adventure

A Twist on Tolkien: All Who Are Lost Wander

Sassy

Sassy’s World PC Eugene C Scott

Of all the dogs I’ve owned, I loved the one I lost most. She was a black and white Springer Spaniel we named Sasson, Hebrew for joy. I know, I know. We were young and so spiritual and didn’t have kids yet.

We bought her in our first year of marriage. Dee Dee chose her, dark puppy eyes saying, “Pick me, pick me.”

We called her Sassy. And she was. She was arrow quick, sweet, and easy. I’d return home from my construction job and she’d run around my legs and shake with excitement. She learned to sit, heal, come, stay, and all manner of dog tricks so quickly she convinced me I was a dog whisperer.

We took her everywhere. She loved to ride on the wheel well of my white Toyota pickup, catching the wind.

In the summer of 1980, we took her backpacking in the Holy Cross Wilderness. While I reeled in brookies, she stood on the rock next to me trembiling to see what was on the end of the line. She slept in our tent with us.

At the end of the weekend, as we drove down the long dirt road out of the mountains, she perched on her wheel well. Dee Dee and I planned our next trip and were captivated by a world exploding with wildflowers. We stopped for gas in Eagle. That’s when I noticed Sassy was gone. Instantly I knew what had happened. She had fallen out on the twisty, bumpy dirt road. We raced back and searched the entire route. Desperate, we stopped cars and asked if they had seen a black and white Springer.

“Yes,” one driver said. “Right back up there.”

Our hearts soared. We drove along praying, slowly searching the road and the woods. Another car approached and I got out to stop it and ask. They ignored me and drove by. We drove up and down the road growing more frantic and despondent each moment.

Finally, we returned home, silent, guilty. We burst into tears entering our tiny living room with her dog toys scattered about. We placed ads in the Eagle County papers. We waited. We hoped the people in the car that didn’t stop had her. But we never saw Sassy again. Even thirty-seven years later, I miss her and feel guilty for letting her ride the wheel well, for not watching, for losing her.

DogHeaven

Fb.com/ilovemydogfans

This memory came back sharp because of the Facebook meme: “Heaven is a place where all the dogs you’ve ever loved run to greet you.” That thought gave me hope. Heaven will be a place to be reunited. And with more than lost dogs. My mom. My brother.

But it also gave me pause. If I were lost, who would search for me?

I picture myself standing along that dirt road, watching the truck tires throwing dust. I raise my hand but the truck heedlessly turns the corner. I shiver with shock and thrust my hands in my pockets. Soon the dusk rises cold and dim from around my feet. A fading sliver of light clings to the tips of the dark pines. I glance up and down the empty road. I wait. They’ll come back. The silence and aloneness beat together as an ache in my heart. I’m lost.

Life is often like that. More metaphorically than literally, we’re lost.

And we always believe we’ll find ourselves just over the next rise, or in the next relationship, or job, self-help book, or birthday. I turned thirty, forty, and fifty thinking with each birthday: surely now I’ll know who I am and what I’m about. Finally, I’ve arrived!

Arrived where? Now in my sixth decade, I’ve learned that without a fixed point, a north star, there is no finding yourself. In “Meditations in Wall Street,” Henry S. Haskins wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

As inspiring as this oft-misattributed quote may be, God did not design us with an infallible inner compass. It’s as if our inner-Siri tells us to turn north on Main Street, but we don’t know north from a hole in the ground. Even if we deny it, all internal drives find themselves following external maps. Too many of these lead nowhere, at least nowhere good. This is why each new generation sets out to find itself and comes up empty. Self is not something we find, but rather something created and pointed out by God.

John Newton had it right in “Amazing Grace.” “I once was lost, but now am found.” The passive voice in those lyrics speaks volumes. Newton’s internal sense of lostness left him searching until it was confirmed and answered by God. God is the ultimate North.

Thus the Bible describes humans as lost. And worse lost sheep. Jesus especially uses this metaphor. He is the shepherd searching for the one lost sheep. If I were lost, who would search for me? For you?

