Saturday, April 28, 2007

Celebrating Creation

For quite some time now, I have struggled to find words to try to articulate those things that stirs within the depth of my soul. How can you articulate what is deepest within you, and make what you write or say meaningful to others, rather than sounding like another spiritual seeker full of meaningless prattle?

Maybe words are not needed. Maybe words in general are not what is best. Perhaps I should just shut up, and let the Creation speak for itself. And lately, it seems to have been doing a marvelous job, through the remarkable series
Planet Earth, on Discovery Channel.

One of my favorite authors is Frederick Buechner, and he wrote something in Longing for Home, that profoundly affected me, because he described so well those fleeting moments I have had in my own journey. In short, Buechner described an otherwise ordinary day at Sea World with his family, in which he had the sense of mind to recognize that it was perhaps God that was behind the wonder of Creation he was a part of.

The Peaceable Kingdom, if you will. The Scriptures tell us it is like this. Take a look!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Public Confession

I must confess. I can hold it in no longer. In a former career, I was a very hip keyboard player in the Seal Beach area.

This is my second album cover, which followed my first release, which was entitled, "Getting Partially Down".

Pictured here with me is my faithful Labrador mix, aptly named "Whitey". He is now in Dog Heaven.

Signed copies of this album are available for a modest fee. Proceeds go to the Steve Norris Hair Replenishment Fund.

WWII Memories in Tucson

This past week, I was in Tucson, Arizona for work, and was pleasantly surprised to find a reminder of my own father's service to his country.

While driving to a meeting with the Tucson Airport Authority, I spotted signs by the roadway that read, simply "WWII Planes" with arrows pointing the directions to turn.

After several turns, I found myself standing next to the plane my father flew from about 1942 to 1947, they B-17G Flying Fortress. This plane, sitting on the tarmac at the Tucson airport is one of only 15 remainging flying B-17s, from a complete fleet of 12,700 B-17s built during and after the war.

The "Nine O' Nine" is in mint flying condition, and to my glee was completely open for interior inspection. Not a single detail has been missed, and this plane is remarkable to behold, more than 60 years after being constructed. The nose contained a real Norden Bombsight, all the cockpit controls are vintage, with the exception of modern radios, and the waist guns have real ammo clips. Remarkable.

Yesterday, I showed the photos I had taken of my B-17 visit to my Dad, who is now 87. In his near constant state of mild dementia, not a lot makes Dad smile these days. However, my photos brought a big smile to Dad's face, and afterward, a new war story I have never heard before - of flying General Ennis Whitehead from Manila to Kansas City, stopping only for fuel, as they island-hopped through the South Pacific heading east, avoiding tropical storms all the way.

Just imagine it. Being 24 years old, and flying a four engine bomber with a crew of seven around the South Pacific to rescue downed flyers. Its amazing to me. My Dad will always have my respect for his service to our country.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Its Baseball Season in Town

I find this rather sexist. I mean, where are the girls? Did our Lord not like them? In addition, our league will not let you coach in flip-flops.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In Memoriam

Click on the remember.

We are surrounded with folks like these every day. Take time today to love a friend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Viginia Tech - How Should We Feel?

Here is a helpful way to begin to attempt to deal with the tragic events of Monday of this week.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Deadliest Catch

Its April, and you know what that means! Baseball season, yes. But even more important, at least for the next couple of weeks, is a new season of "Deadliest Catch" on Discovery Channel.

The series details the journeys of five different fishing boats in the Bering Sea of Alaska, during the annual season for King Crab.

This is documentary TV at its very best. I watched last season religiously, and highly recommend it again this year.

Why do I love it so much? I think I know. Picture this: middle-aged balding white fellow with a relatively mundane office job, sometimes feeling as though his own life is a bit too routine, and musing over his place in life, sits on his family room couch in warm, temperate Southern California, feet up on coffee table. On the TV he is watching a bunch of men about his age and younger, daily risking their lives in the near-freezing Bering Sea. I am vicariously reveling in a life style I would never choose, but nevertheless respect.

And, as I watch, I am reminded of this. An old profession, indeed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Doonesbury Gets It Right

I usually am bored by Gary Trudeau's humor. Not today. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Finding Solitude, Amidst The Rush

Humming. Honking. A rush, a sort of buzz in the distance. Never a quiet moment, a constant under current of noise. Subtle, yet pervasive.

One of the memories that I always have carried with me of New York City, both from our recent visit, and that of many prior trips, is the constant city noise. It is as if you are living in the midst of a gigantic human body; always hearing the noise of blood rushing around you. A massive organism that indeed never sleeps.

