Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When Hell Freezes Over






A blast of arctic air gushing through the door of the Visitor Center was welcome contrast to the incinerating heat of the parking lot.  We yielded to its icy embrace, feeling instantly energized along with a substantial throng of other visitors who milled around chatting with the uniformed attendants and checking out the exhibits.

All around were pictures of the Canyon. 

Interactive maps of the Canyon.  

Brochures about the Canyon.  

Classes  and courses about the Canyon. 

Certification training for the aspiring Canyon guides.

Everywhere you look. 

Canyon. 

Canyon. 

Canyon. 

You can spend an entire day inside this air-conditioned heaven, thinking you were at the Grand Canyon without ever seeing the real thing!

Several times we were politely encouraged to view a movie about Grand Canyon in the state of the art (of course, also air-conditioned!) theater. We noticed a long line already forming in front of the entrance.

At first, I thought I heard it wrong.  I thought it was a replay of the argument we just had with our two teenagers in the car on the way to the park.

But then we heard it again. And again.

The much-too polite, much-too smiling attendants strongly suggested that we step into the line. 

I didn’t hear it wrong. I heard it right. Still inside my head, I simply couldn’t reconcile…

Why in the world would anybody want to watch a movie about Grand Canyon when you can simply step outside and see the real thing???

I know it's not an excuse, but I can (somewhat) understand the ignorance and inertia of my children. It still drives me crazy, but I can understand.

But this...? 

This - I simply couldn’t fathom. I couldn't comprehend that the same temptation would come my way AGAIN, right here, when the destination is practically at our fingertips, and that from no other than the attendants of the Grand Canyon himself!

I grabbed my husband by the hand, sinking my fingernails deep into his skin and said,

We got to get out of here!, and darted towards the door.

Monday, September 04, 2017

The Deafening Silence







Shredded by the gut-churning uncertainty we trudged along resembling more the inmates on death row than enthusiastic nature-lovers about to have their socks blown off at the sight of overwhelming glory. 

Interestingly enough, the only person who could have alleviated our fears with a word, the only person who’d already had the privilege of  meeting GC face to face - not once, but twice! - chose to remain silent.

At the time I begrudged it. I desperately wanted him to speak up, to assure us, to inspire us and float us on the wings of that inspiration all the way to the Matter Point where I can finally see it for myself.

I wanted him to dispel all our fears with one word. Even one-syllable word would be enough for me.

But he remained as silent as those rocks. Not a single stinking word.

It was only in retrospect that I understood why he refrained.  

Why it was not just O.K. but actually better to stay quiet...


Why it was not necessary for him to speak up, trying to persuade us on Grand Canyon’s behalf. 

But, at the time I simply couldn't either comprehend or accept his deafening silence. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Underwhelmed?







Mom… MOM! DAD???

WHAT?!!??  The urgency in the voice would have made us jump clear across the Canyon to the North Rim if our feet were not stuck in the molten goop of melting Village parking lot A asphalt.

Do you … do you think it’s going to be… if Grand Canyon is going to be…. UNDERWHELMING?

The question reveals that the same fiery demons of doubt tormenting me, now torture my child as well.

Except, it’s ten thousand times worse to see it in your child.

We’ve already been through waaaaay too much.  The burden of the journey weighs heavily on our shoulders. We feel stretched and pushed beyond the limits of human endurance. Even though we are so close - true, we can't quite see it with our own eyes yet but we can feel it there, almost at our fingertips - the big question still remains.

Will it be worth it? Will we consider it worth all the trouble of getting here?

Now, I can say one thing for certain - we did NOT come all the way here to be underwhelmed. We haven’t  gone through so much, exposed ourselves to so much misery, so much stress, so much pain, only to find the canyon, in the word of our teenagers, MEH.

Soooo, how was Grand Canyon?

MEH.

After everything we’ve been through, a mere MEH, just wasn’t going to be good enough.

Breathtaking?

Yes!

Overwhelming?

Yes!

Even terrifying? 

YES!

But, ‘Meh’?

NO! Absolute, unequivocal, resounding NO! 


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Out of the Frying Pan into the Convection Oven






Buoyed by such hopeful outlook, we arrived at the gate where we were greeted by a meticulously coiffed creature whose real face was perfectly masked by inordinate number of layers of professionally applied makeup. He/she/it was over-the-top nice, swooshing the supersized eyelashes up and down, creating a bit of a welcome breeze, then took our money with flair. In return we were lavished with not just a couple of hours but a full week of unlimited access to the aforementioned place that rhymes with 'well'.

