Quote of the Day


Photo Thanks to Nicole Mason

Photo Thanks to Nicole Mason


I’m posting quotes as we go through the fuzzy zone of being new parents again in these next days. This quote comes from Howard Thurman (Deep is the Hunger, 97):

If I have slandered, I must call it slander; if I have accused falsely, I must call it false accusation. Again, I must strip myself of all alibis and excuses. It may be true that I did not intend to do it, that it was all a hideous mistake; nevertheless, the injury may be as real to the other person as if my act were deliberately planned. Whatever may be the intent, the harm has been done. Again, I must seek reconciliation on the basis of my sense of responsibility, to the other person and to myself, for the injury done. Human relationships are often tough but sometimes very fragile. Sometimes, when they are ruptured, it requires amazing skill and sensitiveness to reknit them. Therefore, forgiveness is possible between two persons only when the offender is able to stand inside of the harm he has done and look out at himself as if he were the other person.

20 Things Worth Saying

I’m re-posting this as a reminder on the day after my second son’s originally given due date. It’s a reminder as I become a dad all over again in some ways.

In no particular order:

  1. People die everyday but I want you to live a long, full, gorgeous life.
  2. Don’t believe that there aren’t safe spaces for you. We will find them together, protect them, and play in them.
  3. Slow down and be as small as you can for as long as you can, because I only see big things in you. When those things mature, you will turn the world upside down.
  4. Turn off the TV and listen to the words of Jarena Lee, Ida Wells, Booker Washington, WEB DuBois, Benjamin Mays, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Renita Weems, Louis Farrakhan, Michael Dyson, and your pastor if she or he has courage to speak to right-now-issues.
  5. The news does not define you and neither does the pain that envelopes our people. We include the pain in who we are, but we are more than our pain.
  6. I want the best for you, and though I will make mistakes in pursuing that, I commit to you that I’ll live with you in mind for the rest of my life.
  7. Your skin is precious, so precious that it can get you into as much trouble as death if you’re black, free from accountability for your actions if you’re white. This is still the country we live in.
  8. The unmistakable print of God’s finger is on your life and people may not call it that because of their own faith differences, but know deep down that you were made by the most fascinating Creator to live a most fascinating life.
  9. Talk to your oldest relative about the way they make sense of the bottom parts of life, and then write down what you hear and how you feel and how it makes you want to be better.
  10. You are beautiful, you are brilliant, you are beloved. This a benediction I pronounce over my son and I gladly share it with you for your children, for your revision.
  11. Obey those who have rule over you. This is a biblical warrant, so listen to your parents when we tell you “how to act” in public.
  12. Disobey authorities when necessary for goodness sake and do so for a worthy cause. You won’t be the first to “go down” for justice, and when you do, your blood will join the saving stream of God’s heroes.
  13. Make noise in life and be a bit irreverent because the people who’ll complain about your noise will be those of us who have lost our throats, who need you to inspire us, and who will, surprisingly, follow your lead.
  14. Take the helm of something that stirs the hearts of people, challenges the fixed impressions of others, and helps you practice your best values.
  15. Love the women in the world because they will be more reliable than the men and they will support you harder than the men and in your love, you will continually lift them.
  16. Love the men in the world because your love will correct and heal our broken places, places we’ve spent years covering, hiding, avoiding, and convincing ourselves aren’t there.
  17. I do not want you to die, but you will die as will I. Live with that end in mind, and move the world toward something more beautiful, more compelling, more attractive, and more whole while you’re here.
  18. Give something away and get into the habit of giving. It will save you when the world takes and takes and takes because you will have defined yourself and your needs and your hopes in a generous way.
  19. Be a messianic force for peace, tolerating no violence, even the violence in your own soul because that self-control is the strongest grace, the most Christlike offering you can give the world. It may save us.
  20. Tell me what I should have said and feel free to update me as we go along.

Little Images

I wrote this four years ago and came back to it in my draft folder. The storage unit is not ours anymore since we’ve moved, but the sentiment in this post remains.

Photo Thanks to Nuno Silva

Photo Thanks to Nuno Silva

The other day I spent a few hours rummaging through old things. I went into our basement storage unit and opened a few boxes. I’ve avoided those boxes for two years. My last real vist was soon after the boy came along. Since then I’ve stacked and restacked boxes. I’ve thrown out a couple bags. I’ve given books away.

But I needed to look through things. I need to remember. I needed to let some things go.

I do this regularly: letting things go. My wife is the keeper of things. I’m the one who discards the unused. I used to give boxes of books away–after U of I, after Wheaton, and then after Garrett. I am of the mind that books are worth sharing, especially when they’ve given their gifts to you.

Still, it’s been awhile since I’ve actually gone through the articles and stuff of earlier days, since I convinced myself that I didn’t need as many things as I once did. It’s interesting how what we keep can be its own record.

So I waded through things. There are those cards and letters from my college days and there’s something Mr. Everett gave me in high school. I found a picture with a friend from a dance, the program from a wedding, a hand-written letter from my pastor, a note from my niece, and one of the most creative pieces of writing I’ve ever read, which happens to also be one of the most troubling lies I’ve read. That was from a letter written by a friend impersonating a physician when we were in college.

