Monday, December 5, 2011

Religious Langauge

"If the language of religion can be associated with the creative process, it can help with one's life pilgrimage. If religious language is learned in a way that links it to raw authority, shame, guilt, fear, or some other destructive association it can cripple us and stop religious growth in its tracks." Jerome W. Berryman 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas 2011

The Christmas tree has arrived in the P-R apartment! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of anticipation.

Wait. A four letter word for most. We have waiting rooms, filled with terrible magazines and elevator music. We have waiting lists at restaurants, we ask, "how long is the wait?" and then sit in crowded entryways. Have you ever stood in a wait line for a roller coaster for more then an hour? I have. Almost everything about the word wait, we hate.

Today we start our waiting for the birth of Jesus. We light a candle. We see that small light and it gives us hope. Soon there will be a lot more light, but we have to wait.

At West Hills Friends, we have started a great Friends tradition of a collective journal. Bimonthly a collection of journal entries around a theme are published for all of us to read. The lastest chapter is, "When have you encountered God's presence in a stranger?" I'd encourage you to go here and read it.

I am fascinated how in several of the stories, people have encountered God through a stranger while waiting. I am also fascinated that this morning Mike Huber gave a message about the importance of waiting on God.

We need to change our minds about waiting. It cannot be hated. Perhaps it is the only opportunity for us to encounter God in the world.

I'm amazed at how many people have experienced God in nature while in a state of waiting. I am interested in how God seems to always speak quietly. Are we not continually disappointed when God does not reveal herself in the grand ways we expected?

There is a lot to be said for us Quakers. I am thankful that we hold waiting and listening as our sacraments.

It is the season of waiting.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Our letter from David James Duncan

A little over a week ago I wrote a letter to David James Duncan, the author of our favorite book The Brothers K. Beth and I decided in 2006 that if we had a son, we would name him Kade after the main character in The Brothers K. I wrote DJD a letter to notify him of this. My hope was that we would eventually hear back from him, even if it were years down the road. I received this letter earlier this week....

We will cherish this letter for our entire lives. We hope someday to meet DJD in person, and hopefully he will also be able to meet little Kade. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On my first fly fishing excursion in Oregon, I arrived at Eagle Creek expecting nothing but to perfect my cast. I stumbled into the river, balancing myself on slick rocks. When I found my spot, my anxious hands shook as I attempted to tie the fly to the end of the line. After many minutes I was ready to cast. I was running through all of the steps in my head, "Okay, snap to a stop, let the loop develop, make sure the line is loaded before moving forward..." Surprisingly my first cast wasn't too bad. The fly landed upstream of me, with a little less grace then I wanted it to, but it was in the water, not a overhanging tree. I watched as it bobbed its way down, my hands busy pulling in the slack. As the fly crossed in front of me a flash of white lunged out of the water. I tugged back setting the hook. I felt no weight on the other end, but I was still shaking with excitement. Not only did I get the fly in the water, but it was presented well enough to fool a fish into taking a stab at it!

What followed was an afternoon of catching small (maybe 4 inch) baby salmon. I perfected my cast, and was seeing success in targeting the location of the cast.

Today, as I sat in a chair across from my spiritual director, I made a connection between that day, and everything that is currently going on in my life. As Beth and I prepare for Kade, I have felt myself going through the process of grounding. My anxiety and fears could really get the best of me. Instead I have felt as if I have set the stage for understanding, a little better, what it is we need to do to make our lives work as new parents. I feel at ease about making decisions out of a state of clearness.

This process of getting to a place of clearness was one that was initiated by the mystical experience of seeing Kade for the first time via the ultrasound. In the moment when I could see his heart beating, I instantly felt connected to a great cycle. I felt my place within a course of humanity that has seen life come full circle. This is a mystical experience, it changes you. An instant moment of connection.

When the fly was floating down the river I had no expectation that in a matter of moments an unforeseen connection was about to be made. Many have described the mind during flyfishing. It is completely present to the moment. You are in a state of clearness. It is in that state of clearness that you are prepared for a connection to be made. It is your job to make the connection successful, to act when you see the opportunity to connect.

I am hoping that this period of clearness will allow me to make the connections of wisdom and guidance from God that are necessary for discerning what is best for us come April and the months/years after. I need to stay in the river. I need to watch closely.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Introducing Kade

So, here he is, Mr. Kade River Pratt-Russum. If he is looking a little angry, it's probably because he has a really long name. This, is how we realized that Kade is indeed a boy:

You are looking at Kade's bottom (from below) and well you can take a guess at what part is being pictured here. As the ultrasound technician approached this area, Beth and I knew instantly what we were looking at. It was one of those moments when you felt everything changing. The little one was named, and I uttered the words "son" for the first time. 

