Living as a human being is a symphony comprised of a yearning melody punctuated by powerful collisions of musical caprice. The consequences are universal. We learn as we walk, we dream as we sleep, and we plead as we turn our beautiful faces toward the Father. The mirror on our wall shows us a version of ourselves, but the real reflection of who we are is the one that we see in His eyes.
How does He see us? Many will suggest He sees us as undeserving mooches, bent on being idiots. Many will be wrong.
I suggest He sees you as the Perfect Parent would. His view filters through a robust, immovable beam of parental love, pride, and protection. He made you. He is pleased with Himself, as He should be. You are wonderfully and fearfully made.
A lot of people have asked me about Shabbat from the perspective of those who do not observe Shabbat...meaning, how does one navigate through the details of being friends with Sabbath-keepers when you are not one? I find this incredibly admirable that people would care to be respectful of this, and I honour the people who have inquired about this to me in this way.
The Sabbath is the time (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) when a Sabbath keeper rests, joins peacefully with family, ceases all creating, remains in a place of harmony and celebration, focuses on the Torah, and enjoys being set apart from the activities we must do on the other 6 days.
What does this look like for you in terms of what to expect from a Sabbath Keeper on the Sabbath?
I have a vivid memory from childhood when I was about 3 years old. My Mother and I were at the grocery store. As we stood in line at the checkout, I couldn't help but be mesmerized by the display of candy bars that were exactly at my eye level. All lined up in organized rows, wrapped in packaging I couldn't yet read but still recognized; they beckoned me.
I recalled the previous shopping trip when my Mother bought a candy bar, unwrapped it in the car, and divided it between my siblings and myself. The two bites I got felt like happiness I could chew. The nuts, caramel, and squishy stuff that tasted like a sweet cloud covered in chocolate infiltrated my world with intoxicating pleasure. The crinkling sound of the wrapper as it was torn off was like a...
"How many million Aprils came
before I ever knew
how white a cherry bough could be,
a bed of squills, how blue
And many a dancing April
when life is done with me,
will lift the blue flame of the flower
and the white flame of the tree
Oh burn me with your beauty then,
oh hurt me tree and flower,
lest in the end death try to take
even this glistening hour..."
- Sara Teasdale, Blue Squills, 1920
Beauty can burn. In real time, the slow, pensive exhale of spring can be a piercing experience for the heart that has been frozen by an unyielding winter. Like a bird landing at last from its migratory frenzy, there is that screeching halt as the yoke of endurance bumps up against our back with a thud. For some of us, coping had become an involuntary ruminatio...
The morning breeze billows the sheer white curtains in and out of the open sliding door as if they are engaged in a waltz from the sky. As I sit out on my patio watching this exchange, my heart stirs and I remember a thousand moments like this in the flash of a second. These are the bits which leave the most lasting impressions on me. The wind is being slurped up into my thirsty house which has been closed up, still, and dormant all night long,
Every morning, by opening the rooms this way, I immediately design my day with the hope of receptiveness. My home exhales from the work of guarding and sheltering the humans, and then inhales fresh wisps from the vault of Heaven. I smile inside because it is within this simplicity I understand prayer.
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, Adonai will not hear. But certainly Elohim had heard me. He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be Adonai who has not turned away my prayer nor His mercy from me!" ~Psalm 66:16-20
Deuteronomy 19:14 teaches us not to encroach on our neighbor's property. Boundaries are mentioned throughout scripture with a mandate to honor them. Many people understand this principle within the obvious physical aspect of land encroachment, then also extrapolate that to emotional intrusions in the context of human interaction. I believe they are correct in doing so. Gaining wisdom to set and respect boundaries with our neighbors and Kingdom community is a vital pursuit that benefits both parties involved....
The fall feasts are upon us. Just as the lilac light of summer fades into the golden hues of Autumn, our ears are perked for the zig zagged path of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles. As we unpack the fall feasts, one at a time, we experience something new, something mournful, and something joyous. It remains a gift that the diverse elements of these appointed times reach in and touch each corner of our emotional compasses.
The feasts walk us through a fresh start, a great anguish, and a great delight. The conclusion of these festivals is a last great day... the 8th day…. a day that prophetically means forever and without end. We are transformed in these weeks as these rehearsals dig into our soil to harvest all that we have allowed to be planted in...
Sitting here at my desk I am acutely aware that my leather swiveling writing chair has become a stranger to me. What used to be my familiar companion now feels more like a seat for a visitor. I look at my planning calendar for the past three months, and it mimics a chaotic list of frenzied graffiti. I have been blazing through these recent days. Today, I have become still and ready to return to this chair.
This morning, as I watch the trees outside my window submit their branches to the hot summer wind blowing through them, I consider how they are the same trees when they are still as when they wave gracefully orchestrated by the wind. Being a seeker of identifying how the natural teaches us the spiritual, I pause and ponder this reality of the lovely trees....
When leaf green starts dominating my peripheral vision, a sigh of accomplishment smears that color into my frontal view. Winter has spoken, but springtime prevails. Living in the NorthEast allows a close-up view of this reawakening of life, growth, and new beginnings. Bone chilling rains and gusty mountain winds separate the season of dormancy from the season of stirring. When the first velvety breezes brush your skin in this part of the country you smile inside and breathe in the message of hope.
The silence you have heard from me for the past weeks is partly the result of some extensive travel, both across oceans and along distant trails leading me to new understandings. Buried underneath the frozen, unyielding ground were notions, ideas, and partial sen...
When feelings teach us facts, facts can teach us feelings.
Here it is late November, and I am just sending my first shout out all month. Due to the oh so humbling feedback I get from dear brothers and sisters who tell me that these weekly nuggets of encouragement are things they look for and enjoy very much, one might think I should apologize for my lateness. Knowing my audience, I am not even tempted to. Doing so would fracture the bond we have as Believers walking through a dark world, together, in compassion, and in solidarity. When I am weak, you are strong. In sharing here, perhaps you will connect with this and be encouraged. In my present state, this is what I feel called to do.
It's a snowy, blustery day here in Vermont. I am sitting at my desk lookin...