Saturday, June 18, 2016

Be a Lover, Not a Hater

This isn't my image. It's the cover photo from
Rev. Simmons' blog post
I've long wanted to write a piece describing why I think the phrase "hate the sin, love the sinner," is not as loving of a response as people want it to be. But lo and behold, I have been beaten to the punch. After the mass shooting perpetrated at the nightclub in Orlando last week, the Rev. David Simmons wrote a great piece that connected that tragedy with how we, as Christians, cannot keep using that phrase as justification to denounce someone's "lifestyle choices" while continuing to "love at" a particular group of people.

That being said, please read his post. But nevertheless, I have a few things that I want to say, too...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Leaping Out in Faith, Or, I've Been Climbing So Much Lately

I admit it, Amanda and I have totally drank the Kool-aid in regard to rock climbing.

I'm sure that many of you have seen the photos we've been posting on Facebook and some of you have even come climbing with us (we have an open invitation to anyone who wants to come climb... we still have guest passes at the Y and we can probably finagle something with our REI membership if you want to come along for that).

I've been saying that I like climbing so much because it's like a giant puzzle that I can only solve by moving my body through it... it engages me on so many levels. I need to use my critical thinking to see the steps of the puzzle, I need to engage my physicality to actually climb the wall, and I'm also engaged as a part of community; if you want to climb with a top rope or a lead, you need to have someone belaying for you at the bottom. Which also means that every so often you, yourself need to belay for someone else. In this way, everyone gets support from others.

Well, I mean, you also get support from your community because climbers celebrate anytime someone tops out on the wall or solves a particularly hard problem. But this post is about the line that supports us, that binds, that keeps us from going splat on the floor. It's a faithful line that we walk, er, hang on... And there's a particular knot that holds the whole thing together.

The picture to the right is a bracelet that I learned how tie with knots that are used in climbing (I know, chugging the Kool-aid, I know). That top knot is known as a double fisherman's knot or a double overhand knot. It really just ties the tail of your line onto itself so it doesn't get caught on anything. The bottom knot is a double figure-8. It creates a loop so that you can actually tie your harness onto the line (when it includes a follow-through with the tail end). Some climbers have been known to use a bowline on a bight, but the double figure-8 is the more universal knot, both in popularity and versatility. There is also something that approaches mysticism around that double figure-8.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bending and Breathing the Way St. Ignatius Did

This is neither at the YMCA, nor is it yoga... but I'm really
getting into climbing
This summer my wife, Amanda, and I have been trying new things together in terms of fitness and well-being. We've been going to the YMCA more often, taking yoga-based classes together as well as making use of the climbing wall more often. I think I've done more climbing in my life than Amanda has, but she's done more yoga in her life than I have, so I think we've successfully avoided any conditions by which we would be competing with each other (well, that's not entirely true, but I hope you understand what I mean... we're able to avoid taking any grudges home with us).

At the same time, I have been going through the Ignatian examen less and less. That's a confession, not an update that I'm happy to offer. But, that being said, the guys over at Pray As You Go are really awesome with their social media presence and it was through their Twitter feed that I found out they're doing this #31dayswithIgnatius in preparation for St. Ignatius' feast day on the 31st of July. So I went and checked out this page they've set up that gives you the rundown on the examen prayer.

I think it had been a suggestion put out by Pray As You Go via their Twitter account, but for whatever reason I listened to the audio file they've posted as an introduction to the examen (I would recommend it to you, too, if you're at all curious about the prayer... it's on the same page that I linked to just above). What I took away is that the Jesuits at Pray As You Go have framed the examen as a method of praying through the events of your day, not just simply reflecting on them. This phrasing may be obvious to some of you, dear readers, but it's an important emphasis for me, with everything that's been going on in my life lately.

For me, lately, reflecting on anything life-related in spiritual terms has been difficult and uncomfortable. I feel like my spiritual life is going in a direction that I did not want it to go and that I'm prevented from taking it in the way that I thought I was being called to take it (if you need context for this remark, read this post I made a couple weeks ago). So a method of prayer and review that actively invites God to show me divine movement in my life... I've been shying away from the examen because it is difficult for me and causes more discomfort. But lately, I've realized that this sensation is analogous to the way I feel doing yoga.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Coming Back from the North Shore

I usually try to post something every weekend but this past weekend, I did not. I didn't post anything because I was off camping with my wife and some of our friends.

I snapped this one of my friends at Temperance River
State Park and posted it here.
Now that I'm back, I have this sense of longing and I feel like I'm always forgetting something. I think that this sense of emptiness, if I gave into it, could cause me to go back out into the wilderness, thinking that everything is easier there. And I think it is... things seem to make more sense, there is less to worry about. People even seem more honest when you're out hiking through state parks.

And then there's the scenery. We were up on the North Shore of Lake Superior and the vistas were incredible. They were moving. And I know I might be painting a "grass is greener" type of picture, but I have genuinely felt sad here at home now because the potted plants and the mowed lawn outside my sliding glass door don't really inspire the same sense of awe and majesty that I felt gazing at the landscape on the North Shore.

So let's see if I can describe to you what I felt and see what shape it takes...