Posted by: DCox | December 19, 2010

Words that paint pictures

My son sent this poem to me today. We both have begun to enjoy poetry during the last couple of years. I’ve always thought it hard to understand, but perhaps that’s reading from the head rather than the heart.

From Blossoms
by Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Posted by: DCox | December 18, 2010

Returning …

I took a hiatus from my blog for several months.

Followers of Christ believe that relationships are highly significant; they are the mileau in which we can learn about grace, forgiveness, and have some of our sharp edges softened. I’ve been thinking about the impact of social media on relationships. I have a social network through facebook which has reduced the number of personal e-mail I write. I have a blog but the trend now is micro-blogs … tweeting.

Having moved so many times, I have few friends in my new locale. I need a place to dialogue, even if it’s only with myself. However, comments are welcome.

I want to think out loud about beauty, grace, freedom, and abundant life. Things I know so little about, but for which I have a deep yearning.

Posted by: DCox | April 4, 2010

Homelessness – Minnesota Style

Homeless is a growing problem in Minnesota. Here’s the latest stats, an editorial from the StarTribune, and a friend’s efforts to address this issue.

from Wilder Research
NUMBER OF HOMELESS PEOPLE IN MINNESOTA: 1991-2009

 

 

 

 

 

 




Nick Coleman: An argument on behalf of the homeless
from StarTribune 4/4/10

Although research shows that most of the problem is due to such things as lack of medical care, untreated mental illness and joblessness, it is true that some very bad choices have been made. But not by the poor. By the rich, by the powerful, and by the politicians whose policies, heartless budget-cutting and blind eye to the effects of their decisions have sent the numbers of needy people soaring.



Think Out Loud: Music Fighting Homelessness
Tyler Blanski is working on a CD featuring a variety of local musicians. The proceeds are going towards fighting homeless.  Watch a YouTube video about the project.

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Posted by: DCox | March 7, 2010

Real Prayer

“Do you want to ask the blessing?”

“No. If you do, go ahead.”

He went ahead: his prayer dressed up

in Sunday clothes rose a few feet

and dropped with a soft thump.


If a lonely soul did ever cry out

in company its true outcry to God,

it would be as though at a sedate party

a man suddenly removed his clothes

and took his wife passionately into his arms.

– by Wendell Berry from his book Leavings

Posted by: DCox | February 21, 2010

Everybody Knows Your Name

This weekend I sat in a coffee house with my wife reading the paper. I finished before she did, so I took some time to look at my surroundings.

I found the place aesthetically appealing and the marketing colorful and savvy. Yet I was reminded that it’s a shadow of the beauty in nature – there was a three panel black and white photo of snow-capped, rugged mountains. The edges were sharp and there was a fierceness associated with the beauty; everything seemed more real than my present reality. Then I returned by attention to the marketing of cups and coffee and remembered that it’s purpose was to sell the product. Materialism dims the beauty of things; the edges seem dull and less solid.

People watching is another fun thing to do while drinking coffee. I noticed that there were a few small groups of friends chatting, but the majority of the people were alone – alone with a book, or with streaming Internet. Yet I know that one of the reasons I go to the same coffee house on are regular basis is so “everybody will know my name” [Cheers]. I’m looking for community. I found that at a neighborhood Starbucks in Colorado Springs. I knew all the employees and they knew me by name. I also chatted with some of the regulars and became familiar with when groups would frequent the shop. There was a group of “roadies” on Sunday morning. From 7:30 to 9 am on weekdays, I often found a life coach in the shop reading. Yet, I haven’t been able to repeat this experience at other coffee houses – perhaps because I have less time to give to hanging out at one of these establishments. Even at its best, the community was a bit of an illusion. Once again there was dullness in comparison to what I imagine real community looks like.

I suppose for this time we settle for glimmers of what is more solid and real. Yet if we are quiet, we realize there is more than what we surround ourselves with.

Posted by: DCox | February 16, 2010

One Story – Two Story-lines

I recently heard/read three different versions of the story of God and man – all from Christian perspectives. I’ve been thinking about two of them during much of my waking hours recently; even if only subconsciously.

The first story is the story of a Son coming to earth to die a horrendous death so that other men (women) can be forgiven their sin and then become citizens of the kingdom of God.

The second story is the story of a Bridegroom pursing his bride. The bride is his dearly beloved from before time. The pursuit takes place across time with the Bridegroom desiring to lavish his love on his bride, yet waiting until the time is right for consummation.

