Saturday, January 27, 2018

"Time Longa Dan Twine"

As I was waiting in the TSA line at the airport in St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands, I was unsure what to make of the destruction I witnessed across the island.  The effects of the hurricane, now many months past, were obvious and long-lasting. I overheard an island resident explaining to his neighbor in line that the results of the hurricane are a part of the natural ‘balance’ of ocean winds and water, a balance which in fact the land and the sea need if they are to survive.

Balance.  Life demands that its parts be held in ‘balance.’ You cannot, you dare not, upset the delicate balance which life requires and imposes. The islanders of old explained the seasons of life thus: “Time Longa Dan Twine.” This saying was the title of a book I read while visiting St. Croix. The author, Arnold R. Highfield, explains that it is an expression “that reflects the wisdom of the people and culture of the Virgin Islands, meaning, in one sense, that the things of the world always dwarf the things of man.”

“From the islands emergence from the sea, from volcanoes and plate tectonics, millions of years ago, grew rock, broken into soil and lagoons. Then came sea and airborne flora, then animal life and reproduction began. The rhythms of its life forms in birth, struggle, death and regeneration. Natural destruction, storms, earthquakes, tsunamis-destroyed all things-but those that could survive grew stronger and more plentiful-balance; natural harmony.”

There is a balance, a natural harmony to all life.  We pray for the strength to survive and become more plentiful.  Sometimes that happens for us while we exist on this earth. Sometimes it happens when we arrive on the New Earth when death will be no more. What appears to us to be destruction is often life finding its balance, the notes of life finding their place in the harmonic chord.

When your life is out of balance, may your moment of imbalance be the moment you discover the strength to survive and grow, achieving a natural and spiritual harmony.

“Time longa dan twine”, for sure. Do what you can with the twine, but know that God has the time in his hands.  We worship the Creator of time, light and life. And you.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

You Are The Champion!

Who gets to decide if you achieved your goals, if you won, if you are the champion?  Shouldn’t you be the judge of your success?

The University of Central Florida (UCF) football team finished their 2017 season undefeated. That comes after going without even one win just two years ago.  But, the guardians of championships for the highest level of college football didn’t think UCF played good enough opponents to qualify for a chance at the national championship.  So, when UCF won its last game of the year over a very tough opponent, the school’s athletic director declared of their success: “National champions. Undefeated.”

And then the celebration began. The team went to Disney World and marched with Mickey Mouse to cheering crowds.  And the coaches got their big bonuses which they were entitled to if the team won a national championship.  Championship rings were ordered for the players and plans were made to raise a banner honoring the champions.  The sports world, of course, could not let this display go without serious criticism.  And to that, one writer responds, “Whatever! This rocks. (UCF) decided not to be disappointed because this season was not a disappointment.”  Exactly, I say.

As you prepare your goals and plans for 2018 you get to decide what will be your measure for success.  So, when you reach your goals, and I know you can if you want to, then celebrate!  Don’t let the ‘world’ decide if you are a champion, a winner, a success. You decide.  That friend who manages to find the only cloud in a clear blue sky, ignore her. That boss who is never satisfied, what does he know about you?  That co-worker who insists he outperformed you, why should he judge your success?

So, set some goals, realistic, yet challenging.  Set up a party fund so that you can invite your family and friends to the championship celebration.  Mark your goals down and put them someplace you will see them often, and right next to that piece of paper, place this story as a reminder that you will decide that you are the champion!

(Source: Sports Illustrated, January 15, 2018; “The Case for Controlling Your Own Happiness”, by Stephanie Apstein)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"When All the Buffalo Went Away"

“When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground, and they could not lift them up again. After this nothing happened.”
Chief Plenty Coups of the Crow Nation (1932)

Sometimes the buffalo go away.  And then our hearts fall to the ground, and the weight of our fallen hearts is so heavy that we cannot lift them up. We cannot even try.

So nothing happens.  Despair leads to depression.  Nothing.  We feel nothing. 

It doesn’t matter “why” the buffalo went away-that is not the source of despair.  It is that they are gone, and now the lives of a whole nation are changed, forever. Their reason for being, their raison d'ĂȘtre, went away.  When that happens we ask questions like, ‘Why am I here?’; ‘Why do I exist?’  Nothing happens because we hear only a voice of despair.

And then a  Chief Plenty Coups comes along with a vision or three, speaking hope for his people. The voice of hope says, ‘My life will be given new meaning. The buffalo do not give me a reason to be. I have the ‘courage to be’ in some new way, planning my future around some new source of life.’

When all the buffalo go away there will be heavy hearts. For a time nothing will happen. But, if you will listen carefully you will hear the voice of a prophet saying, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

Something is happening, though all the buffalo went away.

(Credits: What Does it Mean to Hope?, by Charles Pinches, quoting from Jonathan Lear, author of Radical Hope, at, July 10, 2017)