Monday, December 28, 2015

Who is George Lucas?

(I wrote the following story a number of years ago, but it seems appropriate to repost it at this time, considering the notable records the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens has already achieved. Hope you enjoy it!)

We can thank my mother-in-law for introducing Star Wars into our children’s lives by getting our 5 year old son his first Star Wars LEGO set.  He ripped the boxes open and within seconds our home was invaded by the Imperial Stormtroopers and the Droids.

I was mortified.

Star Wars?!!! He is waaay too young for Star Wars!

It wasn’t the complexity of the building process I was concerned about, because that never seemed to be a problem for our pint-size engineer. What bothered me much more was a matter of introducing complex adult issues into his immature mind, and the challenge that creates for me as his parent. But, like it or not, the door was open and there was no going back.  From that day on, my son turned into a miniature StarWars-maniac.  So far, he’s been mostly preoccupied with recreating cosmic wars against his little sister. Along the way he somehow acquired a prodigious amount of information about the characters and the plot and various twists and turns in the storyline.  He learned the difference between the Imperial and the Rebel blaster, the who’s who and what’s what of the Imperial Army and the Rebel Alliance, and all the whys and therefores of the narrative that molded the worldview of generation after generation since the first movie was released.  He bought a Star Wars Visual Dictionary with his own money(!) that looks more like Encyclopedia Britannica to me. 

Now, all this wouldn’t be so surprising if it wasn’t until this afternoon, years after the initial encounter, that he saw his very first Star Wars movie.  Episode IV, to be more precise, which I picked up from our local library.   Watching him watch the movie was as much (or more) fun as watching the movie itself.   It was as if he had all these loose pieces of a puzzle, and he finally saw how they all fit together, he could finally place them in their exact spots in the larger, 4-D story-puzzle.  His delight was quite contagious. During dinner, he continued chatting enthusiastically about all the fascinating trivia he picked up during the afternoon Star Wars extravaganza.  In the course of the conversation, my husband casually mentioned George Lucas and what his intent might have been for the unfolding of the various episodes in a certain sequence.

George… Lucas?!!  Our son muttered hesitantly… And who is this George Lucas? There was no doubt that he was utterly confused.  You could tell that he was scrolling down the imaginary database of Star Wars names and faces,  from Emperor Palpatine through Chewbacca and Ewoks, but there was no suitable match for the name “George Lucas”.

It was now our turn to be confused. How is it possible that with all these years of borderline obsession with the Jedi and their pecking order, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, R2D2 and Obi-Wan Kenobi, our son never ever heard the name George Lucas? We looked at each other and burst into laughter.

Hmmm...George Lucas….  George Lucas….  Well, he is kind of like God to the world of Star Wars. Without him, there would be no Star Wars, nor the galaxy, nor anybody or anything else belonging to this galaxy far, far away.  He created it all.  This amazing world exists because it first existed in the mind of George Lucas.

It took several minutes for the news to settle in his shaken-to-the core 9 year old mind screaming for a paradigm shift. Until this moment of revelation he was so preoccupied with the fascinating universe which George Lucas had created that for a brief while he simply couldn’t contain the information about the existence of the creator of that universe.

There…there is a George Lucas… there IS a George Lucas and I never even knew it! 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Empty Chair of Christmas

At first, it looked like it was going to be the best of both worlds.

Except for a little mishap at the departure – when one of the giant bags overstuffed with gifts burst open as it was checked in – the journey went without a hitch.  And even the unfortunate bag, hastily refilled with all the gifts so nothing was lost, then saran-wrapped so it could, if need be, withstand a flight to space and back, made it safely along with all its contents.

The question still remains unanswered… how does one cram all the love that’s inside a heart into a giant suitcase?

Then came joyful reunion.  The hugs and the kisses. The celebration on both sides of the globe, and a huge sigh of relief.  The unpacking. The ooohs and the aaaahs over the exotic cargo, an intoxicating taste of a far off country . The cross-cultural mission accomplished. Raving success.

