Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Way - Why I Want to See the Movie


I am a collector of prayer books. One of my favorite is Celtic Daily Prayer. It was given to me at Christmas in 2002 by my wife Janet. One of the stories in the book comes from the writing of Jennifer Lash in her book On Pilgrimage. She writes about her experiences going on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.


Moved by the words of Ms. Lash, I ordered the book. Evidently she was a novelist, not well known, and the book was not a best-seller. For me it became my favorite book. In my book Spiritual Journaling the last chapter, Magical Journeys, describes On Pilgrimage, and about Jennifer Lash after she discovered she had breast cancer. After chemotheraphy and radiation, she decided she would leave her husband and six children, and she would make a three month pilgrimage through France and Spain visiting Holy Places.

The shape of her journey led from Lisieux, in France, to Sandiego de Compostelo, in Spain, the place evangelized by the Apostle James and a frequent pilgrimage site to this day. She stayed in monasteries, prayed in ancient chapels, lighted candles for strangers, and fought the continual tiredness that came from her ongoing battle with cancer.


To those of us who fought the battle of cancer (for me it was prostate cancer) there is an uncertain journey that follows you. Fear can easily overtake one. Every step seems difficult. Some days it seems like the last step has been taken. Reading her story reminded me of my own story, but her strength in following an ancient path, under extremely difficult conditions, were an inspiration to me.

When she died her children wrote, "She was buried in a simple home-made coffin, under a table cloth embroidered with a map of Ireland." And I would add,"she left behind a journal of her final journey."

Her story is again repeated in the movie The Way, another story of one's pilgrimage along the Road to Sandiego de Compostelo. I have been looking forward to the movie for months. I have read several reviews. Many reviews are about Martin Sheen's own spiritual journeys through a life of heavy drinking and poor choices.

The last movie I got this excited about was "Of God's and Men," the story of several monks in Algeria who died because of their faith. I once had my picture made with the Abbot General who preached these monks funerals.


This story is about you and me. What about our journeys, especially the spiritual journeys? Have you ever gone on a journey searching for something?And really what you were searching for was to find yourself? So that is why I am excited about the movie. Surely, I will write some of the quotes from the movie, but I will also relive some of my own journeys; to Jerusalem, Athens, Patmos, battling sicknesses, disorders of many kinds, moments of desertion or lostness. We have all been there. Maybe we are still there, right.


1. What does the movie tell you about your own life?

2. Have you ever been on a spiritual journey? When, where, why? How did you get there?

3. Who went on the journey with you? Who did you find along the way?

4.Where is your journey today leading? What is God telling you?


After the 7 p.m. showing on Friday night Janet and I will wait in the lobby. Anyone who wants to go with us and discuss the movie can join us then. I think that would be an interesting discussion.

Am PRAYING FOR US ALL on the way. Also, the question of the night, what were some of the children's names Jennifer Lash left behind?

See you at the movies!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I journal, or put thoughts on paper!

Sometimes I feel more like a hypocrite than a Christian. I fly down rather than up. I crash. I listen and get stirred by that which should not stir me. I talk when I should listen. I play when I should work. I love other things more than God. I ask more for mercy than anything else. I am the seed that fell by the wayside and yielded an endless crop of nothingness.


With that said, how do I deal with it? Maybe that is the reason I keep a journal, not only to write profitable thoughts but also the unprofitable thoughts that ring through my head. It is a way of trying to make sense of what is really going on in me and around me.

In the front of my journal is a thought by Henri Nouwen that I read often. "I have promised myself not to let a day pass without writing down, as honestly and directly as possible, what is happening within and around me."  How often I miss what is going on around me. Is it possible God was whispering and I missed it?

Last night I had a bad dream. It was a dream about something which may or may not have happened over twenty years ago. The dream is more about things lost than things found. So I tried something different. I made it into a prayer. I have never done that before.

"Dear Father,
I dream of lostness.
A building has changed
my friends have gone
I can't find coffee or elevators
or the room where I belong.
Everything seems futile
I am afraid
I go outside and get lost
I cry."

Yes, pretty sad, but sometimes writing it down --maybe in a new form (art, a sideways writing on paper, even a prayer) brings life to it.

I am a frequent flyer with the Liturgy of the Hours that I use as devotional material. I try daily to read in it but often fail. Today two verses stood out:

"He renews your youth like an eagles." (Psalm 103)


"He made known his ways to Moses."

Neat, right? Maybe God was speaking in those words to me who has been filled with lostness. Yes, a word. EAGLES! Yes. And the ways? Yes, for the Lost there is a way.

When people read my book on Spiritual Journaling I get interested responses. Most of the time I say,"Have you begun a journal yet?" Most laugh and say no. Then, on further questioning, I am discovering that the book has been used differently. It has been used devotionally. At night, before bedtime, one chapter at a time.  Maybe it is a good way of getting sleepy hi.

One of my favorite parts of the book is from a lady whose husband is dying after 60 plus years of marriage. She writes these last words to him. "I want to tell you again how much I love you and cherish each day we have shared both good and bad. I thank the Lord each day for having let our paths cross, our hearts meet and blossom into a deep and abiding love."

Not a bad way to end the day with one's mate.

So today was a LESSON! Did you get it? From a LOSSNESS to a point where God really is saying something to us. That is the point. Make a copy of this blog and try it. It might work, even give you something to meditate on.

From a hypocrite -- on the journey


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Saturday Morning

How different it feels to work all week and retire again. I didn't realize how much I really enjoy retirement hi. But no doubt it was worth it to work for a change.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. I am now reading Lectio Divina, renewing the ancient practice of praying the scriptures, by M. Basil Pennington. It is a good reminder of God working in our lives as we read the scriptures.

Nice day outside. Hope to enjoy the sunshine.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Birthday Sermon- Oct.5, 2011

Thanks to all of you who helped make my birthday meaningful. There have been requests for the sermon outline of my first ever birthday sermon.

Four Things Every Christian Should Know:

You should remember your birth. (Babies are all beautiful and welcomed into our world. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I Knew You. Before you were born I set you apart.” For me, I only weighed a little over 3 pounds and at that time my Mother dedicated me to the Lord because they were not sure I would live.

We should remember our re-birth. (John 3:16) –Recently I went to the home of Ralph Murray and went out to eat with he and his wife Jane. Ralph, when I was 9 years old and had just become a Christian, baptized me at the Smithwood Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN.

We should remember what God has done in our lives. (Joshua 2:4) I collect rocks that represent times that God has been present in my live. The book of Joshua says we are collect rocks in memory of what God has done in our lives. I then shared an experience where I accidently found the grave of Robert Frost and felt like God had led me to that place.

We should remember that God is still at work in our lives. (Roman 8:28) God wants to continue working in our lives daily if we are committed to him.

My our birthdays be reminders of thanksgiving and for another year of life.