Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves, 
the tumult of the peoples, 
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth 
are in awe at your signs. 
You make the going out of the morning
and the evening to shout for joy." 
(Psalm 65:5-8)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

when others articulate the desires of your heart

"Common grace for the common good. In a few words, that was my response. I explained that unless we have a theological vision that can account for “common grace for the common good”— a way of seeing life that understands “common grace” as well as “common good” —then we cannot see more coherently, we will not see more seamlessly. At our best we will settle for some kind of compartmentalized life, some kind of bifurcated life, where some of what matters to us is “here,” and the rest of what we care about is “here.” In the classic language of dualism, we believe that God cares about some things more than he cares about other things. He loves “sacred” things, but doesn’t really have much interest in “secular” things. 

Of course the paradigm is flawed. Because God is the creator and redeemer of all things, he wants us to care about all things. There is not a “sacred” sphere as opposed to a “secular” sphere. Everything, every square inch of the whole of reality, is meant to be holy— because it  belongs to God. 

So the question of what we do, and of who we are and what we care about, is rooted in deeper, truer things that have to do with the very nature of life and the world; in fact, the very nature of God, and human beings made in the image of God. Our human vocation from the beginning of time has been to care about the world, to see what could be done given our task to be creative and responsible in and through the work we do. Planting wheat, and making bread. Cultivating grapes, and making wine. Raising cattle, and eating brisket. Understanding fire and iron, and making steel. Cutting wood, and building houses. And on and on through history… with learning to make a flute and a guitar, learning to make a wheel and a cart, learning to control the flow of water so that irrigation is possible, even learning to make machines we call MRIs and iPhones. 

What we do is always a reflection of what we care about, and even more deeply, of who we are— always and everywhere this has been true, and this will be true."

(Steve Garber, March Newsletter for The Washington Institute)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

semester (and life) goals

"The collegiate ideal is a perennial image that speaks to higher education's capacity to encourage contemplation and build relationships to invite deep questions and create space for attentive response." 
(Cynthia Wells, "Finding the Center as Things Fly Apart" in At This Time and in This Place)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sometimes you're asked on a Wednesday to head to Italy on a Saturday (really, I'm not even sure how this happened). And so, the chunk of my January was spent in a beautiful country, filled with history, art, and delicious food.

Technically speaking, I helped lead thirty-six first-year honors students, but that feels difficult to claim considering the lightness and easiness of the trip. The students were a dream, inquisitive and curious about learning, sensitive and caring of one another, and hilarious. The other leaders are fantastic people, similar to the students, great conversationalists, lively, and inspiring.

I'm not really sure where to begin reflecting -- the sites and experiences in themselves hold their own meaning, the many conversations saturated with deep questions about life and God, and my own personal growth working with undergraduate students in a different intensity than my present work. Joy, awe, and peace intertwined throughout the journey. I've received a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for not only the works of man but our creator God who inspired them.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"Our pedagogy must aim to instill humility in the dogmatists who are sure all their beliefs are correct, but also to instill hope in the skeptics and relativists who despair over attaining even a modicum of certitude." 
(Moroney, Phelps, & Waalkes, The Schooled Heart: Moral Formation in American Higher Education)

The past week of events in the U.S., conversations around higher education, ISIS, mass shootings, Syrian refuges, tempts me to despair. The lack of virtue in these conversations, the quickness to react, control, and defend, breaks my heart, such a need for humility, hope, and patience.

God, grant me the ability to listen and hear, seeking first to understand before making my opinions and positions known. Father, remind me your love for each person you created, that you are redeeming our world. Thank you for sending your Son into the world, to be present, to not leave us on our own.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"We may ask why God has sent us into this time, why he has sent this whirlwind over the earth, why he keeps us in this chaos where all appears hopeless and dark and why there seems to be no end to this in sight. The answer to this question is perhaps that we were living on earth in an utterly false and counterfeit security. And now God strikes the earth till it resounds, now he shakes and shatters; not to pound us with fear, but to teach us one thing -- the spirit's innermost moving and being moved....

Here is the message of Advent: faced with him who the Last, the world will begin to shake. Only when we do not cling to false securities will our eyes be able to see this Last One and get to the bottom of things. Only then will we be able to guard our life from the frights and terrors into which God the Lord has let the world sink to teach us, so that we may awaken from sleep, as Paul says, and see that it is time to repent, time to change things. It is time to say, "All right, it was night; but let that be over now and let us be ready for the day." We must do this with a decision that comes out of these very horrors we have experienced and all that is connected with them; and because of this our decision will be unshakable even in uncertainty."

(Alfred Delp, "The Shaking Reality of Advent")

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth."
(John 1:14)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Three years ago, we left on the 4th, skipped the 5th, and arrived September 6th in Christchurch. Technically, it was yesterday if you consider time change and all that business. I remember feeling excited, adventurous, full of hope and possibility.

I am notorious for romanticizing an experience after-the-fact, of attempting to assign meaning to even the difficult, so I want to be careful. Even if the moving to New Zealand was good, it also required leaving. With time, that moment became harder -- I didn't know hugging my father-in-law at the airport would be the last time.

I wish I could tell you that the choice to live out nudges from God is immediately rewarding -- it might be but it also might be really difficult. Regardless I'm learning that the reward or harvest is not really the point. The lesson is the living out, becoming thoughtful and aware to wherever the path leads, whether we have little control or complete freedom in where it goes. The journey, in itself, is so important, maybe more than the end.

New Zealand was for me, and still is, a place of learning, a place of believing, a place of letting go. I find myself still realizing ways it changed me. I still find myself rooting for the people I loved and even for those who were difficult. I still pray, letting go of my ability to control, trusting the Spirit to be moving.

Even now, when my heart feels drawn to the people and places I miss -- it was worth it. Even now, as I readjust to this change in path and rediscovering something different -- it was worth it. I believe in the need and power of God's love -- in all things and seasons and places. That's why we went to New Zealand and hoped to give. And that's what we gained, a deeper understanding of his love. It's not finished, it's still playing out as we walk with God.