Though God was not careening down a mountain road and carelessly tossed us out. Rather we jumped. Still, Jesus walks that dusty, lonely dirt road calling our names. Jesus placed a lost and found ad in our newspaper. He weeps for our loss. He has marked your soul with his breath and that lonely heartache you and I feel is for him. He is home. He is North. He is found.

If heaven is the place to be reunited with loved ones, maybe even dogs, then earth is the place Jesus traveled to reunite us with heaven.

Road

Wanderlost PC Eugene C Scott

Tolkien may be right that “Not all those who wander are lost.” But it is just as true that all who are lost wander. And wonder. Where the hell am I? Who am I? Why am I here?

The answer is not within, except when from inside we cry out.

“My God, why have you forsaken me?” Even Jesus felt that lostness.

And God the Father answered. “I Am!” I am with you. Even in death on the cross, even in suffering, even in daily life and periodic drudgery. I am with you. Reach out your hand and take Mine.

Categories: adventure, belonging, Bible, Christianity, creation, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Perfect Picture of Easter

On a day when we are exposed to pictures of tombs and bloody scenes of the crucifixion while munching Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, and jelly beans, many of us may experience a serious diseqaulibrium. What is this day really about?

Piney Lake, CO 2012

This picture from my daughter Emmy’s baptism last summer at Piney Lake, CO says it all for me. She was lost and Jesus found her. And I had the honor of baptizing her. She is now more who God made her than ever before. This picture tells the story of us all.

Categories: adventure, Art, Christianity, Eugene C. Scott, Excitement, God, God Sightings, happiness, Jesus, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Power of a New Day

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What I Heard in Silence

Snow fall out my front window

A muffler of heavy snow shrouds my world.  Only a few inches, but enough.  Fallen snow can create a cavernous silence.  Sound catches in it and rolls up like a huge snow ball to sit and wait for a thaw.  Then it breaks loose again, noisy, intrusive, grating.  Until then, a snowy night is a perfect night for contemplation.

A Feast of Silence.

In silence time passes less swift and mechanical for you cannot hear its deadly tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.

In silence ideas fly free as chickadees, flitting from one bare branch to another leaving imagination in their wake.

In silence loneliness lurks, waffle soled boots, mud covered, leaving indentations and scuffs on my heart.

In silence words and stories climb out of their caves and sit in front of me like blinking children woken from fabulous dreams.

In silence I hunger for the sweet voice, familiar, resonant, of the one I love.

In silence questions pry up the rocky places in my soul and leave them bare, tender, trembling for answers.

In silence memories wander back up the trail, slapping me on the back, bidding me good day, treating or troubling me according to their given names.

In silence dreams roll over white and billowy and laden, so dragging dark bottoms.

In silence fear scrabbles up my legs.

In silence freedom like a wind drives impossibilities before it, leaving only windswept possibilities.

In silence I hear my own beating heart, the rushing of my own breath, the ticking of my own clock asking, “Is . . . There . . . Someone . . . Out . . . There?”

In silence I feel His voice fill the empty space.  Yes, I am.

Categories: adventure, Art, Eugene C. Scott, God Sightings, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Does Fear Build Faith?

1967 stingray bike

A bike like mine

Rumor was kids had died riding their bikes down “Suicide Hill.”  Therefore, all summer a group of us hung out on the knob sitting on our stingrays–not seriously contemplating careening down the hill–but hoping to see some other sucker bite the dust.  All elbows and asses and handlebars flying and crashing in the dirt.  To my disappointment, I’d witnessed no deaths, or even hospitalizations.  Still, I’d never seen any kid, no matter how old or cool, make it all the way down.

Suicide Hill was sheer fear, with a bump halfway down that launched anyone ballsy enough to try it into a near death experience.  At the bottom stood an elm tree stump.  Most kids bailed midair rather than become one with the tree.

Rule was no brakes, no skidding your feet.  Full speed.  I was eight or nine and I spent many a day atop Suicide Hill ginning up the courage to be the one to make it down intact.

