a new way of breathing

"busy is better," "certainty of the future," goal-oriented," "career development" and "answer-ready" are key phrases in our societal air. we hear questions like, "so what are your plans?" and "where are you going to end up?" as if anyone really knows what tomorrow will bring.

however, information-gathering is not the most exceptional way of caring. even questions like, "what did the doctor say?" do not always communicate, "i care about you and am walking with you through this." to care for our neighbor, we start by quieting our souls and listening to ourselves and to god. then, we listen to our neighbor, hear their words, and respond gently to them. we will learn and grow as individuals, keeping a perspective that gives both us and others freedom (from societal pressures) that we might live day by day, grow through experiences, breathe deeply and strive toward peaceful living.


A Blessing

Traditional Irish Blessing:

"May there always be work for your hands to do. May your purse always hold a coin or two. May the sun always shine upon your window pane. May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain. May the hand of a friend always be near to you and May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you."

Enjoy this blessing! If you'd like to read more, go here.


hope - so what?

last easter, i asked a serious question that still lingers with me...

the question is on hope: how then shall we live? how do we live differently, due to the fact that we have hope after life after death? and what is the hope of life after death? it's not just eternal life in heaven after our mortal beings give way, but life after death is morning after night, it's the rainbow after the pour, it's the relieving stillness after mourning. and how then do we live differently, believing that we do have this hope?

this is what it is for me, but it may be different for you. for me, the fact that we have life after death means that we live more courageously today. we have the courage to make the bold and difficult moves. we have the courage to make tomorrow like nothing it is today. we have the courage to face change (god knows we rarely like change). this is the courage i live by.


what the fuck are you looking for?

the brilliant, yet so simple, question confronted me today. what is it you want? what the fuck are you looking for? i've been on a path pursuing so many important passions for so long. now that they are coming to completion, what am i looking for?

i've hesitated to answer the question too fast. i hear myself say, "wait for just a few minutes... take some time just to be... don't pursue things just to be busy... just be. be at peace for awhile."

but then in the quietness of this, i ask myself, what is it that would be perfect in my life right now? what is it that i want? the response: i don't have a fucking clue. so i'll just keep being. and contemplating. and then i realize, even this moment plants something in my soul. this is a good moment.

"Every moment and every event of each person's life on earth plants something in their soul." Thomas Merton


to be or not to be?

is the abbey to be or not to be? that is the question.

it looks like we are packing up on saturday. 'twill be a sad day. i really wanted to save it, but $5200 in startup costs came as a bit of a surprise. damn.

what is the abbey? it's been our place to be this year. our place for sunday gatherings, and for saturday art shows. our place for mimosas and wine and beer. :-) our place for laughing, crying, living, dying. today is a sad day.

there is a time. a time for beginnings and completions. this is a season of completions...


The Most Human and Most Divine Gesture

The two disciples whom Jesus joined on the road to Emmaus recognised him in the breaking of the bread. What is a more common, ordinary gesture than breaking bread? It may be the most human of all human gestures: a gesture of hospitality, friendship, care, and the desire to be together. Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to those seated around the table signifies unity, community, and peace. When Jesus does this he does the most ordinary as well as the most extraordinary. It is the most human as well as the most divine gesture.The great mystery is that this daily and most human gesture is the way we recognise the presence of Christ among us. God becomes most present when we are most human." Henri Nouwen

To go to the Henri Nouwen Society website, click here.


prayer candles

so my most recent significant spiritual experience (or is it just a personal trend?) has been lighting prayer candles. i brought prayer candles to canvas (church) for a contemplative service a few weeks ago and everyone lit a prayer candle for the duration of the service. the prayer candle usually represents a particular prayer, and (for me, at least) is often one that is especially "frustrating." i am avoiding the word "burden," a word in my humble opinion that is overused and abused by evangelicals.

i light a prayer candle tonight for someone in my family...