We were almost at our final destination.

Our resident optimist pointed out that there is still plenty of parking spots in the Village parking lot A. This was immediately balanced by our resident pessimist’s assessment of intellectual properties of the people who choose to visit the park on the hottest day on record.

We swung open the doors, slamming instantly into the solid wall of Arizona’s other-worldly heat. 

Having lived in sub-tropical climate for the past twenty years, one can say that I am rather well adjusted to hot weather. In fact, I love it! But this heat was nothing like what I’ve experienced in Florida.  Our heat, if I dare to brag, is nice, steamy hot and 90% humid. The kind of heat that makes you drenched in sweat after two seconds of just standing there, ridding your body of toxins better than Miralax. The heat that makes you feel like you’ve done a two-hour intense aerobic workout without even lifting a finger.  The heat where you can cook spaghetti without ever opening the box!

I love Florida heat-and-humid combo. It’s like getting two for the price of one.

But, as I said, Arizona heat is nothing like Florida.

If Florida feels more like sauna, Arizona is more like a convection oven. The moment our feet touched the ground we were enveloped by bone-marrow drying temperatures matching the surface of the Sun. It was coming at us from above and below and all around. It felt like stepping inside a crisper sleeve of the hot pockets. I could feel the entire surface of my skin turning into beef jerky as we were walking through the heat wall across the parking lot.

All I could think of was that I did not want my family to be remembered for being baked to a crisp in our foolhardy pursuit of wonder-lust.

A tiny voice reached from afar and yanked me back from dangling over the brink of the abyss.

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Perfect Day in Hell








This is just not worth it… A voice from the back seat had the audacity to articulate the swarm of fears inside each of us. ... Not worth at all. If we really wanted to experience Grand Canyon, we could have done it in an air-conditioned IMAX theater…

Yea! IMAX would be much better…

The alliance was formed and the mutiny was catching on.

The under-normal-circumstances totally outlandish idea of a U-turn just as Grand Canyon was not hours but literally minutes away ....

...the laughable temptation to go back to miserly creature comforts of the hotel pool and air-conditioning was becoming incredibly alluring as the prospect of hellish heat was becoming more real also.

Something had to be done before this gets seriously out of hand.

C’mmon guys… IMAX? Really…??? It’s GRAND CANYON for Heaven's sake…  My feeble protest revealed way too much of my own qualm over the situation.

We rode on in silence, each of us visualizing our own version of a perfect day in hell.

Well…, I finally interrupted the derailing train of my own thoughts, …. we don’t have to stay long. If it’s THAT miserable, we’ll just leave. There. No need to kill ourselves over Grand Canyonee. We can pop in for a couple of hours at the most and see how it goes…

I understand this was pretty lame for a Grand Canyon pep-talk but in the moment I couldn't scrounge anything better.

Plus, I’ve always found great solace in the knowledge that there is a time limit to hell on Earth. And perhaps even greater solace in the possibility of setting the timer myself and having an option to bow out of it when staying any further would only threaten to turn into uncalled-for martyrdom.   

Monday, August 14, 2017

It Seemed Like a Really Good Idea at the Time...






Back in March, when we mapped it all out on paper in our study, it made perfect sense.

Our summer trip was during our anniversary…. Grand Canyon was on my bucket list… our teenagers wanted to do it! All this and more was meticulously evaluated, then choreographed into a perfect family vacation inside our heads. We did our bookings, we double and triple-checked our lists. We were as prepared as it could be deemed humanly possible for a family of two middle-aged parents and a couple of teens in full bloom. 

We got this!, we thought, both logic and our hearts confirming our belief it was true.

We arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona at the end of June, during the peak of a record breaking heat wave.  Phoenix airport was under a threat of closure due to extreme temperatures, extreme even for Phoenix. All the locals were hunkering down, shaking their heads at us, the crazy tourons, in much the same fashion we treat the tourists who flock to Orlando theme parks in the middle of Florida summer.

Why would you go to Grand Canyon NOW???
 
Good question!

Back in March, the answer seemed rather self-evident.

Why wouldn’t we???

