Posted by: frkris | May 24, 2015

Remembering Stuff

I had an interesting flashback this week and remembered something that happened in 1985. When I remembered it, it was vivid and as if it was yesterday. I remembered a particular football practice when our offense was struggling. I was playing nose guard and having fun with our center. He was getting frustrated as I kept blowing by him. One time I blew past him and ran past our QB and was slowing to stop (we could not hit the QB) and I got hit right in the centre of my back. A cheap shot took me to the ground after the play. It hurt….and it was on. I jumped up and starting fighting with the player who hit me. It was not very nice…..and the coach separated us and told me to go running. He said, “run until I get tired”. I was outraged at the injustice. I was horrified that this coach did not tell this player off for delivering a cheap shot. I started running…..and running. Practice was about to end and I was still running with my helmet on. The coach called over and said for me to stop. I shouted back “I am not tired yet”. I am sure I was cussing him with every breath around that track. The team and coaches left the field…..I was still running. I carried on running until I saw the last pick up truck leave the school. I finally stopped and went home. I never spoke about it to anyone and never talked to the coaches about it. I still remember climbing the stairs of the stadium after practice that day as everyone was gone. I felt like saying “I showed you! but I remember feeling broken and vulnerable.

I guess as I remember this event in my life this week I am really struggling with other things which have sent me running around the track of my mind and that thing in me which continues saying “hell no I will not stop running for you”. Perhaps we give others far too much power and control over our joy through the years and find ourselves running for no reason.

I think this revelation means that this Pentecost I am going to try and come off of this track…I think it may mark a new adventure for me. This feels like a new way of living. This feels like a way to experience liberation.

When I give my pre-game talk to the PV Shark Football team in the coming days I think I may tell this story. I want them to know I understand frustration and injustice. I want them to join me in finding a creative way to channel this feeling such that they will not feel the need to joust windmills throughout their life. Perhaps there is something very deep in me that is fed in good high school football experiences as mine was not great. I have spent many seasons coaching and love it. Perhaps a favorite moment is still the calling for punishment after practice for an altercation between two players….at the end of practice the captains called all the players to share the punishment together…..it was beautiful….and united us.

So prayers for all who have felt the sharp end of injustice. Prayers for those who run needlessly thinking they are proving something. Prayers for players who don’t reach their potential because of bad coaching. Prayers for new vision as courses change and new landmarks and heros are needed.

PS My eye is healing although I still do not have sight in my left eye. There is some sight returning in the top of my eye and the doctor assures me it is coming back. Everything seems to be healing…but these things do take a while.

Posted by: frkris | May 2, 2015

Common Denominators

Crime happens every day and every night. Prisoners are hauled into police stations and episodes of COPS are being filmed as we sit here. There is a world of trouble out there and law enforcement officers are continuing to do their jobs and arrest law breakers. And then we have one case which has sucked all of the air out of society creating a sense that nothing else matters and that nothing else is going on. The world is supposed to stop while a city burns. Another high profile case of the death of someone with suggestions of racism and police brutality…etc. This case has a similar ring to the ones that stole the spotlight in past months. We have an individual with a history of not making great life decisions and occasional brushes with the law, making a decision to fail to yield to police which leads to his arrest. He ran from police and others ran and even fought with police. Now we have a prosecutor who having only had the case for a day charges six officers with major crimes. The celebratory air of her political delivery had a pang of “paying the ransom to the mob” quality to it. Failure to put his seat buckle on? Clearly there are questions to be answered about what happened on the ride to the station, but to suggest that these men set about to kill Mr Gray is just nonsense. To suggest it was racially motivated……crazy…..look at the racial makeup of the six charged.

There seems to be a rising culture at the moment which condones defiance. There seems to be a confusion with the nonviolent civil rights protests of old and the stealing of Doritos and cheap alcohol. We seem to revile a police force who get busy arresting those who sell illegal drugs and commit crimes knowing that they are hated for the carrying out of the daily job. I am glad they are there. It is a shame that they are compromised in doing their job.

Imagine if a person charged with arresting another for breaking the law lives in fear of wrongful accusation. Every doctor who treats a patient is aware of a potential for malpractice and there are plenty of lawyers ready to file the suit. The same is true for police who face, with every encounter on the street, a chance to be sued for any number of charges including a violation of someone’s civil rights. Having said that, have you ever seen anyone punch themselves or mark themselves in an effort to try and implicate someone for wrongdoing. It is a terrible thing to see but someone who shows up at a police station with cuts and bruises can cause a lot of trouble.

