Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cigars that Smoke Good and Bow-Legged Women

The Blind Sensation meets....

Ok, admittedly, this post has nothing to do with the title. I've found myself listening to a lot of Waylon Jennings lately and I've remembered how my dad used to sing the opening line of Lukenbach, TX. This was his own unique version.(Incidentally, I don't know what's up with my muscial tastes lately. I've also been digging on Ray Charles. When he says "Go on Margie, sing your song," I get chills. I almost pee when Margie sings "BAYBAHHHHH!" ...even when her words come out of Rudy Huxtable's mouth....)

I don't have original ideas anymore. These days, I just comment on other people's observations. This is no exception.

I think that when "older" people refer to "America," they're referring to a place where poverty and racial prejudice can be eliminated. Some Americans remember segregation and when war and economic depression made everyone poor. So, they've seen some enormous strides in both of those areas.

People born in the 1970s and '80s don't remember those things and don't have a grasp of the progress made. In my mind, that could be a good thing. There is still a lot to be done and the time to rest on our laurels isn't now. (What is a laurel, anyway? Is it like a big fat self-rightous pillow?)I get so excited when I consider the possibility of making as much progress in the next generations as in last generations! This is the possibility in America that I love so much. Pause for a moment and just consider what our world could be if that happened.

Unfortunately, I've seen some real Anti-American sentiment among the young lately. It's a puzzle to me because I think we live in the richest and most opportunity-filled period of American history. This isn't your mom's America. It's better. Perhaps it's just a reaction to some of George Bush's neo-con foreign policy (YES, I went there J.P.!! I'm not sure what that means, but I said it!) but I hate seeing such negativity because it is paralyzing. How are we going to make America more fully the "land of the free" if we've given up? Well, we aren't. If we don't fight for America, where are the poor who gain financial stability and the black folks who rise up above racism and the marginalized who plop right down in the middle of things going to live?

Oh, Canada? Whatever. I hope Canada is game. Or France. Or Greenland.

The Texas Hoss. When I get to heaven, I want to hear them both.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

No Comment

'Cause it's all about "staying places for free."

Friday, August 25, 2006

I would be authentic if I could figure out who I am!

God is an artist in sea and sand. This is a view from the beach of Hunting Island looking back over the bay toward Fripp Island, South Carolina.

I'll be 30 years old in November. This seems like a milestone, but I thought I was turning 30 last year until my mother set me straight. So, I guess this year's a kind of do-over. In his book A Resilient Life (try not to focus on the cheesy Christian plug, it's really a wise book), Gordon MacDonald writes about the questions we face at each decade of our lives. About the thirties, he writes: "Thirty-somethings find themselves asking, why am I not a better person?"

That's true. Why am I not a better person? (What does better mean, anyhow? Better than what?)

As I've been thinking about this, I've come to understand the difference between my flesh and my heart. I've always just thought that my flesh was the most genuine part of me, that if I were boiled to bones in a cast-iron pot, my flesh would be what remained. It's a wretched and disabling thought that my core identity springs from the part of me that speaks harshly to my husband, curses my friends behind their backs, is lazy, selfish and cowardly. Nevertheless, I've subjected myself to that idea for the whole of my life. I've stood in front of the mirror, seen the parts of myself most twisted and warped by the Fall of Man and said "This is who you really are. Now, you've got to work really hard to keep anyone from finding out!" Evil was whispering in my ear. What a lie.

I'm recently able to peek out from all of the self-protective layers and hear the voice of the Holy Spirit say to me: You know that part of yourself you've been hiding? That part of yourself you thought was the most real? Not only is that part of you not the biggest, it's not even real. I fixed that a long time ago. I don't remember it. Nobody remembers it. It doesn't drive you. It doesn't control you. What are you hiding from? If your new heart is at your core, there isn't anything to hide.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rambling of a Zen Christian

I read David's Psalm 32 this morning and the first few verses spoke to me in a new and different way. I think that when the Holy Spirit draws us in a new direction to expand our understanding of ourselves (which is always by our understanding of ourselves as we relate to Him) he illuminates the scripture as confirmation. Maybe that's why we speak of scripture as being "alive."

David writes: ...blessed is the man in whose spirit is no deceit... He's writing about how blessed we are when our sins are forgiven and we aren't too shy to confess them to God.

There's a person in my life (actually, this person isn't really in my life, I think it's been a year since we spoke) who wounded me so much that I painted them with the Asshole Paintbrush. You know what I mean? I threw this person over as being flawed beyond repair. Lately, I've had cause to think of them again and I'm surprised at what I've realized: If this person could see through my eyes, they'd be shocked at their behavior. This person doesn't have a clue of how they present themselves to others. We see the content of the heart (to a limited degree), but this person doesn't. If they did, they'd confess and probably change. That's a profound realization. This person is mired in the deceit of their own spirit. They don't think anything is amiss.

