Tag Archives: religion

Are You Where the Wild Things Are?

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Can you still hear the wild things?

“Thou strange piece of wild nature!” Colley Cibber

Lions, four-leaf clovers, and hairs all have wild tendencies.  Though I love to hunt for them, I’m not in their category.

Wild I’m not, but my thoughts are a different story.

These last few weeks, I’ve been reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.  If you haven’t read it in a while, you may remember that the little boy was mischievous.  “I will eat you up!” were the words that sent him to his room without supper.  Wild.

My coffee hadn’t kicked in, but later I truly connected with the author.  The wild monsters tell the boy, “We’ll eat you up.  We love you so!”  Of course, the little boy remembers that he loves his mother so much; he wants to eat her up.  The story is also about needing food.  It’s about a hunger for  love and attention, which we all experience when we’re wild.

A young, wild man found himself in the detention center.  He tried to help people, but soon gave up.  He tried to kill himself, and sat in front of us–a mess–still wild, but hopeless.

I admire some parts of the wild, yet I’m happy most of the time to just watch and shake my head.  Wild.  The animal in the woods that crouches down in pursuit of its prey.  Wild.  The person who quits a job to follow a dream.  Wild.  The broadway actress who pours her life on the stage for her supper.  Wild.  The dancer who choreographs her soul.  Wild.  The little girl running around in my head.  Wild.

Sometimes, I’m wild.  Though I conform and listen quietly, I’m wildly screaming out, “You’re boring us all to death!”  To let it out would devastate.  I’d surely be sent to my room.  I’m baring my teeth when I’m given a job that wastes my time.  It’s funny that when I was younger, I didn’t feel bothered by busy work, but now, my time is short.  I’m limited.  Sowing my wild oats has to be done quickly, within some parameters, but with wild intensity.

There are things about which I’m wildly passionate.  I’m wild to free those who limit themselves with their own thinking.  I’m wild to open a cage to set a prisoner free.  I’m wild to balance the lack of opportunity for the poor.  Wild.  It comes in spurts, but can produce more with consistency.

Like the little boy, I used to dream of being in the wild places.  Can I still, or have I been tamed?  When will I dream the visions of God?  He’s ready, but am I Where the Wild Things Are?

“The more wild and incredible your desire, the more willing and prompt God is in fulfilling it, if you will have it so.” Coventry Patmore

Nooks, Holes, Cracks, and Crannies

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The cracks define the path.

“Sculpture is the art of the hole and the lump.”  Auguste Rodin

Last night I found myself at a funeral, where a thick carpet of grass lay on the platform under the casket.  Tempted to take off my shoes and enjoy the grass between my toes, I actually felt the casket inviting me to visit.

When life is too busy, I walk past the outlines that form the beauty of the day.  I fail to notice the cracks and crevices filled with their carefully selected grout.  I’ve grown accustomed to the beggar needing a piece of bread and the downcast face of a colleague.  The things in life that invite me to experience real joy go unnoticed.

Jesus shows me a life of real contrast.  Even when pressed in by the crowds, he noticed the touch of a woman with great faith.  He stopped to converse with a small man sitting in a tree.  He heard the cry of a blind man begging for sight.  Of all people who could have been too busy to notice, his example calls me to a different kind of lifestyle.

Today, I hope to consider the nooks, holes, cracks, and crannies.  I hope to notice those things put in front of me rather than passing them by.  I hope I’m reminded that life is brief and that a layer of grass is inviting me home.

Like the grass under the casket, it’s the small details in life that create the big picture.  What’s in the cracks and crevices outlines the events that invite me to involve myself more deeply in life.  As Rodin shapes the clay with its holes and lumps, my life should be the same–a work of art shaped by the master artist.

Day 358: Merry Christmas From The Land Of Smiles

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Even the plants are displaying their Christmas colors.

“A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.” William Hazlitt

Being in Thailand on Christmas is always a highlight.  The weather is nice. The Christmas lights are beautiful, and walking downtown puts a smile on my face.  Here, we get to celebrate with family and friends, and we have a chance to tell the meaning of Christmas to many who want to know.

A few nights ago, we met with a group of friends we call family along with our two daughters.  We missed our son, but it was a cozy time as we each shared what God has done to encourage us this year.

Christmas is not white in Thailand, but I love the tenacity of our Thai brothers and sisters.  We’ve been through a lot together with the severe flooding this year, the Tsunami that came the day after Christmas several years ago, and the political troubles we had last year.  Through it all, the Thai people remain kind, patient, and full of smiles.

Whether we sing near an open fire or with palm trees swaying, we’ll remember the importance of family and friends.  May the Lord speak personally to each of us today as we prepare our hearts for celebrating the coming of the Christ child.

Day 356: I Hope You Dance – A Christmas Wish

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In a sea of flowers, we may not notice this beautiful, quickly wilting rose.

“The sharp thorn often produces delicate roses.” Ovid

She finds herself in a hopeless situation.  She asked me, “What can I do?”  The words rang in my brain this morning.  After all, what can she do?  She no longer has parents. She’s overstayed her visa. She can’t work.  She is locked in a temporary prison. This is one of hundreds of people, all with a desperate story.  Yet, she is so fragile–looking sick, frail, and perhaps anorexic.  Who knows how long she will call this existence her life?

As I sit here sipping coffee and eating a slice of pecan pie, I’m trying to make sense of this daily life I lead.  Sure, I get to rub noses with people who have real problems, but what is this hope I have to offer them?

