Beautiful Dissonance.

Strike a chord
Hum a tune
Live a melody

January 17, 2008

The Hope of Transformation

I quote and resonate:

"I am disappointed with myself. I am disappointed not so much with particular things I have done as with aspects of who I have become. I have a nagging sense that all is not as it should be.

Some of this disappointment is trivial. Some is neurotic. Sometimes I am too concerned about what others think of me, even people I don't know. Some of this disappointment, I know, is worse than trivial; it is simply the sour fruit of self-absorption. I am disappointed in my ordinaries.

But some of this disappointment in myself runs deeper. I am disappointed that I still love God so little and sin so much. I always had the idea as a child that adults were pretty much the people they wanted to be. Yet the truth is, I am embarrasingly sinful. I am capable of dismaying amounts of jealousy if someone succeeds more visibly than I do. I am disappointed in my capacity to be small and petty. I cannot pray for very long without my mind drifting into some grandiose fantasy of achievement. I can convince people I'm busy and productive and yet waste large amounts of time doing nothing.

These are just some of the disappointments. I have other ones, darker ones, that I'm not ready to commit to paper. The truth is, even to write these words is a little misleading, because it makes me sound more sensitive to my fallenness than I really am. Sometimes, although I am aware of how far I fall short, it doesn't even bother me very much. And I am disappointed at my lack of disappointment.

Where does this disappointment come from? A common answer in our day is that it is a lack of self-esteem, a failure to accept oneself. That may be part of the answer, but it is not the whole of it, not by a long shot. The older and wiser answer is that the feeling of disappointment is not the problem, but a reflection of a deeper problem -- my failure to be the person God had in mind when he created me." (John Ortberg)

December 18, 2007

What A Child Is Meant To Be
Kathryn Scott

In my weakness I find
That your strength knows no bounds
And in my loneliness I find
That the everlasting arms surround me
And even with this fragile heart
I find a plcae to rest here,
Safe where you are

And I am falling into grace again
And I am running where mercy never ends
Lord I'm learning that your love can cover me
You are teaching me
What a child is meant to be

December 09, 2007

"Live and Love it up!"

I was watching a documentary-type video in class last week, and a statement that a 10 year old girl made really caught my attention. Some people may have thought the class was a bit 'foofy' [def'n: absurdity beyond superficiality, when content is meant to have meaning but results in none], and we have seen bits and pieces of the video before, but I think this little girl, Michaela, got it. Like she understood her meaning of life. She was only 10, and probably younger at the time she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her mother gave her a choice between choosing to let the tumor grow bigger and bigger in her head, or being poked and stabbed by many needles so that it would shrink. She didn't comprehend what really was going on, and described her feeling of being 'stuck in a donut' where she didn't exactly feel entirely trapped, but was in that hole in the middle where she wasn't sure quite which direction to turn. After 2 cycles of chemotherapy, she was tired, she just wanted it to end so she could 'go to heaven'. In the interview, she shared with us her motto in life - "Live and love it up". She explained it to the audience as her understanding of how she knew she couldn't live forever, but that love will last forever, love meaning the relationships she had, an entity that, for her, was eternal.

Michaela got it.
Despite her youth and rare experiences, she understood what her life was all about.
Makes me wonder why it's so difficult with a more mature brain and presumably more experience me to "get it". Why even with all the love around I feel discontent, misunderstood, lost for expression, puzzled, discombobulated...

I have been attempting to practice lectio divina (sp?), to challenge myself in listening to God's voice. This week my lesson came from Romans 1, where I was drawn to the message "to encourage one another in each other's faith". It's a battle to live and love it up, isn't it? To live and love God, benevolence, selflessness, timelessness - it's a battle to be close to God, to even desire to stay close by. It's a battle we can't fight alone, and we must stand with one another, encouraging each other in our faith; to pray earnestly for one another; to love one another.

Isn't it?

