Leather Bottom Shoes

Leather bottom shoes, Khaki colored Dockers and a black short sleeve shirt. Yep, it’s dance night. For the first time in nearly four years, it is time to dance. It’s been four years since my feet have hit the hard wood floor. Salsa. Of all things it’s Salsa. Not exactly my best dance. So many rhythms, so many styles and steps, and my first opportunity is salsa. The only dance hall within walking distance does Salsa. The weather is nice enough now but in a couple of hours I’ll need a coat for the walk home. Who me? Stubborn? You bet. Tonight I am caring nothing, No backpack no sleeping bag tonight I do not carry my house with me on my shoulders. Tonight I return to my modest apartment. It’s been a long time since I have been able to sleep inside be pleantly warm then. So why am I in such a hurry to go out? Well… tonight I will be dancing and not sitting. I will mix, I will ask, I will dance. Tonight I will live my life instead of just tring to endure it.

Walking in the doors my eyes are emblazed with all the reflected light exploding from everywhere. Even the speakers and they are painted black. Strobes, neon’s, and tremors. The floors tremor and the walls shake. Hard wood floors pushed back in reaction to the bombardment of sound waves against the solid surface. Beat after melodiously spicy beat travel in waves through the floor and eventually to my joints. It was 9pm, the doors have just opened and I am the first to arrive. My left leg is tremmoring uncontrollably. My senses are on overload. I had intended to just drink water as is my custom when out to dance but the bucking and giving way of my knees in response to the pounding tremors of sound exploding out of the speakers is a sign that that some sort of sedative is in order.

The bar back looks up, he seems annoyed that I have arrived on time. Faking a smile he greats me “This bar isn’t open” I raised my eye brow “They haven’t brought the cash drawer yet but they’re open by the DJ booth.” I nodded not that I would be heard over the rattling of bottles and glasses on the shelves. Everything is moving. This is common place for a salsa bar. The salsa crowd typically shows late. My enthusiasm has bought me early. Am I annoyed? Yes… It irks me that people wait so late to start the fun. I have been waiting for over four years. It seems a waste to cut short the night before it begins.

I am, however, determined to drink it in every vibration, every movement, every knocking knee, “Lets not have one of those nights” I tell myself. “Those nights” are where despite my desire to dance, mountains of emotional insecurity keep me from simply asking someone to dance. My insecurities could hold me captive, I could watch and pout in jealousy. I refuse to live in jealousy and self doubt tonight. “Coors Light” I announced to the bartender. I was returned the look of ‘domestic drinking Geek..great…’ “Medicinal purposes” I said.
“3.50” he returns.
In no way am I going to pay 6.00 for a bitter tasting import just to calm my nerves. I not here to impress the bartenders, I’m here to dance. Like all dancers, I do want to impress other dancers not just with technical skill but also with some originality. “Oh, I’ve never done that move before can we do it again?” It’s always a nice compliment.
“I don’t know… I just made it up” Even if I can’t replicate something that I make up originality always scores points with the other dancers. Dancers love to dance but sometimes they get bored with the same steps and patterns so originality always increases a guys clout among the hot shots which will lead to more dances, and that is why I am here in the first place. The sooner I get started dancing the better my confidence will be and the more I’ll ask people to dance which will lead to more dances which is why I am here in the first place. It’s been so long.

I’m the guy who wants to be on the floor every song. I am more than willing to soak my shirt in sweat while I immersed myself in the rhythmically scattered movement of the crowd. In times past I would have brought multiple shirts. Saving my dance partners later in the evening from the slimy result of the exercise I enjoyed earlier in the evening. I imagine it is not too fun locking up in dance frame with a slimy, slippery over exuberant eel.

But not tonight, I only have one shirt that’s appropriate for an evening out dancing. Of all the different crowds that different styles of dance attract, salsa dancers dress up more stylishly than any of them but for tonight I should be ok. I have to be for I came here to dance. Now all I have to do is wait until some others show up. Let’s and try not to look too out of place shall we. It will be good if my knee stops shaking. Yeah that would be good.

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Some Drivel

 

 

 

Too old for the cold or so I was told

by a man who was known by the fold of his clothes. 

Sharp pressed lapels in the tie centered tweed

he had the answers to my perceived need. 

Or so he said so because he would know

as nothing was known that was not known by he

Just ask him thus and so he will say,

there is nothing that is not know by him since the light of day. 

