Open Eyes, Open Mind: a new weekly reflective

December 30, 2011

For the past few months I’ve toyed with the idea of collating the best of what I see each week. I really enjoy sharing resources and regularly post links, quotes, and thoughts on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. But I’ve been thinking that perhaps it would be good to collect the best of those each week into a post that my friends could take a look at as they please. With that in mind, “open eyes, open mind” was born.

I’m convinced that there’s that of God all around us…ideas that provoke and prod, bring joy and hope, and spur us onward. So I’m going to try sharing things that have made me think, laugh, cry or consider over the past week each Friday (or Saturday) here on my blog. It’ll be a downloadable PDF with live links to each item. All I ask is that if something causes you to pause, smile, reflect, or reconsider that you leave a comment, thought or question so that we might engage in conversation. Here’s the inaugural one, which I’m labeling as 2012, issue negative one, seeing as we’re not quite into the new year yet. Enjoy!



“In the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

December 23, 2011

A couple nights ago, I had the privilege of hosting a reflective prayer path at my house (here was the Facebook invite). We had a great turnout & people seemed to really appreciate some time to slow down, pause, and consider the presence of Hope in the advent season. I thought I’d post the guide from the night for those of you who couldn’t make it. Enjoy!

Welcome & Overview

Station Guide

Christmas Take Home Letter (from final station)

Environmental Theology…

April 11, 2011

The past week of my grad school studies has included a brief glance at environmental theology. As Christians, we ought to have a theology for every area of life…an understanding of how God is present in and sustains every area of our lives. We read a selection from Wendell Berry (one of my favorite writers) and below you’ll find my post for the week. Thought it might spark some thought/reflection and I really enjoyed writing it.

The assignment: List 4-5 areas that you believe the Christian community needs to take on to deal with environmental issues (based out of our reading, which you can read for yourself here). Read the rest of this entry »

Forts, falling leaves, and other acts of faithfulness.

January 31, 2011

Growing up, we had two massive trees in our front yard. They were great for playing hide and seek behind, for showering us with fort-building materials in the fall, and providing some much-needed shade in the middle of scorching summer afternoons spent playing outside. Sad were the days when first one and then the next had to come down, morphing our front play space into an area much easier to play catch in, but more bland as well.

One day toward the end of grade school, though, they handed out trees to all of the students to take home and plant. I proudly claimed a tiny little sapling, excited about the idea that I could fill what had now been empty for a couple years. My parents, being the kind-hearted people that they are, let me plant it right in the middle of our front yard, barely taller than an angry weed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why is the church working today?

January 17, 2011

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Schools, universities and government institutions across the country are closed for a day to consider the monumental impact of one man’s life that was part of an entire movement that helped to move humanity forward toward a more just society.*

But if you work for a (white) church** today, you’re probably at work. And this morning I have to ask, “Why?” Read the rest of this entry »

Europe 10/11 – Ringing in Christmas with Americans & the rest of the world

December 26, 2010

Paris Days Three & Four
Ringing in Christmas with Americans & the rest of the world

I’m currently on a 3 1/2 week trip to Europe.  Centered primarily around the Taize community in France as well as their annual gathering (which is Rotterdam this year) I’ll also be doing some sightseeing and reflecting/relaxing.  Here I hope to log my journey for any who desire to join, first in a several sentence summary (for the busy folk) and then in a more detailed form (for the interested).

La petite
Yesterday (Friday), was spent at the Louvre, before venturing to a Christmas Eve service at The American Church in Paris, an international gathering of english speaking Christians, and then attending midnight mass at Notre Dame.

Today included a delicious chocolate crepe on my way to the Eiffel Tower, then returning to the hostel and preparing to leave early in the morning for Rotterdam.  My next two days will be spent helping to prepare for Taize’s annual gathering of young people and then participating in it for the following several days.  I don’t know what my internet access will be like, but I’ll update if I’m able.

Le grand
On Christmas Eve I decided to venture to the Louvre, one of the premiere art museums in the world and most visited, with millions of patrons every year.  A former palace that was transformed into a museum after Versailles was built (because the King thought the Louvre was too small!) it boasts 12 miles of art covered hallways and rooms that hold some of the most famous artwork in the world (such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo).  It’s the sort of place you could spend weeks in and literally just scratch the surface.  Besides the artwork, the building itself is incredibly beautiful.  I stuck to the basics, got an audio guide, and spent several hours exploring.  While surely incredible, the Louvre was honestly a bit overwhelming.  I think I enjoyed the Musee d’Orsay more, just in that it was somewhat more comprehendible. 

On a side note, in the DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, he suggests that the Holy Grail is hidden underneath the inverted pyramid at the Louvre.  Turns out there are 2 “holy grails” under it actually…an Apple store & a Starbucks!  Next to the Louvre is an underground shopping mall & it starts at the inverted pyramid.

One of my friends from grad school has spent the last several years living in France and she recommended that I check out the American Church in Paris (, a large, international, English speaking congregation, for Christmas Eve (thanks Kristen!).  This service was probably one of the highlights of the trip so far (though there have been many of them). As you would, perhaps, expect in Paris, there was some incredibly artistic people involved, including performances of Ave Maria, a handbell choir, a gigantic organ (talk about some epic Christmas carols), and a candle lighting at the end.  The service was liturgical in nature and truly inspiring.  The pastor, Scott Herr, gave an excellent message on the Christmas story according to Galations (yup…you read that right).  Hopefully you’ll be able to read/hear it soon here:

After that service, I quickly headed over to Notre Dame where I arrived just in time to catch midnight mass.  There we literally thousands and thousands of people there…Notre Dame is gigantic and it was entirely packed, standing room only, with no space to move.  The homily, given by Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, was entirely in French (and thus mostly not understandable by me) but the experience of standing in the square with thousands of others listening to the bells of Notre Dame ring in Christmas Day was truly amazing.

