It’s a word.  A great word for everyone except Martin Heidigger.  But he had a point.

He called “average everydayness” that thing we do when we slog through days without examining them.  Without reflecting on them.  Without fully being aware while it flows by. 

Other ways to say this would be — “on automatic” “unthinking” “unfeeling” or “plodding”. 

I really felt alive today, but I was cheating.  It was my first full day without flu, antibiotics or drugs in over a week, during which I caught up on all the sleep I ever missed in my life, except at two in the morning. 

So I thought about today and called four friends when I had time holes.  I worked on a business Idea while the whole country had a hard time downloading a credit card machine – of which I had three. 

But mainly I thought about heroes and heroines.  I thought how I used to count missionaries in foreign countries and soldiers and others as my special prayers. 

I forgot how courageous Val was fixing breakfast for kids who just spent their first Christmas without their dad.

I overlooked how gutsy the Buchanans and Carpenters are everyday with their special needs sons. 

I missed how courageous David was getting up at four to be 90 miles away for an electrician’s job starting at 6:45, when his supervisor dismissed him Sunday morning for being 10 minutes late. 

Heidigger probably nailed me.  I am really good on the mountaintop, in the hospital waiting room, or crises, major teaching moments and big business deals — but miss calling Jill on the way home for no reason except that she needs to be reminded that one guy thought/thinks she is hot, amazing, intelligent, and capable. 

I sigh when I should breathe a miraculous “thanks” or swear when I should focus on doing this better. 

Anyway, I cheated, but I had help cheating. 

This doe has adopted us.  She is a yearling, and the first day we saw her Jill walked within twenty feet and took her picture.  She napped in the back yard in broad daylight.  She has hung out in the ravine and over by the horse hay while we worked in the guest house or Jill fed horses — and talked to her.  And today she just stood in the front yard while I snapped her picture.  I know I should post that.

She helped me cheat.  This strange miracle juxtaposed in the middle of my dry, dry grass reminded me that grass, or that I own anything in the world are both, well, everyday miracles worth examining.  More than examining, worth celebrating in, uh, daily ways. 

We have an artist in residence

Jill’s brother, Steve is staying with us while he does a commissioned painting. 

He has lived his art on Britain’s coast, studied the Masters by leaving college to walk the museums of Europe, obtained recognition from some of the world’s most respected judging boards, and camped and lived in some of the most gorgeous spots on earth.

He lost tallest man in the family this Christmas to one of his nephews, Bjorn; and goes a few rounds with Jill every day about the changing world of art and e-commerce.  Their conversations range from the technical to profound. 

Two things mark our most profound differences.  I am a believer in Christ, and he is not, but he joins in the rhythms of our home and joins hands and is respectfully quiet while others pray.  The more interesting one may be that I have spent much of my life accessible to up to hundreds of people. 

He has spent most of his life privately, guardedly even.

It makes most of our conversations exploratory, tentative, and interesting.  He sees the world in terms of color, light / lighting, mood, composition.  I have never heard him use the word: beautiful.  But make no mistake, he can take up brush and color and capture beauty on a painting almost as much as someone could describe its beauty and convey a feeling about the scene. 

I spent most of my life describing beauty and life to others, making it accessible to them. 

He has caused me to consider again, if I am able some times to pass a beauty through my eyes and writing to others, a reality, a loveliness for someone else to be moved by it — while failing to be as moved as the one to whom I made it accessible. 

I can only hope that Peter Jackson enjoyed the Lord of the Rings a fraction of how much I was moved to tears and cheering, having already enjoyed Tolkien’s descriptions and action like drinking deeply of a innebriating wine. 

So to you and to me, do you enjoy the world you are passing on to your children, again, maybe for the first time?  Are you touched by the Hand of God who moves you to touch others in His Name?  Mother Teresa was bereft of her visions and intimacies which had sustained her when she moved to Calcutta.

Yet she stayed. 

Yet she stayed and milions were moved because of her.  Even while the silence inside dried her soul. 

This is a simple prayer.  May you get to enjoy at least some of the beauty passing through you to others.  If you know how to enlarge that beauty to yourself, share with the rest of us. 

People in my house.

People in my house.

When Jill and I were dating she said that ministry for her was having a pot of coffee on the stove and people in the kitchen and house.  We talked about that a lot because my dad was a doc and his house was his refuge and few of my friends braved coming  over to enter “the bear’s” den.

We liked the idea and named the house that would become our house “the Listening House” after a song from the band called Lazarus from the seventies.

