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February 29, 2008

The Creator Doodles

Morning_explosion_lrThe other morning I was on my way to grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks. It was early and the sun had not yet risen. I turned to my right, looked out the car window, and witnessed one of the most spectacular celestial scenes I've ever witnessed.

The rising sun had created a brilliant, fiery pink shaft of light shooting straight up into the air. I don't know if it was clouds below the horizon that directed the sun's rays like a giant searchlight, but it took my breath away. I had my camera in the back seat of the car and quickly pulled it out to take this picture.

A minute later, it was gone.

Every once in a while God reminds me that He is Creator and, like all true artists, His creative work is never finished.

The sky is God's canvas, and each day we get to watch Him doodle.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 31

Second_handHour by hour I place my days in your hand, safe from the hands out to get me. Psalm 31:15 (TM)

Faith is not a permanent state of being; It is a moment-by-moment choice.

(note: We are breaking up Psalms into five sections of 30 chapters each. Today begins our journey through chapters 31-60.)
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and PPDigital.

February 27, 2008

A Century is Long Enough

WrigleyTomorrow is the first Spring Training game for the Chicago Cubs and you can bet it will be a heckuva lot warmer down in Mesa, Arizona than at Wrigley Field. Nevertheless, it's a wonderful sign of the coming of spring and the boys of summer. After the winter we've had, I'm more excited than ever for the promise of warm summer evenings at the ballpark.

The last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series was in 1908. It will be 100 years this year. Baseball's "lovable losers" have been frozen out of a championship long enough.

Maybe this year!

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and brighter than sunshine.

Chapter-a-Day Song of Solomon 8

Dear brothers, I'm a walled-in virgin still, but my breasts are full — And when my lover sees me, he knows he'll soon be satisfied. Song of Solomon 8:10 (TM)

One of the reasons people avoid the Old Testament is that it confuses them. The Old Testament often confuses people, because it is often hard to place things written 30 centuries ago into a context we get today. In an age of population control, abortion on demand and "the pill", it's sometimes hard to imagine a time when, for a woman, being fertile was the single most important thing to your family, your friends and to society as a whole.

For a woman in Solomon's day, you were expected to produce children - especially sons - who could inherit the family estate, work the land, and provide for the family. If you weren't fertile or perceived as an unlikely candidate for fertility - your chances of getting married were reduced and the family had the added pressure of providing for an old maid. Even in today's society, women who don't get married feel the skepticism of their families and the culture as a whole. In Solomon's day it was infinitely worse.

This is why the woman's brothers, in Chapter 8, are concerned with the size of their sister's bosom. The family's job - especially the male members of the family - was to broker the deal to get little sister married off and take another mouth-to-feed off the family's hands. A young girl would have been watched closely to make sure she had the physical signs of a fertile woman - baby makin' hips and adequate breasts.

The woman in the Song of Solomon is celebrating her womanhood and declaring that she is fertile, that is is ready to marry and bear children for her husband-to-be.

February 26, 2008

Enough Already!!

Front_porch_winter I drove to Minneapolis yesterday morning through an ice storm (yes, mom, I made it safe). This was a trip scheduled earlier and rescheduled because of a winter storm. I think we've already doubled the normal amount of snow fall. There's a mountain of ice at the bottom of my driveway that's too thick to chop through. I have so much snow and ice on our back porch that any thing melting just backs up against the house and creates a skating rink at our back door. Arrrrrrrrrrrggghhhh!

GOD?! Could you turn off the ice maker and SHUT the freezer door, please!?

Chapter-a-Day Song of Solomon 7

Grand_tetonsThe feelings I get when I see the high mountain ranges — stirrings of desire, longings for the heights — Remind me of you, and I'm spoiled for anyone else! Song of Solomon 7:6 (TM)

I am my lover's. I'm all he wants. I'm all the world to him! Come, dear loverSong of Solomon 7:9-10a (TM)

One of the things I love, as a stage director, is getting to watch Wendy on stage. I love it on several different levels. I love that she's a wonderful, capable actor and I appreciate her talent. I love watching her do something she loves and enjoying herself thoroughly. But, I also love that she's my wife and lover. I think she's beautiful and desirable and I love watching her knowing that - when the show is over - I get to take her home!

What struck me in today's chapter is the differences in what got the man and woman's motor running. The man gazes upon his bride and it's the visual stimulation that turns him on. He describes his woman's looks and the more he describes her, the more his eyes feast on her, the greater his desires build. In fact, all he has to do is look at the mountains and his mind wanders back to her breasts.

As Wendy would say, "such a boy."

The woman, on the other hand, makes it clear that it's being the object of desire which turns her on. She sees that look in his eye, she feels how much she turns him on and that turns her on. I see the same reaction in Wendy when she catches that look in my eye :)

Creative Commons photo of the Grand Tetons courtesy of Flickr and Vulcho.