So what does this present case in Baltimore have in common with the other cases which have made such a splash? The encounter was with a youngish African American male. Each of these boys had some history of involvement with law enforcement. Each of these boys was instructed to stop. Each of these boys failed to comply with the direct order of the police. Each of these boys ended up dead. It is tragic to be sure. The losses for these families and the burden carried by the officers involved in each case are hard to imagine. But why then do we allow grief to create blindness. Why do we allow our anger to render us irrational. Why do we cloud our idea of justice into a shape which is the very epitome of injustice…..to calm an angry mob.

I am a bit fed up. There is something rotten about a situation where stealing and burning becomes an okay thing. I feel for the business owners who lost their businesses. I feel for a neighborhood which will struggle to convince anyone like CVS to return to do business there. I am angered at the thought of insurance premiums risiing due to the higher risk categories created by this violence. There are costs, and people are tired of paying the stupid tax…..what do I mean? You want to run from the police….then there is a cost. You want to burn down a business….then there is a cost…….You throw a brick at a policeman…..then there is a cost…….you sell drugs in school…..then there is a cost……as an old teacher of mine once said, “if you dance, eventually you have to tip the fiddler”. Well folks, the day is coming I believe when folks are going to have to pay. And the day is here when hard working people are going to say we are not paying any more.

We the people…….in order to form a more perfect union………..that is us. Put your hand down and pick up a hammer. Inspire don’t require…..don’t sit there thinking someone owes you because they just don’t. Go and spend some time with some teens and show them how to be a better person with love in your heart. Thank the men in women wearing a badge today for continuing to do their job. Go find a mother and father who have lost a child and hug them.

I will climb down off my soapbox now to pray for PEACE……real peace which is base in a complete telling of the truth and the hope of a society which will look deeply into the present breach and find a new hope….a hope that fosters a world of less reactionary people who assume the best rather than the worst, but who refuse to put on blinders which would leave a neighbor exposed to harm.

Posted by: frkris | May 1, 2015

Seeing with one eye!

Eleven days on and life looks differently with one eye. The surgery seemed to go well  and I now have a buckle around my eye as well as a lovely gas bubble inside my eye which works to press the retina back onto the back wall of my eye. Time will tell how well everything is healing. I am happy to report that the soreness is now minimal although the pressure and related headaches are still annoying. I also cannot see out of this eye but was thrilled that some fuzzy light is coming through when I open my eye (which I have been careful not to do out of fear of being X rated).

Added to this personal health drama we have endured two separate short hospitalizations with Kiah (breathing junk) and then Caroline managed to get sick and the dog was reacting from fleas…….a friend saw me and called me Job. I was beginning to ask “what the heck did we do to deserve this mess!”

Hopefully we are on the back side of this drama. Kiah made it back to school and seems to slowly be getting back to her happy self….grumpy outbursts at her brother are signs of good health. Chloe is still flying on a hairspray cloud and eager to escape to a new life at Florida State University where she is ready to rock the theatre department. She works hard with her childcare jobs and singing at church. She occasionally posts music on youtube which I enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN_Fm1hTbFCNTJXSigNcj9g

Katherine continues to enjoy LAX and even scored a few goals in her last games. Her you tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Lolisfrogger  Calum has begun Spring Football as a rising Senior and seems to be kicking better than ever. He is driving well and driving me around with my one eye. His CK Gaming world is ever expanding with subscribers and I love his creativity. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-J92lZMaDZtsajdgE-GUPw

I remain hopeful that life will return to a new normal…..whatever that is. The one thing that is for sure is that there will be vision and awareness in the next phase of my life. Sometimes when you can’t see with you eye, your heart is able to see with new clarity, which can be pretty amazing. You see and feel love…..you become sensitive to the needs of your heart. You become blind to some of the bright lights of this world which do nothing more than distract and distort.

Thanks for the kind wished and prayers for the return of my vision. I hope this blog would suggest that some new vision has already come. That said, take are of your eyes!!! Holy cow, you do not want to have to have this surgery.

For the brave and curious, here is a video of the procedure I had….pretty graphic so be warned!!!!!!!

Posted by: frkris | April 20, 2015

Off to eye surgery!

This week I discovered some blurriness in my left eye and a few spots where it seemed that I had lost vision. It was a bit scary and so despite having house visitors and family visiting I went to the eye doctor. Glad I did. Discovered that I had developed two tears in my retina which is one of the small risks of cataract replacement surgery which I had in this eye back in December. A quick trip to a specialist and we have begun a journey to save the sight in my left eye. Had no idea house serious this all was and was determined to not allow it to negatively impact my daughter’s performance in HAIRSPRAY the musical….which was truly one of the high points of my life as a parent. Being able to see that moment and stand with the audience was life giving!

