Source: What’s in a name?
Every now and then I come across a book that helps give me language to express what I have been thinking and feeling. This is one of those books.
Living with a sense of Awe
Rolheiser speaks to how there is a loss of wonder, amazement and awe in our world today. In our rush to find an answer for everything we have lost our ability to be in awe of anything. Rolheiser points to the problem of unbelief among believers and a loss of our ability to live and move as contemplatives within this world as one of the biggest things that keeps us from seeing God alive, well and working in our world today.
Roadblocks to Encountering God
Of particular value is Rolheiser’s work on three main things which stand in the way of our fully experiencing God.
Excessive Narcissism – “When we stand before reality preoccupied with ourselves we will see precious little of what is actually there to be seen.”
Pragmatism – “doing counts for everything, being counts for nothing. We cling to what we do, not who we are, as if it (doing) were life itself.”
Restlessness – a sense of being unsatisfied with our life, a greed for experience – “when restlessness becomes excessive…our lives become consumed with the idea that unless we somehow experience everything, travel everywhere, see everything…then we are small and meaningless.”
No longer a captive
The longer I read the more I found myself with words to explain some of what I have wrestled to express and share. Rolheiser believes that when Jesus said, “I have come to set captives free” he was speaking to all people.
If I can be set free of my self-centered thinking and way of viewing the world, if I can be set free from always doing and be at peace with my being, if I can learn to live content with the gift of life God has given me…there is life to the full.
Respond to the longing
Much in our society fights against such thinking, against living and moving in this way. Rolheiser’s gift is that he gives solid language to express what many have felt as only a longing deep within their soul that there must be something more.
Back in May Nancy and I had an opportunity to do a radio interview on the Tim DeMoss Show (WFIL studios in Philly).
Tim is one of Nancy’s friends from highschool. It was a great time to reconnect and share some of our story. Our interview starts around 17:50 in the show.
Every now and then there are moments in life that are worth trying to re-create.
Easter Sunday provided one such moment. Nancy is a baker. She finds it relaxing and enjoys the process of decorating her creations. It is not unusual to find her in the kitchen creating some sweet treat after a stressful day. She finds the process of baking and decorating fun and I do not mind helping get rid of her creations.
As part of our Easter celebration Nancy made a special desert. She invested a lot of time Saturday preparing our cupcake cake.
When Rayann and I came across the finished product we were excited. We also could not help but notice that it was leaning heavily to one side. Afraid to cut into her creation until we were given the official “green light” we smiled and talked of how we were unsure it would stay upright until Easter day.
As we talked I was reminded of another leaning confectionery creation. This one is from a few years back. In fact it was way back in June of 1990. Nancy and I were getting married. The service was complete and we had just made our way to the reception. There was a level of activity taking place around the wedding cake. Apparently it had some structural issues and was leaning to one side.
The cake generated a lot of conversation. I had a simple solution, cut the cake before it fell over and then Nancy and I could be off on our honeymoon. Judy (my mother-inlaw) did not think that was appropriate and felt we could risk the cakes stability.
In the end our leaning cake generated one of my favorite wedding pictures. The photographer captured the moment Judy was pointing out the leaning cake to Nancy. I love this picture, it captures a moment of our story that is worth recreating.
So when Rayann and I happened across a leaning cupcake in our kitchen we could not help but stop and try to recreate that moment from the wedding oh so many years ago.
To be clear, you really had to look hard to see that the wedding cake was in fact leaning. More importantly the cake tasted delicious. Even more importantly the beauty of the bride out shown whatever chaos may have been caused by a leaning cake.
Chemotherapy has many side effects. The past few weeks I have seen healing from one of the most annoying side effects I have experienced.
A Damaged Sniffer
Soon after I started my chemotherapy treatments in May of 2016, I lost my nose. One of the drugs that was part of my chemo cocktail caused the lining of my nose to bleed constantly. I would slowly get better during my off week, but as soon as treatment began again, my nose would be sore and raw. During my first long (six months) break from chemo my left nostril cleared up, and I had hopes for complete healing. Once we started my second round of chemo that hope soon disappeared. My nose was raw each morning and night. The lining would bleed, and it would form clots that would, in turn, cut the interior of my nose when I blew my nose.
