Thursday, April 26, 2007

AND yet another poem from the Writer's Almanac

Poem: "Unwise Purchases" by George Bilgere from Haywire. © Utah State University Press.
Unwise Purchases

They sit around the house
not doing much of anything: the boxed set
of the complete works of Verdi, unopened.
The complete Proust, unread:

The French-cut silk shirts
which hang like expensive ghosts in the closet
and make me look exactly
like the kind of middle-aged man
who would wear a French-cut silk shirt:

The reflector telescope I thought would unlock
the mysteries of the heavens
but which I only used once or twice
to try to find something heavenly
in the windows of the high-rise down the road,
and which now stares disconsolately at the ceiling
when it could be examining the Crab Nebula:

The 30-day course in Spanish
whose text I never opened,
whose dozen cassette tapes remain unplayed,

save for Tape One, where I never learned
whether the suave American
conversing with a sultry-sounding desk clerk
at a Madrid hotel about the possibility
of obtaining a room
actually managed to check in.

I like to think
that one thing led to another between them
and that by Tape Six or so
they're happily married
and raising a bilingual child in Seville or Terra Haute.

But I'll never know.
Suddenly I realize
I have constructed the perfect home
for a sexy, Spanish-speaking astronomer
who reads Proust while listening to Italian arias,

and I wonder if somewhere in this teeming city
there lives a woman with, say,
a fencing foil gathering dust in the corner
near her unused easel, a rainbow of oil paints
drying in their tubes

on the table where the violin
she bought on a whim
lies entombed in the permanent darkness
of its locked case
next to the abandoned chess set,

a woman who has always dreamed of becoming
the kind of woman the man I've always dreamed of becoming
has always dreamed of meeting.

And while the two of them discuss star clusters
and C├ęzanne, while they fence delicately
in Castilian Spanish to the strains of Rigoletto,

she and I will stand in the steamy kitchen,
fixing up a little risotto,
enjoying a modest cabernet,
while talking over a day so ordinary
as to seem miraculous.

Another poem from the Writer's Almanac

Poem: "Family Reunion" by Jeredith Merrin from Bat Ode. © The University of Chicago Press.
Family Reunion

The divorced mother and her divorcing
daughter. The about-to-be ex-son-in-law
and the ex-husband's adopted son.
The divorcing daughter's child, who is

the step-nephew of the ex-husband's
adopted son. Everyone cordial:
the ex-husband's second wife
friendly to the first wife, warm

to the divorcing daughter's child's
great-grandmother, who was herself
long ago divorced. Everyone
grown used to the idea of divorce

Almost everyone has separated
from the landscape of childhood.
Collections of people in cities
are divorced from clean air and stars.

Toddlers in day care are parted
from working parents, schoolchildren
from the assumption of unbloodied
daylong safety. Old people die apart

from all they've gathered over time,
and in strange beds. Adults
grow estranged from a God
evidently divorced from history;

most are cut off from their own
histories, each of which waits
like a child left at day care.
What if you turned back for a moment

and put your arms around yours?
Yes, you might be late for work;
no, your history doesn't smell sweet
like a toddler's head. But look

at those small round wrists,
that short-legged, comical walk.
Caress your history—who else will?
Promise to come back later.

Pay attention when it asks you
simple questions: Where are we going?
Is it scary? What happened? Can
I have more now? Who is that?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

More great comments and questions!

KATHERINE WROTE:
Wow, I've never been called Kristine before. Karen, Kathleen, Kathy, but never Kristine. It's a new one. ;)I like that joke, as a way to tell people that God doesn't live your life for you. What if God's plan is for me to do something else? How would I know? Although God is certainly capable, I don't know that He has a plan for each of the 6 billion people on the planet. How does free will play into this? Does God have a plan, but gives us the time and choice to see if that if that is the path we will take? I'm interested to hear your answers. Thank you! -Katherine


Sorry Katherine - and I thought I double-checked your name too! Well, now that I go the name right, here are some responses to your questions:

How do we know God's plan and how does free will play into it?

As with many things in life it is trial and error. We learn by stepping out and walking in faith and being open to God's correction and guidance. Learning to dream God's dreams comes by learning as much about God as possible:

Start by listening more to God's word than to all the other words around you.

Read your life through the lense of God's word as opposed to reading God's word through the lense of your life.

