Winter Sunrise

More south than east

a Pluto-frigid sun reluctantly emerges

from a frosty equinoctial lair

a smudged crimson dime who’d rather sleep in

than be an unsung hero

merely giving life.

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Insanity, Defined

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”—Albert Einstein.

How often do we hear that?  There’s a lot of truth there, especially when we face challenging situations with no clear-cut solutions.

But let’s spin that quote sideways, and see if it clarifies or complicates:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and getting different results.”

Think on that for a minute.

You may have heard of the experiment where a lab rat sees a green light, taps on a button, and is awarded a food pellet.  If it sees a red light, it gets a mild shock.  Continue that for awhile until the rat thinks he’s got it all figured out.

But mess around with the wiring.  And now, the rat gets shocked when there’s a green light…maybe every third time, or maybe every time.  But the red light doesn’t do anything.   Or maybe it drops a pellet.  Then switch things back to how they originally were.

You’ve effectively made the rat insane.  It was doing the same thing over and over again…and getting different results.   That’s the real insanity.

Due to the rapid changes in technology, marketing, politics, media, economics, and countless other aspects of modern culture—the same thing happens to us, although on perhaps a less insidious scale.  And it impacts workplaces, relationships, and psyches.

Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss…only different.

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Some Questions about Guardian Angels…

I’ve heard some amazing stories about guardian angels.  They’ve come from level-headed folks who describe encounters that can’t be reasonably explained.  Absent their split-second intercession, tragedy would have resulted.

I wonder if we all have a guardian angel that’s always with us.  One that guides us in subtle ways we can’t even detect—and jolts us with a conscience taser when we’re out of line.   An angel that absorbs the sharpest and most irreversible pain when we’re hurting the most.  A spirit that whispers to us in soul-dreams and that guides us ever-so- gently and purposefully toward our Created Destiny.

Is it a cosmic God-soldier, single-handedly fighting off the dozen demons that are poised to attack us at any given time?   How shocked would we be if we could see all those evil forces?  And how joyous would we feel as they slink away, vanquished by our guardian angel?

How would our lives change if we could meet our guardian angel in human form?  What would you ask it, and how much more emboldened would you be in your faith-walk and life-journey if you knew they had your back?

Would you accept all the truths they could share with you at the risk of full and complete confession?

Do you have an exclusive guardian angel, one that surrounded you at conception and carried you down the birth canal and has served as a guide dog since then?   They would know you more intimately than anyone, which would be pretty comforting.

Those times when you feel distant from God—is it because they’re busy putting out someone else’s soul fires?   Maybe guardian angels switch around to different people…even in other galaxies?

On the day we pass, will they be our escort to the next dimension?  And do we then get to meet them?

Finally, after we’ve been able to spend time catching up with those who have gone before us…does our guardian angel inform us that it’s our turn to be a guardian angel?

Just wondering.

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Sabbath Day Snowfall

Today, foot-deep snow gave a thousand pastors a rare Sunday off,  cancelled Super Bowl parties, and caused a few extra babies to be conceived.

Trees also reacted.

Sugar maple had sadly seen all this before.  Two of her large brittle intertwining branches snapped and lay at odd angles, suspended between earth and trunk, somehow hopeful that by still being one with the tree they’d be magically grafted back on.

The Douglas fir slumped under the heavy weight.  Evergreen branches–ten feet off the ground in fair weather–could now sweep the stocking cap from a grade-schooler’s head.  They strained mightily, praying for wind just strong enough to remove snow but not branches.

Bushy round yews transformed themselves into spooky giant cauliflower bunches.  In their whiteness, they fancied themselves as a grounded summertime cumulus cloud, paralyzed in time and gravity.

Saplings, dressed in frosted flake finery, waltzed for attention in the slight breeze.  The dead linden, a thirty foot stick-trunk, also tried to pull that off.   But it was embarrassing.  She was the ancient belle of the ball, thinking rouge and cherry lipstick could still seduce.  I pitied her.

In a few months, on a motivated yard cleaning Saturday morning, I’ll gather their offerings from this morning’s Sabbath.  Their sticks will become kindling for a wiener roast later that night.  And white ashes will rise…like snowflakes.

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Limits

There many limits.

The spiritual Russian-roulette kind

pits us in an ageless war between how far we push

real-world and metaphysical sin

against the loss of redemption.

It’s a dangerous game.

Pressing those limits lead to dark places,

where there’s always

a bullet in the chamber.

But what about Chuck Yeager test-pilot limits?

When we push ourselves outside our selves…

bending, transforming, twisting, remolding…

and breaking through to the other side?

It’s where we discover that with worthy tribal members,

self-discipline, and prayer…

There ARE no limits.

