Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Violet Simone Elder

I thought I was finished with all-nighters when I graduated seminary. Not so. Not so at all.

Last Wednesday the alarm clock went off and, as is our custom, we snoozed once. I rolled over and Barb looks at me and says, "I've been having contractions for 2 hours."

"Well, I'm awake now!"

She went to work and got home about 11 and I finished up a meeting and got home around 1. We took a walk around the block to help the contractions increase. Boy, did that work! We arrived at the hospital at 430pm, some twelve hours after the contractions began. Germantown Methodist Hospital astounded us with their knowledge, efficiency and care. It gave us confidence in the midst of all that is called "Labor and Delivery."

Barb was fantastic and must have one of the greatest levels of pain tolerance I've ever seen, perhaps rivaling that of Jack Bauer or Curly on the 3 Stooges. We felt so blessed that Barb was able to go natural. Dr. Anderson said, "Violet was good to your body." Barb and I were musing one early morning how much pain she had been in but yet knew that c-sections were so much worse. Blessings. Blessings. Blessings. Oh, and coffee.

Several people said, "Look at Violet now and remember her, because in two weeks she will look like a different baby." So I've decided to take a picture of her a day for at least two weeks just to see the development. Besides her skull bones are floating according to the doc, so it'll be interesting to see her head move toward pangea.

Six pounds, 10 ounces and 20'' of greatness.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Where Nothing is Missing

Alrightie, it seems earlt in the morning (it reallt isn't) but I'm feelint the hankering to blurt out some thoughts about a subject that has been circling the airport for a while. Bt the wat, it is quite difficult to blurt out something via blog because it takes cranking up ole Lappt 3000, loggint in, and clicking away, which has been more difficult since mt "y" key cover came off the other day. Tou don't reallt know how much tou miss one letter until tou are forced to work without it. I promise tou this: below tou are going to find some messy, clangt thoughts, but I hope to get it out in at least one sentence. So without further adieu . . .

Believe it or not Walmart, or as most in the South say, "tha Walmart," plays a significant role in my spiritual formation. It was my last year in college and I was seeking/praying about what I should do next. Should I seek a job pastoring somewhere (thoughts had led me all over the region), just find a job and recover from college or move to California and start seminary (which is what I decided to do)? I was rebounding from a series of bad decisions over a few bad years and 0ne night after hanging out with some friends in New Albany--I think it was David, Danyel, Wint and Vicki--I found myself standing in the middle of WalMart wondering why I was even there. I didn't need groceries, didn't need music, didn't need clothes, and didn't need a 50-pack of Wrigley's gum. I remember kinda snappin' out of it and saying to myself, "Something feels like it's missing. What am I looking for?"

I subsequently had a few speaking opportunities with a number of student groups and began talking about this and in every group I heard responses like, "Yeah, me too." Those responses were also coming from the older adults present.

But why is this? Why is it that when we gaze up at the stars from time to time there is this feeling deep within that we have trouble articulating? Why is it that our hearts burn when we hear our favorite song? Why is it that when we read something good we keep it, re-read it, bookmark it, print it out, or print it in our journal? What are we striving for? Is it because something is missing? I mean, haven't you walked down your block, looked up at that tree that you've seen so many times and said, in an instance, "I've never seen such beauty."
I assume that since I am an average person that you too or others like you may have felt this way before.

This past weekend our church went away to a ranch about an hour from here. We were able to listen to one another, ask questions, and get to some good stuff. I think we did some good work as we talked about how God has graced us with various giftings for the common good, about loving Jesus but hating "the church," (another topic for another time) and had some points in our worship where there was some vulnerability and truth.

Sunday morning I looked out of the kitchen window as the cabin was quiet with peaceful rest and the fog was sitting in layers over the water and hillside. The coffee pot's stomach was growling and I picked up a magazine I'm reading in which there is an interview with a former novice under Thomas Merton. At this point in the story Merton has died and the interviewee is speaking about Merton's disposition, "I asked myself, 'Why is this place holy ground for me?' And I realized it wasn't because the man who lived in this place had the answers; he never claimed to have the answers. It wasn't because he did it right; he never claimed to do it right. He never said, 'Do it like this.' But, rather, I think he gave witness to the ultimate irrelevancy of our failures and shortcomings when we live in the radical confidence in God's love for us, which implies the moral imperative of doing your honest best to work on those things."

It was then as the morning was young and the were mistakes old that the fog lifted and I said, "Nothing is missing here."