On both sides of the vast ocean everyone is busy with their Christmas preparations. The gifts to buy and make. The decorations and the lights. The cooking and the baking.  The tablecloths and the stemware.

The distance divides.

The distance unites.

Then, at just the right hour, everyone gathers – separated and united at the same time by the grainy video feed filled with jubilant faces.  Everyone is cramming together peeking, waving, nodding, calling out.  So much noise you can barely hear yourself.

It’s all good.  All around good.

Until over the din of excitement and the party noise somebody says,



Not good??? What do you mean it’s not good?  Everything is GREAT!

Everyone else nods.

Yea.  It’s all good.  All very, very good.

But the one insists that there is something that is not good.

The rest are finally silenced.

The chairs, the renegade points, These chairs are EMPTY! That’s NOT GOOD. We MISS YOU.  We miss you HERE. We miss you bad. I miss you here, sitting in these chairs next to me.

The rest, having been temporarily lost in the jubilation of successful mission, agree.

It’s just not complete without you.

And so, as long as there are two worlds, there will always be some chairs left empty.  

Heaven’s gain, earth’s loss. 

Heaven’s loss, earth’s gain. 

There are empty chairs in each of our lives, even as we celebrate the good.

Which makes me think that there was another chair left empty – that remained empty – in heaven for thirty-some Christmases.  A chair next to the Father’s, while angels and saints celebrated… Christmas in, and Christmas out…. and muttered to each other,

We miss Him here… We miss Him bad. It’s just not the same here without Him…

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.  2 Corinthians 8:9

Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2:6-9

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Racing the Mousetrap Car of Fear

Earlier today we received an automated call from the Superintendent of our children’s public school district with the following message:

This morning the OCPS staff discovered a threatening email similar to those received in other large districts, including LA, NY, Miami, Houston and Broward, where they were deemed to be less than credible. We have established communications with law enforcement agencies and are following appropriate protocol. We wanted to share this information with you and will keep you informed. A regular school day is expected today and tomorrow. Principals have been asked to stay alert and keep students calm and focused on instruction.

Just what a parent wants to hear. 

I am not kidding. I mean it. 


Keep Calm.  Stay focused on instruction.

Keep Calm and Study On.

After all, it’s just a bomb threat.

Of course, inside this mother's heart there is a little panic button going off, demanding immediate action. It's soooo easy to freak out. To be hijacked by terror. Especially for parents. Including those who are celebrating the birth of their Savior during this season. It would be so easy to race to the school, wheels of composure and joy and peace falling off, and instigate and/or fuel even more disruption. Ricochet off each other's frantic-parent fear. Perhaps even sow some animosity and hatred.

But, I am so tired of panic.  I am just plain old exhausted from all the endless potential threats and fears they fuel and the life-sucking effect they have on all of us.  I am not going to let yet another day be ruined by it's false alarm. 

And what if it's nor false? 

Well, in that case, I'll need all the presence of mind and composure I could muster to deal with a real emergency that I can't afford to waste the precious emotional and physical resources on the cowards hiding behind the Internet anonymity for their fear-mongering tactics.
Image result for mousetrap car

And this afternoon when I pick up my kids from school, the first question out of my mouth is going to be,

How did the mousetrap car race go? Did the wheels stay on, or did they fall off?

But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Partners in Crime

Maybe it’s because I live in the world of tight schedule, answering machines and playing phone tags ….

Where making advance appointments is expected not just for doctors and oil changes, dentist visits and air conditioner tune ups…

But also for seeing friends …

Where talking to a real person and not a recording is scarce like snow in Florida (it DID happen ONCE last year!)

So, when,

in the throes of the busyness of Christmas season,

I send a tentative text…

Me: Good morning J Two questions

Julie: Yes…

Me: Before that, a warning…
Me: I need a partner in crime.

