Sunday, July 31, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (4) Something To Believe In

While I was in Guatemala last year, I wore my faithful Minnetonka Roll-Up Hat as I have on every excursion over the past decade. I had also rolled a bandanna and tied it around my head to reduce the amount of sweat that ran onto my face. 

I heard several of our group softly laughing, and I heard them say that I was trying to be Bret Michaels. I was perplexed. I had never heard of the man. I was raised as an only child, and in my home, secular music really wasn't something we heard. Naturally, my curiosity was peaked, and I knew that some homework was needed. me!

Bret Michaels
Chad P. Shepherd
 Yeah, I totally see the resemblance. We both have hats, we both have bandannas, hey... we even both have earrings! 

And it gets pretty pathetically funny from there! I think he has a little more of the "it factor" than I do. But, for what it's worth I will be rocking my hat and bandanna again this year, and he ain't getting any younger!

When we came home I was telling this story to my friend Kayci, and he immediately started scrolling through his phone. Suddenly I hear the music of Something To Believe In by Poison. It caught my attention and I downloaded it to my DroidX while sitting there. I now know the words by heart and can often be seen tearing down I-75 Southbound with the windows down and singing along.
I tried all night not to break down and cry
as the tears streamed down my face.
I felt so cold and empty
like a lost soul out of place.
The song captures that part of us that we don't let others often see. You know what I'm talking about. Those quiet moments when the day is done and you are left alone with your thoughts and reflections you just can't shut off when you close your eyes. When you feel the smallness of yourself and the enormity of the world and the impossible gap between the two. 

There is reason to doubt all around us. So many questions of WHY? 

Have you reached that point when sanity seems to have just slipped out of reach, and then you are desperate for something to cling to? Just the smallest finger hold of something to believe in?

This is a struggle that we all engage in. I am no exception, and you know it well too. We are all created the same, with the same needs and desires. Here is a recent interpretation of this cry of the human heart:

You spend your days alone still hopin' for the truth, oh
But all you hear are lies
But no on else is gonna tell you what to do now
No one else is gonna help you hold the line

What do you do when reality lands squarely on your soul when you least expect it?

I found myself one early winter day, deep in thought with this song and pulled my car over to take a moment. I saw an old cemetery and drove my car down the narrow lane. I heard the gravel crunching under the tires until I arrived at the peak of the hill. I shut the car off, buttoned up my coat, pulled on my gloves and began walking. I noticed the quiet stillness of the day. I could only hear the wind blowing through the needles of the surrounding pines. I looked across the landscape and saw this striking monument.

Angel Stone In West Chester, OH

The beauty and power of the wings that cover the posture of prayer spoke to my belief. I have kept this picture on my phone and I often look at it to remember that day.

There is a power that is available when we allow our belief to direct our actions.

Give me something to believe in. This is at the core of us all. How can we get through this life if we lack belief?

Adam Agin... your line, You can't believe in Nothing, from I Will Come Alone, seizes my mind and calms the chaos that attempts to take hold.

So here I sit, ending this day contemplating the words of Poison, Parachute, & Neulore; understanding that my true belief remains found in the shadow of his wing.

Psalm 63:7, 36:7, 17:8, 57:1

Take refuge in the shadow of his wings, and find your belief there. 

I return to this place daily, and I find something to believe in. Belief then leads us to action. In six short days I will go all Bret Michaels on Guate. I ask that you come alongside me on this experience. There is so much that can be done. 

So, from my ramblings of Poison & a Parachute, and my contemplations of wings from a grave marker... I challenge you to search out your something to believe in, and then act on it. Embrace your belief and combat the silence of the night with the knowledge that you are making a difference.

Make a difference for the least of these... clothe, feed, provide shelter. I promise you will find belief in this place.

<< click HERE to learn more >>

Saturday, July 30, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (3) You Can't Believe In Nothing

Neulore at JourneyChurch...for Mimi's House

I was a bit freaked when I was asked to MC the intermission after the opening act (you rocked Marrisa) but I got through it with some self-deprecating humor and the smile of my wife. I sneaked away with my friend and we successfully purchased a couple of coffees. I returned and sat down, and readied myself for the band to begin their set.

