Comrades Fly Right Because Of God With Us

Some days you just have to do the hard work of clearing a path if you want to fly right.
You must trudge.
You must lean into the resistance and not run from it because every kid knows this one thing:

A proper pathway yields maximum flying power.
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Some days you have to put your sister and your brother on the toboggan because their weight will pack the snow down faster, even though your muscles burn fire through your coat when you pull them uphill.

Some days you have to be exceptionally patient, the kind of patience that sets the jaw and squints the eye.

When you finally reach the top of the hill and your chest is heaving and your nostrils are breathing frost and you realize you’re going to have to do this many times, you find that you are thankful for the camaraderie. 

Good fellowship is what the dictionary says it means, but there is so much more to the word.  Camaraderie is more about a bond of trust and conviviality that welds a life done together so well.

Oh, so that’s it… to trust one another while feasting on joy…that’s what it means to be convivial.

Joy glue.

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You spend the better part of the morning carving a path that winds around prickly bushes that stab thorns and curves past fir trees in blanket snow.  Your back trickles sweat all the way down to your snow pants. You don’t care. You pull your comrades one final time up over the top and gaze over the summit. The path below glistens with a hard glare because you and your sisters and brother have done the work that matters.  The kind of work that requires so much muscle. The kind of work that so many quit half way through.

It is time to fly.

You tell everyone,  especially the littlest ones, that they must hang on tight.

There is only one exception and it is this: If you yell  “Bail!”

You look into the eyes of your little sister and your even littler brother and tell them with all the seriousness you can muster that they must ditch to the sides if they hear you yell “Bail” because this means you are in danger of  a collision with either a face full of thorns or tree bark.

But you know that this is what flying right is all about.  You link arms with others who are willing to trudge. You laugh with them in the middle of sweat and aching limbs.  You don’t let the danger stop you.


You take your position in the front of the toboggan because you are the oldest. You know immediately when the toboggan begins its descent that you have succeeded in making the pathway right because you are flying down the hillside so fast your face burns harsh. You narrowly miss the prickly bushes but it only elicits squeals of delight from your comrades in the back.

But then…near the end…speed has a way of taking over and “Bail!” comes screaming out of your mouth. The little ones really do ditch but you and your other sister don’t have time and within seconds you are being driven up the side of a fir tree only to dangle there upside down from a low branch, your foot tied up in the toboggan rope. That is when big laughter peals pell mell all the way down the mountain. Though you ended up in a tree at the end of the line,  you flew right and fast and you were not killed!

You are joyful for comrades who were willing to pull the rope with you. You are joyful for comrades who trudged all day alongside you. You are joyful that you are about to do it all over again.

Nobody really wants to fly solo.

Not even the hermit who thinks he’s done the world a favor by taking up residence alone in the woods only to bump into humanity when it is necessary to get supplies and mutter how the world has all gone to hell because of all these…people.

There is some truth to his philosophy.

We really are in the pickle we’re in right now because of people giving up camaraderie with the Ancient of Days Himself,  instead, giving heed to a slithering voice by a tree. What the poor hermit doesn’t get is that there is a wild ride to taken…an adventure to be lived because the hard work of carving out a pathway to the Ancient of Days has already been done.

Two beams, three nails and Jesus did the job.

Jesus took the beams and the nails because of the joy set before Him:

Camaraderie with us.

Who wants to go for a ride?


Resolution And All That Jazz

The funny thing about making a resolution is that it does not begin with the doing of a thing, or the not doing of it, as in some cases.

To be resolute…it all has to do with the heart. It’s got to begin there to have any real say so and that’s where I’ve been messing it up.

Not on purpose, mind you. But that’s just it…resolutions are supposed to be done on purpose and without purpose or heart conviction anything can throw you off.

I looked back, not really with much longing and regret like Lot’s wife lest I render myself fully salted, unable to move forward;  I just wanted to get a reminder of what I actually hoped to accomplish in 2013.  I figured if I wrote it down for all to see, then I would be more apt to keep my word. I had three so-called resolutions for the last year…eat more, read more, walk more. I did one really well, one not so well, and one hardly at all. According to the New Year’s Resolution Grading System I am probably hovering around a C minus.

What I did really well: I did eat more.
There were more people, more new people, actually, around our table this year than ever before. And we, joyfully, were at the table of others.

Sharing a meal with old friends, new friends, expanding families;  this is where it gets real.
We let our guard down when we lift our forks up.
We make fumbling eye contact when we pass the salt to someone new, but it’s a getting- to -know- you fumble, so we laugh.
We spill our stories over dishes.
We reveal our selves upon full tables.


What I did not do so well: I did not complete my desired reading list.

Close-up on the spines of books

I did go to the library twice to get “Les Miserables ” only to find one copy in French and the other incomplete; volume two had gone missing.  A busier than usual work schedule filled up in the Spring and then I did not transition well into a new routine over the summer. It left me pretty much book-less and garden-less, meaning, although, I did read, I did it a lot less. I did garden, but it was a less cultivated plot, a less loved space this year. For the better part of the year my reading companion was Paul in the Book of Acts. Not bad company…but I missed the pile of books.

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What I hardly did at all:
As for walking, I did a few loops around the neighborhood but nothing to get the heart pumping or the mind cleared. I even bought new sneakers. I hardly broke them in. I miss my dog. It’s not the same traversing the streets of my little village alone and yes it’s been almost three years since he left us, so I had a go at the track nearby, but I hated it, all that looping round and round on flat ground. Besides, this new trajectory of learning to live with the suddenly of the unexpected meant my walking routine had to change.


What am I saying? There is no routine. Each day is a surprise most of the time.

Sometimes the phone rings for a teaching job while it is still dark and other times the early morning silence means I am being led into plan B.
Most days are spent bent somewhere.
Bent toward a child working out sums.
Bent toward a heart working out revelation.
Bent toward prayer like never before.

Some days things get scrubbed clean, other days the laundry has been forgotten in the washing machine. Some days snow forts need to be built, other days the fortresses surrounding wounded mind sets need to come down.
Although there may not be much of a routine, there is a certain rhythm.

Trouble is, I’ve been used to waltzing.
These days my life is more like a jazz syncopation.

The key to jazz is improvisation. Improvisation is inventing something at the spur of the moment in response to a particular situation. In jazz, the musicians, although committed to staying to true to the pre-determined tune, are free to improvise, to have what someone calls a”musical conversation” within the piece. This means the piece is never played exactly the same way twice.

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I am thinking about the Daniel man, the one who stares at lions.  Captured during a brutal invasion he is suddenly out of his routine and at the mercy of someone else who now calls all the shots and yet…this Daniel possesses the creativity and the guts to improvise, to invent something at the spur of the moment and still stay true to his resolve of following the one true King no matter how his routines change.

This year’s resolution?
It is a resolute heart. And all the creativity and guts that come with it to improvise, to have a “musical conversation” with the One who is for me.