29 June 2010

When I think I know

Greetings Dear Reader,

How often do I think I know something only to have one of my intelligent children, one of my students, or a friend challenge the depth or accuracy of that knowledge? I know that I know a lot. I also know that there are many things I think I know where I have only scratched the surface of the available learning.

I ponder this today in light of the often arrogant stance I take in understanding who God is. I believe. I love God and want to be his and his alone. In that exuberance I very often forget that my image of who God is, is so limited and small compared to who God actually is. A friend of mine said the other day that if God were to show his entire self to us, we could not handle it in our fallen human state. I agree completely.

We reject or question God sometimes from a perspective of knowing. God does not mind questions. He does mind our pride and arrogance when he has done so much to declare his love for us. The thing that keeps rebounding in my mind is that we do not have the right to KNOW. He promises that some day we will know, but for now he insists that we live by faith. This is so very hard but takes, well, faith.

There are a few things I know. I know God loves us. I know we lose sight of that and demand that he conform to our ways of thinking. I know that he will reveal himself to us if we keep seeking him in faith and honesty.

I wonder how often I miss out because I try to know, rather than taking a step in faith. I wonder how often I miss out on a great leap in my journey because I look for knowledge before I trust. Faith comes easier for me that others, or so I have been told. I do wonder about the really big things that seem impossible. The “what ifs” of faith dance through my mind so often.

What if as one, everyone on the Gulf of Mexico knelt and asked God to stop the oil?
What if we as a nation asked God to guide us in our economy?

Immediately people jump to the differences in belief and practice that make up the patchwork of our nation. I am not giving any set of rules in this area, as they are based on thinking we know. I know the foundational things I believe but the rest of it is up for debate. What if we left behind the debate and just started seeking the face of God with honest love and faith? What if we abandon the tethers to the constructs but not necessarily the constructs? What if we all just took a leap of faith?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

22 June 2010

Wasting Time in Worry

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have been pondering much lately just how much of an energy waster worry truly is. I encountered a student about two months ago who was sitting at a computer sweating, fidgeting, and all around being completely unproductive. I asked him what was wrong and he launched into a long explanation of the goings on at his job, the cold running through his family, and the need to get all his work done.

I stepped back a moment and then asked him how worrying about all that was helping him with his labs. His response was that it was not and that he wanted to just go home. I knew that was not the answer so I pondered how I would help him. I asked him how going home was going to solve the problems and he responded it would not. I suggested that he not use his energy to worry, but rather to work toward things that would elevate his stress. I explained that worry only leaches away energy that we need to solve the problems of the moment so that we can build toward the bigger solutions.

This student stopped me in the hall yesterday. He said he had taken to heart what I said and that there was much more peace in his still very busy life. Now understand that I do not have vast stores of wisdom nor do I own any secret knowledge about life. What I have is the belief that when God tells us not to worry he does so with good reason.

How can we change or improve anything with worry? We cannot. We have no control over the events as they unfold in our lives. All we can do is work to make things better today than they were yesterday. I cannot improve my health by worrying about it. In fact studies show that my damage my health through worry. I cannot keep others safe through worry. I cannot become financially secure through worry. Worry does nothing but sap the life energy and rest I need to face the challenges of the day.

We are only able to control how we interact with the challenges of life. We choose our attitude, actions, and faith in matters of life. Worry only harms us and those who count on us to handle things well.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

18 June 2010

Just over that Dune

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have been thinking quite a bit lately of the summers of my youth when our family would pack up and journey to Folly Beach, South Carolina. My dad’s family had its roots there and we were grandfathered in as locals instead of being treated like the vast wave of summer tourist.

For weeks we would enjoy the sun, the surf, and the seas bounty of shrimp and crab. There were summer friends and summer romances. I kissed my first girl there and had my first broken heart there. I walked the beach for hours amazed at the constant beauty and change. I made friends with dolphins and spied a shark or two.

What I recall today; what has haunted me most of late was waking up every morning and looking out the window and just across the dune at the shrimp boats plying their early morning trade. That was when I most loved walking the beach. The beach population was low and the sand was washed clean by the nights tide.

I would jump out of bed, pull on my boardies, and head across the dune to the long walk down the beach. Many times I returned just as my mum awoke and she would get coffee and insist that I walk down the beach with her. Those secret solitary walks held something very private and important though.

