Category Archives: Worldview

Noisy Soul

The crisp crunch my steps on the newly fallen snow soothed me. It had been too long since I’d pioneered a pristine landscape. The lingering snowfall melting on my cheeks hid none of the sparkling gems dancing under the street lights.

Sound, sight, touch, senses attuned to the moment. Quite measured paces syncopating with vaporous puffs of my breath.

It doesn’t get much better than a walk in the first snow of the season. In my childhood I had to walk – to the bus stop, the library, and the local mom and pop grocery store (the closest thing we had them to a convenience store). And shovel. Did we have a long wide driveway!

Not today. Using my Fitbit as an excuse I ventured forth. Alone, my spouse risked not a slip and fall. Initial aloneness shifted to contentment. Undisturbed quiet and calm seemed a rarity; this walk refreshing.

The streets in my subdivision form a large “E”. My home is at the top corner at the junction of the top line with the back. I usually walk from the top cross street to the bottom and then back up. Today I wanted a longer walk so when I completed the bottom leg, I turned around.

That piqued the interest of the two boys playing under a street light. At that moment it looked more like sitting in the snow, but the footprints around them boded a temporary hiatus in their play.

“Hey mister, why do you like walking in the snow?” one of them asked. Good question I thought, a better one would be, why do you like sitting in the snow? Rather than ask I replied, “it’s pretty and it’s quite.”

That seemed to satisfy. “We’re brothers, but I live in Texas.” Somber story, but it provided as partial an answer to my unspoken question as my response to their verbal one.

Such a fleeting conversation to get me thinking. Why did I enjoy walking in the snow? The boys focused on the snow, but to me the benefit rested with the walking, and not even primarily in that.

My life is packed with people, activities, and things. Not just my external environment, but also – more so I believe – my inner landscape is cluttered. Full of regrets, hopes, longings, sadness, grief, duties, and obligations. I read a fitting description – a noisy soul.

Much of the plethora of things I collect, the hobbies in which I engage, and my overfull “to-do” list emanates from a desire to silence my noisy soul.  I’ve found this strategy wanting. Instead of silencing my soul I add to my inner cacophony.

I have discovered a quiet walk, on the other hand, stills the noise within. By removing myself from physical clutter I allow the inner clutter to speak. Much of the noise of my soul is childlike. Longing just to be heard, acknowledge, and even welcomed.

So, amid the rhythmic crunching of the snow, I think. About God’s blessings in my life. About my plans and how to improve or discard them. About the story or blog I am writing. About my regrets and how or if I can remedy them. About the clutter and what I can release.

The boys are gone now. So is that early snow. I still walk. I say it’s for health reasons. But it is actually for my noisy soul.

In the quiet my soul speaks.

So in busyness my soul rests.

My rhythmic steps repeat. Almost the patter speaks.

“Be still, my noisy soul.”

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The Best Valentine’s Day Ever

For the past eighteen years I have not celebrated Valentine’s Day. Instead I recognized February 13th as “Bravest Day.”

After twenty-two years of marriage to a compulsive, selfish man who lived in denial, my wife said that enough was enough. Since I refused to get help, she would, but she wasn’t going to live with the toxic person I’d become.

That confrontation shattered the tenuous hold I maintained on the “everything’s okay” façade of my life. Standing amid those shattered fragments, I knew I had nothing left. I faced the hollow person I was. And I knew I could no longer live this way.

I sought help, real help this time. In opening up the putrid wounds of my soul, healing began. I found support to deal with my compulsions. No longer hopeless, change ensued.

Simultaneously my wife also experienced help, hope, and healing. There followed three years of painful self-examination, false starts, and slowly rebuilt trust. After three years our separation ended. I moved home.

During this period, as our marriage teeter between hope and despair, I began my personal remembrance day by giving my wife bulb flowers – a symbol that as the flowers died but bloomed again the following spring so too I hoped our marriage would follow suit.

I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate love with the day’s declarations of eternal love knowing how insensitive I had been for all those years. Even substituting Bravest Day only partially remediated the sting of regret.

Usually on January first a growing malaise started culminating in Bravest Day and then it dissipated. I see now this was lingering shame over my past treatment of my spouse. She had clearly demonstrated her forgiveness and love. Deep down I still held on to my regrets and felt unworthy of forgiveness.

Until this year. I had psyched myself out to defuse the malaise. No longer would this time of year blindside me. But no malaise came. Pleasure married surprise and I paid as little attention as possible to its lack. Perhaps by not pondering my situation I could prevent that proverbial “other shoe” from dropping.

