We Hunger

“We hunger to be known and understood. We hunger to be loved. We hunger to be at peace inside our own skins. We hunger not just to be fed these things but, often without realizing it, we hunger to feed others these things because they too are starving for them. We hunger not just to be loved but to love, not just to be forgiven but to forgive, not just to be known and understood for all the good and bad times that for better or worse have made us who we are, but to know and understand each other to the point of seeing that, in the last analysis, we all have the same good times, the same bad times, and that for every season there is no such thing in all the world as anyone who is really a stranger.”–Frederick Buechner from “Secrets in the Dark”

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Buechner. My call to ministry, as a Diaconal Minister in the Evangelical Lutheran church in America (ELCA) is best captured in this Buechner quote “The place God calls you to be is the place where the world’s deep hunger and your deep gladness meet.”

Yes, that place where the world’s deep hunger and my deep gladness meet. The thing is, my friends, that hunger is all around us. We all hunger in some way or another. Yes, there are many who literally hunger. God calls us to reach out to them and provide food for them. I am proud of organizations like Backpack Buddies in our community where backpacks are filled with food and given to families who are struggling to get them through the weekend.

I don’t know what it is like to hunger in the way these people do. I have a roof over my head. I have a refrigerator full of food. I have a warm place to lay my head at night. I can go out and buy more food if I need too. So I have never truly experienced hunger in this way, but my friends, we all hunger…

We hunger to find that special person to share life with.

We hunger for peace to be brought about in this world.

We hunger for the end to violence and war.

We hunger to know that there is enough.

We hunger to know that we are enough!

And in that hungering, we begin to truly hear the words from Frederich Buechner because we are truly not alone. We are all alike in many ways. We all have things that we hunger for and need in our lives. We all hunger for God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. And in that promise, we know that we are truly never a lone; that we are truly never strangers.

Hope Stands Up To Its Knees

I don’t know about you but on days like today especially, I find my emotions on an emotional roller coaster. The truth is feeling emotions is only human. It is only natural to feel these emotions. ..to feel brokeness, sadness, and probably even a little anger. Today a tornado hit in Oklahoma City and it appears many children have lost their life. I don’t understand why these things happen and I know that I am not alone in questioning why things happen. But what I do know is that God is with us in the midst of it all. God is with those who are laying in that rubble tonight in Moore OK.  I think of my friend Renee’s husband Ben as Ben lay in the Haitian rubble. What comes to mind are the words that Ben was singing that night, “God’s peace to us we pray…”

Even in the last moments of his life, Ben prayed…prayed for God’s peace. And tonight in the midst of our hurting broken world, we too pray and ask God’s peace to reign. However it is hard to find that peace when there is so much sadness is in our world. This past year there has been so much brokeness—a tornado, West Texas, the Boston Marathon bombings, Sandy Hook, Auroro Colorado….and the list goes on. So much sadness….so much brokeness….so much pain….so much fear….so much doubt. Yet God promises that God will always be with us. God walks with us in the midst of our pain, our sorrow, and our sadness. God is ALWAYS there.

A friend shared the following quote from Frederick Buechner (I love Buechner!) on his Facebook page tonight. Buechner’s quote offers the peace and hope that I think many of us are searching for tonight. My prayer is that it brings you a little peace, hope and comfort tonight as well.

“Hope stands up to its knees in the past and keeps its eyes on the future. There has never been a time past when God wasn’t with us as the strength beyond our strength, the wisdom beyond our wisdom, as whatever it is in our hearts–whether we believe in God or not–that keeps us human enough at least to get by despite everything in our lives that tends to wither the heart and make us less than human. To remember the past is to see that we are here today by grace, that we have survived as a gift.” (Frederick Buechner)

An Underground Spring…

We celebrate All Saints Sunday on Sunday. On that day we remember all the saints that have passed away over the past year. However there are saints in our life who have already gone before us and those who are still among us. One of my favorite seminary professors posted a quote this morning on his FaceBook account from Frederick Buechner’s book “Now and Then.” (I haven’t read that book yet so I had to ask the professor which of Buechner’s books it comes from. I will be reading this in the near future) The quote reads “More than anything else, to be a saint is to know joy, not happiness that comes & goes, but joy always there like an underground spring.”

I love the image that this quote conjures up. For me it immediately reminds me of my mama…this wonderful woman of God who has lived most of my life with a mental illness. She is one of the most gracious people I know. I am not saying that she never gets sad because she does. She misses my sister and I and wishes we could visit more. I wish we could too. She misses her parents who have passed away. She mourned the loss of her marriage and our family when her and my dad divorced. Yet even through all these trials, she, more often, than not exudes joy! At our recent synod gathering, we were talking about joy and happiness etc. I used my mom as an example. Pure joy was seeing her face when my sister and I walked into her room at the nursing home/assisted living facility. Joy in my mom is like that underground spring always ready to burst forth. May we too be more full of joy like that underground spring springing forth for all to see. Thank you mama for showing me what that underground spring looks like!

So I will close again with the words of Buechner,”More than anything else, to be a saint is to know joy, not happiness that comes & goes, but joy always there like an underground spring.”