 

So it was told to me by him that knows it all

that I am too old to have aliments that would seem cold

and that my symptoms are a vain attempt at sympathy bold

which he will not give as he knows better. 

Just ask him for there is none other with answers correct

which can be seen by the cut of his clothes. 

Tweeded jacket cut just below the belt

sharply pressed tweed confirming truth in his deeds. 

Which he says are many although he’ll list few

cause his time is so precious and he’s much to do

and not waste his time showing sympathy to

those who pretend to have for ailments that they are too old use.   

Thankfulness… an attitude of supposed to be?

 

It seems that the more desperate we get the more willing we are to be thankful and the les desperate we are the less likely it is that we will acknowledge how un grateful we are.  There are so many things that we do that when we feel in control our attitudes of thankfulness and gratitude lessen as our perceived needs do.   Sometimes I wonder if when we are desperate our supposed thankfulness is really just relief from the pressure of those things that had been burdening us lately.  

 

This was an interesting thanksgiving for me.  I got the time to spend significant time with friends that I had been missing.  I was thankful for the opportunity to do so but somehow my thankfulness for my life at the moment just wasn’t there.  While I an in such a better place this year than I was last year I seem to be less thankful over the whole situation.  Sound familiar?  So as you are talking to God over the next few weeks though the holidays I recommend a thankfulness check in those conversations.  Pray for an honest and heart felt appreciation for the things that God is doing in your life.  Not just head knowledge that you are supposed be that way.  Try to get beyond that.  Attitude of gratitude and not just knowledge of it. 

 

Hopefully it will lead you to things like telling people how much you appreciate them in your life and not put it off because the head knowledge is there but the honest motivation to do it isn’t.

 

Recently I had a bike stolen from me.  It has been my primary source of transportation. I do not have the means to replace it very easily so for the past several weeks I have done without.  Instead of cycling to my destinations I have been forced to walk.  Because of this I have been reacquainted with my compassion for those who are stuck out on the street.  Something that I have grown distant from over the past few months as some things in my life have changed for the “better”.   The experience has been a great motivator that I am truly thankful for that may not have occurred if it didn’t happen.  Anyways I suggest that as the business of the holiday’s approach that we all work on our thankfulness.  And the first place I suggest we go is to God in prayer for it.  If anyone is able to change the attitude of our hearts he is.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7

“Master!  Welcome home!” Said the ever joyous Shea.  “How was your hunting trip?  I was so worried.  I would have liked to go along with you in order to be of service to you.”

 “Thank you for your concern Shea, I have some good news, I have selected a servant.”  Shea looked curiously at Earnest.  “One befitting the service of a Warden besides, I understand that Jasper has been having some difficulty finding sharp quills to write with since his servant has been on loan.”

 “Who have you selected?  Does he need help? I would so like to help.”

 “His name is Chill and a more loyal servant cannot be found.  I will let him know of your desire to help and recommend you specifically if he has any questions on service befitting a Warden.”

 “Thank you master.  It is so good to have you home!  And with a servant of your own.  So soon! Oh happy day!  Oh such a happy day!  I hope to meet him soon.  A servant befitting that of a Warden is such a rare thing.”

 “It is good to be home Shea.  You will meet him directly.”

 “I hope you will be staying with in the city for a while, too much time away from home is not a good thing.”

 “I am afraid not Shea, after some planning I will be leaving again.  It’s time to start the expansion there is much to initiate.”

 “I am concerned Warden Earnest, too much time away…”  

 “It won’t be forever, remember I am new to the land nothing is going to feel like home for a while.”

 “I will pray for you Warden Earnest”

 “Thank you, Shea, I’m likely to need it”

 “So it’s settled we will go to Mt Vector to secure the orb of purification while General Snort arranges the armies to prepare for the campaign in Boran.” Said Earnest  

“You should have about 3 weeks Warden Franklin” replied general Snoffel “with in which to make an attempt at securing the Orb.  If you are unsuccessful in that amount of time you will need to abandon it and get back here.  It is imperative that you make the trek across the mountains into Boran with the troops.  You will also need to be available as we cross the near wild.  The leaders of the Near Wild will be interested to meet you and try to find out how to work their best advantage according to your plans.” 

 “Thank you, General Snoffel, success or not, I will return to the Central City within 3 weeks.”

