Archive | February 2018


the house

This week I saw the hashtag #moremaintenance. It was posted by Keith Anderson who used it to describe how he was doing this winter after dropping some weight and getting healthier but not until Keith accepted that he needed more maintenance than he used to! The hashtag resonated with me.

This Lent my usual spiritual practices of devotional reading, silent meditation, and getting out in the big world of  nature have been slipping out of my mind and fingertips. I know that all these practices bring me to God’s space instead of my anxiety space yet it is hard going this year. Turns out that I need more, rather than less, maintenance.  Longer and more frequent times to sit, walk,  pray, and deeply listen. These practices help me get re-focused when my attention wanders to this temptation or distraction or another.

I am not trying to drop weight. Or maybe I am. Maybe I am trying to drop the weight of distraction and lethargy, despair and ho-hum. When Jesus says “Come to me all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens” he is saying “get off your spiritual butt friend and come to me. I will give you rest from your restlessness. I will give you something worth spending your life doing!” On the other hand he also said to his disciples when they shied away from the heavy lifting  “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”

Here is another reason this more maintenance hashtag resonates with me. During this Lenten season my wife and I are diving deep into another spiritual and  very physical adventure. We are purchasing and getting back into shape a small apartment building for the purpose of helping elders (yikes, we are elders now too!) who are needing a more affordable place to live so they can stay in our town where rents are increasing day by day. Small apartments. Easy to care for. Walking distance to the village. A great vision and something that we can only do if both of us, in our own ways, and together, increase our spiritual maintenance. Turns out we really are high maintenance people!

I had been planning on taking a sabbatical this spring and now, instead of Sabbath, we are both going into high gear. My task this Lent is to maintain connection with Spirit, moment by moment, in whatever I am doing, whether that is painting the apartments or sitting with a parishioner who, like me, is hefting the weight of life’s surprises.

Lent is about anticipating the (lent) lengthening light of spring under the light of the Christ who is inviting me right now, to give up what is holding me back, so I can pick up, rest in and act in the Big Love.

(As always, thanks to Kyle Oliver for his website Creative Common Prayer and his encouragement to re-mix inspirations, including the hashtag #moremaintenance.)


ashes to ashes and in between

Every pastor I know is thinking about, if not struggling with, or laughing out loud about the fact that this year Ash Wednesday falls smack dab on Valentine’s Day. And if that is not crazy enough, Easter falls on April 1. Yup, April Fool’s Day.

I have a good few weeks before April Fools/Easter Sunday so I can let that percolate. But tomorrow is Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Dust thou art; a great reminder that we all have an expiration date AND dust thou shalt return; we don’t know what that date it is.

I  love the oily mess of ashes smeared on our foreheads. I love meditations on where we all go wrong and how much love there is to go around. I love how God reminds us just what we should be fasting from and for and how hard it is to do that. And I love that Jesus resisted his devilish power grabbing impulses. Not because he is bigger and better but because his resistance pulls me on and reminds me how little I am and how big love is. Big enough to stand on the side of and catch it and live in it and be part of it.


Ashes to ashes. We come from the earth, star-dust to be exact. And we go back to the source we came from. In between? That is where we live. In the mix of ashes and oil – the rocky and the smooth, the burnt out and the richness, the sweet stuff of life and the end. Life, where we watch others cross over while we stand there. Living through it, helped along, loved along – through sickness and in health. ‘Till death do us part.

Tonight, with darkness enveloping my wife and I in this cozy house and with tomorrow a possible future to come, I am thinking that is good to have a day when ashes and hearts are overlaid and nobody pretends that love, and life, and death, are easy. A day when love knows no bounds and we would not have it any other way.