In Luke 2:6, we read how Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem to be taxed.  He traveled this route because he was fulfilling his right as a citizen of his country.  Yet, more than a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, it had been foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  Joseph may have questioned God about why he was to travel all of this distance when it was time for the birth of the baby– as he probably didn’t know about the foretelling of the birth.  Yet, it wasn’t necessary.  In this story, we can see clearly that God’s divine appointments happen in His time, as a result of what we might call circumstances.  The bottom line is that He knows them all and well in advance.

Since God cared so deeply about the place where Jesus should be born, doesn’t it make sense that He also cares that each of these people I met are in a seemingly hopeless situation?  Does He hear their prayers and answer them?

Yesterday, I met a delicate rose.  It seems she is wilting quickly.  My prayer for her this Christmas is that somehow she will dance in the hope of a living God.  I believe He cares that she is far away from her home in a situation that I deem as hopeless.

Is it possible that He has a purpose in her long distance travel?

Strange Things We Do For Peace

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...our Prince of Peace...

“Peace begins with a smile.” Mother Teresa 

Yesterday, I found myself “sewing” peace but not in a usual way (hence the word “sew”).  We had a Christmas celebration, and I wanted to wear my stage dress.  It’s simple, modest, and black.  Because it has slits up the side, I wanted to lower the slits so as not to call attention to them at a school function.  Of course this was the day I couldn’t find my needle and thread, and the safely pins weren’t doing the trick.  I’ve seen people use staples in these situations, but I chose double-sided sticky tape for the side seams.  As I worked, I had to admit that I’d never be doing this if it weren’t to keep peace at a very conservative school.

When I was younger, I’d say that I really enjoyed creating war.  I could fuss or rebel against most anything that came along.  In my old age though, it seems I’ve mellowed.  Peace is a good thing in my mind, and many times I find myself working hard for it.

I began to think about all of the crazy things people do to keep peace.

Apologize – Though it’s not often easy to apologize, many times it is needed.  The longer we avoid an issue, the more difficult it will be to repair the damage.  The other day, a couple of my friends were looking grumpy, and I started teasing around with them.  Within a few minutes, I realized that something serious was wrong.  I was so embarrassed about my being so insensitive.  Needless to say, my apology was in order.

Avoiding the situation –  Not many psychologists would agree that we should run away from our problems in order to keep peace, but the bottom line is that there are times when avoiding the situation can keep things more peaceful than confronting it.

Move – A friend of mine said that her mother is moving to a new house.  It’s not just because of the bad neighbor, but it does make the move more exciting.  It’s hard to believe that someone might move to a new house to keep peace, but I’ve heard it happens often.

Quit your job – It’s sad to say that quitting a job often leads to peace. Keeping peace is actually a lot of hard work, and when work is bringing no peace, some people find it easier to quit than to work harder for it.

Perhaps, if there was less controversy, there wouldn’t be such a need to work so hard at keeping peace.  Jesus came into this world in a time of turmoil and is called the Prince of Peace.  Knowing Him can bring us a peace that our world doesn’t understand.

In what crazy or unusual ways have you had to work for peace?

Coffee: Foe or Friend?

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A coffee and computer picture from a happier post...

“I judge a restaurant by the bread and by the coffee.” Burt Lancaster

Don’t you love it when you wake up extra early, start getting ahead, and then, it hits?  This morning it hit big time. I was blogging away on a post about the funny things we often do to keep peace.  All of a sudden, I knocked my whole cup of coffee onto my adorable Apple computer.  Can I tell you how much peace I was feeling at that moment?

That’s how my day started.  I drove extra careful to work, miraculously managed to get the contacts in my eyes, and tried to find all of my best words to say to the students on our last day of school before Christmas break.  I returned to find out the state of Apple, i.e., my Apple.

It could be worse.  My computer seems to be working, though it doesn’t know I have an airport.  Thankfully, I’m posting from a nearby house which still has the old-timey land line.

So I ask you, is coffee all it’s cracked up to be?  It wakes me up well in the mornings, soothes my mood, and gives me warm fuzzies.  On the other hand, it provides slightly tarnished teeth, bad breath, and occasional spills that can sabotage.  (Let’s not forget the hot coffee case at McDonald’s.)

Do you have acquaintances like that?  You’d like to trust them, and they do seem really sound on the outside.  When you get closer, however, you may find yourself getting burned?  I am blessed with some wonderful close friends.  I always love the Bible verse which sums up what true friendship should be like, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” 1 John 4:18a

Coffee–my friend and foe, I shall continue to drink you.  Though tomorrow, I’ll change the location of my mug!

Day 346: The Music Of The Night

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Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Psalm 150:6

“I believe musicians have a duty, a responsibility to reach out, to share your love or pain with others.” James Taylor

Last night, my friend took me to the 25th anniversary presentation of The Phantom of the Opera filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in London.  I’ve been singing ever since.  There’s something about music done well that stirs my deepest emotions.

Because our souls were made by an inspiring creator, we have a continuous need to express ourselves with passion.  I am grateful for artists who, rather than suppress those feelings, find ways to express them through the mediums of sound, paint, charcoal, and words.

I am an adorer of these artists.  I appreciate how they bear their souls, and I don’t take them for granted.

During this Christmas season, I hope we each take time to connect deeply with our creator.  His creative hand print is seen in every aspect of our natural world.  From the trees, the rocks, the mighty seas, and the beautiful sunset, we hear His voice crying out to us.

The opera God has written for each of us is most beautiful.  May we take time to learn and to perform it with excellence.