Posts

Of Glassblowers & Furnaces

Image
When I was a kid, my grandmother took me to a shop in Manitou Springs, CO, to watch glass-blowing.   I was warned ahead of time and then repeatedly throughout the visit not to touch anything , which made me want to feel the glass products even more, but I resisted, mainly because of the "you-break-it-you-bought-it" warning signs everywhere.  It was amazing to watch the glassblowers. Seeing them take the melted glass from the furnace and then blow it into a long pole while shaping and stretching it with tongs was fascinating.  I remember wondering how they didn't burn the living daylights out of their mouths. I also wondered what would happen if you touched the glass and it hardened around your hand.  These are the things I would still wonder about.   Interestingly, all of these memories came to me this morning when I read this fantastic quote from author John Koenig:  There's a certain art to becoming who you are.  There's no standard kit you can use to assemble y

If You Get Tired, Learn To Rest, Not To Quit

Image
I fell asleep recently while sitting on the couch watching ESPN's Sportscenter.   One moment, I was happily getting recaps on all of the day's sporting news, and the next, I awakened to find my youngest son sitting next to me on the couch, playing video games.  "You were snoring," he told me.  I asked him how long he'd been home from school, and he replied that he'd been home for an hour, gotten a snack, and started playing video games while I slept.  Also, my legs didn't want to work, and making them took me a bit.   After I shared the story with a friend and made some self-critical comments about how I'd wasted so much time, they declared I obviously needed the rest and not to beat myself up.   I'm an Enneagram type 3, which means I am highly task-oriented and focused on ensuring that I appear confident and remain productive even when I'm not feeling either.  So, back to the whole nap thing.  Who beats themselves up for taking a nap when they

Two Stories About Pearls

Image
In Chuang Tzu's writings, translated by Thomas Merton, there is this interesting poem/parable I read and re-read a few times, pondering its meaning. It resonated with me and reminded me of a parable that Jesus taught (more on that in a bit).   Here's the poem in its entirety:  The Yellow Emperor went wandering  To the north of the Red Water To the Kwun Lun mountain. He looked around Over the edge of the world.  On the way home He lost his night-colored pearl.  He sent out Science to seek his pearl, and got nothing.  He sent Analysis to look for his pearl, and got nothing.  He sent  out Logic to seek his pearl, and got nothing.  Then he asked Nothingness, and Nothingness had it! The Yellow Emperor said:  "Strange, indeed: Nothingness  Who was not sent  Who did no work to find it Had the night-colored pearl!"   You might wonder what this has to do with anything Devo-related, and I get that. Stick with me, though; there's so much good stuff in this.  First, you must

We Are Witnesses - Week Three

Image
  It's Eastertide (Season of Easter) We’re going to study the Book of Acts to learn more about the first witnesses of the Resurrection and what we can apply to our own time and place.   Today, we're going to be reading a story from the Book of Acts in which Peter (you know him as the ringleader of the disciples and also the one who betrayed Jesus three times on the night he was put on trial) gets a chance to find restoration and a second chance to do the right thing.   But before we get into that, let me ask you a question:  What Do You Do When You Know You Messed Up? Let’s share some images of people with one job and the like.  What’s the worst thing you’ve ever messed up? Maybe it was something that cost you a job, relationship, money…  What would you have given in that moment to get another chance to do things right?  That’s what we’ll think about in today’s story from Acts.  WHEN YOU WITNESS RESURRECTION, IT RESTORES YOU  Let's provide some background on this passage

When You Lose Your Wonder

Image
Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time. - Diane Ackerman  There are days when the world seems inhospitable for some of us.  As if there weren't enough bad news to go around, we have plenty of our own to handle, both personal and professional.   We find ourselves overwhelmed by the things that must be done and weighted down with the expectations placed on us by others and ourselves.   In those days, we can feel hollow inside, unwilling or unable to tap into our feelings, weary from the regularness of life, and afraid of what might come next to assail us with difficulty.  The most significant loss we suffer when we succumb to the hollowness we are experiencing is our loss of wonder.   There are things to be amazed by all around us, but when we are in the depths of hollowness, it's nearly impossible to raise our heads and see them.  Instead, we just let our gazes dully pass over them without comprehending what life they could give

The Antidote for Toxic Masculinity in the Church

Image
I was reading an article recently about the Stronger Men Conference in Springfield, MO, and how some controversy arose regarding a shirtless, sword-swallowing male acrobat who was part of the Christian conference's entertainment.   During one entertainment portion, a tank driven by Chuck Norris also crushed a couple of cars, but that's beside the point.  Apparently, to some of the dudes gathered at this conference designed to teach men about the subtle art of patriarchy and how to protect it, the acrobat touched a nerve, and their overt homophobia kicked in.  This led to some pretty awful diatribes about LGBTQ+ people and a doubling down on why it's essential to keep "those people" out of church and relegated to the margins of society.  The level of hatred, bigotry, and downright meanness that was put on display was pretty impressive, even for a bunch of fired-up, angry white Christian nationalist dudes.  [To paraphrase Shakespeare here, "Methinks they doth p

Why We Don't Like Certain People

Image
In his book Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, author John Koenig creates words and definitions for the feelings, emotions, and experiences that have never been truly defined.   A particular word and definition in the book caught my attention the other day, and I wanted to share them and explain why they resonated with me so profoundly.   malotype n. a certain person who embodies all the things you like the least about yourself--a seeming caricature of your worst tendencies--which leaves you feeling repulsed and fascinated in equal measure, having stumbled upon a role model of exactly the kind of person you never want to be. Koenig explains that he got the inspiration for his new word from the Latin word malus , which refers to a sculpture mold, essentially a negative image of the object you want to sculpt. There's something about the definition of this word that truly speaks to each of us because we've all had an experience or two in our life when we met someone who we find gives