Tuesday, April 29, 2008


The first thing that tends to happen when we are hurting is that we start looking for someone to blame. We’re constantly trying to make sense of our world and our place in it. Tommy Lee Jone’s character, the sheriff in No Country for Old Men, tries to make sense of his west Texas world where people take life for no reason. His moment of awakening comes when, having spent his entire career dealing with the darkest side of humanity, he finally admits that, though it puts his soul at risk, he sees no alternative to admitting that he is part of this world, too. Each of us bears some of the blame for the misery in it.

Then there is Jesus, on the cross, asking his father not to lay the blame for his death at the feet of those who are actually causing it because; “they know not what they do.”

Blaming is easy. Drawing a direct line between the hurt I feel for abandonment or betrayal to the person(s) I once trusted who have now caused is easy. But, once I’ve drawn the line, what good have I done? Where does blaming get me? Where does it end?

It hurts to leave a church after ten years, especially when I dreams of ten more and then some. There’s plenty of blame to go around. And, around. And, around. The blame-game is circular in motion, with no one knowing who will finally discover they don’t have a chair when the music stops. The world becomes a particularly unsafe place when there is no one left standing to take responsibility.

The only way out is when someone finally decides to break the cycle of evil by absorbing into himself, as Jesus did on the cross, responsibility for all the blame. Blaming is a dead-end street. Acceptance opens doors of hope otherwise inaccessible.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Years ago, I took the boys to see Ft. Griffin, one of those post-Civil War era frontier forts just northeast of Abilene. It must have been a very lonesome and miserable assignment in the late 1800’s. Bitterly cold winters. Unbearably hot summers. One of those places that certainly inspired the birth of the word, “godforsaken.”

That mid-summer day was hot and still, with not so much as a gentle breeze to stir the soup-thick humidity. Out to the east, a spectacular thunderstorm was cranking up. Mountain-sized puffy-white cumulus clouds boiled up in the ocean blue sky. We could hear the million-volt lightning flashes splitting the air not far away. The storm was coming close. Then, we sensed something eerie, unusual, something different. We got quiet and stood very still.

In the open prairie, all we could hear was the silence. Except for whatever was coming from just the other side of the trees back toward the storm still brewing. Then we saw it, a rustling in the branches. Wild breezes were dancing unharnessed in the treetops at the edge of our miserable stillness. Wind that we could not yet feel but that we could hear and see was ushering in the storm’s refreshing, life-giving rain just behind it. It’s unusual to have proof of what is about to happen just before it does.

Sometimes godforsaken is not the place you’re standing; it’s the way you feel. Hell’s hot winds scorch the barren landscape of your soul. It’s then when Easter people gather, stand still and look to the east, where the sun still rises after the darkest of nights. They listen quietly for the cool breezes of unharnessed hope, rustling in the branches at the edge of their misery, ushering in what God is about to do. Easter faith is the close-by, quiet-rustling assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.