Today is the 45th anniversary of my baptism, something that took on a whole new meaning the summer in Burgos, Spain. I was there for a retreat exploring the mystical poetry of 16th Century Carmelites led by my dear friend, former nun, and mystic, Kimberly Braun.[Read more…] about Baptism Beyond Time
Is celebrating 500 years since Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church the celebration of an irrelevant reformation? While those with a vested interest in Luther and/or Protestantism will offer a quick and bold, “Of course it’s not irrelevant!” and will most likely add, “The Gospel is never irrelevant!” the lack of conversation I’m hearing about the anniversary in the broader culture makes me wonder if such a response lacks adequate reflection.
Below is an edited version of the opening section of my 2016 dissertation, Re-Storying God: Re-Imagining the God of the Bible and Re-Enchanting our Neo-Secular Selves. Hopefully, it will add some food for thought as we consider what might be an irrelevant Reformation.
A couple weeks ago, my 10-year-old son Robbie and I attended the Denver Center for the Performing Arts staging of the musical, The Secret Garden. While we both enjoyed the music, the staging, and the story, on the way home we talked about the deeper metaphors within the play.
It started with a conversation about people and the saying, “Hurt people, hurt people.” In case you’re not following, people who are hurting often express their pain by hurting others.
Then we compared hurt people to the locked up secret garden. Then we identified Mary Lennox, her uncle Archibald, and her cousin Colin as locked up gardens. For each, a story explains the door closing, the neglected ground, and the loss of the key. The essence of the story revolves around the healing of those hurts, tending gardens of the heart, and the blooming of souls.
How about you? Is your heart a secret garden? Are you hurting and find yourself hurting others? Here are four keys (pun intended) to tending your secret garden.
As I explained in my Hating God post, hating God through control began my freshman year of high school. At the time, I was ready to check out of the church. That said, I really didn’t have any other place to go. I was an outcast at school, the magic of Boy Scouts vanished, and I didn’t have any other hobbies beyond video games. I was, in every way, lost.
Then a guy named Ken, who volunteered with my parents’ church’s youth group, noticed me. I can’t explain why, but somehow, this lost kid ended up on his radar and he made it his personal mission to save me. Ken was a bit wild and crazy. In my straight-laced world, he had the appeal of a rebel. But more than anything, he cared.
I wasn’t any good at basketball, but he used to drive miles out of his way to pick me up and drop me off for the church’s youth league games and practices. He did the same for other youth group events. Perhaps most importantly, he helped me connect with other youth. Before long, I had friends.
This created a new conundrum for me. I hated God, but all of my friends were connected to the church. How do you balance those two realities? For me, the answer was to control. I used my intellect and the discipline of theology to box in God. It started in high school and continued through undergrad. My Master of Divinity degree is descriptive as my life’s aim was mastering the divine.
It’s hard to identify when I stopped boxing in God. Perhaps in some ways, I have yet to. But here are a few key steps along the journey and a project to help all of us embrace an uncontrollable faith.
As I write this, it’s only a few hours until Mother’s Day. As is often the case, I’m woefully under-prepared. I bought cards (thanks to Kiana reminding me) and planned to send them, but a tea-related transit accident killed ruined those intentions. I haven’t replaced them. The meal prep I should have sorted out by now is still waiting for a Google recipe search. All my good intentions for celebrating the most important women in my life (my wife, mom, my mother-in-love, and Nana) now sit in the “maybe next year” pile.
Looking at what I haven’t done, I realize it’s the kind of stuff that those important women always prioritize, plan in advance for, and ceaselessly find themselves ready for when the day arrives. It could be part of a mother’s love … or maybe it’s that I’m still losing to a heart that’s turned in on itself.
All that said, moms have been on my mind tonight. I’m working a late night shift stocking footwear at REI. It’s peaceful in the warehouse and, beyond my podcasts, my only company is my thoughts. So I shuck shoes and think about moms and their love. Then, when on breaks, I’ve been scribbling down my thoughts.
So here are three takes on a mother’s love from three moms who’ve been part of my life. Please share your story in the comments below and happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.