Wednesday, December 24, 2014


I get a little wistful this time of year, a little bit more each year.

As I live and serve here, on this reservation, on this earth, I long for the hope of Christmas more and more. I long for the realization of what Jesus started when He came the first time; for the completion of His work in the Second Advent. I long for His return, when all will be made new, and the wrongs and the hurts and the pains will be done away with.

This year has seen a lot of hurts. A boy I love and care about deeply is losing his grandmother, who's cared for him best she can since his parents passed. A little girl I came to love as my own has been moving from home to home since she left ours, and I don't know if she's safe, and can't keep her safe. A boy told me the other day at youth group he'd been thinking about hanging himself. And that's only some of the sorrows I've seen in our community. There are other sorrows, too: young black men getting shot by police, a school shooting on another reservation in the state, the deaths and beheadings of Christians and Westerners by ISIS. Our world is sick with sorrow, groaning with the pains of childbirth. Can we look at all of it and endure?

There have been moments where it's been too much. It has seemed like evil is winning, and all of it is futile. The little we can do is surely not enough to stem the tide, not enough to redirect the current. Why persist? The war is lost.

And yet.

And yet, there is Christmas.

There's a baby. Powerless, helpless. A very little thing, infinitesimal, born to lower classes in the backwaters of the Roman Empire, not even registering on the radar of anyone who mattered. It surely couldn't be enough to stem the tide of evil, could it?

Yet that baby was. That small thing was the one thing that could do it. It was the lynchpin, the cornerstone. It when that baby came into the world that evil lost, albeit it has taken a couple thousand years of the devil thrashing around with his head cut off.

I'm ready for the devil to stop his death throes. I'm ready for the job to be finished. I grow so weary of seeing the devastation sin and evil still is able to thrust upon this world, even after the head's been cut off. I'm ready for the triumphant return - so ready.

My favorite Christmas song remains still "White Horse" by Over the Rhine. Their lyrics of the triumphant return of Jesus on a white horse, come to set all things right, recall the language of the Old Testament prophets who made no distinctions between the First and Second Advents. May we remember always that He didn't just come and die and rise again. While that is certainly the root of our hope, the full realization of our hope and the consummation of our hope is in the Second Advent, the White Horse, the Flaming Sword. He is coming again to finish what He started! While we can remember now what He began as a baby, in humble beginnings, and allow that to give us hope that the small efforts in which we partake now will indeed work His will against evil, we can look forward to the grandiose way in which He shall return - riding in the clouds, sword in hand, to do battle with the devil for the last time.

It'll end. He will win. Come, Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reflection on a Sunday

There's a church in White Swan, a haven of rest and safety for the many who have neither. A playground unequaled on the Rez, where the kids run and play and get fed and wounds are treated and shoes are given and Bible stories are told.

Three are here who have been gone for some time. I ask the middle one where they've been staying. "With our mom," he tells me. 

"In Totus?" I ask. 

"No," he tells me, and clarifies where they've been. "But we've been moving every day." 

I murmur that this must be hard, and he nods. "We used to live in Totus for  a long time." There's a bit of sorrow, a bit of a shrug in his tone, like at 10 years old he's seen enough of life to know it's just hard. And I know enough of his story to know he's seen some things in his time. 

But here, he tosses another ball through the net and smiles. Here the sorrow and burden can be lifted for awhile, and he and his brothers can hear about Jesus' love and shoot some hoops after. 

The last three Sundays I've been averaging 1.2 shoeless kids per week. It's not the same children every time, and usually it's in a frantic effort to get ready and they can't find their shoes. It's a symptom of the larger problem: neglect. The kids are on their own, parents and family caught up in their own addictions, too wrapped up in their pain and avoidance to care for their kids. Everyone is giving up. Holding on to hope has become too difficult.

But these kids still have it, to my wonder. The God of hope has granted it to them. They have been told - and have begun to believe - that there is hope for them, and that God cares about them, and that they matter not just to Him, but to us. To me. They matter to me.

And who knows how it starts: do they matter me because I care about what God thinks, or do they matter to me because they matter, inherently, and I can see it? I don't know. It doesn't make a difference where the source is. The crux is that my eye is now trained to detect the evidence of God's plan and purpose in creating each person here; in hunting out the beauty and the stamp of His image even in those who seem the furthest gone. We have hope. We have a God who is the God of hope. His Spirit is the source of hope. We know what He can do, because we've seen Him do it. We can trust that He will continue to work out His plan, and that He'll bring to an end all that He wishes.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Questions for Heaven

Father, when you used to
    Meet Adam in the garden
    For an evening walk,  how much
    Did you miss him when he left?

