I'm Chris. Seminary student. Aspiring pastor. Creative-type/Adventurer/Goof-ball.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people; first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy.
A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest -a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Only a life lived for others is worth living.
_ Excerpt from Albert Einstein’s “The World As I See It.”
Whatever you do with your life—whatever you end up achieving or not achieving—the great gift you have in you to give to the world is the gift of who you alone are; your way of seeing things, and saying things, and feeling about things, that is like nobody else’s. If so much as a single one of you were missing, there would be an empty place at the great feast of life that nobody else in all creation could fill.
_ Frederick Buechner
There are many of us who are eager to work for peace, but we don’t have peace within. Angrily we shout for peace, and angrily we shout at the people who, like us, are also for peace. Even people and groups dedicated to peacemaking sometimes fight amongst themselves. If there is no peace in our hearts, there can be no harmony among the peace workers. And if there is no harmony, there is no hope. If we’re divided, if we’re in despair, we can’t serve; we can’t do anything.
_ Thich Nhat Hanh
I’ve just noticed a lot of parallels between historical patterns of vested religious organizations and modern corporations: Denial of facts, fear of education, focus on psychological brand loyalty, growth as bottom-line.
The “mom and pop” stores of religion will never be able to compete with the religious establishment, but we can create communities and relationships and ways of approaching religion that have more to do with the person in front of us than a self-serving anti-kingdom that conscripts people into it’s own purposes.
I want to be part of a grass roots, mustard seed kind of movement with the revolutionary idea that people are more important than what they believe.
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)