Hello U2areloved friends.  It’s been a while.  Been off-blog for a while, but will post very soon because I’ve missed writing here! 

     Right now I can’t contain myself.  I really am dreaming with tears in my eyes as I’ve been waiting (how long?) for so long now for a new U2 album.

    Many of you know that my U2areloved blogs are often inspired by the music and lyrics of U2.  Other times, they are inspired by my Christian faith.  It’s kind of where my faith and my passion for music merge with my desire to create through writing and photography. 

     I tease my son sometimes that “U2 follows me everywhere I go.”  Case in point, this week:  Twice he asked if I could change the radio from the talk radio station I often listen to, to the pop music station he likes.  “Fine,” I relented.  It’s a good thing.  A beautiful thing actually.  BOTH TIMES (2 out of 2) U2 was playing.  “With or Without You” a few days ago, and “Where the Streets Have No Name.”   Good decision, I told my son.  A slight cringe from him, because he knows I’m right–they tend to follow me (elevators, bathrooms, movie theater lobby music, grocery stores, Irish restaurants (ok, no surprise there).  Maybe I’m just hyper aware.  But maybe it’s more?

    It’s that strange bond, we U2 fans and friends have with the band and each other.  Sometimes you just think of someone, and well…..they seem to pop up in a message, a song, a thought. 

     It’s what we U2 fanboys and fangirls get:  We are all connected.  Love is the better way.  Music can do a whole lot more than entertain us; it can teach us, it can inspire us to change the world and change ourselves.  Bono has said he’s not sure if he believes that music can change the world, but I beg to differ.  Their music inspires people to write, to paint, to cry, to smile, to remember, and so much more, but above all to love.  That’s a change I can live with.

      And now, U2 is sending all their fans, including the ones they haven’t met yet a free gift (thru 10/13/14).  On the house!  That’s right.  Price is zip, zero, nada!  ENJOY!   So go to I-TUNES now and download U2’s new  free album!  It may not only the biggest give-away of all time, but perhaps the best.

       U2.  They’re BACK!!!!!  

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/sep/09/u2-releases-new-album-for-free-on-itunes/

 

You are lovedToday is Easter. For Christians, we believe today is the day that Jesus rose from the dead three days after he was crucified on a cross. It’s a pretty powerful thing to believe–to take something so incredulous on faith, and just completely run with it.

People who don’t believe it give us a hard time about it. That’s okay. We believe Jesus rose for them too.   But what does it all mean? Why all the brouhaha at Easter?

Even people who don’t believe know the bare bones story about Jesus:   He was born of a virgin birth in a manger near some animals.   He was an amazing kid, upsetting the status quo of the religious elite and calling them out on their hypocrisy, performing a bunch of miracles along the way, and gaining a substantial following long before social media existed. Then he died on the cross as atonement for our sins, and rose on the third day. Why would anyone take such a story from history and make it one of the defining moments of their life?

Some people who don’t want to acknowledge that they are less than perfect (sinless) or most likely, people admit they are flawed, but don’t really need a savior, they can figure things out for themselves. Okay, fine. More than likely, some will hit a wall when something unspeakable, unplanned, unimaginable happens – either catastrophic or miraculous. The miracles we can easily dismiss if we have little or no faith (the ocean keeps rolling in, the sun keeps shining, someone at death’s door suddenly is healed. We either don’t see it for the miracle that it is, or chalk it up to good luck. The catastrophic? Not so much. We want to know why. This is when we really wish we could just believe.

The thing about belief is, that is FAITH in someone, cannot be quantified by mere scientific reasoning alone. Just as you can’t prove you’ll live happily ever after the day you say I do, you’ll waste hours trying to convince others that Jesus is for real, God is for real, heaven is for real, the resurrection for real—all of it, it’s all for real, and it’s all good!

There’s a reason why you can’t prove it: The very anchor of our faith is hope!   It is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is simply a choosing to believe in something you can never prove. You cannot prove this to a skeptic, any more than you can prove the solidness of your relationships or the depth of the universe, etc.

So here’s why it defines us, and all the brouhaha that Christians make over Easter: Celebrating Easter means we acknowledge that Christ indeed is risen. He conquered death for us. Not just our physical death, but every death we experience. See there’s more than one way to die.