 “I have already sent word to Jemsing they will be expecting you and making plans for the quest on your behalf.” 

 “What if we decided to cancel? The orb is important to our plans but not absolutely necessary I would hate to mess things up by trying to do to much but don’t want to be idle either” said Earnest

 “Then I would send word of cancellation, your presence here will not be needed until we set off for Boran so you have the freedom.  Also, for now, you will have the anonymity as your face will not be likely to be known in the Ward for some time. The orb will be important later so it is worth the effort to make an attempt.”

The ride across the plains of Donsey while swift was pleasant.  Strong horses who were well rested before the journey covering the distance in a minimal amount of time.  Nearly 200 miles in one day along well maintained roads to the base of theMettaMountains.  The next days ride would only be 25 miles but it would be through windy narrow passages with high cliffs on either side. There would be no galloping as the road would need to be taken slowly and in single file while on horseback.  The ride would take most of the day with an early start.   But for now the travelers settled in for the night. 

Those that were chosen to go with the Warden were,   

Lt Brush Bear, of the plains riders of pampas a noted hunter/tracker,  Hector, also of the plains riders, (it would have been difficult to keep him away considering the Warden had chosen Chill as his servant).  There was a contingent of the Honor Guard, the famous Shield twins, Ox and Bull.  General Wilson, of the Donsey a fine General and a noted diplomat and Chill.  The Wardens newly chosen personal servant.   The evening was pleasant although the sky was slightly overcast.  Ox and Bull provided entertainment in the way they gathered wood for the fire.  Taking take large fallen logs and breaking them to size behind their necks. It was a very competitive endeavor as the brothers have always tried to outdo each other. 

 “Is that all the thicker log you can handle” challenged Ox to his brother. 

 Taking the challenge Bull said “Watch this!” and taking a piece that was much thicker than the ones they had been breaking apart before broke it in two with his forehead.  Then Bull exclaimed “what you gonna a do? Bull gonna take you and break you in two!”

 General Wilson leaned over to Earnest “I’m glad he’s on our side you would be hard pressed to find his equal”

 The ride the next day was long as travel was slow on the windy roads though steep cliffs on either side.  The winding road, the rock hewn surface of the cliffs became monotonous quickly.  The Metta mountains were a vast mountain range 500 miles wide and several thousand miles long.  They were odd as far as mountains go.  They were comprised of nothing but jagged rocks and peaks rising steeply to hundreds and sometimes thousands of feet above. The winding trail steadily rose as it wound into the mountains.  The Mettas were a rock waste land where the only things that grew there were those which could cling to bare rock.  Vegetation was sparse and mostly absent in this vast wasteland.  There was no open water here.  While jagged the rocks themselves were porous and absorbed the infrequent rains.  This porosity and the movement of water through them led to rich mineral deposits.  It was for this reason the Gnomes were attracted to mine them.   It seemed to Earnest that there were no flat surfaces here.  Everything rose at sharp angles from the narrow valleys to the peaks high over head.  The road they traveled was an engineering feet in and of itself.  It was carved directly out of the rock to form a reasonably passable route. 

 The ride order was set before they had left camp and designed with the protection of the Warden as its first priority.   Brush Bear was first.  His sharp eyes sure sword and adept skill with the bow on horse back made him the obvious choice to lead.  Although no danger was expected his attuned senses would be the best for detecting any potential  danger.  At this stage the most likely source of danger would come from loose rocks that might at any time randomly break free and fall towards the path.

 Next was Hector this was mostly to keep him as far from Chill as possible as he continued to look upon Chill with distrust.  Yet he also continued to keep his word to the Warden about Chills identity as a Skree and to not bring any harm to him.  Next were Ox, Earnest and Bull.  The Shield Twins of the Honor guard would be as close to the Warden as the terrain would allow.  Next was General Wilson who spent most of the day explaining Gnomish history and customs and generally enjoying the Warden’s company.  And at the rear was Chill.  Chill always preferred the rear.  General Wilson helped to pass the time by describing Jemsing and its value to the Ward.  Jemsing was named for its rich gemstone deposits and the whistling winds that would “sing” through the peaks of the Mettas in the area.  While the richest known gemstone mine in the Ward, Jemsing’s real value was its deposits of tinsel.  Tinsel when added to iron made it stronger more resilient and a full third lighter than when untreated.  Tinsel was extremely rare but very valuable in the making of weapons and armor.  It was so rare that only one tenth of available armor and weapons in the Ward were made with the use of tinsel. There had been reports of other tinsel deposits further into the mettas but the problem of getting to them in order to mine them was overwhelming.

