Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Heart is Ready!

I wrote this in 2010, and just found it:
I just realized that 20 years ago this week I met Susie Rumsfeld in Vienna, and we worked on a team together in full-time ministry.  One thing led to another, and what an adventure it has been!   Here we are still working together 20 years later!  Eugene Peterson wrote, “Jeremiah did not resolve to stick it out for twenty-three years, no matter what; he got up every morning with the sun.  The day was God’s day, not the people’s.  He didn’t get up to face rejection, he got up to meet with God.  He didn’t rise to put up with another round of mockery, he rose to be with his Lord.  That is the secret… not thinking with dread about the long road ahead but greeting the present moment, every present moment, with obedient delight, with expectant hope: “My heart is ready!” 
Psalm 108: 1-2
“I’m ready, God, so ready,
ready from head to toe. 
Ready to sing,
ready to raise a God-song,
‘Wake, soul!  Wake lute! 
Wake up you sleepyhead sun!”

How about You?  Is your heart ready?  Having a ready heart is a very different thing from what we may tend to think about being up to a task, being fully capable and self-sufficient.  Having a ready heart means having a broken heart.  Broken for the pain and suffering of others; broken by its own selfishness.  Only God can mend a broken heart and make it ready for "obedient delight and expectant hope".  Jesus' broken body on the cross is our only hope- the power in his weakness is the only way to obedience for weak creatures like us.
I am reading an amazing biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxes.  He points out how Hitler capitalized on humans' natural tendency to rely on their own strength.  Decrying the "meekness and flabbiness" of Christianity in private, Hitler publically tried to remake the humble, self-sacrificing Jesus into "our greatest Aryan hero", and then a few years later summarily replaced Jesus with...Himself!  The Superman (Ubermensch) leader of a "race of rulers".  "Lords of the earth" they called themselves, following Nietzsche.  Yikes.  Yet this reliance on strength and power was wildly popular.  Why?  The reasons are many, but one is our natural human inclination toward idolatry and pride.  "You will not die," said the snake in the Garden, "You will be like God".  We have been falling for that one from day 1, Hitler just did it big.
When is your heart ready?  When you know who you are and whose you are, then your heart is ready.  Two simple lines have always helped me remember.  Imagine a graph- an x axis and a y axis.    You and me and all people are on the horizontal x axis.  God is at the top of the infinitely high y axis.  (I realize there is no top to an infinite line, but He is God and that is the point.)  The absolute only way to understand your relationship to God is to look up, infinitely up.  God is "eternally other" (Karl Barth).  We cannot look to the side to see God as our co-pilot, fitting into our lives or our plans, that would be ludicrous.  Or patting God on the head and saying, "I'm going to throw you a bone and go to church, even give some money and help others".   No!  An infinitely high God can only be seen as the LORD of All, as the King who is owed all of our allegiance!  The scandal of Christianity is that the King came down and meets us in humility on our level, at the cross!  There is the real power, and never in our own self-reliance.  When we forget the cross, we may think we can climb up to God, to do enough on our own to deserve God's blessing, to manipulate God into rewarding us for our long climb.  Two ways to look at that, both with the same result: Each rung you climb on your own takes you further from the cross; or each rung you climb gets you closer to infinity (get it?  mathematically, you are never closer to infinity).
And because of Jesus' sacrifice, we are freed from our pride and covetousness.  On the x axis, we cannot look up or down at any other human being, but only straight across.  Then our hearts are ready to be used by the King.
Often we don't feel "up to the task" of ministry here in our neighborhood, but our hearts are ready, only because of the cross and the power in it.  For twenty years, God has demonstrated to us time and time again who we are and whose we are, and that makes all the difference.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Reading list for my Sabbatical May-July

Walter Brueggeman: Journey to the Common Good, and Prayers for Privileged People
Tim Keller: The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness
Keller and Carson: Gospel-Centered Ministry
Leslie Newbegin: Foolishness to the Greeks- The Gospel and Western Culture
Robert McAfee Brown: Unexpected News- Reading the Bible With Third World Eyes
Jimmy Buffett: A Pirate Looks At 50 (thanks Joe)
Richard Rohr: Falling Upward- A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
St. Augustine: The Confessions
James Baldwin: The Fire Next Time
St. Francis of Assisi: His Essential Wisdom
Shane Claiborne and Johnathon Wilson-Hartgrove: Becoming the Answer to our Prayers- Prayer for Ordinary Radicals
Richards and O'Brian: Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes
Brian McLaren: The Girl With the Dove Tattoo
Phillip Jenkins: The Next Christendom
The Didache: (1st-2nd century writings)

