Monday, December 24, 2018

Light

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~~John 1:1-5

I heard a podcast this morning, “Speaking with Joy,” that gave me a new thought about these words, above, we hear so often on Christmas, Joy told a story from her childhood. She and her family attended a church when a terrible tragedy happened at it, a shooting that killed several people and wounded others. Joy and her family spent hours in front of the television watching the news until her parents finally decided they needed to do something else. They put in a movie to watch instead, a documentary about the star of Bethlehem. Joy says that day she had a thought that has stayed with her ever since, “that the world isn’t safe, but God is real.”

Why did that strike me in a way it had not before? I had not thought about the light of Jesus in that particular way. I thought of it more as enlightenment. Jesus and what we learn of him, all that he did, enlightened us to understand who he is and to follow him. But that statement, “the world isn’t safe,” is real to me -- to all of us. I have been thinking about the fact that the world isn’t the way we’d like it to be. People are not the way we want them to be. I am not who I want to be. Things don’t go the way I want them to go. And beyond that, the world is just plain unsafe. It’s not good. Not only do things not go as I want, they often go horribly. People are hurt. The earth is damaged. Terrible things happen. As true as that is, so is this true: “God is real.”

In one sense, these are parallel truths. Two truths side-by-side, seemingly unable to both be true, yet they both are, like the two lanes of a one-way street. But there’s a difference. The light on one side shines into the dark side. It doesn’t run beside, parallel, never touching. The light shines into the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.

I’ve often written about “reflecting God’s love.” That has a deeper meaning to me now, too. Reflecting God’s light. In the darkness of the world, our light also will not be overcome. George H.W. Bush was mocked for talking about “a thousand points of light.” I don’t know if Bush meant anything related to Christ in his “points of light” statement, but it certainly meant people doing good. I thought of those “thousand points of light” as I meditated on Jesus as the light, and on us reflecting that light. As we try to reflect Jesus’ light, we are points of light in the darkness of the world.

On this eve of Christmas, celebrating the coming of the light of the world, I thank God for the light he shone into our dark world. I pray that I, and many, many others will reflect that light. I know the darkness will not overcome it.

I am adding this summary of our Advent series on "Places" that our pastor gave in his sermon Christmas Eve.

Sermon - Christmas Eve, 2018
Rev. Trent Elders, San Jose Christian Reformed Church

When you say yes to the light of Jesus,
    when you simply open yourself up to it
         your whole being can change.

You are Bethlehem,
     you were in a famine and now you are the house of bread.
You were barren Hannah,
    but the creative wind of Ruah,
         the deep magic from the beginning of time
              has blown into you,
                   it has taken the chaos and created order.
You are now the fruitful offspring of Abraham,
    the curtain separating the holy of holies has been torn,
          and the very spirit of Jesus has been born
           into your desolate stable of a body,
               and has been lain in the dirty feeding trough of your heart.
The word became flesh,
    and made its dwelling among us,
          and this changes everything,
for the light shines and the darkness has not overcome it.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

I Go Down To The Shore

I Go Down to the Shore
I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall—
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
“Excuse me, I have work to do.”

― Mary Oliver

Don’t you love this poem? I’ve been reading a lot of poetry in the last few days, giving books and copies of poems to people for Christmas. I like the way poetry makes you slow down. This short poem by Mary Oliver makes me laugh and it also reminds me of the “Look at the lilies of the field” verses in the Bible.

The waves have work to do, they go about their business. It’s like, look at the waves of the sea -- they don’t worry about where they will go, how high they’ll rise, or whether the tide will go in or out, yet no timepiece is more regular, not even the most powerful king in the world is more majestic. How much more can you rely on God to care for you, to guide your direction?

I love the last line of the verses in Luke 12: “Do not be afraid, little flock,...” God loves me and you. We are part of his little flock.

Luke 12:22-32
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

What is God?

Last night I attended a monthly meeting called the Sierra Leadership Network where the leader, Paul Vander Kley, introduces a theological topic and those of us attending contribute questions and discussions. In the course of our discussion, Paul said he had heard that C.S. Lewis once asked, “Where in Middle Earth did Frodo see J.R.R. Tolkien?”