Each one of these things is a little image of me, a small indicator of the routes my life has taken.

A Home for Your Introversion

Photo Thanks to Dana and Peter

Photo Thanks to Dana and Peter

I was talking with my big brother, Patrick Winfield, weeks ago. I had been on his heart and he followed the rule that when somebody is on your heart for a couple days, you call. Among our words was this notion of our uniqueness.

We talked about personality. Winfield is an extravert. He’s orange. I’m an introvert. I’m gold. The colors come from some staff exercise he had us conduct years back at Sweet Holy Spirit, where we picked pictures and found out our colors and the associations with them. The colors became an abbreviation we use in our chats. We’re identified by our pictures, by our colors.

While we were talking, we got down to something specific: people need a home for their introversion. People like me. People like my sister, Vicky, Winfield’s wife. Introverts need space, created room, to be at home.

Sometimes we forget this. We, as introverts, impacted by our peopled calendars and social days, forget that we need that space to cultivate quiet. We require solitude for the sake of our selves.

But this isn’t just true for introverts. Introverts need that cultivation space for personality maintenance. Everybody needs that quiet room for the sake our the soul. Parker Palmer talks about the internal space being created in activism and not only quiet. Howard Thurman talks about the soul need for centering down. Centering down and being active don’t prevent solitude; they can foster it. In other words, it doesn’t have to be quiet around you for your soul to have quiet.

But the soul, the interior, unseen part of you that is really you, needs space to be free, space to be home. That home may be a physical place or an internal place. It may be in a broad sweeping valley; it may overlook a breathtaking mountain; it may be deep within your consciousness.

That home is for the introverted and the extraverted. Where do you feel at home? Where does your heart move when it needs relief or quiet or calm? Have you given your heart that space lately?

Launch the Thing

I wrote this three years ago, and never published it. Not sure why I came back to it, but I’ll put this out there for what it’s worth.

by Martin Zemlickis

Photo Thanks to Martin Zemlickis

I’m not a business starter. I’m a pastor with opinions. I like telling people what to do, and it really is a good part of my job to help people frame their behavior inside some larger purpose.

So when it comes to whether you should start a business or something like a business, as one of my mentors says, “I’ll plan your life.” At least I’ll try.

But rather than that, I’ll offer the following:

  • Make lists of your thing’s contributions. If you cannot fill a wall or a page or a half-page with a number of contributions, you should try harder. There is great good in adding one thing to the world, but that’s small. Go back to the drawing board until you have a few more. Leave us with more. Make it bigger and better.


  •  If you don’t love the thing, no one will. Give yourself to your business, whatever your business is. Do it completely and because you love it. If you’re starting a service or creating a product which you wouldn’t use, it better be really good. Because you can’t translate your love for something if you haven’t held it, used it, and “bought” it yourself.
  • Learn everything there is to know. Become the expert in something or somethings. Be the authority. Nothing’s stopping you from becoming superior in your area. Read every book written on your subject. Know the relevant blogs and social spaces where your topic comes up. Write a paper about it, drawing upon the insights of others, even if you don’t share it with others. Learn it all so you can answer every question.
  • Give up now if you’re looking for a smooth road. Business is difficult. Starting a church or a school or a non-profit is just as hard. If you’re looking for success in the morning, when it’s 8pm, and you’re on the way to bed, your hopes are not full of faith but stupidity. Fruit or success or productivity come after planting and watering and work and toil. None of those are sweatless activities. And it’s too early to go to bed if your vision’s launch is tomorrow. Stay awake and perfect the thing.
  • Get your books in order. Whatever you need to keep track of your processes, your expenses, your thoughts, and your records, find two of them. Take good notes. Track your time and your spending, even if you’re spending everything except money. Find people who are gifted where you lack. Fill your time with smarter people. All of these people and systems are “in your books.”
  • Get better at meeting needs of people. It’s holy work doing things for others. This looks like selflessness and giving and suffering; it’s looks like a long time. These characteristics will anchor you deeply when things go wrong. They will serve as reminders that your idea, business, or invention is not solely about you and your comfort.
  • Plan and implement. If you are a starter, tell people to make sure you implement and finish things. What you bring is no good half-baked, uncooked. Structure yourself and your things; put it in place. Do it. I try to tell people to live by faith. I spend a lot of time framing faith conversation for the moment. It looks like convincing people that what’s in them is 1) given to them, 2) worth responding to, and 3) worth giving away. It’s true for you. Do the thing.
  • Tie your work to something bigger. For me that has to do with the purposes of God. It may not for you. But if you’re developing a service for the small sake of securing money, you’ll find emptiness soon. Connect your idea to something deeper than yourself.

That’s enough for now.

Dangerous Grief

by Mohit Kumar

Photo by Mohit Kumar

Grief is a mixed and dangerous behavior. It is mixed because of its unpredictability. When you grieve well, you surrender to ignorance. You don’t know what you’ll do, which way you’ll turn, or how you’ll act.

