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Life Symbols

I was looking for something else when I found this article I wrote four years ago before I was blogging on WordPress. The days mentioned may be a bit off. Time moves the dates to the past but the feelings are still the same…

Thoughts From the Porch: Tomorrow is the astronomical first day of Spring. It’s the unofficial birth certificate for a new season of green grass, new blooms, and, if you live here in Texas, the coming of the bluebonnets. I keep hearing the tender voice of the Teacher saying “behold, I make all things new”. I love Spring…

Today started slowly for me. Not because it’s the dreaded “Monday morning” mind you. Today begged for a slow awakening with the coos of the morning doves and the chatter of the mockingbird on the streetlight across the way. I lingered on the porch a little longer than usual and reveled in the day. Spring Break is over here in Fort Worth. Kids are back in school. I could hear the Star-Spangled Banner and morning announcements playing over the speakers from the school down the street. I may have a long “to-do” list today, but I lingered anyway.

I suppose it’s because Easter will soon be here, the celebration of resurrection came to mind. It’s ironic that the cross became the dominant symbol in Christianity. Historically, it’s based on the vision of the cross that Emperor Constantine claimed led him to victory; and thus, led to conversion and Christianity as the state religion of Rome. That’s probably more information than you needed but suffice it to say that early Christians didn’t focus too much on it. Just saying…

I’m not saying crosses are bad. They make an attractive piece of jewelry and great art. They’re a good reminder of how much God loves us and the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Yet, I wonder if folks concentrate on the wrong symbol. I’d much rather concentrate on life than death. Maybe I should have a stone necklace or empty tombs as artwork on the wall. You know, to remind me I’ve been reborn: that I don’t have to live like I used to; bound up in a self-made prison of resentments and fears. Still, I guess stones around my neck would be too heavy and empty tombs would leave holes in the wall.

It’s easier to remember the crucifixion than the resurrection. I choose to remember resurrection today. I celebrate new life today. Maybe that’s why I’m out on the porch so long today. It’s a pause for the quiet celebration. This morning is a reminder of grace.

I probably harp on grace and its natural outcome, gratitude, far too much. The more I experience God’s grace, the more I experience gratitude, and the more I want to share that grace. So please bear with me, gentle reader, but I can’t help it. Besides, life seems so much simpler when experienced with grace and gratitude. Simple things for simple people…

I guess I’ve come to see different symbols of grace in my life today. The empty tomb of Easter morning is more indicative of my life today than a cross. I want to be a “resurrection person” today. I want to be full of the joy and freedom that comes with this new life. I want to “have life abundantly”. I believe it’s possible.

My prayer this morning is that because I’ve received this new life, this grace, I will in turn become more “grace-full”: less judgmental and more forgiving, less sarcastic and more affirming, less fearful and more vulnerable.

I’m not going to wait to celebrate Easter. I think I’ll start today…

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To Believe in God…

It’s a bright, sunny morning here in Cowtown. I’m halfway through week six of not smoking! Needless to say, I still spend my mornings at the desk rather than the porch. I amazes me how much more time I have in the mornings without having to take a cigarette break. It’s even more amazing to see the bank balance stay higher…

I was reading this morning, taking in my morning coffee, and getting ready for the day when I found the quote below. It comes from my morning meditation through the Center for Action and Contemplation. I highly recommend this morning email to everyone who seeks a deeper relationship with God. This piece was quoted in Fr. Richard Rohr’s meditation The Pain of Disconnection:

Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff (b. 1938) writes that even the simple statement, “I believe in God,” offers us an intimate reminder that we are not alone:

To say “I believe in God” means that there is Someone who surrounds me, embraces me everywhere, and loves me, Someone who knows me better than I do myself, deep down in my heart, where not even my beloved can reach, Someone who knows the secret of all mysteries and where all roads lead. I am not alone in this open universe with all my questions for which no one offers me a satisfactory answer. That Someone is with me, and exists for me, and I exist for that Someone and in that Someone’s presence. Believing in God means saying: there exists an ultimate tenderness, an ultimate bosom, an infinite womb, in which I can take refuge and finally have peace in the serenity of love. If that is so, believing in God is worthwhile; it makes us more ourselves and empowers our humanity.” – Leonardo Boff, Holy Trinity, Perfect Community, trans. Phillip Berryman (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000), xv–xvi.

Have a beautiful day and know that you are loved more than you can ever imagine.

Photo by Patrick Rose on Pexels.com
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Pondering

I like to ponder. That’s how the idea for “Thoughts From the Porch” came about. I have a daily routine in which pondering plays a big role. I have my coffee on the porch most mornings. I even sat out there during the famous Texas ice storm of 2021. It was warmer out there than it was my house with no power. It may be the first time I’ve left my insulated overalls on all day since I moved back to Texas…

I enjoy the quiet time, the birds singing, watching the dawn break over my neighbor’s roof, and pondering.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ponder as:

                “Transitive verb

                1: to weigh in the mind: APPRAISE

                // pondered their chance of success

                2: to think about: to reflect on

                // pondered the events of the day

                Intransitive verb

                To think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply”

Sometimes I ponder the squirrels running about our front yard, nervously watching for our cat as they hide their nuts for the coming winter. Other times I ponder how much I wish I had my pellet rifle for the one that keeps finding new ways into my attic…

Pondering and meditation are similar, but different – to me at least. Religion and recovery stress the value of meditation, but quite frankly, I suck at it. Meditation seems like too much work. Pondering flows more naturally. One of my favorite verses is found in the Gospel of Luke. He has recounted the birth of Jesus and says in 2:19, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered about them in her heart” (emphasis mine).

I get it. Hold what I treasure close. Pondering is a natural consequence. It just is…

Sometimes I ponder the important things in life – my wife, my family, my faith. Other times it’s often the inane. Both are beautiful. Both are necessary.

I am thankful for my friends who allow me to ponder and write about those things here. I don’t always stop to tell you how much I appreciate you all. It’s not that I have anything terribly important to say. It’s that you allow me to share what is – “quietly, soberly, and deeply” – even when it may only make sense to me. You provide me the space to toss into the world my thoughts and do so without judgement. Sometimes I just need to see things in black and white, but mostly I need to hear myself say them. Thank you for that opportunity.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
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“Life is a sacred circle. When we gather in a circle, the praying has already begun. When we gather in a circle, we communicate with each other and with Great Mystery, even without a word being spoken.” – Randy Woodley, Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth (Broadleaf Books: 2022), 63–64. Book available on January 4, 2022. Used with permission.

Once again I let a holiday go by without stopping to honor our Indigenous Peoples. I was delighted to find this meditation from Fr. Rohr and the above quote. I encourage you all to read the full story at https://cac.org/sacred-circles-2021-10-13/.

I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite Harry Chapin songs “Circle”