Fascinating question! The answer has to be: Everywhere and nowhere. He never literally saw Tolkien, the author who wrote the story, but all the characters -- even Frodo himself -- are Tolkien. People often theorize Gandalf is based on Tolkien, and Tolkien himself said, “I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food...I go to bed late and get up late (when possible).” (J.R.R. Tolkien excerpted from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #213)

 As we talked about the concept, I said, “It sounds like ‘The Matrix!’” (I must admit, I never actually watched “The Matrix,” but I’ve heard it talked about many times.) Later I thought about how it reminds me of the movie “Stranger Than Fiction,” where the main character slowly realizes he is a character in a book, and he meets that author. I remember when we were kids my brother once wondered if we were all people in someone’s dream.

Any metaphor like this -- God as the author of creation -- is limited and can be carried too far. It is fun to wonder about, though. What would it be like to meet the author writing my life, like what happened in “Stranger Than Fiction”? Could miracles be God the author interrupting the story and doing something that doesn’t fit the established rules? Some writers use outlines and write the story knowing the entire beginning, middle, and end. Others describe the process more like writing down what they “watch” the characters do, without knowing beforehand exactly what will happen. Does that somehow translate to this metaphor? Is God a writer who uses outlines or who doesn’t?

One time I read a reflection on stories about a meaningful connection between animals and humans. In one story, a water mammal (I think it was a young whale) realized a woman was struggling and might drown. The whale swam with the woman, keeping her safe until she got help. The woman described meeting the eyes of the whale and feeling as if there was true communication between them -- the meeting of two worlds.

I wonder about a meaningful connection between us humans and God. I imagine myself as if I’m swimming in an ocean but I don’t know it. Our whole world, universe, all of creation, is in that ocean. To truly meet God, I somehow stick my head above the “water” of my world, and there he is. Maybe that’s what happens when we die.

But that mind-picture makes it seem like God is something in a similar way that we are something. That was also a topic of conversation last night. There’s a story (myth?) that the Russians, when their astronaut was the first to go to space, said he didn’t see God, therefore God doesn’t exist. It may be dangerous to think we can see God in that literal way. So, even if we poked our head out of the ocean in which we live and have our being, is there an author to see? What does that author look like? What is that author? What is God?
x

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A great weekend

It started Friday night. Cori texted she was nearby and wondered if she could say hi. Of course! She had dinner with us, and we spent the evening solving a crossword puzzle -- a HARD one. Teamwork and only a teeny tiny bit of Googling at the very end, and we did it!

Saturday I walked around San Jose Christian School's Boutique, then we decided to get a tree. We bought a little one we set up on "TV tray" in the family room. I don't know exactly why, but that tree is making me so happy. Every morning as I walk into the kitchen I see it and smile.


A quiet Saturday evening and church this morning. I did not have any "churchly duties" so I could take it a little more easy -- didn't have to get there early. I had time to take a nice shower and make a hearty breakfast with eggs, bacon, English muffins, and lattes. I read an article in the America magazine with a link to an Advent playlist, started listening to it while doing some more reading and suddenly Randy said, "Whoa, I didn't know it was so late!" and it was time to go.

At church today the kids sang, and that's always sweet. One song they led us in was "Mary Did You Know?" We had a guest pastor and he confessed that one line brought tears to his eyes. It did mine, too: "Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?"

"Mary Did You Know?"
by Mark Lowry and music written by Buddy Greene

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you?

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb?
That sleeping child you're holding is the great I am?

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?
Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Oh
Mary did you know?

Thinking of Mary is pretty amazing. Her magnificat, Luke 1:46-55, is incredible. I've read and heard several people say that it shows a deep knowledge of Scripture. Someone called her one of the first disciples. And each time I hear that Mary treasured what people told her and pondered them, my heart beats in sympathy. Maybe it's leaping, like the baby John the Baptist in Elizabeth's womb. What foretelling. I wonder if all those words came to her again as she stood at the foot of the cross, while Jesus told her and John to behold each other -- son and mother.

After church I went to the grocery store, then came home and made potato soup while listening to that same Advent playlist. It was delicious, if I do say so myself. A rainstorm started while it was cooking. A good afternoon for soup. Gezellig.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

God and the imagination are one!

Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour


Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous. 
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth, 
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole, 
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one... 
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind, 
We make a dwelling in the evening air, 
In which being there together is enough.
From The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens.
https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/final-soliloquy-interior-paramour
https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/wallace-stevens

Padraig O'Tuama & Marie Howe at Faith & Writing Festival 2018

This was a beautiful session. I was there and I'm so glad to be able to hear it again.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Squishy

God has called you and you are his.