On February 13th I planned on purchasing another pot of hyacinths when my wonderful wife said, “You don’t need to get me anything for Bravest Day this year.” She remarked that she appreciated my continual expressions of love and appreciation.

As I drove to work my eyes filled with tears. In recent years I have learned that when my response is out of proportion to the cause, I should take note and discover what in me facilitated this reaction.

Throughout the day an increasing tide of emotion bathed me. By the time I reach the store I understood. It was not so much that I didn’t need to celebrate Bravest Day. I felt freed from the vestiges of shame, liberated to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

I bought a pot of azaleas decorated with a small heart on a stick and a Valentine’s card, the first in nineteen years. It was perfect:

img_20170219_071748152

My tears, they come as I write this, are tears of gratitude for the healing on our lives. Gratitude for the prayer I started using six years ago. Unite my heart to fear Your name. God has answered and for that I am eternally grateful.

And so Valentine’s Day is back.

I hope I celebrate love’s day at least eighteen more years.

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Christmas Windows

I find the week after New Year’s somewhat sad with all the marvelous Christmas decorations coming down. Particularly I miss the outdoor light displays. During the season I enjoy driving at night and seeing some of the elaborate displays.

While I enjoy the flashing lights, inflatables, and houses with glowing brilliance, I also favor the simple displays. One house in particular has candles displayed in each window and spotlights illuminating the wreaths adorning the windows. I find the simplicity enchanting and enjoy that house more than the grandiose displays.

Last Christmas season during the Sunday School discussion someone commented that since Jesus was a window to God, we followers of Christ are windows to God.

The simple displays of these candles in the windows reminded me of that comment and I thought about windows. I don’t often think about windows. And that’s probably as it should be.

Windows are not intended to draw attention to themselves. When I admire the simple candles illuminating my ‘favorite’ home I accept the basic purpose of a window – to allow something to pass through it. In the case of candles that is light.

This is such a basic concept. Without conscious thought we interact with our windows within the framework of light. In the morning we open the curtains to permit the light to illuminate our houses. At night we close the blinds so that the light within our houses does not reveal what is going on inside.

Yet more than mere light passes our windows. Refracted light displays the colors of the grass, flowers, clouds, and passers-by.

Windows also permit the passage of air. On pleasant days we open the windows to catch the gentle breezes and the fragrance of flowers, freshly mown grass, or a gentle rain. But when the rain intensifies the windows close to keep the unwanted from our house.

Sound also enters (as well as exits) via our windows. We enjoy the pleasant chirping of birds and the background hum of activity. Even the occasional honk of a horn. And yet on New Year’s Eve we close our windows in futility against the bombardment of fireworks.

So we try to keep our windows in good order and so ensure they function as we’d like. Sometimes that isn’t so easy. I heard of a couple who moved into a new home and the woman complained to her husband how dingy her neighbor’s laundry looked when it dried on the old fashioned clothes line. That is until one day she commented to her husband that the neighbor must have found a new detergent. “No.” Her husband said. “I washed our windows.”

That is the biggest challenge for windows to keep their primary function. Dirt does not normally cover a window pane quickly. Gradually, speck by speck, dust and grime accumulates until the pristine transparency of the window is lost. So, if we neglect our windows, frequently we end up with a big washing job (as in spring cleaning).

The same applies to us. If as my friend suggested we are windows to God, we need to keep our windows as clear as possible. I know for myself many little things can accumulate over time so that the image of God in my life becomes obscured. Things like pride, laziness, envy, the need to be right, using humor to put others down, ridicule, selfishness, and pouting. I’m confident many of you could add you own foibles to this list.

If, as my church friend says, I am to be a window to God, how does this develop in my life? I need first remember it is not all about me. As a Christ follower I want others to look through me and see the God who loves them. As a window transmits light, color, and fragrance, I desire to transmit the multifaceted wonder of God to all who are around me.

I accomplish this two ways. First, by cultivating my personal God-wonder. For too much of my life I strove to know about God. I accumulated facts, books, and the “correct” doctrine. It was as if, deep down, I believed the more I knew the more I could confine Him and somehow control the Uncontrollable. Now, it may be a symptom of maturation, or, more likely, the futility of confining God to my understanding, I desire for and orient my life to developing an ever deepening intimacy with God. Discovering the multi-faceted wonder of God is the penultimate foundation for showing that wonder to others.