Today, however, I couldn’t recall even one of those obvious reasons, particularly not what made them so passionately compelling. My bucket list, our wedding anniversary, the grandeur of the Grand Canyon… they all seemed to be evaporating in the heat that was melting the asphalt and the rubber on our new tires as we bobbed towards our impending doom.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Stitch the Cat





Both Lizzy the owner and PJ the pet sitter warned us ahead of time about Stitch, the cat.

Cat is super shy and will hide.

I keep track if he is alive by food and poop levels ….

Don’t expect him to be friendly.  

IMPORTANT: Cat will try to escape if a door or window is left open. Please don’t let the cat out!

I don’t mind cats. I really don’t. But, I am definitely not a cat person.  The cat keeping to himself seemed like a mighty fine arrangement to me.

I can do food.

I can do water.

If I have to, I can even do the litter box, but I would rather let my husband deal with that.

Hairballs on the other hand… That’s where I draw the line.

With so much advance knowledge about Stitch, I was getting rather comfortable with the idea of taking care of the invisible cat. But before I could get too cozy, our resident Cat Whisperer heard the rumor.

Cat??? There is a cat in the house??!!?

With those words my dream of a ghost pet keeping dissipated like morning mist while the house echoed with forlorn meow-meowing, a call from one Kitty to another.

C’mmon people… Cats…. Whatevers! It’s really late. We need to get up early. Let’s go to bed. It’s pointless, I was determined to wrap up this ridiculous search party. 

Just then, out of the basement emerged the Kitty Queen with presumably Stitch the Cat draped over her shoulder.

Mom, I found him, I found him! I found Stitch!, she beamed.

I can see that. The cat eyed me suspiciously. It’s time for your shower.

But what about Stitch?

You can take him with you – cats love baths, don’t they?

Long days and late nights do that kind of thing to me.

From that moment on, the Cat Whisperer and Stitch the Cat became inseparable. They played fetch. They ate together.  They carried on their long conversations in Meow-meownese. They watched Ketflix together. The Cat followed the Whisperer everywhere she went - even into the bathroom!! And if the door was closed, he would keep meowing until the door was opened for him. At bedtime Stitch would go down into the basement bedroom and spend the night sprawled across the Whisperer’s face.  There were more belly rubs administered than I dare to admit. Theirs was the endless unembarrassed, unashamed exchange of loving, giving and receiving.

I scratched my head wondering whether somebody might have kidnapped the real Stitch described  in the warning messages and replaced him with this affectionate, snuggly impostor.

Or was it the Whisperer who, by all the knowing, caring and loving brought out Stitch's transformed nature?
It might be far-fetched but it also made me think if this could be a visual of what Jesus had meant when he said,


My sheep hear my voice and I know them… and my own know me … A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers… I am the Good Shepherd…I know my own and my own know me…

Monday, June 05, 2017

The Neighbor of the Year Award





Only once before have I seen something similar in real life. That was years and years ago when I visited a friend for the summer in the English countryside.  But this was not England! And it was real life!

Although one might say that the house and the yard could have easily been transported from a different world or at least a different continent.  

The cascading river of blooms stretched across the side of the house…. It turns out BOTH sides of the house. The front was manicured to such intricate details that not even English countryside could match.

I want THESE people to be my neighbors! We blurted at the same time and laughed at our unanimous choice of the Neighbor of the Year award.

They must have yard service, this is impossible... Imagine how much it would cost...

But, the more I looked at it… the more I knew it takes more than yard service to have such garden in Florida. I shook my head…

This is not a work of a hired hand… I don’t think you can pay somebody to do this.  This is a work of a lover…Everything here shows that the secret ingredient for this amazing garden is love… Imagine the knowledge, the time, the attention to detail, the careful planning, the meticulous execution…. This yard throbs with passion….Only love can do something like this...

Without saying a word, we know we just don’t have it.  

Not that much love. 

Not that much passion... at least not for blooming perennials. 


It's bitter-sweet concession....

Never can, never will... 

and in the middle of it, something begins to dawn on me… like the first wisp of sunlight on the east horizon…

I look at her, my walking partner through thick and thin...  I think of all we’ve been through, joking at times that we are dead women walking... and I see her in this moment as if for the very first time… 

Just this morning she was standing outsides my house patiently waiting for me to get ready for our walk and I marvel at how blind and stupid I can been…


You know, I tell her, I already have the best neighbor in the world. I wouldn’t want any other one…

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Spectacular Neighbors






If I am to be honest, I venture as we peel away from our fantasies, I really don’t care that much for the perfect house. Sure, it would be nice, but what REALLY matters to me is the people who live inside.  And the people I would LOVE to be my neighbors are the ones on the other side of the lake.