This week I heard a beautiful song I had not heard before, “I Have Loved You,” by Michael Joncas. The second line says, “I have called you and you are mine.” (Full lyrics below.) That line reminded me of a scene with Dory in “Finding Nemo” where she says, “I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine. And he shall be my Squishy.”




I love Dory!! (Ask my kids -- when she “speaks whale” I can hardly contain myself.) The artists who created her are amazing. How can you get that expression of adoration and love into a cartoon of a fish?

Of course, you know where I’m going with this, right? Another reminder of God’s love! God may not call you Squishy (although personally that would be fine with me), but he has called you and you are his.




Refrain:
I have loved you with an everlasting love,
I have called you and you are mine;
I have loved you with an everlasting love,
I have called you and you are mine.


Seek the face of the Lord and long for him:
he will bring you his light and his peace. (Refrain)


Seek the face of the Lord and long for him:
he will bring you his joy and his hope. (Refrain)


Seek the face of the Lord and long for him:
he will bring you his care and his love. (Refrain)


Composer: Michael Joncas © 1979, OCP Publications


~~Jeremiah 31:1-3
This is what the Lord says:
“The people who survive the sword
   will find favor in the wilderness;
   I will come to give rest to Israel.”
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
   I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
~~Jeremiah 31:33
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
   after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
   and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
   and they will be my people.


What can I pray for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis

If you would like to send me specific prayer requests and are reading this as an email message, just reply. I will gladly pray with you. If you are reading this in my blog, email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Friday, December 7, 2018

He came because he loves you.

This week I heard the poem “The Coming” by R.S. Thomas. It’s a good poem for Advent, as we wait for the Lord’s coming to earth.
The Coming
And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows: a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
With slime.
             On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many People
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.
As in the stories of other globes, when the son in the poem looked at the small globe God held, he saw “as through water.” Some images I imagined:
  • Pippin, Aragorn, and Gandalf looking into the Palantir in The Lord of the Rings
  • Frodo looking into the mirror of Galadriel, also in The Lord of the Rings
  • Harry Potter looking into the memory bowl, or Pensieve
  • A gypsy looking into a crystal ball
As I’ve been reading and re-reading this poem, the beginning and ending lines especially stick in my mind. “And God held in his hand | A small globe. | Look he said | The son looked… | Let me go there, he said.”

It reminds me, too, of a scene in the beginning of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which I watch every year at some point during the holidays. (My family refuses to watch it with me any more, and the movie is often ridiculed. I know it’s cliche’ and sappy, but, despite it all, I still love it and it makes me cry.) In the beginning of that movie, some angels look at the world, and specifically George Bailey’s world, past and present. They watch George’s life up to that moment, at which point George is feeling life isn’t worth living. Clarence the angel, too, looks … and then wants to go there.

The poem portrays a beautiful image, doesn’t it? Jesus looks, sees the scorched land, the slimy serpent, the sad bare tree, the waiting people, and says, “Let me go there.” Why would he want to go to such a place? Because he loves us -- us the people, and all of creation. He loves you.
from the Selene Data Archive. https://darts.isas.jaxa.jp/planet/pdap/selene/

Friday, November 30, 2018

You are worthy of God's love.

The word “worthy” keeps coming to my mind this week, and an amusing memory. My mom was kind of famous in our family for her banana bread. Baking was not necessarily her thing, but hospitality was, and when Mom had you over she usually made banana bread. Friends have told us how, if they stopped by Mom & Dad’s on a trip, Mom would send them off with banana bread to eat in the car. My kids have fond memories of Grandma’s banana bread and hot chocolate before bed on their visits. When we visited Mom & Dad we, too, could count on enjoying Mom’s banana bread.

My sister lived in San Jose for about 10 years. Then she moved to the same town as our parents and even to an apartment in the basement of their home. It was a wonderful move for her, but once, shortly after she had moved, my sister told me, “I am no longer banana bread worthy.” Ha ha. It was a real privilege to be “banana bread worthy.”

There are quite a few hymns with the word “worthy,” such as “You Are Worthy” and “He Alone is Worthy,” “Worthy is the Lord,” and others. It is true indeed that the Lord is worthy of our praise. I don’t know of hymns about another side of worthiness, though, which is that WE -- you and I -- are worthy of God’s love.

