Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Something Beautiful

One of the greatest things about having kids is getting the opportunity to watch someone experience things for the very first time. The first mud puddle, the first lady bug, the first bulldozer, or bird in the sky. Life is always an adventure through the eyes of little ones as every day contains wonders and new experiences. Their eyes light up like fire crackers as their tiny fingers point out with excitement the subject of their momentary glee. Their little voices squeaking with delight as they call out to you, "Mommy, Daddy, Look!!"

As we grow older and become acquainted with our world the wonder begins to fade as we get used to the glories this realm offers us. But every now and then we get to see it again. Today I was at the beach when a cluster of about 20 people from a group home came and set up camp beside us. Most of these people were between 30 and 50 years old and had varying mental capacities. We learned that some had suffered from strokes, others were born with diminished capabilities. We also learned that for most of them this was their very first trip to the ocean. When I heard this, I leaned forward in my beach chair to watch with anticipation while the group home workers would stand on either side of these fragile bodies as they approached one of the most powerful forces this world has to offer, the mighty sea.

As the waves would roar their presence, these wonderful people would shuffle through the sand, approaching the mammoth body of water with reverence and humility. The smiles on their faces communicated wonder, excitement, and anticipation. As the chilly water would reach their feet, slosh against their legs, and steal the sand between their toes, they would let out child like squeals and laughter. One man was actually knocked down by a wave and as the foamy water washed over his entire body, I expected to see a look of stark terror when he emerged, but instead there was only laughter and splashing.

In a place where beauty is measured by sun tans and swimsuits, today the standard was subtly eclipsed by a humble group of grown up kids experiencing something for the very first time. It was something beautiful.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Is Love Real?

Let's go back in time a bit shall we?  Scientists tell us that billions and billions of years ago, this universe exploded into existence.  Trillions upon trillions of particles came together to make up atoms which in turn made up molecules which in turn has made up every object in this universe.  I once learned in school years ago that matter cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be re-arranged.  I stand today completely at a loss to understand how it is possible that a large pile of hydrogen atoms joined up with a pile of oxygen atoms with a few other things thrown in somehow compose the creature that is composing this message.   Essentially, I have come to the conclusion that I am simply a pile of non-living atoms.  A strange phenomenon of the proper proportions of non-living molecules that has somehow found a way to not only begin to move on their own, but to think, dream, and love.  

Can life really exist when the building blocks of the universe is non-living, dead, inanimate material?  Are we really alive or are we simply a natural phenomenon that comes about as the result of a proper recipe of atoms?  After all, the atoms that compose each of us have existed since time began, they've been around for billions of years only to come together for a few years to compose us, then fall back apart again, never to compose me again.  And yet I am conscience of this..... how?  How is it that non-living inanimate atoms can be compelled to sacrifice and act in ways to help another pile of non-living atoms?  How does one pile become dependent on another pile?  

For billions and billions of years the most powerful force in the universe did not exist because the universe lacked the vehicle to bring it into existence.  With no living material in the universe, life should be impossible, and without life, love is impossible.  Yet somehow both life and love exist in a universe where each should be impossible, a universe composed of inanimate matter.  And outside of consciousness , neither can be appreciated.  Perhaps that is why our time here in this world is temporary.  After all, everything says we don't belong here, as piles of non-living atoms we shouldn't even exist in an alert state, let alone in a loving state.  

Yes, perhaps we only exist here for a short time to defy every law of this realm as living beings in a dead universe before we talk our place with the giver of life.  I have an opportunity here and now to pursue one of the rarest things and most beautiful things in existence, that being to love.  Will I take advantage of it, or am I simply sleepwalking along waiting for my pile of atoms to fall back apart again?  I've heard it said that life is short, but considering the circumstances in which it exists.......it's probably a lot longer than it should be.  The question is not how much time do I have left, rather it's what am I doing with the time I have now?           

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Dark Times

I had the opportunity to spend a few days at the bottom of the Grand Canyon recently and had a bit of an epiphany.  It was the first night of a five day trip and we had just descended from the giant canyon wall and found a flat rock to sleep on in a desolate, dry, wash. 

As I laid open air on my sleeping bag and gazed into the moonless, starry, heavens, I waited for the last remnants of the sunset to subside and reveal the fullness of the infinite heavens. That's when it occurred to me that  sometimes it is darkness rather than light that helps us see better.  We are always in the presence of the glorious night sky, but are unable to see in the day due to the intensity of the sun.  