A rather frivolous, a quite innocuous crime, I must add…

And while I am still pecking at my screen, explaining the nature of the crime, stating the two yes-or-no questions…

Back and forth, back and forth…

I lift my head and look up

through the dining room window

and see her there, laughing!

A blue van decorated with Christmas lights parked in our driveway, the engine still running…

And my jaw drops and hits the floor…

Maybe it’s because I live in the world of schedules and important priorities, answering machines and advance appointments…

When someone like my friend Julie shows up in my driveway while I am still texting…

Her schedule as busy with responsibilities, obligations, kids, to-do lists and what-nots, as anyone else's I know…

Especially during the hectic Christmas season….

And yet

A ready partner in crime…

Rather frivolous crime…

So frivolous someone may consider it a pure waste of time…

Precious time that could have been spent on something more useful….

More important….

More dire…

While the rest of the world is busy with useful, important and dire…

She lights up my driveway with laughs…

And helps me scrape my chin off the floor.

And helps me 'hide' the evidence -

Reminding me that ‘hiding the evidence’ is part of committing a crime,

as if deaf to all the shoulds and shouldn’ts screaming inside my head and only hearing the laughter of the opportunity to be a partner in crime…

in whatever

as long as we get to be together …

No plan, no schedule, just a spur-of-the-moment silliness…

…And my heart bursts with thanks to God for allowing me to have a friend like Julie in my life…

A friend who shows up not just for life-and-deaf emergency, but for just-because.

Who shows up while I am still texting, before I am even able to finish the sentence.

Perhaps it’s only because I live in the world where one must set up appointments, and plan according to the priorities, the busy world of goals and accomplishments and no time left just to be…

And to be a partner in a frivolous crime…

No time for laughter in the driveway…

And no time for hiding the evidence the way child hides the crumbs and sticky fingers after eating a chocolate-chip cookie…

Where God appears more like a CEO or a president or at least a manager, with important world-saving jobs and soul-budgeting priorities, where one must set up an appointment and not just show up…

Where God appears way too lofty to join me as a partner in an utterly frivolous crime…

Too preoccupied with clearly more important things than to light up my driveway with the light of His laughter, the way the angels lit up the sky over the shepherds' field that night…

But He - He sends me a friend like Julie to remind me it’s only because I live in this world that I think…

It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

Friday, December 11, 2015

This Old Dresser

Maybe it’s because in the place where I live, we discard old, broken, damaged or just perfectly good but ugly things without a second thought…

In the place where repair is a lot more time-consuming, more hassle and more costly than just replacing the old with the new…

So, one would think that Jeff came from a different planet... 

When someone like Jeff comes along, and describes

what somebody else labeled as

THAT piece of JUNK!

- which I later tucked away in the guest bedroom,

too embarrassed for anyone else to see it -

But he… he describes it using words like




as if utterly blind to its woeful actuality and only seeing its far off future potential …

…I think,

 I need more people like Jeff in my life

Someone who is undaunted by the damage…

By scarred, ugly exterior…

Someone who is not intimidated by the enormity of the restoration task ahead…

Someone who, without blinking an eye, says,

Of course it’s worth it!

The labor.  The mess. Battling the desire to quit…

Someone who doesn’t leave me alone to figure it all out, but comes alongside and not just says but does the work, We can do it! It’s no trouble at all…

Someone who makes me think,

If an old beat up dresser is worth it in someone's eyes....

Worth the trouble....

Worth the mess...

Could it be.... that a person – an old, damaged, broken, beat-up man or a woman, 

like you and me  – 

is worth the trouble....

Worth the mess...

Worth the time?

Perhaps it’s only because we live in the world where old, broken, damaged things… and people… are treated as junk… easily discarded without a second thought… replaced by a newer model with barely a shrug…

...that people like Jeff give me just the right gentle kick in my perspective pants…and I look at the old beat-up dresser, and old beat-up men and women (including the one in the mirror) with a pair of brand new perspective eyes....

