Glimpses of the holy

When I was in college, I had the chance to speak during chapel, a not-well-attended service in the late Tuesday morning. I sat on a stool, with a red notebook where I had jotted down my talk and an orchestral score for a demonstration. Let’s find beauty in the little things, I said. Let’s find it in the words of a poem, in a pun, a tree, in the soles of your feet hitting the ground as you run, or in the sound of the woodwinds during the opening of Brahms’ Symphony No. 2. Whatever it is you enjoy, find the beauty present in those details which seem mundane. It’s there. Try it. See it.

I would add now, however, that such awareness does not need to be restricted to details in things we enjoy, but it should be extended to the interactions we have with others. Our days may be full of uncomfortable and even painful interactions, whether with strangers, colleagues, or family. At the same time, they include small moments of generosity, gratitude, or just mere pleasantness as we share a meal, talk about our day or about an idea or thing that either person just can’t get out of their head.

A poem someone shared on Facebook not long ago popped up on my feed, and I think it beautifully describes these brief interactions and small gestures where meaning is waiting to be found and enjoyed.

I often struggle with who or what God is, but I cling to the description of God in First John 4:8. Simply, that God is love. I think I do this because I experience and see that need for love in me and those around me. And, while it seems to be out of reach, I think we get glimpses of it, and so we keep reaching out. Such glimpses (themselves experiences of love) are not to be found in grand gestures, those that seem to expect reciprocity, but in the small acts of giving of oneself which find their fulfillment in the acceptance and enjoyment of those who receive them.

What if [these small kindnesses] are the true dwelling of the holy? What if we experience God in these seemingly mundane interactions? What if we can find beauty, the holy, in the ordinary?

In the weeks prior to my chapel talk, a professor shared an article on the “disease of busyness.” How are you?, someone may ask, to which we reply with some variant of “I’m just so busy.” Just as I did then, I relate to this—feeling sort of called out—as I see the piles of journal articles I must read, research papers I should start writing, qualifying exams I need to prepare for all looming over. I do think it is important to come back to a place of wonder, where the little things which pass us every day are noticed. Who knows how much of an antidote to our busy schedules this is, but the small things will be there whether we pay them any attention or not.

May we, amidst our hurried calendars and relentless worrying, pause long enough to experience these glimpses of the holy, the divine, afforded to us in the everyday kindnesses we exchange.

Filling Up Halfway

A couple days ago I stopped at a gas station to refill my tank when I saw the yellow light on my dashboard turn on. I pulled up to the pump and waited for the screen to hit $15 before removing the nozzle. The tank usually fills up with about $30, but I’ve been planning on paying off the balance on my credit card so I can pay for gas with it and get those precious cash back rewards. This has actually already happened twice, in a row. So, with better planning I could have filled up the first time and gotten my rewards.

Oh, well. That’s really not that important.

This may be a silly illustration (it definitely is), but it captures quite well how my mood has been. How my spiritual life has stagnated. How my soul consistently runs on half a tank. And it’s been a while. Too long, really.

Last night, as soon as I got home and put my backpack on the floor, I sat down on the couch and turned on the Xbox to play some FIFA. I was tired, but more than that, I felt empty. When my roommate walked in and said, “You look dead,” I couldn’t help but half-smile and assent. That had been my mood for most of the week. Just going through the motions, trying to find something but not knowing exactly what. My tank running on fumes for a couple days, I needed to find something, but really, I didn’t even want to try at that point.

Every week the story repeats to some extent. I get to Friday night intellectually and emotionally exhausted. Part of me looking forward to reading spiritual/religious books, doing some personal writing, playing clarinet, somehow getting closer to God; the other part staying in bed stressing out about how to best recharge during the remaining Sabbath hours and being so paralyzed that usually not much recharging happens.

To be fair, I do fill up some of my tank. Setting aside and forgetting about any and all schoolwork for the Sabbath is tremendously liberating. It’s the time I can best disconnect from the need of doing—although I can easily end up substituting for other kinds of doing. When the sun sets on Saturday and Sabbath is over, I find myself ready for the week only to find out a couple days later my tank was only half full.

See, Sabbath is a huge blessing, but I just can’t seem to figure out how to recharge. Am I even supposed to figure it out? How much effort should I put in before it all becomes about how well I can perform and then it’s no different from how everything else around me works?

I feel lost in my spiritual practice—if I can even say I have such a thing right now. I often leave church feeling emptier, more upset and frustrated. And I’m just not sure what I need.

This helps. Writing about it. Sharing what’s going on, even if it all comes out as mumble jumble. I will keep looking, trying, searching, and staying still. It’s not about religion and it’s not about correct Sabbath-keeping, although rituals (spiritual practices) can certainly help. I want to better understand how to be present and aware of my place in and connection with a deeper reality.

Sabbath ended not long ago. I hope next time I stop at the gas station, I can fill up the tank all the way.

Where to Listen to Your Favorite Podcasts

Many of us live in a world where we are saturated by the media we consume: Netflix, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Spotify, and one of our favorites here at Of Lovers and Fools-the podcast. All of these and more are accessible at any time. It’s an amazing time to be alive.