Late in the afternoon, as the seemingly endless trail wound on, Ox and Bull suddenly pulled up close to Earnest and pressed their bodies up close to the Warden on either side.  Surprising and frightening Earnest because of its suddenness and the treat of imminent danger.  At this point Brush Bear could be seen in front pointing to the cliffs above where smiling Gnomes waived and clamored to get a look at the new Warden.  Had they held their positions in the rocks above they would not have been noticed.   Ox and Bull eased  their bodies away from the Warden allowing him to maneuver and breath again. ‘Shield Twins’ thought Earnest ‘I get it.  God you seem to have it covered.’

A couple of more turns in the road and the sight of more gnomes clamoring along in their perches to get a better glimpse of the new Warden.  A final turn  and the road entered into gnomish made widening in the canyon that served  as courtyard.  It was unevenly chiseled back into the rock away from the trail on the left with a nondescript entrance to a cave in the back.  Nondescript except for the fact that some ornately dressed guards stood on either side of it.  If it were left unguarded it may have gone relatively unnoticed. In between the ornately dressed guards was an even more ornately dressed dignitary standing in front.  He was a prime example of a gnome shorter than the Drull not as stocky but with a very large over sized pear shaped nose that sat almost comically on his face.  He was wearing a long ornately decorated robe covered in rubies.  They were of a very dark rich red color.  Such a robe would have been priceless back on earth thought Earnest.  According to General Wilson such things were commonplace among the gnomes.

“The Warden has come to Jemsing!! Welcome! Welcome! we are so honored for your arrival!  My name is Snoggel. I will be your escort for your time here in Jemsing if you have any needs or concerns please let me know how I can serve you.  Your lodgings await you.  I am sure you will want to freshen up after your journey here.  Now that you are here the feasting will begin! General Katchoo awaits you in the dining hall where he will go over the plans for the quest with you.”

 “General Wilson,” he continued “it is good to see you again.  Ox and Bull, your fame is not unknown to us here in Jemsing, our youth will be so excited.  I am afraid I have not met the others”

“Thank you for most hospitable welcome Snoggel.  I am Warden Franklin and with your permission let me present to you Lt Brush Bear and Hector of the plains riders of pampas”

“Lt. your reputation precedes you, it is said that there is nowhere that you cannot find and track game, it is a pleasure to meet you for the first time, Hector as you are in the company of the Warden you are surly likely to be a man of great importance it will be an honor to get to know you both.”

“And my personal servant Chill”

Addressing Chill he said “I hope that things will be satisfactory for you if you have any needs at all just let me know and we will do all that we are capable of in meeting them, now, if you all will follow me I will show you to your lodgings quarters for your stay here I am certain that you will want to freshen up before you gather in the great dining hall where General Katchoo awaits you.”

Chill leaned over to Earnest and said “My Warden, if it pleases you, I should like to see to the horses as well”

 Snoggle, who had heard the request answered,  “Why most certainly Bobble and Wilnting will aid you and show you the way, as for the rest of you come! there are many who are excited of your arrival”

 Snoggel led the travelers down what turned out to be a rather long passage that gently descended until it reached a side stairway that opened up into a large under ground room.   It was extremely large reminding Earnest of the large indoor football arenas back on earth.  It was well lit and had many stairs and walkways leading to a large collection of dwellings for the gnomes.  In the “field” there were many troops that were on parade.  There were several hands of these troops, groups of five wide and five deep marching in orderly fashion in front of the Warden.  All decked out in their best and shiniest armor and weapons.  After the last of the groups passed by there was a loud trumpet sound followed by Snoggle announcing “The troops are ready for inspection Warden!” at which point he bowed towards Earnest.

 Earnest looked to General Wilson who said “they have probably been shining their shoes for days…. try no to be too hard on them.”

 Earnest not sure what was expected of him began to walk among the troops like how he’d seen in the movies and began to make some random comments.  “Nice shine on them shoes… everything so polished… good … good…. Nice spacing….”  After just a few minuet this Earnest turned to Snoggel and said “Excellent!  A very fine example of military prowess the Warden is well pleased” and with that there was another blast from the trumpets as Earnest made his way back to the others.  The Gnomish troops paraded off the field. 

