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shard.

What a remarkable thing.Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 9.54.05 AM
Thankful for a shard.
Feeling them all week in these
neuropathic chemo
feet.
Invisible shards
deep
unrelenting
daggers

tormenting
sleep stealing
walk stopping
ungripable
unpullable
unstoppable.

So how surprisingly marvelous

to step
to feel one
again
but to actually see
blood.
O exquisite pleasure!
Finally here be one
gripable
pullable
stoppable.

Neuropathic chemo
fingers
grappling with a shard
that can finally be
touched
gripped
removed
to the sounds of reverberating
laughter!

Never thought I’d be so
thankful
for a shard.

images

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2015 in Poetry

 

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Lincoln on friendship

I’ve felt the call to spend more time with a long-term mentor for me: Lincoln.photo 2

I found a used book of his letters and speeches between 1832 and 1858. Unfiltered delight. I’m downright giddy.

I was struck by a letter he wrote to a certain Robert Allen on June 21, 1836. Lincoln would have been 27 at the time. Allen was evidently a friend in times past, and an officer.

Here’s the note – it’s worth a few moments to read and ingest
(I find it helpful to hear Daniel Day-Lewis’ voice when reading Lincoln; or Walter Brennan)

Dear Col.

I am told that during my absence last week, you passed through this place, and stated publicly, that you were in possession of a fact or facts, which, if known to the public, would entirely destroy the prospects of N.W. Edwards and myself at the ensuing election; but that, through favour to us, you should forbear to divulge them.

Pause.

We have too many such “friends.” Without wishing to press to severely, such is truly a diabolical friendship that insinuates that there is or are fact or facts – that there is a “real story” of what has happened here or there – but that, well, out of respect just can’t be fully divulged or put on the table. Just know that it is there under the table, somewhere, this thing that I really can’t talk about. Diabolical. Devil’s work. A diabolos in the Greek language is one who insinuates, who throws a thought, a doubt, an accusation out there, but not explicitly or openly. It’s left in the shadows for the imagination to work out. Notice that in this case, the devil work is done in public in the absence of his “friend.” Who says we need Facebook to do this! God save us from such devil friends – and save us from being one.

Now watch Lincoln’s response:

No one has needed favors more than I, and generally, few have been less unwilling to accept them; but in this case, favour to me would be injustice to the public, and therefore I must beg your pardon for declining it. That I once had the confidence of the people of Sangamon, is sufficiently evident, and if I have since done anything, either by design or misadventure, which if known, would subject me to forfeiture of that confidence, he that knows of that thing, and conceals it, is a traitor to his country’s interests.

150308-true-friendshipSecond pause.

Allen insinuated without coming right out and saying what was on his mind, and he did so in public in the absence of his friend. Lincoln responds to such public insinuation by private letter (I don’t think Lincoln would have blogged this – and I imagine he’d be somewhat miffed that I’m blogging it 179 years later). Though I discern tactful grace here, Lincoln holds no punches. “Traitor.” Them be fightin’ words! But Lincoln says it. Let us resume and conclude:

I find myself wholly unable to form any conjecture of what fact or facts, real or supposed, you spoke; but my opinion of your veracity, will not permit me, for a moment, to doubt, that you at least believed what you said.

I am flattered with the personal regard you manifested for me, but I do hope that, on more mature reflection, you will view the public interest as a paramount consideration, and, therefore, determine to let the worst come.

I here assure you, that the candid statement of facts, on your part, however low it may sink me, shall never break the tie of personal friendship between us.

I wish and answer to this, and you are at liberty to publish both if you choose.

Verry (sic) Respectfully,

Lincoln on friendship:

  • Don’t make insinuations about one you claim as friend in their absence.
    Especially in a public forum.
  • If a friend blows it in public, respond directly to that friend, rather than fanning the flames of public controversy. Message. Don’t post. It is also pertinent to note here that Lincoln wrote such letters and held on to them overnight. He had a whole archive of letters marked “never sent.” That’s not just wisdom. Those are the rhythms of a friend.
  • Call forth the best while not hesitating to directly say the worst. Nearly within the same breath Lincoln utters the word “traitor” (though not to him personally but to the country – there’s a lesson embedded there too) and “veracity.” Selah, people. Selah.
  • Friends call forth and give “mature reflection” for one another and offer “candid statements” to one another.
  • Friends know how to write short, well-thought-out notes on weighty matters.
  • Personal ties of friendship should be mighty cables, not fragile spinnings and they should be able to bear the weight of even the most public misunderstandings.