Which ones? Anna is as much, or perhaps even more intrigued now by the people I want for my neighbors.

You know, the ones who decorate their house for Christmas and Easter… and Hal…

Oh, YES! A sand hill crane swoops up  into the air at the sound of her scream. Can you imagine being THEIR neighbors???!!!

No! But that would be incredible….

We walk in silence for a bit, each reflecting on what it would be like to know the people who decorate their house like that for the holidays.

Clearly they are soooo creative.

Clearly they are off-the-charts fun.

They are sweep-me-off-my-feet imaginative, extravagantly ingenious, and flamboyantly artistic. 

Their house decorations for holidays are world-class theme park worthy, and yet tasteful, although I know this sounds like an oxymoron. 

… To have them as my neighbors…

I would love to get inside their head… I muse…

I would love to get inside their storage shed!

We both laugh at the thought of space it would take to store the decorations, the logistical nightmare of putting on a show like that and the impracticality of such family enterprise.

Where do they keep all that stuff???? Anna has always been the more sensible one.  Man, it must be exhausting to put on such a spectacular show every time...

Hmmm, I never thought of that.

I never thought what would really be like to live next-door to people who always have to go all out, not just big but GIGANTIC… not just good but AWESOME….

For whom a simply good is never quite good enough.

The relentless, maybe internal maybe external pressure to outdo themselves each time, year after year… 

Are they ever able to descend?

Are they ever able to shrink themselves to small? 

Can they handle being... invisible? 

Can they tolerate the mundane, ordinary grayish days... ?

Or do they always have to command the stage and everyone’s attention by spectacular?… 

On second thought,… I start, but before I am able to finish, both of us are stopped in our tracks. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Story of Three Houses







Ever since my sister left last summer, Anna and I have been going for morning walks together, continuing on with the habit that somehow created itself apart from any intent, will or determination of our own.

We are not fanatical about it. We don’t go every day. We don’t have a set time.  Our morning walks meander through our lives, adjusting to its ebb and flow, rhymes and seasons  (even when there is no discernible reason).

Sometimes abundant, sometimes scarce, but every time these walks happen, they seem to hit the spot for both of us.

Our path takes us through our neighborhood, across a busy street into another quiet neighborhood with a trail around a lake skirting a small patch of woods the developer thoughtfully left behind after plowing down everything else to build the mini-mansions. 

We admire those mansions. But, we are more likely to be taken by the giant blazing fireball glowing on the east horizon and the interplay of its glory with the clouds in the sky above and the lake below. 

Or by angelic winged creatures unceremoniously wading through the shallows on their two stick-like legs, raking the bottom muck in search for a snack. 

Yuck!

Life is inhaled and exhaled between our breaths and steps, life is chewed, tasted and digested as it falls like crumbs off our breakfast tables on these walks.

Sometimes we fantasize about what it would be like to live inside one of those gorgeous houses in a perfect neighborhood with a lake and a path through the woods.

I LUST after that house, I moan.

Which one? She is suddenly animated beyond what is suitable for the morning hour. 

The one at the very beginning of the trail. On the edge of the lake. In the cul-de-sac!

Oh YES! Me too!

If that house ever goes on the market, we have to enter a bidding war over it.

No, we’ll just sell everything we own, buy it and move in there together. It’s big enough for both our families.

We laugh as we imagine life with BOTH our families inhabiting the house's secret interior. 


Its owners are as mysterious and invisible. 

We wish we could meet them and ask what it feels like to actually live the dream… Is it worth the sacrifice? Do their kids like the trade-off? Does their spouse love or resent this slab-and-concrete perfection?

But we never see them. 

So, our questions are doomed to remain unanswered as we continue on our walk, leaving the lusted-after mansion and it's perfect location behind. 



What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? Matthew 16:26

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Of Water, Vivaldi and Wine







Some may think they got the short end of the stick. 

That they are the second class citizens, the no man’s land dwellers. The lowly servants without a place either in the limelight or in the cushy audience seats covered in darkness.

Neither here, nor there... the backstage crew.

They are the conductors of empty chairs, the directors of beat-up music stands, the composers of chocolate chip cookies.