 “Come, come… this way to your quarters” said Snoggle.

 Earnest entered his assigned quarters and noted that while its trappings were simple in nature and function, they were ornately decorated.  A bed, a table, with a wash basin and a writing table complete with paper and quills.  Tapestries hung on the walls to help with the dampness of underground dwelling.   While simple in function everything was ornately decorated.  The wash basin was pure silver inlayed with a variety of colorful gems stones.  The weaves of the tapestries were intricate depicting various scenes of gnomish history which was often considered suspect to the scribbles of the house of saints.  For all their close attention to details involving logistics and planning the gnomes had a penchant for an oral tradition that was often embellished for the sake of making a better sounding story.  The gnomes were very much more interested in gossip and embellishment in these endeavors which made them notorious as storytellers.  Gnomes were always favorites at festivals and were often requested to engage in storytelling for the entertainment of all. 

 This was in addition to a desire of the presence of gnomish ale at these festivals.  A favorite amongst the ward but rarely brewed by the gnomes.  Their techniques were kept secret and being generally more interested in mining the Gnomes tended not to make batches of the popular brew very often.  Gnomish ale was very sweet tasting and had a very peculiar property.  No matter how much of the ale you indulged in one never got too intoxicated.  It had a property of establishing what was referred to the gnomish glow and never left anyone with any morning after aches and stiffness.  

 “My Warden…” Earnest had not noticed Chills entrance into the room. 

 “Yes Chill…”

 “I have been made aware of some contacts that I would like to investigate while we are here.”

 “I need you to be with me at the dinner this evening, once the festivities start you can go about your business with great freedom.”

 “Thank you my warden, due to the security around here I may need a safe place to store some things”

 “I’ll leave word with the Shield twins that no one is to enter my quarters but you and I will that suffice? You can store what you need to here”

 “Yes, my Warden, that will be most adequate I thank you.”

 “Try not to get into to much trouble”

 Chill tilted his head down as if to say… this is me we are talking about. It was a rare sign of levity and humor that Earnest had not yet seen from Chill. 

 The great dinning hall was alive with gnomes, music and story telling.  Earnest, Chill, Lt Brush Bear, and Hector were seated at General Katchoo’s table.   “Warden Franklin! it is indeed a great pleasure to meet you!  I am General Katchoo and will be explaining  the plan for our expedition.  This is Snort.  He is the most renown prospector in the area and will be our scout on the way to Mt vector.  No one know the area that we will be traveling in better than him.  Tonight we feast and go over plans,  tomorrow we will teach you how to properly climb and explore the underground.  Such skills will be necessary on our journey. We will leave the next day.  Snort already knows of the existence of the cave which you seek but has never explored it.  The journey there will take 3 days but for now let us feast!”

 Chill tugged Earnests arm.  “Yes Chill, that would be good now, I will be well attended to for now.”  His leaving was unnoticed by the others.  Earnest did not see what all the excitement was about Gnomish ale, it reminded him of bitter tasting root beer.  Frothy and firm was the toast of others who were so glad for its serving.  Where General Wilson was a capable diplomat, General Katchoo was gruff and all but vulgar loud boasts, loud comments directed at the story tellers who entertained them at the head table and loud rumbling belches.  Snort was all but silent.  Apparently uncomfortable with the dipomacy but drank nearly a dozen mugs of the highly prized ale.

 Later that evening, when Earnest returned to his quarters, he was greeted by Chill.  “My Warden, I have news for your ears only.”

 “Yes Chill, what is the news?”

 “There is danger here deep in the mines.  What I heard was rumor but there may be some truth to it.  Some young prospectors had been digging deep, too deep according to Gnomish regulations, apparently trying to find the “big one” as young adventuresome Gnomes are prone to do.  This group narrowly escaped a cave in which apparently released a green gas that had what others Gnomes claim was a hallucinogenic.  The prospectors involved tell stories of flying green dragons and large floating yellow lights.  Due to the cave in which is said to be massive that area is off limits for further exploration.  It is 2 months underground travel for a Gnome, deep, very deep.  I will investigate this further but not here.  Gnomish information is not the most reliable.  I will tell the Warden what he needs to know in that regard.”

