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A simple phrase, first you make a fire. There is a story about the title, since my effort and intention is ultimately about telling stories I will, at some time, share the story of "First you make a fire". It does seem that this simple statement is related directly to beginning something, after all, the word first identifies itself as the head of the line somehow or a first act of some kind. But when I decided to use this term as a title, it took on a different context in relationship to the ideas and thoughts that were swarming through my mind, more paradoxical than thematic. It is probably appropriate at this point for an admission, not of guilt, although certainly at times I might have carried some related to writing, but an admission of procrastination and self-doubt. Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a nagging feeling, or a gentle breeze, suggesting that you should do something but just hadn't found the time; read as courage; or answers to any of the other excuses you, I, might make to keep from doing something that might be a bit too much of a revelation about the reality of our own life or even our own character. If not, look again, if so then I hope you are encouraged to begin what ever that thing is.
I hope a reader will see how they approach life with an acceptance of 'this as normal', Typical as a way in which we all go about life and make decisions, identify priorities and set about the business of our regular daily participation in life. The heroics, the hesitations, the every day life being lived experience that each of us goes through. So it is that in some ways this might be about people or persons, my goal though is for it to be about more than seeking to answer a question about choices such as; have we really learned that the priorities of today have an exponential affect on life tomorrow, next year, next decade or possibly even more importantly on the lives of others. I am sure we would quickly say yes, of course that is why we struggle and work and plan and get back up from a fall. My hope is for new courage, there is a different lens which I encourage us to consider looking through and challenge us to embrace what it might reveal and then ask this question; is there a time in our life journey when we need to change the rules we embrace, the rules which determine or set our life priorities. If we are to truly live the fullness of life promised to us in Scripture does it take a change at sometime in the way we set about seeing, living and setting these priorities. My own determination is that the answer is yes, yes we must enter a new orientation of value and purpose to realize what the mystery holds for each of us as joy. Since I have no academic credentials or training to embark on such a task I go forward believing that clues to the answer might be revealed through stories, after all Jesus constantly told stories. All of our stories are, I think, more important than we realize, especially when or if we are willing to look at them through the lens of mystery. A mystery that reveals the foundation of what we believe. A mystery that requires we go forward in a new way, that we break away from what we have worked so hard to accomplish. Could be good, could be bad, who knows.
There is an old story about a rural farmer who one day goes to his barn only to discover that his prized horse is missing. Soon after this discovery a neighbor walks by and upon hearing of the disappearance of the horse the neighbor says "that's bad". The farmer replies; could be bad, could be good, who knows. After a few days the farmer discovers that his prized horse has returned. In addition he finds that along with the prized horse are other horses, and once again, the neighbor passing by witnesses the events and offers to the farmer. "That's good". The farmer in reply says; could be good, could be bad, who knows. Some time later, while training one of the new horses, the farmer's son falls off the horse and breaks his arm. Once again when the neighbor happens by he hears of the accident and says to the farmer. "That's bad". Once again the farmer answers; could be bad, could be good, who knows. Another time passes and a conscription detail for the Army passed through the village looking for new recruits, as part of their work they were inducting all the healthy young men into the military. Upon hearing of the farmers son having a broken arm they reject him and leave him to be in the village. Could be good, could be bad. Who knows.
Quite frankly, as I look at what it might mean or require of me or what might be accomplish or not, or what the outcome of this adventure in writing might produce, I keep coming back to the simple fact that you really can't judge the outcome based upon your knowledge of the experience. History defines the outcome of the experience it is this ongoing reality of experience or experiences of those who in some way see, hear or read or touch the story being told that determines value of purpose. And so it is within this 'certainty of uncertainty' that I find any potential value of purpose to make this journey.
In his book Falling Upward, Father Richard Rohr talks about the second half of life. It may not be half it may be a third or quarter or a 10th or 90%, but this statement relates a second half of life lived more spiritually including a willingness to submit to spirituality as a life directive as opposed to this directive coming to us in relation to familiar issues of everyday life. It is about the opposing forces involved between listening and following the Abrahamic call to Go; to leave the comfort of the known; to risk the difficulties inherent in lack of control. Contrasting that lens then with our first half of life focus on our everyday assent which allows priority to the internal awareness and determination to construct the secure, the necessary and logical structure one lives from. Rohr suggests we do the first part very well and struggle with the second half but fullness is lived through both. The writings I am embarking on relate, in my opinion, directly to the greater Kingdom potential of both. I will not go into Ftr. Rohr's views. You can read them for yourself. I highly recommend his book if you want to delve into Christian theology that supports his basic premise. For me it is now time to go, to take the first step; could be good, could be bad, who knows.
I have read a lot of different authors on a lot of different topics. I have associated with persons who have written and one whom I consider one of the best friends I've ever had was an author. I previously have not taken seriously the idea that through writing a thought that I might have would be used through the eternal purpose in some way I am totally unable to see. Maybe it was my friend's encouragement that lit the ember, though maybe not yet a fire, that made me begin to think that this might be something that I should do. I cannot remember who it might have been that first suggested that I write, but I can think of four or five persons in a past period of years who have told me that I needed to write. Interestingly and probably a major factor in my embarking is that this encouragement has also recently come from three different sources none of which know or know of any of the others. This is quite typical of my "second half" journey. It might be cliche but it is said concerning the words of Jesus; if He says it three times follow. I assure you real value is not because I may be particularly skilled at this or practiced. Rather it most likely will be because in all my sometimes conflicting wanderings I have experienced both the blindness introduced into life in pursuit of self and the amazing light appearing at times when the ears hear and the feet follow the voice of the Unknown One. So there it is, the call, the challenge, the purpose; tell the stories.
Stories then are the purpose and the message itself demanding, in a way, that your attention is directed away from any person and on to or towards the stories themselves and even beyond that to the greater view that I would suggest points towards the fact that we are all part of a bigger picture, on a bigger stage. If you will, under the direction of the unknown mystery, dedicated to participation out of compassion. A mystery that has purpose greater than we can think or imagine and a compassion which includes an acknowledgement that the main ingredient for the joy promised is a heart of compassion and a willingness to extend that compassion beyond any personal circle of control and understanding.
So it is that I returned to the blog, hopefully, to begin the process of documenting those things that have compiled to be life. Tell the stories. I am not sure what you would call this sharing through words, but rather than a 'tutorial' or a 'how to' or even an attempt of explanation of some deeper understanding (although that may be an outcome), in my mind it is about the stories. The stories are meshed in the journey of one who is probably an icon of stumbling and falling, suffering lack of direction, poor judgment and misguided decisions, a journey which is probably more common than a life lived without any of these. It is the thread of the stories that point to a clue of truth within the mystery, stories which sometimes are connected and sometimes not, a thread that we can sense rather than see, nevertheless it is there and the stories are important, the stories are important because revelations captured within the stories are the real evidence of greater hope.