A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. Isaiah 42:3

Friday, December 04, 2015

Pass Some Perspective, Please

It doesn’t take me long to figure out that without proper point of perspective my house turns into a crammed in, jumbled up mess.  A caving roof-line.  Distorted siding. Crooked doors and windows and a leaning chimney.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines perspective as the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.

Do I hear anybody say, I need perspective?

But where in the world, and how do you get, train, cultivate, develop this capacity of seeing not just drawing but our entire lives and their many diverse components in their true relation to each other.  How do I gain understanding of the relative importance of each and with that understanding put them in their rightful, appropriate place at this time in history.

After all, who wants to end up with a mess of a house that caves in on itself?

The point of perspective – it’s actually called the vanishing point of perspective – rests on the horizon line where heaven and earth meet.  Mostly we experience it as peaceful coexistence, each doing their own thing, each minding its own business. But, recorded history indicates that there were and are many many instances of heaven and earth touching, skimming, mingling together, even igniting!

There is only one life, however, that perfectly embodied this unity symbolized by the horizon line. A life that came from what we as humans view as eternity past – before Abraham was I AM - but was uniquely formed at a specific point in history inside a virgin womb of a teenage girl impregnated by the Holy Spirit.

Welcome to first Christmas. 

The vanishing point of perspective for each of us clobbering together our houses and our lives. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

How to Make a Point

Right now there are five lines defining my page.

First, there is Horizon. A line where earth and sky meet.  A junction of heaven and earth. Normally, I don’t think too much about this line, because it’s waaaay out there.  Somewhere in an undetermined distance that has very little relevance on my day-to-day nose-in-the-stuff-of-life existence.

But, on this page, the horizon line runs smack dab through my house! Or rather the leaning rectangle representing my house. This little fact makes intersection of heaven and earth a lot more personal.  Perhaps too close for my comfort.  Almost, how shall I put it,  intrusive?

I like to run my own earth-bound life and leave the domain of heaven to the management of those much more qualified than yours truly.

It turns out, it gets even more intrusive than that. But, I don’t know that yet.

I unpause the video, ready for the next step. The disembodied hand of the anonymous YouTuber leads me to a place I will later realize I am not ready to go.

He picks a spot – a  tiny dot – a point – on the horizon’s continuum. This little dot is the ‘point’ part from the one-point perspective.

This tiny dot on the horizon line where heaven and earth mesh together – or crash together – depends how you look at it -  determines my perspective.

I notice that the dot, or rather - the point – isn’t inside my house. It’s outside.

In fact, it’s so far out on the horizon line that it actually falls off my paper!

I realize my point of perspective doesn’t fit my 8 1/2 by 11 sheet. I hesitate a bit and decide I must squeeze it in, I must make it fit. I go as far as I could to the edge and pick a point that still fits my little drawing pad. 

It makes sense.  I see no harm. What could possibly go wrong by moving your point of perspective to fit your page?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Blurred Lines

Four intersecting lines – two horizontal and two vertical now define my house – a simple rectangle, really just a box, a container.  The horizon cuts through the length of the house, beyond its walls, beyond the page, from one infinite end to the other infinite end.

I look at those intersecting lines, reflecting what they might represent…

Date of birth?

Time of death?

My departures?

My returns?

Natural gifts, abilities, flaws?

I sense there is more to this house than these four lines. 

The seemingly empty space surrounding them and the space filling their insides pushes on both sides of these lines.

The external forces of culture - the time and the place I 'randomly' occupy at any given moment? Its history? Its daily buzz-feed?

The internal forces of family of origin? Family by grace? Friends, enemies, frenemies? 

The unrepeatable mixture of nature and nurture that creates the unrepeatable one-of-a-kind you and me.

Where the black lines intersect is where I sense the lines being blurred the most...

