I'm Chris. Seminary student. Aspiring pastor. Creative-type/Adventurer/Goof-ball.
Togetherness in this sense is the watchword of our times. It seems that it is more and more a substitute for God. In the great collective huddle, we are desolate, lonely, and frightened. Our shoulders touch, but our hearts cry out for understanding without which there can be for the individual no life, and certainly no meaning.
_ Howard Thurman (via thesanctuariesdc)
In 2008, after not seeing him for 10 years, my Dad called me to tell me he was dying. It seems to me now that he probably didn’t think he’d make it five years, but that simple phone call led to me taking a roadtrip to Miami to see this man I didn’t really know. To my surprise when I arrived, I did know the man in front of me. I knew his face even though it had wrinkled, his posture even though it had sagged, his voice even though it had grown weary.
But he didn’t really know me anymore. The small child who ran into his arms with all the admiration in the world had grown up. The awkward 15 year-old who got to spend 9 months with his Dad was gone too. I’m sure that must have been hard for him to see decades of neglect no longer out of sight or out of mind. There I stood, a full-grown man in the place of the once-small child who adored his father.
We exchanged pleasantries. I told him about school, work, girls. He told me about his next business scheme, his medical problems, and his wife who had left him. Little did we realize that the next few years would leave him even more alone and ill. I saw him a few more times that year, but I eventually moved across the country making it hard to visit. A couple of years ago I sent him a belated Christmas present. It was simply a couple of framed photos of my life: My brother and I, some adventures, a baby photo. He called the next week. The first time since 2008. And I missed it.
I still have the voicemail, his medicated and slurred words made even more intelligible by his weeping. This was a bond we shared: An aching acknowledgement that it could have been different. He could have stayed in touch. He could have worked to save his family. He could have been a father and friend. His absence has been a defining part of my life and it never had to be that way. He knew it. I knew it. Those tears told me everything.
He passed away at some point between last night and today and now there’s no longer any possibility of things being different. Now all I have is those voicemail tears filled with decades of regret. And that’s the most painful thing of all. It’s painful to think that in another world I could have been by his side, mourning my father and not just the memory of the man I once knew. The choices we make seem small in the moment. But they are huge. And he learned it the hard way.
I wish it had been different, too, Dad. I love you anyway.
And I’m glad you called. I just wish I had told you the little boy was still standing there.
The mornings are my little secrets. I slip from my bed and its
warmth. Sidestepping around my drowsiness and tying my sneakers, I
hope not to awaken the anxiety of the day. I reach for the front door,
wondering if the energy of the cool breeze will fill my lungs and set me
on my way. It does. Whether mist or sunshine, rain or wind, I become
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Philippians 4:6-9 (The Message)
The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology. And ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements… The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of [sic] the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians.
_ Pope Francis. Amazing.
Use your life to help people. This has been the most fulfilling thing I’ve learned.
MIT Theoretical Physicist Alan Lightman’s answer to my question:
I’m a 20-something seminary student. What advice do you have for me, either from a scientific worldview or from your own personal one?”
Learned this one today: In the 11th century a French Rabbi wrote this translation of Genesis 2:18:
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man is alone; I shall make him a helpmate opposite him.”
Many modern bibles translate this as “helper.” But the Hebrew is more specific than just relegating women to mere “helpers.” Rather, Rabbi Rashi had this to say:
a helpmate opposite him: If he is worthy, she will be a helpmate. If he is not worthy, she will be against him, to fight him. — [from Gen. Rabbah 17:3, Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer , ch. 12. See also Yev. 63a]
Dang. Gotta respect the ladies!