Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Originally uploaded by rod lewis
Somewhere, buried deep in my theology, is the feeling that grace can only be experienced within total surrender and submission. Independence and autonomy make up the foundation of human nature and no doubt, the desire for autonomy is the motivation for all rebellion. So the issue is that we want to do it for ourselves. We think we are good enough, and so, if it can be done, we can do it ourselves.
My understanding of the concept of grace is that it can’t be experienced if I have anything to do with it. The irony is that it is highly probable that I can’t come to learn that unless I try with everything I’ve got to do it myself. As C.S. Lewis points out, it is only through trying harder and harder and continually falling short that I come to realize that I can’t do it myself. In fact, I can’t do it at all. I can’t even help.
Once I’ve made this realization, I am able to totally surrender my total depravity and receive grace. In my life, it has required a LOT of hard work to come to give up and admit that my work had and has nothing to do with the grace that is offered me. In that realization, I fall totally surrendered and contrite before the one who offers me what I have not earned, do not deserve and could never have otherwise. Free. Gift. No charge. No payment plan.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

you can't get there from here

you can't get there from here
Originally uploaded by rod lewis
So, here I stand on this railroad bridge spanning the Broad River, fighting intensely to overcome my desire to ignore the signs, step through the hole in the chain-link, and follow these tracks. My romantic mind contemplates the rail-less ties, and dreams that out of wisdom, someone realized we were moving too fast, going where we ought not to go, driving on at breakneck speed with a slightly skewed trajectory, and decided to take up the rails and put a halt to the nonsense.
But the truth is, I don’t know which way is forward. This vintage piece of Americana represents a point in history, and I’m not entirely sure on which side I stand. Were these rails removed to slow my progress toward the other side? Or am I on the other side, the rails removed to keep others from spiraling headlong toward where I stand? Having arrived at the riverbank, why am I drawn only across the water, and not backward through the woods. Why did I just use the word backward for the direction that does not lead across the river?
What if progress meant turning around and moving to the point where my trajectory veered. Perhaps it is only because our definition of progress requires that any correction or change of direction be felt as an interruption, real progress can’t take place. But I’m not sure we can get where we’re going if we continue this way.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Originally uploaded by rod lewis
apparently, at one point in my life, I was convinced that given the two choices, one was right and one was wrong.
On whether to quit a good job, move south, and go back to grad school early in our marriage, I agonized for months, convinced that should I make the wrong decision, the world would screech to a halt, and the sun would burn out. Eventually, my wise bro-in-law, informed me that he was pretty sure that not every pair of choices represented a right and wrong. In fact, either could be equally blessed.
Life is not a series of excruciatingly complex, life or death, right or wrong antitheses. Make no mistake, there are times when we are confronted with this kind of decision, but that is not the everyday norm of life. Probably, in the bigger picture, it doesn't make a lot of difference whether you choose JIF or Skippy, even if you are a choosy mother. Kellogg's or Post, will probably neither make or break you. Probably even(gasp) regular or decaf, should you be of the type who contemplates these things.
So, my advice, for what it's worth, is to pause, consider the options, weigh the ramifications, contemplate a preference, and all things being equal, flip a coin and get on with your life.
If there is free joe involved, all the better, whether it be starbucks, caribou, community, 8 o'clock, folger's or maxwell house.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

of Ents, and lesser mortals

of Ents, and lesser mortals
Originally uploaded by rod lewis
Today, I walk through woods
wondering if the trees feel the passage of time.
Like me, they have the potential to live for centuries,
but few, sprouted these days, will outlive their 3 score and ten.

All but the oaks have dropped their leaves, and stand
bare in the winter sunlight.
The maples, hickories, locusts, sycamores,
quietly stand bare beneath the light blue,
ready to rest through the long, cold winter.

But the Oaks still hang on. Branches
full of brown, withered leaves. They won’t
give up until the new green buds push the
last dead leaves off in the spring.

Today, I am an old oak,
feeling taller, more solid, and stronger than I am, but
fearful nonetheless.
I’ll pretend not to know that the very rains
that nourish me can loosen my foothold.
A strong wind can push me off balance and cause
me to pull up my own roots.
If I am stubborn enough to keep my feet,
it can snap me off clean and lay me down.

In feigned wisdom and immortality I’m
reluctant to let go, suspicious of rest,
angry at dormancy, impatient with acorns.

I stand in defiance of winter, nature’s Sabbath.
I pretend I’ll be the same
tomorrow as
But look at me,
in need of a rest,
and a spring of