Compassion and caution…

Grace and truth…

Mercy and justice…

I feel thoroughly inadequate to sustain such structure, deeply aware of the finite capacity of my life to embody any one of those. I sense that forces of life in and around me constantly blurring these lines. 

My reality tugging against the imagined ideal.

I know that in and of my unaided self, I am destined to fail. My house to crumble. My ideals to crash and burn.

I need something outside this structure to anchor its walls and roof, its windows and doors.  

A foundation that runs deeper than the bottom line, much deeper than even the bottom of my page. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

How to Draw a Line

In the world where words - even the best ones - have become so threadbare from overuse and misuse, art has a way of bypassing our natural cynicism and defenses, touching us in places few preachers can reach.

I am practically glued to YouTube, watching an instructional video on single-point perspective.  I must have worn out the digital replay button, by hitting it so many times.  I virtually memorized the whole darn thing!

What makes the video so mesmerizing is that they make it look so easy. So simple.  I can’t help but think,

I can DO this! Piece of cake!

One day, after everybody left for school and work and whatnot,  I finally decide it’s time to move from endless consumption to actual creation. 

I get a piece of paper and pencil - AND eraser - feeling jittery before I take my first plunge into the creative unknown.

My laptop is cued to the beginning of the video, the paper in front of me, the pencil in my hand, and …

I draw my first line! 

A long horizontal line stretching across the length of the paper representing horizon. 

It's beautiful! 

Even though it’s a bit slanted, and a little jagged, I feel pretty accomplished. Like a proud parent cradling a wrinkled, squinty-eyed newborn. 

We are off to a great start.

The next line is the real deal.  This is where my house actually starts.

Suddenly I am not so sure anymore. In a moment of panic I hit the 'pause' button.

I realize,

I don’t know where to start.

I don’t know when to end.

Who knew that drawing a line can be so hard!

After few moments of deliberation, I decide to pick a random spot to start and equally random spot to end. I mean it’s not rocket science.  What difference does it make…?  I can’t get bogged down with such inconsequential details!

Regardless of how you might feel about Aristotle, there is something to be said about art mimicking life.

It may not be what we like, it may not be what we want, but it's a truth we need to see. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

In the Name of L'Amoure

By now, everyone knows. It happened in Paris.

I guess that makes all the difference.

Not because citizens of Paris are any better or more worthy than the rest of us. Or people who live in any other place on Earth plagued by terrorism are less valuable. Or the death-deifying act less abhorrent.

Whenever civilian blood is shed in violence – in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Nigeria, New York City, Beirut – no man is an island. Every loss of human life diminishes me and you. Every life matters. Ask a parent who lost a child.  A wife who lost her husband and father of her children.

Most of us react to news of a terrorist attack with shock and disbelief. A natural reaction to violence is fear, anger and desire for revenge. 

But there is something about Paris, about what the City of Light unambiguously stands for, that fuels a different response. That makes me want to defy this stupid death rampage with life.

Defy this blindness and darkness with light.

Defy hate with love.

Because sometimes it takes tremendous amount of courage to get out of bed the next morning and embrace life.

To get up even as the silence envelopes the mourners like French flag and dare to eat a croissant in the name of love.

To share a glass of blood-red Bordeaux in the name of life.

To plant a garden, make love, say a prayer for all devastated by the tragedy (which one of us is not, in some way, some measure?), do whatever it is that in our small piece of Paris inside our heart affirms life.  

Which also makes me think of something else. 

Something I can do to stop taking my own life and people in it for granted. 

Something I can do to banish the forces of death, subtle as they may be, in my own life. Bring the Kingdom of Life and Light nearer.

Right here. 

Right now.

I don’t wan to wait until tomorrow.

To DO.
In the name.
In the name of
La Ville Lumiere.
In the name of

Because that's what the God who came to live among us stands for. Love. Light. Life.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Friday, November 13, 2015

How to Overcome Your Fear of Just About Anything

Everyone who knows me would say that there is an undeniable artistic vein in me, but not everyone knows that I suck at drawing. I can draw a stick figure and even that not very well.

