Tag Archives: celebration

from the heart of my bottom


A mess is made whenever people get together.

Always.

And I’m amazed how others, but mostly myself, still pretend that any time people get together it will not be a mess, among all the other beautiful and stunning things that it always is as well, of course.

But beyond that mess, ever present and reliable, is something deeper and a little more true. Beyond the inevitable mess made when people get together is a promise that people stay together, in one way or another, in the mess of it all. And sometimes staying together means staying physically housed together. Sometimes it means continuing to work together.

And sometimes it means taking the pieces of each other that, as much as we thought or intended or assumed would do otherwise, still stick to us and move into new worlds and new places and new possibilities with those sticky pieces of where we come from and what we are made of.

It’s bound to us in the same way our family name is bound to us and the heritage of our story and trial and DNA are bound to us. Like it or leave it, this is where we have come from, and this is who we are.

This morning, I had the chance to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the church I was raised in. And while time has passed and circumstances have moved faster than passing time, I was struck by the celebration of the organist who has played at that church for the last fifty years. He was playing the organ for the church when my parents met, when they were married, when I was born, when I chose to commit to the faith, when I graduated, and when it was time for me to move on.

His service is marked by a long-time faithfulness to the ins and outs of the messiness of people and groups of people just as much as his long-time faithfulness to the celebration of all that is good and true in a congregation. And today, as he marched up the platform stairs with his cane to receive a gift of appreciation for his fifty-year service, I was caught emotionally off guard. His walk up the stairs reminded me of the value of the mess, and the occasional times of not-messiness, that happen when people get together, and what it can mean to see things through.

But moreso, it reminded me of the goodness of looking back, half a century later, and seeing that the work continues, and the call continues, and the kingdom still comes. Mess and no mess. God works through his people toward kingdom come on earth as in heaven.

So to Bobby, from the heart of my bottom as he would say, thanks for your longtime service, and for the reminder that the world goes not well, but the kingdom comes.

djordan
Pine Tree

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

from the archives | a time for everything

 

In reflecting on the upcoming one-year anniversary of mosthopeful.com on August 23, I’m throwing some of the posts that readers have looked at the most back into the mix. Thanks for allowing me the space. It’s been a most humbling experience. This post is especially important to me, as it was a moment of honoring the pain and struggle of the year before, and then celebrating––in advance––what waited in the year ahead.

There were conversations that evening about how we would learn from the ridiculous pains and struggles of the year, and move toward the kingdom with new insight, and new scars, into the future.

A few weeks after that party (talked about below), I was sitting with in Stellenbosch with some of my favorite people in all the world, and I began talking with a friend from London, living and working in Cape Town, about how victories and happy memories are honored with parties thrown and anniversaries given, but the painful experiences and struggles are only valued once we come up with “reasons” for why they happened.

She mentioned, feet in the chilly water at a campsite in Stellenbosch, that we ought honor the painful landmarks in our history as well as the ones we naturally celebrate. The party thrown at the beginning of this year was an opportunity to celebrate and to mourn what had been, and to look with great expectation toward the future, knowing that God is working through his people in his world toward the kingdom.

So, another top-viewed post from the archives…

+++

View the original post and comments from January 8, 2012

 

a time for everything

 

It is with great joy that I enter 2012.

2011 was filled with pain, loss, struggle, sadness, anxiety, and anger.

The year overall was one of seeing the best of circumstances end up as the worst of possible outcomes.

And yet through each season and struggle, there has been tearful laughter, growing community, deeper honesty, brave introspection, and tenuous hope.

And it all feels a little closer to the truth. A little closer to telling the truth.

To others.

To myself.

To the part of all of us that tries to close our eyes to what we know the painful truth is sometimes.

There are times when everything in me wants to arrange my circumstances in ways that hope for the best; those same times, if I were being honest with myself and those around me, I would instead be anticipating the worst. Before this year, I think I’ve tried to push everything, no matter the truth, into a single season.

As if allowing ONLY a season for birth, and then trying to translate death into birth in order to make sense of it.

As if allowing ONLY a season for building, and then trying to add on to things that needed only to be torn all the way down.

As if allowing ONLY a season for embracing, and then awkwardly trying to embrace when I should have refrained from doing so.

As if allowing ONLY a season for speaking out, and then trying to explain why I couldn’t be silent if I had wanted to.

The pain of 2011 has made important room for fall and winter. There is a need and space for dying, for tearing down, for refraining from embrace, for remaining silent. A season for these things.