Back then, if I thought about it at all, I thought courage was the absence of fear.

Now, close to fifty years later, now that I’ve broken bones, torn ligaments, sustained concussions, and endured prolonged hospital stays, I know fearlessness is not always the presence of courage but of stupidity.

What’s the Function of Fear?

Does fear have a purpose, God-given?

Obviously, the fight or flight response is instinctive and protective.  It is a function of the adrenal system designed to keep us alive.  You’ve heard the old adage: the best way to survive a grizzly bear attack is to outrun, not the bear, but your buddy.

However, let’s not confuse adrenaline with courage or fear with cowardice.

I once saw a cartoon by Dan Piraro of “Bizarro” fame.  It featured a heedless man walking down the street surrounded by disaster.  He was protected by guardian angels and knew it.  The angels above him were complaining how much safer life would be if he didn’t know they were flying just above his head.

Maybe that’s the role fear plays.  It’s our on-board guardian angel.  “Shields up,” it shouts, “Run!”  Something besides cowardice told me to endure the name calling of my friends rather than risk the bump and stump of Suicide Hill that summer long ago.  Conversely, several short summers later, I broke my leg braving the world’s first and worst zip-line (Click here for that story).

Fear Adds to Faith

Literal fearlessness does not require faith.  This is the same idea behind forgetfulness not equalling forgiveness.  If I can’t remember a wrong, I need not forgive.  Just so, if I don’t sense risk or danger, no true courage or faith is required.  People with the unfortunate disorder congenital analgesia, the inability to feel physical pain, have no concept of hot or cold and the danger either holds.  Rushing into a fiery building to rescue someone–knowing what it could cost–calls for courage and faith not fearlessness.

Therefore, when I call faith an antidote to fear, I am not talking of an anesthetic.  Rather faith helps us face our fears.  Faith is reality based, eyes open to the danger.

It is almost as if it is a circle.  I face my fears with faith and then my faith grows while my fear diminishes.  Until I step into entirely new territory.  Then fear starts the circle of developing faith again.  Fear rightly viewed and applied can develop faith.

Back on Top of Suicide Hill

It took me all summer to finally give Suicide Hill a shot.  And oh, how I wish I could tell you about fearlessly speeding from the top, hitting the bump half-way down, launching my sting ray into the wild blue, crossing my handle bars, the wind in my crew-cut, avoiding the stump, landing upright in a burst of dirt, and skidding to a stop just before hitting the stinky tad-pole pond.  Applause, adulation, money!

Fact is I closed my eyes, hit the brakes, and dribbled off the trail and into the weeds, falling over.  But I tried!  Years later, after I had faced other death-defying dangers, I tried Suicide Hill again and ripped down that hill on my bike reaching the bottom with no problems.  That day I sat at the bottom of Suicide Hill on my Schwinn ten-speed looking back up the hill that once dominated me.  That day I swear Suicide Hill looked more mole hill than mountain and the mighty bump and gruesome stump mere provocateurs.  I had been plenty scared.  But no more.  At least not of Suicide Hill.  God, through my fear, had produced faith with which I could face the future.

Do you have a story of fear building your faith?  Tell us about it.

Categories: adventure, Eugene C. Scott, Excitement, Faith, Fear Factor, Fun, God, God Sightings, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Looking Back on the Year of Living Spiritually

Life is like a mountain

Life is like a mountain

The rugged 12,556 foot peak of New York Mountain sported a long cornice of snow still hanging from its barren ridge.  I was alone and miles from nowhere, as the old Cat Stevens song goes.  If I fell . . . I didn’t finish the thought.  I needed to climb over the peak and hike down the other side to reach my truck.  Part way back from a brief backpacking trip to New York Lake in White River National Forest, I had reached an impasse.  The trail disappeared before me about halfway up the face.  I thought this is where I descended a couple of days before.  But now it looked different, much steeper.  Impossible.  I searched the face, looking for something familiar, safer.  There was only one cut through the cornice.  My knees were screaming from pounding across several miles of a trackless scree field.  If that was the trail, I was not sure I could climb it, especially with my full pack.

