Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wisdom of Stability

My friend, Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, has written a new book and it is about being grounded. We went to seminary together and I learned as much from him as I did from my greatest professors at Duke. I can't wait to read it, but I already know some of how it will work. It will lack glamour and glitz. It will be about investing in the small plot where you currently reside. It will be about taking that sense of restlessness that so many of us have, so many of us should have, and not running away from it, but turning it towards something simple that is right at arm's reach. Here is a great article about Jonathan and the book and a way to get a copy.

N&O Article

How to Purchase

I turned over our compost pile with the help of my two year old this morning. I took a picture yesterday of five blue bird eggs that grow in our backyard. I felt stable. Simple things like these make me hesitate to leave Durham, North Carolina. All one has to do is get in the car or get off a plane to be able to imagine greener pastures, but more of us belong where we are.

I imagine a church someday that I will pastor, where regularly I look out at the faces of squirminess and restlessness and I will say, "Did you know, that God has you right where you belong, right now. You are not supposed to be any other place than right here. Rest and Rejoice."

Looking Back

I had cause to look back at the beginnings of this project, At Water's Edge. I've crested two years of inconsistent writing at this site. Nobody much is reading, but that's okay. At the least, I am putting stuff out there and every once in a while some folk responds back and I feel like my words matter to more than just me. Plus, I know that most of what I read on paper and online, I don't respond to, so who knows, maybe folks are reading. Whatever.

I was doing a little self-flogging yesterday in awe of a friend who churns out book after book. He is such a great writer, far better than I could ever be, and that's not modesty, but just the honest truth. And I was feeling sorry for myself that I have not published, but who cares. I will someday if I have something good enough to say. For now, I am just happy to have the time to write. And I don't feel so bad, there are 71 going on 72 posts to this blog. That's something. Other folks jot that down in three months, but I'm not other folks. I'm me. And that's good enough for today.

As I was looking back at those first posts, I was remembering how turbulent life was two Lents ago. I was preparing for ordination to the ministry in Christ's church. I was scared out of my mind. I did not know what it would mean for me. I still don't know. I am as much a wanderer as Abraham. That line is straight out of a recommendation letter written on my behalf by the man who helped marry me, the Rev. R.E. Owens. And he was right then and I'm right now. But I can deal with a comparison to Abraham. He wandered, all over the place, but faithfully to the end. I don't have a church, which I wish I did. I'm working on that. I have, however, since ordination married a few couples and been proud to do so. Whether in retail or on an airplane I am humbly proud to say that I am a Baptist minister if the conversation turns that direction. I am always intrigued by people's reaction. All kinds of reactions. Where is your church?...Oh, that's nice...Really, well I'm a Christian too. You must come visit our church. The truth is I really enjoy every response. It's always a little surprise and I am surprisingly not anxious about others reactions. The only bother on the subject of late is a few close friends who have taken to calling me rabbi. I find it insulting to Jews and insulting to me, because that is not what I am. I guess they are somehow confused or uncomfortable around me. I'm not sure, but I wish they would quit calling me rabbi. It's really not appropriate and in no way funny. I would guess these two have never been to synagogue or else they would hold Jewish priests in higher regard. I'd be proud to be a rabbi if that were what God had laid out for me, but I am Christian minister, and a Baptist one at that. Some will water things down and say, well, isn't it really all the same. No, it's not. No disrespect, because a rabbi and a pastor would know exactly what I mean. It's not the same and we don't help one another by watering it down.

What jokes do you tell or names do you call that seem harmless but might need some analysis? For the rest of Lent, I'm going to examine the jokes I make with friends and acquaintances. I feel sure that some are more hurtful than I realize and I can expunge such habits if I pay attention.

Lord Jesus, you draw us into the shadow of your cross. By your blood you set us free. Help us to walk with you in your hour of blood and sweat and pain. We seek to be with you in these final days of Lent, and empowered by your Spirit. Show us the Way.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Turn Your Face

My mother's book, Turn Your Face, is available for purchase online. Everyone should go and buy it right now. It is an amazing read.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm leading The NO BULL 8K Training Program offered through Bull City Running Company! In another way, it is the All Bull program because we will be running in our beloved Bull City, Durham, North Carolina.

Kick off date is Thursday, April 8 at 6:00pm. Group runs will be offered on Tuesdays at 7:00am and Thursdays at 6:00pm. This 9-week clinic is geared towards runners who have been comfortably and consistently running and are trying to improve fitness, add a little speed, and learn new training and injury prevention techniques. On several of the Thursday night sessions local experts will cover topics including strength training, yoga, and chiropractic techniques. Cost is $100 which includes the 9-week clinic, entry fee to the Running of the Bulls 8K on June 5, and a synthetic running hat. To register, please stop by the store or email with any questions at:

Most runs will start and finish from the Bull City Running store at South Point Crossing shopping center, but we will will venture out to some other fun locations. I hope you will consider this clinic as a way to jump start your Spring and Summer season of fitness, running, cycling, triathlons, or curling. Okay, I know nothing about curling, but I can help you with all the rest.

What's Calling You Now?

My alma mater, Furman University is offering a retreat for alumni over a long weekend at the end of July 2010. Looks like a great opportunity and I wanted an excuse to post this beautiful picture.

We should all be asking the question daily, what is calling me now? Seems like such a big question, but it can start rather simply. What song is tugging at your for a click on your iPod? Where do you get your news? Whom do you count among your friends? Your enemies? Start small and God will pull you into the bigger vocational, familial, geographical sorts of directions.

Someone from the Midwest was complaining that Durham's roads are the worst he'd ever seen. No road leads to where he thought it would or should. It's all twisty and windy around here. Our city planners don't seem to get the concept of "grid." I like that it takes a lot of time here to learn one's way. It takes patience and humility. One needs some time on task before knowing where to go and how to get to the destination. There is rarely one way to get there. How are you being called to get where you are going?