Prone to reflect: Something old, something new

2015-03-06 13.43.31-1There’s something I love about this picture. It’s not the obvious beauty, though I certainly don’t mind bragging on my killer photography skills (thanks, Instagram!). Instead, it’s the juxtaposition of the mountains and the water. For me, it’s a symbol of the new and the old, the foreign and familiar.

These past seven months in Colorado have been an adventure in every sense of the word—and I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it. Everything is new. Every restaurant is a new experience. Every hike is a new view. There’s something…magical?…about still being somewhat anonymous in a new city. That’s what the mountains in this picture represent—the new, the exciting, the adventure.

But it can’t always be an adventure, can it? At some point, I need a reminder of the familiar. I need an anchor in a sea of change where sometimes the newness comes in wave upon wave. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the past. Of home.

For me, that’s the water. I grew up around lakes and our house had a pool. I learned to swim before I started school. My family spent many summers on the beach in Daytona. And Florida has some amazing natural springs that I’ve enjoyed tubing down on more than a few occasions.

That’s what I love about this picture: the old and the new. It’s also one of the things I love about the charming little town of Golden, Colorado, where this picture was taken. I picked up a rock from Clear Creek that day. I wanted to remember the moment and the place. I needed a reminder.

As it turns out, I’m not the first person to have a “stone of remembrance” as a marker of the past for the future. Joshua and Samuel both built stones of remembrance for the Israelites in the Bible to serve as a permanent reminder of what God had done for them.

I love this idea, and I think the principle can apply to any number of things—not just remembering a time God brought you through, but places and people and points in the past that we’d rather not forget, since some things are worth remembering.

What are your markers? What are your “stones of remembrance”? What’s your source of comfort in a land that’s unfamiliar, as much as you may like it all the same?

For me, the little rock is a reminder of the adventure ahead, and the life behind. And I’m grateful that I can appreciate both.

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Prone to mourn: When greatness falls

A very good man died recently.

This is likely one of the most obvious and self-evident things I’ve ever written, since good people die all the time. But it’s remarkable when it’s a good person that you know.

I’ve written about death before, and I’ve been searching for a way to write about this one since I heard about it last weekend. There are lots of things that stink about loosing people, but sometimes, loosing great people is hard because we lose a real-life example of greatness, and those examples feel more and more scarce.

When we look at truly great people, we see our own inadequacies. We see an example to follow and we see our betters. Something to aim for. Teaching my 7th graders last year, I explained it this way: when you play video games against someone really good, you recognize how bad of a player you are.

But here’s the thing: great people inherently don’t leave us lamenting our own inadequacies. Because truly great people know their own humanness, their own flaws, and want nothing more than to point others to the Redemption they’ve found.

That’s what Mr. Pearman did.

A pastor and a prisoner of war who fought in Korea, Mr. Pearman was no stranger to tragedy during his life, but he always carried a smile and a warm, manly hug whether he was seeing an old friend or meeting a new one. He was a confidant to my pastor and a friend to my family–two traits I am grateful for. He loved his family, his church, and his Lord.

He was one of those people I wish I had gotten to know more while I had the chance–a lesson I’ll evidently never learn well enough to put into practice.

He was a great person. A very good man. He left a solid example for those of us who knew him. The world is worse because he’s gone but better because he was here.

But he wasn’t perfect. He was a Tennessee fan, after all.

Prone to shout: The ultimate groupthink

As I’ve been reading up in preparation for Resurrection Sunday, there’s a line from the book of Luke that has stuck me more than anytime before. I’m certain I’ve read it plenty of times, but never has it stood out like it has these last few weeks.

At this particular juncture of the story, Jesus has been betrayed, beaten, and brought before Pilate: a prefect of the Roman empire overseeing Judea. Pilate can find no fault to warrant death, but the crowd kept shouting for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Pilate offers to release Jesus in light of the Passover tradition of releasing a prisoner chosen by the people, but the people preferred the release of Barabbas–a man known to have been responsible for insurrection and murder.

crowd“Protest in Paris” by Antonin Remond is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Imagine this for a moment: the crowd had rather a known murderer walk the streets than for the Christ to go free. He literally took the place of a murderer.

And they continued shouting.

Luke tells us that Pilate asked a third time “‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish him and release him’,” (Luke 23:22, ESV).