February 25, 2008

The Curtain Falls on "The Odd Couple"

The_odd_couple_cast_photo_lrI was in the catwalk above the stage last night as we were cleaning up the lights from our production of "The Odd Couple." Sheryl Vander Linden, who did a wonderful job playing Renee, walked onto the bare stage beneath me. Olive's New York apartment was gone. The props were put away. The furniture was crammed to the front of the stage, ready to be returned.

"It's always so sad," Sheryl said mournfully, looking at the empty stage.

I know what she means. There is a grieving process to letting go of a fun production. And yet, the bare stage is just a metaphor for the possibilities. There are other productions to be staged. There are other experiences to be lived out under the lights and actors to get to know and with whom to work.

But not for a while, yet.

It was a long weekend for Wendy and me as we finished our four show run of "The Odd Couple". The show went really, really well. We had great crowds for Thursday and Friday night. Things tapered off for Saturday and Sunday - but those who saw the show really enjoyed it.

Now, it's time for a break from the stage. There is no Tulip Time show for USP this year, so the next production picks up in May - and we have typically stayed away from getting too involved in the summer show. We're looking forward to spending more time at the lake this summer - so that's motivating us.

That doesn't mean we don't have plenty to do. There are a ton of organizational things we'll be working on for the theatre this Spring, but that can be worked in along the way. Last night as we drove away from the theatre we felt the pressure of production lifted. It was a great show and I'm proud of what we put on stage, but I'm also glad that it's over.

Chapter-a-Day Song of Solomon 6

Cherry_blossomNever mind. My lover is already on his way to his garden, to browse among the flowers, touching the colors and forms. Song of Solomon 6:2 (TM)

I believe that we've lost an appreciation for the Song of Solomon because our culture has lost its appreciation and understanding of metaphor. One cannot read the Song of Solomon and appreciate the sensuality, the celebration of sexual love, that God is expressing without an understanding of the metaphor involved. The garden and the flower have, since ancient times, been a literary metaphor for a woman's vagina. Why? In nature, the flower is the precursor to fruit. In sexual terms, the vagina is the precursor to bearing the fruit of children.

When the woman says, "my lover is on his way to his garden to browse among the flowers" she is anticipating him coming to gaze upon her, to touch her sexually - to make love to her.

Now, apply that same metaphorical understanding to the man's words later in the chapter...

One day I went strolling through the orchard, looking for signs of spring, Looking for buds about to burst into flower, anticipating readiness, ripeness. Before I knew it my heart was raptured, carried away by lofty thoughts!

In technical terms, the man has been looking for a young woman who is ready to marry and bear him children. That's not exactly the stuff for a Hallmark card, so enraptured by love he finds her body "budding," "ripe," and "bursting into flower," he is "carried away by lofty thoughts." In other words, he looks upon the body of his young lover and gets turned on.

February 22, 2008

Opening Night for "The Odd Couple"

Union_street_players_the_odd_coupleLast night was opening night for "The Odd Couple". It's been a bit of a trying production simply because of the lack of help. We're finding it harder and harder to get people to commit to volunteering. Which means, not only am I directing, but I'm producing, assisting with lights, assisting with the set, organizing refreshments and serving at intermission.

Ticket sales were slow, but I think that it's the weather. Last year we had to cancel a show and reschedule a reprise. Many people never made it out to see the show and ended up eating their tickets. With the incessant snow storms this winter, I believe that people are waiting to see if they even want to go out.

We had 85 in the audience last night and the median age was...well...about 85. My heart sank as I watched the stream of old folks comging through the door. I figured it would be a tough crowd for the cast and in my pre-show pep talk I came just short of telling them "consider this a final dress rehearsal" as I figured the audience would be deaf, sleeping or angry that someone said "dammit" on stage.

Well, me of little faith.

The audience laughed, and laughed, and laughed - then wouldn't stop laughing for the actors to complete their lines. The crowd munched on cheesecake during intermission until we had to pester them back into their seats. As the audience left, I stood to take programs from people who wanted to "recycle" them (another one of my duties). People were raving about the show and some said they wanted to save their program to give to friends and co-workers and tell them to come see the show. I'm anticipating some great word-of-mouth ticket sales over the weekend.

It couldn't have been a better opening night. After the show, Wendy and waited until everyone was gone to lock up (another one of my duties). We looked at each other and gave each other a knowing smile. This is when the hard work pays off.

This is when it's fun!

Chapter-a-Day Song of Solomon 5

Dna But my lover wouldn't take no for an answer, and the longer he knocked, the more excited I became. Song of Solomon 5:4 (TM)

There is something God designed deep into the DNA of creation. Man is the hunter, the pursuer and woman is the gatherer, the captivated recipient. While the sexual relationship is a never ending ebb and flow of call and response from both parties - there can be no doubt that a woman responds powerfully to the experience of being pursued and captivated. God bred into men the heart of a relentless hunter who is filled with intense satisfaction at the successful completion of his quest.

We should celebrate the uniqueness of our creation. Together, the combination makes for some pretty passionate nights!

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and hexod.us.