Friday, January 28, 2011

Sabbath Poem

Do I need to know,
I wondered - watching the smoke trail
The more I thought,
the more I knew:
I did not
to know the news of the day,
the uprising
and job reports
and the progress with the talks with China.

Yes, it is a global world,
but today I did not care.

One of the disciplines I have is to read
brief meditations.
Yesterday, #2 asked me,
Where are you?
What time is it?
Meditation #2 told me,
the answer to the first is "here."
the answer to the second is "now."

So I let the need to know about the world's struggles and hopes disappear - dissipating like the smoke before my eyes.

Later today, I did a chore:
cut some wood to keep our home warm.
The tracks of deer and rabbit and dogs were all around,
but there was no life to speak of,
only the calm cool slow motion of winter,
the gray sky.

Yesterday, I saw three deer
up on a ridge. I watched them
for awhile,
until the trees on the other side
moaned their age.
I turned away,
I looked back,
they were gone.

And then you - my family - came with me.
To collect the wood.
You picked up the sticks and limbs
I had strained over,
the sawdust still heavy on my jeans.

You lost your glove,
but your good
walked back with you
while I went up the hill to the next stack.

My daughter
you lifted a stick to me, and said, "here, Dad."
the worker,
with blushed cheeks.
Wind smacked,

we bounced
and jostled
our way back home.

Again I think:
in two years,
I've been given so much.

The grace.
The grace.

Jobi Wood

Friday, January 21, 2011

meet Ada

Winter's Bone

Yes, it is true. We are now the owner's of an eight-month-old English Mastiff. We, the family that wears petite and small and toddler, have taken on the responsibility of a dog once owned by men with names like Maximus and Brutus and Caesar.

Not that we adopted Ada from hulking Roman gladiators or imperial soldiers. We got her from a family down south of Greencastle, and they told us they got her from a tattoo artist over in Avon ... and that he got her in exchange for a tattoo. But, it is true that Ada's long-ago ancestors were quite fashionable back in the days of the birth of Jesus Christ. Rumor has it that in Caesar's attempt to spread his Pax Romana outside the European continent he sent his warring men across the small straight to the land of the Gauls. There the Roman soldiers discovered dogs as big as horses fighting against them, the same dogs they would then bring back to Rome to parade in front of Caesar as trophies of victory and the same dogs they would use for sport on the field of the great Coliseum.

Thankfully, Ada does not seem to have inherited all of her ancestor's girth or tenacity. She is currently sitting at my feet gnawing on a bone while Elise bounces on a ball in front of her.

Although, I must say that our morning walks have provided sufficient muscle-straining. I have been trying to teach her to walk beside me as we tour the property, but I am finding it difficult to keep her from bull-rushing ahead of me in search of deer or other neighbor dogs.

The kids have been sick. Anna had taken them down to French Lick, Indiana this past Sunday in hopes of breaking away from our country home that feels more and more like a cabin. Unfortunately, even though she left the cabin, the fever went with her, and by Monday morning Elise's body was doing its best to expunge the virus. Wyatt succumbed not long after.

I went out to dinner on Tuesday night with two friends and told them about Anna's trip and how it was meant to be a break for her. They looked at me incredulously. How was it that Anna was forced to take the kids and to take care of the sick kids while I was able to stay at home and enjoy some peace and quiet. Truly, not fair.

And this was after I had the opportunity last week to be up at Wabash University for three days in what amounted to a stay at a pretty nice hotel. I was up there for the start of a new program I am going to be involved in throughout 2011 and 2012: the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program. This is but one of the many great programs supported by the Eli Lilly Foundation to support ministers and churches. The further emphasis of the Wabash program is to gather some of the more promising Christian ministers (from all denominations and non-denominations) across the state to think, talk, and plan about ways we can tackle some of the challenges facing the state of Indiana. That's rather ambitious, but what it boiled down to in our first three days together was talking about leading our churches into the truly important conversations ... the harder conversations.

The luxurious part of the program came from the fact that Wabash housed all eighteen of us "paid Christians" in Trippet Hall - the very building where they house the university's trustees and board members whenever they come to town. This building was built specifically for this purpose, so the northern half of the building includes twenty rooms, each amounting to something very close to a Sheraton hotel room. On top of that, there was a small lounge on the second floor where they kindly provided both a full fridge of quality beer, Kashi treats, and some pretty good wine. I was most pleased and surprised to discover that one of the beers on hand included a local brew from Indianapolis called Sun King. I thoroughly enjoyed chill-laxing in the lounge with a pint in hand on Monday evening.

I must say this is one of the true blessings of serving as a minister in Indiana. The work of the Lilly Endowment is probably doing more than any other body or organization to train and encourage ministers. It has certainly been that way for me. Programs resulting from the Lilly Endowment have allowed me to meet some other great young ministers; it has allowed me to see parts of the West Coast that are amazingly beautiful; it has allowed me to pay off all of my remaining seminary debt, and it has matched my own contributions to my 403(b) fund. All in all, I guess I did end up getting employed by Eli Lilly, even if I never did become a freshman sales associate for Prozac and Cialis.

It is a wonderfully beautiful and chilly wintry day out here. It's so nice to be home again and to have everyone back to health ... I hope for good.