(read recently- amazing!)
Soong Chan Rah:The Next Evangelicalism 
N.T. Wright: How God Became King King and Simply Jesus
Perkins and Claiborne: Follow Me to Freedom
Shane Claiborne: The Irresistable Revolution and Red Letter Revolution (With Tony Campolo)

A few more books since then:  
Soong Chan Rah: Many Colors- Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church
Deitrich Bonhoeffer: Life Together
Mark Scandrette: Practicing the Way of Jesus- Life Together in the Kingdom of Love
Lisa Sharon Harper: Evangelical does not equal Republican... or Democrat
James Michener: Hawaii
Manny Ortiz: One New People- Models for Developing a multi-ethnic church
Tim Wise: (3 books) White Like Me; Color Blind; Dear White America
Howard Zinn:  A People's History of the United States
Jonathon Kozol: Amazing Grace
Alex Haley: Roots

Isabel Wilkerson: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

Rosalind Miles: Who Cooked the Last Supper?: The Woman's History of the World 
Jill Lepore: (3 Books)  The Story of America: Essays on Origins; New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in 18th Century Manhattan; The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle Over American History
Joseph Loconte: The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt
David Berlinski: The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions
Emmerson and Smith: Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
Randy Woodly: Embracing God's Passion for Ethnic Diversity
Robert Lupton: Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt those they Help (And How to Reverse It)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dear Friends of Living Stones,

I did not get a chance to share at the event because I was getting in costume- I wanted to thank you all for your warmth and generosity toward me and my family over the years.

Earl Marlink told the story of well-meaning strategists saying about Living Stones (Then Sacramento CRC) "It's in the wrong neighborhood."  Earl's emphatic "NO!" sent shivers up my spine as I got into my Pharisee costume in the adjoining office.  

That "NO!" rings out against the very loud voice of our culture of "common sense", pragmatism and addiction to comfort.  When Jesus said to the woman who anointed him, "Your sins are forgiven....go in peace", he was shouting "NO!" to the pompous influence-peddling of the self-righteous Pharisees and inviting them to a new way of living, a new clarity on the depth of their sin and the power of God's grace, and thus a new way of valuing others...and neighborhoods.

When God called me to Sacramento 12 years ago, it was with a clear mandate to love the neighborhood of Gardenland/Northgate, another "wrong" neighborhood for church planting, in many ways similar to this South Sacramento neighborhood.  So I went, with so many unanswered questions, and so very much naivete, with so few slam dunk church planting skills.  But I had a crystal clear call to be whoever God was shaping me to be in that place; that one, and no other, because God cares about those people too, those specific people in that place, and not just a certain minimum number one must have to make it work- "200 in 2 years or too bad for you"....

Let me tell you, the people of Living Stones, that when I walked into your building and met your people and yes, heard your music, 12 years ago, I knew the Holy Spirit was there.  I had never experienced anything quite like it, yet it felt like I was coming home.  And, get this- it inspired me!  When I met you all, I heard God say, "See, what I called you to do and to be, it can be done, and I chose you to lead it."

So Earl, Paul, and all the people of Living Stones, thank you!  Thank you for listening to that still small voice and shouting down the pragmatic strategists- Wrong neighborhood? "NO!"  

Go Well,
Pastor Dave Lindner

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Prayer for Gardenland/Northgate

This is a Prayer that Pastor Dave wrote and offered at Kacie Stratton's going away worship service after her many years as the founder and Executive Director of The GreenHouse in Gardenland/Northgate.

It is all about you, God.  Kacie said that if people looked at the GreenHouse and said, “What nice people, what great things they do,” we are missing the boat.  But if people look at what is happening here and say, “What a great God they serve!” then that will be really something. 

God you are showing your heart of love for all people by what you are doing at The GreenHouse.  This whole work is about your gifting of your people and your call on our lives.  You desire for all of your beloved children to turn to you in worship.  That is the vision that you gave Kacie and that we carry on. 