And that’s about it.

It’s rather embarrassing.

My sister is a successful architect who runs her own business. My niece has Masters Degree in Fine Arts. Both my kids surpassed me in their artistic abilities when they entered second grade.

Truly they left me in the chalk dust.

I am not comparing but it’s plain humiliating.

Surprisingly enough, living my artistically challenged life while surrounded with prodigies hasn’t been enough to get me to overcome my fear of blank sheet of paper inside a drawing pad.

In fact, I think it only pushed me deeper into a hidey hole.

I admit, I have remarkable capacity to bury my fears deep down where nobody can see them.  And then pretend that I don’t even care.

That was then.

I can’t  quite put my finger exactly on what pushed me over the edge this time.

Maybe it's a midlife crisis.  I am too old not to know how to draw like a fourth or a fifth grader!

Perhaps it’s been a cumulative effect of tiny victories in overcoming my fear of baking, fear of knitting and crocheting, fear of Spanish and French. Fear of painting wood cabinets. Fear of experts.  Fear of amatures. Fear of…

Now you must think… Wow, that’s a lot of fears! And since curious minds want to know, you probably wonder,

How in the world did you overcome all those fears?

As much as I may want to say, I just prayed and Jesus took all those fears away, which, of course, is 100% true, the answer goes even deeper than that.

It’s called YouTube.

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Alien Invasion

It’s confirmed.  The date is set. It’s been a very long time – a forever of kind - since the last visit, but now all the details leading up to this eagerly awaited return are fully set in motion.

I guess it’s safe to announce, barring God’s miraculous intervention that my dad is coming! And my mom, too!!

I am so excited .  And I am terrified.

There is a huge difference between looking forward to some day in a distant future, and knowing the actual date just few weeks away.

Amidst cleaning and pruning, I find myself examining my life with their presence in view all the time. 

Their values.  

Their priorities. 

This is quite a challenge, because I’ve gotten somewhat comfortable in my northern American routine. I had to figure out a way to make it work for me and for my family.

But, now, that they are coming, I sense a force beyond my control, pulling me back.  Pulling me out. 

See, for all practical purposes, my parents could be landing in Florida from a completely different planet.  When they get here, they’ll be like extraterrestrials.   They don’t speak English.   They don’t own a car, a smart phone or computer.  I don’t even know if they ever heard of Facebook or Twitter or even a blog!

They are not going to ask me questions like, How’s you blog doing? Does your son have any followers on his YouTube channel? How many Facebook friends do you have?

It’s not because they don’t care about what we do.  It’s because they care  A LOT more about the real me. My husband. Our son and our daughter. Our real life neighbors and friends. 

Are we healthy?

Do kids listen to us?

Am I too busy? Is my life too hectic, too stressed out to enjoy it?

Do I take time to breathe?

I go through my day, with my dad’s quite presence sifting the steady flow of moments – minutes and hours as the seep through my fingers.

 Would he be pleased by what he sees?  Would his heart swell up with pride and joy? Would he look in and around – and be satisfied with how my life has turned out? With who I am becoming – unashamed of my heritage, yet still adjusted to the world to which, by the strange ways of God,  I now belong?  

Or would he be grieved? Not as a reproof or punishment, but because somehow in the chase after little things that seem so big on this crazy planet I now inhabit, I completely missed something really important. Something that he knows can not be traded for all the trinkets this world may offer….

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Grocery Line Prophet

I wasn’t eavesdropping. I promise. I just couldn’t help but overhear the conversation. Of course, I landed somewhere in half-way through the story, amidst a cart full of boxes of breakfast cereal, frozen pizzas, and cases of bottled water. 

But, I guess that's how most of us land in all the stories, including our own - smack in the middle of the reel.