Such was the wisdom of a twenty-seven year old young man named Lincoln.
I suspect we can all learn a thing or two here…

A_Lincoln_signature

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2015 in haverings

 

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full of goodness

“I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness.”

What we look for, we see. What we expect, we tend to find.
It’s a rule.

Expect the worst in people, we tend to find it.
Anticipate the best, we tend to evoke it.

“I am fully convinced that you are full of goodness.”

The statement floors me.
And I even perceive myself as being fairly optimistic about life, about people.
Some would quickly qualify the statement by pointing out that it’s Paul’s “brothers and sisters” he’s referring to – Christians. lens-of-nuremberg
Now the statement really floors me!
Too often I have seen followers of Christ excel in the art of shredding others – especially one another.
So yes, this floors me. Still.

“To the pure all things are pure, but to the defiled and disbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and conscience are filthy,” Paul intones in another place.

Filthy filters produce filthy images of others, images that are anything but full of goodness.

So how are those “people filters” through which I gaze at the world?
What is my basic assumption about that person driving in front of me – or riding way too close behind me?
How do I see that soul sitting across from me?
And even more foundationally, what basic assumptions do I carry about the face staring back at me in the mirror – for that reflection is perhaps the most revealing gauge for the filter of my gaze.

If the world stinks, just where do you think the stink starts?

Brant Hansen relates in his book Unoffendable (get it. read it. live it.) –

Some people are artists. They just see things better. When they look at something, they see potential Unoffendableoutcomes. They see what could be. Like my friend Chris.

Chris was elated at his find one time, and he enthusiastically showed it to me. It was a pile of flattened cardboard boxes he’d gotten from a dumpster. Seriously, he was overjoyed.

“This is the good stuff, my friend!” he told me. “Look at this!”

The good stuff?

I guess it was. Weeks later, he showed me a crèche he’d made, life-size: Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. It was painted with small flags from around the world, to demonstrate the relevance of Christ to the modern world in the midst of nations and wars.

When he told me it was made out of cardboard, I couldn’t believe it. It looked as though it were chiseled from white stone. He’d made it from the “good stuff” – you know, from the dumpster.

Chris is an artist. He just sees things.

Give us more artist eyes that can gaze upon dumpster discards and see crèches.
Eyes that are convinced you are full of goodness just waiting to be evoked, empowered, released, unleashed.

If you see beauty in the world, just where do you think that beauty starts?

the lens

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in haverings

 

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salt is good…salt piles, not so much

Morton salt spill

An addendum to my salt epiphany.

Yes, opening our taste buds is what salt does, but not if it’s piled too high. (Thank you for this observation, my friend who shall remain unnamed.) Yes, salt is meant to season, lightly, not to inundate. Someone should tell McDonalds this in their french fry preparation process. But most of us aren’t content to lightly season for the simple reason we don’t trust the salt to do its work. And so whatever influence we are trying to exert, be it Christianity, conservatism or liberalism or whatever-ism, we insist, typically, on the Morton Salt Spill Paul Biasco's picstrategy to get our point across.

Yes, there was a salt spill in Chicago a year or so ago.
Eleven cars were buried.
It was, as Paul Biasco observed and chronicled, “an insane amount of salt.”

We so badly need to fix the whole in our wall. Salt was never intended to pour like this out of the wall. It’s why saltshakers have such wee holes. But not being content with such small holes we form a modern Khrushchevian chorus, “We will bury you.” With the salt of us. Rather than opening up and empowering your taste buds to taste and see for yourself, rather than enhancing and allowing the full essence of the meal, or of your own essence, for that matter, we will bury you.

And when you sputter and vomit our piled high salty deposit, we will cluck our tongues and shake our heads at your lack of receptivity to our great truth.

“Salt is good,” says the Master.
But, yes, there can indeed be too much of a good thing.
Learn the art of sprinkling, the beauty of reticence, of avoiding the pile, trusting the salt to do what it’s supposed to do.