I had never heard of Neulore, but I had been told that they were good. I kind of figured, eh... whatever, here we go. Hopefully the next hour wouldn't drag on too slowly.

And then the music started. I was at first in awe, and within minutes I was in tears. I remain overwhelmed with the power and beauty that rained down from that young three man team. I am convinced that the view from the window in my soul is shared by Adam Agin. I am astounded that God has shaken him with the same realizations of which my own awareness has been arrested.

When I first heard the lyric, I thought it was just another pop culture reference that sacrificed grammar for street credibility or an attempt to gain swagger. And then I listened closer. I listened with from the depth of my soul. Double negative rule... you have met your match.

"You can't believe in nothing."

Realization swept through me like warm water pouring down my back. This line was simple perfection. Have you tried to believe in nothing? I have. And I agree... you can not believe, in nothing. 

Another Neulore song focuses on this concept of belief. Take a listen to Apples (When You Lost Your Belief).

If we never bend our knees,
we'll not see what's underneath

If we close our hands to reach,
we'll never hold beginnings

You can't run with standing feet,
not when you've lost your belief

I sat in that auditorium and felt dual tears running down each side of my face. It is such a shattering moment when you realize that you have lost your belief. I have been there, and it is a desolate place. 

For me, it was over a year ago... and my world was shattered due to my own decisions. What is left when you have lost your belief? 


Nothing is left.

And you know what? You can't believe in-- NOTHING.

I made a choice that day, sitting in my car in the middle of a snowstorm. In the face of nothing, I wanted to feel the certainty of belief. I didn't have it, and I had lost it so completely... I wasn't sure if I had ever really had it. But I knew that if I was to have any chance at life, well then I needed it. I found myself willing to take steps that I believed were right, regardless of where my wounded, selfish nature hid.

Each day was a conscious effort and a daily commitment. I was searching for my belief.

This was around late February and early March of 2010. I struggled daily with moments of near insanity and tear-stained guilt. I felt empty and lost inside. Dead. I was willing to try anything.

Even a trip to Guatemala.

Our church was going on a week-long trip to build a home. My wife wanted to go. I felt pointless and directionless in my own life, and so I agreed by default.

Within 24 hours of my work on that mountainside, surrounded by tons of dirt that I needed to move and with the beautiful horizon of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes... my soul was restored. This missionary journey to Guatemala was the renewed salvation of my own belief.

In the tons of dirt I saw the past of my life. In the ambiance of the environment (chickens clucking, tortillas being patted, dogs barking, goats ah, goating...) I listened to the noise of my being. In the distant hazy horizon of the mountaintops I saw the beauty of what my life could be. 

And in the relationships that developed with the men I worked with, I saw the man that I wanted to become. I worked alongside men who were small in stature, and simply were literal giants in inner substance. Men who gave themselves fully to the life that they embraced. I watched their every move, every gesture, every expression, every reaction by the people around them... I watched them critically and in awe for a week.

I saw how their labor and sweat and smile in the midst of it all built up hope from the dust of the earth. I watched how their worship in song and sincerity of heart brought real joy to their faces. I watched how these two men were looked at by their wives and by their children-- and I often had to hide my face as I was overcome by the emotion that Noahed my mind.

I saw true belief. I believed in the answer to my nothingness. I saw the genuine article, and I knew that how I viewed myself and the world had been indelibly and forever altered.

I had been trying to run on standing feet... I had lost my belief.

And I found it here, in the most unlikely of places. And the beauty of the world opened up. I walked a hard road to get to this place, but I am so thankful that I am here.

Everyday is not always easy, and at times I still lose sight. I still reach with closed hands and forget that my vision is best when I bend my knees. But then I remember my true belief.

As the days pass by and I near my return to Guatemala... my mind is a torrent of emotion. I am so thankful for Adam and Neulore

The guys helped us raise $1,000 that night, and we had 4 new pledges to sponsor girls at Mimi's house and those are simply awesome results. And yet, I also walked away changed. I was in need of a boost, and the serendipitous nature of the author of true belief once again found me where I was.