Kacie told me about a dream she had where the children and families of her neighborhood, my neighborhood, Gardenland/Northgate, were gathered together, raising our hands, raising our voices in many languages, praising you, our creator who made us all lovingly in your image, with beauty and talent that you want us to use to accomplish your purposes right here in this place we call home. 

You have called us to partner with you so that your will can be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  So that your will may be done on Northfiled and Northview, your will may be done in Ninos Park, on Northgate and El Camino, So that your will may be done at Smythe, and Strauch, and Rio Tierra, Dos Rios, Grant and all schools.  May your will be done in Del Paso Heights, North Sacramento, Natomas, North Highlands, Oak Park and all the neighborhoods of this great city.  And may your will be done in each of us, changing us so that we may be agents of change wherever it is that you send us.  Even Oakland.  

God gather us into communities of love and care where we can grow to know and enjoy you, where we can be real with each other, recognizing the pain and brokenness that pervades the beautiful world that you have made, the brokenness that touches us all equally and that requires a savior, a savior whose great love and mercy offers healing to each heart, each family, each neighborhood in the whole world- every inch belongs to you, our Lord.

In his name we pray: Jesus

Saturday, March 10, 2012

(My dear friend Gil Ramirez passed away in the fall of 2010, after losing his beloved wife Lucy a couple years earlier. I think of them often, especially when I am prayer-walking in or giving someone a tour of our beloved Gardenland/Northgate neighborhood. I wrote this in 2010, and it is appropriate for our call today!)

Gil's Song By Dave Lindner

Gil and Lucy Ramirez loved life! William Wallace from the Braveheart film,
famously said in his Scottish brogue, “Every man dies…not every many truly
lives!” Gil Ramirez lived! He lived life with his eyes, his heart, and his
hands wide open. His life calls us to do the same.

Gil’s eyes were open. He knew what was happening, and he called it like it
is. He and Lucy could sniff out injustice, and they were vocal when they
found it. They were fierce defenders of their beloved neighborhood and the
families of Gardenland/Northgate were their highest priority. They knew
that the world is not the way it is supposed to be, and they were not afraid
to enter into the pain all around them, acknowledge it, and then speak
through the brokenness about the deeper truth of Joy because of God’s
healing work! They both could be really angry at injustice, and right in
the middle of that, their joy shone through! This reminded me of the truth
and beauty of the Psalms, calling us to join the healing work of our King,
who hears our prayers. This is the Psalm I read to Gil last Sunday morning.
He said, “Amen” when I was done. Tuesday evening he was gone. I miss him.

Psalm 4

1 Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?

3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD will hear when I call to him.

4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.

5 Offer right sacrifices
and trust in the LORD.

6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.

7 You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.

8 I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.

Gil was the first person I met in Sacramento. He sat down with me when I
was finishing seminary and visiting the “Natomas” area as a possible place
to plant a new church. He excitedly told me about Gardenland/Northgate,
about the history, the diversity, the troubles, and the amazing families.
He said that they were feeling left behind by the powers that be; that the
energy and interest, the parks and the money, were skipping over the older
neighborhoods and going to North Natomas (along with many new churches). He described how the Gardenland/Northgate Neighborhood Association began when people started calling his old neighborhood part of “Natomas” though Gardenland/Northgate had been around for over 50 years already. He was all for unity, but he didn’t want his vintage homeplace to be absorbed and renamed by someone else. Gil told me that he was known as "Beto" as a kid, but that his name had been changed to "Gil" by an Anglo teacher who couldn't pronounce "Gilberto" en Espanol. Gil knew a lot about identity and dignity; He knew who he was and whose he was. He knew that the people in his forgotten neighborhood, indeed all people, have inherent dignity and resourcefulness because they are created in the image of God, not because of their money or education or political power. His favorite Psalm was Psalm 23, and indeed,
he knew that the Lord is his shepherd.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Lo, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Gil’s heart was open. God used Gil to call me and my family to
Gardenland/Northgate. Gil welcomed me and my call- he was eager to partner
with anyone who wanted to be a part of the neighborhood, and he was
impatient with “practical” considerations that moved people to “easier”
places. Lucy could be even more direct- “Where?” she asked me pointedly
when I told her I was starting a new church. Even though they were devoted
to their Catholic church, they wanted all the help they could get, even from
the new guy from the midwest. “Who cares about us, here? God does. Do
you?” They asked very clearly. I heard them. And they welcomed me. At
Gil’s funeral yesterday his son Paul shared what many considered the one
word best describing Gil’s heart- “Family”. It was heartbreaking to see the
pain of loss in Gil’s family at the graveside, to see his beloved 2 ½ year
old grandson and great-granddaughter putting flowers on the casket and
wondering how/why they couldn’t see Papi again. But they were also a
reminder of the future in which Gil was always investing, loving all the
families of Gardenland/Northgate. Gil had a way of inviting everyone into
his family, (typically giving Lucy all the credit) and I felt that
invitation. He really cared. When I brought him his favorite soup from the
524 Restaurant, he was very sick and did not have much of an appetite; it
was an effort for him to talk, but one of the few things he said to me was,
“How are Susie and the kids?” Gil’s heart had the aroma of Christ.

