Tuesday, September 25, 2007

last four miles

The plan, in theory would work. Marie would start the 10:30am worship service by leading an opening music set. Adam would preach. That would provide plenty of time for Kevin to lead an extended worship set in response to the message. To end the service I would do the announcements, collect the offering and pray.

At 4:00am. Kevin met me at my house. We then rode together to the amphitheater, to be shuttled to the starting line for the Rock-n-Roll ½ Marathon. The 13.1 miles would prove to be the easy part.

My group left the start line at about 7:05, Kevin’s left at about 7:30. Allotting approximately two hours to run, this would put us finishing somewhere around 9:30. This would make things interesting but still doable. Well, the short of it is this, we didn’t leave the ocean front until 10:30. Kristy and the kids (who spent the extra time practicing the use of their plastic clappers) were waiting in the wings to pick us up. Like robbers in a get away we raced back to our house.

Here was the preplanned sequence. 1. Kristy would drop us off at our house. 2. Shower and change. 3. Take Kevin’s jeep to the church. Steps one and two went as planned. (It was about 10:45 now.) As I was putting dress shoes on my blistered feet, step three hit a hurdle. Kevin realized the keys to his jeep were in the car we had taken to the amphitheater (it was still at the amphitheater!). My first thought was, we are going to have to run another four miles this morning and I really don’t want to. What are we going to do? Motorcycle! (Why are you laughing already?) I wobbled to the kitchen (my legs were tightening up by now) grabbed my key, handed Kevin a full faced helmet, instructed him to hold on to the back rest and not my waist, and off we went. Just let that image sink in....

Now, I don’t know what this looked like. Well actually I kind of do...two guys on a motorcycle, the passenger is six inches taller than the driver, with a full face helmet that probably doesn’t fit. Oh yes, this had to be quite the picture. When we drove into the church parking lot, not a soul was outside. God is a merciful god. I think the motorcycle was still rolling when Kevin jumped off and darted inside. It was about 11:05. Adam was still preaching. We made it, 17.1 miles!

I thought about how many people probably had no idea all that happened that morning before they saw us at church. And I thought about how little we sometimes know about what others go through on a given Sunday just to be there. We really only see the surface, we only see the last 50 steps, but there is so much more to our journeys than that, isn’t there?

“Lord, you see our goings and our comings. You see the beginning and the end. Lead us to discover more about each other than the last five steps. Help us to share more than that also so that we can be the authentic community you’ve called us to be as your church. In Christ’s name, amen.

a day in the sun

My feet were burning. And so were theirs. My two year old son was trying to be strong but his armor was beginning to break (or perhaps the blisters were starting to form). In a faint voice I could hear him calling for Da-da, but I was determined to find relief on the boardwalk. I would loved to have helped him out, but I was pretty well maxed out with all the equipment stuffed under each arm. I believe every finger on my right hand had become a hook of some kind to hang lawn chairs, umbrellas, and flip flops on. I also had a back pack loaded with food rations and hydration for four, sun protection and wet towels for same. Did I mention my feet were burning? For good measure, I had another bag draped over my shoulder. I’m not sure what was in it, probably some sort of one-of-a-kind shell my daughter couldn’t live without.

I understood at that moment, those who say they love going to the beach, they just don’t care for the sand much. As I was toting my house back from the edge of the water through loose sand to the car I didn’t like the sand very much either.

But you know what I did like...much? I liked...much... being with my kids. I liked building the big ditch in the sand and filling it with ocean water. And I liked boogie boarding with my daughters. And I liked watching my son chase sea gulls, because he wanted to see what they felt like. I liked sharing a bag of chips on the way home and seeing the glow of a fun day on their faces.

“Father, thank you for moments of fun with people we love. Thank you for the glow that surrounds us when we spend a day with the Son. We like that...much, and we know that you do too. In Jesus name, Amen.”

the best way to eat corn

The first time I saw my dear relatives in the Midwest eat corn on the cob I sat stunned. Now, being from Louisiana, I know I have no right questioning the eating habits of anyone on planet Earth. What experienced was probably just a ration of what so many others have experienced when they see us sweep crawfish out of the ditches and suck their heads.

With that being said... I guess I had never really eaten that much corn on the cob. Clearly by their standards I had never really eaten corn. Pecked at it maybe. But this was another league altogether. When I ate corn I just took one bite at a time (crazy me). Well, I can assure you, that is not the way the people who grow corn eat corn. How do I describe it? Put these images simultaneously in your mind. The speed of a squirrel eating an acorn. The left to right movement of an old fashion type writer. The splashing/slurping sound that accompanies the first bite into a juicy slice of watermelon. If you combine all three of those, you get close to what I witnessed at the dinner table that day.
I remember it all like it was yesterday. I picked my corn up with everyone else at the table but as I sat mine down, I witnessed an explosion of speed, slurping and spinning. Before my corn returned to the plate they had already made their way through two rows and were returning to the left to start the third. Their hands were like rollers that kept the cob turning, their eyes were locked down guiding the procedure. And the butter ran in a stream down the center of their bottom lip, some dripping on the table. And no one, not a single person, other than the Southern boy thought this was the least bit strange. I couldn’t say a word for the better part of a minute. That day I learned how to stop fooling around and how to really eat corn. It tastes better the way they eat it, but I still think it’s strange.

I think people that have yet to follow Christ probably look at the lives of us that do follow him and wonder what it’s all about. They see us consuming and enjoying the things of God, but to them it all seems kind of foreign. They are more prone to peck, than dive in. But we hope the day will come when they really taste and see how good the Lord is. There really is only one way to follow Christ...and that is well, like a Midwesterner eats corn, or like a Cajun eats crawfish, or like a Texan eats Bar B Q or like a .... you get the point.

“Father you are good. And the more we know of you the more we realize how good you are to those to trust and follow you. Thank you for Godly people, who at times their methods and values seem strange to us, yet they teach us what abundant life is all about. May we observe their example, stop pecking around in our relationship with you and dive in. In Jesus name. Amen.”