And in the spaces made from telling the truth about our winters, spring comes on the heels. The ground is made soft, the legs become limber, the imagination becomes ready, and things begin to take root, people begin to dance and build again.

And so here’s to the new year, filled with possibilities for both celebration and mourning. Life and death. Dancing and weeping. Building and tearing down.

And an insistence on the holiness of both––on telling the truth about both–to ourselves and others.

For everything there is season.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

to dad on father’s day

All in this year, Dad hit sixty years old, resigns in a few weeks from practicing law for the last thirty years, and starts a (semi) new career as professor. It’s all of these things together that remind me again how much I have to celebrate about my pops.

I’ve only known Dad’s career as that of a lawyer. When I was born, he was just beginning the practice after going back to law school at the age of thirty after running the “Card Shop” which was the old Greg’s Hallmark in the mall. The decision he made thirty years ago changed the life that my brother and I both led in multiple ways, none of which were difficult.

Day after day I work with people who have lost their fathers, hated their fathers, been abused by their fathers, been left by their fathers, been distanced from their fathers, or been tormented by the lives of their fathers. The ways that these choices bleed into self-image, confidence, disposition, and relationships are undeniable.

Also undeniable are the ways that a father’s ambitions and goals influence the steps and thoughts of his children. Pursuit of power, ambition, wealth, status, image, often are found successful, but leave a great wake of cost in the lives of those trailing behind in either diapers or adolescent pimples.

And so, this year for Father’s Day, I celebrate the fact that I have no sad stories to tell about my dad, and I thank him––and Mom––for it.

I remember as a child of about five or six, Dad dressed up as a judge, Jamey as an attorney, and my split roles as both sheriff and son (costume being only that of removing the cowboy hat). We put Mom on trial for Mother’s Day with the crime that of “Being a good mother.” She was convicted, and sentenced to Mother’s Day cake and hugs by her boys.

Dad taught us great respect of what women, working or not, and mothers, and grandmothers stood for, accomplished, offered to their businesses and homes, and ultimately of how much they were worth. I never saw him demean, belittle, roll his eyes, or even yell at Mom. They disagreed, as they should, but even their disagreements modeled ways of respect, patience and kindness.

Thanks, Dad.

I remember only two major arguments with Dad over the years; both were in late adolescence. And while the subject matter isn’t important, the far that the arguments were about things that mattered greatly is. I don’t remember petty disagreements. I don’t remember my point of view or disagreement being met with anything but ongoing questions and pushing of insight. I do, however remember apologies. I don’t remember what the arguments were about, but I remember, and my brother says the same, that Dad would always, always, apologize when he thought he had been unfair or unkind. It was commonplace after a small argument to hear a gentle knock on the door followed by a soft, “come in.”

Dad taught us that the strength of a man is not in stubbornness, arrogance, strength, ambition, or “not letting them see you sweat.” We were taught, by example more than words, that strength is found in humility, truth-telling, apology, integrity and gentleness.

Thanks, Dad.

I remember Dad saying to “think of your education as a way of life, not something to finish to get to life.” I also remember him saying, “Don’t choose a job where you work for the weekends.” I’ve heard of him changing careers once for this reason, and now at sixty, he does it again. His excitement for entering this new field, and the seriousness with which he is taking it on, and the courage to make a move thirty years later have not gone unnoticed my either my brother or me.

Dad taught us to value learning, trying, becoming and doing. He offered us stability and safety so that we could try anything. He took up guitar in his fifties because he saw a sixteen year old girl playing at a Clapton festival. The regular images I remember of Dad playing air guitar behind the couch have turned into Dad playing an actual guitar, and his example now of entering a brave new world have not gone unnoticed.

Thanks, Dad.

I can’t hit all the things…we were taught to value experiences and people over things. We were taught that generosity is the only appropriate response to wealth and possessions. We were taught that the world is bigger than our circle of friends, and so our circle of friends should be broadened to include the world. We were taught that new ideas were reason for great excitement and careful discernment, not fear and stoning. We were taught that to be a man was to honor all women, stand up for other men, live generously, choose carefully, and act thoughtfully.

As a child, I must admit, I was bothered by how different my parents were. How we didn’t make decisions and spend money and value things like many others did.

As a young adult, I couldn’t be more grateful. The more I learn about what it means to seek first the kingdom, and to live in kingdom ways, I’ve had no better example, and I now have no excuse.

Thanks, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

djordan
Pine Tree

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,