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.