Sunday, July 31, 2022

July 2022 Highlights

July 2022 blog header
Lectionary Project for July

Saturday greenery
• Saturday naturals

July 4th USA flag over porch
• Classic Flag Over Porch over a long Fourth of July weekend in the mountains of Big Bear City, San Bernardino County

July 4th Big Bear
• More Fourth of July beauty in Big Bear

July 4th Big Bear
• Another natural view from the long Fourth of July weekend in Big Bear

Big Bear Lake July 4th evening
• The actual Big Bear Lake was the site of evening Independence Day Fireworks

Big Bear Alpine Wildlife Zoo
Big Bear Alpine Zoo, "Saving Wildlife Since 1958"

• Early in the month on July 6th, several of us LOVED the Elvis Movie; it's no surprise I couldn't find any legal use images related to anything about the blockbuster film, but the lower left picture in my header shows a view from high up over Hollywood and Highland.
living local 2022
uly 2022 California Poppies
desert spirit's fire 20 years

Friday, July 29, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Be

Edwin McCain, I'll Be & Misguided Roses
Five Minute Friday :: Be Linkup

This week I'll be on the music train again. "Be" reminds me of one of my all time fave songs (who knows how many of those there be? Don't ask.), Edwin McCain's "I'll Be" released as a single in 1998 out of his 1997 album, Misguided Roses.

Even as Christians who know in our head God created us as human beings – not human doings – we're also exquisitely aware our being often results in selected actions that respond to needs around us. God acts in love, justice, mercy, and generosity because God's character, God's essence – God's being – is loving, just, merciful, and generous.

I understand that "I'll Be" is a breakup song (but in that case, why would anyone ever include it on a wedding playlist?), with the singer announcing he'll be captivated, your cryin' shoulder, love's suicide, better when I'm older, greatest fan of your life. So it's all relational.

Particularly the theology we've inherited from the apostle Paul (try especially Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Romans) proclaims our essential position is to be "In Christ." Yes. Last Sunday we sang, "In Christ Alone My Hope Is Found" and "My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less than Jesus' Blood and Righteousness." BTW, I was guest preacher on 1 Peter 2:1-10 and requested those songs, but I preach from notes so can't realistically blog my talks. Jesus Christ always is our source, beginning, re-source and refuge. As we be solidly grounded in Jesus the living stone, we then can be living stones ourselves, so others can count on us. Because it's all relational.

Serious theology aside, what will I be? For you and the rest of the world, I'll be a creation-lover, urban artist, keyboard player, desert spirit, city being… Notice how a basic "I'll be" identity overlaps with what that someone does—because it's so relational.

What has God called you to be? What do you want to be? What will you be?

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desert spirit's fire 20 years
five minute friday be
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Friday, July 22, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Chance

Steve Winwood Arc of a Diver front and back
Five Minute Friday :: Chance Linkup

From "While You See a Chance" by Steve Winwood

Stand up in a clear blue morning
Until you see
What can be
Alone in a cold day dawning,
Are you still free?
Can you be?

When some cold tomorrow finds you,
When some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you?

While you see a chance take it,
Find romance fake it
Because it's all on you

Music and lyrics: Steve Winwood, Will Jennings
Publisher: Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Life is an uncharted adventure, with surprises almost every time we take a chance to do much of anything. "Much of anything" includes getting out of bed to begin a new day. Your days well may be already scheduled with breakfast, going from home to work or school, engaging in programmed and random activities, going back home, but…

Expected and planned routines aside, this week's chance reminded me of one of my classic favorites, Steve Winwood's "While You See a Chance." Stand up in a clear blue morning is such an arresting intro to a cold day dawning, cold tomorrow, sad dream, and endless road that all feel like autumn on its way to endless winter.

The meteorological season of winter definitely will arrive, but why not take this song's advice to help enhance both chilly, windy, overcast days and our existential winter blues that dawn at any time of year? Try to see what possibly can be at any discouraging time. After all, are you still free with a degree of agency? Do you have at least a small chance of making a choice and seeing it through? Are all those "old dreams" sad, or are sad dreams only those that never came true?

Revisit your dreams, and take a chance to plan how they still can happen. The song references romance, but your dream might be your own business, an addition to your family, the career that feels like an excellent fit. "Endless road" is a frequent metaphor, but no actual highway, urban thoroughfare, or country road actually is endless, any more than life's trip is.

You've heard "fake it till you make it?!" More scripturally, let's claim Wendell's Berry's counsel to "practice resurrection." Theologically for sure it's not quite all on you or all on any of us, yet it's still up to each of us to listen for the Holy Spirit's presence and promptings, then take a chance to act upon them.

Has a song ever inspired you to take a chance with the direction of your life? Has a song ever helped you take that chance to get up and get going again?