“But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed,” (v. 23, ESV).

This is the line that continues to haunt me: Their voices prevailed.

The insistence and urgency of the crowd changed the mind of a ruler of Rome: “So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted…” (v. 24, ESV) Just a short time after this tragic scene, Christ died.

While this death and subsequent resurrection were always the plan, I can’t help but notice what part fallen and flawed humans played. But I think there’s an application beyond the theoretical that I’m continuing to process: To what am I lending my voice?

Throughout history, crowds have changed laws and fought wars and toppled governments. Today, there are still wrongs to be corrected and justice to seek.

A crowd was used by God to change the mind of Pilate and send Christ to death, and their voices prevailed.

Will ours?

Prone to remember: May in review

Inspired by bloggers far more gifted than I am, I thought a little month-in-review post would be fun. This includes links to some previous posts, as well as some life events that didn’t make the blog, and things I’m looking forward to in the coming months. I did my best to stick to the pattern, but as you’ll see, it’s definitely not perfect…

  • Attempting some craft projects
  • Buying more things for the office as incentive to use it as a creative space
    May birthdays
  • Celebrating a slew of birthdays in May
  • Dreaming about future trips
  • Eating at new places
  • Filing all that fun paperwork that comes with being an adult that I’ve pushed out of the way for far too long
  • Getting up early and working on being more of a morning person
  • Hoping to launch a new blog idea next month
    EPCOT
  • Indulging in some food at the Flower & Garden Festival
  • Joining fellow bloggers for an event in September
  • Keeping a restaurant wish list
  • Laughing at the bathhouse story
    Harley
  • Meeting the newest member of the family and celebrating Mom
  • Nabbing tickets to see Paul McCartney!
  • Organizing the office to make it more usable
  • Preparing for an overseas trip next month
  • Quizzing friends on Harry Potter (currently on book 4!)
  • Remembering a life well lived
  • Stalling out on the hundred push-up challenge
    peanut butter pie
  • Trying new things, like chocolate-making and a new peanut butter pie recipe
  • Understanding the complexities of a corporate web project
  • Visiting with friends
  • Working on plans for the 30 before 30 list
  • X (I’ve got nothing, and I don’t care that it’s incomplete; I’m an adult and I do what I want.)
  • Yearning for pie
  • Zooming toward another half marathon in December

What did you make of May?

Prone to remember: Friends for life

While I was visiting my parents for mother’s day a few weekends ago, I got to attend the visitation of a lady who had finished her course here on earth after 97 years. Remarkably, my pastor mentioned on Sunday morning that she had been a member of my home church for 82 of those years.

HP quote great adventure

I’ve known Nannie Mae all my life (yes, that’s her name). I don’t remember a time of not knowing who she was. She was a friend of my grandparents and one of the nicest ladies I can remember. Her husband, F. M. made it to heaven a little quicker than she did (again, that’s the name everyone called him), and I always remember seeing him smiling around the church. I remember asking my dad when I was much younger why her name wasn’t N.M. to be consistent with her husband. And though I’m sure her family will miss her, it’s hard not to be at least a little grateful for a life well-lived.

As with most funerals in a small town, it was a reunion of sorts with more people than I could count. I saw my seventh grade home room teacher and my great aunt and great uncle. On the opposite end of the age spectrum, I ran into friends my age that I hadn’t seen in years. Life takes us in many different directions, but it was great to look back on so many connections all in once place.

I drove away with my parents and commented on how interesting it was to see people who had known Nannie Mae and her family for decades–many of them for 50 or 60 years or more. It was remarkable to me that all of that history could be in one place at one time. Could most other people claim that?

I couldn’t help but wonder whether we’re missing out on that now. Our lives seem so transient–both in location and in activities–that longevity almost seems to be a thing of the past. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to the subject since Orlando seems to be a rather transient place to begin with, but this feels different than that. This feels more about valuing history and longevity in a way I haven’t noticed before.

Since I don’t see our way of living changing much back to “the way it used to be,” nor would I necessarily advocate for that, I wonder how we capture some of that history now. How do we prioritize the lasting over the fleeting? I’m not sure I have the answer to that yet. But at the end of my own 97 years, I hope to look back on similar, long relationships like I saw that night.