Light doesn't always reveal, sometimes it cloaks just as effectively as darkness.  Sometimes in life we need the dark times to see true beauty.  It is in the dark times that the true wonders of the character of people are revealed. Sometimes it is during the night hours of life that we discover the true love of family, friends, or even strangers as they, like the stars, relentlessly pierce through the darkness and explode into our lives as brilliant beacons of hope. 

Yes, they are always there for us, but in the light of day, during the good times, we seldom notice as they are concealed by comfort, quietly, secretly, waiting to reach out to us in our times of need. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What If God Is Like This? is now on Ebook!

Greetings all,

For those of you who have been waiting patiently.....What If God Is Like This? is now on Kindle!


Thank you all for your patience! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What Jesus saw that most of His followers don't

I was watching America's Got Talent the other night and was captivated by the story of a stuttering ex-marine who had obtained his speech impediment as the result of a brain injury he received in combat.  His story was inspiring as he was able to belt out a crisp clear singing voice with no stutter what so ever.  But the part of his story that really caught me was how he described being in war and upon being injured, he immediately began to think of his future dreams and worry about ever seeing his family again.  For some reason his story touched me differently than past stories and I was immediately saddened by the fact that all over the world there are people who have family and dreams that are shattered simply because two groups of people decide to go to war against each other.  Now, don't get me wrong, I understand that sometimes war is necessary, especially to defend against tyrants.  But what saddened me was that when we boil it down to the basics, we can have two groups of people with dreams and aspirations for their already short existences on this Earth cut short simply because we fight each other.  Two humans with similar hopes and dreams having to miss out on those hopes and dreams just because of a fight.  

It was sad that all we as a race would have to do is leave each other alone and so many more people could try to live out the aspirations of their lives.  I guess the question really comes down to, "Why do we fight?"  

I know there are a number of factors but it occurred to me that ultimately even though the causes of every war may vary, the reason is always the same.  That reason being that we as people place more value in our beliefs than we do in other people.  This habit is the same habit that will cause a spat between friends or drive two nations to war.  Sadly, growing up in a church setting, I've witnessed and even participated, in treating people vastly different based simply on whether or not we thought the same way.  If someone acts, thinks, believes, or lives differently than us we seem to have this pre-programing to shun them away.  

That's one of the things that made Jesus so different than almost all other people.  Jesus had this ability to treat people with love no matter who they were or what they believed.  If we study His teachings, it's pretty clear that Jesus had some pretty strong opinions about things, but if people didn't like or agree with what He taught, He still treated them the same.  It's as if Jesus recognized that opinions and beliefs are one thing, but people are something entirely different.  People are in the image of God and their value as such surpasses opinions.  When human beings fly airplanes into buildings its because they value the lives of the people in those buildings and on those planes less than their personal beliefs.  When we treat people differently or avoid people because of our religious beliefs we are essentially stating that they as humans are less important to us than our beliefs.  Perhaps someday we will learn not to feel so threatened by others who think and believe differently.  Perhaps someday we will suppress our pride and learn that our value as God's children surpasses belief.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Shadow

I had the great fortune of having to wake up an hour earlier than normal to go to work today. Normally I would find this an inconvenience and today that's exactly how I felt until I happened to catch the full moon out of the corner of my eye while I was driving down the road. I immediately noticed something out of place as there was a large curved shadow darkening half of our small, orbiting, neighbor. I had completely forgotten that there was to be a lunar eclipse today and was suddenly quite happy I had to get up early or I would have missed it. 

As I admired the beautiful sight, I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe realizing that I was standing on the very object casting that mammoth shadow. Then it hit me that projected upon that celestial canvas was the shadow of my home. But not just my home, the home of every person who has ever lived. Every plant, and animal, every creature of the sea, every mystery of the Earth was contained in that shadow.  It was the image of the boat that carries us all.  Every war and every conflict seemed tragically silly with such a tangible reminder that we really are all in this together.  Sadly that shadow represented every major event in world history. The dinosaurs, the pyramids, the holocaust, 9-11, slavery, Shakespeare, Mozart, major league baseball, you name it, we all share that shadow.  

It made me wonder why we are still so divided when in all the universe, our entire existence can be contained in a single view.  It was a unifying feeling for me as I felt a connection with every person ever to walk this terrestrial land.  It made me wonder why we fight at all?  Why can't we help and love one another?  Why do we fight over that shadow?  Why can't we see that in the entire universe we might only have each other?