I feel layers of reality being peeled back in bi-weekly doses. Yesterday was huge, there he was, laying face down, his tiny spine, a beating heart, his left and right hemispheres. Life. I feel unbelievably connected, humbled, and awed. 

We thought we were 19 weeks pregnant, but it turns out we are 16. Kade will likely be an April baby and we cannot wait. 

Monday, October 24, 2011


post by Mark

Since 2006 I've been aware of my struggle with anxiety. It was around this time five years ago that I sat in the living room of Nancy and John Linton in Lincoln, OR. Surrounded by heavy stillness, and the magic of living in a cabin for months, I was more fully aware of myself then I had ever been. Connections were being made between my past, and my current understanding of God and my spirituality. Nancy wondered aloud if my anxiety (specifically my fear of death) was connected with my sense of worth to my family. Would they be okay with out me?

In the years that have followed I've been acutely aware of the anxious voice that visits me daily. Only recently have I begun to disassociate that voice from God's. I would have liked to believe, years ago, that God's voice was one of comfort, but it didn't seem likely then. I trusted instead that God's voice was the loudest, telling me to be worried about everything, and to feel judgement when I let others down.

I've discovered that God's voice is the faintest, telling me instead that everything will be okay.

I'm inclined to listen to those who have experienced the voice of God as gentle.

And now, swirling in the winds of anxiety that comes with being a parent for the first time, it is a spiritual discipline to listen closely. Everyday feels like the work of deconstruction.

Monday, October 17, 2011

moved in

Seven tea light candles burn on the window sill of our new apartment. Their reflection adding to the sparkling lights of downtown Portland, visible as well, through the windows. It smells of cardboard. We are here, our new apartment, backs, arms and legs aching.

When I tell people that we had 16 people from our Church come and help us on Saturday, they typically respond with surprise. Not everyone has a community like the one we have.

For now, we are taking deeper breaths, and longer rests between boxes.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Experiencing Life

Beth and I are about to sign a lease on an apartment here in Portland. We will be moving on October 15th. This process of preparing for our little baby, while navigating the challenges of searching for housing feels like a BIG life thing. I'm encouraged by the stories of our parents, and grandparents. They tell us about the crazy things they had to do to survive. Every time they speak of it, there seems to be some reverence for those days. As if the struggle put everything into a healthy perspective. Their smile speaks assuredness, "You will make it through."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

thump, thump

Yesterday we were able to hear, for the first time, a faint thumping of a tiny, tiny heart. Our midwife circled Beth's stomach with the doppler in search of that quiet thump, and for only three or four second intervals we could hear our little one.

During our week 12 visit, as we sat in the room full of anticipation for that audible sign of life, I (mark) grew more and more overwhelmed with the emotions of it all. So when the midwife informed us it was too early to hear anything, I experienced a flushing of those emotions. I quickly stood up and made my way to the bathroom. With the color disappearing from my face, I stood in front of a mirror with a wet towel on my forehead.

Yesterday was different. This time seemed spiritually rich. It was our first sensory connection with a little life growing in an unseen world. I walked away in awe.

I feel so privileged to be given this opportunity to be daily awed by the mystery, wonder and excitement of this process.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Exciting Announcement!

I'm not sure that there are many people who read this, who are not also our friends on facebook...but in case you exist, then I'd hate for you to feel left out! Today Beth and I announced that we will be expecting our first child in March of 2012! This, as you can imagine, has been an amazing time for the both of us. When we found out in August (on our anniversary!) we knew that we would have to be careful how we handled the news. We knew we were going to see our families in Pennsylvania in early September and so we had to keep our news a secret until then. After revealing the great news to our families, we had to ask them to keep it a secret as we wanted to tell everyone at West Hills in person (not on facebook). Thankfully everything worked out as planned, and now we are happy to announce publicly that we are very excited to be Mama and Papa in another six months!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


There has been a lot of talk of rivers this summer. I am continually brought back to the spiritual nature of them. How they carry so much meaning, so much understanding of what is good and right for me. So, when I heard this song today by Johnny Flynn & Laura Marling I had to post the lyrics on here. Oh, and you should just go ahead and watch the video I posted of them performing this song (scroll down silly!)