Hop in, tighten your seat belt, and go for a ride.

When you’re going fast enough…

Unbuckle.

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Mink Eyelashes???

I started getting daily emails from Amazon Local awhile back, and I guess I have higher priorities in my life than unsubscribing.  But a few weeks ago, a salon was running a $70 special for—of all things—mink eyelashes!!!

I’m a former farm kid from northeast Iowa.  Dad taught my brother and me how to trap in junior high.  Along a two mile stretch on our small creek we harvested muskrats, raccoons, and an occasional barn rat.   But it was always a special day when we caught a wily mink.

Needless to say, this “mink eyelashes” thing intrigued me.  Here, bullet-pointed for your reading pleasure, is what went through my mind:

  • Are they using live mink for this? And why would you want to put an aggressive predator (related to wolverines!) so close to your eyes?!  I wonder if that’s what Frank Zappa’s record “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” is about….
  • Do they only use one mink, or two? I’d think one would be crowded enough on your face.   But you do have two sets of eyelashes…hmm.
  • Assuming they’re using dead minks—a much safer option, in my humble opinion—how do they attach them? Jenn-Weld?  Gorilla glue?  They’re pretty skinny and don’t weigh a lot.  But scotch tape wouldn’t hold them.  Duct tape?
  • Being as slender as they are, aren’t they better designed for eye brows?
  • How do you expect to even see with a mink attached to your eyelid? How can you even keep your eyes open?  I hope folks aren’t driving after getting this done.  They’re already doing enough other stupid things.
  • If they’re using the mink’s eyelashes—aren’t they awfully small? A good sized mink measures about two feet, including a cat-like tail.  I’m guessing their eyelashes might only be 1/8” long at the most.  Wouldn’t cow lashes be more noticeable?

Seventy bucks seems like a lot of money for mink eyelashes, especially with all these disturbing questions.   Even if I wanted to get this done, where would the money come from?

I’m not touching my badger toupee fund.

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Nothing To Fear…

There are times we’re involved in a project that consumes our spirit.  We’re captivated and drawn in, led by a force much larger than our own.  Depending where we’re at in life’s journey, we question whether pursuing this passion is selfish ambition…or a God-calling.

You give some thought, feed it prayer. Your internal compass and the Holy Spirit lead you to believe that yes, this IS what you were designed to do.

You’ve found your destiny!  So you lace up your work boots and start the New Life trek.  Like John Denver, you’re going home to a place you’ve never been before.  And the journey is at first…exhilarating!  Stimulating!  Fourth of July mind-blowing!!!

And then…life happens.

Your car needs tires.  Bronchitis puts you in bed for a few days.  The boss is cranky, and your spouse is crankier.

Events conspire to undermine you.  Life options contract at a dizzying rate.  Crap mutates and multiplies and breeds fear.  Instead of going to Disneyland, you’re in the doghouse.  The dog’s growling, too.

It’s all upside down.

You fret that God sucker-punched you, because you were getting a little too big for your britches.   And God, being all-wise, must know what he’s doing, right?  He must be doing this to protect us.  That’s the only thing that makes twisted-logic sense.

So, we accept a toxic myth. We start thinking that our Destiny Trip was a delusion, crazy brain-talk, something we’re not worthy of pursuing.  We feel lashed by Original Sin; bound by a Puritan ideal that life by design has to be long and hard and unfulfilling and pious and we’ll party in heaven, but not sooner.

This paralytic, downward thought-spiral all started with fear. Fear that gripped us with the idea that God thought we were becoming a little too prideful as we, ironically, ventured closer to realizing His/Her plan for us.

But how often in the Bible are we told NOT to fear?  Frequently, it turns out.

So let’s assume that our original passion is a generally-agreed upon worthy pursuit.  A calling that’s constructive and life-affirming.  Maybe even something that could possibly and positively shape lives for generations to come.

Now do really think God placed that fear inside you?   The fear that froze you in your tracks?

Satan is a tricky bastard.  He skulks around our soul-shadows, weaseling quietly in when our guard is down.  And he leads us into fearfully believing that life-happenstance is God’s judgment…instead of just a little detour.

There’s no question that God puts fear in our hearts for self-preservation.  It’s what keeps us from jumping off cliffs, and keeps most of us from prison time.  But that’s a different kind of fear.

So consider this.  When it comes to fear, shouldn’t our biggest fear be that we fall short of the destiny God has created for us?  Maybe God’s biggest fear is that we hear our calling—respond–then shuffle off into forgotten anonymity.

If fear originates outside God’s realm, it can’t be worth all the power we give it.

Because love trumps hate. Light vanquishes dark. And faith slays fear, every time.

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