Faith Made Flesh

I’ve been thinking a lot about cultures of complaint lately, so it’s comforting to read these words in Sunday’s lectionary: ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’ Though we may be used to picturing God as patient and willing to listen, to be told that directly—to be reminded that the cosmos was pieced together by a God who not only hears our complaining but also asks us to draw near–well, that ‘hits differently’ when the world around us feels mismatched with that ideal. I come from a country where grumbling about the state of things is … Continue reading “Faith Made Flesh”

And He Was Amazed

The story of Jesus of Nazareth in Nazareth is layered and maybe a little unsettling, but it’s not wholly unrelatable, especially in a city like Seattle; nearly everyone I know here has a complicated relationship with some place they call “back home.”  Years ago, I read a book that summed up the Nazarenes’ reaction to that carpenter kid next door returning all wisened up and doing “deeds of power” with three simple words: “familiarity breeds contempt.” That’s probably the only thing I remember about that book because it seemed to unlock the secrets behind all sorts of mysterious behavior around me–the paradox of being … Continue reading “And He Was Amazed”

The Last Mile

It has happened, and my head is still spinning. My last weeks in Beirut, a proverbial blur, left no room to think or plan or feel — senses heightened, yes, but nothing sinking in; a cartoon dog of emotions–“no take, only throw”–onwards, forwards, one thing to the next, and here we are now entertain us. You don’t put off the get-togethers when you’re about to leave, so you find yourself more energetic and affirmative than ever before. “Yes,” I will go to your BBQ. “Yes,” I will join you for drinks afterwards. “Yes,” I’ll have another beer. I wrote those … Continue reading “The Last Mile”

Preparing for Takeoff

There’s something that happens just before a dream becomes a plan, or maybe a little bit after that, when a plan is just about to gel into reality but isn’t quite there yet, at that liminal point between the lines of a preflight checklist; something happens akin to stage fright. This is the “dizziness of freedom,” the truly unpleasant kind that reminds one that, just as much as one is free to dream up and shape the arc of their future, one is also very much free to fall short. Waiting around in the liminal place makes everything feel heightened, … Continue reading “Preparing for Takeoff”