast nudging her away.

Pamela opened her eyes and rose out of bed. Something was different than any other night. The very molecules in the air seemed to be visible, frozen into a transient, swirling mist.

She reached out, grabbed her robe, and slipped it on. Her feet curled as they hit the floor. It felt like ice. She darted, leaped, over to her worn-out shoes. Now, fully dressed, she ventured out into the living room.

The room was empty. The mist was less visible now, melted into oblivion by the innate and eternal warmth of the room.

She looked about.

“Master Smoggit?” she said.

No one replied. She kept on walking, proceeding with reticent eagerness to the front door. The doorknob was frigid to the touch. It almost burned her hand to pry it open, but it was a good burn, and well worth the effort. She turned the knob and opened the door.

Outside, in the middle of the clearing, sat Master Smoggit, bathed in the ethereal light of the world’s twin moons. He hummed a tune of unknown origin, while snow danced about him. The surrounding evergreens, now glazed with frost, swayed to the the tune.

She gazed out upon the scene and gasped in amazement.

“Evening, Pamela,” he said, softly, with his eyes closed.

She approached him, making her footsteps as light as possible so as not to intrude upon the beatific scene.

“This is amazing, Master Smoggit. Your finest work yet. You’ll have to teach me this spell.”

He opened his eyes and patted the dirt beside him. She came and sat down.

“There is no magic here, other than that inherent in nature.”

“The song, though…” she countered.

“Is an ancient one, but more of a conversational piece than anything. It reminds the snow of the day it was born, just as there are those who dance to remind the rain of the same thing. There are many who imagine the earth to be daft and soul-less, but any gardener knows that it is as responsive as you and me, with a character and life of its own. When we both to listen, we can hear it. When we bother to love it, we can delight in watching it grow.”

Pamela nodded.

“Could you teach me this song, so that I might join in the conversation?”

He smiled.

“I’d be happy to,” he said.

Smoggit thus proceeded to teach her strange words and tunes, foreign to her usual linguistic and musical sensibilities. At first, she judged them, but then she remembered that these words and notes, the perplexing phrasings of both, were of old, and everything she knew was new. So, she listened and she learned, and the snow swirled around her all the while, and the universe beamed with ecstatic light.

As she learned, as she sang, she could feel the world responding, which compelled her to try even harder to learn all she could. When finally she picked up even the smallest phrase (the song, being so ancient, was quite long, after all), and began to sing it with him, the Universe seemed to explode with joy. In that moment, they were one: with each other and in nature.

They sat together in the elements, singing in perfect harmony. After a while, she began hearing the world singing back: every single snowflake, an angelic soprano; every tree, a resounding bass. The symphony of the cosmos was not played on any instrument outside of themselves, but was strummed within; and the music, being the quixotic science that it is, was both personal and universal, a mixture of exacting truth and exotic wonder. Pamela could not get enough of it.

***

The next morning, she woke up, not remembering if she had ever went to bed. Smoggit was making breakfast, as usual. She was about to ask him if it had all been a dream; but as she approached, she could hear him humming the tune. Perhaps, it had been a dream; but if a dream, it had been one they had had in concert with one another: a communal dream, a heightened awareness, one which gave them a deeper appreciation of each other and the world around them. That was a most splendid dream, indeed.