I searched north and south along the peak coming up empty.  I started to scramble up where I thought I remembered coming down.

They say one way to avoid getting lost on a wilderness trail is to turn around–often–and look from whence you’ve come.  I had.  But it’s amazing how different your back-trail looks.  It gives you context.  Establishes bearings.  This is true especially on high, unmarked tundra trails that peter out.  And in life.

For the Year of Living Spiritually it’s time for taking bearings, for context, for looking back.  About a year ago we set out together (some have joined as we traveled) to daily look for the God-created soul in people, places, things, and life in general.  Looking back, what is it we saw?  I can only speak for myself.

People

While expecting God to show up only in flaming sunsets, if not burning bushes, I noticed God in people.  As I wrote in my January 3, 2012 post, “Writer, pastor Eugene H. Peterson says people are God’s creation too and we can see God in them just as we might a sunset or mountain scape. True enough.”  But I found myself falling back to default and looking for God in obvious places.  With 6 billion people on the planet, looking for God in people ups the possibility for daily God sightings.  Plus, seeing God’s image in others helped me judge less and love more.  Funny how that works.

Silence

Instead of giving up some meaningless food product last Lent, I fasted from noise.  I intended to turn off the radio and television for the six weeks of Lent but ended up feasting on this beautiful silence until August.  Football season.  This silence granted me awareness of life flowing around me that exploded my creativity and prayer life.  Listening to the blues, I began to hear biblical themes in that sad, gritty music.  I read more.  I heard God and sometimes listened.

Friendship

My chemical engineer friend Steve and I hiked miles and mountain biked more.  On the hikes especially we discussed politics, diabetes (he’s type 1 and I’m type 2), God and the space-time continuum, movies, apologetics, the best bike pedals, writing, our marriages, story, the ontological argument for the existence of God, the books we are writing, retirement, and sex.  Someone once said we can often see God in the space between us.  I agree, especially when we narrow the space.

May 12, 1979

May 12, 1979

Marriage

Marriage is much maligned.  In certain ways it deserves it.  As a pastor, I’ve observed and called ambulances on many a wrecked marriage.  Dee Dee and I have been steering ours between the lines for 33 years.  We’ve gone off the road a few times.  Still I never imagined how love, friendship, partnership, trust, comfort, and intimacy could grow and change.  Especially through the hard times.  Back then–in 1979–I thought our love was as big and rich as it ever would be.  The Apostle Paul writes, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  In my marriage I have experienced this love that surpasses knowledge.

Sacred Space

One cold day I met with a young pastor and an Eastern Orthodox priest in the sanctuary of the Father’s church.  No, this isn’t a joke.  We sat side-by-side, equal but different, on a hard pew surrounded by icons and reminders of how faith is real.  The conversation we had was holy (meaning different from the average conversation) because of where we were.  I’ve had the same good conversation in a brew pub.  In that sacred space, however, I was pushed closer to those men and saw that, while the noisy, relentless gears of culture grind on, often determining the futures of millions, a small conversation with-in a sacred space brings heaven to earth.  I–we–need sacred spaces to shut out the false voices of fear and worry.  We need sanctuary.

The space between is often where God dwells

The space between is often where God dwells

There were more God sightings.

But in looking back, I see, as in my New York Mountain story, that I’ve not finished.  Have you?  Living spiritually takes more than a year.  And seeing where we’ve gone gives hints about where we need to go.  So, whether hanging on the face of a 12,000 foot peak or standing flat-footed, we will go on.

But before we do, turn around a take a look at your back trail.  Get your bearings.  Drop a note here and tell us where you’ve seen God.  Then we’ll move on.

