The wisdom of a tree . . . Trees show up a lot in my poetry and life. This afternoon a look at some trees reminded me of this journal entry from September. I was in Charlotte, North Carolina for a meeting. I was feeling a bit lonely and bereft in the midst meeting. I ended up on a bench outside. Here is what I wrote. I turned at this moment on the bench and realized there was what I needed – right in front of me – a very large tree.Read More
Laundry. It seems like a good night to write about something mundane. And besides I’m doing laundry while I write. Multi-tasking is such an unexamined part of life for most of us. We do the laundry, run the dishwasher. Back up the computer. All while we’re taking out the trash. Or we send three emails, write a blog, pay the bills and post on facebook, all in an hour on the computer. Does this way of life really accomplish more? Or is it just a sign of an overly-busy and distracted existence, endemic to the middling classes?Read More
This Epiphany season one image keeps flitting through my mind. I snapped this pic of a statue of Jesus at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill last fall. I was there with a group of faculty and students from Luther Seminary sharing the experience of Pray and Break Bread. When I’ve visited churches of the neighborhoods of the Twin Cities I’ve found it interesting to ask this question: “What does Jesus look like here?”Read More
Being here on campus this week reminds me of that first trip as a new hire. I arrived late in the evening to the snowy winter dark. The next morning I went in search of breakfast. I hoped I could remember where the dining hall was. I found it (eventually), but I felt disoriented at every turn. I couldn’t even decide what to eat. And I was slightly nervous about my first day on the job. When I finally managed to get a bowl of oatmeal together and some toast, I stepped up to the register to pay.
It was J-term which meant there weren’t many people in the cafeteria at 7:30 a.m. There was no line. I put down my food.
“You don’t owe anything,” the cashier said.
“Do what?” I sputtered.
“Someone already paid for your breakfast.”
A prayer for the children and parents of Haiti
I rocked my daughter to sleep just now
And I wept for the mothers who would never rock their children again
Storytelling . . .
In 2001, as I was working my way through doctoral courses in Religion, Psychology and Culture at Vanderbilt, I read pastoral theologian, Andy Lester’s book, Hope in Pastoral Care and Counseling. In that book he articulates several important ideas including the notion of “future stories.” The stories we tell ourselves about the future can have as much impact on us in the present as do all the stories we tell about our pasts.
For instance right now I’m carrying around a host of future stories about everything from what time I’ll turn out the lights tonight to what movie I might see this weekend, to where I’ll be teaching and what I will be researching 20 years from now. The power of future stories seems obvious when you try it on. But it is a significant challenge to the psychological traditions which mostly focus on the past as the main or only key to understanding personal identity or behavior in the present.Read More