So closely connected (as to be inseparable) to deepening intimacy with God is deepening self-awareness. Encountering God shows me both how I am like Him as well as how different we are. As I grow in understanding I realize how much God loves me and from that love I respond with a deep desire to minimize those actions that accentuate how different I am from God’s ideal love.

It’s like cleaning the windows. The more frequently I connect with God, through prayer, meditation, reading, and service, the less challenging I find self-reflection and the need for dramatic efforts at change.

And that is the challenge. As a window needs frequent cleaning, so I too need frequent soul cleaning.

That way I can be a Christmas Window all year long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Windows

By David E. Dean

I find the week after New Year’s somewhat sad with all the marvelous Christmas decorations coming down. Particularly I miss the outdoor light displays. During the season I enjoy driving at night and seeing some of the elaborate displays.

While I enjoy the flashing lights, inflatables, and houses with glowing brilliance, I also favor the simple displays. One house in particular has candles displayed in each window and spotlights illuminating the wreaths adorning the windows. I find the simplicity enchanting and enjoy that house more than the grandiose displays.

Last Christmas season during the Sunday School discussion someone commented that since Jesus was a window to God, we followers of Christ are windows to God.

The simple displays of these candles in the windows reminded me of that comment and I thought about windows. I don’t often think about windows. And that’s probably as it should be.

Windows are not intended to draw attention to themselves. When I admire the simple candles illuminating my ‘favorite’ home I accept the basic purpose of a window – to allow something to pass through it. In the case of candles that is light.

This is such a basic concept. Without conscious thought we interact with our windows within the framework of light. In the morning we open the curtains to permit the light to illuminate our houses. At night we close the blinds so that the light within our houses does not reveal what is going on inside.

Yet more than mere light passes our windows. Refracted light displays the colors of the grass, flowers, clouds, and passers-by.

Windows also permit the passage of air. On pleasant days we open the windows to catch the gentle breezes and the fragrance of flowers, freshly mown grass, or a gentle rain. But when the rain intensifies the windows close to keep the unwanted from our house.

Sound also enters (as well as exits) via our windows. We enjoy the pleasant chirping of birds and the background hum of activity. Even the occasional honk of a horn. And yet on New Year’s Eve we close our windows in futility against the bombardment of fireworks.

So we try to keep our windows in good order and so ensure they function as we’d like. Sometimes that isn’t so easy. I heard of a couple who moved into a new home and the woman complained to her husband how dingy her neighbor’s laundry looked when it dried on the old fashioned clothes line. That is until one day she commented to her husband that the neighbor must have found a new detergent. “No.” Her husband said. “I washed our windows.”

That is the biggest challenge for windows to keep their primary function. Dirt does not normally cover a window pane quickly. Gradually, speck by speck, dust and grime accumulates until the pristine transparency of the window is lost. So, if we neglect our windows, frequently we end up with a big washing job (as in spring cleaning).

The same applies to us. If as my friend suggested we are windows to God, we need to keep our windows as clear as possible. I know for myself many little things can accumulate over time so that the image of God in my life becomes obscured. Things like pride, laziness, envy, the need to be right, using humor to put others down, ridicule, selfishness, and pouting. I’m confident many of you could add you own foibles to this list.

If, as my church friend says, I am to be a window to God, how does this develop in my life? I need first remember it is not all about me. As a Christ follower I want others to look through me and see the God who loves them. As a window transmits light, color, and fragrance, I desire to transmit the multifaceted wonder of God to all who are around me.

I accomplish this two ways. First, by cultivating my personal God-wonder. For too much of my life I strove to know about God. I accumulated facts, books, and the “correct” doctrine. It was as if, deep down, I believed the more I knew the more I could confine Him and somehow control the Uncontrollable. Now, it may be a symptom of maturation, or, more likely, the futility of confining God to my understanding, I desire for and orient my life to developing an ever deepening intimacy with God. Discovering the multi-faceted wonder of God is the penultimate foundation for showing that wonder to others.

So closely connected (as to be inseparable) to deepening intimacy with God is deepening self-awareness. Encountering God shows me both how I am like Him as well as how different we are. As I grow in understanding I realize how much God loves me and from that love I respond with a deep desire to minimize those actions that accentuate how different I am from God’s ideal love.

It’s like cleaning the windows. The more frequently I connect with God, through prayer, meditation, reading, and service, the less challenging I find self-reflection and the need for dramatic efforts at change.

And that is the challenge. As a window needs frequent cleaning, so I too need frequent soul cleaning.

That way I can be a Christmas Window all year long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas

I like my Christmas traditions.

I don’t particularly care for change.

