I saw the Sue Orfield Band for the first time last August at Tuesday Night Blues at the Owen Park Bandshell in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I was blown away by this amazing blues-jazz-rock band (depending on who’s describing it), fronted by a female sax player. How many of those can there be? I knew I needed to find out more about this woman who was so clearly playing on purpose.
One day in fifth grade as Sue Orfield rode the bus to school in Menomonie, Wisconsin, she heard something making beautiful music on the radio. She had no idea what the instrument was, but she knew she wanted to play it. When she asked her brother if he knew what it was, he told her it was a saxophone and a big one, at that.
“You’re here to love.”
The words came in a whisper to Margaret Trost as she sat in a pew at St. Clare’s Church in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She stared at the back-wall’s painting of Jesus that her brother had created on a previous visit, disheartened because all her efforts seemed insufficient to fill the ever-present needs of the people she was with, and asking “Why am I here?” That day she’d seen a man dead and abandoned in the street, watched helplessly as the food program she had founded ran out of food with hungry children still in line, and become overwhelmed with the needs of these people in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The words bubbled up inside her with certainty and conviction: “You’re here to love.” (Read more)
Three weeks ago, I brought a new presence into my life and house. I’d been thinking of adopting another dog for awhile. It’s been over ten years since my dog, Boz, died. I’d fallen in love with Scrubs, my friend Tom Skinner’s PTSD service dog, and began to think that, now that I wasn’t on the road as much as I was in my previous job, it would be good to have doggy energy and companionship in my world again. I began haunting the Eau Claire County Humane Association’s website, looking at dog pictures and reading their stories. Tiki’s new sock is on her back right foot. It stayed there just long enough to take the picture. I went out one day to see a beautiful year-old black lab. He about took my arm off when we walked and I realized he was too much dog for me at this point in my life. They let me go back into the kennel and get to know the other dogs. Two had come in that weren’t on the website yet, an adorable pug and the little girl on the right. They say she’s Cairn Terrier mixed with who-knows-what. The vet thinks maybe beagle because she so long-bodied. I think there’s a little black lab in her face. The shelter had named her “Felicity.” She captured my heart. She came home with me two days later.
Street Coaching with The People’s Coach, Shivani Mair (by CreativebyNature1)
Here’s a lovely short video by a co-active coach in the United Kingdom demonstrating the immediate and powerful impact of coaching. Is it time for you to create your life the way you’ve always wanted it?
Tokyo is the home of the world’s latest animal celebrity: An “explosive” penguin equipped with “tremendous speed” who escaped the Tokyo Sea Life Park. The unnamed, one-year-old Humboldt penguin has already given newspapers a reason to cite Madagascar and snicker. According to the BBC the penguin busted out on Sunday, was last seen making its way to Tokyo Bay.
The AFP reports that the penguin “scaled a sheer rock face to escape from a Tokyo zoo. As one official at the aquarium said, ”Of course it can’t fly, but sometimes wildlife have an ‘explosive’ power when frightened by something. Maybe it ran up the rock after being surprised… It’s a bit of a struggle to catch it when it is swimming, because it swims at a tremendous speed.”
Read more. [Image (of a different penguin): AP]
One of my favorite parts of coaching is working with clients on their Life Purpose. I’m not generally a prodigal capitalizer, but somehow it seems as though working to help focus on and define the purpose of one’s life is big stuff. Every now and then, it deserves the focus of Capital Letters.
Click here for the story of one person who knows and i is living his purpose.
Ever notice that when most people set their New Year’s Resolutions, they often don’t make it a month before they give up on effecting meaningful change in their lives? It doesn’t have to be that way. In the 20 years since we helped pioneer the life coaching profession, we’ve learned a thing or two about what really works to set and achieve goals. Here’s how to make those New Year’s Resolutions stick for a change:
Walter Brueggemann, a Disruptive and Hopeful Voice for All Ages
by Krista Tippett, host
Walter Brueggemann is a very special voice. He is one of those figures — another being Jaroslav Pelikan — who is not a household name but is revered in his universe of knowledge and accomplishment. He’s a kind of theological rock star. His name has been synonymous with the phrase “prophetic imagination” for three decades of preachers and Christian teachers. Students in all kinds of seminaries read him, and they are captivated by the man as much as his ideas. That’s my explanation for why the live video stream of our conversation is one of On Being’s most-watched online interviews.
I too was thrilled to meet this man whose writings I have admired up close; he more than fulfills the promise of those writings. Walter Brueggemann is not merely an expert. He somehow embodies this tradition of the prophets that he knows as well as anyone living. He is wise and forceful, quick to laugh, passionately challenging, and fiercely hopeful. He demonstrates as much as teaches the way the prophets of the ages are disruptive of politics and culture as usual.