"LORD make us instruments of your peace.
where there is hatred let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

o divine master, grant that we may not seek so much to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardonning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen"
-- attributed to John Bernardone ("Francis of Assisi"), 13th Century


Dreams, Beginnings and Completions

SO much has changed in my world this year. A couple beginnings, but mainly completions. The completion of a 3-year love, the completion of a master's degree (yeah!), both the beginning and completion of a chaplain internship, and the completion of a church plant. Of course, as all of these come to pass, I picture myself standing out in the middle of nowhere with my arms up in the air, calling out the three-letter word: w-h-y?
it's a good question. it comes throughout life, but particularly during times like this. but in the midst of change and questions, i am reminded that in times of completion, the One who Loves is ever-present. This presence is revealed to me through both new connections and those I know and love dearly.
The One who Loves walks with you always.


the most important event in life

the lives of others not only help us understand ourselves, but also god. since all are created in the imago dei, then we better understand this image, the face of god, as we better understand those around us. what a stunning reality!

from this perspective, it seems to me that real conversations are likely the most important event that occurs in this life. and what makes a conversation a “real” one? i suppose if any one person in the conversation is coming to the table to learn something, then this is a real conversation. for it is possible that every conversation a person has is an opportunity to learn. and specifically whenever we make the effort to listen to others, we are the ones that learn from them. that, I am convinced, is very important to understand.

after a conversation with a particular vietnam vet this week, i realized that not every conversation will necessarily be enjoyable, per say. thus, while I may be proposing that conversations are the most important life events, i am also realizing that it is a discipline, an exercise, a very intentional decision. people are vain. they like to talk about themselves, maybe for no other reason than to hear themselves talk (or is that just me?).

but regardless of who is doing the talking, hopefully in the midst of an interaction, we become lost as we find ourselves, getting back in touch with our humanity. and as we get back in touch with our humanity, we become awakened to our spirituality: who we are as spiritual beings. our spirituality is found at the roots, at the very basis of our humanity. when we become honest with ourselves, with one another, we find ourselves and we find god. god is the creator of relationship, and is an example of perfect relationship, three in one. we, made in the imago dei, reflect this image. no wonder real human interactions are the most important events in our lives.


What Now?

Three children, ages 5, 7, and 8, lost their father to a sudden brain aneurism. One year later, their mom died of breast cancer. They now live with their grandparents, struggling to work through their painful grief and loss.
A student grieved the loss of her daughter, after she had decided to place her baby girl for adoption. Three years later, her father died of cancer. Two months after that, she began her seminary studies in Pasadena. She was left dazed and confused, trying to sort out God’s healing in her life.
Another Fuller student announced to his family and community just four months ago that he would be starting a seminary career, and was going to leave engineering to become a pastor. The ridicules and disapproving comments still echo in his head.

Suffering surrounds us! Even if it looks perfect, then often times emptiness and depression is just hidden underneath the surface. But how do we respond to suffering? What can we do about all of the grief around us? Fortunately, God promises responds to our suffering.

The first Christians certainly dealt with suffering. But their suffering looked a lot different than ours. The readers of I Peter were ridiculed by the Roman citizens around them. Of course they were. They were known as a threat to the peace of Rome! They would gather early in the morning to meet, as if they were conspiring. They were accused of atheism, because they would not worship the Roman gods. Everyone knew they had rejected the gods. It’s as if every Friday was Roman-god-t-shirt day, but the Christians never joined in. They were even accused of cannibalism, since they claimed to eat the body of Christ. Oh, and it goes on! They were accused of having sex parties, because they would secretly meet in each others’ houses and greet everyone with a holy kiss. You know that there were a few Roman citizens who tried to sign on to Christianity after that! Christians simply didn’t fit in with the rest of the empire. They were the talk of the empire, the subject of all the talk shows, the laughing stock at parties. This was the kind of ridicule that Peter addressed. This is the relentless verbal attack that they endured.

So Peter addressed them in their suffering. But as they tried to brush off the humiliating words that they constantly heard, the words continued to sting. So Peter wrote to them, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Humble yourselves?! Why would Peter require suffering, humiliated Christians to humble themselves?

