Let’s Do Easter

practice resurrection
I love the closing line in Wendell Berry’s poem Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.
Practice resurrection.
I love it for two reasons.
First, it makes resurrection more than about Jesus which, I think, is the Biblical witness. It reminds us that, in the end, it is about you and me and who we are and how we live.
The second is the word practice.
Somewhere I read that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.
Others researchers say 10,000 hours is way too small a number.
Either way the point is this.
If we take all this seriously, the question is can we practice resurrection with the same dedication and commitment we would bring to any other task or skill we were trying to master? At the very least, practicing resurrection means paying close attention to the world around us and being intentional about what we do and why we do it.

Many of us did Easter last Sunday.
Now is the time for us to do Easter today.

Sometimes All I Can Do Is Pray

Earthquakes are rattling Nicaragua. I have friends there. Many of them. I have helped to build homes there. I hope those homes are still standing. The people I know and more that I don’t are being told to sleep outside tonight so if another quake hits they won’t be asleep in their beds  and risk having their house collapse on them and their families. I will be sleeping safe and sound in my bed tonight. Sometimes all I can do is pray.

The mother of someone I know and care about is battling cancer…again.
Sometimes all I can do is pray.

A picture of a little girl curled up in a ball makes me want to turn away. What can I do for refugees, wherever they are, who have fled bombs and bullets or who have lost parents or children in endless often senseless fighting.  Today I am particularly mindful of those who have fled the civil war in Syria. Sometimes all I can do is pray.

I have known them for nearly twenty five years. They were about my age now when we first met.  Now they are older and they and their children struggle against and struggle with the reality and the concerns and the needed lifestyle changes that come with growing old. Sometimes all I can do is pray.

And, there is more.
My list goes on.
Sometimes all I can do is pray.
I understand that prayer is not magic.
It is not hocus pocus that suddenly makes bad things good or wrong things right, and it does not miraculously do or undo what I should have done or should not have done.
At its core, my prayer is my remembering.
My remembering there is a concern and a connectedness that links us all together.
My remembering that love and strength and encouragement and care and concern and joy while expressed here does, indeed, stretch to there.
My remembering my desire and my responsibility to wrap some part of who I am and some part of what I know and name as God around the you I hold in my heart and mind in this moment. Sometimes all I can do is pray.

Does it matter?
Because the moment I pray is the moment I remember that the world is bigger and my life is bigger than the particular concerns I have in this moment and the shrink wrapped life I, too easily, live.
Does it make a difference?
To you?
I hope so.
But I know it makes a difference because, at the very least, it makes me different.

Holy Week

Christmas is easy.
Away in the Manger.
Silent Night. Holy night.
Holy Week is hard.
My head understands the events of that take place.
Triumphant entry.
Confrontation in the Temple.
Crowds gathered to hear Jesus speak.
Celebrating the Passover.
God-awful crucifixion.
But while my head understands, my heart rebels.
I tiptoe towards the edge of the story, but then turn away.
I dare not get too close to the anguish and the betrayal and absolute brutality.
And, that only gets me to Friday.
Who really understands resurrection?
(Even though they have made a TV show about it.)
How do you put words around mystery?
Or, words around an experience which takes your breath away?

Everyday Miracles

einstein quote
Five years ago I had open heart surgery.
I had developed a blood infection that went undiagnosed for a number of months until, eventually, it damaged one of my heart values. It was a long, complicated process both before and after the surgery. Not too long ago I asked my wife if she still thought about that time and the days and weeks we spent in the hospital.
“Every day,” she said.
Me, too.
Seldom a day goes by when I don’t notice the lumps on my chest bone where they cut through it to get to my heart. Or a day when there is not some sort of sensation which causes the muscles in my chest to hurt for a bit.
I am grateful to be alive.
I almost wasn’t.
I am grateful for the skills of doctors and nurses who had the training and skill to do what they did.
15 years ago…
20 years ago…
I am not sure they would have.

I don’t think of miracles as some magical force that somehow changes the laws of nature or undoes the consequences or results of the choices we make. I think miracles have something to do with how we look at and understand our lives. What if miracles have to do with awe and wonder and paying attention? What if miracles have something to do with the realization that there is something more; that Life is something more?
We have a choice about how we will live.
I don’t pay attention to it as much as I would like.
But I pay attention more now than I did five years ago.