silence

Listening to Alaska's Crazy Days of Light (And Book Winners)

I am writing this on the longest day of the year. It’s crazy here in Alaska, where the sun takes only a two hour snooze (between 1 and 3), but otherwise the shining show goes on. Even here, near midnight. 

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 From this tiny northern island, I pass it on to you, then, some of this long long light. 

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I'm sending more light than words this week. These last two weeks, I've spent most of my words. On a new book proposal. On a script that I’m writing for a film crew this fall.  On a particular social issue. On a theological issue. (About one mega-church's "Patriotic Worship" Sunday, where everyone brings flags to church to celebrate first: their freedom as Americans. Second: their freedom in Christ. Did Jesus call us to worship freedom? Or our nation? Didn't he call us to worship him alone?

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(What if we visited a Christian church in say , Slovenia, and they all brought Slovenian flags for "patriotic worship"? I think we might whisper, "Idolatry"?)

And now I've done it.  I didn't mean to. We all have SO many words, don't we? Our world is all a-twitter, each one proclaiming his truths and her cause to anyone who will listen (as I just did). So many good and right causes worth speaking and fighting for. Yes, let us use our words for this!

But words are tempting, dangerous. Because WE are dangerous. They make us feel powerful. A man who lived more than 2,000 years ago looked around him and saw people speaking, using words amiss. They were counterfeit creators who sculpted statues and tried, like the Creator God, to speak their creations to life:

Woe to him who says to wood, “Come to life!”

  Or to lifeless stone,”Wake up”

Can it give guidance?

It is covered with gold and silver,

There is no breath in it.

But the LORD is in his holy temple;

Let all the earth be silent

before Him.

 

We don't need to fashion idols and beg them to speak. The problem is not that God doesn't speak. Our problem is we are too busy speaking to listen to Him.  If we listen and look, what will we see?

"For the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord"   

"The earth will be filled with the Knowledge of the glory of the LORD,

              As the waters cover the sea." 

                                                   (Hab.2:7)

From this land of long summer light, may I pass on to you today just a bit of it? Can we sit here together, wordless, listening before this holy God? (Maybe with a little music?)
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"The earth WILL be filled with the knowledge
of the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea."
Do you  hear it?
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 This week, Lord, let me practice silence. Before I speak a word,
Let me listen long and well to you in all the light you have given. 
Amen. 
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                                                *****************************************************

 

I'm happy to announce the winners for Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers: Finding Freedom from Hurt and Hate

Lorna, Patricia A. Lynn Hyman, Sheila Smith, Cindy Lavoie,  and Rosemary! 

Your books are on their way! 

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Breaking Silence: Let Me Now Praise Good Men

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This week, I’m breaking silence with my own expose of men: A tale of three heroes.

 

Hero #1

I was stuck in the sand. No, not quite this:

 

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But this behemoth we’ve named Benson, our 32 foot home-on-wheels was stuck in the sand near a beach. I just wanted a spot for the night that wasn’t a truck stop, a Walmart, or a movie theatre parking lot, our usual (free) haunts the last two months as we’ve bounced and toiled from Washington across the northern states to the Midwest and now down to the Deep South. 

Micah warned me: “Mom, you’re going to get stuck.” I waved him off, imagining our sleeping bodies being smashed in the night by an only slightly errant car. I had to move further off the road.

I took precautions. I’m not a complete novice. Years ago, I helped push an expedition truck across the Sahara, using sand mats and shovels when we sunk to our rims. But despite my sand mats and boards under the wheels, in 3 seconds the beast was heaving and groaning. Stuck.

Out of the dark, just at that moment, a man appeared at my window, “Oh wow, you’re really stuck. Here, I can pull you out!” I blinked. How could he just appear like that? I was stuck for literally one second!

He had a black 4 wheel drive truck. He was wearing a blue t-shirt and beige shorts. “You’re in luck cause I’ve got a pull rope!” He seemed very happy. He sprang to the back of his truck and came out with a thick yellow strap. He dropped to the pavement, first on his back then on his belly under the carriage while I squirmed to be in such need as to require this kind of grovel. In the dark. On a road. By a stranger.

Then he popped out and called behind him, as he rushed to his truck, “Turn your wheels slightly, not too hard.”

I got in the drivers seat. Ignition on. His truck pulled, our wheels spun, something crunched, our little house swayed---and in a few grinding seconds, Benson was free!

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Hero #2

We spent that night in a little dog park beside the beach. The next morning I saw a woman picking up trash. I watched her for nearly an hour as she pulled a wagon, down on the beach, beside the road. I gathered my courage and went to speak to her. Her name was Karon. She told me this:

“I have a good retirement, so this is my job. I spend an hour or two every day, however long it takes to fill up my wagon. The plastics are the worst. The turtles try to eat the plastic bags and it kills them. The straws too. That’s why I do this.”

When I drove away from that brilliant white beach, I saw her in my rear view mirror still  bending tover a pile of trash.

 

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Hero #3

The next day I woke up sick. The temperature dropped to the forties. It began to pour. We packed up and I drove through the rain to Biloxi, Mississippi, grumpy, tired and chest-achy. I decided to splurge and stayed in a park with actual plug-ins. Except our electricity didn't work. Again? I just wanted to sleep. I just wanted a little power. A little light. A little warmth. Maybe I wanted even to be back home in Kodiak without all the daily stresses of traveling. I did’n’t want to deal with this again. I sat slumped on the seat, too tired to move or even to care.

Then Patrick showed up. I didn’t ask for help. When he discovered I didn’t have power, he spent the next two hours tooling and poking and checking, all narrated in a thick Mississippi accent, until our lights were on. Until everything worked. 

 

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When this trip started, I called it a pilgrimage toward praise.  Praise is easy to write. Praise is easy to give to my children. But to speak praise to strangers? Even to God? When I was growing up, praise—for man, child or God---was a foreign language no one spoke. A language I didn’t know existed. I am still learning to find my tongue.

That night when the man pulled me out of the sand, just as we parted, he looked up at me in my cockpit seat and said, ‘Now that’s what I call luck, me being here. “

It was Sunday. I had taken communion at church that morning. I had sung songs about the coming of Jesus, had cried at the altar up front. And now out on this beach, this man who pulled me out of the miry sand was pulling me toward luck, away from God, toward silence.

 

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I took a breath, then: “No, not luck. Providence. God was with us. I thank you and I thank God,” I said as lightly as I could.

The man laughed a bit nervously while coiling the yellow line. “Oh of course. Yes, Him, of course. Always that,” he said in a way that I knew it was probably never that. But he was a brilliant angel anyway.

I almost didn’t speak to Karon.

I almost didn't say thank you to Patrick. When I pulled out of the park in Biloxi, I almost snuck away in silence. But something tugged. I parked and went into the office.

“I just wanted to thank you and to thank Patrick for all his help. He didn’t have to help me. But I’m so glad he did. We’ve been having trouble with our power for awhile. Just thank you so much.”   

I left amid hugs, talk of God, kind goodbyes.

 

 Now, so many women are speaking. They're breaking their silence to expose corrupt men---just as they should. Let truth be heard. Let all wicked men fall. But I need to speak too. I am breaking my silence here to praise good men and women who keep appearing everywhere I go around this country. Don't let the headlines distract you from all the praiseworthy women and men around us. 

And I am breaking a longer silence: to praise the God who gives each of them breath, strength, and love for the stranger.

Behold, God is my helper;
    the Lord is the upholder of my life. . . .

I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
For He has delivered me from every trouble.”

 

Who do you need to thank and praise?

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