What Kind of Walls Have You Built?

The Great Wall of China

My neighbors have built a wall in their front yard.

One of the reasons involves the moisture we’ve had in California. With record amounts of the wet stuff, there have been problems everywhere. From flooding to raging rivers, it’s been dangerous and destructive. More trivial, suburban landscapes have been impacted. In our yard, we removed a tree, worried because a major limb had become hollow, weakening with each rainy day. Sturdy in appearance, it was one storm away from a damaging fall.

Our neighbor’s yard sloped toward the base of their house. Decisions made by prior homeowners had been “sunny day” choices. When rain fell (lots of rain), it accumulated around the foundation rather than flowing outward toward the lawn, street, and city drainage systems.

Not good!

It was time for new ideas. Along with being realistic about California’s drought and deluge cycles, they also added a unique touch to their efforts: a wall.

I suspect my smart neighbors know they won’t get much “bang for the buck” from their wall. Unlike a kitchen or bathroom remodel, money spent on outdoor improvements rarely translate into a higher re-sale values. But, hey, some decisions are about what feels right. An addition may not be a good investment, but what if it adds pleasure, security, or whimsy?

But is a wall whimsical?

A wall is a barrier. Continue reading →

How ‘Bout Some Quarters?

Mark 10:17-31 – The 20th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 11, 2015

“Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. He said, ‘You are lacking one thing . . .’” (Mark 10:21)

coinsThe rich man was a good man.

From not stealing to honoring his parents to loving God (and more), he hadn’t merely memorized the essential commandments of his faith. They were the benchmarks of his daily life.

But could he achieve eternal life? He approached Jesus.

Tell me, Good Teacher, what else should I do? (Clearly he was a Type A, can-do, overachieving kind of guy.)

Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him.

I wonder how the rich man pictured the goal of his request?

Is eternal life a heaven of still waters and green pastures that we long for in today’s landscape of a dry earth and drier souls? Is it the better place where the swing low, sweet chariot transports us from dreary to dreamy? In my reading of scripture, I don’t doubt that Jesus spoke of eternal life in the same breaths he took to elsewhere promise the heavenly mansions prepared by God. So why not picture a fine divine future—a “better place”—when wondering about eternal life? Continue reading →