Yet all these amazing advances in how we digest entertainment and news leave us wondering: “When can I make time for it all?” and “Where can I listen to my favorite podcasts?”

1. Daily Commute

One of the best places to sit back, cruise, and listen to your most recent download, is on the way to work. Tuning into the most recent Radiolab or This American Life, can give you conversation with your coworkers, something to discuss with students, or just get you through the day until you’re back in the car homeward bound.

2. Road Trips

Like #1, just for a lot longer. If you’re like some, listening to music for five hours straight can induce raging migraines, but sitting in silence puts you at risk of drifting to sleep and crashing into the side of a semi.

Instead of letting that happen, why not laugh your way through many of the 3-hour-long episodes of You Made It Weird or The Joe Rogan Experience? At least when you do crash, it’ll be because of your joy and laughter, and not boredom.

3. Train Rides/Airplanes

Where some might opt for an audio book during these tried and true forms of travel, next time you’re delayed try catching up on all those missed episodes of Dear Hank and JohnNerdist has enough back logged interviews with Neil deGrasse Tyson to get you through a 1/3rd of your train ride back home for the holidays.

4. Laundry Day

Nothing passes the time like folding clothes. Nothing makes folding clothes fun like WTF with Marc Maron. Whether you’re folding laundry, hanging clothes on hangers, or staring at underwear drying on a clothesline, a podcast can make the boring tasks and space in between doing things a whole lot more fun.

5. In the Shower

After cleaning your clothes and your room, why not clean yourself. And why not listen to Rob Bell tell you more about the eternal hum of the universe on the Robcast, all while hearing the gentle hum of hot water hit the back of your head. clean your body and enlighten your brain.

Recommended Listening:

  • You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes
  • Robcast
  • The Liturgists Podcast
  • Ask Science Mike
  • Freakonomics Radio


#006 – Abner Campos

Listen on iTunes!                 Listen on Stitcher!                  Download

This week, Abner Campos is on the show! He currently works as vespers coordinator for the campus ministries office at Union College in Lincoln, Neb. Our conversation goes from the negative view a lot of students have of campus ministries to Abner’s personal struggles in his relationship with God. Also, Slade Lane, who will be on the show next time, appears as co host.

The song featured in this week’s episode is “Ven a Jesús” from Guillermo Ximenez’s soon-to-be-released first album. You can listen to episode 004 to learn more.

To support him, please visit the Indiegogo campaign at

Sabbath days (part two)

Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.

—Ezekiel 20:20

It’s Sabbath again. The week has finally ended and we get to rest once more. That is, if Sabbath has not become  a time of regretful reflection or, even worse, a day of non-stop activity. But hopefully, it is just a beautiful day filled with God’s Word and Spirit.

I began telling you last week about how my Sabbaths changed since I started college. While I thought my spiritual life would consistently move upward in whatever scale there is to measure this journey, I found myself in a game of snakes and ladders landing on snakes every other turn.

The year started and I looked forward to listening to a new pastor in a new church and leading my own Sabbath school. Being away from my home church and the conservatism that to me felt like a hindrance to developing a personal relationship with Jesus, handed me a wonderful chance to grow.

If I remember correctly, the Sabbath school averaged about 10 people the first semester. I was really excited and woke up relatively early so I could be the first one there. At the beginning, people shared responsibilities. One lead in singing, another person would tell a missionary story, and maybe then I would lead in studying the quarterly.

Soon (perhaps by the end of the first semester), we were down to five regular members who came at different times, which made us begin about 20 or 30 minutes late. Leading the Sabbath school became a burden I did not want to carry any longer. But I would, if I had to, because after all, I liked being involved in a kind of ministry.

Attending the Friday night vespers put on by the students (or one student) from Campus Ministries I started to feel like I didn’t belong here. It’s not just that things were different, I had expected something else.

When I came to visit the campus and sat through their Friday night service, I thought they had found what I was looking for. It was a service where balanced had been achieved between liberal and conservatives, where it actually felt wrong to use either of those labels. Although it still was neither conservative nor liberal, it showed poor showmanship. Not that showmanship is good in a worship setting, but a poor one is even worse.

While many people shared my annoyance, many others enjoyed it just as much as I didn’t. So things continued the same way. In return, I started to get more and more frustrated each Friday witnessing how no one seemed to try anything different despite an inspection and overhaul being so obviously needed. Together with my Sabbath school dissatisfactions, Sabbath days became a time of spiritual frustrations.

During my first semester, I did not grow in my relationship with Jesus. But it also did not move backwards. However, my second semester of college suffered a huge regression in my Sabbath keeping and devotional life overall. I was still being obedient in actions but not in spirit.

I don’t want to blame anyone for this. It is not the fault of those organizing worships who do it with the best intentions. It is also not the fault of those who stopped coming to Sabbath school.

Although these are situations that need to be changed, it is my fault for letting these things get in the way of my personal relationship with Jesus.

I am learning, but things don’t get easier. It is a constant struggle to fix my eyes on Jesus and let him guide me.

Next week, I’ll continue looking back on how my Sabbaths have changed.

That is it for now.

Have a great week!