These are the sounds of most of our lives. Unrelenting sounds. White noise, in the midst of the constant rush. Come to think of it, my own life is nearly constantly accompanied by sound. The clock alarm awakes me, most days at 6:40 AM to the sound of classical music. From there I enter the shower, listening to NPR as I rinse and repeat. Then on to getting dressed while watching the Weather Channel ("It Could Happen Here!) or MSNBC, if only for a moment. Then off to work with more sound in the car, albeit Pray-as-you-go (which is wonderful). Then to confirm my crazy need for noise, I arrive at my office, where I immediately switch on the classical music again.

I have been like this for nearly every day of my 48.5 years! What happened to quiet? When was it decided that noise rules?

What about the Desert Fathers, and leading a life that learns from the "alone" parts of Jesus life? Where is silence, reflection, solitude? Where have they gone, and why are our lives like this?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wholeness from Emptyness

It is a mystery and a paradox that from an empty place can come wholeness, healing, life transformed. Two of my friends....both very different fellows, have some very unique ideas relating to Easter.

First, Rob Asghar talks about his thoughts on an empty tomb and reconciliation with his Muslim mother.

And then, Tod Bolsinger has an interesting reply, if you will, to Rob's thoughts about that empty tomb.

My take is this. For far too long, we Christian folk have let the facades and organization of the organized church speak for us. This may be why Rob is so troubled by the way Christianity in the west seems to have been hijacked by politics. Rightly so, Rob! I can't stand this. However, I am not sure abandonment of church is a solution, we need folks like you with your contrarian views. We are not all loons, and you surely know this.

But I do know this, the tomb was empty, is empty, and offers great hope. If we can just carve Jesus loose from the confines of the church and politics, then there is a pure message of Gospel hope.

Christos Anesti!

Friday, April 06, 2007

What's so Good about Friday?

Total loss. Complete dejection. That knot in the pit of your stomach. That sense of dread, of fear, of uncertainty, even about tomorrow.

It's the phone call in the middle of the night that you did not expect. That relationship that seems irreversibly broken, with no possibility to mend.

Holding the hand of a dying parent, with no hope in sight. The inexplicable loss of a child. The end of the road. Ruins.

Last Thursday, I stood at the edge of Ground Zero in New York, the sight of the greatest single catastrophe in our country in the past 50+ years. Even as someone whose job deals with large real estate developments constantly, I was surprised at the scope of it all.

On that September day now more than 5 years ago, the weight of shock and loss in New York was beyond comprehension. This was a depth that seemed insurmountable. In my conversations with New Yorkers this past week, the topic of 9/11 would come up in the natural coarse of conversation; "ever since 9/11", or "since the tragic events of 9/11". 9/11. That is all you need to say. And I detected a momentary pause in the conversations, when the events of that day were, only briefly, recalled. But in that pause, volumes were communicated. All the pain, all the loss, all the despair.

And so, its Good Friday. And what is so good about this day? What is so good about a single purported Jewish mystic loosing his life more than 2,000 years ago? Is it just another death, another loss, more ancient pain, leading to nothing today?

Or might it be more, might it mean so much more. Might it not be the beginning of the most significant turning point in a remarkable mystery?

If you ask New Yorkers how they feel today about the events of the past 5 years, they would like have a million different answers. But I can tell you this, Ground Zero is now fully of cranes, trucks, construction workers shouting at one another, concrete trucks, noise, and the sounds of rebuilding. Its a nearly constant hum, which is the sound that all of New York gives off, 24 hours a day. That is what New Yorkers are, if nothing else. Rebuilders, renewers, movers, shakers; a city that recovers. And they are clearly recovering.

A whole in the ground. Immense, immeasurably, permanent pain. And strangely now, rebuilding, rebirth, renewal.

Maybe Good Friday is really, in the end, Good News.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Oh! The Humanity!

People. Everywhere. Above ground and below it in subway tunnels. Hurtling forward, like the rest of this city. Hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, millions. Overwhelming. Huge. Massive. All sizes, shapes, ages, nationalities, and every type of mental and emotional disposition. Buildings stacked one against another.

Welcome to New York City, baby. This city defines so many terms; urban, megalopolis, the city that never sleeps, high density development.

Being here for four days leaves me thinking about the way that I view life. I am a Southern Californian, born and raised. I come from the land of the great sprawl, which is the exact opposite of this city, which really is the great compaction, if you will.

After an absence of many years (I used to visit here often in the 1980s), I have come to New York with a new perspective, willing to learn and experience.

Bottom line, I love it here. There is so much to offer; in spite of the crime, the crowding, the noise, it is after all, one of the greatest concentrations of humanity on the planet. I also wonder about the Christ followers here, and what their lives are like. I plan to do some searching around for Manhattan bloggers that I might enjoy reading.

And in a new way, I have been reminded of this. More soon, as time permits. Home to Southern Cal tomorrow.

By the way, we had a blast!

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