Flight Risk

July 9, 2018, 6:30 a.m. Indianapolis airport... I sit in a cafe sipping mediocre coffee to cap off a $20 breakfast. It’s a price I’m willing to pay for the peace of mind to be at the gate several hours early to collect myself. December, 1983 to Kansas City... I become jazzed for Jesus at a New Year's Eve prayer party sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ. I return and discover all my possessions had been taken from my apartment. I spend the night at a local IHOP, witnessing to the waitress. For a tip, I leave two quarters and a tract, all I have left to give. March, 1988 to Boston... I visit a woman I met on a mission farm in Georgia. I spend the days reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the nights belittling her for being an upper-class liberal. October, 1992 to San Francisco... I travel [...]

Flight Risk 2018-07-10T21:29:30+00:00

The Cost of Freedom

I went to a fast food restaurant for dinner the other night. The guy ahead of me had just come home from Afghanistan. He was buying dinner for his son and himself. The total came to over $20. He didn’t have enough. They said they would give him a 10% military discount. Still not enough. He started deducting his order until he could afford it. Sad. Then I saw a man who had heard this haggling hand him $100 bill and say, “Thanks for your service.” The soldier teared up and said, “You don’t know how much this means to me.” The man smiled and said, “You don’t know how much what you do means to me.” I posted this story on Facebook and it has gotten nearly 100 likes and 10 shares. It shows that people really want to care about those who wage war in defense of our [...]

The Cost of Freedom 2018-07-01T21:18:07+00:00

The Exuberant Life

It is a curious request to make of God. Shield your joyous ones, asks the Anglican prayer: Shield your joyous ones.  ~ Kay Redfield Jamison, Exuberance: The Passion for Life. I stayed up reading poetry one night.* And the next day. And into the next night. And the following day. A poetry marathon. And the more I read the more enthused I became. Each poem put a longing in me to read the next. I felt so alive. My skin tingled. Pathways to my brain that had been blocked for almost 25 years were cleared. A lightning bug floated in the air around me, dancing with the illumined sparks on the screen that spoke inspired words to me. The next day a friend asked me, "Are you manic?" Maybe, I thought. Or maybe I'm just excited. Enthused. On fire with life. Staying up all night, and the next day, can [...]

The Exuberant Life 2018-06-28T01:28:42+00:00

John Prine: From Mailman to Americana Icon

Last Friday I went to a John Prine concert at the Louisville Palace with my friend Les Rust (see "A Character in the Making").  My history with Prine goes back to a PBS documentary on him I saw in December, 1982. Les goes back further. He saw John in a Louisianna dive not much bigger than the Skyline Diner where we had our pre-concert meal. Prine is now 72. He has survived two bouts of oral cancer. His voice sounds more like the grinding gears of semi than a virtuoso. But his lyrics speak God-given redemption to the human condition. John took his young son to one of his concerts and asked him what he thought. It's okay Dad, but it's not real. Not like baseball. That's real. I  beg to differ with a Prine heir, but let me tell you. His music is real. A whole genre of musicians look [...]

John Prine: From Mailman to Americana Icon 2018-06-13T21:50:48+00:00

A Faithful Response to Suicide

I am a man of faith who has attempted suicide. As such, I feel a unique responsibility to share my story. I want to stress that this is my own story. Not the story of Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Robin Williams. Or the countless others who don't make the news. Still, maybe my story will contribute to a better understanding of how someone like me could choose death over life. First, my own story. In high school, I was a star athlete and a stellar student. I gave a speech at my high school graduation and shared a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson called, "Richard Cory." It begins: Whenever Richard Cory went down town, We people on the pavement looked at him: He was a gentleman from sole to crown, Clean favored, and imperially slim. And ends... So on we worked, and waited for the light, And went without the [...]