So today I go off line. I will have this surgery where they put a scleral (sp?) buckle around my eye and fix the tears and then insert a gas bubble into the eye. I then have to stay down for a couple of weeks to recover.

I am blessed to have an amazing wife who has been juggling this with me as well as the demands of the musical amongst other things. So I am off now to face this hurdle of life….but I do so with some wonderful music in my ears….cause you can’t stop the beat….I can hear the bells…..who would have thought the bald guy would be inspired by Hairspray!

Posted by: frkris | April 12, 2015

Masters at the Masters

The golf I enjoy on television really epitomizes something of excellence. You just find yourself thinking if these folks will ever miss a shot. How can they possibly hit so many good strokes? Golf, like so many things, is about doing something very basic, over and over again. You line up and swing the club and the ball finds the little hole. They make it look so incredibly easy. I can assure you that it is far from easy…..it is near impossible to do what these golfers do.

Perhaps we would do well in our own lives to decide to achieve excellence at something. We may not find ourselves standing on short grass with thousands cheering for us, but we can live our lives knowing that the great cloud of witnesses in heaven cheer for us to RUN TO FINISH. (Heb 12.1).

I can’t wit for all of these great golfers to come to Ponte Vedra again for the Players in a few weeks. I hope Jordan’s grandad will stop and say hi again….hope we can share another ham sandwich and I can hear him speak of his pride in his grandson.

Posted by: frkris | April 6, 2015

Let’s Go Duke!

Today is the end of the road for a Basketball team who have been on a long mission since the beginning of the season to make it to this game. Of course they are champions before the game begins. Of course the big Red machine of Wisconsin are champs as well being led so beautifully by big Frank.

I remember watching the Blue Devils win in 1991. I remember the smell of bduke headerurning benches on the quad. I remember the sounds of cheering. I remember the pride shared collectively and that feeling of arriving at the end of the road with no more games to play….and no games lost in the tourney! I pray that those at Duke now will get to enjoy that feeling (which I also got to feel in 92!) I hope they can look at those banners in the rafters of Cameron and see one from their era. It is a good feeling.

In closing, I hope for a great game with terrific sportsmanship. I pray for the great players to play with greatness. I pray that some little kid will watch the game tonight and decide that his dream is to be a badger or a Blue Devil.

Thank you Lord for games of skill to play and enjoy. Thank you for moments of joy in life and their echos which linger. Thank you for great coaches who teach us and inspire us. Thank you for families who demonstrate love. And thank you for the gift of life and for those who struggle this day for a breath. Amen.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the number of moments which take our breath away!

….and Let’s Go Duke!!!

Posted by: frkris | April 5, 2015

Something to make you laugh on Easter

Easter Humor – from All Saints Episcopal Church – East Lansing

The Orthodox traditions call Easter Monday a day of holy hilarity. It is a day to remember God’s great joke on the cosmos in raising Jesus from the dead. So it is a day for celebration, and for telling jokes. Do you know a good Easter joke? Share it in the comments section (see green link at the bottom that says “comments”, click and share).

Here’s my favorite:

Three guys died and are at the pearly gates of Heaven. St. Peter tells them that they can enter the gates if they can answer one simple question. St. Peter asks the first blonde, “What is Easter?”

The guy replies, “Oh, that’s easy! It’s the holiday in November when everyone gets together, eats turkey, and are thankful.”

“Wrong!” replies St. Peter, and proceeds to ask the second blonde the same question, “What is Easter?”

The second guy replies, “Easter is the holiday in December when we put up a nice tree, exchange presents, and celebrate the birth of Jesus.”

St. Peter looks at the second guy, shakes his head in disgust, tells him he’s wrong, and then peers over his glasses at the third guy.

He asks, “What is Easter?”

The third guy smiles confidently and looks St. Peter in the eyes, “I know what Easter is.”

“Oh?” says St. Peter, incredulously.

“Easter is the Christian holiday that coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Jesus and his disciples were eating at the last supper and Jesus was later deceived and turned over to the Romans by one of his disciples. The Romans took him to be crucified and he was stabbed in the side, made to wear a crown of
thorns, and was hung on a cross with nails through his hands. He was buried in a nearby cave which was sealed off by a large boulder.”

St. Peter smiles broadly with delight.

The third guy20070410-easter03 easter2 resurrection-header-02-1095x1095 continues, “Every year the boulder is moved aside so that Jesus can come out… and, if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.”