Spend some time in Ps 37:4-8
Where it talks about learning to delight yourself in the Lord - and He will give you the desires of your heart - That is a great secret - as you delight in the things of God and do good - your desires, your dreams become closer and closer to God's dreams -

Other helps:
God often speaks through His people. Hang out with people who have followed God for a long time and seen to have a good track record hearing God's voice. Join a Christian small group. Share the hopes and dreams you think God is planting in your life with a safe, wise God-follower and see what they think. This may not always work, but it is a way God uses to confirm his direction.

Attend worship - Of course you would guess a preacher would say this ☺ but it is so true. God often speaks and confirms direction in worship.

Last but not least - PRAY: Ask God to reveal His will to you! James says that we have not because we ask not. Believe it or not God is more interested in helping you find His direction than you are! He wants you to learn to hear His voice and to follow.

Remember - I think this has helped me more than anything else. If I try to follow the clear instructions of the Bible in my everyday life-Simply do as Jesus teaches - all other things seem to fall into place.

Hope this helps!
Steve

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

At last! A comment on a sermon! YES!

I just got the following comment on my blog from Kristine about Sunday's sermon -

"I didn't understand why you clumped all dreams together as useless and non-productive.

Your example was "I'm dreaming of a million dollars, but it ain't happening."

Did you ever hear this joke:
A man, in desperate need of money, prays to God that he win the lottery. "Please God! Let me win a million dollars!"

Nothing happens and the next morning, the man prays again. "Please God! Let this be the day I win a million dollars"

Again, nothing happens. The next morning, the man prays, "Please God! I'll take a thousand dollars. Please help me."

At this point, God felt the need the need to reply to the man, "You're going to have to meet me half way on this one. Buy a lotto ticket."

This isn't implying that God will grant wishes (hence, your sermon about dreams.) But there are dreams that come true and only come true with dedication and a constant eye on that goal/dream. We should discard the unrealistic expectations we have of God and ourselves, but why should we discard the dreams of becoming better people?"

Response -
Kristine thanks for the comments! Your point is well put and I may have over stated my point - I didn't mean to clump all dreams together as useless and non-productuve. I do believe dreams are good and very important to life and growing in the things of God. I was trying to make two points - One is that there is a current philosophy that you can create your own reality by picturing or just imagining what you want. I wanted to point out that that isn't true and we do need to put feet to our dreams -like in your joke. The second point was that if we do seek out and follow after dreams that are not from God, they could affect our lives in a negative way. We can miss out on the things God is dreaming of for in our lives.

The example was:
What if your plan your dream is to own a beautiful home with a 2 car garage, have 2.5 children and maybe a swimming pool - nothing wrong with that dream - BUT you know deep inside and feel that if only this dream would be realized THEN you would be truly happy!
BUT
What if God's plan, God's dream, God's hope for you has nothing to do with working with owning a beautiful home with a two car garage and having 2.5 children and maybe a pool in the backyard?

What if God's plan for you is to work with the children of undocumented farm workers in Watsonville?

What is God's plan for you is to be a doctor - but not in San Jose or Los Angeles or San Francisco but in Malawi?

And what if God knows that only then you would be reasonably happy in this life and ultimately happy in the next?

Hope that helps… I loved the lottery joke!
Steve

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Week Six Guide is ready!

The theme for this week is Bury Dreams– Grow God's Reality.
The disciples had dreams of what would happen when Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God. They dreamed of material prosperity, political freedom, of vengeance against the Romans. These dreams had to be surrendered, as they followed Jesus and learned to dream God's dreams.
Someone once said the problem is not that our dreams are too big, it is that our dreams are too small. Maybe our problem really is that we dream and long for things God never promised or willed for our lives. We all have dreams of how we would like our lives to be. Are we willing to bury those dreams and realize God's dreams for our lives?

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, celebrity Brad Pitt reflected on his lead role in the movie Fight Club, which is about a man who has the American dream and yet remains unsatisfied:

Pitt: Man, I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us—the car, the condo, our version of success—but if that's the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness? If you ask me, I say toss all this—we gotta find something else. Because all I know is that at this point in time, we are heading for a dead end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the spiritual being. And I don't want that.
Rolling Stone: So if we're heading toward this kind of existential dead end in society, what do you think should happen?
Pitt: Hey, man, I don't have those answers yet. The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. [smiles] I'm sitting in it, and I'm telling you, that's not it. I'm the guy who's got everything. I know. But I'm telling you, once you've got everything, then you're just left with yourself. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it doesn't help you sleep any better, and you don't wake up any better because of it. -Rolling Stone (10-28-99)