Father, when you looked down
     And saw
     Only one family left
     Who remembered you,
     Was it your tears that covered the earth?

I can see you now: rushing the remnant
     Onto the ark, holding back
     Just long enough
     To get the door

      And then you wail.
      And everything

Father, did a sob
     Catch in your throat
     As you stayed the hand
     Of Abraham, knowing
     That someday
     What he was just spared
     You would not be?

Father, sometime I wonder
    Sometimes I just wonder
    Sometimes I just cry and I just wonder

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Was Both Amazed and Left Stunned and Speechless By What Happened Next.

"You won't believe what happened next."

I just about hate those words now. Scanning through my Facebook feed, I almost lost count of how many times they popped up.

At what point did the internet decide collectively to begin to use this formula centering around the three words "what happened next"? The formula consist of a) a situation introduced ("This mom surprised her high schooler at lunch"), b) a "power adjective" (stunned, speechless, amazed, etc) and c) "what happened next." I'm sure you've seen it.

It evokes a visceral reaction in me, and since I've noted its arrival, it has guaranteed that, no matter how intriguing the subject material is, I WILL NOT CLICK ANY LINK WHICH INCLUDES THIS VERBIAGE. I just won't.

It's probably my issue. I have a deep-seated fear of being manipulated, and I think I may react strongly to anything I see as a possible attempt to coerce me into a certain action, no matter how innocuous it might be. But really, my objection is that it's simply a cheap way out. If one can't think of a creative way to hook people in to watch a video or peruse a link, one can fall back on a formula which (assuming from its over-usage) has success.

I admit, I feel a pull on my curiosity when I see the words. Who doesn't want to know what happened next? Isn't that why TV season finales always end on cliffhangers? The power of curiosity and the desire for closure and resolution is so strong. But it's that very pull on my curiosity that makes me despise the words. I despise my own reaction to them, wishing that my natural desire to know "what happened next" could be curbed. I hate being manipulated. Don't trick me into watching your cat video by tempting me to find resolution. I was happy without knowing "what happened next" five minutes ago; I will be happy not knowing "what happened next" five minutes from now.

There's my curmudgeony moment of the day.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Madness sets in like
Like, you can't
is true because, who are you just you're just a little
        so-and-so and who do you think you are to think
        you can tell you what's what

And the funny thing
you start to believe it firmly.

But madness gotta be
Gotta fight it, gotta tell it where to go and where to get off, I got Truth on my side, you old so-and-so so you
 Better, that's right, you better run

Gotta go to Jesus, man - go to Jesus, He got, yeah He got the Truth:
          Tell the madness what's what
And that
You can KNOW
(Are you LISTENING? Can you HEAR ME?)
You can KNOW!

freedom. love. family. forgiveness. honor. respect. love. grace. love. grace. love.

and the end

I'm not sure where this came from. I started writing and this is what came out. I haven't changed a single word to it, so you can take that for whatever it's worth. I can give no real commentary on it other than it came from thinking about the problem of wallowing in guilt and isolation, a place I would find myself in frequently if I did not embrace the denouement of the piece. I'm not sure why I feel prompted to offer commentary on the piece, either, since I wrote it with no real intent in mind other than to see what came out. Still, here the commentary is, and I suppose it shall remain. 

Let's try this again.

It's a new year, right? A new year, a time for trying to form new habits (or re-form old ones that you let die).

I'm a writer - at least, I've always called myself one. But it's hard to keep believing it when I cease to write. When I let my pens and pencils die in obscurity. When my notebooks languish from want of use. When I have to blow layer after layer of dust off my blog before I can see the screen to write this post.

Most of the writing I do these days is out of duty rather than delight, when I'm writing to supporters to communicate about work and life here on the Rez. There are times - quite often, even -when these two hemispheres of the Venn diagram overlap, and duty and delight squeal with glee when they meet. I love those moments when I feel like I'm clearly communicating the passion and joy I find in the work I do here in a creative way. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.

But there's the part of my writer-soul that's weak with hunger from neglect, rocking in the corner of my mind, having ceased about a year ago asking to be fed. It's that part that likes to write poetry and make up stories and imagine that magic is real, and just write about whatever it wants. I'm gonna start feeding it again this year. Maybe it'll be fat in 2015.