A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Month: August 2015 (page 1 of 1)

Sunday Night Unwind, 08.30.15 (late, late edition)…

Awake late tonight for whatever reason. It may be the thousand things going through my mind and heart. It may be the bout of depression I can’t seem to shake. It may even be the Jittery Joe’s pourover I had earlier! Either way, since I’m up, I might as well share a little Unwind.

Here’s what’s rattling around in my head tonight…

  • We did The Golden Rule part of the Sermon on the Mount series today. Pretty brief. (We beat the Catholics and the Sovereign Grace folks out of church!)
  • The Golden Rule has its counterparts in almost every major religious tradition.
  • While on the surface, they look the same as Jesus’s teaching, there is a powerful difference in the way Jesus expresses this principle and the way the other traditions do.
  • Jesus’s command is positive, proactive, comprehensive, and sensitive. The others, by and large, are expressed negatively, they entail avoiding behavior, they pick and choose the situations in which the principle is applied, and there is virtually no risk for the person who chooses or neglects the principle.
  • I started the “big” Sermon on the Mount series the Sunday after Easter. It looks like we’ll wrap it up on September 20. That’ll be 24 weeks.
  • I love these long series because they help me stay focused on the material at hand. They also give me an idea of where my preparation needs to be.
  • I don’t like the long series so much because they tend to drag a little toward the end. I feel sometimes as though I’m belaboring the point. I also don’t like them because they end. And I have to figure out what’s coming next.
  • Oh…I said this before but it’s worth repeating: Isn’t it amazing how we think our 24-week explanation is more important and powerful than the original words, expressed in a few minutes by Jesus? Go figure.
  • I may be adding yet another side gig. Completed the application and a pre-hiring assessment. The assessment was pretty much a major stressor. (No, no, not this guy!)
  • Re-reading Henri J.M. Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus. This little book is full of big ol’ “ouches.”
  • I’m wondering about the ways I and our church are involved (or not involved, as the case may be!) in the real life of our community. We have to work on that. And pronto!
  • To all a good night!

School Days (for lack of a better title)…

Class Clown

Vernon Barford School via Compfight

I like to think I was too busy learning to be bothered with school. But looking back, I have to admit it may look like I was too undisciplined and too unmotivated. The truth is I was afraid. I was afraid of failing. And I was even more afraid of succeeding.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading. As a first grader, I was reading the fifth-grade reading book. By myself at a table in the classroom. I seem to remember my teacher, Miss Peggy, talking with my mom about moving me up a grade because of my reading. My mom demurred, arguing that my other academic and social skills were not as advanced as my reading. She may have been right.

By third grade, I had discovered girls and a love for writing. Mrs. Kight’s third grade classroom was world headquarters for the periodical Odd Sane Dog, a handwritten, hand-copied, and hand-distributed counter-culture newsletter. Well, it was as counter-culture as possible for a third grader in southeast Georgia. But there also was Molly Cannon in the third grade.

Oh, Molly.

Good golly, indeed.

I fell hard for Molly. Too bad for me, she didn’t give me the time of day. I guess the OSD was too out there for her.

In the fifth grade, I discovered the power of getting other people’s attention. There was the time I got sent to the principal’s office for talking too much about our Little League game from the day before. The principal had a novel way of dealing with loquacious fifth-graders. He made us sit out on a bench in front of his office with white adhesive tape crossed over our mouths. Imagine the looks we got as our colleagues passed by on the way to recess or lunch or wherever. Funny, ha ha! Imagine the look I got from my mom (who worked in the school office by this time) when she saw me like that!

As a seventh-grader, I became a published poet. No, for real.

Listening to the Quiet…

day 009.

Creative Commons License Holly Lay via Compfight

I decided to take this afternoon’s walk sans headphones, so I could listen to what was going on around me.  I needed the quiet, I surmised, so that I could clear out some of the jumble in my head and mostly in my soul.

I wanted to listen, to pay attention, to be mindful (whatever that word means, with all its baggage). I wanted to notice.

I wanted to listen to the quiet.

I heard the whirring hum of mountain bike tires on the concrete trail.

I heard the gentle rustle of leaves as the afternoon breeze blew.

I heard the busy sounds of bugs and birds.

I heard the chatter of walkers and kayakers.

I heard the dreams and plans of lovers and friends.

I heard the soothing static of rapids at the end of the trail.

I heard my own footsteps padding upon the pavement.

I heard the silky slither of a snake through the sand, into the weeds at the water’s edge.

I heard interstate traffic whizzing by, oblivious, as though this trail, this piece of near-solitude didn’t even exist.

I heard my own breath. I heard my own heartbeat.

I heard my soul whisper in prayer that this was good, if only for a few moments.