I am so thankful.

<<click HERE to learn more>>

This is my passion. My life has been changed by what is taking place here. I invite you to come alongside with me. Come and let your life be made true. I need you to walk beside me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (2) The Gravity of my Soul

I can feel the weight of the world tonight. There are times I swear I can feel the turn of the earth and the relentless press of gravity on my bones. When the days seem so long and life just seems so short. No matter how much you can do, you know deep down that it will never be enough... and still, at times you don't even make the effort to take care of the easy things because you feel so overwhelmed. The vastness of it all both sets me in awe and paralyzes me into immobility.

There are no evil men and there are no good men. We are simply men who have the potential of doing either. Each day when the sun rises, we take air into our lungs and set our feet in motion in the terrestrial pursuit of our souls. We have the adverse duality of greatness versus mere typicality and whether we will leverage that ability towards good or bad endeavors.

For example, I would say that Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. were both great men. This is not a judgment on their actions, rather a measurement of their effect in reaching their desired goals. Both men changed the world and won over the hearts and trust of millions, one to inspire the world to be better, and the other to forever scar humanity. Clearly being great is simply not good enough. Many a great man has sent chaos and destruction loose on the innocent. 

I am convinced that the greatest sin in the world is that man who has the potential to do good, recognizes that good, and then turns away from it. I believe that this is the origin of evil in many a man. 

Think of how differently the world would have been if Martin Luther King Jr. did not have the courage to carry him through the strength of his convictions. Or, how differently the world may have been if Hitler had a morality to capture the spirit of a nation and lead it down a path of equality and freedom.

I get so concerned that I am just another face in a crowd of billions. I lead an average life and at times I burn for so much more. It is so easy to be distracted by the great and lose sight of the good.

At the end of the day, it would be better to have lived a quiet life that held goodness, than it would be to have shaken the world and die an empty, wicked man. I think of how much time we spend worrying about so much that will never matter.

What would it profit a man now, to gain the whole world and lose his soul? 

Steve Camp wrote a song over a decade ago (1991), and the words loop in my head:

Could I be called a Christian if everybody knew
The secret thoughts and feelin's of everything I do
Would they see the likeness of Christ in me each day
Could they hear Him speaking in every word I say

Could I be called a Christian if my faith I did not show
If I did not go to places where the Lord would have me go
If I do not love His truth, if I do not guard His trust
If I cherish more than Jesus, my greatest hidden lust

Could I be called a Christian and believe not His holy word
If I take Him as my Savior and then refuse Him as my Lord
If I could not love the outcast and am not burdened for the lost
If I fail to deny myself and each day take up my cross

To be all He's commanded
To do all that He said
To be His true disciple
And place no confidence in the flesh
To glory in Christ Jesus
It's He who justifies
O, to find your life you must lose it
To live you first must die
Let every man examine his own life

O, to find your life you must lose it
To live you first must die
Let every man examine his own life
Could I be called a Christian

 These words run like a subtitle across my conscious thoughts and I am challenged beyond cognition. To truly believe the teachings of Jesus would mean that I can not live a typical life. How can I believe his message and not have my life altered? Could I... can I be called a Christian?

How many have I seen hungry and fed? How many have I seen naked and clothed? How many opportunities have I seen that I could have done good... and yet I passed them by? How many times have I chosen a selfish path? How much more could I show compassion, patience, kindness, and be a light in the darkness?

I am deeply challenged tonight. There is so much that can be done. So much more than my typing hands and preaching mouth could ever accomplish. 

This world doesn't need another preacher, or another comfortable congregation singing hymns and polished in their Sunday best.

This world needs salt and light.

I feel the weight of the world tonight, and I feel so poorly equipped to react. 

There's more to this life than living and dying,
more than just trying to make it through the day.
More to this life than these eyes alone can see
and there's more than this life alone can be. -Steven Curtis Chapman 1989 Lyrics
Original Lamp, Chincoteague Lighthouse

May God find us here and make a way. 

