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25 April 2011

Easter Monday faith

"Sun’s rising after Resurrection Sunday on a Monday world where everything’s changed…

Easter Monday faith believes that in impossible darks, impossible light sparks.

Easter Monday faith believes that the tombs places of our life, are but womb places for new life.

Easter Monday faith believes that Christ tenderly takes our doubts — and says touch my scars…

This faith believes in stones that roll, in grave clothes that fall, in an Easter people who sing hard hallelujahs … because they believe in resurrections always coming."

- Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience, "What Easter Monday Faith Looks Like"

(photo: Tortuguero, CR, sunrise)

24 April 2011

Felinos de Africa

Felinos de Africa  is a great movie! 
The footage of the cats is fantastic- how majestic is His Creation! 
And, at times, how harsh!  Cheetahs attack gazelle; lions attack zebra; cats attack each other.
The babes are adorable; the adults are fascinating.
Great job, DisneyNature.  We're hooked.
(and, ps- we saw it in Spanish. I read that the English version is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson but I thought the Spanish voice was great!) 


He is not here, but He has risen.  Luke 24:6
(art credit: He is Risen by FaithandHopeArt on Etsy)

23 April 2011

That's My King

Experiencing Easter in Central America is entirely different than the traditions I know from the United States...
Not an Easter Bunny to be seen.
No jelly beans.
No baskets.
No egg hunts.
No new dresses and shiny shoes.
The only decorations are the wooden crosses draped in purple cloth in many front gardens.
I don't miss the Easter Bunny, but I will confess, I wouldn't mind a chocolate egg or two...

Yesterday, Viernes Santa (Holy Friday), the entire country virtually shut down. It was quietquietquiet in our neighborhood. From Thursday through Sunday, religious programming is pretty much the only show to be found on tv, from Misterios y Milagros, a documentary on "mysteries and miracles," to reruns of those epic Hollywood productions of years past, The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur. Processions took place in neighborhoods throughout the city, depicting Jesus' last hours.  On the evening news, we watched pictures from around the Latin world, scenes of reenacting the crucifixion and examples of bloody acts of self-flagellation.

And, in contrast to the events surrounding Friday, I am told that Easter Sunday really isn't a special day in the Protestant church here. I am told that attendance might well be down in most churches, as folks spend time with family and head to the beach.

Certainly, I appreciate that it is important, crucial, to take time to reflect on the significance of Jesus' death.  He was crucified and died for the sins of the world. He was crucified and died for MY sin. But the Good News is Christ's Resurrection!  The tomb was empty! 

I celebrate the Risen Lord, the Coming King.
The video with the classic oration from Dr. S.M. Lockridge reminds me of all that Jesus is to me:

17 April 2011

How to Be a Poet

How to Be a Poet
by Wendall Berry

(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.


Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.


Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

Las Montañas

A week ago on a Saturday, we woke up early and took a road trip with folks from our church. I can't really say where we went, because I never really understood where we were. I know that we were near the beach, and then went into "las montañas." But even the people we were with, although they call it "las montañas," admit that we weren't really in the mountains.

Along the way, we stopped at a beach near Puntarenas and ate. The men fired up the grill, a hubcap rim on poles with fire built from sticks and leaves. How handy is that? The kids played along the shore until the dark sand was too hot to walk on barefoot. The adults huddled under the shade of the trees along the road. We had just enough change and not a colon more to pay for two of us to use a very clean bathroom, gracias a Dios!

The purpose of the trip was to celebrate and worship with another body of believers in the same association of churches. So we packed up after the picnic and kept on driving another couple of hours. This fellowship meets outside a home, under an outside roof and a tarp. It's a dry and dusty place, with beautiful bougainvillea in bursts of bloom along the road and cows grazing near a barbed wire fence.

That afternoon the air hung hot and mostly still. We worshipped under the glare and heat of the midday sun. The floor was dirt, fine and powdery covering our toes. A chicken skittered around our feet. The dogs next door lay lazy until after the service was over and the food came out. We sang praises with gusto. Our pastor preached grace and thanks. The kids swung their feet from benches and the adults stood up and moved to the back in order to avoid eyes falling heavy. The final “amen” was a loud one.

And then the ladies brought out food, arroz con cerdo and sweet te frío and pieces of cake. In that humble place, they fed us all and offered seconds. The kids ran around and taunted the pig out back and played the games that are universal. The men sat in groups and talked and the ladies sat in groups and talked and we all shared hugs and goodbyes, just as anyone leaving a church supper would do.