A Faithful Response to Suicide 2018-06-11T19:53:29+00:00

The Relationship Between Religion and Mental Illness by Psychosis Recoverer Peter McDonnell

We are all lucky enough to have a brain.  Some are grounded, shaped by experiences of regularity that don’t feel the need to explore anything spiritually interesting or indeed supernatural.  Some people would rather search that kind of thing out. My brain is geared toward the latter, but I have learned that an element of conventionality and being in step with the ordinary world is no less than a necessity.  Kind of like Agent Mulder from ‘The X Files’ who has his sceptical partner, Agent Scully keeping him grounded and ready to consider the more scientific answers to some of this wonderful life’s questions.   One of the biggest questions in this life is ‘Is there a God?’  My instinct tells me that yes there is, undoubtedly, based on my observations and experiences, and what I feel in my heart.  Then my more rational side prods me and says ‘hold [...]

The Relationship Between Religion and Mental Illness by Psychosis Recoverer Peter McDonnell 2018-06-05T21:35:57+00:00

Heritage from the Lord; Fruit of the Womb

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,     the fruit of the womb a reward.  (Psalm 127:3) After worship today we had a luncheon recognizing Nursery volunteers. Our coordinator shared Psalm 127:3 and noted how important children are in the life of the faith family. She called the names of those who are serving in nursery care. It was quite impressive to hear of the many women, men, and teens devoting their time to see that the youngest among us are cared for in Christ. This day also happens to be my grandson's second birthday. I don't see him often, but each time I do he is a delight. Unlike his older sister who has the vocabulary of an Oxford grad, he is the daredevil in the family. All boy, as they say. We were playing on their jungle gym and I noticed when he got to the bottom of the slide [...]

Heritage from the Lord; Fruit of the Womb 2018-06-03T20:26:14+00:00

A Close Encounter with a Combative Commentator

Some time ago my dad had his 8th vascular surgery in 6 years. I wrote this in my journal that day... The surgeon said it went as well as could be expected.  Dad is now awake and responsive. There is a palpable sense of peace permeating the air in this expansive waiting area. I'm here with other close family members,. We are sitting in solitary solidarity. All is well. All was not well two months prior the last time dad had surgery. We were shoehorned into a cubbyhole with what seemed like hoards of masses of thousands of other families. and clans and troops. Fox News was blaring over the airways. One man in camo jacket, tube socks and scuffed penny loafers did the commentary: On International Affairs: "Who cares if he has personal relations with the Russians? I say keep your friends close and your enemies closer." On Health [...]

A Close Encounter with a Combative Commentator 2018-05-13T23:42:10+00:00

Joy in the High, Peace in the Low, and Love In-Between

It has been a long and winding week. I have traveled over 1500 miles. Eaten a Magic Mushroom Panini at a Beatles-inspired cafe. Spent way too much money on luxury hotels. Played Yahtzee with my son and dominoes with my daughter. Received a generous portion of hugs from a little girl and little boy who have won my heart. Learned why a ram wears a belt with a crayon hanging down. Any guesses? Overall, it has been perhaps the most fantastic, glorious, delightful week of my life. So what's next? I know myself well enough to know I can't keep the pace up. The higher I climb, the lower I fall. I have experienced this far too often such that I have come to expect it as a norm. But what if I have a new norm? What if I can experience highs and then level off to a peaceful [...]

Joy in the High, Peace in the Low, and Love In-Between 2018-05-09T19:30:55+00:00

I Ain’t Got No Home

{This post was originally posted on May 20, 2017} Lately, I have felt an all-too familiar sense of exile. As a pastor, I moved around a good bit and was encouraged by my ministry supervisors not to put down roots. Now that I'm retired, divorced, and living on my own, it is easy to given in to the temptation to withdraw, to isolate myself, which leads to a vicious depressive cycle from which it's hard to escape. While it does not replace face-to-face contact, I appreciate the community I  have come to know through social media. Often, I read posts that give voice to my unexpressed feelings and help me feel less alone. The post "My Father's House,"  from Mama's Musings is a reflection on how mortality impacts our desire to "come home." Today has been a long and emotion filled day. I have spent time with two people close [...]

I Ain’t Got No Home 2018-05-09T18:31:24+00:00