I stood on Hope

I stood on Hope

Today, I got to stand on hope. Literally.   My family attended the dedication of the new fountain in our favorite local park. We watched this building project for months in our trips to the park. Few things thrill a little boy’s heart more than watching real, live construction. Few things thrill this mama’s heart more than learning the theme of this new fountain: a Peace Fountain. Before I could even think of the scripture reference for the first verse that came to mind, I learned that powerful words would be etched around this fountain. Quotes from local people who had worked for justice, peace and love would circle around this fountain. I couldn’t wait to see this tangible picture of the prophet’s words, “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24) In our city, like many cities, we need the waters of peace like never before. In our city, like many cities, we have people who work to make the fountain of peace come to life. People gave their time, their expertise. People planted trees, spread pinestraw, and donated bricks. People put themselves into this work. The fountain is the centerpiece of a park that has been brought back to life. The last time this fountain stood tall was about 1934. This area and this park have been through years of neglect and disrepair. But through the work of a community coming together, transformation is there. It is a whole new scene. It looks like hope. When my newsfeed began to fill with responses to the latest violence yesterday, hope was not...
Now It’s Something Else

Now It’s Something Else

The “mom” in me was already excited about this day. A playdate in the park, friends, picnic lunch, fun for the littles that did not require my own Pinterest research, and enough outside play to promise a nap. What’s not to love? The “people person” in me was excited about adult conversation, even if it was interrupted by the occasional “hands to yourself” and “use your nice words” every few minutes. Mostly, the “wondering” in me could not wait to see the owls. I had heard about these owls all week, since they were sculpted by a local artist. There was a massive tree in the middle of the park that needed to be removed. Instead, its trunk became art. A one hundred year old cedar tree that had decayed and been cut to the stump was transformed into an amazing piece of art. Chris Lantz is an artist who uses a chainsaw – a CHAINSAW – to carve and scupt things into beautiful works of art. I’m just going to leave that there for a minute, for you, my preacher-teacher-thinker-artist friends . . . Old tree. Dying. Rather than being removed, it was transformed by an artist with an eye for what could be. Yep. Go right on ahead with your imagery, dreamer friends. It’s all there. Rich history, renewal, artistry, rebirth, wisdom, hope. All of that. And it is the coolest piece of art my child has ever played on. After we marched through the park, our fearless leader Carol had mystified the children with a challenge: “Let’s see if we can find something that used to...
Making a Circle

Making a Circle

The table is where it happens. It’s chaotic, usually. You grab the dishes, make sure there’s something green (or slightly healthy), you pour the milk and get everybody to sit down. Just pause a minute. After the sixth time we put Little One back in his chair and swat the dog away from the table because she is snacking every time we’re not looking, we stop. We pause. We reach out and take hands because we are trying to make a ritual out of this anything-but-refined meal. We sing the blessing and hold the hands. We were at the table this weekend with more guests than usual. For Dad’s birthday, we cooked for him. Nothing says love to Dad like a home cooked meal, so that is what we made. And like we do, we tumbled into the dining room in a chaotic storm. I don’t know how nice, quiet families calmly sit down to a meal, but we are basically the opposite of them. We are a loud whirlwind of plate carrying (husband), telling (Mom), barking (three dogs), commenting (Sister and Brother), requesting (Little One. And his grandmother), bossing (Me), and spilling (husband). The honored guest, dear old Dad, just sat there watching us whirl around him. And then we paused. We reached out hands and began to sing our blessing, when Little One, shouted, “Wait! Look!” He was so excited to recognize what he saw as we held hands: “We making a circle!” Yes, we are. Around the table, our reach to one another shaped something that even this three year old could recognize. Our circle was...
Re-take: Some Lessons for the Church From a Two-Year-Old

Re-take: Some Lessons for the Church From a Two-Year-Old

Around this house, we don’t say “bless you!” when we sneeze. We rarely say “uh-oh” if something spills or slips. If a certain little boy sees you sneeze, drop something or even trip and fall, he has taken to saying “Re-take!” This started because of a video message we sent to a favorite babysitter recently. We were filming him singing happy birthday and he was trying so hard to get it right. Our little production was humming along perfectly until he had a major sneeze in the middle of it. To keeping him from weeping, I said, “Re-take!” with a camera still rolling. And the tradition was born. As he watches this video of his very own self over and over (what, you DON’T watch videos of yourself over and over?) the story has cemented. You mess up, the only proper response is: Re-take! Your perfect, practiced performance gets interrupted by something you didn’t expect? Re-take. This is what I think Church is about. Looking out for one another and remembering to say, “re-take.” Even if the words sound something like “bless you,” the hope behind them is that we are offered and can offer forgiveness, resurrection and peace. We are reminded that second chances and re-starts are available to us. And the reminder comes from someone near to us, unfazed by our blunders, maybe laughing but still shouting, “Re-take!” You might also enjoy these posts...
A Letter to a Baby Girl Born on Good Friday

A Letter to a Baby Girl Born on Good Friday

**This is dedicated to baby Julia, born today to our sweet friends, Angela and Adam. ** Dear one, We have waited for you, hoped for you. Your mama, daddy, grandparents, cousins, family, and friends can’t wait to see you and say that because you are here, this is surely a good day We woke up this morning glad that we can mark this day as the one that brought more joy into the world. We know how we have done Good Friday in the past remembering the darkness, remembering the words that we have chiseled down to neat phrases we can handle: I thirst, My God, It is finished. But it isn’t. Not for you, beautiful girl. It is just beginning. And there we are. On this day, when we all look to the cross, toward its rugged vulnerability we also look at your sweet face, tiny and tender. On this day, when so many mothers weep for children around the world, when fathers fear the broken systems that threaten their boys and girls, we hear your tiny cry. And it is a sound that stirs us to forever circle you in peace. We listen fiercely to your whimpers and your wails and we promise, like all the mothers and fathers that everything is gonna be okay. Shh, hush, dear one. It’s all going to be okay. The hush proclaimed by so many faithful folks tonight is about just that, sweet girl. All the wails and hurts and whimpers of brokeness that we see in all the cracks in our hearts and our days and our cities are met...
Something in the Water

Something in the Water

I had not planned on bringing my two-year old into the Vespers service Sunday evening. But plans change, and he ended up with me standing tip toe on the back pew, giving commentary every two seconds: “Dat’s water?” Yes, I told him. “Dat’s the big boys, IN the water?” Yes. We’re Baptists, so we go all in. Chest deep into the pool at the front of the chapel. (He’s a fan of the big boys – 4th and 5th graders mostly) “What dey laughin’ about?” That, I couldn’t tell you, son. The precious boy standing in the baptismal waters was CRACKING up. And I loved it. He got so tickled and couldn’t stop. I mean, lots of people get emotional in this moment of symbolism. But laughter during a baptism delighted me as much as when a couple gets the giggles and laughs during their wedding. It’s just effervescent joy. There was so much joy in the chapel. It so happened that this crew of five baptismal candidates were all related: siblings and cousins. It makes sense, really. As one kiddo begins conversations about their faith journey, the ones listening nearby start to get in on the conversation, too. And once they had each proclaimed to their church that they were ready to go all in and let baptism mark their identity, it was a little hilarious to hear about how they coached each other through the actual event of getting soaking wet in the baptismal pool. Standing in the back, the 6th grade girl turned to Pastor Jake and said, “Can I ask you something?” He nodded and...