——-

A friend was in front of me coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. He grabbed my friend by the hand and pulled him aside. The Pastor said, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!”

My friend said, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor.”

Pastor questioned, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?”

He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service!”

——

Q: What do you call rabbits that marched in a long sweltering Easter parade?

A: Hot, cross bunnies.

——

A man is driving along a highway and sees a rabbit jump out across the middle of the road. He swerves to avoid hitting it, but unfortunately the rabbit jumps right in front of the car. The driver, a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulls over and gets out to see what has become of the rabbit. Much to his dismay, the rabbit is the Easter Bunny, and he is DEAD . The driver feels so awful that he begins to cry.

A beautiful blonde woman driving down the highway sees a man crying on the side of the road and pulls over. She steps out of the car and asks the man what’s wrong.

“I feel terrible,” ! He explains, “I accidentally hit the Easter Bunny with my car and KILLED HIM.”

The blonde says,”Don’t worry.” She runs to her car and pulls out a spray can. She walks over to the limp, dead Easter Bunny, bends down, and sprays the contents onto him. The Easter Bunny jumps up, waves its paw at the two of them and hops off down the road. Ten feet away he stops, turns around and waves again. He hops down the road another 10 feet, turns and waves. Hops another ten feet, turns and waves, and repeats this again and again and again and again,until he hops out of sight.

The man is astonished. He runs over to the woman and demands, “What is in that can? What did you spray on the Easter Bunny ?”

The woman turns the can around so that the man can read the label. It says, “Hair Spray, restores life to dead hair, and adds permanent wave.”

Posted by: frkris | March 14, 2015

Worry!

I was at a Bible study this past week and heard an animated conversation about the nature of WORRY and how when we worry we are committing a sin. I really pondered this for quite some time and it got me thinking about some aspects of my Christian theology.

I think we live in an age where not worrying begins to look attractive. We do not want to know about the state of the climate of the earth beyond our own life span. We do not wish to know about debt of a nation beyond our lifetime. We do not think about the residual effect of our consumption on the rest of the globe. We just live a worry-free existence and claim that this is what God wants for us.

Of course I know I am grossly oversimplifying the conversation but I think there is an aspect of worry that is good and even vital for a Christian disciple. If we are talking about our faith only then worry begins to look like doubt and “backsliding” and there is something in us which finds doubt something that undermines our relationship with God. I might argue that doubting things is a sign of strength….a grounded faith which investigates the truth of Scripture without being afraid to investigate historical and literary issues. Real worry should rest in the heart of someone who blindly embraces dogma and sees a sinner in the mirror whenever life’s hardness causes that person to question God, Jesus, and Spiritual things. I would suggest that striving or wrestling with God is vital to an authentic and lasting faith. When death and tragedy come, we will not have a superficial rule based worry free understanding of God. Rather, we will tremble before the almighty, fully aware of God’s generosity in relation to our humanity.

When we contemplate WORRY in the context of our social context, I believe that God calls us to truly worry about our neighbors. We are called to a place of sacrificial responsibility, where our faith and trust in Jesus Christ is lived out in the world and where our stirring inner waters can change the lives of others by practical response.

So don’t tell me about worry being sinful. I don’t believe it. I think too many people these days walk around having decided that they are able to carry around God’s worry for humanity when it really is not their job. Perhaps those who worry about who gets into heaven, who God favors, and who is a sinner are exhibiting sinful worry….for I will spend my days worrying about why I do not love more…..worrying about why I can’t trust more…..worrying about why I cant find the positive and hopefulness more often.

Perhaps my work in an institution which is a melting pot of worry had my juices flowing. People in a hospital worry about the health….and lots of other things. People worry about family members who are sick. People worry about dying every day. Perhaps my work as a chaplain is to redeem the worry. Transform the worry with God into something of a holy exercise. Where the strain of the journey inward produces and fruit….and faith which needs less form….and hope which is exemplified in a posture of open hands and trust.

Posted by: frkris | March 1, 2015

Get Low!

Watched a great movie recently and it really made me think. I don’t want to give any spoilers away but I think the Robert Duval movie “Get Low” is worth a watch. The movie made me think about how we make presumptions throughout our life. Something in our brains gets a few dots of the story and then we quickly connect those dots in a linear way and make conclusions. Sometimes these conclusions are far from the truth. Sometimes these conclusions hurt people. I have watched throughout my life as a story would break where only a few parts were known, and suddenly there was long litany of innuendo which cascaded. Why do we act like this? What is it that makes people migrate to the salacious? Sometimes when we are maligned, we spend our remaining breath seeking to proclaim our truth, whatever it may be, to a world which seems more interested in the story of what could have been. Perhaps that is one message I take away from this fine movie. We judge at our own peril. We who expend energy running others into the mire of our own manufacturing will be the ones living lives of confusion and it is we who die, not those living at the sharp edge of our gossip.