We die to our earthly life when we leave here to spend face time with Jesus. But while we are still here, we get to choose to die a little every day. We get to choose to die when we surrender a hard habit that enslaves us, surrender a bad relationship that entangles us, lay down a grudge that confounds us, or take risks that astonish even us when taken for the right reasons. We die to arrogance and awaken to wisdom. We die to tragedy and awaken to acceptance and hope. We die to poverty in our own life, and awaken to sharing with others. We die to despair and depression and awaken to joy because we choose to live.

We are a risen people. It’s not always easy. It’s a moment-by-moment, thought-by-thought, circumstance-by-circumstance choice. It is the prism thru which we filter every event of our life and reflect light and color and beauty.  We are far from perfect. We know we never will master everything we wish we could. But we strive for the same goal: To cross the finish line with our soul intact, dignity, and a hope that doesn’t waver.

We are not granted this peace, this grace, this hope or even that which we most wish for by a magic fairy that simply waves her wand. We choose to believe it.

It is in Christ and faith in God; we truly do move and have our being. We experience. We hope. We grieve. We move forward. And we love.   With this love, we find meaning and purpose in our lives. We love because He first loved us. And in so doing, we live. Both here and for eternity.

That is the reason we celebrate Easter. Because He first loved us, we are given grace to love more fully. Because He died for us, we have the strength to die to the things we need to. Because He lived before us and now lives with in us, we are free to live.

Rise up. Be the change you wish to see in the world!

 

One day you will look…back
And you’ll see…where
You were held…how
By this love…while
You could stand…there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling

U2 “Mysterious Ways”

ALMA antennas under the Milky Way

  • Have you ever wondered if God is real?
  • Have you ever wondered if your prayers are heard?
  • Have you ever wondered if your dreams, your hopes, your deepest longings really will come true?
  • Have you ever begged to be spared from a certain suffering, but then you weren’t?
  • Did you ever have moments or days or seasons in your life that were totally beyond your control?

Chances are, if you’re human, you can most likely answer YES to the above questions.

Life can be so beautiful. It’s full of amazing moments: The birth of our children. The day we made eternal promises and said “I do” and “Forever”. The day we accomplished something so amazing, we surprised even ourselves. The day we looked out to the horizon and cried because what we saw was simply beyond words; it was indescribably beautiful. You wanted to just freeze time and stay in this place forever. And that’s always when the first stab of pain hits you. Because you know you simply can’t. Nothing here lasts forever.

When I was a child, I thought like a child. Kind of like Margaret of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret”. I had the same prepubescent worries as she did. Will I ever even need a bra? Will I eventually become a woman in every way? Will a boy even like me….ever?  Does God exist or care about me?   Like Margaret, I wondered where is God more likely to hang? A synagogue? A cathedral?  A mountain top? At the beach?

But those thoughts passed, as did those days. As a child, you can’t even see yourself as a grown up, when you don’t have to feel so awkward or get your feelings hurt so much. We were young. We were naive. We didn’t yet know what we do now: Those were the best days.

Life would get more complicated, time would march forward whether we were ready or not, for what was headed our way. We were still at the beginning of our journey. We still had more hurt to go.

Sometimes parents divorced. Sometimes they died.   Friends moved away.   We outlived our favorite pets. First boyfriends or girlfriends finally arrived on the scene. But they quickly departed too, taking the first of many bites to come out of our vulnerable hearts. Sometimes we moved away or our friends did. Some friends died inexplicably young. In less than a decade we transitioned from girls and boys to women and men. By the time we turned our tassel, we realized some truths:

  • Life isn’t always fair.
  • The hard work of our lives isn’t over just because we graduated, it was merely beginning.
  • I’m not sure if I’m ready to be who I’m supposed to be.

We continued to learn more. We worked. We said I do and we had babies—babies who grew from toddlers to little kids to teenagers to adults almost as fast as one of those rotating doors in a hotel lobby.   From band-aids on boo- boos to full blown medical emergencies where lives are on the line, the days passed. From seeing many dreams realized and some crashed—all these things happened too.

We went to countless weddings, family barbecues and gatherings, and funerals. Two thirds of them were fun and full of promise. The other third, the funerals, many of which were beautiful, never got easier. They only got more frequent. That too made our hearts heavy. We knew where this is all headed.

Which brings me to the point we all ponder in life, especially in times of crisis? Are you there God? It’s me. It’s you. It’s all of us as humanity, but it’s each of us individually and we want to know are you there? Are you aware of me, in this moment?