December 02, 2007

An Excerpt

For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either. The ends of things and their beginnings are impregnably concealed from him in an impenetrable secret. He is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed.”—Blaise Pascal

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, we may ask ourselves—what is the meaning of life? Why do we exist? What is my purpose in the grander scheme of things?

I think instinctively, this curiosity is what motivates us to pursue our respective goals in life. For some this may mean success, an entity that can be measured and defined by different things including money, power, respect, accomplishments, comfort, happiness... For others, it may mean a life dedicated to invention, intervention, or intercession. Whatever it means, I am almost certain we cannot deny that at some point in our lives, irrespective of our background, intelligence or education, we entertain this question of purpose, of meaning, and of discovering our identity in this world.

But I often wonder—so what does this mean for children and young adults who are just beginning to grow and understand the philosophical concepts of life, then suddenly faced with the challenges of sickness and death? I met a teenage boy during my elective in oncology at B.C. Children’s Hospital whom we diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. A week previous he was a “normal”, healthy, athletic boy with the world at his finger tips. But now his life is on a standstill. Over the next few weeks he needs to prepare himself for his future prospects of possibly not becoming the track and field professional athlete he was aspiring to be. He has to learn how to be realistic that the side effects of the chemotherapy that will cure him may compromise his respiratory and cardiac function; that although there is still the chance he can fly by this a few months down the road, be cured, and suffer few side effects, there is always the chance that things will not go as planned. Life isn’t fair. He did nothing to deserve this. But he chose to simply accept it. He listened intently as we explained the disease and treatments and asked very appropriate questions. He demonstrated courage and inner strength in the subsequent period of treatment, always joyful and appreciative of his family and friends who stood by him. He continued to live purposefully as he wrestled with life.

One of the most captivating things about the pediatric population is that they often respond differently to crisis than what our adult minds can fathom. They are honest with their feelings, expressive with emotion, and true to what matters in their life. They embrace their hardships, are hopeful for the future, and always persevering. The joy they possess transcends understanding. There is simply something remarkable about children that interests me, engages me, and inspires me to work with them. I find that change in their life brings change in mine. Through working with them and their families, I learn to not define meaning in life by the worldly definition of glorious success, but by the relationships that give meaning.

July 29, 2007

Creating Space For God, Part 2

Forgiveness is to have hope for the oppressors, to believe in their humanity hidden under all their brokenness.
-Jean Vanier

I have been struggling lately with anger and inner tribulation as I feel the brokenness in this world. On Friday I was faced with a battle between grace and judgment. A fellow, florid in a cocaine high, came to the hospital with part of his leg in a bucket. He was riding his motorcycle and involved in a motor vehicle accident of sorts. Because of the urgency of the situation, he bumped off several other cases off the operating slate, poor old ladies waiting to have their broken wrists fixed for days - in pain, children with accidental falls who need some screws in their bones to help their limbs grow nicely. In my mind, I was thinking (and sinning) - this good for nothing man, still high on whatever drugs, a burden on our taxing society - why should we fix him first and leave several innocent, faithful contributors for the bettering of our society in pain. He could have killed my friends the night before on his motor bike. I was judging.

Despite my understanding of grace, I was quite angry inside for awhile before I came to the realization - I'm that biker dude - in God's eyes, I am that ugly, undeserving, good for nothing sinner. But God forgave me, and gave me a chance, why can I not display grace and love for this person laying before me?

Sometimes I am quite burdened by the brokenness in my life and in lives around me. How can we be truly thankful for it, how do we come to terms with the fact that this is God's providence. I feel there is a disconnect between the knowledge of that and the living of that.

Providence is
the almighty and ever present power of God
by which he upholds, as with his hand,
heaven and earth and all creatures,
and so rules them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty --
all things, in fact, come to us
not by chance
but from his fatherly hand.

- Heidelberg Catechism

O Lord, teach me how to be more like you.