And season well.

mortons-salt-it-pours-front

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2015 in haverings

 

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salty epiphany

“You know why they add salt to chocolate?” she asks.
Answer: “Salt opens the taste buds.”

I didn’t know.

Curious.

“You are the salt of the earth.”
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt.”

If we are the salt of the earth,
then why is it
rather than opening taste buds
through our message and our movements
we so often numb them
or close the mouth altogether?

What a curious thought
that we, the salt of the earth,
would not merely season life
but actually open the taste buds to experience it.

More curious still
that within ourselves
or with others
we so rarely do…

salty chocolate

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2015 in haverings

 

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Strange Glory (a book review, of sorts)

My latest read.Strange Glory
Charles Marsh’s A Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

It was Eric Metaxas’ tome that served as my first real introduction to the story of Bonhoeffer, so I hadn’t imagined needing to read another biography, Metaxas covered the ground so well, his book almost reading like a devotional for me at times.

But then I saw this title and Speakeasy sent me a copy to read and review.

Yes. There is room for another biography.

I still love Metaxas’ work, but Marsh in his lively and meticulously researched book showed me refracted views of Bonhoeffer’s story and character that I hadn’t seen. In many ways I felt as if I was meeting Bonhoeffer anew, and he’s always worth meeting, so the book richly repaid each moment spent. And as a bonus, Marsh sent me frequently to the dictionary to dig into words that are either new acquaintances or ones that I’ve met and quite forgotten. I know this may not be a selling point for all too many of us. But it should be. We need a rekindled love affair with words!

Musing on the refracted views I mentioned – I was reminded of this comment by Joshua Shenk about histories and biographies and how when we tell the truth of them we invariably “tell it slant” to use Dickinson’s phrase:

Historians must choose interpretative frameworks. And in this they are inexorably subject to the fancies and suppositions of the times they live in. As times change, so do popular dogmas and curiosities. Therefore our approach to history changes as well. This is not to say that history is merely subjective, but that objective and subjective realities interact to create a foundation of accepted truth. “What happens over and over,” J. G. Randall wrote in 1945, introducing the first volume of his biography Lincoln the President, “is that a certain idea gets started in association with an event or figure. It is repeated by speakers and editors. It soon becomes a part of that superficial aggregation of concepts that goes under the heading ‘what everybody knows.’ It may take decades before a stock picture is even questioned as to its validity.”

Joshua Wolf Shenk, Lincoln’s Melancholy

I suppose what I feel Marsh has done with Bonhoeffer is taking what for me was a bit of a stock picture and giving it some helpful dimensions that have helped me to better “behold the man.”

And with such a man and story as Bonhoeffer, that is a true gift.

Take and read.

how-to-write-a-book-report

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2015 in Books

 

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refuse. that. label.

Not written much about the whole same sex issue.
Mainly because I don’t want to beggar the snarkiness from any direction.
Call me cynical.

But this post by Brant Hansen “Does God See Me as a Heterosexual?” And Other Thoughts on Sexuality – yes, this one I like.

Yes, I encourage you to read it in toto. I do. But first see his face just a bit.
This always helps, but it’s typically the thing we’re most resistant to do.

Now try this excerpt from the article on for size:

Hansen Quote_A

And then this one:

Hansen Quote_B

Now here’s a thought.
Rather than reacting and stretching forth thy hand to thy keyboard to type in rainbow or other hues, try reading the whole article. Sit for a few moments with Brant. Contemplate just a bit. And then move on with your day.

What a concept.

And what a concept that we would see each other as human beings, first, last and always.
Human beings.
All of us.
Each of us.
Divine image bearers.
Marred and Messed, to be sure. Some of us more than others. And ironically the more marred we are, the brighter the Reflection can be.

And what a concept…
My sexual orientation is sinful. Yes it is. I identify with Brant as having a polygamous orientation. Ha! I’m just choosing not to act on it for the simple and very practical reason that one is more than enough. Truly.

But at the end of the Day, we aren’t homo.
We aren’t hetero.
We aren’t poly.
We be humans all, we.

Imagine.
That.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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