Thursday, December 13, 2018

Advent Is Coming! And There It Goes...

Happy (liturgical) new year! For those of you, dear readers, who come from less liturgically focused traditions, the season of Advent encompasses the four Sundays before Christmas and prompts us to prepare for Christ's coming as a baby into our world. It's officially the start of the next yearly rotation of liturgical seasons. And I find this season fascinating, because it's both the beginning and the end. It prepares us for Christmas, specifically to recognize that when Christ arrived bodily into this world, he was both the savior (big responsibility) and a defenseless, helpless infant (itty bitty operating capacity).

But Advent also points to the end. And yeah, I mean like that crazy guy on the corner with 'the end is near' on a sandwich board, end of the world type stuff. Advent also prompts us to prepare ourselves and be vigilant for that. Like the story of the ten bridesmaids in Matthew's gospel, we don't know when Christ will come into this world again, so we need to keep alert. And Advent helps us with that, but for me it's also a reminder that the encounter with Christ changes everything. Christ as a baby changes everything. Christ will come again with angels and loud trumpet calls and everything will change.

Did I mention that I'm fascinated by Advent? But I'm also really bad at it. I'm not usually in the groove of Advent until the third or fourth Sunday. And then it's basically over and we've got twelve days for the Christmas celebration. Yay! And I'm that jerk who will insist on saying "Happy Advent" while everyone else is fighting about "Merry Christmas," but I'll start saying "Merry Christmas" on the 25th of December and I'll keep saying it until the 6th of January, while everyone else is like "what is this guy doing? Christmas is over..."

So that's (probably) the end of the didactic part of today's blog...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Working through the Matrix, or, Struggles and Humility

It's odd, sometimes, to see the ways that life may form apparent coincidences. At times, I want to be like Morpheus from The Matrix and assert that there is no such thing as coincidence, only providence. And me being me, I might say only Divine Providence.

But I don't know that I can do that right now. It might be too audacious of me. But at the same time, I do sense a prompt based on this past Sunday's gospel reading and some of the commentary I've heard about it. I feel like those things are prompting me to take a look at where I am now and where I've been over the past five-ish years.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Bonsai! or, Seeking the Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Okay, so: storytime. But at the risk of killing the story, let me give you some background.

What I have discovered while training with the Army is that structures that the Army builds are uses are very functional, but seldom are pretty. In fact, there are very few beautiful things when one is training with the Army. Things tend towards function and uniformity, which makes sense, because it's the Army and that's kinda what we do most of the time. When you go downrange and into the trees, maybe you could look toward the foliage for something beautiful, but more than likely you will be counseled to smell the roses later, if any drill sergeant finds out what you are doing.

However, during training last summer, there was one jarringly beautiful thing that I remember. At Fort Leonard Wood, in the Central Iowa Chapel, there were huge stained glass windows in the worship space. I wish that I could find pictures of that stained glass, because it made me stop and catch my breath after all the camouflage and foliage that I had been looking at...

Here's where the story starts:

I don’t remember how far into training I was that I finally wrote to my wife and told her that we were going to go look at beautiful things when I got home. But I did write that and we did go find beautiful things when I was done. We went to the Como Conservatory in St. Paul. Took plenty of time in the greenhouse, and the zen garden, we walked through the Como Zoo that day, too. But what especially held my attention that day was looking at the bonsai trees.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year, But I'm Keeping My Goals

Happy new year! 2018 is only two days old and I feel like I'm standing on a threshold. I'm feeling self-reflective, but that might not be the new year, that might just be my disposition.

For those of you, dear readers, who I get to hang out with semi-regularly, this will seem like me doing my broken record thing. But regardless, I have had the whole gamut of emotions over the past four and a half months. I came back from Army Basic Training in August rearing to go for more training. I was frustrated through September and October that my orders were not getting moved up so that I could go off and finish. Some of October and November, I starting feeling listless, like I couldn't do anything to gain forward momentum (there could be a whole spiritual reflection there are about letting go of what I want to find serenity and providence, etc.) In December Amanda and I took a good hard look at where we stood; what were our opportunities? What were our resources? Where had we already committed our time, and what kind of time and energy did we still have in reserve?