The Water by Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling. 

All that I have is a river
The river is always my home
Lord, take me away for I just cannot stay
Or I'll sink in my skin and my bones

The water sustains me without even trying
The water can't drown me, I'm done
With my dying

Please help me build a small boat
One that'll ride on the flow
Where the river runs deep, and the larger fish creep
I'm glad of what keeps me afloat

The water sustains me without even trying
The water can't drown me, I'm done
With my dying

Now deeper the water I sail
And faster the current I'm in
So wide is my river, the horizon a sliver
The artist has run out of paint

The water sustains me without even trying
The water can't drown me, I'm done
With my dying

Where the blue of the sea meets the sky
And the big yellow sun leads me home
I'm everywhere now, the way is a vow
To the wind of each breath by and by

The water sustains me without even trying
The water can't drown me, I'm done
With my dying

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Message brought to WHF on August 14, 2011

I brought this message to the West Hills Friends community today: 

“The stillness inside must become exquisite; it must deepen into a moment of absolutely pure and utterly simple wakefulness in which your whole being is vitally present. In this stillness, you exist in beauty, and your next movement is clear. It is the practical, immediate ground of both appreciation and wisdom.” 
-Gerald G. May 
I am so intrigued by these moments of stillness. Almost exactly three years ago Beth and I were celebrating our honeymoon in southern Oregon. We had rented a cabin located deep into the Cascade Mountains for several days. On August 9th and entered this into my journal: 

Beth and I went exploring today. We made our way through paths of pine trees, and impressive cedars. The smell of juniper and pine sap blew with the air, so sharp and intense. I was searching for a sugarpine cone, a massive, nearly fourteen inch long cone which dwarfs its small brothers and sisters that rest on the forest floor around it. Its obvious then that these giants aren’t too hard to find when exploring the forest. I picked one up and marveled at its symmetry. 
We then made our way to the shell of a tipi I constructed nearly two years ago. Its long poles have cracked and bent under the stresses of snow and wind. Yet its shape is commanding against the backdrop of the mountains. It rests on what feels like sacred ground. An open clearing surrounded by the tree covered mountains, patches of twisted oak trees here and there, and massive, now dead pine trees covered in fluorescent green patches of moss. An all too familiar inner voice visits me, “Mark, what are you doing? Shouldn’t you be doing something?” I responded,  Why do we always need to be doing something? There is nothing wrong with doing nothing. So I leaned against a long, sturdy branch that I found while walking. As Beth gathered petrified wood and small rocks, I just stood and did nothing but feel the warm sun. I danced around my makeshift walking stick to take it all in. There was nothing to do. How beautiful. 
I closed this entry with this quote: 
“I stand like a tree. I look around and feel my body. I notice my breath...My listening is sharp and my seeing acute...My being lives and wisdom comes.” 
I’ve only ever experienced this type of heavy stillness a couple times, yet each time I did I left it feeling like something had changed. If these moments are the immediate and practical grounds of appreciation and could you not leave them feeling changed? I have to wonder, are these the very grounds we are trying to reach with every invitation to open worship? Are these the sacred grounds where we meet God? Where we hear her voice, where we see him pointing to the next far off point in the distance? 
For me the challenge has been to figure out how to increase the frequency of experiences with heavy silence and stillness. My experience is that when I try to enter into them intentionally I am either haunted by things of my past, or by the concerns of the future. To enter into a moment, as fully as I did that day in southern Oregon, is very difficult. So I have had to remind myself how the present moment will always be better then the past and the future. As one poet says, “The moment’s depth is greater than that of the future. And from the fields of the past, what can you harvest again? The soul does not understand the word seasons. The petals on the sun can only be touched now.” I think this is exactly why we as Quakers trust each other with the work of worship. We know that some of us may be able to enter into this moment of heavy stillness, to enter the ground of appreciation and wisdom, to hear the voice of God’s leading and affirmation. While some of us, depending on the week will wrestle with the  hauntings and concerns of our past and future, and maybe that wrestling is exactly what we need to do that week anyway.  Our work of leading worship as Quakers depends on the peculiarity of our present selves, but we are reminded that where two or more are gathered in the name of God, God will be there as well. 
When we look around, I believe that we benefit from the creativity and richness of those around us who experience these moments, and who decide to record, paint, write, or perform out of them. When I open a book of poetry, I believe that I have there a collection of words being expressed out of deep contemplation. When I behold a painting, I see the strokes of the brush as moments when the artist was completely lost in the process. For a community filled with creative types, I think we can all attest to moments when we’ve become completely present to the creative process. The temptation for folks who want to induce these moments is to follow the stereotypes of prayer or mediation. To sit in a quiet place, to do nothing but sit, but who has not experienced prayer and meditation in activity? 
As I’ve tried to increase the frequency of my experiences of heavy stillness, I have realized that the likelihood of success of this goal depends on finding a practice or art that assists me in this process. One of my favorite writers, David James Duncan, has written beautifully about the art of flyfishing. I remember reading his accounts of fishing excursions and thinking they sounded like a pilgrimage. He has described canyon walls rising from river banks as church walls, and the rhythm of his fly casting as liturgy. I then watched a video clip of him fishing, he was hunched close to the water, aiming his cast with such care, and as quickly as the fly touched the water it disappeared into the invisible mouth of a rainbow trout. He delicately brought in the fish and then held it just under the surface of the water in his palm. The camera focused on his face and I could tell that he had entered into such a moment that I’ve been talking about. A true moment of appreciation. After releasing the fish he stood in the river with his hand on his hip, staring deeply into the water. I have no idea what he was thinking, but I trust that it was a moment of clarity, of near perfect presence to himself, his setting, and the divine. Duncan writes in his collection of essays God Laughs and Plays that "any person waist deep in a misty green river, casting for salmon, is in a position of prayerfulness."