I used to think, she says in a loud voice, clearly not caring whether anybody overhears her or not, I used to think “Who the heck are those people? What’s WRONG with them??” And now, I look at my family and I am thinking, “OMG, WE are ‘those people”!”

Her friend – I assume it’s her friend and not some random shopper – shakes her head in silent agreement.

I don’t know whether these women know that they are quoting the Scriptures or not, but I don’t remember when the last time was that I heard such succinct summary of the first three chapters of the Letter to Romans.  Or, the first six chapters of the Book of Isaiah.

The progression in self-awareness, I call it.

It starts out with that scathing commentary of morally devoid society around us.

THOSE people.

The ugly, mean, rotten people who well DESERVE their ugly, mean, rotten end.

Yea, we agree fully disgusted.  How can they do such things??? Those politicians.  Those leaders.  Those pastors. Those you-fill-in-the-blank.  Greedy liars and shameless cheats. Cowards and puppets.

Sadly, some of us never go beyond this point.  We spend our entire life always finding fault with somebody else - over there. 

But life doesn’t stop here. The progression keeps going on, towards all of us finger-pointing  know-it-alls, especially of the religious brand.

Butwho do YOU think YOU are? Don’t you realize that every time you point your accusing finger, three fingers are pointing back at you? When you judge others you by default judge yourself?

But, it’s so easy to see the speck in somebody else’s eye, and miss the boulder in my own.


And then comes the dawn of the day of enlightement, to quote again the grocery line philosopher:

OMG! WE are THOSE people!

Or, in the words of the prophet Isaiah,

Woe is me. We are all screwed!

I don’t know how this progression unfolds in a person’s soul.

It truly is a mystery.

I don’t know what kind of seismic shift it takes to move us from ‘those’ people to a ‘it’s us… ALL of us’. 

To ‘woe is me’. 

From demand for justice to plea for mercy... even as the world is swallowed up by a downward moral spiral? 

But, this shift somehow somewhere took place in the life of the woman in the supermarket.  

I don't know if she sees everything clearly yet, but I know that she doesn’t see people like trees anymore. And that’s a good first step – a very good step towards the Kingdom of God. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Lens of the World

Surprisingly enough, those who admit they haven’t arrived,  that they are not quite there yet, could be a lot closer to their desired destination than those who don’t.

For all of us half-blind fools, still groping, still seeing life, people, circumstances like crashing trees, Jesus reserves His second touch.

It’s like an eagerly awaited sequel following a nail-biting cliff hanger, the jagged story line suspended in mid-air.

A Part Two of sorts, of this half-baked miracle of our lives.

And He laid His hands again the second time… and the man looked intently…

The man looked up and stared.  

It may take some staring.  It will take some waiting and uncertainty.

Is He going to leave me hanging here, suspended in mid-air forever? Can I trust Him? Does He really love me? Does He even care?

And he stared some more until before his staring eyes the world finally started getting into focus.

… and his sight was restored to him and he saw everything clearly.

Our blind man got to see his own full-blown, HD miracle unfold before his eyes in all its unobtrusive divine glory.  
As it unfolded, the very first thing the blind man saw clearly was the human face of the Son of God.

His eyes. 

The eyes of the lamb soon to be led to the slaughtering block. 

His forehead,

Not yet


with thorns.

His lips, 

not yet 

parched with, 

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani.

And this Face became a lens through which the blind man begun to view the world.  

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. I  John 3:2,3

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Emancipation Proclamation

Isn’t it ironic that sometimes it takes a blind person to help us see our own distorted vision?

Do you see anything?, Jesus asks.

Weeeellll, yea… kind of… says the man.  Actually, to be honest with you, Jesus, we might have a little problem here.... Because... I do see people… except they don’t look like people at all.  They look more like the Ents…It's freaky.

Good job, Jesus…, mutters the blind man's friend sounding a lot like my fourteen year old. How’s this for an epic fail miracle?