Last Christmas my traditions changed. Whew. It wasn’t a major cataclysmic change, rather the culmination of a process over the last few years.

We began transitioning to the “empty nest” when our oldest moved out of state. Then when our son married we told him we wanted to see him and his wife (now family) sometime during the Christmas holiday season but it didn’t have to be on Christmas day itself. Finally our middle child moved to her own place. Only she returned for Christmas …

..until she met a young man and got married.

So we faced our second Christmas without any of our children home for the day itself. Since my wife occasionally visits a pen-pal in a state correctional facility, I suggested we could surprise her friend with a visit on Christmas day. Actually, my wife would visit and I would drive. What better day to visit someone in prison than the day we celebrate the birth of He who told us to visit the prisoners.

Our son’s church has a service on December 23rd so the church community could spend Christmas Eve with their own families. My tradition of a Christmas Eve service with my family is no longer in effect.

So, last year we attended the service with our son’s family and then the two of us attended a nearby Christmas Eve service. After which I broke my crowning Christmas tradition. Instead of exchanging gifts Christmas morning we exchanged them Christmas eve so we could get an early start on the three-hour trip to the correctional facility.

While my spouse visited I found a fast food restaurant, which was open Christmas morning! I read, worked on a craft, and played games on my phone before returning to the prison to get my wife for our return trip.

She was hungry so we found another restaurant open and ate a quick lunch. When we were on the road again I commented. “It doesn’t feel like Christmas.”

Indeed it was a Christmas season unlike any other. Yet, as I thought about my off-handed remark I realized that I may have never understood what Christmas felt like.

My “feelings” about Christmas came from family traditions, many of which are healthy, positive, and faith affirming. But they are feelings centered in my family and happy memories. My faith, though, provides a different perspective.

Christmas is about God entering the human race and walking with us. He came to bring us into a life transforming relationship. A relationship in which our values cease to revolve around “us” and those things which make “us feel good.” He enables us to ground our values in the loving God, who has our best interests in mind in all He does.

So taking time at Christmas to radically reorient the way I celebrate the season and make it a time of service to others – may actually be the real “feeling” of Christmas.

To express God’s love and follow the example of Christ is how Christmas should feel.

“It doesn’t feel like Christmas.”

Maybe…

…I felt Christmas for the first time.

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“Do it ‘gain!”

Family camp was winding down to the final service on Sunday night. The children’s program coordinator had already gone home with a sick child. With no childcare provided I chose to take my four-year-old grandson and two-year-old granddaughter to the playground. That way my daughter and son-in-law could participate in the service unencumbered by the demands of active and somewhat fatigued children.

Not for the first time I acknowledged the energy differential between my grandchildren and me. Neither of them seemed to walk, especially not at my preferred pace. Nor did they stay at any one play area for long.

That is until my granddaughter asked to go down the slide. The day before she had attempted it but her parents took her off the ladder. Apparently since they were not going to stand with her every moment she wasn’t allowed to climb. Me? I had time and stood behind her ready to intercept any fall. She navigated the climbing well until she reached the top where the last ladder rung was only a couple inches from the bottom of the decking.

“Hold me.” She said. Gently I held her sides enough to stabilize her. In that confidence she climbed the final portion and ran to the slide. I had just enough time to get to the foot of the slide before she commenced her downward journey. I needn’t worry about her speed. The pink boots she insisted on wearing (a gift from a church family that afternoon) dragged against the metal slide.

Once on the ground she said, “Do it ‘gain.” And so we did. Time and time and time and time again. This must have been an exciting adventure for her as it kept her attention much longer than I expected. Her brother kept belly swinging and only once joined us on the slide.

I smiled at those times, as her proficiency at climbing increased, when she didn’t ask me to hold her. Maybe she forgot as her confidence grew. Maybe she trusted me to be there. Maybe she realized she didn’t need the reassurance of my touch.

With each “Do it ‘gain” my joy at being with her and seeing her develop grew. I delighted in her growing skills.

If this is how I feel about my granddaughter, how does God feel about me? Climbing a ladder for me is a simple thing; for my granddaughter it was a momentous accomplishment. I delight in her. How much more must God delight in me?

At that question I pause. What does it mean for God to delight in me? Often I associate God with demands and judgment – not with joy and delight. I suspect this is my heritage of an intellectual theology. When I elevate the primacy of my mind, I focus on tasks and accomplishments. “Knowing” has become about the accumulation of facts and cultivating reasoning skills.