It’s the question people struggle with at their core, until they finally decide to choose. Even if you make no choice as to what or whom you believe in, you have made a choice, if only to stay grounded in ambiguity, unsureness, maybe even anxiety and insecurity.

Don’t get me wrong. Believers struggle too. But deep down they know. It’s the essence of faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the being certain of that which we do not see.

Faith is truly a tightrope walk. It’s just like life—trying to find balance and not lose your head, especially when you are way out there, fairly far from the gravity of comfort zone, security, familiarity, easy street.   And yet you know, there is a safety net below. Should you fall, you’ll be caught before hitting bottom. It just doesn’t look like it. Or feel like it. You have to get your head and heart in alignment with a thing called trust.

God is like that. He is real. He is here. He is there. He is everywhere.   He sent his Son Jesus to catch us like a safety net, even when we’re way up(or out) there!

Each of us are so precious to him. He knows when we hurt, or fall, are sick, are weak, or when we lose, or succumb, or waver, or any other weakness as defined by us. But He knows differently; something we often can’t wrap our head around: His love is perfected in our weakness. We just have to be the willing Captain of the vessel called Self that will allow him to travel with us, in us, and pass through us in order to change our destination, and thus destiny by simply saying, not my will, but yours.

Jesus said in this world, we’re going to have some troubles and he was by no means exaggerating! But he also said to take heart, for he has overcome the world.   Every time I hear that, I rejoice a little more inside. I reclaim the parts of my heart that which is unfair or unbearable or unexplainable tries to conquer. The truth gets etched a little deeper each time. Because it frees me:

  • From having to have all the answers.
  • From being responsible for fixing that which I don’t have the power to do.
  • From focusing on why (the unfair/hard/unexplainable) of pain, and instead focus on the who I can trust with all this (God/Jesus).

We are not invisible to God. And although the universe is a fairly big place (science can’t even agree on where/if it ends and how long it’s been around), we are by no means small. We are not insignificant in God’s eyes.

We can look from the most powerful telescope billions of light years away and all we see are dots. But God can look across space and time and see us, every bit of us—our tears and our dreams-and all He can see are stars. We are His star, the crown jewel, the masterpiece of His creation.   Whether we are searching outward as far as our eye can see, or inward, as deep as our heart can bare, our heart beats strongest when we choose to simply be still and know He is there.

 

God is so big, He is real, and is involved in the details of our lives.   Verses (promises) that inspired this story:  Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Corinthians 13:11 John 16:33, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 46:10

Books I’d recommend to anyone who is searching:Purpose Driven Life

Search for Significance

0 MA 370Photo Credit: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

The mystery of missing flight Malaysian Airlines 370 only intensifies with each passing day.  How can 239 souls simply vanish?  As the investigation has changed from finding a fallen aircraft to searching for evil intent that commandeered this aircraft and where did they all go, the agony of not knowing is surely some of the most unimaginable pain someone could ever know.

I can’t even fathom the pain these families are enduring as they have surely been “all over the map” emotionally, logistically, and probably spiritually.  How does one keep faith and hope alive in an ever-changing crisis?

You simply get up and go on, trusting God in every breathe, moment, and step.  Sometimes you don’t even know you have faith or hope, until you look back and you realize that’s all you had or you wouldn’t be here now.

I have never experienced the depth of unknown that these families have, but the few intensely difficult, extremely painful circumstances I have had to endure, all in relatively short order, has both tested and strengthened my faith.

These are the questions we wrestle with whenever the intensely painful unknown occurs:

Why did this happen?

Did I do something to cause this?  Did I deserve this?

Could I (or others) have prevented this?

Where is God in all this?  Is He even aware I can not deal with this for one more minute, even more so, one more day? 

And yet you do.  You will.    Though time stops in your world, the rest of the world keeps on moving forward.

And everything in life is divided into two chapters:

BEFORE and AFTER

You know the moment this occurs, from here until the end of your life, everything else will be referenced by assigning whether it happened before or after.  I don’t know why.  It’s just the way the mind works.

I’ve read the posts.  I’ve seen the news.  I’ve heard every speculation imaginable, as have you.  But this is what my heart knows:

THERE ARE 239 LOST SOULS ON BOARD

My heart hurts because we struggle when we cannot know what only God knows.

It also hurts because each of these souls are so very precious to not only their families, but to God.