Gil’s hands were open. He could be stubborn and he could get really pissed
off and undiplomatic. But when it really came down to it, in the end, he
would work with anyone, and he held everything loosely. Gil was loyal and
focused, but never stingy- he Shared! He had no patience for allowing kids
to suffer because of adults’ territorial in-fighting. “What good is winning
longtime feuds and gaining territory when kids’ lives are at stake?” he
would say to me. “Let’s work together!” His call resounds to us throughout
Gardenland/Northgate and every neighborhood today. What do you say? I say
“Let’s do it for Gil, and even more, for the One who made him!”

Yes, Gil knew who he was, and whose he was! The Bible says that now we see dimly, “as in a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face!” Gil is
with Jesus, and now he sees face to face! Let’s honor Gil by putting our
hope in the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep. Let’s open
our eyes, hearts, and hands. Let’s see the brokenness all around us and
care enough to get to work, so that “His Kingdom may come, on earth as it is
in heaven.”

I miss Gil terribly. I didn’t really weep until now as I finish writing
this. God open my eyes, my heart, my hands. God help my life to inspire
others to do the same. How about you, friend? Will you join me?

Go Well,


Monday, November 14, 2011

Ralph is Dancing at Last

Our dear friend Ralph Grisham died peacefully in his sleep last week.
He was suffering from many ailments related to his spina bifida, but about a month ago he was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
He is now living large, up out of that infernal wheelchair, dancing and laughing with sheer delight with the Lord of all life.

I am sad I did not get to say goodbye to him. I am sad because I am sure I would have said many more things differently in the last weeks of his life had I known time was so short… Ralph had a lot of needs. You could say he was needy. In fact, Ralph could make you think of Bill Murry’s character in the movie “What About Bob”. “Please, please please, I need I need I need, gimme gimme, gimme, please?” Ralph was not usually shy about making his needs known. Maybe you are like me in this- I wonder if we did enough, if I did enough. When I heard the news last night, I did what comes naturally to me- I thought of myself. I cried to God, “I did all I could- the best I could do! How could I have done any more to love him?” The beautiful, bitter sweet truth is that I could have done more…I could have loved him better. Can’t we always? Of course, because our model is Jesus. We are to be like Him, so we will always, always have lots of room for improvement. This is comforting, because Jesus calls us to a high standard, something big to reach for- loving others as he loves us. And we can never reach that, so we have absolutely everything for which to strive and absolutely nothing to regret, both at the same time. And that goes for everything we do and everyone we love. There is so much pain and heartache around, the real shame would be to never see it, feel it, enter into it with each other. It would be easier not to, I think. I hurt more since I came to know and love Ralph. That hurt is a gift from God. Why choose to hurt more?

Because Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him, he calls us to enter into others’ pain. Mother Teresa, and those who still follow Jesus as she taught them, spend everything they have, all their resources, talent, energy, on behalf of the poorest of the poor, the sickest of the sick, those who have days, hours or even minutes to live on the streets of Calcutta. Is it worth it? Or is it a waste of time? What if they get to the dying person in time for him to have some significant change of heart? In time for him to whisper confessions? In time to whisper to him, “Jesus loves you”? What if they get there a minute later, after his spirit has gone? Then is all their effort wasted? Of course not. The worth of that love has nothing at all to do with any response from the loved.

