Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

52 things

I spent my birthday this week skiing on a very sunny cold day with my very sunny warm wife, and when it was all done, my heart was filled with incredible gratitude for the life I’ve been given, deeply aware that I deserve none of it. I won’t tell you how old I am, but I went home from the skiing and wrote down 52 things for which I’m thankful…
  1. Christ is more real to my daily life and a better friend now than when I was 20
  2. even though I’ve screwed up too many times to count,
  3. thus allowing me to be the recipient of unconditional love, no less real from this invisible Source than from anyone, or anywhere else.
  4. I'm thankful for a wife who still loves me
  5. And still makes me laugh
  6. And is still very attractive
  7. And skis, hikes, and bikes with me,
  8. And chases my dreams as passionately as her own
  9. And is a remarkable mother to our children.
  10. A daughter who teaches English and laughs at lexical/grammar jokes when nobody else does
  11. A son whose fierce love for all of us, and relentless pursuit of a meaningful life combine to give him a unique blend creativity, sensitivity, humor, and independence.
  12. A daughter whose love for all people, births smiles on other faces which are themselves contagious, so that the whole world is a little lighter for her being in it.
  13. A spacious faith that has room for finding God in many places, including
  14. film (try Once on for size)
  15. the outdoors (the snow at Baker is amazing this year… don’t miss it)
  16. Music (have you heard Jose Gonalez?)
  17. the Bible (here’s a current read…)
  18. a discovery in recent years that the gospel, the good news, is very good indeed, offering not only personal salvation, but cosmic transformation. This has given me the chance
  19. to be a part of God’s redemptive story by caring about things like poverty, AIDS, and the environment. What’s more it has invited me to
  20. the discovery of my call to simplicity and generosity and
  21. the development of a rule of life so that I can continue to wrestle with what it means to grow
  22. life outside the city, where I can write, pray, hike, ski, cook, sleep, and watch trees grow.
  23. the privilege of being involved in a church that is nearly one hundred years old
  24. but who has grown younger over the past decade due to the work of God
  25. who is raising up a generation of leaders to bring hope, justice, forgiveness, and all the rest that is Christ, to Seattle, and far places,
  26. and whose leadership has been incredible in their patience, and risk taking in the name of Christ.
  27. The faithfulness of God that has seen me through the traumas of losing my dad and sister at early ages, which resulted in the refinement, rather than destruction of my faith.
  28. the chance to live in a place with rain, clouds, concerts, a film festival, diversity of people and ideas and one good sports team,
  29. so that I can’t remember, for a long time now, ever being bored.
  30. Friends who are my age, so that we can compare aches, pains, physical therapy plans, and walk with each other through the unique seasons of seeing our kids off while our parents grow old,
  31. Friends who are younger, who challenge my thinking, help me understand the ways in which God is doing a new thing, introduce me to new music, books, and ideas, and even humor me by taking me skiing or climbing once in a while.
  32. The chances God has given me to teach lesewhere, that have allowed me to make friends in different parts of the world, and thus experience the globalness of God.
  33. chocolate, especially Milka bars, especially the Joghurt ones.
  34. Merlot
  35. French Films
  36. coffee, especially French press
  37. the gift of friends who’ve shaped me profoundly and left before me – dad, Scott Becker, Major Ian Thomas, and my sister are four who readily come to mind.
  38. the belief in a glad reunion with all of them someday, when wholeness will be the order of the day
  39. Greenlake
  40. Frederich Beuchner
  41. friends who are serving Christ around the world in desperate situations. They humble, inspire, challenge, and enliven my faith on a regular basis
  42. Steven Spielberg. He's still the one living person I'd most enjoy having over for dinner. Who else creates across such a diverse spectrum?
  43. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His Letters from Prison, and Ethics both challenged to find causes for gratitude every day.
  44. Ecclesiastes, my new favorite book of the Bible, still captivating me after its rediscovery one year ago.
  45. Pesto
  46. The Cinque Terra - memories of being there with my wife still haunt a good way.
  47. My friends who run a healing house in Augsburg. They challenge my thinking and have been foundational in a reawakening of my own practices of prayer
  48. the reality that I’m old enough now to really enjoy the students I teach. I’m not nervous as I once was. Who, after all, am I trying to impress? And why?
  49. the capacity to roam the North Cascades on foot even though I need to do a little Yoga when I’m finished.
  50. I still enjoy playing the piano
  51. I’m not deaf yet, even though I played the drums for 13 years in a row
  52. Memories… more than 52, which remind me that all’s well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
I know about suffering, loss, failure; know that many of the pleasures I've listed here are fleeting; know that we're destined for dust. I also know that I live in a world filled with oppression, disease, terror, war, and crumbling ideological underpinnings that are threatening our collective future. Can we live with these harsh realities AND be grateful for that which we've been given? I hope so... because the reality is that I'm grateful for each these joys, some simple, some profound, some temporal and fleeting, some eternal and solid.


At 19/1/08 20:48, Blogger Kristin said...

A very Happy Birthday to my pastor, one of the many things I myself am thankful for.

At 19/1/08 20:56, Blogger Joanie said...

Richard ~ thank you for the gift of your words and the manner in which you share them. I appreciate your insights and your view of the world around you, even more so now, as the years have gone by... Each day is such a precious gift and my life's journey has made me keenly aware of the 'treasures' life holds for us now and for all of eternity. I find myself more reflective and my appreciation deeper in so many ways ~ that didn't exist in my life before now. And, I rejoice with you as you celebrate another year of life and living.

At 20/1/08 08:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen Richard! Your list reminds me of all the subtle and not so subtle things I am so very thankful for. Thanks for the needed reminder:) God is GREAT, n'est-ce pas!

At 21/1/08 22:27, Blogger Deborah said...

Thank you for sharing! And amen to #30, among many others, on your list.

At 26/1/08 13:31, Blogger Sarah said...


Thanks so much for sharing your life. My birthday is in a few days and I've been feeling especially grateful for sustained life in the midst of lots of transition this year. Reading your post seemed to shower liberty on me for enjoying being human rather than guilt for all that is abundance in life. So thanks, and happy birthday to you.
--sarah swift

p.s. I live in Bellingham now but went to bethany last year while living with Christine Brinn. I love being able to listen to your sermons online and just keep up with you even though its one way!

At 28/1/08 13:58, Blogger april said...

you write so beautifully..
i think its amazing that you have the ability to find joy in the littlest things to (like you said) the most profound things in this life...(its so easy to take these things for granted)-- while caring for the things no one likes to think of...
i see God in you so clearly when you write and speak; you are definitely blessing and impacting the world around you. may God continue to bless your life today, tomorrow, and for always.

**its awesome that you no longer care to please anyone anymore (well not the way you used to) -- its definitely a hard one for me and others, but I do know that God sees your boldness and vulnerability... and smiles. :)


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