The Perfect Stillness 
Love is 
the perfect stillness 
and the greatest excitement, and the most profound act, 
and the word almost as complete 
as His name.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Love Does That

Love Does That 

All day long a little burro labors, sometimes 
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries 
about things that bother only 

And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting 
than physical labor. 

Once in a while a kind monk comes 
to her stable and brings 
a pear, but more
than that, 

he looks into the burro's eyes and touches her ears 

and for a few seconds the burro is free 
and even seems to laugh, 

because love does 

Love frees.

-Meister Eckhart 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Experiencing Quaker Process

As most of you know, Beth and I have joined an interesting slice of the Christian pie known as Quakers. We have been exploring and learning about the ways in which this group carries out its spiritual life together, and we are both finding it fascinating, revolutionary, and transformational.

Since I do not want to assume that most of the people reading our blog are familiar with Quaker practice, I will briefly summarize how we carry out our business. When I say business I refer to the typical workings of any community, how do we spend our money, what should we do about this and that, etc. Another huge aspect of Quaker business is approving those individuals who feel called into various roles within the meeting.

Us Quakers are organized into larger meetings, a kind of corporate body, made up of Quaker meetings throughout various regions. We are a part of the Northwest Yearly Meeting, a group made up of evangelical Quakers throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. This organization (Northwest Yearly Meeting or NWYM) requires a staff to oversee and execute its operations. The head of this staff is our superintendent.

Every year all of the meetings who are a part of the NYWM gather in Newberg, OR for our annual sessions.  I am currently here, and just this morning we went through the process of approving a new superintendant.

The process of approving a superintendant at our annual sessions involves presenting the search committee's recommendation to the hundreds of people gathered for these annual sessions. Two microphones stand in the aisles of a large auditorium and everyone is invited to comment on the person who has been nominated. EVERYONE, ANYONE can stand up to a microphone and be heard by hundreds of other people.

This is Quaker process, and a reason why I am so fascinated by it. As a group, we trust that if we listen and discern together, we will discover God's leading. We also trust that it is important for everyone, especially those who have misgivings or hesitations about a particular decision have the chance to be heard. It may take a long time, and it may actually hurt, but I see no better model in all of Christianity in which to make a decision.

I am excited about this, and wish I could introduce this way of handling our business as the Church with others!

Friday, June 24, 2011

an update

Dearest friends. How many times do I need to apologize for our laziness with this thing? Errr...sorry :/

The last couple weeks have included trips to both Denver and Pennsylvania for me. It was wonderful to connect with all of our friends and family again. It was also wonderful to reflect on where we have been, and how we ended up here in Oregon. I always thought of these return trips to our former homes as tests to whether or not we have settled here, and I am happy to report that we have. While this comes as a disappointment to many of our friends and family in other states, it is assuring and comforting to know that we have found a place that seems right to us.

We feel blessed to have so many communities across the country that continue to welcome us whenever we visit. Your hospitality makes us feel like we are at home wherever we go, so thank you.


