Influences

Day 17 of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

Dear Friend,

I absolutely adore that we can discuss things we don’t exactly agree on, and yet still love each other so completely. We’ve hit upon one of those topics in the last few days, haven’t we? Even more amazing, I can completely understand your viewpoint. Without question. It makes total sense. But so does mine, and that’s why I don’t think we’ll ever have a set of proofs at the end of all our discussions. Rather, I think we’ll have a whole lot of well thought out theories. I guess I can live with that.

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Third Sunday of Lent

Seek the Lord while he may be found;

call upon him while he is near;

let the wicked forsake his way,

and the unrighteous man his thoughts;

let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,

and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:6-9

Day 16

“Jesus was not brought down by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion….Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and who are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform.”

Barbara Brown Taylor, “Truth to Tell,” Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

Deadlocked

Day 15 of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

Dear Friend,

We have unpacked so many elephants-in-the-room, I thought maybe we had run out [says the woman with the Cheshire grin]. Who am I kidding? We’re talking religion here… we’ll never run out.

When my daughter was six years old, she asked me a question one morning while coloring: “Mommy. Can two women get married?” I looked up from my book and straight at her father, who looked over the top of his newspaper straight at me. “She asked you,” he said, raising his paper back up.

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Perspective

Day 14 of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

Dear Friend,

I was thinking this morning. Yes, again. And in typical fashion my thoughts were floating all over the place. G says I have “shiny button” disease: every thing I see, and every thought I think takes me off in a whole different direction from where I started out. Apparently, it causes him significant strife trying to keep up with any conversation we attempt while I’m in the throes of a shiny button episode. Sometimes he’s simply hanging onto the bumper hoping my brain stops long enough for him to get away.

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Word

Day 13 of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

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Dear Friend,

I re-read Chapter 4 of Out of Sorts last night, then found this scripture reference in some completely random reading today. As usual, my “random” finds often have a lot in common with my “on-purposes.” Will dive in deeper a little later.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. Those you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

Matthew 23:23-24

 

Catching up

Day 12 of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

Dear Friend,

The flu fog is lifting and I find myself quoting Wendell Berry as reality rushes in to take its place.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

New Collected Poems, 2013 

Fodder

Day 11 of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

Dear Friend,

Not even the threat of catching the flu can keep UPS delivery away from my house. Thank goodness. Today’s haul will be turned into future letters.

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Second Sunday of Lent

Today is the Second Sunday of Lent, a part of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

Dear Friend,

Given my contagious flu, I stayed home yesterday morning and attended church via cable. The first song they sang was To God Be The Glory. Before I knew it, I was standing in front of a pew in my childhood church with my mother next to me and she… was… singing. Oh… she was singing…

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Stages III

Today is Day 10 of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

Dear Friend,

First, a brief digression. As you know by now, the flu bug bit me. I had managed to avoid his bite my entire life (true fact… I never had the flu until now), but he tracked me down and here we are. Me, my tissues, and Tamiflu, which – from what I read online – has a questionable track record and some concerning possible side-effects. I’ve had two doses so far and haven’t hallucinated, so I’m taking that as a win.

All that to say, I’m behind on my writing and for that I apologize. While I’m still sleepy and coughy, I have discovered a way to arrange my pillows so that I’m sort of reclined but still able to type. And I’m in between fevers.

So here goes…

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Stages II

Today is Day 9 of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

Dear Friend,

Absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

That’s where we left off yesterday.

While we’re on a roll, let’s take a look at another theology of suffering, this time from Dr. Timothy Keller. Dr. Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989. He is also known as a theologian and Christian apologist and has written several books on these topics.

From his book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism:

“Tucked away within the assertion that the world is filled with pointless evil is a hidden premise, namely, that if evil appears pointless to me, then it must be pointless…. Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one.”

Interesting.

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Stages

Today is Day 8 of the series Lenten Letters, forty days of contemplation in the form of correspondence to my best friend.

Dear Friend,

Before I get started, I want to say thank you. I know we’re not even a fourth of the way into Lent, but I feel like we’ve both already done some good work here. What’s really made a difference for me is the conversation we’ve had. It’s given me plenty to write about, but even more to think about.

The other thing – which I know you can relate to – is the struggle to stick with the commitment to write every day. Actually, the writing is the easy part; it’s the preparing to write that’s really the challenge. Long story short, I sit with my nose in a book and a computer a lot these days. It’s become my new happy place. So, thank you.

Also, you might want to start that coffee pot and grab a cup before you dig in to this one today. In fact, I’ll prepare you in advance that this particular gathering of thoughts may take 2 or even 3 days to cover. You gave me some excellent questions to ponder during the last 24 hours and I have been in perpetual searching mode as a result. My (eventual) conclusions will take some pre-reading and re-reading on your part. You’re welcome 🙂

Got that coffee?

Here we go…

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