I'm starting to understand that this is just a stop on their journey. God will illuminate the truth of the heart as he sees fit. Right now, I'm having some of the truth of my heart illuminated. Sounds painful, but it isn't. It's good. After all, what have I to be afraid of? My sins are already forgiven. If I confess them to God, I'm not gaining more forgiveness, I'm just opening the door to change. And that's interesting to me as well. If we are forgiven, why do we confess? Here's why: it's walking through the door to change. "I see my own deceit," we say. "I agree with God about it and I will, through His strength, walk a different way."

This forgiveness that is ours in Christ emboldens us to live in profound authenticity. That doesn't mean we wallow in the deceit of our spirit, it means we live according to the desires of our new heart and we realize the freedom that comes by confessing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Here's a video my brother-in-law, Chuck, made in his nursery. Aren't his plants beautiful? (And aren't these little hummingbirds amazing?)

Here's a close-up of "Little Chirpy."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Different and Yet....

Two posts in one day? I've got a lot to do and I'm trying to avoid doing it.

We Smiths are standing at a crossroads. We can choose to stay the same, but we won't. There are a lot of possibilities for the future. They are all at once terrifying and thrilling.

Here at our little cottage,the sun is hidden and the storm is about to come.

I've been thinking about September 11th. This has lead me to think of the traders in New York. This has lead me to think of Cantor Fitzgerald, the firm that lost almost 700 employees that day. This makes me wonder who these people were. Some young men. Some with families. Newly married. Working hard on Wall Street because everybody in that line of work wonders what it would be like. Promising futures. Not that much different from us.

David talks to traders on Wall Street. I bet they all know someone who doesn't come to work any more. They don't talk about it. I guess they're busy being young men. Some with families. Newly married. Working hard on Wall Street because everybody in that line of work wonders what it would be like. Promising futures. Not that much different from us.

The Cost of Hope

I've been thinking about what it costs to be a Christian. More specifically, I've been thinking of the toll God exacts of us as we struggle toward Heaven's shore. It's a journey we're sure to complete because we struggle with the strength of Christ. He's paved the way with his blood, but the getting there is expensive. We need to remember this so that when we are called upon to pay the price, we won't be surprised and have our faith rattled.

The more I am sanctified, the more is required of me. I don't struggle with the same sins I always have, but I am increasingly amazed at the hidden sins that live within me. Life shakes my heart's intentions to the surface of my consciousness and I must confess again and begin again to live in the new light.

I remember what I heard in a Negro spiritual: "I'm not what I should be, but praise God, I'm not what I was." Amen.

I belive that America is good. I belive that love is stronger than death. I believe in truth in a post-modern world. I believe that God is near.

Eden at the beach.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Prayers of Thanks

The road to Tuxedo, North Carolina

Everything we do that is sensual and alive and amazing is a prayer of thanks to God, I think. Sarah-Katherine Lewis

I spent my first summer at Greystone washing dishes and sleeping on the front porch of the worst cabin at camp. But the second summer, I cooked. Or more precisely, I chopped. I still slept on the porch, though. Mountain summers are nothing like the sauna-summers in the Jones Valley. Here, the acrid haze of the city gets trapped by the mountain and it's hard to take a good breath sometimes.

I spent a lifetime on the porch of the dining hall.

I saw the inside of vegetables all day--the hidden world in the cavity of a cantelope, the labyrynth of life in the seeds of a bell pepper, the pregnant tomato and the gauzy flesh of strawberries. On my breaks, I swam in Lake Summit and skied with my friend, Graham. (Wonder what happened to him? My FarmHouse friend, Troy Rhone, told me he married a beautiful girl.) I ate well, I slept well, I played hard. In short, I lived.

Here's a cross on the Pavillion looking out over Lake Edith.

Romans speaks about how humans shut God out of their thoughts so that they won't have to change the way they live in light of his truth. Paul says that if you do that long enough, you'll reject truth and finally, you'll start calling lies the truth and encouraging others to do so as well. Rome was a lot like the U.S.

The sad thing is that the lifestyle folks try to preserve isn't all that great. Trust me. I know.

I remember sitting on the dock at Lake Summit and watching the tiny drips of water fall off the fringes of my towel and thinking "These little drops are like every day I spend here. They're golden and soon, they'll be gone." (Pretty poetic for a teenager, huh?)

The Dining Hall.

For me, Greystone was a chance to see the ordinary as art and experience things as mundane as mushrooms in a new way (and really, for the first time.) The mundane is all we have. I expose my life to God and let him make the changes. He shows me how to live well. The mundane tasks of life done well are the pinnacle of life's experiment. The ordinary is all, and it's just enough.

Grestone the green.