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“I Am Here” Conversations of Hope

Three years ago, I began writing occasional posts reflecting upon significant observations about the conversationarid-cracked-ground with life that we as humans are daily engaging. Some of my posts were personal in nature, and some general. For one year I enjoyed the weekly opportunity to land with something meaningful to write about, write it, and respond to comments that followed. In 2010 my personal journey took a detour down a path that narrowed my scope, ability, and vision to write about anything. Life seemingly stopped. The creative dried up, the spontaneous flow of ideas and observations shrank into a day to day mode of surviving. My conversation with life and all of its granduer was reduced to a murmer with life.  How does this happen? What did this mean and what did I do? Where was hope in the midst of the conversation that seemed absent of life? Sometimes in life silence gives birth to a new voice that has been longing to be spoken.

Eventually, I will expand more upon the details of what I am stating and asking above, but for now and at this juncture, I am ready to begin writing about the journey that has culminated many new awakenings and precedes what I anticipate will be a contribution to whomever reads these posts.

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Everyday is a “Conversation with Life,” understanding and being engaged in the conversation is part of the labor of life, and the labor of love for life. What happens though when that conversation dwindles to a few mere sentences? More to come. As the birth of new Life is celebrated during this Christmas Season I welcome new beginings, hope, light, and life. I welcome the birth of Christ!


The Events of Life & How They Can Shape Who We Become

As I observe life, its complexity of shaping forces at work, I am impacted by the way events have the power to literally mold who we become.

My eldest daughter is in cross-country. With all of her effort she has applied herself to optimize her abilities to run cross-country in such a way that she is able to cross the finish line with joy and personal satisfaction.

Much to her recent disappointment, she has experienced some difficulties with her breathing (lungs) and is in need of an evaluation to find the source of the problem. She has worked so hard to improve her pace, stride, and consequently her finishing time.

Imagine living life, “daily training and working on your stride, pace and qualifying time” endeavoring to “finish well” and none of your training or effort had direct influence on your “shaping ability” or the “form” that you were trying to improve. How would you feel about your life? What types of statements would you be making about yourself? How despairing and meaningless life would become.

John Sanford, says that the process of entering God’s Kingdom is a process of becoming an individual. It requires stepping apart from the crowd, from the mass movements that are always the easier way, “to suffer the pain and difficulty of becoming a conscious person.” 

Life, as I have mentioned, is the most valued, meaningful, and intense conversation you will have. Everyday there is a new conversation. Remnants of yesterday’s conversation may still be lingering and may need some attention. Anticipation for today’s conversation engages with day-to-day events and becoming more aware (conscious) of how they are shaping us and molding us into our true identity. If we are able to give consent to God (surrender), we can engage most deeply in a process allowing ourselves to be changed into an identity that fulfills the purposes of God while we are here on earth. As we do this, our conversations with or about tomorrow will not be filled with fear or anxiety, rather, a priceless creation that extends beyond our own ability or measure: the fulfillment of LIFE itself.


The Leprosy of Our Day

Oh what an awful title to start this entry for the day. But, have you ever00011506-SPP-leprosyportraits-005 by natalia_tumasian. thought about it? Jesus confronted, held and touched, and healed one of the most debilitating and damaging illnesses of His day-leprosy. All lepers (due to the contagion of the illness) were automatically removed from society, held with disregard, treated as if substandard, and lastly, left to die within their little community of lepers. How tragic and utterly baneful this must have been for those who contracted the disease. Why did Jesus go out of his way to make a difference, to relate, engage, heal, and love these people?

1month - 1700g - Pneumonia by u.wili.As in many of the Lord’s parables where he touches the very heart of broken, sinful, and lost humanity, He does so with these people. Jesus most often elevates the truthful, and compassionate response to humanity while ensuring that the point is not to expose humanity and how bad it is. “Our tragedy is that most often, we focus on what people are not rather than what they are and what they can become.“ 

So…what is the leprosy of our day? As mentioned earlier in one of my first entries, I am a therapist and a consultant. I spend many hours listening intently to the circumstances, stories, and relational exchanges that seem to create stuckness in the mire of life. I am convinced that the Leprosy of Our Day has less to do with physical illness and more to do with our response towards our overriding  ”fear of not belonging.” What do I mean? Let me explain.