They are the shadows dressed in black, blending with the background because they are meant to be invisible.

They are meant to be unnoticeable.

There is no question in anyone's mind that they aren't the real gig. 

They arrive before the lights are on and leave after all the lights are out, not because they have to, but because they want to.

They are there when the only music heard is the scratching of the grand piano against the wooden floor and the clanking of the stands against each other.

Some may think they got the short end of the stick…

… maybe because they don’t understand…

...that their ear is the first to recognize...

... when notes become music…

… when syllables become a song...

Their lips are the first to taste water-turned-into-wine...

They are the first witnesses of the resurrection of Vivaldi and Mozart from the dead…

Still, some may think they got the short end of the stick…



When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!” John 2:9-10

Thursday, May 04, 2017

May the Fourth Be With You

I rarely revisit the oldies, but thought it would be fun to make an exception to the rule on this day. May the Fourth Be With You!



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 Star Wars 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(!) and would spend his free time memorizing its content.

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. 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, and R2D2 and Obi-Wan Kenobi, our son never ever heard the name George Lucas?

We looked at each other and burst into laughter.

Hmm …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 compute 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

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Resurrection Duck






We watch him, a tormented soul, standing on the grassy easement of a narrow two-way street near our house.

It’s Easter morning. The sun has just risen so the traffic is light.  Those who were going to the sunrise service are singing hymns celebrating the empty tomb.  The sleepy-heads are still sleeping in their beds waiting for the second resurrection.

He waddles to the curb and as he is about to step onto the street, the car comes from around the bend so he hops back to safety.  He hesitates for a while, gathering courage for the next attempt.

On the other side his three friends look helplessly, waiting for him to join their party.

His next attempt is interrupted with the speeding motorcycle zooming from the opposite direction.

He races back as fast as his short webby feet would allow him. Back onto the green. Back to safety. 

With each failed attempt the road grows wider and more menacing to his unblinking eye. Practically impassable.

I can’t stand watching his tortured existence any longer.

I look to the right and to the left -  the road clear - I spread my arms wide, a  featherless monstrosity flailing furiously, bearing down on him full speed.

The prospect of becoming an unexpected addition to the main course of an Easter banquet, overrides his paralysis of fear.

For a split-second I think I gave him a heart attack, before he lifts off and flies across the road.

When he safely lands among his friends, I don’t think he fully realizes yet that he has wings… that he can fly. The adrenaline is still rushing through his body, a whale of a story forming inside his little head to tell anyone who is willing to hear. 

His terrifying attempts to cross the road. The feeling of being stuck. Alone. The hopelessness. The paralyzing fear. The ugly mean giant who viciously attacked him... 

... when it finally hits him,


I can FLY!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Missing Child of Easter






Tucked between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is mostly overlooked, largely neglected middle child of Easter.

Saturday, also known as Sabbath.

The Day of Rest.

In this country, it is a day jam-packed with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, church potlucks and carnivals, Easter egg hunts and other fun activities to kill the time between Good Friday and the sunrise service on Sunday.

I often wonder, though, about that first Sabbath, the first day of rest after the crucifixion of Jesus.

After the drama, the chaos, the noise, the horror – the nightmare of the day Jesus died, how in the world did the friends of Jesus find it in themselves to honor the commandment of God to keep the day of rest as they obviously did??

Everything happened so fast.

Everything happened so unexpected.

Were they reeling from all the thoughts and emotions that swarmed inside them, drowning in confusion and the turmoil that they were simply spent? Emotionally, physically, spiritually exhausted, so they entered a coma of sort, shocked and disengaged as they reached the threshold of human limit to bear grief.

Or did they, while going about their day, slowly, gently, quietly wrap in burial cloths their hopes and dreams, and lay them to rest alongside Jesus’ dead body, remembering with shudder the rolling of the stone, closing on the grave with the final thud?

Were they gathering the little strength that they had left to prepare for facing unimaginable, facing the new week, the first day of the new Jesus-less era, wondering how were they going to survive a minute, an hour, much less an entire day with him gone… knowing its forever?

Or were they somehow, someway able to receive the rest that God gives to all those who trust His goodness even in the darkest, longest night?

I wonder what the friends of Jesus felt on that day...  that must have felt like a thousand-year long sleepless night of rest...


Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Bad News of Easter




Quite awhile ago, I heard somebody say,

If you were the only person on Earth, Jesus would still come to die for you.

