Just A Sunset


Years ago, when my family lived in Wisconsin, one our favorite vacation destinations was Door County.  Door County is the finger of land that extends out from the city of Green Bay into Lake Michigan.  If you love the outdoors, Door County is the definition of beauty. Bay on one side.  Lake Michigan on the other.  Lakes and forests and small towns in between.  Our family hiked and swam and explored during  the day, but in the evening we would find a spot along the shore and watch the sunset.

One of the small towns actually had a small park named Sunset Point. A small grassy area along the bay and a short walk down a path from the parking lot, it was a wonderful location to watch the sun set.  Whenever we could, we made our way to Sunset Point where we gathered with other sunset lovers sitting quietly as together we watched the sun go down and night descend.  One evening when we were there, another family walked down down to the clearing and looked around.  Then, in a tone of voice that was a mixture of disappointment and disgust, the father broke our silence when he said, “It is only a sunset.”

Only a sunset?
Look at it!
The mystery and miracle of a nondescript star and a small planet locked in an incredible day-in, day-out dance which they have preformed over and over again for more years than any of us can really imagine that not only produces an startling array of colors, but spawns life.
Your life.
My life.
All life.

Yesterday was Earth Day.
And, today is as well.

Look For The Helpers

Even from a distance…
New York to Boston…
New York to West, Texas…
New York to Washington, D.C…
New York to China…
Last week was a tough week emotionally.
The Senate vote on gun control.
A fertilizer plant explosion which destroyed and devastated a community.
An earthquake that has left thousands homeless.
The terrorist bombing and manhunt in Boston.
By the end of the week I, like many others, found myself both tired and tired of it all, and closing down emotionally and somewhat numb wanting to turn it all off and to turn away. But, that is not how I want to live and not what I believe.

Once again, it was/is the wisdom of Mr. Rogers of children’s television fame that helped me turn the corner.  This quote from his book Mr. Rogers Parenting Book circulated widely on Facebook and Twitter and other online social media.  “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”  

It stands as a reminder that what we look for matters.
And, what we see matters.
If we only look for the sensational and the violent and the destruction and the worst we can do to each other, then that will be all that we see.
But if we look for the helpers
If we remember the names of those who stepped into the breach instead of the names of those who caused the devastation…
If we celebrate and do our best to emulate those who do what is right despite the potential cost and those who extend themselves for the sake of another…
Then, that is what we will see.

Too often the news focuses on the sensational.
Maybe they think that is their job.
If that is the case, then it means it is up to you and to me to look and to see and to name the helpers whenever and however and as often as we can.
And, maybe even to be one ourselves.

Follow The Leader

follow the leader


Tomorrow morning in our worship service I am going to play Follow the Leader with the children who are there.  We will clap our hands and jump up and down and turn circles and pat our heads.  And then, when I have them all wound up, I am going to ask them to sit down and talk with me about what we have done.

Isn’t church at its best…
Or a synagogue or a mosque or a temple for that matter…
A place where we gather to learn to play Follow the Leader?
Where we come to be reminded of our bravest hopes and our best values that are wrapped up in that which we know and name as God?
Values like compassion and kindness and the common good.
Hopes like peace and justice and enough for all.
And then, having been reminded…
Having caught a glimpse of that Dream of God…
Of where God is going and what God is doing…
To walk out the doors
And into the world doing our best to play the game.
Follow the Leader.


Learning to Skip…Again

Yesterday as I was walking our dog, I walked down the sidewalk behind a Mom and her son who were on their way to school.  The mother was carrying her son’s backpack while the little boy alternately walked holding his mother’s hand and letting go to skip ahead or to walk along the curb like he was walking on a balance beam.  Joy filled both that moment and each of the little boy’s steps.  I watched with a smile on my face as I took in the scene and remembered when I walked down that same sidewalk with my son on the way to school.

I don’t skip much anymore.
At least that way.
But in thinking about that little boy on his way to school I realized that a part of life is about not forgetting how to skip.  If I no longer skip down sidewalks, I need to at least be sure my heart skips along when I hear a cardinal call from a tree or watch my puppy wrestle with a stick or watch a young boy dance his way to school with his mother.

Maybe as I grow older skipping has something to do with paying attention.
Paying attention to where I am:
And who is around me;
And the fullness and wonder of life in that very moment.

And, then, in whatever way I am able…
Saying Thank you.

Okay Days

Some days are just okay days.
And, that is okay.
But, too often, I live trapped in the fallacy that each day is to be full and meaningful;
And that each day I am to be engaged and focused and productive;
And happy.
And then when I am not, I think something is wrong
with me.

But that’s not true is it.
Some days just are.
And on some days I just am.
What I think I need to learn is this…
That on days like that (and probably many other days as well),
I need to be patient with myself;
And grateful for the day as it is;
And open to what the day has in store for me
Whatever that is and however I am.