Categories: adventure, authenticity, belonging, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, God, God Sightings, Jesus, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

When Christmas Reality Exceeds Your Christmas Expectaions

Steve FossettA few years ago, just before Christmas, Dee Dee and I had the honor of sharing a table at a fundraiser for the Beaver Creek Religious Foundation with Steve Fossett and his wife.  Price of admission for Dee Dee and I: praying the blessing for the meal.

I had recently read “The Spirit of St. Louis,” Charles Lindbergh’s account detailing his 1927 solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic.  Fossett had recently completed his own record-breaking, solo, unmotorized balloon circumnavigation of the globe.  It was an invitation of a lifetime.  I was champing at the bit to hear his story.  Fossett was only too willing to comply.

Finally, near the end of the dinner, Fossett came in for a landing and I asked, “Did you encounter God in any way while you were up there alone?”

Fossett’s face went blank.  He stammered something about the flight being just a record for him.  Like the many Boy Scout badges he had earned in younger years.  I was embarrassed to have asked and disappointed in how un-romantically he viewed his accomplishment.

Another Invitation

On the night Jesus was born the angels came to a group of shepherds with an invitation of a lifetime.  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ [the One you have been waiting for] the Lord. . . . You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

What?  A baby in a horse trough?  What’s so great about that?  I wonder if they experienced similar disappointment to mine?  The Messiah was foretold to be the ultimate king, born of David, Israel’s greatest king.  The solution to all their problems.  They were soon to learn Jesus was much more than their expectations.

And so it is.  Somehow God mingles our meager Christmas expectations with much greater heaven-hope.  In “The Weight of Glory” C. S. Lewis wrote, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Christmas is so much more than ribbons, bows, eggnog, Santa, and mistletoe.  It’s an open, down-to-earth invitation of a lifetime.  What will we settle for this Christmas? A tie and slippers?  While God sings, Come celebrate, experience, worship Immanuel, I Am with you.

May this Christmas be nothing you ever hoped or imagined.

Eugene

Categories: adventure, Art, Christianity, church, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, Gilcrease, God, God Sightings, Jesus, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Before I die . . . Caution This Blog May Disrupt Your Bucket List

Before I die, I want to . . . .

Before I die I want to . . . Picture by Eugene C. Scott

Before I die I want to . . .
Picture by Eugene C. Scott

How would you finish that sentence?  I know how I wouldn’t.

Wild-eyed risk-taker and adventurer I’m not.  Never have I wanted to jump from an airplane, become a human bungee, climb Mt Everest (there aren’t any elk or trout that high), or swim with sharks.  Yet those are the types of activities populating many bucket lists.

That’s why I’ve not given much thought to making, much less fulfilling, my own.

Until the other day.  That’s when, while driving in downtown Denver, I was confronted by artist Candy Chang’s unique and interactive piece of art titled “Before I Die . . . .”

Chang’s public, artistic bucket list gave me pause.  What do I absolutely need to do before I die?  Tough question.  But as I thought about it, I realized I’ve checked a few things off of an unspoken bucket list.  Not all fun or positive.

I want to get involved picture by Eugene C. Scott

I want to get involved picture by Eugene C. Scott

So, with apologies and in no particular order here’s

My Bucket List

I’ve . . .

Flown in a helicopter and gotten vertigo

Camped out in the snow, several times

Dropped out of high school–not an aspiration but an act of desperation

Joined the U.S. Navy

Dee Dee, Eugene, Emmy, Brendan, and Katie

Dee Dee, Eugene, Emmy, Brendan, and Katie

Earned Masters and Doctoral degrees

Almost drowned while snorkeling off the wild shark inhabited side of an island in Subic Bay, Philippines

Snorkeled in Belize without almost drowning

Lived for a summer near Telluride in a wheelless sheepherder’s wagon called “The Lunch Box”

Been thrown in the brig (that’s a Navy jail)

Grande?

Grande?

