Monthly Archives: December 2012

Tragedy and the tensions that surround

For good reason, most people who write in some sort of public forum are sharing some aspect of their response to the horrors of last Friday.  We live an hour from Newtown, so it is close enough where we feel greater affinity and a greater helplessness as there is little we can do to care for those too far to call neighbors and to close to call strangers.  So I’ve been listening, thinking, and trying to interact with God. And as I’ve reflected there are some tensions that keep coming to the surface…

1.  Motive:  There is a powerful tension between explanation and absurdity.  Why did Adam Lanza do this?  His childhood?  His genetics?  His isolation?  He was “troubled.”  He was “sick.”  What do these mean?  Was he sick like someone who catches a cold, like someone who is predisposed to heart trouble, or like someone overcome by addiction?  What terms do we even use to describe him.  Can we understand why he acted with such calculated violence?  We want to be able to explain it, to make sense out of his actions.  Because if you explain it, then maybe you can prevent it.  Maybe you can see the warning signs of the coming tsunami and evacuate the low lying areas.   If we can explain his motive then maybe some measure of safety, of sanity, of control returns.  While pieces of the “motive” will become clearer, I know that at my worst and best moments I can’t full explain myself.  Why did I…?  I don’t know.  There is a mystery to human behavior.  At our worst, our actions are absurd, beyond rational explanation.  If we could ask Adam, before he took his own life, the reason for his actions, would he have an answer?

2.  Violence: In our society violence and entertainment are intertwined.  We go to action movies, play video games, cheer fights in the NHL, and have a growing interest in MMA.  I’m not coming down on any one of these activities, but it is significant that the way we relax and let our guard down is often in the presence of violence.  Yet, when it comes to actual violence, we crusade against bullying, protest human rights violations domestically and abroad, and prioritize the lives of civilians in war sones.  Do you see the tension in which we both desire and abhor violence  We can’t watch TV or go to the movies without it, but can’t stand it’s presence in the lives of real people.

3.  Gun “CONTROL:” As time passes, the shock wears off, and people consider moving forward, the tension between freedom and security will be explored as politicians debate the proper regulation of firearms.  The debate about gun control is deeply tied to different understandings of freedom and security.

there’s more, but it’s too late…

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The world is spinning

We’re always rotating at an incredible speed, hurtling through space.  Around the sun, as a system, as a galaxy, there is always movement.  And right now I feel completely in sync with our restless universe.  A lot has happened in the past week and we’ll give a fuller picture in our upcoming December newsletter, but here is the abbreviated version:
Saturday – our housing in RI falls through due to external circumstances.  This throws our weekly preschool trips to RI and our anticipated move up in the air.
Monday – I’m laid off from landscaping
Monday/Tuesday – another housing opportunity through the church arrises
Tuesday/Wednesday – due to fundraising progress (79% of the total with sufficient cash in the bank) and my layoff from landscaping the possibility arrises that I could start my work at Trinity January 1.
Saturday – the leadership at Trinity confirms that I can begin January 1.
Sunday – planning with Hillary and we’re hoping to move Dec 31
Monday – we start packing up the house, one child comes down with a major fever, the other struggles to sleep due to teething
Tuesday – due to sickness, our plans change and I drive to RI to drop off a few things at Wesley’s preschool, check out a potential housing situation, and then head to Boston for a monthly meeting with other church planters.

In Summary: We are super excited to have the green light and begin the work in Providence, but feel a little bewildered as a lot has happened quickly.  We’re trying to figure out where we should now in RI and how to orchestrate a move in the next twenty days, seven of which we are gone… In the midst of all this our best strategy is to surrender to God’s plans for us.  This doesn’t mean checking out, but some mix of planning, hopeful resignation, and hard work.  We’ll see how it goes!

Just looking at the spinning image of the gyroscope and thinking about the fairly stable center, it reminds me of a portion from Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.                Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.


A whispered goodbye

The text message pink slip

The text message pink slip

With the landscaping season winding down, work has been a little sporadic.  So this morning I’m not expecting to go in, but figure I’ll be in for tomorrow.  Then a little after 7 I hear from my boss and it looks like it is layoff time.  So in the course of fifteen minutes the next few weeks radically change.  It’s not that I was expecting to work a lot of hours, but having it disappear suddenly is a little strange.  There’s no “last day” with the co-workers or friendly send off.  And it’s not just me.  What I’m experiencing is basically what happened last year.  All of a sudden you wouldn’t see someone at work for a few days and then you’d check in on the phone, only to find out they’d be laid off.  My guess is that the industry runs this way because so many people cycle through.  Either there isn’t a relational connection or there is the expectation of being back next season.  Neither of these is true for me though.  I’ll miss the guys I work with, my role in the company, and the work (all of these to varying degrees).  This is the beginning of the end for a difficult but good season of life and I feel like I’m slipping out the back door when no one is looking.  I’ll need to think some more before I know what to make of it.


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