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desert spirit's fire 20 years
five minute friday chance
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Saturday, July 16, 2022

Twenty Years!

desert spirit's fire 2002-2022
For this main twenty-year blogoversary reflection, though I could start at the beginning with "why a blog" and some of the titles I considered along with this one that won because it felt fun and included "desert," this blog has decompensated in so many ways there's little to say.

At first I imagined a blogoversary header image I could use as the footer for most posts during this anniversary year, but after wondering what pictures of the desert or the city would express its zeitgeist, despite the group of four naturals being local and among my most recent faves, they don't characterize desert spirit's fire! at any stage along the way.

How about a summary rundown of the types of posts I've done? Maybe one favorite or best from each year? My fave tags? Nah…

Thanks for visiting and supporting this crazy endeavor. Peace, hope, and joy be with you!

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living local 2022

Friday, July 15, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Propose

Five Minute Friday :: Propose Linkup

Propose is an excellent prompt to continue celebrating this blog's twenty (20) year blogoversary. "Continue"? I mentioned it in last week's FMF; tomorrow, Saturday 16th July is the actual day. Two decades is such a milestone I plan to keep on keepin' on celebrating at least through the summer.

Two decades ago I proposed to myself starting an online journal, web-log, or blog because blogging suddenly was the thing to do. After an unspecified period of relative quietness, having "a site where you write" has become popular again, though current blogs have a wider style and content range. Desert spirit's fire – my "main blog" together with the mostly lectionary-focused Urban Wilderness / City Paradise – has evolved (from I don't even remember the original subtitle) into Theology – Ecology – Liturgy – Life, the exact subjects I've been about nearly forever.

Propose is nicely flexible as it can refer to an offer to spend a covenanted lifetime together, a formal document to solicit funding and support for an endeavor, a suggestion we break for lunch at the nearby taquería or food cart. What else? "Propose" requires a response of agree or decline!

During summer 2002 I proposed to myself it was time to begin my second official online presence and I responded to myself with a blog. My first had happened two summers earlier with a website about the city and cities as one of msn's now defunct pages. Back then both internet growth and the start of a new millennium made creating a website feel freshly exciting, but by summer 2002 the USA was close to one year post the 911 event that had changed history. And now I propose? Lunchtime!

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five minute friday propose
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Friday, July 08, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Twenty

tomatoes twenty
Twenty :: Linkup

We humans have a habit of marking time, counting years. In some ways linear time is a gift of God's condescension to human needs, yet it's absolutely necessary for getting through a day, any day. A calendar year? A decade, a lifetime? Yes! to all of those.

We enjoy marking particular lengths of time, often making them a reason to celebrate (weddings, workplace longevity) or grieve (911, a loved one's death). Five, ten, twenty, fifty, two hundred, one thousand are some of the big ones.

By now everyone knows a blog is a web log or online journal that can go in almost any direction; those of us who blog sometimes celebrate an annual blogoversary. I've been a bit careless about mine, specially noting it some years, letting it slide into oblivion others. However, since I've been extremely aware this blog's two decade, twenty year anniversary was on the way, I've planned a celebration for that Saturday 16 July twenty-year blogoversary.

Kate's prompt this week has inspired me to design a button icon I can use for at least some of my posts during the upcoming year, probably – or possibly "maybe" – based on today's summer tomato header. So yay, me! Thanks for visiting today and all the other days!

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Five Minute Friday Twenty
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Friday, July 01, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Trust

trust picture with pistachios
Five Minute Friday :: Trust Linkup

Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed Jesus' feet, and then wiped his feet with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house. John 12:3

Of course Jesus wants teachable disciples! He asks us to follow him—all the way to the empire-defying, systems-shattering cross on Calvary Hill, all the distance to the empty grave of Resurrection Day. Jesus commands us to go! everywhere into all the world to teach, to show, to baptize others who then will teach – show – love – tell – baptize.

But especially via John's gospel Jesus wants us to trust him, love him, abide in him. Jesus calls us to be trusters, lovers, abiders. If you only would believe! Yes, Lord, I believe! Maybe particularly in John, belief isn't intellectual agreement or assent (though creeds and statements of faith can be helpful); belief is deep, non-negotiable, trust. John's Jesus wants us to abide with him, rest in him, make ourselves at home with him. God so loves the world that Jesus makes a home in trust with us!

In his book of vignettes, The Sacrament: Feasting at the Lord's Table, Truman Madsen tells us "…the oil with which she [Mary of Bethany] anointed Jesus unto death was …a mixture of balsam and pistachio and perhaps also the balm of Gilead from trees beyond the Jordan." Pistis in Greek means faith, trust. It's no accident whatsoever but it is splendid serendipity that we can read and feel God's mercy, closeness, and presence doubly mediated—in language and through creation.

Let's love, trust, and abide in Jesus? In the power of the Pentecostal Spirit of Holiness, let's follow Jesus to love, trust, and abide in the world!

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• Header pistachios photo by Austin Kirk on Flickr
Five Minute Friday Trust
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