The first story is inspiring and in fact we can envision the Son as a true hero saving others. The story allows us to contemplate the ideas of mercy and grace. But as the Son departs for another place, how do you suppose those that the Son died for feel over time? Do they forget the Son’s willingness to die? Do they attempt to live better lives in an attempt to be worthy of His sacrifice? Do they condemn those that don’t live to the established standards that have become the norm for followers of the Son?

Returning to the second story – Now who doesn’t like a good love story? This strikes the heart of every man, woman, and child. Love that is unconditional. Love that delights in another’s being. Love that pursues the loved one. This is the love of a lover that we all desire. In this person’s arms, we find freedom, fulfillment, joy. We respond in kind, loving freely and ferociously back. Things are right with the world because our place in it is secured. Our being is celebrated.

Again, one Story, told two different ways. Things to be learned from each version. I know that I want and need to hear more about the love story. It needs more press time, because it’s seldom told; we need it to be told time and time again.

Posted by: DCox | February 15, 2010

Leadership Lessons

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. The embedded YouTube video stimulated me to get back onboard.

Here’s Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Guy…

Posted by: DCox | December 6, 2009

“and I was a Stranger, and you…”

These are the words of Jesus …

I was a stranger, and you invited me in … Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, Lord when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in? … And the King will answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me” – Matthew 25:35-40

In my work with World Relief Minnesota, these verses have taken on more meaning. The refugee certainly is included in the category – the stranger. When Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment in the Law, He responds by saying love the Lord with all you being, and the second is like it “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Do see refugees as our neighbor?

In the future, I’ll be blogging about refugees and immigrants on the World Relief Minnesota website.

Posted by: DCox | November 15, 2009

Fractured and Flawed

In several recent blogs, I’ve talked about being safe in the church. If you’re a follower of Jesus, then you are a part of this thing called the Church – the group of all believers throughout history and manifesting itself in a variety of ways locally over the centuries.

Yet if you don’t feel safe in the local expression of the church – which I would suggest is more about how the church has assimilated the greater culture, than it is about the failings of specific local churches – then the result is a split within the self. I am a member of the Church, yet I feel varying levels of discomfort there. I’m fractured because out of fear I avoid something I’m called to be part of. Some of my greatest wounding has happened there and yet it also has the potential to bring transformative healing.

I’ll continue this discussion in another blog. Right now I want to share part of a poem that talks to me about embracing my own flaws and experiencing the pain of aloneness that comes with that experience … and eventually coming out the other side. Coming out the other side to experience the unconditional love of God the Father and knowing that my own wounds and those I’ve inflicted are part and parcel of the creature that is loved by the Father.

The Faces at Braga by David Whyte

wood face…. If only our faces
would allow the invisible carver’s hand
to bring the deep grain of love to the surface

If only we knew
as the carver knew, with the flaws
in the wood led his searching chisel to the very core,

we would smile too
and not need faces immobilized
by fear and the weight of things undone.

When we fight with our failing
we ignore the entrance to the shrine itself
and wrestle with the guardian, fierce figure on the side of good.

And as we fight
our eyes are hooded with grief
and our mouths are dry with pain.

If only we could give ourselves
to the blows of the carver’s hands,
the lines in our faces would be the trace lines of rivers
feeding the sea
where voices meet, praising the features
of the mountain and the cloud and the sky.

Our faces would fall away
until we, growing younger toward death
everyday, would gather our flaws in celebration

to merge with them perfectly,
impossibly, wedded to our essence,
full of silence from the carver’s hands.

Posted by: DCox | November 4, 2009

Becoming the Church of the Poor

pmt_bread

When we claim our own poverty and connect our poverty with the poverty of our brothers and sisters, we become the Church of the poor, which is the Church of Jesus. Solidarity is essential for the Church of the poor. Both pain and joy must be shared. As one body we will experience deeply one another’s agonies as well as one another’s ecstasies. As Paul says: “If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain. And if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy” (1 Corinthians 12:26).



If each of us could admit that we are fundamentally flawed, that would go a long way to making the Church the Church of the poor. The Church of the poor is a church that is safe because there isn’t the dynamic of pretense. The Church of the poor is a place where mercy and grace are readily received and passed forward. Reciprocity is possible because we truly understand we are broken and the recipient of God’s unconditional love. What could be better?

Unfortunately, so many of us in the Church are afraid of knowing the depth of the poverty of our lives. We avoid pain like the plague.

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