Had several careers: Carpenter, sailor, miner, salesman, barista, and pastor

Been homeless

Our honeymoon in Mazatlan

Our honeymoon in Mazatlan

Married a beautiful red-head

Raised three awesome children (see above)

A winter adventure

A winter hunting adventure

Hunted elk in the Colorado Rockies

Started a church

Sandbox fun

Sandbox fun

Become a grandfather

Outlived my father

Morning on Haleakala Volcano

Morning on Haleakala Volcano

Watched the sunrise from atop Haleakala Volcano on Maui

Floated in the Dead Sea

Trembled at a loaded pistol pointed at my face

Learned how to live with Type 2 Diabetes

Canoed up the rapids of the Bumbungan River to Pagsanjan Falls in the Philippines

Published a short story in Bugle Magazine

Visited Israel and survived

Been robbed and given a dozen parking tickets in Vancouver, BC

Jumping into Lake Atitlan

Jumping into Lake Atitlan

Jumped from a towering rock into Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Written for the Vail Daily

Almost been arrested performing a baptism at a public lake

Visited a cloud forest in Costa Rica

Gotten stuck half way down the rock face rappelling

Built houses for people in need in Mexico and Costa Rica

Backpacked to Cathedral Lake at 11,000 ft

Been fired, a couple of times

Rafted the Green River to the confluence of the Colorado

Also Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River

Spoken to a crowd of 8,000 people

Taken a bull elk

Skinny dipped, no picture, thank, God

Done several illegal things I’m not proud of

A tough trail

A tough trail

At age 55 mountainbiked the Colorado Trail for 25 miles

Co-written a song

Invented the zip line, sort of

Finished a first draft of my novel

Snowmobiled 100 miles in Yellowstone National Park

Broken the same leg three times

Survived my crazy family of origin and my own insanity, thank, God–literally

A Different Kind of Bucket List

My bucket list surprised me.  But I must confess many of those things happened to me; I did not happen to them.  I’m glad for them anyway–even some of the hair-brained ones–because I learned from them and through all experienced God’s redemption.  Maybe even an unintentional bucket list counts.

Still that question, “Before I die, I want to . . .” hangs there.  It’s haunting.

Death is no abstract concept for me.  One summer evening in 1966 my dad dropped us off at my older sister’s house.  The next time we saw him he was in a coffin.  Both of my parents are gone now, and my wife’s parents too, and several beloved friends.  My brother-in-law passed away on my birthday this year.

Being a pastor, I’ve had the terrible honor of spending time with many people in their last stages of life, even until their final breath.  I’ve performed too many funerals: babies, children, teens, mothers, fathers, those who lived well and those who did not.

Facing death this way either cauterizes your heart or opens it to what really counts in life.  Or both.

A One Item Bucket List

Bonnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, discovered a different kind of bucket list and wrote about it in her book titled “Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”

But what are the regrets of those of us left here?  What counts in life?  What must we do before we die?

I can only speak for myself.

If I’m honest, though I yearn to publish my novel–and write more–and take an elk with a bow and arrow, and teach my grandkids to love God and the outdoors, and retire, and read hundreds more books, and travel with my wife, and meet Leif Enger, the top item on my bucket list is. . .

Saying what needs to be said to those I love.  Daily.  Repeatedly.  In case they don’t hear or mishear.

My father died from a heart attack.  I didn’t get to say goodbye.  Nor he.  I’ve regretted that every waking day since.  Many tough years later, my mother died of emphysema.  We talked for hours before she passed, saying everything needed and more.  What peace those times with her brought then and now.  Sometimes I dream of talking to Jim, my father-in-law, one last time.  “You were a second father to me and taught me how to be a man.  Thank you,” I say to him in my dream as he casts his blue eyes down because he was uncomfortable with emotion.  Today I’d say it even if it made him squirm.

But it’s hard.  I stood before Candy Chang’s board and chickened out.  Instead of writing “Before I die I want to ‘say what needs to be said to those I love,’” I wrote “write a novel.”

I’m going to go back downtown and change my answer.

My addition to the board

My addition to the board

Categories: adventure, Art, authenticity, dreams, Eugene C. Scott, Excitement, Faith, Fun, God, God Sightings, happiness, Living Spiritually, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Understanding Miracles

A Daily Miracle: Sunset by Eugene C. Scott

I looked up from my computer into their wonder-filled eyes, saucer round and big.