 “Strange news… thank you Chill, anything else?”

 “nothing that worth troubling the Warden with.”

 “All right Chill, I’m going to bed.  I’ve got training tomorrow.”

 “Chill bowed and said “Yes my Warden”

 The next day was full of ropes, pitons and instructions about how to negotiate jagged rocks both above and below ground.  At the end of the day Earnest was tired and felt a bit guilty as the training was likely solely focused on him.  Had he cost the expedition a day?  The Gnomes were great planers and strategists so he decided he would just have to trust them.  At the end of the day dinner was served in Katchoo’s private lodging and the plans for the next few days were reviewed.

 “The journey will be about 150 miles to the cave through some of the most difficult terrain to cross in the mettas.  We have some advance teams that have made camps of supplies awaiting us when we get to them so early on we will be able to travel light until we reach the cave.  The first day, while the shortest, will be the hardest as there will be 4 major climbs but this route will save us a day in the process of getting to the cave.  Climbing ropes have been placed for the journey but it will still be difficult.  The next day will be the longest.  We will start before daylight crossing the uneven ground while we are still fresh and will make the next camp just before dark.  The last day there will be no advanced camp waiting for us.  We will be carrying packs that will be waiting for us at camp 2.   When we get to the cave we will rest the night and will awaken to full caving supplies which will arrive while we sleep. Snort and Bull will stay at the surface to protect the final camp until we resurface”

 Earnest looked at General Wilson who said “fear not Warden, you be fine, besides you’ll have me to look out for you.”

ashes…

Ashes

The ashes from the campfires gave off a smoky looking dust as the morning breeze blew over the spent coals.  There’s no more heat left from the bonfire the night before or for that matter any useable fuel to begin anew.  Ashes.  Ashes swirling in the fire pit as the wind directs.  No potential, no present, only past.  A past who’s memory could not be contained as even that had been spent.  Only those outside the fire.  Only those outside its rage and with the ability to observe have any memories of its existence or effect.  Songs, marshmallows and the warm glow of light sips from the whisky bottle.  Old friendships deepened, new ones made all around the power of the blaze that roared for everybody’s benefit they are only ashes now.  Who will remember?

minsitering upside down.

Ministering upside down

Sometimes I wonder about the penchant for ministering down.  Why is it that if someone has some sort of financial success that they assume more privilege in the area of ministry and service.  Take a look at your elder board.  (or its equivalent)  are people honestly into serving the church or achieving.  Take a closer look and see how your church looks.  The parallels can be frightening from a spiritual standpoint.  Is there competition for resources? Internal politicking to making  pet programs and projects go.  What about competition between church’s for resources?  Are they trying to attract the best talent and the most customers.  That’s how people learned to advance in industry and they get financially rewarded for it.  To hold good standing in the community these achieving types readily  get involved on various boards and committees and put themselves in positions of authority and as a result wind up being decision makers in our churches.   

No wonder so many of our churches here in America operate on corporate principles and on the principle bigger/more is better. 

Here are some presupposed assumptions that I see that are made.

-The more people who come to service more successful our church is

-The better the public speaker is the better the pastoring is

-The better the music production the better the worship

-The more programs and services offered the better the ministry’

Add in book stores, once a year mission trips, (only for the most devout) and a once a year can food drive, hopefully by now you can see where im coming from. 

Now here is where I am going

As the achieving types lead such busy “successful” lives they are likely not to slow down enough to hear what God may be saying to them.   They will sucessfully tell you different and you will belive them.  just sayn…

I have heard it said that the church is the people and not the steeple.   I have seen so many people in my life go from one steeple to another wanting to be part of something but never really intergrating.   They tend to wait for the edification that they desire and the “steeples” out there in competion with each other for customers encorage this.  In the long run, what has this done to the church?  Are we ever integrated with our neighbors long enough that we can learn to love them?  Or learn to be loved by them?  if we keep switching our spiritual neighborhoods by jumping form steeple to steeple then what? 

If the church is the “people’ that means community, bearing with each other instead of leaving an “unsuccessful” community to join the winners which have already attracted all the achievers anyway.   The achievers who are leading such institutions will tout themselves as successful.  At what cost.  How many struggling people lose the chance to sacrifice and struggle together with the people in their neighborhood, because they have been lured away by something more convenient and anonymous in the “mega church”.  now thee are pooled resouces in place like this that don’e exist elswhere but there is a huge problem when this is the predomiant modle that churches aim at.  The anonymity thing is something else.  anonumity can lead to lack of accountability.  