My heart hurts because I’ve walked the solitary path of unfathomable grief that only the bravest wish to hear.

My heart hurts because I know what it means to have to wake up with unknowing.

My heart hurts because I know life is brief; and despite our best executed plans, our dreams of how we wish our future to be can’t be guaranteed.

My heart hurts because I’ve known through harsh experiences, what it means to cry out to God to save someone, please just SAVE THEM.  It may be their life; it may be their soul.

Sometimes God seems silent.  I’ve learned not to mistake God’s silence for God’s absence.

We are not in control; we settle for a certain comfort in thinking we are.

Certainly, our soul hungers to know that those we love are okay.  Especially when we are suddenly severed from someone we love.  Like phantom limb pain, our hearts throbs with longing and memory and beats to the rhythm of hope, no matter how slim.  Wherever we are, we feel as if we are held hostage to both yesterday and tomorrow, barely enduring today.

Every time you hear or read a story, remember that talk is cheap and media can dull our mind if we don’t hear properly: that is to say with intention, not just attention.   The investigators have a job to do.  But so do we:

Those of us who believe, have a calling to pray for the souls of each person on board MA 370 as well as their families.  These souls who disappeared in the sky over a week ago are this: BELOVED friend, coworkers, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, beloved grandchild of many remaining souls here on earth.

Pray for wisdom.  Pray for resolution.  Pray for miracles.  Pray for the peace that passes understanding in Christ Jesus.    May you see this and appreciate your own family and life more.  Don’t leave angry.  Say I love you before you say good-bye.   Find, and then focus on what really matters.

Today I pray that God has the souls of Malaysian Air Flight 370 are in the palm of His hand, that they are in His perfect care, as the families carry on in courage and hope.    Because they too were/are loved.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.  Romans 10:1 

 U2’s  One Tree Hill – Auckland, NZ

Staring at the SunI’m not the only one
Staring at the sun
Afraid of what you’d find
If you took a look inside

“Staring at the Sun” – U2

          It used to be that without my glasses I couldn’t see.  Then I got contacs.  Both helped my vision, but 20/20 sight doesn’t guarantee clarity.

We live in a really busy world.  We know this is true because we spend the majority of our day learning about the news and one another because we watch it on a screen.  Our phones, our laptops—we’re everywhere in hi-def and in real time baby. 

Yet we’re blind to some of our real defects:  Pride—an intransigent intelligence that’s always right.  Fear—standing still because we’re  too afraid we’ll fail or don’t know if we possess the disciplined changes success actually requires.   Apathy—Our permanent chair of comfort and convenience reserved for those of us who refuse to contemplate improving our lives or those around us.

 Can you even name your blindness?  This not knowing, or worse: not wanting to know.   Maybe there is something more than what lies between both your ears and behind your eyes.    What is it you choose not to see?

We are all like the books some of us used to read.  Some of us are titled with names so noble or we’re wrapped in colorful jackets so beautiful, we nearly fall into the laps of those begging to slather us with attention.  Others are like nineteenth century secret tomes with thick, dusty matte covers filled with ancient wisdom and epic adventures lived, but never imagined by others.   And yet each of us still have blank pages left that have the potential to be filled with characters, and events the mind can’t even conceive.

In our endless attempt to know more, we’ve become less.  Our lives don’t tell our stories.  Our Facebook pages and Tweets and Pinterests do.  We’re Linked In but we’re tuned out.  Tuned out of what?

Relating.

Living.

A lot of things…..….

I know.  I’m one of them.  I want to be a writer.  And possibly a photographer.  It’s hard, dare I say impossible to get your name and/or work out there without wall-papering the web with your work coupled with a few prayers.  Noticed is what we aim for. 

We spend hours of our lives now, staring at screens of alternating distractions, hoping to produce something of lasting or intrinsic value.

Always looking out, all eighteen inches of it, but never digging deep, we’ve fallen into a state of perpetual sleep walkers.  No wonder Zombies are in when it comes to entertainment.   These high-definition pasty, distorted, pie-eyed  brain-dead creatures mirror us more than we know.

We’re all staring at the sun.  This never-ending bright sunshine of glass and buzz and liquid crystal colors mesmerizing us with news and trivia and useless information.   It’s crack, and we don’t know it.  Or worse, we do but we grow peacefully comfortable as we slowly succumb to the blissful addiction of avoiding reality.