Tonight, in Portland, the blue sky hung over the west hills until after 9:30pm. These cool summer nights, absent of the rain and clouds, surge with life.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Yesterday I turned 25

I wanted to take some time to reflect on who I have become, some of the things that have happened to me along the way, and some hopes for the future.  So, in celebration I decided to make a list.  I couldn't decide on one theme, so I chose 5 lists of 5.  

seat number 25

5 significant events in my life
  1. My junior year of high school.  The toughest year of my teens with lots of drama and heartbreak, but also one that taught me a lot about true friendship!  
  2. Meeting Mark, my best friend and soulmate whom I cannot say "I love you!" and "Thank you!" to enough!  You've been right along beside me ever since we met, and have helped me overcome and grow so much!
  3. Attending the Oregon Extension (with Mark) the fall semester of our Junior year.  Not only did we learn a lot about ourselves, eachother, God, and too many other things to list... we also found home.  
  4. Our year spent in Denver, CO was one of the hardest, and yet meaninful year for me.  I learned to forgive, trust, and most of all allow myself to dream!  I'm so grateful for the love and support of dear friends and family who helped us along the way!
  5. Moving to Portland, OR.  We had to overcome A LOT of stuff in order to get to where we are today!  We are finally home!!!
5 things I do well
  1. Knit
  2. Laugh
  3. Arts and Crafts
  4. Repurposing
  5. Giving myself french manicures
5 things you may or may not know about me
  1. From the moment I got "Spike" my favorite Cabbage Patch Kid I snuggled with him every night until I got married!
  2. I used to be a fairly picky eater until I met Mark.
  3. I love collecting small bits of nature.
  4. I really miss my besties!  Brittany, The Fab 4, and my C.A.T. Camp girlies... these girls are my sisters!  I love them so much and miss them all something fierce!
  5. The smell of lavender, pine, and fresh mountain air bring tears to my eyes.
5 of my favorite things
  1. Chocolate
  2. Honey
  3. Buttons: I'm working on a vintage/antique button collection... everytime I see a button bin at a thrift or vintage/antique store I squeal with delight and am not satisfied until I've thuroughly dug through the bin in order to find exactly the right specimines for my collection!
  4. My puppy boy, Oliver!  He brings a lot of joy and a whole lotta love to our lives!
  5. Being barefoot and soaking up sunshine!

5 things I want to do before I turn 30
  1. Become a mama
  2. Knit a sweater
  3. Make a quilt
  4. Fill an art journal
  5. Travel outside of the U.S.

(Just a few days before my 25th birthday.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

How the Tallest Man on Earth brought us home.

A certain musician, a song, or sound can connect us with a moment, a season, or an entire year. If you watch the above video you will hear an artist named The Tallest Man on Earth. If you are interested in a truly interactive experience, go ahead and click play on that video...and read on. 

This summer we packed up all of our possessions and pointed a moving truck westward. It would take us twenty-two hours to reach  a land we have dreamt of for many years, the state of Oregon. Those twenty-two hours were filled with varying landscapes, endless plains, and rolling hills. We filled those hours with albums after albums of our favorite musicians. Those musicians have already settled themselves into specific moments in our life. Vetiver, our summer honeymoon drive through the dry climate of Northern California. Devendra Banhart, the winding roads of the Cascades, sun beams breaking through the pines. 

The Columbia River met us after several hours of driving northwest through Eastern Oregon. We met it at the top of its downward trajectory towards the Pacific. The last three hours of our journey home would hug her banks, the walls she carved rising on either side of us. At some point Beth opened the CD case and slid in of our newest albums into the truck's player. The rapid strumming, the piercing vocals of Kristian Matsoon, The Tallest Man on Earth. For the next three hours it was our soundtrack to one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of the world, the Columbia River Gorge.

So now, when I hear those familiar chords, that jaring voice, I am completely transported. I am there in that truck, I am seeing the white caps of the choppy Columbia, I am imagining the salmon in their rhythmic, ancient quest, fighting their way upstream under the surface. We turn with her, and now I see the white blanket covering Mt. Hood. We turn again and I cannot believe how quickly such a huge mountain can disappear. We sink more, the walls grow taller. Deeper and closer to home. The cracked window whistling, the guitar strums quickening, the sweet smell of pine laden air. 

I can sit here now, and be completely transported. Where are your songs taking you?   

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What we've been up to lately...

Mark got Mac!  