“The light went off,” reported the six-year-old girl.

“All by itself,” her five-year-old brother chimed in–breathless.

They were over with their parents, who were downstairs participating in a Bible study.  The two children had been playing quietly in the living room while I was beating against a wall of blogger’s block in the family room.  Their choice of words and the frightened looks on their faces revealed they believed something more than a light bulb burning out had occurred.  They followed me cautiously back into the living room.

I made a beeline through the dark living room for the offending lamp.  It has a timer that turns it on and off.  The recent time change had discombobulated it.  I simply turned it back on.  Relief and disappointment mingled on their faces.  They were hoping for more.  A miracle?  Or at least a profound mystery.

So it is with us adults too.  We encounter things we don’t quite understand–a coincidental happening, an answer to prayer, a remission the doctors can’t account for, a book or blog or friend delivering just the words of encouragement we needed, or something more.  And in our hearts mingle fear and wonder as we step into the dark room of mystery.

We want an explanation and we don’t.  We’re afraid understanding the mechanism of a miracle will unmake it.  But miracles and mysteries are not made or unmade by our understanding them.

That God used doctors and medicine to heal me of my childhood seizures is no less miraculous than if they simply ceased one day through the administration of prayer.  I am still healed.  Natural and logical events manipulated by the hand of God are no less wonderful than those we would call supernatural.

Miracles that seem to have no natural source are not better than others.  This is fallacy.

This may come from another fallacious belief: that understanding equals control.  We may understand the miracle of the earth rotating around the sun and the sun providing warmth and life to us.  But we will never control it.  Understanding such things only gives us a better trail to their source.  God!

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

In his best-selling novel, Peace Like a River, Leif Enger plays with the idea of miracles.  Reuben, the narrator, is in need of one but is struggling to believe in them.

“My sister, Swede,” says Reuben, “who often sees to the nub, offered this: People fear miracles because they fear being changed–though ignoring them will change you also. Swede said another thing, too, and it rang in me like a bell: No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare, Here’s what I saw. Here’s how it went. Make of it what you will.”

I like this.  Miracles are to be witnessed, told, whether they are dissected or not.  And most of all miracles are a change agent of God.

In the story of Jesus healing the man of a demon named Legion, Jesus tells the fearful and wonder-filled man, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Jesus does not tell him to explain it, understand it, or make more of it than it is.  He is simply to tell about it.

Living spiritually has at its core a call to see life as miraculous.  To see and tell what the Lord has done for you.  From the eggs on your breakfast plate to the disappearance of a tumor.

Leif Enger using Reuben Land’s voice again: “We see a newborn moth unwrapping itself and announce, Look, children, a miracle!  But let an irreversible wound be knit back to seamlessness?  We won’t even see it, though we look at it every day.”

What miracle are you looking at today?

Categories: adventure, Bible, bible conversation, Books, Christianity, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, God Sightings, healing, Jesus, Literature, Living Spiritually | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Death in the Family

Dear friends

Last Thursday, October 18, on my 56th birthday, my brother-in-law passed away.  He had been ill for a long time and so it was a bitter release.  I had a blog half-written that is still incomplete.  Managing grief seemed to be the agenda of every day not writing.  Thank you for your understanding.  He was a creative, intelligent man and we will miss him.  A free spirit.

His death certainly was a reminder that living spiritually is not all about profound quotes, surreal sunsets, and happy thoughts.

Life and death walk with their fingers entwined like co-dependant lovers, sometimes angry and out of step with each other but never letting go.  Living spiritually is about facing death while dreaming about the life that is beyond this veil.   Pray for our family that the strength of God fills us for today and the hope of God encourages us for tomorrow and beyond.

Eugene

Categories: adventure, Bible, Christianity, Eugene C. Scott, Faith, God Sightings, Jesus, Living Spiritually | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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