Mother Teresa once cared for a particular older woman. This woman had traveled for days to come to stay with the saintly nun. It was very difficult for her to travel, as red, blistering sores covered her body. However, once she finally reached her destination, she rested in the sanctuary of the clean, soft sheets. But she had difficulty allowing others to care for her. At first, instead of letting a caretaker wash out her sores, she said, “No, it’s OK. I’ll do it myself.” However, over the next couple of weeks, one deep sore on her back had worsened. It had grown raw, and desperately needed attention in order to fight the infection that was growing quickly. She finally said to Mother Teresa, “Please help me. I cannot wash my sores alone.”

This woman experienced what Peter talks about when he instructs his readers to humble themselves. In other words, Peter is telling his readers, accept God’s care and protection. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God! And how did this woman accept God’s care? By accepting the care of others.

You may say, “Well, this passage doesn’t really relate to our circumstances. Peter’s audience was suffering because they were Christians.” It’s true. We’re not ridiculed for being cannibals. But we do suffer in other ways, and God meets us in that suffering, and also brings healing to our lives. This passage makes a strong statement about the care of God. This care of God is the context of I Peter. But humbling yourselves is only half of it! What is this great promise that we have been waiting for? We receive a promise when we humble ourselves to God. The verse says, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and God will lift you up.”

"So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and God will lift you up (I Peter 5:6)." If you are lonely at Fuller, and finally share this pain with somebody, you are accepting the comfort of God. If you feel burdened for a sick or troubled parent, and receive comfort from a sister in Christ, you are humbling yourself to God. When we recognize that we are all broken, and humble ourselves to the care of others, God promises to bring healing to our lives.

You are not alone in your suffering. And we are not meant to experience suffering alone. Think about the little children I mentioned earlier. Both of their parents have died. How can God walk with them into healing? Certainly not by themselves. Certainly not alone, in an isolated room. No, they desperately need the tender love and care of others. What makes us think that we can walk into healing alone? No, let us humble ourselves now, and God will lift us up.

Peter ends this passage by reminding his readers that God has called them to his eternal glory in Christ. God calls. As children of God we must remember that we are not rejected, but rather wanted and accepted by God. You are wanted and accepted by God, and God will meet you in your suffering, whatever that may be.

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be power forever and ever. Amen



it was a dark and stormy afternoon. i looked for a picture for illustration, but realized that neither image nor word can describe that day. first-century onlookers asked, "is he really who he said he was, if he is being crucified on a cross? this must not be the son of god afterall."
but something was different. the sky was eerie, and the atmosphere was dark and spiritually heavy. in fact, some say that even though it was mid-afternoon, the sky went completely black when he died. i can't explain it, but on this day i feel a darkness. as i write, i have a knot in my throat, as i think about what christ did that day, so many years ago.
it was an age of honor. chivalrous codes declared that to die with utmost honor meant to die for the sake of others. what was his purpose in death? was it not the most significant way that christ could have expressed his love for humanity? the pain he experienced outweighs any pain that we might face in our lives. if it hadn't been for such suffering, would christ be able to identify with us, experience our pain with us, and walk with us into healing? you see, because he conquored death through resurrection, christ has the power to walk with us in our suffering into healing.
the greatest sacrifice. he died with honor in order to have the ability to walk with us into healing.


walls of snow

this weekend, troy and i went to mammoth with a friend. what we can't get over are the walls of snow - 15 feet of snow that completely cover cabins, and walls along the road that miniaturize the car.

troy finds the creator god to be most evident in times like these, as we sat on top of an 11K ft peak looking over the great snow-covered mountains. we took a moment to let it soak in... the clouds were coming in and the sun shining through. we found sections of pure powder which our snowboards/skis love. and it is in these moments that the whisper of the divine meets us, and we recognize the presence of god's spirit.

come, lord god, meet with us, and we will meet with you.