Because we were all made for meaningful connection, our proclivity for perspective is to belong. We all arrange our grid for viewing life each day with an emotional focus to insure belonging. When we stumble upon a person who is “different” or perhaps going through something that we would dread going through, our immediate grid becomes jaded with our fear and asks, “If I engage would I belong?” If we are afraid, our belonging meter begins to show alarm. As a means of self-protection, we then become suspect, possibly even judgemental towards the person, or group therefore insuring our own cleansing from the system while protecting what we have already set up as our “criteria and system of belonging.”

Lepers are created by our own perceptions of what is “not acceptable” and reinforced by our engrained response of judgements and rationalizations of why another is truly an outcast. So..the leprosy is not necessarily a certain issue as much as it is a response to the issues with an already preconceived grid of insuring self-protection and deemed purity.

A good friend recently went to the Holy Land on a tour. His instructor Giant Clouds Invade Idaho! Close Encounters of the Cumulonimbus Kind by moonjazz.Ray Vander Laan  said it well, “Jesus came to bring order in the midst of disorder, he came to enter into the chaos and not skirt it to appear more righteous.” Oh, how difficult this is. What is certain is we cannot do it alone, we need each other, our perspectives need to be refined and transformed into the image of true love, and we need to be having conversations with the Lord and each other about our struggle in the midst of it.

Photos Courtesy of  Natalie Tumasian,U.Wili,, MoonJazz 


Confusion: The Ultimate Saboteur of Conversation & Relationship

The title says it all! I am finding myself perplexed by the degree of complexity that surrounds conversations and relationships. I ask myself, “How on earth did we get here and where do we go from this point on?”

If you have ever been in the position of helping a conversation move forward, you know exactly what I am talking about. Conversation gets bogged down, consequently the relationship gets stuck in this murky, unclear emotional soup that limits freedom of speech, freedom of sensing (other than anger and frustration), and ultimately, freedom ”to be” in relationship. I wish to propose that the greatest saboteur is confusion. So, what causes confusion and how does one name it, move out of it, and use it to gain momentum for improving conversation and relationship? Certainly, this could be a book, however, I wish to suggest a few thoughts.

Margaret Wheatley suggests that “Growth is in the roots of all things.” I really appreciate that phrase. Growth truly is the genesis of all organic matter. When life endeavors to grow, it sends its tender roots down to absorb the life and nutrients that are available in the soil.

Conversation is similar. We send our tendrils out into the void not knowing how the other person will respond, yet we hope that there will be something to gently “connect” to in relationship with the sense of “other” in the conversation. In an earlier post, I suggested that the quality of change in a person’s life must come  out of their view of reality. I am certain that if we do not boost the importance of conversation we will continue to experience the consistent limitations of what we are currently experiencing. I believe that conversation is sabotaged by four primary qualities:

  1. Poor listening
  2. Closed attitudes and heart condition
  3. Fear of being wrong with a greater emphasis on being right
  4. Prior conversations that have already tainted reality and perceptions

300-365 by sicliff3. When we begin to notice the emotional stickiness of a conversation, be aware that something is happening. The flow is absorbed by added mental processing to overcome and guarantee refuge in the event that there is not receptivity or connection. Flight, fight, or freeze, typically is our dominant response.

Improving the conversation will need the opposite of the already mentioned saboteurs. Improvement begins with a few pointers:

  1. Willingness to listen.
  2. Being open  and curious not so much about what another has to say, rather what meaning is conveyed while conversation is taking place.
  3. Posturing oneself in a position of not knowing until learning from another has taken place.
  4. Possessing boldness to be honest.

Certainly this is my most lengthy blog. How do I say what needs to be said.? What do you have to say?

Photos Courtesy of Flickr, Tsmyther, Tina Manthorp, Siclif3