May I never lose this perspective 

And may I never pass by the moment to first do good.
<<Click HERE to make a difference today>>

Monday, July 25, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (1) Hat By the Door, Heart in My Throat!

My boots still have dust from the earth of the home we helped build last year. My jeans and bandana rest on the floor beside my hat and we have begun to assemble our checklist.Each morning brings me closer to stepping on that 747 at CVG with my wife and a small rag-tag group of passionate adventurers. I look forward to feeling the thrust of the plane and hearing the electrical wump-bang of the wheels locking into the fuselage.

We will make our mandatory pilgrimage through customs, and (as always) I will receive: a full body scan, an intimate pat and rub, questions of my intentions, and a search through my bags. You make think this is because of the earrings, but think again. This has always been the case for me. No big thing though, I know the drill, and it will go smoothly. It will all be worth it when we step through that barricade at customs and collapse into the embraces of the family who will fill the myriad roles of: hosts, guides, interpreters, drivers, task-masters, cheerleaders, pastors, and dearest life-long friends.

Each member of Team BA will carry 100 lbs. of needed donations for the children and people at Mimi's House and the village of Cerro Alto where we will build and hope to fully furnish two homes. After a full day of lugging them in and out of planes, trains, and automobiles... we will be happy to open them up and begin to see the everyday lives of people we love become measurably better with the small bits of necessity that otherwise simply would not be had.

There will be fresh socks and shoes to protect small feet as they run and play and work. There will be dresses for tiny little girls and matching shoes. The dresses will be beautiful, but they will pale in comparison of the beauty of the smiles they create. There will be necessities given for hygiene, and essential foods and nutrients provided for a healthy survival.

As much as we can bring... it will not measure up to the experience we gain when our eyes meet theirs and our souls touch through the barrier of culture and language. An understanding will again rise deep in our souls that will remind us firmly who we are, what we have received, and what we are to do.

This is my favorite photo from 2010. We built a home in El Campanero. Each day while we worked, she giggled at us while she watched from the house above. You can see her in the picture with her new stuffed giraffe. I have stared at this picture many times. The camera captured the spirit of the moment. Look at the wonder and delight in her face. This is why we go.

We began working on the house that would provide for the first time a private bedroom for a mother, and a separate bedroom for her children. They would have a common room that they could share life together in as a family, safe from the wind and rain. A quiet, private place that would allow them dignity and security. Holding that giraffe, she knew that she was loved, and she felt the wonder that every child should feel... the magic of imagination that a loved toy brings to your life.

Before and after shots of a dream realized. What was once an abandoned hillside, today holds the lives of a mother and her two children. A young girl with a giraffe to hold, and a near teenage boy who now has a safe place to study and learn what it means to be a responsible man.  A home for a mother to hold her children tight against the wind, the rain, and the harshness of a world that we all know can be desolate.

So much can be done for so many and for so small a cost. A family can have a fully furnished home for $3,000.00  For anyone who ever wonders if life matters, or if anything lasting can be done... I offer you this, and I tell you yes.

August 6th, Kellie and I will be flying back to this place that has forever captured our hearts and changed how we intend to live our lives. We have packed our donations and sent ahead the money that will make our trip possible. We are in need of nothing.

Take a moment to hit this link, and you will see where we are going. For the first time, the people in this village will receive outside help, and they are eager to share life with us. Here, take a look-- Cerro Alto Summer 2011.      

There is still time for you to make a lasting impact. Please call me at 513-292-1521 and I will take your money to make a difference in the lives of those who Jesus has called, "the least of these."

Come, and live out this great commission with me. I can send you specific pictures and videos of the lives that you can touch. Any amount can make a difference. $5 buys shoes, and $50 can make a difference in a home.

It would give me great joy to share the love and generosity of my family and friends from back home, to these people who have given and shown me so much in Guatemala.

If you are considering my words, please sponsor a girl at Mimi's House. These are beautiful children who are given real meaning and a shot at life. What you give to them will multiply and reach far beyond the measure of your own life. $30 a month will provide a wonderful home along with a top notch education. Check out the link below!

