Saturday, February 22, 2014


Spring is here!!!

Ok, it's probably not.  Based on Ohio weather trends it's likely to snow tomorrow.  But today was sunshine and warmth, even as giant chunks of ice still lay melting from the past week's cold.  It was the kind of day that found me driving with the windows partially down, singing and dancing in the car with my boys.

I love days like this, where even though the concerns in my life aren't any more or less than they were yesterday or will be tomorrow, the sun comes out and that's enough to remind me that life is what it is - happy.  Am I still as much in debt today as I am when it's dark and snowy?  You bet.  Are my kids every bit as sleepless in this pseudo-spring as they are in the depths of winter?  Absolutely.  But for whatever reason as soon as I can comfortably leave the house without a coat I feel unencumbered not only by bulky outerwear, but by the constraints of every inner burden I've been carrying around as well.

It was only fitting when this song came on during our happy sunshine-y drive:

We all need reminders that happiness is a truth, not something that we can only experience as life's circumstances allow.  It's a different kind of happiness, I think, than the glee that does come from things going our way - the whole 'everything's coming up roses' feeling.  The happiness I'm referring to is a deeper sense of peace, a feeling of being spiritually and emotionally ok in the face of even the bad situations.  I admit I'm not the best at this.
"It might seem crazy what I'm about to say ... I'm happy ..."  I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances ... I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him ... - Philippians 4
In Mexico I prayed once with a woman who was living in what I would generously call a shack, constructed out of a random collection of materials found in a nearby landfill and tacked together to make walls and roof, with bedsheets standing in for any missing wall space.  An elderly woman with very very little to her name, her prayer request was for her relatives who lived in a part of Mexico that she described as "very poor.  They have nothing."  She spoke of how blessed she was, and how worried she was for them because they didn't have the kind of blessings she had.

What? ...  That perspective on life changed me.  I don't believe she was necessarily speaking about physical provisions, but I also don't believe that physical provisions is how this woman measures blessings.  As she spoke there was a sense that she was connected to an internal satisfaction that came by way of her closeness to God, her relationships, her ability to view the value of life as separate from the daily necessities of life itself.

I hope today is filled with joy for you, not because life is going well, or because you have a guarantee that things will get better, because you don't.  I hope you are filled with joy because of the truth of who you are as a child of God.  It's not about money trouble, it's not about family drama, it's not about meetings, presentations, bills, auto repairs, or grades.  It's about the sun rising and setting each day on another opportunity to be in God's presence.
"Here come bad news ... give me all you got, and don't hold back ... I'll be just fine ... Can't nothing bring me down.  Your love is too high."  We are hard pressed ... but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair ... struck down, but not destroyed ... Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  - 2Corinthians 4

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dancers Among Us

C.S. Lewis said every person with whom we interact is no mere mortal.  Each of us is of the supernatural, a piece of divinity temporarily here on earth but eternally in the spiritual realm whether for good or bad.  People throughout time have held similar views, recognizing that humanity is more than what we see in front of us, that those who mundanely cross our paths have significance on a level we often miss.

I attended the funeral recently of a young baby, who was affectionately referred to as "an angel among us", and that sentiment resonates when you see the impact and powerful spiritual connections made by those who knew him.  There was divinity in his short presence here on earth.  Songs, poems, tv series - countless mediums tell of 'angels' among ordinary people, a level of supernatural disguised in the unnoticed passerby or neighbor.

The other day I stumbled onto a collection of photographs by Jordan Matter called "Dancers Among Us".  The variety of photographs show dancers as they intersect with regular moments of contemporary life.

Towson, MD - Rachel Bell from Jordan Matter's Dancers Among Us
New York, NY - Sarah Antkowiak and Karl Maier from Jordan Matter's Dancers Among Us

The images make you smile, chuckle, think, and at times balk, as something as elegant as dance throws itself into things like shopping, break-ups, prison cells, and beaches.

Chicago, IL - Angela Dice and Demetrius McClendon from Jordan Matter's Dancers Among Us
New York City, NY - Michelle Fleet from Jordan Matter's Dancers Among Us
The collection of 100 photos is worth the few minutes it takes to view them all.  [*There is a broken link - when you get to the photo of a couple on a large swing in a park, do NOT click 'next'.  Instead, use the thumbnails to the left to SKIP the next photo (woman in the rain) to continue on.  Otherwise you'll be sent on a loop of photos you've already seen and never make it to some great ones!]

I don't know what the photographer's intention with this series is specifically, aside from the title itself, but I know what I see.  I see divinity in the midst of the every day; moments of abounding joy passing fleetingly by; a glimpse of the immortality that intersects daily with life in dull, ordinary, or even painful times.

C.S. Lewis challenges us to allow our understanding of the immortal importance of those we meet to move us to take each other more seriously, to view our interactions with others with the significance they are due, because we are interacting not with mortals, but with potentially splendorous creatures of the spiritual beyond.

It is a serious thing ... to remember that the dullest, most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. ... It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.  There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal ...  But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.  This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.  We must play.  But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.   -CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory

'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'  ... the King will answer ... 'as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'   -Matthew 25

 Along with Lewis' challenge, I am inspired, more simply, to allow myself to see a realm of the world around me where unbridled joy and perfection is given freedom to burst into any moment, grand or small.