We piled into the microbus, sweaty and dirty and tired after a long day, but oh so full (& I'd say that even if we didn't have the promise of a stop for ice cream on the trip home...!)
I can't help but think of the first stanza of the hymn,

How sweet and awful is the place
with Christ within the doors,
while everlasting love displays
the choicest of her stores.

Sweet and full of awe, indeed.

More photos of the day are available in a Picasa album here.

two weeks pass...

I blink and I take a breath, just one it seems, and 2 weeks have passed by...

and suddenly, we are almost finished with classes;
and suddenly, we are just a week away from leaving this place that has been home for the last 8 months;
and suddenly, that which seemed so far away is right in front of us.

(insert deep breath.)

in those two weeks I took four exams,
and tried to understand the subjunctive tense,
and the pronoun se,
and how to say it all in a tongue that is not yet truly my own.

and in those two weeks,
I visited a coffee operation,
and shared worship with likeminded believers in a hot & dry yet very sweet place,
and searched for a home on the internet.

and in two more weeks,
is it possible?,
we will be somewhere entirely different,
new and yet home again?

on distance

how far,
from high desert of the Southwest to the ocean coasts of the continent to the plains of the Heartland to the tropics of Central America;
from no worship to traditional pews and stained glass windows to mismatched chairs on a cement floor and a rooster crowing out back;
from lazy to busy to tranquilo.

how far,
to that place we have yet to arrive;
to goodbyes and hellos;
to the mix of language and culture and tradition;
to learning yet again.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
Psalm 73:28

I just discovered Five Minute Friday, a challenge issued by The Gypsy Mama to write for 5 minutes, just to write whatever comes to mind, "to fingerpaint with words."  (isn't that a GREAT image?) 

Five minutes pass in a flash!

I think I'll be back...

a prayer for Palm Sunday

(from Scotty Smith, Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN)

A Prayer Celebrating the Glory of Palm Sunday

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. Zechariah 9:9-12

Lord Jesus, we’ll exhaust the wonder of this passage, as soon as we drink Niagara Falls dry; as soon as we memorize the names of every star you’ve launched into the heavens; as soon as we finish climbing every Alp in Switzerland, Italy, Germany and France.

On this Palm Sunday morning, we’re overwhelmed with your humility, sovereignty and your generosity. What other king would mount the lowly foal of a donkey to the conquer the warriors and war-horses of darkness? What other king could break the battle bow and the backbone of all warfare by his own brokenness on a cross?

What other king could replace the politics of tyranny with a dominion of peace? What other king would offer his life and death for the redemption and restoration of rebels, fools and idolaters, like us? What other king could possibly transform prisoners of sin, death and “waterless pits” into prisoners of hope?

Jesus, you are that king, none other can be found. Only you can make us eternal prisoners of living hope. Indeed, who is the king of glory? It is you, Lord Jesus, and only you. Who is the king of grace? It is you, Lord Jesus, and only you. Who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords? It is you, Lord Jesus, and only you.

We rejoice greatly today for you have come to us righteous and having salvation, and you’re coming again to finish making all things new. Fill our hearts this Holy Week with your presence. Overwhelm us with your love. May your cross and your crown continue to free us from all other imprisonments that we may live as prisoners of hope and agents of your redemption. So very Amen, we pray, in your glorious and grace-filled name.

(art credit: UNKNOWN; Illustrator of 'Speculum humanae salvationis', Germany (?), c. 1400-1500, from Museum Meermanno Westreenianum, The Hague)

02 April 2011

La Feria Saturday

La Feria Saturday

Warm sun, dusty path,
Underneath the tarps.

Wilted greens, striped zucchinis,
Bolsa of green beans.

Tomato red, radish bunches,
Cukes not close to cool.

Mangos, pineapples and
bananas not yet ripe.

The produce of the market
seems to come
more easily than
the fruit of the spirit
some days.

My friend Upsidedown Bee noted today that Poetic Asides from Writer’s Digest has started an April Poem-A-Day Challenge. Today's challenge was to write a "postcard poem"- Make it brief and communicate what it is like where you are. Also, make it personal.

Screen shots has a neat selection of free screen savers and calendars for the month of April.

It's kind of small to see, but the quote on the one I chose resonates soundly...

“Weak, feeble and foolish as it may seem to people, the simple story of the Cross is enough for all mankind in every part of the globe.”
- J.C. Ryle

and enough for me, too.