Tuesday, April 19, 2005


When your prof comes in and declares to your entire class, "I want to create a stressful environment for you for the next two weeks," you know it's time to hide under you desk and scream, or just get up and walk out. Of course, the peaceful alternative to all this is to take the crap he gives you, turn it in when he asks and participate in the incredibly stressful exercise of strategic assessment in front of the entire college board of directors/whatever you call the big-wigs here, that this course requires. I pride myself in being a very intense individual who never takes the easy way out and always stands up for myself and my beliefs . . . So, I will see you all sometime, two weeks from today when I can crawl out from under this immense pile of papers and books and do something besides homework.

Goodbye for now. Look for me in Purgatory, I do not believe in it, but it surely must be a lot like a certain small private college I know only too well.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Life Is Not a Trip

Friendship is a strange, yet interesting phenomenon. Have you ever had a friend disappear for years and years, then suddenly contact you out of the blue? Yeah, they usually want money, but perhaps there's more to their phone call or email than just green smelly paper.

A friend who went to Costa Rica with me four years ago suddenly emailed me this week. The funny thing is, I rarely think about that trip, but I had thought about this particular friend only yesterday. I had wondered how he was and what turns his life had taken since that trip that seems so long ago. Many of the things that happened in Costa Rica still occur to me on a regular basis. But most of my memories center around the natives of Costa Rica with whom I shared the gospel, or the lessons I learned from that trip.

I rarely think about the kids who went with me, the ones who were just like me. The ones who lived every moment of the trip in continual awe of God, realizing that the things we went through exceeded our wildest expectations of what could happen on an eight day mission trip in a country that is not so far away. We prayed, and walked, and talked, and learned; and we were inspired by the coolest most positive youth leaders I have ever had the opportunity of meeting.

At the end of it all I got up and gave an inspiring testimony before 1500 people who I did not even know. And they cheered me and encouraged me and talked to me as if I suddenly had some sort of maturity.

That trip was awesome, but it was a trip. It did not last. I keep in close contact with one person from that trip and I have not seen him since the trip because he lives in another country. I did keep in contact with another couple friends for a while, but even that did not last. I still remember my team in a lumped together, nostalgic sort of way. We all wanted to have a reunion mission trip back to Costa Rica, but we all went on to do other things and walk other paths. That's how life is, it's not a trip. You get to know people along the way. Some of them stay with you forever, some of them will always be a part of your life. But some of them move on to other paths and you forget their friendship.

Still, it is good to remember those times and those friendships. Beware memories that trap you and make you unhappy with where you are in life. But cherish those memories that return at exactly the right moment and help you move forward once again with renewed vigor. Sometimes things happen that recall friendships lost or ended, and in the recall you can find either wistful longing, or encouragement for the future. There have been many memories that steeled me to act in a way I knew I should act, that taught me the right way to be, that came back in the nick of time to help me grow in the way that God wanted me to grow.

One small thing that I have learned in life, is that one should always cherish one's frienships because the older you get, the fewer true, close friends you have. The friends worth spending time with are the ones you must stick with. And sometimes, it seems you have lost the friends who would have been very good for you to keep. Then as you go along your way, you will either find better friends, or the old friends will mysteriously turn up in your inbox.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Two Things to Say

1) Read this article, it will make you cry. At least, I hope it will make you cry. If it does, cry in a good way. Cry in response to the truth that this article expresses. No, I am not saying I agree with the office of pope, only to the example of God's love that the late John Paul II gave us.

2) When you're done crying, this is totally hilarious.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Just a Man

Leading the way. Posted by Hello

Pictured above you can see Pope John Paul II whose passing we have begun to mourn this day. I occupy the odd position of being a Protestant (and almost a Lutheran) who happens to respect the Pope to a great degree. Let me explain.

Many is the time that I have mentioned the Pope only to hear someone say, "He's just a man." I disagree. The Pope was not just a man, he was a man who did some great things in his life. He was a man who pointed to a deeper, sterner morality. He was a man who rejected the moral relativism that charged into society in the 1960's. He was a man who stood against Soviet communism in the face of a world that believed no form of government was better than another. He was a man who championed human dignity and understood that everyone is equal. He understood that every person is endowed with certain rights and ought to be treated as if that were true. More than this, he spoke out about those rights. You were never uncertain about what Pope John Paul II believed, nor what he believed in. To have such a man become an international figure at the time that he did caused much to change in the world.

Many things have happened since Karol Wojtyla was chosen for the papacy in 1978. The world changed drastically since that time. Communism remained strong in 1978. Culturally the world had changed following Vatican 2. You can read all about his life in an article by William Kristol. Kristol shows the importance of John Paul II's papacy on the world at large in his well written essay. John Paul II gave more to the world than a commentary unhindered by politics and rich with a true understanding of good and evil. He gave more to the world than merely a very active pope who cared deeply about human suffering and fought to preserve morality. In a way, he gave the world a commission.

The photo above expresses a certain symbolism about the Pope's life that must be understood. Slowly, head bent, he steps forward, and what do we see? We see humility and suffering. We see an office taken and used for good to draw mankind forward towards a greater light. We see a way pointed out to us, perhaps one that many cannot follow. He showed us a different life, one that many may be searching for as I write. In taking that way of life he asks that we rise above being just people and realize that we have a choice. We can choose to live our lives without paying attention to anything but our own wants and needs. Or we can choose to live our lives in making the world a better place.

Meditation on truth and morality should not lead us down a despondent path. John Paul II realized this. His life echoed a deep sense of joy even as he said "Be not afraid!" at the beginning of his papacy. He rose above the temptation to despair about where the world is going. He chose to make the world a better place; to put his belief in truth and morality--his belief in God--to practice. As the Pope he could have looked down upon humanity and acted above them. Instead he worked for every person's rights, and strove for the common person. Not long before he died, he heard that young people had enmassed outside of the Vatican, "I have been waiting for you," he said. No doubt he had, no doubt he knew that someday someone would have to carry on his legacy. To bend beneath that weight of humility and strive to define the world around them by declaring what was good and what was evil. By clearly believing in what they spoke out for in more than words alone.

That is the commission of John Paul II, a man. Just a man in a position to make the world a better place and actually attempting to do that. He was just a mortal man, who believed in an immortal God and tried to do His will.