26 April 2012

canines versus felines

On the hockey front, I am pleased to say that my favorite Western Conference team, the Nashville Predators, will be facing the Phoenix Coyotes in the second round.  The Predators were the first team to finish off their first round opponent, “sinking their teeth” into the Red Wings.  The Coyotes, a team that I will now become familiar with, took care of the Blackhawks.

If Pekka Rinne continues his superhuman play as goalkeeper—and the Preds unleash some of their firepower—Nashville should win the series.  Still, I’ve heard that the Coyotes goalie, Mike Smith, is no slouch! 

The cats and the dogs get going tomorrow night!

25 April 2012

saintly streaking

Today is the feast of St. Mark.  He is often thought to have written himself into his gospel.  On the night Jesus was arrested, we’re told, “All of [the disciples] deserted him and fled.  A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth.  They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked” (14:50-52).  Not the most flattering of cameos! 

In his Daily Meditation for today, Richard Rohr comments on our saintly streaker.  He speculates that Mark is “quietly admitting that he also ‘deserted him’ (verse 50) and ran from suffering and humiliation.  His ‘nakedness’ is not just his but ours too.” 

In the journey of awareness and rediscovery that is the life of walking with Christ, we need to be ready to lay aside our agendas, our burdens, and yes, our garments—if even in a figurative manner! 

(The image is Pavel Popov’s “Judas Betrays Christ with a Kiss.”)

05 April 2012

mandatum novum

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).  Those are the words of Jesus to his disciples on the night we remember as Maundy Thursday.  How is this a “new” commandment?  The Old Testament already says to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

Could it be that Jesus, as the God-man/God-human (and the God-servant, as we will see), sees that love is what inaugurates the future?  It opens the door.  Failing to love, indeed love among his own, produces nothing truly new.  It’s the same old tired story that the world has always known.  Set limits to one’s love and creativity.  In his commentary on John, Rudolf Bultmann notes, “The command of love…is ‘new’ in so far as it is a phenomenon of the new world which Jesus has brought into being.” (527)

Jesus has just performed an action which only the gospel of John mentions.  The other gospels describe the sharing of bread and wine—the institution of the Eucharist.  John speaks of Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples, the duty of a servant.  In his Daily Meditation for today, Richard Rohr says that John “wanted to give a theology of the Eucharist that revealed the meaning behind the breaking of the bread.  He made it into an active ritual of servanthood and solidarity, instead of the priestly cult that it has largely become.”

Peter objects to this.  We all do, in our own way.  We don’t want to hear Jesus say, “I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (v. 15).  This “new” commandment takes us into strange, uncharted territory.

I wonder if we can help each other to hold on and take a ride? 

(The image is by G. M. Ehlert)

04 April 2012


March 2012 was yes, astrolicious, and it has spilled over into April.  What do I mean?  Seeing Venus, Jupiter, and Mars all at once.  At first, Venus and Jupiter (relative to each other) were quite close—as in this photo from mid-March.  As March moved along, Jupiter sank below Venus and edged a little to the right.  Mars has been dutifully in the eastern sky while the other two planets were visible in the western sky.  (What would one expect from a planet named for war and soldierly, unless I have it backwards?)

The last time I witnessed such a heavenly display was when the Hale-Bopp comet passed by in 1997.  At the time, we lived in Nebraska, far away from city lights—and I was awestruck by its awesomeness.  (I know that that’s probably not the best use of the English language, but it fits.)

Anyway, night has fallen, and I want to see all three planets at once, because I don’t know when I’ll have this chance again.

02 April 2012

too shy

The Daily Meditation yesterday from the Henri Nouwen Society was entitled “The Beauty of Shyness.”  (I don’t believe that it was intended as an April Fool’s Day joke!) 

This is how it read:  “There is something beautiful about shyness, even though in our culture shyness is not considered a virtue.  On the contrary, we are encouraged to be direct, look people straight in the eyes, tell them what is on our minds, and share our stories without a blush.

“But this unflinching soul-baring, confessional attitude quickly becomes boring.  It is like trees without shadows.  Shy people have long shadows, where they keep much of their beauty hidden from intruders’ eyes.  Shy people remind us of the mystery of life that cannot be simply explained or expressed.  They invite us to reverent and respectful friendships and to a wordless being together in love.”

As one who, in my youth, was sometimes agonizingly shy, I would not have used Nouwen’s word “beauty” to describe my state of being!  There were times when I didn’t even feel like a real person.  I saw classmates and teammates with easy social interaction, and I felt tormented.  (Let’s not mention talking to girls that I liked!)  I would wonder what was wrong with me.  And yet, deep inside, I sensed that my self-doubts were unnecessary.  I lacked the vocabulary to describe it, but I knew that God had created me that way. 

Experience is often a painful teacher, so now I can read Nouwen’s meditation and see the beauty.