Monday, June 14, 2010

Don't Be Afraid

Never fear the grace of love to lead us aright along the byways and highways of life.

Love opens doors, and at first, like a child frightened of a stranger, an open door frightens us … for it’s a big world out there on the other side of the door, and it’s full of strange languages and cultures and people and needs … and most of all, filled with God.

Love always leads us to God in the strange and wonderful places of life.

And sometimes even dangerous places. We don’t live in a fairy-tale world; Jesus said to us, “Take up your cross.” But in the cross, we find Jesus; in the cross, we find grace; in the cross, we find the meaning and purpose of our life.

Love can be trusted.

Jesus trusted the Father’s love all the way to the cross. Yet even Jesus was afraid and questioned the faithfulness of God: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The open door frightened him, too.

But in the end, “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” In the end, God!

Jesus invites us to trust love and to walk through the open doors God sets before us – doorways that lead to engagement and service and sacrifice and love upon love, as we look around and discover God in front of us, behind us, beside us, above us, beneath us, and within us.

For there is nothing in all of this world, or the world to come, that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our LORD.

Sometimes I’m afraid of love.

Afraid of the commitment it requires, the changes it evokes and the challenges it offers.

But in commitment, in the changes wrought by the Spirit, and the challenges of faith, we discover communion with God.

Let us then, without fear, love God with every fiber of our being, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves … for therein, everything that counts is realized and fulfilled.

Indeed, a great love is our pathway through the open doors to wholeness and peace.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Life and Death

From our Youth Director, Deondra Morris ... a thoughtful, powerful, piece - about death and life, with her permission.


Today has been an interesting day. Interesting because when I woke up this morning only one thing was on my agenda... 8am meeting, and then entire day to live life. That's it. no planning, just whatever, whenever, and with whomever I pleased. To find adventure, to live life to the fullest. Isn't that what we all subconciously ask for? I even posted my non-plans on my fb feed this morning, but oh how circumstances change you, and it's strange to me how those circumstances doesn't even necessarily have to pertain to you as an individual. One very prodominate charateristic I possess is I have a heart for people. I love the "unlovable" as they so often seem to call themselves. I'm drawn to these people and that feeling rushed over me as if I were drowning in it this morning.

This morning, while at the Santa Monica Pier, I watched a man draw his last breath. Little did I know that the seat I chose would provide me with a perfect view of the entire scene. I watched as the rescue squad performed CPR on his lifeless body, as they moved him from the truck onto the ground and his arms and legs fell limp. I watched as the ambulance pulled up with the gurney, but drove away empty, no sirens. I watched as they covered his body with an orange tarp and the police officers, forensics and resuce team spoke about the incident. These images being jolted into my mind shot me to a place far from where I actually was. This man was dead. He didn't get to have a life adventure today. He didn't have any family or friends around. Did he have any family or friends? Did he have anyone in his life that he knew loved him or that they knew he loved them? What were his last thoughts? Did he die alone? Did he have plans for the day? Did he have hopes and dreams unfulfilled? These are questions that I will never know the answer to.

My day has continued. I had a wonderful lunch with a friend, I walked the Promanade and listened to a young boy play his guitar, I felt the cool ocean wind, I talked with my mom, dad, and sister, I came home to great roommates and a cozy apartment... all of these things I take for granted was noticed today. and for what? Because a man died?... well, yes. My answer to my own question made me realize something - death isn't ever in vain. It effects people. I've been effected over and over by death and each time I take away something different. My first encounter was my Mimi - and one of the last conversations we had she and I were laying on the bed and she told me to "Live each day as if it mattered, because it does. No matter what we're going through, how bad it is or if things are sailing smoothly - just live." We often times get so caught up in the details of life, we forget how amazing the rain sounds or how the sun feels or the beauty of a flower. We forget to tell and show people that we love them. We shut the ones we need the most out of our lives because we can't bare to smile in the face of adversity, instead we shelter in the things/people that allow us to continue hiding. We become fake. And yes, I do say "we".

People ask me over and over, "why are you so happy?" "How can you deal with this?"... and this is the reason: I am never promised tomorrow, so why worry about it. Yes, we have the anticipation that tomorrow is going to be there, even next week, next month, next year. But what about today? Did I breathe? Did I smile and laugh? Did I tell someone how amazing they are and they are loved? That's what fulfills my day - and my life. I never know when I'm going to draw my last breath and I dont' want my last breath to be one of pain, suffering, doubt, confusion, hurt, selfishness, and pride. I want it to be one of happiness, love, contintment, fulfillment and confirmation. Through my life I want to love people - love the "unlovable", live life and take others on adventures, and when my time comes, through my death, I want to inspire people to live life to have that effect on the people around them.

I had an encounter with a man today, whom I have never met, never exchanged a smile or a greeting, nor even knew his name, but he effected me.