The other thing which really found its way into my heart through this movie is the idea of forgiveness. I remember writing back in 1990 or 91 that human forgiveness was impossible because it required us to behave in a Divine way which was something we did not have the capacity to do. Imagine my thinking has moved on quite a bit from those days, but I still ponder sometimes whether a person has the ability to truly “forgive” one who has wronged them. We spend our lives learning to live in a dance with the wrongs which we experience, and we seek to find ways to not allow those things to cripple our ability to function. It would be easy to allow those very real hurts and places of unfairness to create a deep tangle such that the wheels of our functionality become unable to turn. Each movement and each discourse has an underlying tension which comes from that mire of feeling….that deep sense of injustice. So how do we let that go? Is that what forgiveness is? Because I am talking about the wrongs others do to us when our wrongs don’t warrant the hurt brought upon us. So often actions and reactions are far too complicated for a simplistic interpretation….like hearing a mother say, “you hit hi, now say you are sorry….and you say sorry too for calling him a name”. It just never seems to be that simple. And yet the thing the movie helped me to explore was how the main character really just wanted to unburden himself. He wanted the truth to be known. There was an element of responsibility which he had to own but there was a mystery of fiction which had grown around the absence of any explanation.

Perhaps if we speak our truth in love, live generously, resist the temptation to assume the worse and give people an opportunity to come from a place of intrinsic goodness, then we might have a chance to rise up before we get low. I could certainly sense my to-do list as I watched the movie and listened to the beautiful music for I succumb to the temptation of shallowness at times, just being critical and projecting my junk into every life situation. Not sure I have enough shelves to place my fragments on, but the bag gets mighty heavy when one doesn’t have a way of setting aside hurt…..when one doesn’t have the strength or the faith to find this thing called forgiveness. But one day the journey and the struggle for relevance will end, and we shall cease writing our story in this world. It will be at that point that we can bury our hurt and burdens under the earth for good, and find authenticity, clarity, and peace…at last.  

Posted by: frkris | January 10, 2015

It’s not my fault

The minute a drunk person does something irresponsible, we start hearing calls to love the sinner and hate the sin. We hear essays about the disease of alcoholism. We are told to feel pity for the person with the disease and then we hear those words, “it is not their fault”. Well today I am just sorry. That is not good enough. I don’t care if you have an addiction issue. If you make a bad decision and that decision leads to the death of another person, it is your fault. You will have to pay a hefty price for the mistake you make regardless of the underlying circumstances.

Perhaps I am tempted to do lots of things which are illegal or perhaps I am just tempted to do things which really I know are not things I should be doing. I have to be responsible for what I do and if I am out of control, then I have to get real and get help, especially if I have a position of responsibility.

When things go wrong, don’t start blaming the poor “sickness” which plagues the person. It is especially insensitive when someone has died as a result of someone’s recklessness. No, this is the time to stand up and say “yes it is their fault”. They are responsible for what they have done and justice will demand a serious penalty.

In the case of the recent story of the Bishop who killed a cyclist, I predict a plea deal and an enormous civil suit against everyone who can be blamed for this horrible lapse in judgement. I also predict a whole host of people feeling sorry for her and expressing solidarity with the disease of alcoholism. I read a blog today where someone talked about addiction as sin. It was an interesting idea and I take issue with it. For you see, all are sinners and in need of God’s Grace but only some are addicts. Perhaps it is addicts who like to put the addiction lens over the whole world to increase their sense of normalization. But I am sorry, I don’t think we ARE all addicts. Sure some have issues which rise to the clinical level which could be diagnosed, but most people live good and honest lives where they love their neighbor and try and cultivate a bit of happiness each day. Don’t try and blame them for your problems. I am sorry, there are times when you get to dance and there are times when you have to tip the fiddler….as the old mountain saying goes.

In conclusion, I would also call to mind the senseless acts of barbarism in France this week. I blame those who pulled the trigger. I blame the radical people who encouraged their violence. I blame all those with blood on their hands. Perhaps they were suffering from some terrible issue or disease……even so, it was their fault the minute they chose to mercilessly take lives. So stop trying to soften these edges and pretend reality is not what it in fact is. The sooner we do that the sooner our national denial might lift and we start taking ownership for our decisions, be they good or bad, and stop blaming predisposition to sin, whatever shape it might take.

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