I had no idea.

The stream of people who have been through our home numbers past the hundreds into the thousands.  People have come for coffee, a meal, overnight, a study with a meal, weekends, weekly times together, and not a few have lived anywhere from a week to half a year.

If I could deduct all of them on my taxes, it would be better than welfare.

These thirty days includes two couples for premarital counseling, all of Jill’s siblings and families for a few days (14), 25 students for Bible Study on Wednesdays, 37 for a bonfire and KLife training on Friday, Jill’s brother for a few months while finishing a painting commission, and Krumrey, a pastor from Amherst MA for only two nights.   That does not include the five to fifteen guys that Brandon drags through regularly for hello, pizza, a night or two, or movies all night.

I have learned a few things.

Having ten acres helps.

Walking either with Jill or by myself before going to bed is wonderful, sanity, and stunning with the skies.

As long as my bedroom is off limits, the rest of the house can be going full tilt with some considerations for volume after I go to bed.  Brandon, please read this part.

People who are just here are easily entertained.  Those who really want to talk usually offer cues for us to follow.

The peace that people find here is one part Jill, two parts her decorating, and 20 parts God’s Spirit.

I have no idea why anyone would want to come visit me, so there must be other attractions — like the deer, owls, hawks, birds, and warm fire or lunch on the back porch in their turns.

People who have watched Jill and me over the years with this flood of souls have opined that if we can stay married, they can as well.  We are happy to be an encouragement.  We think.

And still.  And still some actual listening happens as if magically, as if by Spirit.  It is almost as if Someone granted a couple of kids’ silly requests about which they had no idea what they were asking back those many years ago.

I am going to go stoke the fire now, and enjoy a small lull in the traffic count.


Why Learn More Than Is Needed?

I walked by myself last night.  It was cold with a west wind.  A west wind means that Jill and I walk out with the wind at our backs, and then turn into the wind for the entire walk back.  As I said, I walked alone last night.  

The moon was not up yet and a front was blowing in, so that high cirrus clouds were solid to the north, but splayed from a point to the south.  It was as if an ephemeral octopus’ tendrils were lacing out, trying to hold the sky to its cold self.  

I could see no stars to the south, north, east or west. 

It was only directly above me that the piercing beauty of heaven’s black vault held some steady shining stars through misting cloud or even for seconds — shining brightly above.  

Stunning they were.  No black velvet in Tiffany’s window will ever hold such a diamond or pearl as these.  

But only in snatches, and only for seconds could I make out the head and arms of Orion.  Jupiter shone brightly with Taurus trying to encircle him.  The Sisters were there for a second and gone, and away to the north Cassiopeia reclined at an odd angle.  

It came to me again, that navigators had to learn an entire night sky to be good, to be safe, to survive another night.  In a storm, they could not wait all night to find the single constellation that a neophyte would know.  No, storms are monstrous, unpredictable, and unkind.  The storm might offer a glimpse of the Gemini Twins or Perseus or Cygnus or Pegasus, and only a glimpse of a part of one of them and a navigator had to correctly see that part of that constellation and see it’s orientation and translate that to his course correctly — or wreck on the island lying in his path in the storm.  

An EMT never knows which part of his training she will need on any given call.  A counselor rarely has the option of knowing exactly what he will need at the critical juncture of the upcoming session.  We all learn more than we think we will need. 

The best prepared continue learning, and continue connecting the dots among what they know just like constellations in their knowledge by which they find their way through challenges and storms.

The Psalmist said it glibly, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”  Elsewhere he made it a little more practical: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  

So learn.  Learn more than the professor requires, he has not idea what you will need in your storm(s) to orient you and help you find your true course.  

We are losing the ability to see ourselves as spirit.

We say that we have heart, mind, abilities, skills, emotions and genetics.

We are ceasing to say, “Spirit”. 

We do so at our peril. 

Where people are just bodies then it makes sense to make soldiers of children:  they are cheaper.

Where people are not eternal, it makes sense to accept “x” amount of crime as acceptable: it is population control. 

Where people are only parts of a mass it makes sense to allow relief shipments to sit in warehouses and barter with them for power and favors: the people will die as they always have.

And so on.

It is only if we think that an individual is Spirit, has eternal value, is valued by God who created him or her unique in all the world — that we should move heaven and earth to rescue him, free her, set them in a place with a fighting chance at a full life. 

People are Spirit.  So said God.  So said Jesus.  So that part of God which communicates with us is —- Holy Spirit