There is no map for the terrain in that area. There are hints of light and markers of how others have travelled that world. But those are only markers, only signs that keep us from believing we’re alone in our peril.

It is true that grieving is isolating, but as we grieve, God keeps us looking long enough to see how many people surround us. And we adapt to our way of getting through it. We may even surprise ourselves. “I didn’t see that coming” or “I can’t believe I said that.”

Upon inspection of our selves—when we monitor our souls—we see our behavior in that moment as an instance of grief, a mixed-up flash of pain on display. Grief is mixed.

And it is dangerous. Grief changes you. To put it better, loss changes you. When you lose, you grieve, and it is the tearing that turns you into someone else.

I think I’m starting to wonder about how people have lost in life before I wonder whether I can trust them. I’m generally a cool individual. I don’t let people get rises out of me. I function mostly by keeping my energy on reserve. But I open to people who lose. I am primed toward people who express that loss.

Not in every case, but it’s incredibly helpful when I meet a person who is in touch with her losses, acquainted with his grief. Because that contact keeps a person honest. Being close to anguish keeps you humble.

 It helps you maintain your proximity toward the ground. You stay at the ground of your being and you stay near the earth because, plainly, you’ve put someone or something you loved in that earth. And when you’ve placed a significant other in the ground, you look at that ground with new wonder.

That is change. You look at the world differently. You see something that wasn’t there (for you) before. And that’s dangerous. Being changed and being able to change is miraculously dangerous.

Avoiding vs. Noticing

Thanks to Grzegorz Meleczev

Thanks to Grzegorz Meleczev

We work to avoid seeing things. Sometimes a vision is unconscious. Sometimes it’s ignored.

I’m working through a book call The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. I came across words in the book that made me write those sentences.

The book is a slightly dated presentation of how various professionals spot and address problems. There is material about reflection and its role in problem solving. There’s a lot about theory, and I’ll probably shape my reading into a review to keep notes and annotations. There is a fair amount of material in the book about issues.

The book deals with work places and working environments, but it has easy applications for individuals. Whether problems in ourselves or issues in the people we love, it’s hard to see the truth. So we avoid the truth. We avoid what’s present, what’s real. And that takes work.

Reality is in front of us. It is clear, transparent, and visible. And upon seeing clear and visible reality, we cower. Certainly this isn’t automatic. There are clear realities we love. But for the real things we don’t love, we cringe from them.

We feel fear. We start the process of muddying what’s clean and transparent. Then, it becomes easier to not see. As much work as it takes from us, we’d rather create another vision, a manufactured image of ourselves or our significant others than we would notice what’s true.

It takes courage to look at reality, your own or another’s, and say “yes” to what’s there.


Thurman on Destiny-Dealing Decisions

Thanks to Austin Ban

Thanks to Austin Ban

It is a simple but terrible truth that, in most fundamental decisions which we make, we must act on the basis of evidence that is not quite conclusive. We must decide and act on our decision without having a complete knowledge even of the facts that are involved. What we do is postpone decisions as long as we can, getting before us as many relevant facts as possible. Then there comes the moment of decision and we act. Our hope is that the future will reveal the rightness of our decision but we are never quite sure. Think back over you own life. Are there things that have befallen you that are the result of wrong decisions? At the time, you did not think they were wrong. Or perhaps you could not wait longer for further investigation and exploration. Your evidence was not sufficient but it was all that you could secure, the situation being what is was. Now you see what you could not have seen fifteen years ago. It has taken all these years for you to discover that you were mistaken. Since life is this way, it is most unwise to make decisions, destiny-dealing decisions, with half a mind or in a casual manner. Since, at our best, we must act again and again on the basis on inadequate evidence, it is quite unworthy of our responsibility as human beings to use less than our highest wisdom in making up our minds. There is no guarantee that the decision I make will not, in the end, form a mistake, a bad judgment, a movement in error. But I shall bring to bear upon it the fruits of my cumulative wisdom in living, the light from as many lamps along the way as I can see, and the greatest spiritual resources available to me.

Howard Thurman in Deep is the Hunger, 9-10

Cost in Human Dreams

I read something the other day about how illness, particularly chronic illness, costs more than we can see. The article said that statistics could only tell us so much. “They do not tell us about the cost in human dreams and endeavors…”

I thought of a patient whose stories had been twirling around in my head like a song. I kept seeing her face from the four or five occasions we spoke. The movement in my memory from her spunky, particular manner to the more resigned countenance she had when we last spoke. She was leaving the hospital for home hospice, to die in her home. Even though I had seen her leave and return within a week that previous week, I knew that this ending was a final one for us.

And I’m thinking of her and her illness and its costs. How the world has seen her dreams in shrunken form if at all. Disease costs. And we hardly count those costs, hardly inspect them in an effort to keep managing day-to-day, without the care and love of somebodies telling us to take good care of our selves so that we can live into all those dreams.

And even when we do our best to care the best for our whole selves and when disease rips us apart, we still need people to come by our sides, to take us close, and to tell us in clear language that we can still dream. Of course, sometimes we tell others of our dreams.

So go to bed. Rest. Dream. Wake up. Live them.