The gentle rocking of the universe and the lullaby that sings, “I am here. You are safe.”
Death is an incontrovertible part of life.
Why do we struggle so? What is it about this final veil--the veil which separates forever the living from the dead--that causes us to beat our flying fists against it so firmly, so resolute with no result? If death is a part of life, why does it hurt so much?
There is so much material online about the PULSE nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016. I can’t possibly do a better job of honoring the victims—both living and dead—of the massacre. But I can share with you the weight of it, the heft, the residual dread and anxiety, that this anniversary stirs up for someone who wasn’t there and didn’t know anyone who was hurt or killed.
But I know a lot of people who do. And I watched with them as the day unfolded and the horror became known and real.
I need to thank my friend René. He got me thinking about chaos.
I’ve been working lately to create a new life—one where I am the “Master of my fate…the Captain of my soul.”1 One where there is less chaos, more peace; less insanity and more grounded-ness. But wow, have I been frustrated. Sad. Even depressed. My now doesn’t match my vision and that’ll drive a Type-A creator like me just about crazy-pants.
Meet my cat. Her name is Dottie. She is a cat of different color, if you’ll excuse my usurping of a familiar phrase. You see, Dottie is both cat and companion to me. “Companion” doesn’t really cover it though; she has been an unexpected comforter, empath, and confidante to me. We nap together—I would say, “peacefully,” but she is on a never-ending quest to get all four paws on me at the same time, and therefore and has a squirm-factor that is off the charts. She is my co-writer of music and editor of articles. She touches my face when I am sad, and makes me laugh with silly acrobatics. She is my spirit animal and I love her beyond measure.
And she is dying.
Mankind has been grappling to understand the nature of worship for thousands of years. As we take a spin through the Old Testament we see the elaborate formal rituals of the temple, the joyous celebration of Israel as God moves on her behalf, and the spontaneity of Davidic worship. In the New Testament, we find people meeting together to share, and eat, and drink. Each person brings an encouragement, a song, a prayer, or a testimony.
Many theologians tend to describe worship as something along the lines of being "the response of the created to the creator." I definitely believe this is correct. But it seems somehow incomplete, and even--dare I say it?--unfulfilling.
And before you hit the "comment" button, I'm not a heretic! I know that worship is not about man, but about God. The purpose and point of worship, from our point of view, is to magnify the creator of the universe, and please him with our offerings of praise and our whole hearts devoted to him. But is that all there is to it?
Me: The Lord is my shepherd. I will not lack anything. He gives me rest in beautiful, green fields. He lets me lay down and take a nap beside quiet, cool water. He refreshes and restores the very best and most inner parts of me. Even when I walk through the most horrible and fearsome of places, I don't have to be terrified, because he guides me along, and when i wander too far, he breaks me for my own protection.
Have you ever seen Hoarders? It's a show on A&E which takes an in-depth look at people who are victims of a difficult pattern of excessive collecting which usually leads to the hoarder possessing large amounts of objects. Perhaps you have a family member who is a hoarder, or maybe you are one.
You don’t often hear anyone say, “Turn to Psalm 1 please.” It seems that with the grand exposition of the glories and downfalls of humankind, with the declarative exclamations, praises for and pleading with God that follow this humble Psalm, it is often overlooked. But this small Psalm, a simple setting of God’s feeling toward the righteous and the unrighteous, gives a compelling frame of reference for the entirity of the Psalms.
I just returned from the Visible Music College Winter Retreat. A great concept, the retreat takes all the students and staff--140 or so total--out to a retreat center and they spend a few days together in a completely relaxed environment. Rather than over-programming the time, there is a definite focus on worship, on input from the guest speakers, and on hanging out and sharing free time fun together.
I've been to ten previous winter retreats with this group of people, and God is always faithful to move in big, lasting ways.