<< Click Here >>
Take the time to view the link and see the beauty that is Mimi's House. Kellie and I sponsor one of the girls, Julissa, and last year we were able to meet her. In a few short days... we will see her again!

Call me today with a donation, or a sponsorship. 100% of project money goes to the project.

The Stairs Have Gone Asunder.

I once slid a refrigerator down those stairs that are now asunder. The door in the peak was once my seal to the world. Maybe this is why I have nightmares about incomplete staircases? We once hid a cat for 18 months with the landlady living below. I remember stuffing her into a closet when we heard a knock on the door.

Allow me to clarify...

It was the cat that I stuffed in the closet, not the landlady. We always secretly feared that the landlady would lay in wait for us in the dark basement. It was lit by a single bulb that hung from a rusty chain in the middle of the cobwebbed darkness. After watching Silence of The Lambs I always imagined that when I pulled the chain I would be met with her face staring like stone into my eyes.

1995 was the year we said our vows and built our home at the top of the stairs that have now gone asunder. $250 a month with a reduction every time I mowed the lawn. If we ran low on cash, it was mowed frequently. I remember hanging my Dole/Kemp sign from the banister.

I still think of the Saturday Night Live skit and the line, "Bob Dole likes Peanut Butter."

These were our beginnings. Ramen Noodles, Cans of Pringles, an occasional fire department visit, hidden felines and rippers in the basement.

About 300 square feet, a 13' TV with bunny ears, and a Brother Word Processor. A single car that ran (most of the time) and a bicycle that I rode 3 miles to and from my evening shifts at the mental health center. We owned the world.

I like to look back at where I've been to see if there is any hope of reaching the place I am drawn towards. I am not naturally inclined to regret the past or to fear the future. I believe that who I am today is a summary of both. My faith and deep belief do not allow room for doubt.

There is no room for fear in this aerosol existence. The duration and condition of my temporal abide is mere static against the pulse of this timeless heart.

I hear far too much preaching and see far too little doing. Despair and worry are companions of the stalled. Far too many people choke the joy from their own throats with the unwillingness to put feet to their conviction. I will trade away like garbage in a can the dual charades of fear and hope for the truth of belief and action.

I have lost all tolerance for worrisome Christians. I will not fear for tomorrow. I will not waste a single day allowing my energy to be sapped by doubt.  No one wins a race by fearing a fall.

I remember those days in that attic apartment and I remember them with a peaceful sort of smile. The worries that threaten to consume my soul today are rubbish. They get in the way of this present.

Our worries either are too small to really matter, or they are too big to really solve. What is important is that we recognize the moment that we are given, this eternity that remains... and is known simply as now.

In the quiet darkness of the cellar of my soul, what will I see when I pull the rusty chain?

The stairs are gone asunder... and yet the door at the threshold remains. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

CHINCOTEAGUE: Midnight Dreaming On The Water.

The past five nights I have sat on the screened in porch overlooking the canal and watched the reflections of the moon on the slick glass surface of the water. Blue crabs climb up the walls and release back into the depths with a splash. Small silver fish and small scurrying shrimp splash and click along the surface of the water. I look out into the panorama and I imagine it as it once was when inhabited by natives in converted tree trunk canoes.

Tonight I decided to experience as much of that as my imagination would allow.

I slipped on my favorite hoodie and doused my legs and head with mosquito repellent. I grabbed my Android and a small flashlight. I slipped on my water shoes and stepped out into the darkness. 

As I pushed away from the dock I felt the kayak glide softly over the surface. It didn't make a sound.  However, the night was alive with sounds that my mind quickly attempted to identify. I could hear a far off air-conditioning unit, a nearby bug-zapper, the traffic 3 miles away crossing the bridge, nightlife insects, the  crabs with their soft splashes... and the occasional noise that I could not explain. My mind went to the scene on the lake from Friday The 13th when the people were pulled into the water. I felt a chill and shudder shake through my body--and then quickly pushed away the thought.