a breath of fresh aire

so we went to portland this weekend - a few people from canvas covenant, that is.
and is it possible to see this sight (multnomah falls),
and not be in awe of the creativity of the divine? i think not.
it was one of those moments when the air couldn't seem more fresh, not only feeling the gifts of gentle rain and light hail falling around us, but also feeling the mist from this great waterfall.
canvas had a significant weekend of dialogue, of which i cannot begin to write it all out (nor would you be interested in hearing all of its content, trust me). however, after spending a weekend talking about the church,
i leave with a familiar burden. it is the longing for more -
the indescribable "more." meant to be an expression of the kingdom, it is not.
in its rare moments, however, it begins to embody this kingdom.
its "greatest moments" are not the moments of the accomplishments of the institutional church, however, but rather the moments in which reconciliation is experienced. reconciliation with those who have formerly been rejected by the church, but are now embraced.
the kingdom rejects legalism and judgmentalism, and rejects the notion that the display of a "godly" moral code is a replacement for the greatest commandment. rather, those who participate in the kingdom of god do justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly with god. how can the church participate in this kingdom of healing, affirmation, and reconciliation? god help us.


where honesty is the norm?

the prayer of today is about honesty.
"help me to build a community of faith where honesty is the norm"?
it's profound. why is it so far-fetched for today's church? we'd rather build a community that looks good, talking about how we do our daily devotions, and we are perfect. yet we are so far from being honest with ourselves. we have no love; we are not truly interested in walking with people in their moments of pain. we'd rather preach about sin than confess our own.
creator god,
Help me to pursue honesty today.
Help me to be honest with you.
Help me to be honest with myself.
Help me to build a community of faith where honesty is the norm.
Build in me a capacity for truth.



here's my lame attempt to be poetic. it fits today.
gratefulness arises at the end of the day when all is said and done.
the pain has come, and is going. the air is crisp and refreshing.
something about the friday afternoon reminds me of a friday afternoon for a middle school student, when life is freeing and intriguing.
at the end of the day, we realize we have life.
we have healing through our god.
we look for meaning, and for the day to come.


the prayers of the people

i have had the opportunity to visit a number of random churches in the los angeles vicinity, and most recently stumbled upon a tiny episcopalian church in alhambra. as we gathered, about 20 people (in addition to the choir and leaders) came together for the service of worship, liturgy, prayer, and eucharist. during the service, more and more people trickled in, for a total of about 75 that ate a filipino meal after the service.
what struck me most significantly was their communal approach to worship. communal thanksgiving, communal repentance, communal petitions. it reminds me of the writing to the colossians, which reads:
"eucharistoumen tw thew patri tou kuriou emwn iesou christou pantote peri umwn proseuchomenoi" [ok, so the transliteration is sloppy].
but it's communal. "we give thanks to god the father of our lord jesus christ when we always pray for you (all)."
lets pray together, and pursue our faith together. the prayers of the people from this week's liturgy struck me. maybe you will appreciate it as well:
Prayers of the People
Prayer is offered with intercession for:

The Universal Church, its members, and its mission
The Nation and all in authority
The welfare of the world
The concerns of the local community
Those who suffer and those in any trouble
The departed

(Form I: Deacon or other leader)

With all our heart and with all our mind, let us pray to the
Lord, saying, “Lord, have mercy.”

For the peace from above, for the loving‑kindness of God,
and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the world, for the welfare of the holy Church
of God, and for the unity of all peoples, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For our Bishop, and for all the clergy and people,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For our President, for the leaders of the nations,
and for all in authority, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For Los Angeles, for every city and community,
and for those who live in them, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For seasonable weather, and for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the good earth which God has given us, and for the
wisdom and will to conserve it, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For those who travel on land, on water, or in the air [or
through outer space], let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the aged and infirm, for the widowed and orphans, and
for the sick and the suffering, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For_______________, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the poor and the oppressed,
for the unemployed and the destitute, for prisoners and captives,
and for all who remember and care for them, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For all who have died in the hope of the resurrection,
and for all the departed, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For deliverance from all danger, violence,
oppression, and degradation, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

For the absolution and remission of our sins and offenses,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

That we may end our lives in faith and hope, without
suffering and without reproach, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

Defend us, deliver us, and in thy compassion protect us,
O Lord, by thy grace.
Lord, have mercy.