Over time the statement got buried under tomes of theological head knowledge, its gritty truth never really trickling down into my heart.  

Year after year each Easter celebration I would give genuine mental consent and sincere lip service to the events in Jesus’ life that culminated on Friday’s crucifixion.

Knowing how the story ends, we seemed all too eager to hoppity- hop over to Easter with it’s colored eggs and chocolate bunnies celebrations, as if glossing over what killed Jesus is going to make it magically (or, some might say, miraculously) disappear.

With so many bad news in this world, we don’t want to dwell on the negative.  

Since we have the Good  news, we have to share it and have to share it quickly.

But, good news isn’t good unless you are willing to hear the bad news first.

So, with your permission, I'll share some bad news.

The cross of Christ is God’s final declaration on human goodness.


If we don't want to take God's word for it, life has a way of convincing us sooner or later.

What this means is that best, most wonderful, kind, industrious, talented, impressive, intelligent, good looking, successful person you and I meet (including the one we see in the mirror) has a dark, broken interior we all try so hard to conceal behind a façade.  Religious façade probably being the most grotesque of all.

Some of us are so convincing that we start believing our own Marketing and PR or Facebook feed.

As if this is not bad enough, it actually gets worse.

Our brokenness is unfixable.  We are irreparably messed up and there is nothing, absolutely nothing you and I can do to fix it. In fact, by trying to fix it, we often make things even worser (does that word exist in English language?)

This truth is so sobering, if we allow ourselves to linger in it for a bit, it has a potential to radically alter the way we see ourselves, the world and people around us. 

Some of us might be driven do despair. 

For some, this despair might be the best thing that happened in the lifetime of escapism and denial.

The Good Friday is God’s final heart-wrenching declaration on human goodness.

There is none. 

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Taste Test





It really was a dumb, no-win question.  

Are they any good?

If I had thought of it, I would have known that there was one and only one way to find out about the true nature of the advertised mangoes.

I would have to go to the store, get some and try them myself. 

That’s the way with some things in life.

Having stumbled upon enough tasteless, unripe, stringy, woody,  rotten mangoes  – as well as tasted some really good ones,  I find I am becoming more of a skeptic.

I don’t just jump in with both feet simply because somebody posted it on Facebook.

I don't believe it just because I see it, or hear or read about it.

Are they any good?

Well, come and see for yourself.

When Phillip told Nathanael that they found the One promised through Moses and Prophets, Nathanael was skeptical.

There have been too many fake Messiahs parading through history. 

Our age didn’t invent fake news.

How do you know who is the real deal?


Don’t just trust my word for it.


Don’t just believe because somebody says it.

Come and see for yourself.




O taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Mango Tango



Few days ago the manager of my favorite produce store posted a picture on their Facebook page of a pallet stacked high with boxes of mangoes. There was also another close-up of beautiful shiny fruit with $2.99 a box as the advertised price.

I was hooked.

Those mangoes at that price…?!??! The deal was too good to pass.

Just one box wouldn’t be nearly enough for our family. I was already calculating in my head how many boxes - 

...mango salsa, mango smoothie, mango-Key lime pie, Caribbean mango salad...

- we could accommodate when, What if they aren’t any good?, popped inside my head.  

Remember, last time you bought mangoes they were so tasteless you were the only one willing to eat them…

As much as I hate hearing my Rain-on-the-Parade Voice of Reason, I had to admit he got a valid point.  Even the favorite store has a bad apple - or mango - from time to time. But, I wasn’t going to subject myself to another truckload of unripe fruit that went from mediocre to rotting... and they weren't even on sale!

In order to ensure I won't make the same mistake again, I typed up a simple question in the comment box under the pictures,

Are they any good?, then hit the return on my keyboard and saw my words posted on the Internet for the whole world to see forever.

Are they any good?

ARE THEY ANY GOOD????

It was like a delayed reaction.... What was I thinking???!!? I didn’t mean to be insulting but… what was I hoping for...???

For him to cordially reply with,

Oh, they are terrible, just like last time, but we got so many that we are simply trying to unload them to the gullible fools like you.  

Or,

They are bland but tolerable - what do you expect at that price? 

Or, make some other similar self-incriminating comment posted on Facebook, effectively ruining our relationship and their business forever and ever?


Pleading the fifth in this case seemed like the most prudent approach.