Thursday, January 26, 2006

I'm a Shrub

A sea of asphalt. Trees of iron. Stars of fluorescent light. Torrents of souls flooding a vast, expansive gully complete with steel reinforcement. They mock me. All things impersonal and even the dearest of friends. But it must be. I could get lost, swept away by either the sea, the forest, the stars, or in the gully itself. I have to have a place of grounding, a point of reference, a navigational placard. I am peculiar, granted--I can agree with my friends on that point. But to mock a poor soul that must--after all other options have been tried or all other choices have been argued--venture out into the dark sea lots and trudge through the expansive gully known as Wal-mart, surely they can grant me some repose, some solace, some comfort that at least my ship has been parked by a true point of reference, a deeply rooted (or newly rooted) edifice of purely natural cause and calling, a rarity in a world of steel reinforcement...a tree.

A friend (yes one of the mockers) was reading through a dictionary one evening (those are the type friends I have...crazy ones that read through dictionaries) and came upon a new nickname for me: shrubby cinquefoil. The following is a description care of Utah State University:

Shrubby cinquefoil is a deciduous, multi-stemmed and many branched shrub, reaching heights of 1 to 6.5 feet. The growth form of shrubby cinquefoil varies; it occurs as a low mat and as an erect shrub. Shrubby cinquefoil has a shallow to moderately deep, spreading root system with thin woody roots. Flowers from late May to late September, seeds mature from late summer to early fall. Regenerates from wind-dispersed seed and by sprouting from the root crown.

I know not why. I know not how. I know not from whence I came to this subconscious, yet decisive conclusion, but when I go any where--drive any where--I always park in front of a tree. Second tree from the left end, right side, second row of the back church parking lot on Sunday mornings. Third tree from the right end, left side in the front of the church parking lot on week days. There is a tree for work. There is a tree for home. There is a tree for my parent's house, for my friends' house, the bank, the other bank, and several at Wal-mart (if I am ever so inclined, or feel the need to go there). I have a fairly poor memory when it comes to the daily tasks and maintenance of my own life. While I can keep track of others quite well, I must employ a long list of checks and balances in my own life to even remember to employ checks and balances. So, I park by trees so that I will not forget.

I know my shrubby appellation fit so very well with my propensity toward tree parking, but it set me on a quest, a quest to be more than a shrub, to do more than just park by a tree...I want to BE the tree!

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

I can only hope that my inner longing to find that navigational bearing in the midst of a synthetic world will lead me to the place where I can be more rooted in something eternally fruitful rather than be swept away down stream, as if I only had the root system of a shrub.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Reading Quotes

"Because it is deeply imbedded in the mines, the finest gold often remains long undiscovered. And in profound natures the sterling qualities of character are not always revealed at once."

"It often happens that quiet personalities tend to slumber complacently in this way until some event shakes them violently out of their lethargy."

"She saw in God not merely a possible answer to prayer, but a certain answer."

Women of the Old Testament by Abraham Kuyper

"We are constantly on a stretch, if not a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or organization. God's plan is to make much of the man far more of him than anything else. Men are God's method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men."

"Preaching is not the performance of an hour. It is the outflow of a life. It takes twenty years to make a sermon, because it takes twenty years to make the man. The true sermon is a thing of life. The sermon grows because the man grows. The sermon is forceful because the man is forceful. The sermon is holy because the man is holy. The sermon is full of divine unction because the man is full of divine unction."

"The sweetest graces by a slight perversion may bear the bitterest fruit. The sun gives life, but sun strokes are death. Preaching is to give life; it may kill."

"Our being with God is of use only as we expend its priceless benefits on men."

Power Through Prayer by E.M. Bounds

"If they are our own words they will soon by unavoidable repetition, harden into a formula. If they are some one else's, we shall continually pour into them our own meaning."

Letters to Malcom, Chiefly on Prayer by C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Fool's Prayer

by Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.

He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the Monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

"'Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
'Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

"These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

"The ill-timed truth we might have kept--
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say--
Who knows how grandly it had rung!

"Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders--oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!"

The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
"Be merciful to me, a fool!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Without a Song

What is the world without a song?
The notes that enlighten the soul.
Beats that intertwine the rhythms of the heart
And make known the common things for which we long.

What is the soul without a tune?
The melodious strings of hope.
Lilts lend expression to share moments of joy
And raise lament, for sorrows here follow soon.

What is the heart without a use?
The words that convey and express.
Choruses unite from solitary Source
And voices no more alone, and tongues let loose.

What is the world without a song?
The man that may express his days.
Notes that he forms for long years of remembrance
And chords ringing clear, truths for which we yet long.