Try to break free if you can–if you dare.   Find out who you are. To really look inside yourself, you have to step out of that comfort zone!  Turn off the computer and write your bucket list today.  Because sometimes later never comes.   Especially when we’re all so incredibly busy.  Busy, staring at the sun.

Seagulls

“Sleep tonight.  And may your dreams be realized.”  U2- MLK

       What is it?  You know what I’m talking about.  That thing you just can’t have?  Most people have something.  That thing. 

What is it?  Who is it?   Is it a place in time?  Is it an attribute such as being thinner, taller, or smarter?   Is it wanting to make real a memory of what once was and will never be again?  Is it a certain success?  Is it a conquering of something that plagues you or accomplishing a quest that drives you?  Is it a specific feeling, a way of being loved, respected, or admired?  Is it something you never had, but can taste vividly in your mind but can’t seem to grasp or make happen in real life?

Is it obvious to those who know you?  Or do you keep it hidden in a secret, safe place? Is it readily attainable, or frustratingly elusive?  Is it realistic?

Does it mean you have to change?  Or does it mean you have to change your circumstances?  Perhaps you first have to change your perspective.  Maybe you’ll have to change the way your structure your life.  Maybe you’ll have to increase focus and implementation your intentionsless dreaming, more doing.

Maybe there is a reason you don’t have it.  Perhaps it would harm you.  Or destroy you.  Or mislead you.  Or deceive or confuse you.  Or to come to you for a time, only to leave you wanting it more than you do now, an ultimate abandonment.  Perhaps you aren’t ready for it.  Perhaps it’s not the good thing you think it is.

Life is so hard sometimes.   When it is the hardest, it’s hard to be satisfied right here, at this moment in time, with THIS life.  

We learn at an early age that we are born to die.  We don’t always have the luxury of infinite time here to craft life the way we desire it to be.   We’re bombarded with media and messages on how to dress, act, speak, behave, work, look, love, and live in order to finally be able to get it.

But sometimes you just won’t.  You can’t.  And you don’t.   Perhaps there is an internal reason you can’t or won’t and you know you have to make really hard changes to make it happen.  Or maybe it’s external, such as timing, or something even bigger:  God’s will.

That’s a hard one.  Why is it when you do everything to make it happen, it sometimes doesn’t?  Why would God hold back on something you know to be good for you?  A source of happiness for you?  A completeness of your soul?

     Because maybe it’s not about you.  Ouch!

It’s true.    Life is not always about me, and what I want.   The pain comes in knowing you’ll need to figure out how to live joyfully without it.    

        Many of us walk around with a certain hole in our soul, but I believe those that overcome, even better—they thrive in the midst of adversity or even the subtle continuity of specific tribulations, are governed by a higher law. 

Grace.  The law of God’s unspeakable goodness is at work for you, and within you.  Grace is knowing it’s all good, or at least has the potential to be used for good in your life or others.  It’s all going to be okay because your strength doesn’t depend on you, but instead flows through you from a higher power.   Not getting everything we want, or even a specific thing we want never has the power to disappoint or destroy us, once we understand we are already gracefully loved.

When we frame our desires and wants thru the lens of knowing that we are already loved by an all-knowing, all-seeing God who already knows our deepest longings, we find REST.  We TRUST as we wait, and as we move forward, we can choose contentment as our perspective and feel joyful as we go about our lives.  Even when we don’t get what we want or as we wait for it until we do.

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
Carson McCullers

 “I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds– but I think of you always in those intervals.”
Salvador Plascencia, The People of Paper

“There is a space between man’s imagination and man’s attainment that may only be traversed by his longing.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

 

 

Autumn Floral Heart

And we can break through,
though torn in two we can be one.
I will begin again, I will begin again.  – “New Year’s Day” – U2

      A friend of mine recently told me she chucked her tradition of stating New Year’s resolutions and instead decided on a new tradition of focusing on a “themed” word for the New Year.   It’s hard keeping resolutions.  Perhaps because such lofty sentences feel —well like a sentence.

So she decided to pick a theme for the year such as MINDFULNESS, or RISK-TAKING, or FORGIVENESS.  You get the idea.  She’d purposely focus on a character trait she wished to see magnified in herself.