The moon was full tonight and so I began taking a few quick pictures as I paddled up the canal, crossing the 300 yards to the bay. Tonight was simply about a little risk and a little adventure. High stakes stuff for this 36 year old. I was in a kayak that I was forbidden to use, paddling with a plastic paddle that was meant for a child's toy, with no life vest, no lights, and in a canal of unknown depth. I was keenly aware that I was violating several rules: expired tags on boat, night-time crossing, no life vests... blah, blah, blah.

I figured that the early native Americans didn't have any of that stuff either, and I knew that I could swim the short distance to the canal wall if necessary. What is life without a little risk? So I kept quietly paddling up the canal.
I love solitude, and this moment was a nice contrast to the earlier day. There had been morning kayak runs with the kids, donuts, a museum visit, time at the beach, shopping, and of course dinner. It has been a very nice week with some appreciated rest and time with family. I took the moment to reflect. Our week draws to an end in the next 48 hours and I am not yet ready to see it end.

I came to the mouth of the bay and snapped one final shot. The photographs you see are using only the light of the moon. It was absolutely startling how bright the night seemed as my bow entered the expanse of the open water. I stopped moving and just felt the glide of the craft across the surface. I could see the lighthouse sweeping slowly off to my right and I followed its beam as it painted the tops of the trees.

The sky was like a living canvas with a thousand points of light. A reversed image of the sky rested on the water and the dual moons teased my brain. Suddenly a fish jumped out of the water just off the bow of the boat and I again thought of being pulled into the water by some unknown beast from below.

I decided that I had experienced enough adventure and pushed my luck enough out here alone on this liquid landscape. A stroke at a time I silently made my way back to our rented house, docked and tied the kayak, and then stepped off safely once again on dry land.

I will lay my head down on my pillow to dream tonight and maybe I will dream of Indians on a stream, or of monsters in a lake. Whatever the case, I am glad that I took my own small journey tonight.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

CHINCOTEAGUE: Brick by Brick and the Sagacity of Time

Assateague Lighthouse
At 154 feet high, it hides in the shadow of nothing but the clouds. In 1883 it was raised from the ground a single brick at a time.  I have some experience laying bricks and blocks and it is a very honest sort of work. There are no shortcuts you can take without risking the integrity of the structure. Brick by brick and endless trowels of morter that start from the first stone in the dirt and end with the satisfaction of smoothing the mud over that final piece after it sits level and plumb.

I can only imagine the skill that it took to set that final brick into place 15 stories above the earth. In my discussion with the caretaker I learned that no repair has ever been required on the structure. It was built with skill, with nerve, and a serious sense of stick-to-it-ness.

My family and our closest friends climbed the 175 steps to the top, pausing at the three landings visible in the photo to mark our progress. As I felt my lungs expand and felt the sweat trickle past my ear I reflected on the necessary 15 gallons of oil that had to be carried up the steps by the keeper each day in order to keep the flame burning.

Much is said about lighthouses and many parallels drawn from their role in bringing ships safely to shore and around rocky coasts. Today what struck me was the immense effort required to construct it and also to maintain it. If the men who were tasked with those jobs were concerned with an easy life, or tempted to find shortcuts to make their jobs easier, then it would be unlikely that the lighthouse would ever had served its intended purpose.

The view from the top was amazing. We stepped out of the heavy, stifling air of the upper chamber and into the sunlight and cool gust of the exterior landing. As our eyes adjusted, we began to examine the circular horizon.

This lighthouse has stood far longer than the men who build it. Those hands that knew hard labor and bore the evidence of callouses and cracks had long since laid down their tools. I thought of the men who had set those lines and tapped those brick into place. I thought of them risking their own safety as they made that climb every day. And I wondered what their lives were like when quitting time came each day... did they have children at home waiting to see them? Did their wives anticipate their return each evening with a smile and an embrace? I have to think that they knew that their sacrifice was for building something that would change lives, and for something that would last. Something bigger than themselves-- in every sense of the phrase.

We came down from our experience with history and we mounted our bicycles and we sought out the loop trail that we had seen from the top of the lighthouse. As I was riding out ahead, I pointed my camera backwards and snapped a random shot over my head. I continued to ride as I held the camera and reviewed the shot. You can see my son, Caleb in pursuit behind me. He had left the crowd and was racing behind me as we circled the loop in the 95 degree heat.  The thought that has captivated since that moment is, what will I build that will last?