It was just prior to one of these summer ventures that I found my relationship with Christ. During those early walks of that year I began the conversation which carries through today. He was always there, listening, healing, forgiving, and available. Christ was never too busy for teenage boy frustrated with the world and full of deep questions to which he wanted simple answers. It was not until recently that I realized just how much of my life was shaped by my temporary sojourns in Folly Beach.

Folly has changed much and so have I. I have not been there but once in the last ten years. Finding that peaceful solitary time with God is more elusive and yet still as important. I find now before the sun rises while sitting in my study. I sometimes find it on my drive to work and late in the evening during my journey home. If I look for Christ to invest time in him, he is never too busy. The opportunity is always there, just over the dune.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

15 June 2010

Two Strawberries

Greetings Dear Reader

The flower box outside my home is full of strawberry plants. They have been there since I moved here, planted by some previous person who may or may not love the sweet fruit as much as I do. Every spring, with little effort from me they provide me with ripe red moments of delicious satisfaction.

This spring a squirrel, a rabbit, and a skunk have also taken a liking to my strawberries. I have pondered and plotted how to keep them away without harming them or ruining the look of the lovely flowerbed. The other morning I emerged and at the very front of the patch were two large ruby orbs, obviously ripe and ready for eating.

I reach into the patch to pick them and the ensuing ruckus startled me as a large brown rabbit bolt from his hiding place at the back of the bed. In that moment my joy at the fruit before me transformed into irritation at the loss of the fruits most likely eaten by the rabbit. I stomped my foot, shook my fist at the rabbit, and made several unkind comments about his lineage.

I continued to grumble as I picked the two strawberries that had drawn me to the patch. As is my habit, I began to silent offer a prayer of thanks for them, but the prayer stuck in my throat. My joy at the luscious strawberries was gone. Anger still roiled within me. I realized very quickly how selfish and unloving I was being.

I neither toil nor spin for those strawberries. Every one of them is a gift from God. Each moment of succulent pleasure is God providing for me with no effort on my behalf. I paused, apologized to the rabbit for my anger and insults, apologized to God for my anger, and offered a newer and deeper prayer of gratitude for the provision of strawberries at no cost to me.

Hopefully this moment of clarity will continue to remind me just how many things that are truly gifts to us from a loving providential God we take for granted. I can so easily move from gratitude to a sense of entitlement that I must maintain vigilance over my own spirit and expectations. The strawberries that morning were sweeter than I had anticipated, and later that day, a neighbor gave me a whole quart of fresh picked ones. I am pretty sure God was laughing at me.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

09 June 2010

The Stone I Carry

Greeetings Dear Reader,

Many years ago I made a promise to someone. I should say, rather that we exchanged a promise. Each of us gave the other a small smooth hematite that we would always carry as a token or our promise to always carry the other one with us. She has moved on to other ventures and out of my life, but still every morning I slip the stone into my pocket. When I feel the stone’s weight I pray for her. When it is cold I warm it. When she is heavy on my mind I hold it. When there are moments I wish I could share with her I roll the stone over in my pocket.

Some days it is difficult to take the stone with me. Some days its weight is burdensome and drags my heart toward the ground. On those days I think to leave the stone behind but I am reminded that I gave my pledge. I recall that the pledge was unconditional and made from my heart. It was based on my love and not contingent are her many promises to stay.

On days when it is the most difficult; when it feels like lifting the stone to my pocket will sink me into the earth and bury me forever beyond the eyes of men, I recall something profound. Like that hematite that breaks my heart and threatens my resolve I have so often left Christ behind when he pledged his all to me and I my all to him. He still carries me every day, and more so on the days when I abandon him for other pursuits and endeavors.

I cannot begin to fathom the depth of love he must have for me to keep me with him when I have been so repugnant toward his love for me. So on those days when the weight of this small stone crushes my heart, I put it in my pocket all the quicker lest I weaken and refuse to carry it another day. The power that lets me life it is knowledge and love. The knowledge that Christ loves me is the first and that he carries me as I am is the second.

So on those days when my heart is raw and my pain is deep set clear into my bones, I lift this stone of promise and walk knowing that I share the merest glimpse of what Christ tolerates so that he may carry us home to himself and a better life with him.

I made the promise. I spoke the vow. I will not violate no matter what another says or does. It is how Christ treats me and so how I must treat others.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."