I like the idea so much I’ve decided to adopt the idea of my own.   Three words keep floating up in my stream of consciousness.  I don’t feel like I picked them.  They picked me.  Which is another reason to abandon the “make a resolution” concept, it’s just one more thing for me to attempt to control when in reality, none of us have as much control as we wish to have or think we might.

These are MY THREE LITTLE WORDS for 2014:

RECONNECT:  2013 was the most difficult year of my life, but it was also a year of miracles.  It’s ironic that God always plants the miracles in the middle of your deepest sorrows, hardest storms, and silent suffering.  But seeds of hope always yield good fruits when sewn in tears and watered in love.  I had the privilege of both suffering and miracles this year, but in the process I’ve pulled away from people who I know love me.   I want to find my way back.  I may not be who I was, but my heart is unchanged.  It’s stronger than ever and ready to reconnect with those I love and who love me.

Who do you need to reconnect with this year?  Do you have relationships that need mending?  It’s hard to humble yourself sometimes or go first in reaching out.   Do it anyway my inner spirit cries, even though it is so hard for you.

CHERISHI am trying to spend more time praying that God will prioritize my priorities rather than me setting the agenda.  I want to cherish real people not just cyber connections limited to Facebook.  That’s a hard one.  Sometimes it’s easier to just tap out a facsimile of a relationship than to actually flesh out a real one.  Real ones are bumpy, annoying sometimes, hurtful, and well—just very real.  It’s easy to want to retreat to our collective shared diary and catch the news and pics of those we don’t know that well and distract ourselves from taking time to know better the flesh and blood under our own rooftop and in our own neighborhood and even extended family.

This year also taught me that time is actually the most valuable commodity we have.  We can’t hoard it or hold on to memories; for nothing good nor bad lasts forever.  Time:  Will we choose to waste it, spend it, or invest it?  When we invest it in people, we are showing love.  We are giving the gift of being cherished, one of our heart’s most often neglected desires.   Whatever I feel I may lack, I pray God grants me the courage to give what little of it I do have away– be it time, energy, or resources.

       SPIRIT-LEAD“Not my will, but thy will”. That whole control thing in life is a hard thing to shake.  After all God helps those that help themselves, right?  Not exactly.  I do feel called to work, give, serve, pray, love.  But 2013 taught me this much, if nothing else:  Let it go.  Let God.  Which means sometimes we need to sit still.  Rest.  Trust.

Our own sanity is like a rope.  And you know what?  Circumstances beyond your control, coupled with your default emotional thermostat can be a deadly cocktail and you can reach the end of that rope very quickly.  Without something bigger than YOU, when you find yourself in a pit, or feeling misunderstood , or unloved,  or undervalued– well that can be a lonely place.  Trials across time has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt to me that God indeed exists, is good, and above all is in control.

      On that thought, I pray that if or when I am tested, I can continue to hold onto that last strand when hanging over a cliff with flames licking at my feet.

Yes, I want to be spirit-lead and worry less about the future, finances, circumstances, or the biggest demon of all:   What if?

          My head knows that fear is not of God, but my heart forgets sometimes.  I love too much sometimes.  I don’t love enough.   You’re probably the same.  And so it goes and so we sometimes suffer.

The secret is not to waste it.  Choose your suffering a wise pastor taught me.

      Reconnect.  Cherish.  Be spirit lead.  These are my New Year’s resolutions, my small humble prayers I shall utter each day, my big ideas—all planted in three little words.

Blessings in 2014 to you.    You too are loved.

U2 – “No Ordinary Love” — Video Download for U2.com subscribers.

Yep!  I’m a huge U2 fan. Me and a few other million friends.   They’re an extraordinary band not only because their melodies so easily latch on to our auditory taste buds, but more importantly their lyrics speak to a  much deeper place in our soul.  U2’s  music evokes memory and dreams and hopes.  They aren’t the pop flavor of the day, they speak messages of wisdom, if we have ears willing to hear.   A vision beyond visibility becomes a possibility when one is appropriately inspired.

I’m so looking forward to hearing all the songs that will ultimately comprise the soundtrack of Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom  Not only is Mandela a mentor and inspiration for Bono personally, but also he holds a special place in people’s hearts all over the world who have seen or experienced or are touched by suppression, imprisonment, injustice or perhaps are fighting for freedom and human rights.