Something to Live With
I talked with Dr. Saroha about it many times. He was compassionate, but it was just one of those side effects that came with the type of chemo I have been using. I had resigned myself to taking care of a raw, sore, bleeding nose for the rest of my life.
Six months into this break from chemotherapy and suddenly my nose has cleared up! I do mean suddenly. One day it was a wreck, and by the end of the week, it was healthy. The healthy caught me by surprise. I had a routine that I used to keep my nostril clean and clear (I will spare you the details). I found myself sitting in my chair realizing I had not needed to follow my routine for three or four days. At that moment I realized the clotting had stopped and my nostril was healthy.
It may not seem like much to some…but this is huge for me. I had resigned myself to living with a damaged nose for the rest of my life. In the grand scheme of things, it is a small discomfort. A minor inconvenience for the joy of living life. I had made peace with the awkwardness of my nose, now to find out I was experiencing healing.
For the past few weeks I have been walking through life taking deep, unobstructed breaths through both nostrils…sometimes it is the small things. [Read more…]
Thank you to Brian Bingaman of The Reporter for a great article on The Journey Continues.
The Reporter is a daily newspaper and web site serving the North Penn, Indian Valley and surrounding communities in Montgomery and Bucks counties, southeastern Pennsylvania.
One of my goals for 2019 is to spend more quality time with Nancy. Last week we got away for a few days at Rehoboth Beach.
My Private Beach
I know. I can hear the howls, “Why in the world would you go to the beach in the middle of February?” A picture is worth a thousand words. This is a picture of my personal, private beach. At one point I stood on my hotel room balcony and looking as far as the eye could see I only counted twenty people on the beach. That was the busiest I ever saw it.
When Joseph and Rayann were growing up we would take a week in February and head to the beach. It was just the three of us, we called it our Big Adventure. We ate poorly (great), stayed up late, and simply enjoyed time together. One of my favorite memories is the time Rayann stepped in a snow bank, got stuck, and when I pulled her out she lost her snow boot. How many people can say they lost a snow boot on the beach?
Nancy and I had been given a gift certificate to the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel. The place was amazing. We enjoyed a few days away and got to travel home in the middle of a snowstorm.
My Thirty Year Quest
While away I had the opportunity to complete a thirty-year quest. When I was twenty I traveled to England. I was there for a few weeks and my group traveled all over the country and into Scotland. In one community we lived with host families. Each morning we would walk to the center of town to meet our group for the day. When our day was over we would all walk back to our host homes. My trip home led me past a fish and chips restaurant. It was a small, hole in the wall, take out place. You walked in, placed your order and walked out with fish and chips wrapped in a butcher paper cone. It was some of the best food ever. I stopped every night as I headed home.
When I returned to the States I started my quest to find fish and chips that came anywhere close to what I experienced in the small, hole in the wall shop in England. I have eaten a lot of bad fish and chips in pursuit of this quest. Nancy is the one who spotted Go Fish. A small, hole in the wall place selling fish and chips. I tried not to get excited as we ordered our food. My hopes had been dashed so many times before. That evening Nancy and I were the only people in the restaurant. We had the whole place to ourselves. It was fun, and the food was fantastic! The thirty-year quest was completed!
A Relaxing Trip
Nancy and I had a great few days together. It was good to step away from work and relax. Nancy took some time to work on a project the two of us are doing together while I spent some time writing. Our schedules were not being driven by appointments or deadlines, this was very refreshing. We could simply be together and do what seemed right at the moment. I will not lie, I did manage to take a few naps.
We had breakfast each morning in the hotel restaurant. It was a nice way to start the day. Looking out over the beach as someone served you coffee.
Thank you First Baptist Church for the gift certificate and the time to get away and relax for a few days.