It’s easy to think we are not worthy of God’s love. I’ve heard -- and felt myself at times -- people talk about how they have a hard time believing God really loves them. Why should he even care about me, like Psalm 8 says, and I wrote about last week, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” One time a woman at a retreat I attended said, “There are 6 billion people in the world, why would Jesus want to love me?”

Our own seeming unworthiness gets us down: I am so far from perfect, God would never love me; I’m not lovable, why would anyone love me, especially God. A friend told me about a passage from Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk's Memoir, by Paul Quenon, and a conversation the author had with Thomas Merton:  "One time he asked me, 'How do you know God loves you?' I fumbled out some vague reply. He said, 'You know God loves you because he brought you here and takes care of you.'”

We are worthy because we are God’s. You are worthy of God’s love because he brought you here and takes care of you.

What can I pray for you today?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. --Matthew 10:29-31

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Jesus is with you. Give him your hand.

Jesus is with you. Give him your hand.

Some years ago our church told our life stories to each other. Our pastor encouraged us to draw and then paint what we would have as the book cover for our life story. Drawing is not a my strength but I attempted to draw a path that curved in the distance, with brightness around the curve. The image was to portray the fact that our lives are like paths that twist and turn, full of happenings we cannot foretell, but we know one thing: Jesus will be there, wherever the path leads.

The more we live, the more we know that there could be something totally unanticipated right around the corner. It could be something wonderful - a new baby, a promotion, a good grade, praise from someone whose judgment we value, a deep feeling of peace, a great opportunity. Or it could be something sad - a friend is diagnosed with cancer, we ourselves become sick, someone we love dies, we lose our job, we lose our savings, we find out someone we trusted betrayed us, depression descends. We just don’t know.

All we can do is trust that Jesus will be there, walking beside us every step. I thought of this when I heard the last line of this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I 59

Hear Krista Tippett reading and talking about it here.

What can I pray for you?

If you would like to send me specific prayer requests and are reading this as an email message, just reply. I will gladly pray with you. If you are reading this in my blog, email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Another Invisible Infrastructure


God is mindful of us. He focuses his full attention on us. He loves us.

A while ago I wrote a blog entry about the loss of an “invisible infrastructure” of the prayers and thoughts I knew my dad and mom had created for me. Today I was thinking that the thoughts and prayers of my parents may be gone (although we have no way of knowing how things like that work for those who have passed away), but we do have the infrastructure formed by God’s thoughts and care.

In Psalm 8, the writer says,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
   and crowned them with glory and honor.

“Mindful” is a popular word right now. I use it often myself, as I try to be mindful of the present, mindful of what I’m eating, mindful of my thoughts and words. Various dictionaries say mindful means paying close attention to or being especially conscious of something; bearing in mind; attentive to; a technique in which one focuses one's full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them.

God is mindful of us. He focuses his full attention on us; he pays close attention to us.

I often think of Psalm 8 when I am taking off in an airplane, watching the people, buildings, and land become tinier and tinier. Here we are, so small, and God is so huge. Yet he pays full attention to us. He cares what happens to us. He gives us the world to live in, take care of, and enjoy. He loves us.

Lord, our Lord,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
   in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
   you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
   to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
   and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
   you put everything under their care:
all flocks and herds,
   and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
   and the fish in the sea,
   all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth! -- Psalm 8

What can I pray for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis
---------------------------------------------------------------

c: 408 318 2037

If you would like to send me specific prayer requests and are reading this as an email message, just reply. I will gladly pray with you. If you are reading this in my blog, email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Friday, November 16, 2018

It sounds kind of boring, but...

It sounds kind of boring, "When the Market Is Our Only Language," but I thought this interview was full of thought-provoking questions and ideas.


I thought I would do a kind of 2L:DR (Too long; didn't read) thing and post a few things that really struck me, so you could read something shorter if you didn't want to take the time to listen to the podcast (about 10 minutes short of an hour). It'd be like 2L;DL (Too long; didn't listen). But there were so many I'm afraid my 2L;DL is 2L;DR.