Even if you’re not a freedom fighter who has taken to the streets, you may be a prayer warrior or encourager  somewhere in the life or lives of those who struggle.  That’s what Jesus did when he read these prophetic words from the book of Isaiah to the people of Nazareth:

“The Lord has put his Spirit in me,
because he appointed me to tell the Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to tell the captives they are free
and to tell the blind that they can see again.
God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly.  Luke 4:18

I have a friend who for a long span of time wasn’t free.   For a time he was held captive internally by choices, as well as externally by unjust circumstances.   So as I wrote to the face of a friend I’ve never met until very recently, I reminded him that “You don’t have to walk around outside to taste freedom.”  You can get free inside first.  In fact, it’s probably a good idea.   And just because there are so many things you can’t see at this time, doesn’t mean you can’t have a vision of what life will look like soon, very soon.

This is seeing:   Believing what right now you can only hope for and resting confidently in assurance that God will use your hour of trial or suffering and turn it into something beautiful, or redemptive.  But it requires something of you first:

No Ordinary Love

Extraordinary love requires faith, being confident in that which you hope for and being sure of what you can not see.  (Hebrews 11:1) That’s no ordinary love.  Extraordinary love also requires sacrifice; it’s going to cost you something you value: your time, your money, your safety, your reputation, your safety net  or perhaps your freedom.  In some cases, even your very life.

“We can’t fall any further if we can’t feel ordinary love.”   Show someone in need some love today.     Take the plunge.  Give until it hurts.  Give with all you’ve got.  And even when you’re drowning in your own personal ocean of adversity and difficulty, remember you were loved first by no ordinary love,  so this pain you feel from time to time is only your heart cracking around the hard places until it becomes smooth as polished precious stones.

Don’t give up.  Look up.  Reach higher.  Assist the poor.  Minister to the hurting.  Forgive what seems unforgivable.   Show love in the name of freedom, in the name of justice and mercy, in the name of compassion, in the name of righteousness and then wait, and watch what God will do.   Perhaps if we each can show love to even just one, especially the difficult one, God can transform the ordinary to extraordinary.

May you find ways to show love today and be joyful in the anticipation of what God can do with just a bit of ordinary love.

POST SCRIPT 12/06/2013:  I started this entry about a week ago.  But I didn’t finish.  God had other plans.  I saw some miracles this week and witnessed first hand just how fast God can transform an isolated  captive person into a person being released into freedom and into loving capable hands.  ALL THIS, on the day Nelson Mandela has passed.  The world lost a true hero, a compassionate soul, and someone who fully understood  this truth: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.(1 Peter 4:8)  Rest in peace Nelson Mandela.  And welcome home too.  You leave a legacy of powerful truth spoken in love for the rest of us to aspire to.

Allow me to close with some wisdom of Nelson Mandela, who capably showed us light can chase away the dark and love is stronger than hate:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Bono Light IMG_6811 (2)

Let there be light!  That’s what God said when he first created the world.  But did you know, he also said it about us in Ephesians 5:8?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

 So what does this mean?  Does it mean live as if you’re a famous rock star and all the world’s a stage with the spot light on you?  Of course not; you already know this.

If you’re  Christian, you already know  just how dark, how shameful, how sinful you perhaps once were, or currently struggle with, or have the capacity to be.  That’s because our flesh wants what it wantsWe want control.  We want things, people, power or influence.    It’s the underlying motive beneath all our wants that determines whether we are walking as children of the light or darkness.

I snapped this pic of Bono at the 2nd of only three concerts I’ve ever seen him.  He was so close and yet….so far away.   It was taken with an ordinary point and shoot camera at just the right moment, a split second of perfect timing.   It almost seems like heaven’s light is shining down.

 But I know the truth.  Bono is only a man.  Nothing more; nothing less. He has made references before that he doesn’t feel comfortable if fans (strangers to him!) see him as a Messiah.  He’s clearly not.    Yet, he does carry a certain light, or at least seems to be perceived that way by tens (hundreds?) of thousands of U2 fans, and maybe even some people that aren’t even big fans of U2’s music.  

That’s because of his heart.  If you follow news about him then you know what he’s done to shine a light on Africa, and how he’s been instrumental in trying to reduce and eliminate hunger, poverty, political corruption, and the hopelessness these things cause.  You know he’s worked with world leaders in the political arena to bring attention and change to a silent suffering.  He’s used his rock star status to influence and to be a beacon of light—to bring attention to, hope, help, cure, and above all love at a time that clearly God has appointed for him.