In the communion of Trinity Episopalian Church and of all the saints,
let us commend ourselves, and one another, and all our life,
to Christ our God. To thee, O Lord our God.




i think we're still trying to define emerging. ok. on the emergent-us site for august '05, doug pagitt has a link to a recent article in relevant magazine (see link below). doug writes that emerging churches seek to live as missional communities. a wah? a community that goes on mission trips and hands out tracks?

i recently visited a church plant in orange county, and they too were talking about being a missional community. however, they got it. being missional is not about having christian tracks and mentally raping people into a verbal confession of jesus as their personal lord and savior. no, being missional is willingness to serve. willingness to walk with, dine with, and be with. being willing to change their babies' diapers.

being missional is embracing a man who has been robbed and beaten, a widow, and a broken-hearted person... what does it mean to be missional?

doug made a list of 7 attributes of an emerging church, and reminds us that it is "not intended to be static - nor the end of the conversation." it is good for consideration.

  • Emerging Churches strive to be positive about the future.
  • Churches within the emerging community are committed to God in the way of Jesus.
  • The Kingdom of God is a central conversation in emerging communities.
  • The emerging church values communal life – living like family.
  • Emerging churches seek to live as missional communities.
  • Friendship and hospitality are transformational pieces in the emerging church.
  • Communities in the emerging movement value theology.



anapauso. "i will give rest."
what is rest? just after christ encounters john the baptist, he promises, to all who are weary, that he will give them rest. thus, i'm sure that some of his listeners must have been seeking rest, at some sence of unrest, desiring to find something they could not grasp. rest.

i will give you rest. we still yearn for this rest. and those of us who say that we do not yearn to find it, we lie to ourselves. so be honest with yourself. acknowledge your need for this rest that Christ promises, and seek after it.

i found a comforting notation from dale and juanita ryan, who remind us that christ came for those who are yearning, for those who recognize the chaos in our lives. he did not live for those who have it altogether anyway.

"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come tocall the righteous, but sinners. Matthew 9:12

"One of the most remarkable features of the human condition is our capacity to pretend that we are healthy when our lives are in total chaos. We work hard to cover up our problems and flaws in our character. We will sacrifice almost anything to keep from facing the truth about ourselves. We work this hard to look good because we experience our human needs, limits and failures with deep shame - a shame that drives us to strive harder and harder to look better and better. We sacrifice our serenity, our relationships,our sanity on the altar of perfectionism. We also sacrifice any possibility of getting the help we need by continuing to insist that "we can handleit."God does not ask such sacrifices from us. God has no need for us to be perfect. Jesus speaks to us gently but very clearly about this issue. He confronts our pretense, shame and perfectionistic strivings. He says in effect "youdo not have to sacrifice yourself in this way.

"You do not have to driveyourself like this. I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I want you to learn tobe mercy-full to yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. It will free you to accept your need of healing. It will allow you to acknowledge your longing for me." Jesus was saying "I did not come to pass out blue ribbons to the peoplewho have all the answers and have worked hard to prove themselves. I came to bring hope and healing to people who know they need help." We can stop shaming and condemning ourselves because God does not shame or condemnus. God knows our brokenness, our pain, our need. We can give up our attempts to prove ourselves and acknowledge our need for help and healing.

"Lord, I don't want to be needy.
I want to be strong for you.
But, I can't sustain the pretense any longer
I have nothing to show for all my efforts to look good.
All I have done is shut you out of my life.
Today I acknowledge my need for you, Lord.
I need your healing and your forgiveness.
I am not healthy.
I need a doctor.
I need you.