Anyway, here are some points of discussion that I am still pondering.
You can tell the rich and powerful in our age to do more good, but you can never tell them to do less harm. You can tell them to give more, but you can’t tell them to take less. You can tell them to share the spoils of extreme capitalism, but you can’t tell them to renovate capitalism. 
It’s language like the “win-win,” which sounds great, but in some deep way is actually about rich people saying, the only acceptable forms of social change are the forms of social change that also kick something back upstairs — language like “doing well by doing good,” which, again, is like, “The only conditions under which I’m willing to do good is under which I would also do well.”
Part of what I found was that a lot of wealthy folks are incredibly decent and upholding an incredibly indecent system.
I meet people in Silicon Valley who, I think, truly believe and wake up every day trying to make the world better and truly think that they are doing so and that they’re sitting on tools and capabilities that could allow them to liberate humanity faster than anybody on earth. But because they are so confident in that, there’s an assumption that the tools they’re building will always make things better. The more people are connected, the more people are online, the more people are on Facebook, the more, the more, the more — it will always be better.
     There’s a failure to understand that the same tools that will empower people to be online can very easily be used by the Chinese government to prevent people from speaking their mind in a way that actually makes it harder, rather than easier, to do so. That happens all the time in history.
I think if you were to go back a little bit in time and think about business people in 1950 or whenever, they would always have — in addition to their businessman hat, they’d have a second hat. That hat may just be “strong community member” and “T-ball coach” and “volunteer for the Rotary Club” and whatever. But that second hat was often a spiritual hat. They were in the church. They went to see other people in that church every week. They had a parallel set of values that were in some ways reinforcing of or in tension with the first hat.
     I think what’s happened in the business world is, a lot of the people with wealth and power and real decision-making authority over how our society goes don’t have a second hat anymore. They don’t have some other set of values that competes with their business values.
I was just in Ohio. The public schools in the city of Akron get $10,000 a year, that’s the per-pupil spending in Akron. There’s another district in Ohio where the per-pupil spending is $31,000 a year. Maybe one of your listeners can explain that to a six-year-old child; I know I would be unable to. I’d find it very hard to explain to a child why they have to get one-third as much educational resource as someone else because mommy and daddy’s house is less expensive. Those are the kinds of things that we all sort of tolerate.
Another way to think about inequality is the line you draw between your love for your own children and your love for everybody else’s children. At one level, it seems obvious that you love your own children. But actually, if you think about what makes this society as decent as it is and the achievements that we’ve built to get here, we actually don’t value our children to the infinity point. We all love our children. But we all, generally, embrace a bunch of rules that set a cap on just doing best by our children and also makes sure we do right by other people’s children. That means paying your taxes. You pay your taxes because we understand you can’t just give it all to your children. We’ve got to take care of everybody’s. We nourish common institutions and systems and welfare and various programs that we may not use and our children may not use but that we think should be part of a system and available to someone else’s children.
    I think one way to think about where we are in America now is that our love for our own children is far outstripping our concern for other people’s children. And whether it’s my own child or you and yours, no one’s ever going to take that away from you. But I think the question of a healthy society is, where do you draw that line so that there is place in your heart not only for your own children but for everybody’s?
Part of the drum that I’ve been beating, as much as, personally, I would love to see Donald Trump gone, is, I think Trump needs to be the end of something bigger, which is an end of the veneration of money, an end of the faith in billionaire saviors, an end of the trusting that the people who cause problems are the best at fixing them, and actually could be the spark of a moment and an age where we actually solve problems together again, through deep reform at the root, for everybody.

Moonrise Meditation

Kind of accidentally, we ended up having an Ansel Adams calendar by our bathroom sink every year. Years and years ago I hung one there because there was a handy nail, thinking I’d figure out where it would go later. But now I love having it where I see the images every morning. Each year when I change to the new one, I hate putting the previous year’s pictures away. Like a painting, you can gaze and gaze into the images, see more and more, and it sparks more and more thoughts.

Last month’s image was this one, “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941.” It’s always been a favorite of mine and I was glad to see it appear. Some thoughts.

The moon in the middle of all that dark black sky reminds me of the many verses about Jesus being the light of the world.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” --John 8:12 NIV
“I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” --John 8:12 The Message
“The Lord is my light and my salvation” --Psalm 27:1
“The Lord shall be your light forever” --Isaiah 60:19
Look at the graveyard with the crosses and gravestones shining white in the moonlight.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. --1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose! --Chorus, “Low in the Grave He Lay”
The graveyard and buildings look like a little town surrounded by a vast landscape.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” --Matthew 5:14-16
The clouds, too, are luminous. The word luminous is beautiful. I think of luna, the moon (in Latin--and Spanish), and, of course, light again. Luminous can mean glowing with reflected light -- reflecting the love of God.
“Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light” --Revelation 22:5
Luminous, light, luna, love.