Friday, August 19, 2011

August 17

Clara, the youngest, will have many adventures and achievements in her coming years. But forever and always, when she looks back on her life, she will have this: August 17, 2011, the day her dad took her to her first Major League Baseball Game.

The trip was really in honor of Olivia's 11th birthday, so she should get most of the press here. But it was Clara's first-ever MLB game, so that added to the specialness of the day.

Right over the top of Olivia's head there is grandpa, my dad. And my brother there on the other side of him. I got to figuring we've been going to Mariners' games for at least 3 decades now, so it was all the more poignant for them to be part of Olivia and Clara's day.

Here's Safeco Field on a sunny Seattle evening:

Really, for all the bad press Seattle gets about weather and such, there's no prettier place when the sun decides to come out. And almost no better place to enjoy it than sitting in the bleachers at the ball park.

Uncle Michael decided to buy the kids dessert.
Cotton Candy.

Dippin' Dots

As to the game. . .as I said, my dad and I have been doing this for 30+ years. And in all that time, the one certainty is the M's will lose more often than they win. And this was a normal night in that regard.

We showed up in time to kick a family out of our front-row seats (out in the left field bleachers) just before somebody sang O Canada (we were playing Toronto, and I think there were more Canadians there than Americans) and the National Anthem. Watched the first inning. Went to find hot dogs and fries. Came back and it was already 4-0 Toronto. And that was pretty much it. A little exciting later on when the M's loaded the bases with 1 out (the last guy got on when Brandon Morrow beaned Caspar Wells in the face with a fastball), but then Ichiro grounded into a double play, and that was it. Typical Mariners baseball.

But then again, a bad night at the ballpark is better than a good night sitting at home watching movies on netflix, so it was worth it. And to spend time with dad and Michael, and to celebrate Olivia's birthday and to take Clara to her first-ever professional baseball game, that was all wonderful.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Review: The Pastor

Ever pick up a book and realize it's written directly to, and about, you? Ever have a book that comes along at just the right moment, perfectly matching your situation, essentially changing your life?

I'd been meaning to get to Eugene Peterson's memoir The Pastor ever since it came out, but had a large pile of unread books I was working through. Then Ron came in and dropped a copy on my desk. He had no idea I was about to enter into a long summer of introspection and assessment. He had no idea I was going to need a friendly voice to sit with me as I sat and pondered my ministry and my life this summer. He just knew I probably needed to get to this book sooner rather than later.

And so Peterson has been a voice speaking into my life all summer, whether sitting in the quiet of my living room, or flying with me on the way into Chicago, or sitting beside the Skykomish River waiting to catch a fish. And his truly has been a helpful, and necessary, voice.

Peterson has written a lot of books during his storied career as pastor, writer, and professor; now that he has laid most of those titles aside, he has chosen to look back over the last decades and find the places God was working, using them as signposts to the rest of us, clues to the ways God might be working still. He points out quickly that Pastor has never been an easy title, and is probably more confusing now than ever. "North American culture does not offer congenial conditions in which to live vocationally as a pastor. Men and women who are pastors in America today find that they have entered into a way of life that is in ruins."

Thankfully, Peterson chose another way, a non-comformist way; or, as Peterson would probably say, God led him through this vocation to another way, a way of life in which he learned to live as Pastor to a specific people in a specific place over a long period of time.

I liken it to a long walk through a dark wood. There is beauty and terror along the way, with no clear path, no obvious trail. But God has left markers along the way to keep us on the path. Peterson has gone ahead of us, sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding, but he's now teaching us how to live in this forest. No quick plans to bring the forest to submission, no designs on fame or fortune; instead, an attentiveness to God's provision in the moment, and his people traveling with us.

One of the most helpful pieces throughout this book is Peterson's attempt at reclaiming the role of Pastor, a role this world can't seem to figure out. Whereas often the role of pastor is co-opted into CEO, therapist (my personal temptation), or simply village dimwit (Rev. Lovejoy, anyone?), Peterson works hard at drawing healthier, more vibrant pictures of what it means to represent Christ, to serve a people, to become part of a place and witness to what God is doing there. It certainly challenged me to consider why I'm in Lakebay, and what, in the end, God is calling me to do here.

So I need to thank Ron for dropping it on my desk, I need to thank Peterson for writing it. . .and now that I'm finished, I think I need to read it again. And again. And again.

Friday, August 05, 2011

hither and yon

Sometime back there in late June, my family left Lakebay for Colorado, and the Covenant's Feast and Annual Meeting. The end of that week, Olivia took off for Southern California and time with Nana and Tata, while Clara and I came back home.

A few weeks later Clara headed to Southern California to see family and friends. The next week I flew off to Chicago for four days of meetings and such. While I was gone, Olivia flew back to Seattle, where she stayed with Grandma and Grandpa for a couple days. Last week I flew home and picked up Olivia. She was back in her own room all of one day, because the next day I dropped her off at Cascades Camp in Yelm.

Monday I headed up into the mountains for 4 days of camping, fishing, train watching, and solitude. It was good. But this solitude thing is getting a little old.

So. . .tomorrow morning Olivia comes back from camp. Tomorrow evening Clara flies home. And tomorrow night, for the first time in over a month, our family will all be together, in our own home. And hopefully it will remain that way for a while.