Yet, Biblically, knowing is more about relationship. Knowing God is not the accumulation of facts but the cultivation of relationship. Facts cannot delight in me. A loving Father can.

And does.

As I continue on this journey from my head to my heart, the similarity between my experience on the playground parallels my cultivation of spiritual practices (often called “disciplines”). When I discover joy in a practice and repeat it, not only do I develop proficiency I also experience the delight of God.

God who does not demand I develop any of these practices but stands close to me as I do, delights in my joy at drawing close to Him. So, I think I’ll …

… Do it ‘gain!

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America Through My Eyes

Yesterday afternoon the mail delivered my copy of Rania Zeithar’s book: America Through My Eyes: Experiences of An Egyptian American Muslim Woman. Rania is a member of my local writers group and she honored me by asking me to write a preface. I included my preface below and highly recommend ordering the book from Amazon.

Foreward: The Pleasure of Civil Discourse

By Rev. David E. Dean

Our world needs more civil discourse. In this volume, instead of caustic language, broad generalizations, abusive and derogatory accusations, and authoritarian adversarial broadsides, Rania provides reasoned, personal, and enlightened observations of life in America during the volatile years since 9/11.

Like most Americans I felt the shock, bewilderment, and the onset of terror when the Muslim extremists attacked the Twin Towers. Much of my perception of Muslims and Islam was formulated in the ensuing news coverage and heightened awareness of the role of Islam in our world. Unlike many in my country I believed I already possessed a foundational knowledge of Islam. Had I not studied world religions in college and seminary? I unquestioningly believed I grasped the complexities of Islamic terrorism and my country’s appropriate response.

Then I met Rania Zeithar, a Muslim American woman from Egypt. She joined the writers group I attend because she wanted feedback on her blogs, since English is her second language. In getting the groups feedback, Rania shattered my preconceived ideas regarding Muslim women in particular. I wondered what the impact would be on my view of Muslims in general. Soon I realized how insightfully she observed American culture and found many of her insights encouraging and refreshing.

Take the hijab, for example. Before Rania shared her blog on the hijab, I felt an uneasy sympathy with a common impression found on social media. The hijab represented repression of women and somehow didn’t fit American culture. I say I had an uneasy sympathy. That hesitation came from my understanding of my own Christian faith.

Did not my scriptures in 1 Corinthians 11:6 instruct women to keep their heads covered? Yet, the same people who condemn the hijab are the ones who dismiss the Biblical injunction as culturally irrelevant. They do this without considering the possibility of other people finding a head covering culturally relevant.

I also know that within the broad Protestant Christian faith tradition, there are groups – including some Mennonites and the Amish – among whom the women cover their heads with special bonnets. Although not exactly like the hijab, they serve a similar function. Yet I have never heard anyone state the Amish bonnet should be banned in courtrooms. And in the Christian faith traditions, which have religious orders, frequently nuns wear head coverings. In many cases the religious habit covers more than the hijab but not quite as much as the common portrayal of the burka, which only has an opening for they eyes. Yet, despite the similarities, I have not heard calls to ban nun from wearing habits.

Rania’s blog about the hijab produced a profound reorientation of my views on Islamic culture. I felt so deeply about this I responded in my blog, which Rania has graciously included that in this volume.

Without getting to know Rania as a person, I would have missed out on the pleasure of genuine civil discourse. As if accompanying her on her adventure in America, I felt sadness at discrimination, joy at self-discovery, and love of family and faith. Had I not been willing to listen (which is an admonition of my own faith in James 1:19) I would have missed this opportunity as well as a fresh glimpse into my own culture.

Like many Americans I discounted the opinions of people from other cultural backgrounds. I believed they hated America and Americans. Perhaps I had seen too many news clips of crowds holding placards stating “Down with America.” Yet, through the civil discourse Rania offered I came to understand that some of “them” actually appreciate American culture and see our cultural glass as half full.

I suspect a partial reason why Americans downplay the opinions of other countries is because we inwardly believe we are deficient. We filter our view of ourselves through the lens of what we believe we should be and we find ourselves lacking. For example consider the raging debates about our current health care situation. The discourse around this topic is anything but civil. In our passion to improve we disparage what we have as well as those who disagree with us. Or consider the handicapped in our country. Can’t we do more for them than simply reserve parking places? Shouldn’t we do more for those will mental illnesses? The debate rages on. Discourse often less than civil. Or consider diversity. We view our country as fragmented into isolated groups. Discussion around the diversity within our country frequently focuses on who has what, who has deprived whom of what, and how to rectify the injustice. The lack of civil discourse has degenerated into violence far too frequently.