When I have been forgotten, will there be anything left standing to bear witness to the life that I lived? Do I have the integrity and the sagacity to wear the callouses of hard work on the hands of my soul? Do I have the patience and the nerve that it takes to build up that tower? As my children follow my example and I feel the weight of their children's gaze on my back, will I leave for them a legacy that reaches beyond my days on the earth, or will I allow my existence to blow like the sand that whips over the surface of the beach?

You see... this is me. Not so much to look at really. I like funny hats and I have a few tattoos that mean a great deal to me. I am a person who gets lost in his thoughts. I need things to ground me, and to provide constant reminders of who I am, where I have been, and where I intend to go. I look at myself and I wonder what my children see.

I know that I am capable of paying my bills and fulfilling my professional obligations in my job. But lately I am concentrating on trying to be a better man, a better husband, a better father, a better son, a better friend. I am not always successful. My failures have to be lessons learned, but they can not be barriers that impede my journey.

As I look back at the horizon of our shared life to this point, I am relieved to see some order emerging from the path. I think success is not whether my name will ever be remembered, but rather if the time I spent and the work that I gave, along with the fervent embrace of those I have committed forever to... bears evidence to stand as a beacon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CHINCOTEAGUE: Wind, Mosquitos, and Blue Crabs.

The pull of the moon brings in the sound of the tide that pulses in the distance. I can see the ripples of the water in the nearby canal in the reflections of its light. The wind kisses my skin, calming the heat that is residual in red from the light of day. An occasional mosquito tweaks my ear.

I am wrapped in the shadow of the moon and held by the warmth of the salty wind. I feel the truth of the wooden deck beneath my bare feet. I can feel the deep history of the forest in the texture of the grain. The only sounds at this hour are the voices of the earth. The wind and the tide call to and fro, back and forth in a sort of symphony that is larger than me.

My family is sleeping inside, and my soul has achieved a moment of calm. We are held in a week of respite. This is vacation. A time for my mind to grasp the happenings of the temporal surroundings.  A brief moment of refection to test how much my awareness can capture.

In the harbor below, a mesh pot with bait awaits the coming of Blue Crabs who will be my dinner tomorrow. I can imagine their climb into the chamber and imagine that the sounds of the water carry the click click tap of their scurry.

Questions loom on the horizon. Choices of the day that will change the course of a life. I see my children who seem so much older than I remember them. I resist this notion that "time flies" and yet, I feel the fear of its truth. I want my children to experience life and grow up, and yet... I am so desperate to cling to their innocence.

I remember when life was so simple for me.

I must confess, I do like it better now... and yet, there are times that I long for the days of innocence.

But for now... this is a moment of quiet voices on the wind. Soon we will travel to Guatemala to have our lives touched by those whom we work alongside. And, soon... we will travel to China to adopt the baby who will again change our lives with her love. And soon... I await to see what path my career will bring to me as I sort it through the lens of our overall goals.

I also see the lives of those in Guatemala and my soul pulls me to them. I find great truth and feelings of (no word for this so I will make my own) "right-ness" for the sweat, time, and effort that we spent investing with them.

We pray. Yes, we pray a great deal. We want this life to be worthwhile. It is too valuable to spend any other way. We all bleed. We all hurt. We all laugh. We all dream. We are not all so different at the end of the day.

The moonlight shines down on us all. In the quiet of the night we are wrapped in the coverings of our lives. I am not ashamed to yield my life to the one who I believe holds me in his hand. There is nothing that I can risk that can equal the good of the one to whom I cling.

My own personal sacrifice, is nothing. I am a being who often exists between the corporal nature of my own nature and the spiritual longing of my soul.

And here, in the moonlight... I am aware of my entire self.

I am thankful for this time of reflection, and I am simply enraptured by the sound of the wind chasing the tide. We have committed to this life, and I expect to live extraordinary things.

In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman..."there is more to this life than living and dying. More than just trying to make it through the day. More than these eyes alone can see. And there's more, than this life alone can be."