Game Socks

A long time ago and far away, I learned to appreciate game socks. We would practice football in old stiff socks that had been washed in strong detergent and bleach at least a hundred times, but come game day our equipment manager would bring out the “game socks.” They were soft and flexible and when you would put them on you felt like you could conquer the world.

I bet each of you have an item of clothing in your closet that gives you a special feeling. It might be a lucky golf shirt, an old jersey, or that perfect black dress that fits just right.
Laugh at this you may, but when you put on the “armor of light” or wrap yourself in God’s comfort by doing exactly like you know God wants you to be doing and acting, you are overcome with a special feeling — just like putting on game socks.
As you meditate today bring to mind those moments when you wore God’s armor and played the game of life the way he wants you to play. What’s keeping you from putting on your “game socks” again?

Bible

Suzy’s grandmother lived to be over one hundred years old. Many years ago, we attended her funeral and it stuck with me when the Lutheran minister gave the eulogy that he said he had gone through her Bible and rather than being pure and pristine it was full of notes and prayers. Maybe it struck me because I lived in an era when I was told it was a sin to write anything in the Bible, and to drop it in the dirt was an affront to God. Then again, I was probably being told that because I was young man who tended to dirty any clean clothes I owned and a crayon or pencil in my hands was a destructive weapon on walls and books. Before we moved to Charlotte, Suzy got her grandmother’s Bible along with the Bible’s of her other Aunts and Uncle. And the minister was absolutely correct. It is a treasure trove of prayers, sayings, marking of passages, and provides a window into who the owner was. For example Grandma Danny used to say “Patience is a Virtue,” and sure enough pasted to a page is a cartoon from a 1930’s Look Magazine that depicts a Monk on a donkey cart with a bumper sticker saying “Patience is a virtue.”

 
I bother you with all this background to give you an opportunity to meditate on your own heritage and family. Most of us are not so lucky as Suzy. We don’t have a Bible full of quotes and notes that can trigger memories and provide insight into a woman who lived in an earthen hut on the prairie at the turn of nineteenth century. But we all have memories and it is worthwhile in these days of going faster and faster to spend a few good quiet moments reflecting on those who shaped us into who we are today. I’ll leave you with the first piece of paper that fell out of Danny’s Bible when I took off the rubber bands that hold it together.
 
“To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”  — Amiel.

Joy In The Morning

My daughter Kelley visited last weekend, and if you want to see the definition of joy just tell one of Caroline’s kids that their “Aunt Silly” is coming and watch them light up. I know Kelley’s other nieces and nephews feel the same way, just as my children feel about their Aunt Terry. We should all have a special Aunt or Uncle in our lives that makes our hearts leap for joy when his/her name is mentioned.

Sometimes we take life way too seriously. Catherine of Siena said “the way to heaven is heaven.” That way is paved with joy and music. While Kelley was here, we went up to the mountains. Kelley was in the front seat as Suzy drove, and she insisted on controlling the radio going back and forth between the oldies of the 60’s and 70’s on satellite radio. For Suzy and Kelley this curvy mountain trip reminded them of the times when they would come visit me while I was in prison — 3 hours away from DC in the West Virginia mountains. That path wasn’t easy for either of them —  the coming or the going away after the visit. Yet, they remember to this day the music they listened to and sang along with, the pie shops and fruit stands they would stop at, and the magnificence of Cumberland Gap. They found joy as they endured the many months of visits and separation from me.
I don’t think their singing oldies, reading roadside markers, and gathering fresh vegetables and fruit was a conscious act of escape from their pain. It was just part of their nature to sing and be joyful no matter how difficult the circumstances. They made their journey to my Hell and back — heaven. I also wouldn’t be surprised if those trips didn’t give Kelley the strength she has and needs to help the young children she sees daily in the most difficult circumstances.
When we meditate this week consider what brings you joy and seek it out — not only during the good times but during the tough times. Remember now matter what you are going through, “Joy always comes in the morning.”

Passionate Prayer

It is said, and from experience I have learned, that our most passionate prayers are spoken under duress. We find deep and meaningful conversations occurring with God in foxholes, inside prisons, and in hospitals. We don’t seek out these places, in fact we try to avoid them as much as possible, but when we find ourselves there it is not unusual to turn our prayerful attention into an outpouring of heart. Church is usually is a comfortable and safe place to be, and so it is difficult to pour out the same emotions as we would in those places where we fear for our lives.

On this Monday, ask your self how do I bring passion to my conversations with God from my quiet place or comfortable chair. How do we let go of those thoughts they lay deeply inside?