He’s not Jesus.  But he gets it when it comes to carrying His light.  Yet it’s not Bono’s responsibility to carry it alone.  He’s a torch bearer.  He once sang, that “I’d join the movement, if I found one I could believe in.”    We live in a dark world in uncertain times.  But in a world of self-indulgent twerkers, endless me-centered  and copy-cat celebrities publicly showcasing their life of flashy material excess and simultaneous emptiness, Bono has been singing for quite some time to the beat of a different tune:

 A higher frequency.  This unmistakable calling of light.  The example of a love in action, not merely words spoken or sung.  He doesn’t just sing to us.  U2’s lyrics challenge us.  (“Am I buggin you?  I don’t mean to bug ya!”)  Kind of like Jesus.    How are you going to step out today knowing what you know of the world’s pockets of suffering?  Will you turn away in apathy?  Or will you reach out in faith  willing to risk  your reputation or security?     Are you brave enough to show goodness, kindness, compassion, or  mercy today to someone you don’t know or is hard to love? 

Truth has a way of showing us which direction we’re going to walk  in life. The incredible light that is ours simply by receiving.  This incredible gift of love that is ours to multiply simply by giving it all away.

So let there be light!  Because you too are loved!

glenn-gould1Photo Credit:  toomanynotes.org

      I didn’t even get to know you.  That’s because you died while I was in high school.  I didn’t even know you existed then.    You died a year after a boy I crushed on died. I never told because his time ran out first.   He was only 17.   He drove me to school for a year, but he had a problem.  And then life got way ahead of him at too young of an age.  More responsibilities than his young mind was ready for.  And depression, the black hole of the soul drives a person to do what they didn’t think they could do.  Perhaps you generate self-destruction, but perhaps for some, in their wake, you leave crumbs from your table for the rest of us–shiny diamonds of pure unadulterated genius.  And collectively we all grieve for you, even longer than you lived.

Maybe that’s where it started.  This incredible empathy for genius, especially the quiet souls who tread the earth with a pervasive sadness.  For me, they stand out like neon in a black and white photo.  You know the invisible ones you see feeding the ducks at the park on a winter’s day or having an argument with no one in particular at the bus stop.  Or maybe it’s the one frantically journaling (what?) behind a smoky haze in a cacophony of chatty coffee bugs at an outdoor café, or the painter who couldn’t straighten up his back because he was too busy painting the world’s most beautiful ceiling, and would’ve finished the sky, had there only been enough time.

The artists—you know the ones who cut off their ears for love, whose fear of germs or fear of being real, or honest, or perhaps fear of madness itself  keep them from the love they were designed for.  But of course, how could they be anything but genius?  The heart must exert its life force into something.

Yes, I found this picture of you in 2007 in the back of a Time Magazine (or maybe it was Newsweek).  I kept it in a safe place all these years.  THOSE EYES!  I thought.  When I first saw you, you had me at look.  The elbow, haphazardly aloof resting on what you know only your round-curled fingers have the right to touch, or in your case tap and roll.  Sometimes when I get blue, I’ll pull out this picture of you and think, why am I drawn to you?  I don’t know you.  You’re a ghost.    

I’m almost the age now you were when you passed.  I lived invincible, unaware then while you lay dying that someday I would be drawn to you decades forth.   I don’t have the demons you did, nor do I want them if that’s what’s necessary to deepen my experience as an artist.

But a funny thing happened.   A tragic thing actually.  This thing called life with all its mystery, and majesty, and sadness, and joy.  Hard things and beautiful things, things we think we can’t endure, and they keep happening, wave upon wave.

And then I think I get it; or maybe I just perceive I do.  Maybe we leave messages for those in the future with our musical notes and sounds, our voices, our pictures, our words, our paintings, our constructions, perhaps as a harbinger, or maybe a love note that testifies and reminds us:  live, live, live.  Breathe life.  In.  Out.  Live full; live well.   

   Yes I probably would’ve loved you had I known you.    And if these words for some reason extend beyond cyberspace and into eternal space, maybe you’ll finally know not just me, but many like me, and especially those who actually knew you, loved you too.

      All that you can’t leave behind.  Except that we do.

And as we someday walk into the light, I feel certain we’ll hear your music too.

And love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind….”Walk On” – U2

A fascinating look at Glen Gould — Genius Within

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu-sn8lNt-8