July 18, 2007

Creating Space For God, Part 1

What is contemplation? Often when I am in one of those egocentric proud moods I feel I am almost a higher person because I love to contemplate and think, ignoring that it is quite the common phenomenon in life. Henry Zylstra in his writings in The Testament of Vision reminded me of what contemplation really means in our Christian lives - to contemplate, is to dwell in the knowledge of God, to be still and know that He is God.

Being still is so difficult in our world and in our lives, isn't it? Even going away on a church retreat I found it very challenging to be still. No matter how quiet and serene the environment is, there is always something to do, someone to talk to. It is almost as if you have to effortfully force yourself to retreat off alone into silence and darkness before you can achieve this stillness, for we fill our lives now with rumbles of noise and busyness. Henry Zylstra writes that we people are almost too lazy to engage in true contemplation because we are too bored to be still. "It embarrasses them, the confrontation in solitude of self, and God, and destiny. There is a sort of dead-alive...people about, who are scarcely conscious of living except in the exercise of some conventional occupation...They have dwarfed and narrowed their soul by a life of all work, until here they are at forty, with a listless attention, a mind vacant of all material for amusement, and not one thought to rub against another while waiting for the train."

This is our life in this day and age, isn't it? Boredom has become an earmark of life in our day. To be still is boring. To sit still, to be silent - is boring. To meditate on the Word of God is almost like pulling teeth. We must fill our space, our time, and our minds, or we find ourselves bored and sleepy. How many times have we fallen asleep praying? How often do we find ourselves completely at peace and truly enjoy sitting still and being in the presence of God? Rather we look for assignments, we seek out things to do, projects to complete - new services, new worship services, worship nights, conferences, movements, mission trips...we think upon ways we can impact the world. We try our hardest to serve our neighbours, our churches, our friends - or are we partially running around aimlessly serving ourselves? We fill our time slots until we have to leave early from one meeting to make it late to the next. We schedule our timeless days until there is no timelessness left, no room to even breathe, sometimes no time to even eat. We dream about building and saving lives. We study hard to become a somebody, we compete and work hard in the workforce so we don't become a nobody. We think to be a healthy Christian is to serve to our fullest capacity in our church, our seminaries, our communities. We struggle daily with how to deal with the social injustice, the poverished, the hungry, the war and the famine.

But friends - are we trying too hard to get ahead of ourselves? Is not our acts futile to begin with without the strength and power that comes through what God is already doing despite our existence? Why do we have this idea engrained in our heads that to serve God is to be constant doers, and why do we emphasize so little in our lives the importance of simply dwelling and enjoying the presence of God? Being still to spend time in intimacy with Him? Martha, in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-41) was constantly working and doing and cooking because that was what she thought she was supposed to do to serve Jesus. Mary, on the other hand, knelt at the foot of Jesus to just ... be ... - neither was easier, both were difficult. Who are we, and where do we need to be more of the time?

"We are addicted to the active life, the exhaling life, the 'relevant' life that does things, show things, proves things, builds things...But it is not enough for leaders to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time. If there is any focus that the Christian leader needs, it is the discipline of dwelling in the presence of the One who keeps asking us, 'Do you love me?' Leadership must be rooted in permanent, intimate, relationship with God."
- Henry Nouwen

July 11, 2007

jesus loves the little children

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world...

(the rest of this song is not politically correct haha)

Today a 3-month old baby came in, white, cold, clammy. His heart had stopped beating for who knows how long before he was discovered and brought in, his eyes were open and just stared blankly and lifelessly. For 13 minutes our team of doctors and nurses tried everything we could to resuscitate the babe, but his heart just wouldn't get going again. We ended the code today at 13:40, and I hope that little babe is with Jesus now.

A part of me always wonders what happens to these precious little children whose lives were so brief. But the same part of me is also confident they are with Jesus. I always get a big lump in my throat watching little ones pass on. My heart aches.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." -Mark 10.14