If church is about the “people ” we should not be trying to lure each other away from each others buildings for one reason or another.   The number of Christians has not significantly changed in the US for many years but there are always new buildings that swell with new members to fill the pews. And these churches are noted as a success.  How many failures were created in the building of these successes?  

I would think we should be in service of supporting other communities instead of building our own empires by drawing away from the “little” guys.  (which in the end is what happens as people go church shopping they look for something that connects with them in stead of looking to their neighbors).  How many churches will say wow you came 45 miles to visit our church thank you and we are willing to help but, we know of a good church 3 blocks form you house that would be alot more personal and sane logistiacally.  they take on the challenge…”we’ll save you bu giving you progams and preaching and good music!!!  have no fear o learning to love your meighbor across the street we will keep you well isolated form them.”  yes i am the sarcastic one but have you heard esle wise? 

How many people do you know that travel more than 30 min to attend services and then from how many different directions.  A person who travels 30 min form the south and meets someone in Sunday school that travels 30 min from the north (or more in many cases) so now you have two people an hour away form each other.  This is not uncommon.  And it is not “community”.  Can you honestly be involved is someone’s life who lives 20-30-40 miles away?  How many people say oh sure if you make the commitment and then don’t live their life that way. 

Community is not knowing “about ” the people you worship with but living “with” them.  Why would you avoid your own community?  Just so you can hear a hot shot public speaker and a polished production when it comes to music.  Why is it we attend steeples as Christians anyway? 

Do you go so far as to carve out an additional hour to attend a “small group” in addition to a weekly service to “plug in”. its amazing at how many of us can stay anonymous in the process.

 How many of us can say we spend every day with multiple people we worship with? Especially, outside planed “steeple” events.  Isn’t that community?  How about just sitting on the porch watching each others kids play after work, not at the one time summer barbeque but several times a week just cause its good to be together.  Does your house have to be clean to have “steple” friends over? Is you ability to be hospitable limited to how “prepared” you feel you have made yourself. Wouldn’t it be nice if your relationships were such that anyone could just walk in and if you in the middle of chores you do them together and enjoy the visit anyway. 

Do we have to meet in coffee shops to have face to face time? 

How can we truly know each others needs if we are performing in front of each other all the time. 

Get a map of the city and put some push pins in the map and see how distant the attendees are from each other or the building proper.  Is the only time they get to spend time together when the leave their house holds and go to planed meetings in the church building or the local coffee shop?  Many have moved away form the neighborhood near the steeple and the rest of the people as their careers have progressed, and have chosen to be further away.  Success?  In who’s terms.  I wonder.  

Yes, there is so much more involved, but at some point I think in many subtle ways we touting success in the church and not service and sacrifice to each other and our neighbors. 

1: peter 4

8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

John 15

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

As I see love as an action I find it difficult to think that we can love people we don’t spend time with.  Will they know the love of God by how we love each other?  Its probably the best way to speak into someone’s life what the love of God is like.  and it requires no words formal education, certificates, degrees. I find it difficult to love my neighbor or my brother if I never spend any time with them.  Remember God is always with us whether we are aware of him or not.  Love the one your with… he’s your neighbor. And he lives in your neighborhood and is part of your community.  Remember Jesus said he’d be with us from now to the end of the age, so you’re not ever alone.

The last snow flake

Writing prompt 2-05-11  (1)

The last snow flake

A thick blanket of neighboring friends lay below me as I weave my way through the thick frigid air.  I liked it.  When the air is thick I can take my time not rushing the journeys end and enjoying the changed scenery along the way.  When it is frigid my crystals are sharp allowing me to cut sharp angles through the sky giving me more control to the shape of my path.  Tight circles or wide ones or even catching an air foil and raising up for a time while others fall fast away to the living blanket below.  My aim to rest is truer and not at the mercy of the wind (even though influenced by it)

 shall I aim for the field? The tree? The House?  Steer clear of the road

Many friends lay far below with only a few more in between.  I look up and notice no one is above me.  I am last and will have no ones weight upon me today. I am last and will have the clearest picture of the blanket floor.