So it is with our calling. Everybody hurts, and everybody is dying. In 5 minutes or 50 years… The common moment is right now. Right now. How open are you to love others in the name of Jesus right now? To share their pain right now? What if right now is the only chance you have? What will you say? How will you love? Will you expect/demand a response? What if, while you are formulating your question, the targeted spirit slips away? You missed your moment to love without condition, to touch without reservation, to heal without payment, to give without thanks.

I think about the many moments I had with Ralph. Moments to laugh, moments to give grace, moments to say “I’m sorry”, moments to speak hard truth, moments to quietly care, moments to cajole and encourage, moments of impatience and moments of waiting… I had all of those with Ralph and many more… Yellilng “Bravo” and “Brave” at the SF Opera… Accidentally dumping him out of his wheelchair when I hit a lip in the pavement… Eating lots of things in lots of places with someone who really enjoyed good food…

Ralph was a fighter. I know, because he fought with everyone at one time or another, including me…while I was preaching. Ralph was a true extrovert- he got energy from being with people, and he craved it so much. I am sure sometimes he picked fights just so he could talk to someone. Ralph was profoundly lonely. And yet he could entertain himself… for hours…days. He got to know and be known by a lot of people, a lot of hospital staffs, a lot of churches… He lived courageously with constant pain, emotional, physical and spiritual. In his last painful year, he had been moving away from our church community, and I prayed that he would find what his restless soul was seeking. Well, he has.

He now knows. He knows what it is to be loved unconditionally, the way he always craved to be loved. He knew in part, but now he knows in full, how incredibly beautiful and loved he is. Like all of us, he believed some lies that hurt him. He believed he had to measure up to some religious standard, to earn his way into God’s good graces; he berated himself for not measuring up (don’t we all?) and he prided himself for attaining a partly imagined maturity (don’t we all?). I know that he started to see through some of these lies, and the religiosity that had him in chains was losing its power over him. He felt the love of his friends and he soaked in the gospel of God’s grace, and his mask of religious performance began to slip.

He began to awaken to the truth of the Gospel- that he was broken beyond his ability to fix, and loved beyond all his imagination, and he didn’t need to earn it. He didn’t come easily. He fought against the Gospel. (Don’t we all?) His default mode (and ours) was to compare himself to others and to argue for his rank.

He wanted so desperately to belong. To be valued. He told me he wanted to be co-pastor with me, and he would jump in and share his thoughts in the middle of my sermon, between naps… He made sure his voice was heard during singing, with or without a microphone… He wanted to lead small groups that he had rarely if ever visited… He would shove his oar in and share his strong opinion on anyone’s personal relationships or business whenever he felt like it, but he could also be extremely sensitive and insightful. Sometimes, he just knew things… you know what I mean..

Ralph was gifted. God spoke to him and used him to bless and encourage others. Ralph used his gifts well and not so well. Sometimes he believed the lie that his gifts were what made him valuable, rather than the giver, and so he at times displayed his gifts to get recognition and approval (Don’t we all?).

I know above all that is what Ralph would want for all of his friends and family to know, deep in their souls, that you, all of you, are loved by a God who made you, who knows you inside and out, who cares so much that he died so you could live, really live! Ralph was most alive when he was communing with his savior, Jesus, and praying for others to do that too. Right now Ralph is with his Jesus. Maybe they are playing hopscotch, or cooking. Ralph finally fully belongs.

My prayer is that we can all come to embrace the gospel truth that Ralph now knows perfectly- the only approval we need comes from God, apart from any action of ours, due only to Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. As we embrace that truth, God looks at us and sees the perfection of Jesus, who lived the life we should have and saved us by dying the death we deserved. So we can add nothing at all to his approval of us. We are perfectly and forever accepted because of Jesus, the one dancing with Ralph at this moment. Someday we will join the dance- won’t that be something?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We're All In The Same Boat

One of the things I am known for saying is, "We are all in the same boat". What I mean by that is that the great love of God extends to all equally- The Gospel of grace shines the light of truth on everyone's sinfulness and need for a savior, (not a life-coach who gives us a hand when needed- Jesus is my co-pilot? No, he's the plane!) And we are all equally and dearly loved, so much that Jesus died for us.