He helps me understand that part of a prophet’s power is in wielding language poetically rather than stridently. Beginning with the words they choose, they transcend ideological splits that actually inhibit us from seizing the great challenges and problems of our time.
“I have a dream” is the line we all remember from Martin Luther King Jr., whom Walter Brueggemann identifies as a prophet of living memory. King wasn’t talking about “enacting a civil rights bill,” Brueggemann says, “except that he was.” He points out that the prophetic voice is not issues-based. It accomplishes the harder, more necessary work of reframing the big picture of what is at stake, so that we can take in the reality of our moment in a new way, with a new sense of what might be possible.
Prophets help us connect the dots between the world as it is and the world as it might be. Prophets tend to emerge in moments of chaos and change, and this is surely a description of our age as of the 1960s or of the era of the biblical fall of Jerusalem. Walter Brueggemann helps us reclaim some important language for being people of change and chaos: the healing necessity of “lamentations,” the difference between being bold and being strident, the hard and life-giving work of letting go of comfort for the sake of what is important. That work, he says to Christian preachers and teachers, has to happen in the pulpit as in life.
Yet, even as he challenges, Walter Brueggemann calls upon mercy, another word he recovers in all its usefulness and beauty. Indeed, he shows how the two are meaningfully fused. He reminds us that the Hebrew word (like the Arabic word) for “mercy” is derived from the word for “womb.” It is the ultimate image of knowing one’s own well-being to be bound up with the well-being of another. And it comes with an extreme amount of discomfort.
How refreshing to experience a voice that is at once deeply disruptive and beautiful and critical and hopeful without any of these qualities clashing. In Walter Brueggemann’s prophetic imagination, we experience a new way of being, of living, and of faithfulness. He reminds us too — and I find this point essential — that, alongside our pantheon of prophets across time and cultures, there are countless prophets of the everyday in communities everywhere who are not and will never be famous. So many of us long to transcend what he calls “the managed prose” around us; Walter Brueggemann shows us that while this is difficult and terrifying it is can also be exhilarating and life-giving. I’m very happy to bring Walter Brueggemann’s voice to the air in this season, at this moment in time.
Image of Walter Brueggemann courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press.
I’m over it.
For twenty-five years as a pastor, I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about Christmas. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I believe in Christmas. I believe that as we gather around the manger and celebrate the baby, as we follow Joseph and Mary to an overflow space in Bethlehem where there are animals and some kind of bin that holds their food and ends up doing double-duty as a bassinet, as we find the shepherds outside of town, and witness the brilliance of a star, we find God-with-us. We find Emmanuel.
How many more ways are there to say that this discovery should totally rock our world?
It did rock our world. And then we got used to it.
Two thousand years went by and the baby in the manger became cute and sweet and meek and mild and the shepherds became quaint and the angels became just a beautiful heavenly choir in really, really clean white clothes, surrounded by light.
I’m over trying to preach “real Christmas.” I’m tired of scouring the internet for a new idea and, instead, finding the same things I’ve been finding for twenty-five years. I’m weary of reminding people for the zillionth time that the shepherds were the poorest of the poor, that Mary and Joseph might or might not have been poor or middle class but they probably weren’t homeless as the “let’s exaggerate the poverty” folks keep wanting to say, that it wasn’t all clean and antiseptic and Christmas card-y, but maybe it wasn’t as smelly and messy as the story-correcters want to make it. I’m over making the distinction between sentimentality and love. I’m over making sure we “keep Christ in Christmas” and making sure we know “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
And I’m over the spending and the shopping. I’m over feeling guilty because I actually like my family and don’t consider spending time with them torture. I’m over making sure that people realize that Church-Christmas and Secular-Christmas are really two separate things and reminding them that we need to remember the Meaning of the Season.
I’m over thinking the people who go to my church don’t get it.
I think they do.
I think they are smart enough to hold the paradox. They’re smart enough to love the fable of Santa Claus and the spirit of giving and the Norman Rockwell-ish warmth of “the season.” And they’re smart enough to know that Christmas is more than that. They’re smart enough to know that the power of the Magnificat and the toppling of the mighty from their thrones that we talk about on the Fourth Sunday of Advent is what comes into being just a few days later. So I’m over beating them over the head with it.
I don’t know how to preach on Christmas Eve. So I don’t, mostly.
We tell the story. We sing the songs. We light the candles. We pray. And most of all, we hope.
New blog post:
When two people lean in with 100% of their energy, strength, creativity and trust, amazing things can be created.
This is a powerful example of authentic and courageous leadership.
Kicking off a series of blog posts about core values.
Second in a series of blog posts about core values.