I got a late start Christmas Day, after sleeping in a bit after my late night on Christmas Eve and then headed off to the Eiffel Tower.  The sun shone brightly for the first time since I had arrived in Paris, seemingly appropriate for Christmas Day, when we celebrate the arrival of a Light shining in the darkness.  I hiked up the stairs to the first level of the tower and enjoyed some great views of the city.  Unfortunately, the upper levels of the tower were closed for some reason, but you could still see plenty of Paris from twenty some odd stories up.

The rest of the day was sent on various odds & ends…packing up, figuring out plans, and preparing to leave by train to Rotterdam this morning.  I had to make an early start of it this morning, with my train leaving the station at 6:01 this morning, but my eurorail pass secured me first class somehow, so I got a great breakfast, seating with lots of leg room, and free internet (which is allowing me to post this).  Today I’ll arrive in Rotterdam and help them to begin to prepare for the Taize European gathering (you can read more here: I have no idea what the next few days will hold exactly or when I’ll have internet access again, but I’ll post an update when I can.  Merry Christmas from the other side of the pond!

Europe 10/11 – pt 2 – l’Art dans Tout

December 23, 2010

Paris Day Two – 12/23/2010

I’m currently on a 3 1/2 week trip to Europe.  Centered primarily around the Taize community in France as well as their annual gathering (which is Rotterdam this year) I’ll also be doing some sightseeing and reflecting/relaxing.  Here I hope to log my journey for any who desire to join, first in a several sentence summary (for the busy folk) and then in a more detailed form (for the interested).

La petite
After sleeping in & catching up on some rest, I spent the bulk of the day at the Musee d’Orsay having my mind blown by incredible works of art and then took a snowy, early evening stroll down the Champs Elysées to l’Arc de Triomphe.  Paris avec la neige may be cold, but it’s gorgeous.

Le grand
In my weeks before the trip, I had a mini-revelation.  Seeing as no one else was coming with me on the trip, I didn’t need to meet anyone else’s expectations.  While with a group, it’s proper to acquiesce to others desires, or at least to walk “la rue de of compromise,” with just me, I reminded myself that I should enjoy things just the way I wanted, in the way that would be most refreshing.

This morning that meant sleeping in.  After sprinting for a month to get ready for my time away and then the craziness of travel, I was pretty well beat by the time I got here.  Some extra sleep and a slow morning made the day much better, though I still seem to be overcoming jet lag.

Musee d’Orsay is one of the premier art museums in France and the world, housed in an incredible old train station that is itself a work of art.  They are currently holding a special feature on Jean Leon Gerome, a French painter and sculptor in the mid-to-late 1800’s.  Displaying an expansive oevre, Gerome’s work is impressive both in style and its progressive elements for its time.

Also housed at the Musee d’Orsay are works by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Renault, and Cezanne, just to name a (very) few.  It’s really quite difficult to do justice to the pieces found there and the building in which they’re displayed.  My understanding of art and its history is fairly minimal, but I was continually amazed.

One featured artist particularly of note was Alexandre Charpentier, a sculptor, engraver, carpenter of sorts.  Charpentier was the founder of “L’Art dans tout” (Art in Everything), a group artistic interior designers, furniture makers, painters, and architects.  Their contention was that art was not just to be displayed in special “magnificent” paintings and sculptures, but should be incorporated into the everyday details and mundane objects of life.  I couldn’t help but be stuck by the similarity of the concept of holistic discipleship that helps us understand that spirituality is a pervasive piece of our lives and not a segment gathered into compartmentalized hours of our week.  It’s striking to consider this concept in a country crowned with ornate chapelry.  The churches dotting the French landscape were constructed with the intrinsic purpose of reminding the viewer of God’s transcendence, power, and beauty.  Summed up simply, they leave us awestruck.  But what’s striking about Christ’s life was the way that he lived it in an awe-creating way and then left his disciples to live in similar ways (John 14:12).  The point was not all-powerful moments, but lives of faithful, incredible love.  Lives like those of Brother Roger, who I will be learning more of and speaking more of as I head toward Taize.

Though I was disappointed that part of the museum was closed for renovations, it may have been a good thing, as dusk was setting in when I finally made my exit.

Stepping outside, I was reminded it was winter, with a brisk wind and a steady snow starting to fall.  Not to be deterred, I decided to skip the metro and walk across la Tuileries and Place de Concord before starting the long (it didn’t seem like it would be that far!) walk down the Champs Élysées to l’Arc de Triomphe.  The snow honestly made things incredibly beautiful and though it was a tad colder than the day before, the beauty made it a preferable way to experience Paris.

Champs Élysées is an overpriced, though attractive, shopping street on steroids.  While stopping in Luis Vuitton, I decided to pass on the 1500 euro purse and 10,000 euro suitcase.  Needless to if anyone’s going to get any souvenirs, it won’t be till later in the trip.  Though plenty of people seem to apparently possess ridiculous sums of many which they enjoy spending on inane objects.

By the time I got to l’Arc de Triomphe, they had unfortunately closed the top due to the weather, but I still spent some time tromping about the bottom taking pictures and the like before grabbing the metro back to the hostel.

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