The boat story below has to do with our vision and calling at Bridge of Life. This past year has been full of the stuff of life- that is, joy and pain, difficulty, triumph, loss and struggle. Our Bridge of Life family has experienced loss through moving, misunderstanding, crises, death, miscarriage and mental illness. The loneliness has been palpable as dear friends have slipped away.

When I say we are all in the same boat, it may at times have sounded like we were packed uncomfortably into a smelly old (beige) leaky creaky rowboat with one oar. Ignoring the stench and the leaks, we flounder about in rough seas, attempting to row towards drowning individuals who keep popping up in different directions, sometimes simultaneously, crying for help, hungry and cold; we reach them and drag them into our boat, give them our only warm soup and our last sleeping bag, and as soon as they slurp up the last of the soup they frickin’ jump overboard again, dragging our sleeping bag with them, and they flounder off without a thank you; then we see someone else floundering and go after them, ignoring the new leak we have sprung in our haste to rescue this new victim, wondering why the going is so slow as we begin to sink… Has it seemed like that? Well that's not it!

How about this instead- We are all hands on deck on a beautifully hand-crafted sailboat. The maker of this boat knows us and the waters well, and he has given us a clear destination and a manual with guidelines for how to work the boat. We have deliberately and obediently left the shelter of the bay and we are in uncharted choppy waters; some of our deck hands are green. Others are turning green. The wind is strong and sure, and we have had some trouble catching it. We have tried different sail angles and combinations of rudder tiller mainsail jib and boom. Sometimes we are luffing, sometimes running pell-mell and maybe a bit off course, but we have flirted with that good line, where we are heeled over to just about the right degree and our sails are full. We know where we are called to go and we have instructions for how to work together on the boat. We have to remind each other of the destination and we have discussions about the best way to get there- at times we neglect the manual about how to work together- at times we distrust the boatmaker, thinking we can rig the sails better than how they were designed. When we go back to the book, we see our folly, adjust the jib and the wind fills our sails again.

The boatmaker knows us, the waters, and our course so well. He has instructed us to schedule times of rest and listening on deck. He sings truth to us- he sings the Song softly on the wind, so softly we can only hear him when we stop all our efforts and listen. The more we listen the more we recognize his voice and the more we can hear the Song clearly. We can hear him sing about the brokenness of the world and the wholeness only he offers. His Song leads us to lost souls that he puts in our path; he instructs us to care for them and invite them aboard, so we do. They look familiar, and we remember when we were invited on board, the hunger and cold we still feel at times. So we give them soup and sleeping bags and invite them to join our quest, explaining that the journey itself is an important part of our destination and that we can trust the boat because the boatmaker is trustworthy, and he made everything, including us. Some of them join us joyfully and begin hearing the song, reading the book and learning the ropes; some down the soup, grab what they can and jump overboard. We are often sad to see them go, but we have extra soup and sleeping bags, even if they swim back into our course again later. Sometimes they swim away crying for us to follow, that they need more soup and sleeping bags, and only we can help… It’s tempting, because we like the feeling of helping others, but we know that theirs is not the voice we are following, and we know the Singer is their only hope. So we quiet our hearts, listen to the Song of that still small voice and stay on course, mourning for those lost souls, welcoming their return, but staying on course.

The seas are rough, and the boat is difficult to maintain. It takes a lot out of us- we get sick, and tired, and sickandtired. Sometimes we wonder if the boat is off course, if it is being steered expertly enough by the captain and crew, we wonder about that other boat in those other seas…is it calmer there? Is that sighing the boatmaker’s song, or the wind and waves?

We read in the manual about rest and nutrition for the crew, and we are determined to prioritize the care and feeding of our co-laborers. Our needs are different- some need more food or more training, but we all need each other, and we all need the song and the book. We get discouraged and feel like we need more partners who have read the book, who have heard the Song, who have strong backs and arms and who know our destination and have been called on the quest…. The book tells us how to sing back, tells us even the Song is a dialogue that can change…so let’s sing, together, to the boatmaker, the wind and the wavemaker, the great Singer whose persistent voice calls us on…. Will you join us?