Most of us want to improve these situations, yet we remain divided. When we promote our positons as the only ones we stifle civil discourse. By viewing our cultural cup as half empty we strive harder to get others to agree with us. How engaging to hear Rania present in these pages a different perspective. She sees America’s cultural cup as half full. Without hearing her I would have missed considering American life and culture from a fresh perspective. To see my world with new eyes is a precious gift of civil discourse.

When I spoke of my pleasure over Rania’s civil discourse, some of my acquaintances expressed concern. “Don’t you realize,” (I paraphrase) “that it’s all a part of an Islamic plot to destroy our way of life? Isis claims to represent Islam. They engage in extreme acts of terrorism. Therefore all Muslims are willing to do anything to destroy Western culture.” This way of thinking clearly represents the lack of civil discourse. The logic is also deeply flawed. If I changed the name of the group, here’s the logic: “The Klu Klux Klan claims to be Christian. They engage in extreme acts of racial discrimination. Therefore all Christians practice radical racial discrimination.”

As a Christian I find this logic offensive because the faith I practice and the Bible I read does not promote the extreme behavior of the KKK. That is exactly why groups like Isis and the KKK are called extremist groups. They do not represent the mainstream. Isn’t it about time to stop labeling one another and instead listen to each other?

The heart of civil discourse is listening to what people say for and about themselves. Uncivil discourse tells other people what they believe. Let’s redirect American discourse back to heart of civility: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Civil discourse does not mean agreement. Rania and I disagree on some major points, among which are: who the Lord Jesus Christ is and who the Prophet Mohammed is. This does not mean that I cannot listen to, respect, and interact with Rania with civility and so receive the gift of her insights and perspectives.

So, if you are ready for a journey into civil discourse; if you are ready to hear Rania speak for herself; if you are ready to have your preconceptions challenged; if you are open to broadening you understanding and knowledge: then continue reading.

Civil discourse – Let the adventure begin.

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Grandpa, Don’t Go!

“Grandpa, don’t go.”

I couldn’t quite grasp what my grandson said from the back seat. “What was that?” I said over my shoulder.

“Grandpa, don’t go home.” I understood the words. Still the statement didn’t make sense to my adult mind. I’d only minutes before stowed my suitcase in the trunk and situated myself in the front seat. The airplane ride had ended. I had arrived and now we were on the way to my daughter’s house for my Labor Day weekend visit.

“But I haven’t gotten to your house.”

“I don’t want you to go.”

I smiled at the simplicity of his request. How he must have looked forward to my visit and planned to have fun, so much fun he didn’t want me to leave before I’d arrived. “I look forward to playing with you and your sister.” I responded.

“Grandpa, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

There is power in anticipation. My anticipation meter had been high as well. It had been two years since I’d made the trip to Oregon and I’d last seen my grandson around Father’s Day the prior year when his family came to Illinois for a two week visit. As the day of my westward flight approached I increasingly focused on my upcoming visit.

That my grandson had this level of anticipation that he didn’t want me to leave before I’d actually arrived showed either a childhood naiveté or he had good memories of our last time together. Or is there greater power in playing peek-a-boo over skype? I wonder. He doesn’t know me well – at least not as well as my other set of grandchildren. In trust he believed he was going to have a good time with grandpa. In anticipation started the visit with the declaration of keeping me around permanently.

What a longing for relationship!

When I think of my relationships, I wonder how much longing I exhibit in them. Do I long to return home to my wife after a day’s work? Or do I simply desire to get away from work? There are days and there are days!

On another level how deeply do I anticipate my time with my Heavenly Father? My goal is to journal my prayer time, reflect on God’s involvement in my day, and read centering meditation books. Often I do this out of habit, or out of obligation, or out of a challenge (like this year when my wife bought a meditation book so we could have a common daily reading).

But when was the last time I engaged these practices out of anticipation of time with my Father? Have I ever begun my time by saying, “I don’t want You to go”? Sadly I have not exhibited the same level of intensity as my grandson in his greeting me at the airport. Still my desire for a deepening relationship with God remains. I want to spend time knowing God and following Him.

And, so, during my visit we went to my daughter’s church’s family camp. There I woke early still on Chicago time. I trekked down to the dining hall in the quiet cool darkness, fixed a cup of tea, journaled, and read my meditation books. My grandson’s simple statement plucked a cord of my heart. The vibration lasted much longer than the visit to his home.

It’s still vibrating ever so gently.

“I don’t want you to go.”

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