Sunday, May 29, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I don't know what your high school experience was like, but mine was awesome. Seriously, it was fantastic. My parents gave my siblings and myself the loving gift of sending us to a small private school in Nashville that was known for being 'different'. Many of our competing schools referred to it as 'Camp CPA' because of its unusually wholesome and easy going feel.
Our teachers were the finest, they could have easily taught at bigger, more expensive schools but they saw the worth in such an institution and invested in it whole heartedly. About two months ago, I had a half dozen or so of them over for dinner along with some of our alumni. It was a very precious night. What a treat to let these teachers know how much they meant to us and to get to spend an evening laughing, talking, listening and just fellowshipping together. We stayed up until the next morning giggling over childish jokes with our biology teacher (and there was even a legendary 'that's what she said' joke uttered by an English man...) and I think all of us were a little sad that our days at CPA were so far gone.
Today I was reminded why I remember that community so fondly.
Part of the mystique that surrounds CPA is how the community continues on even after you have left the halls. One, two, five, seven, eight years after graduating, I still respond sharply to the things that affect that family. Their triumphs bring me pride, their good tidings bring me joy and their trials carry in my heart.
A member of their family, Michael Daniel, a sophomore, passed away yesterday afternoon following a traumatic accident. I did not know Michael Daniel, I do not know the Daniel family, they are multiple generations younger in this academic genealogy than myself. But when I heard about his admission to the hospital, I followed the updates constantly-praying that one of the posts would bring good news.
And in a way, it did bring good news. Even in his death, the Daniel family still proclaimed God's goodness. What a testament of faith the following words are:
"Precious son. Precious brother. Precious uncle. Precious friend. Today we say goodbye to our Precious Michael.
A little after 6 PM Michael's earthly journey came to an end. Though the original plan was to assess his condition tomorrow morning, his body had had enough. And truly, it was Michael's way to do things on his own terms.
Michael, we know, has gone home. He is made new -- perfect and full of peace. And in this we find peace too.
Over the past few days, there have been many prayers for a miracle. God answered that prayer 17 years ago when he made Michael. There have been many prayers for healing. God answered this prayer by taking him home.
More to come this evening. For now, we thank God for Michael, our miracle, and continue to pray for strength and faith."
Reading that reminded me of Soren Kierkegaard's work Fear And Trembling. In Fear And Trembling, Kierkegaard uses Abraham's trip up the mountain with Isaac as an examination of faith and Abraham's belief in the promise God made to him. It's the same promise God has made to all of us: to love and protect us and never leave us. Such a hard promise to remember during hard circumstances. Kierkegaard elaborates:
"Yet Abraham believed, and believed for this life. Yea, if his faith had been only for a future life, he surely would have cast everything away in order to hasten out of this world to which he did not belong...But Abraham believed precisely for this life, that he was to grow old in the land, honored by the people, blessed by his generation, remembered forever in Isaac, his dearest thing in life, whom he embraced with a love for which it would be a poor expression to say that he loyally fulfilled the father's duty of loving the son, as indeed is evinced in the words of the summons, ''the son whom thou lovest.'' Jacob has twelve sons, and one of them he loved; Abraham had only one, the son whom he loved. Yet Abraham believed and did not doubt, he believed the preposterous."
Here's to living today and recognizing that His promises of hope, peace and blessing are applicable not for the future but for this life, for this day.
My heart goes out to the Daniel family and thanks them for being an example of embracing God's goodness today.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
"It was on this day in 1817 that the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason was founded in Philadelphia. It was the first private mental health hospital in the United States. The Asylum was founded by a group of Quakers, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends, who built the institution on a 52-acre farm. It is still around today, but goes by the name Friends Hospital.
At the time that Friends Hospital was founded, mental illness was widely misunderstood, and treated as criminal behavior. Mentally ill people were tied up, put in chains, isolated, or beaten. The Quakers wanted to model a new type of care. They wrote out their philosophy in a mission statement for the hospital: "To provide for the suitable accommodation of persons who are or may be deprived of the use of their reason, and the maintenance of an asylum for their reception, which is intended to furnish, besides requisite medical aid, such tender, sympathetic attention as may soothe their agitated minds, and under the Divine Blessing, facilitate their recovery."
The group purchased the 52-acre farm for less than $7,000, and tried to create a beautiful place with gardens and lots of outdoor space. These days, the hospital occupies 100 acres, which include flower gardens and about 200 varieties of trees. Much of this was the work of one man who started out at the hospital as a bookkeeper in 1875 and ended up working there and managing the grounds until his death in 1947. One day, he found an azalea that a family member had brought for a patient and tossed out. He tended it in the greenhouse until it was healthy again, took cuttings, and planted those, and from that one plant more than 20 acres of the Friends Hospital are now planted in azaleas." The Writer's Almanac
What a need example of how a person's unique vision can bless so many lives. I particularly like the part about a discarded azaleas growing into 20 acres of azaleas.
P.S. Andrew Combs is just marvelous. Reminds me of a young Guy Clark.
Friday, May 13, 2011
'‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.’ We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, ‘Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.’"
Winston Churchill, 13 May 1940
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
"Indian Rescue Mission successfully rescued one minor girl aged 15 yrs from forced prostitution in Pune red light area on May 10, 2011 at around 20.18 hrs. She lost her mother at a very young age and she was trafficked from another state to Pune city on a false promise of job. Thank you each one of you who have prayed, supported and made this possible. And THANKS to God who helped us for this rescue. Brothel Keeper is arrested."
"Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans."
Last night I was perusing through one of my favorite websites, Good.Is and ran across this article about an artist named Candy Chang who converted an abandoned warehouse in New Orleans into a public bucket list. The side of the building has a chalkboard surface where people are encouraged to fill in the blank "before I die I want to...."write a book, travel, get married, save the world, etc. Such a neat use of space.
I've never really made a 'bucket list' before. Honestly I had never heard the term until the movie "The Bucket List" was released a few years ago. Never saw, and no regrets. Seeing "The Bucket List" will not be on my 'bucket list'-pun intended. Apparently the concept of making a to-do list before you die is a pretty popular idea-there's even a website dedicated to people sharing their wish lists on Bucketlist.org.
Obviously there is an immense opportunity to delve into the idea of something like a bucket list and I'm sure at some point I will but for now I will leave you with the words of Brian Friel, one of the greatest playwrights from Ireland known most famously for Dancing at Lughnasa, who was notorious for his privacy. This was one of his rare answers in an interview and I think it's appropriate-just the facts of his life and goals that aren't overly heroic:
''I am married, have five children, live in the country, smoke too much, fish a bit, read a lot, worry a lot, get involved in sporadic causes and invariably regret the involvement, and hope that between now and my death I will have acquired a religion, a philosophy, a sense of life that will make the end less frightening than it appears to me at this moment."
P.S. Listening to Ryan Adams' "Gold" as summer creeps into Tennessee