Tuesday, February 16, 2010


“He stilled the storm to a whisper and quieted the waves of the sea. Then they were glad because of the calm, and he brought them to the harbor they were bound for.”
—Psalm 107:29-30

There is something about a storm that wants to shout—the loudness of the crashing waves, of thunder, cracks of lightning, and the whipping wind thrashing everyday objects into projectiles. And maybe because of this loudness or maybe because of the panic of being unsafe, you can hardly hear yourself think to know what to do, to know the way ahead. And then…

“He stilled the storm to a whisper and quieted the waves of the sea.” And then all is quiet again and silent. And you can hear your thoughts and hear the whisper and then you know it will somehow be okay.

“Then they were glad because of the calm.” They were glad for the quiet, glad for predictability and safety, glad for the little everyday things like a cup of tea or a hot bath or sitting quietly on the couch talking to one who loves you. They were glad because of these things, glad because they realized they could be taken from you and because they had them back again.

“And he brought them to the harbor they were bound for.” And the end of all the chaos of the storm is being brought to the place you were supposed to be all along. What I would give in the midst of the storm for one glimpse of that harbor I am bound for, that we are all of us bound for, far away on the other side of all this wind and rain.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


“Do not worry about tomorrow … each day has enough trouble of its own.”
—Matthew 6:34

“Today in your hearing this scripture is fulfilled.”
—Luke 4:21
There is something about working among the poor that puts the words above into a vivid context. People are missing some of the most basic necessities—food, shelter, safety. And these needs are urgent. I have talked to people who need bread today—not tomorrow, not in a little while. Right now. Today. So we open up the freezer at my place of work and send them away with a loaf.

In some ways, it is a luxury to have the space to worry about what might happen tomorrow or the day after that or the day after that. You have confidence that enough of the basic necessities will be met today to allow you to reflect on other needs down the road—a sense of purpose, meaningful relationships, being valued in community, healing and wholeness for the soul and the body. Yet having the luxury to think about tomorrow does not make it any easier to survive today.

These other needs are just a different kind of bread for which our souls may be starving. The call here is to be present in today, whatever we are missing. In these words from Luke, Jesus speaks in this kind of immediacy with his announcement of hope: “Today in your hearing this scripture is fulfilled.” Not tomorrow, not in some distant far-off future, but today. Right now.

It is easy to mark off the ways I am fortunate (I have a freezer full of bread). It is harder to admit the ways I fall short of the hope in these words. I worry about tomorrow. I fail to fulfill the promise of this “today” for those who are in dire need of bread of all kinds. And yet I hope that the one who announced these words of promise will keep announcing them to the places in my heart where things are missing, keep announcing them through all who extend a hand to those in need, keep announcing them to all of us who sometimes find it hard to be here, in this moment, today.