Beth got an iPod touch with the money she saved up from knitting sales 
and as an early Valentines/Birthday gift from Mark!  
She's been having fun taking pictures and videos, as you can see!

(Really, we are both just a couple of nerds.)

Spring is already popping up in Portland!

(Aren't you jealous?)

We used our Christmas gift money to purchase a new mattress and bed!

Oliver likes that our new bed is big enough for all three of us!

We've been doing lots of neat and fun things with the West Hills Youth Group!
Our recent activities include: Glow in the dark - indoor - pirate themed - mini golf, the High School girls working a sack lunch auction for an upcoming Hati Medical Missions trip some members of our meeting are going on (they raised $900!!!), and our middle school group now meets on Sundays so more students  (and Beth!) can attend!

And as of yesterday, Beth has one less tooth!  Molar number 2 had to go! 
Thankfully she is healing well and has been pain free!

It really does feel good to call Portland home, and we couldn't feel anymore blessed!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


You might quiet the whole world for a second 
if you pray.

And if you love, if you
really love,

our guns will

-St. John of the Cross 

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Quaker response to the violence in Arizona

Below is a Quaker response to the tragic shootings in Arizona this weekend:

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization committed to overcoming violence in communities throughout the U.S. and around the world, is deeply saddened by the violence of January 8, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona, when an attempt to kill U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords brought death and injury to so many.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all victims of the shooting, as well as their families and friends who are now mourning the deceased and anxiously awaiting the recovery of the injured.   As Friends say, we are holding them in the Light.
In our work for peace, we have seen how each act of violence hurts not only the immediate victims, but tears at the fabric of entire communities.  In the wake of such a senseless violation, everyone in Tucson will struggle to feel secure, to regain trust for each other, and to work together to move forward.   Our hearts go out to all in Tucson today.
Today’s strident political atmosphere escalates tension and helps to set the stage for incidents like this one.  Our world is increasingly swept up in a tide of intolerance.  We are all too accepting when political and spiritual leaders use rhetoric that demonizes those with different beliefs; when those who should call us to higher purpose, instead, contribute to an atmosphere that provokes the most vulnerable, disturbed among us to acts of vandalism, violence, and assassination. We all must take responsibility for correcting a political climate that has become so polarized and vitriolic.
It is not an accident that this tragic shooting took place in Arizona, where punitive laws and anti-immigrant scapegoating have only resulted in misunderstanding and divisiveness in our borderlands.  These laws have brought us no closer to creating humane, workable policies that respect the rights and needs of those living on either side of the border.   This is but one example of how our nation’s divisive rhetoric works against developing effective solutions to society’s pressing needs.
What would help us move forward?
The American Friends Service Committee urges our elected officials, spiritual leaders and community leaders to commit now to act with civility and common purpose to heal our society.  Real healing goes beyond civil words and tamped-down rhetoric and looks to the root causes of violence in our society, the conditions of inequality and injustice.   A political culture devoted to honestly and reasonably addressing those conditions would be a healthier one for all of us.
We call on national, state, and local leaders to respond with compassion to the needs and aspirations of those who have been disenfranchised by the political system and excluded from the economic recovery. This is a time to fulfill the promise of “justice for all.”  This is a time for leadership towards “a more perfect union.” The American Friends Service Committee. Responding to Violence against Those in Public Life. <

I am proud to be a part of a Christian community that speaks out against violence. I am also proud to be a part of a community that seeks out the "root causes of violence in our society" because it sees it as a way to live out the nonviolent, and peaceful life Jesus Christ has called us to. I am proud to be a part of a community that looks to reconciliation as a means to extend love to our enemies and neighbors. I will continue to hope that the worldwide Church will also be known for such things.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Redefining Biblical Proportions

Biblical proportions...the phrase conjures up images of grandeur, and of unparalleled destruction. We are talking BIG here people, massive, humongous, YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE YOUR EYES!

I've begun to see biblical proportions in a different way. The proportions are incredibly smaller and quieter. I'm talking about a tiny baby in a manger, in a barn, in the MIDDLE OF NO WHERE! I'm talking about mustard seeds (picture to the left). 

1 Kings 19:11-13
"A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. 13When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there."

If you ask me, we should redefine biblical proportions. Maybe then we will stop believing God is speaking to us when hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters destroy peoples lives. Maybe we will stop believing God speaks to our enemies loud and clear through our bombs and gunshots. 

I like the new proportions.