I knew it was a bad idea all along, groans the other, I-told-you-so friend. You should have listened to me…

There is an unpalatable mixture of disappointment, pressure and the now-WHAT?

But the blind man seems to be delightfully oblivious, completely unconcerned about Jesus’ miracle working reputation.  

He has nothing to lose, no reputation to guard – his own or Jesus’.

So, he gets to be disarmingly honest.

Like that kid from the story Emperor’s New Clothes.  Everybody else was too preoccupied protecting the Emperor’s, and by proxy their own exposed behind. Everybody but the little boy – or a little girl, for it could have been a girl, for that matter – had something to lose, something to guard.

Ah the strange idiosyncrasies of adult world!

But, our blind man, perhaps because of his very blindness, was stripped off of all commonly engaged playacting, free to speak the simple truth as he saw it.

His honest statement became an emancipation proclamation of sort for all the still half-blind folks, like you and me.  

His statement forever liberating us from the tyranny of pretense, freeing us to admit that we are not there yet.

We are not as far along as we so desperately want you to believe...

We don't have it as together as we work so hard to appear... 

We haven’t arrived.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

I See People Like Trees

Some people who know me may argue to the contrary, but even though I’ve been wearing glasses most of my life, I never considered myself blind.

At least not until I heard Dick Lucas speak forth out of this odd ‘butchered miracle’ story recorded for us in the Gospel of Mark. 

I don’t know whether it was Dick Lucas or Saint Mark, but I do know that one moment I was safely cocooned in my blissful ‘seeing’ ignorance – clearly this blind person’s story has absolutely no relevance to my own life.

And the next - I was catapulted out.

The catapult came in the form of a simple question tagged onto the verse 24, spoken with the preacher’s unmistakable British accent.

I see men, for I see them like trees, walking about….  

Suppressed chuckles intersperse the audience.  Us, visual types, imagining the scene not much different from the one in the Two Towers, where the longsuffering Ents unleash their fury on Isengard.

There is a pause before he continues, as if each word must be carefully weighed on some invisible scale one more time before it is gently released: 

Do you…


…see people like…


Now his words are cascading like a rolling waterfall,

Perhaps, like logs? A roadblock or an obstacle… in your way… keeping you from doing what you want to do? From getting where you want to be?

The question lingers in the air well beyond the last syllable was spoken. It lingers until a holy hush settles on the room.

I don't remember much of what was said after.

All I know is that I was catapulted out of my comfortable ignorant blindness and forever welded to the blind man who saw people like trees. 

The way this servant of God unfolded it out before me, I realized... I see people like logs all the time. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Second Cup of Coffee

Happy International Coffee Day!  It’s a wonderful wide-eyed day when all coffee drinkers all around the world – tall and short, black and white, purists and add-on-ists unite over their common affection, attraction and, let’s be honest, addiction to the java juice. 

We know who we are and are proud of it. 

Since my blog is called Second Cup of Coffee, it occurred to me that this might be a good day to reflect a bit on the origin of the blog’s name. 

In order to do that, we have to do some detective work. 

There is an interesting story in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 8:22-26) which describes Jesus healing a blind man. 

They came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 

I don’t know about you, but I find this a rather unusual miracle.

Not only Jesus seems to go through a lot of trouble with this guy, implementing some unorthodox healing techniques, but the healing itself actually takes place in two installments!

For years I wrecked my brain over this ‘botched’ miracle.  I am not an eye specialist, but I couldn’t help but wonder whether this man was just a bit too much for Jesus to handle?  A particularly difficult case that required extra effort even for the Son of God?

But in other places we see Jesus saying a word – or even without a word – doing these amazing faith-feats, not just with blind, sick, deaf, mute, demon-possessed and crazy people but also with DEAD people.

So, why did He ‘fail’ to deliver a flawless miracle in one fell swoop this time around? 

Why did this man require the second touch of Jesus?