All the Hidden Newness…

LakeSunrise Rays

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote these words in his poetry.  Eddie Vedder sings in front with the band Pearl similar words, when he questions ‘all those yesterdays,’ on their Yield album.  The picture above is from the banks of Lake Michigan, looking east into the sunrise from a park in Mequon, Wisconsin.  So, what does all this have to do with anything, or even each other?  The question I am pondering in the new year is how well we, including myself, reconcile with the past in order to see the new day, the new year, the new opportunities ahead of us?  This is a constant question I ponder for many reasons.

From the perspective of faith, the Christian tradition of recognizing a time to reconcile the past with hope for the future in Advent has long since been erased from the world through the “Christmas Rush” created by advertising, sales, and human need for stuff.  We live in a time where we believe we must holler Merry Christmas at everyone we meet, and only Merry Christmas, but yet the true Christian holy days of Christmas don’t start until December 25th.  And what are we doing that evening, other than scheduling when to actually tear down Christmas and get ready for the next commercially inundated reason to spend money on useless stuff?  While the church maintains this schedule and invites us to remember the spiritual reflection offered in the twelve actual days of Christmas, do Christians truly take heed?  From the Jewish perspective, the new year holy days of Rosh Hashanah and the atoning day of Yom Kippur offer the same invitation to take time and yet the need to hurry and work is greater than the need to stop and ponder what glory lies ahead of us.  And Ramadan, the celebration of the first beginning with the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed, and the rest of list.  Nearly every religion of the world invites those who practice faithfully to ponder the newness around them in hope of new beginnings.  But how well do receive these invitations in our lives?

From the perspective of a newcomer, I wonder how well we invite new and fresh perspective into our lives.  2017 was basically overtaken with one event – a move from Kentucky to Wisconsin.  Something that has been very refreshing to the spirit in Wisconsin is that we have felt welcome with true sincerity.  While we feel sincerely missed by friends and colleagues in Kentucky, the welcome was not so fresh and sincere.  It took years of proving ourselves in a community very hesitant to trust anyone from the outside.  And even upon leaving we did not feel fully part of the community.  Now, even after only being here for 6 months, we are being invited to be part of the community in many ways – even the dialogue of criticism for the sake of building a better world for future generations.  One example of that is from the photography I do.  I often hear the locals sounding melancholy about what is around them – the beauty of the natural resources, the landscape, the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  Of course, it’s not new to them.  It’s always been there and so it is easily taken for granted.  To the local it’s the boring same old thing.  For us, it’s a permanent vacation home filled with quality of life, concern for creation and humanity, true joy in many ways.  So I have been taking pictures to share with the longtime locals, to help them refresh their perspective on what it is they are surrounded by.  We offer our input to help folks know that this is nothing to simply wake up to, but something to see new wonders in daily.  And this has been an awakening in our spirits as well.

And from the perspective of the new year.  No, I am not talking about resolutions.  I am simply talking about how we receive the sunrise everyday as an opportunity to experience something new and wonderful without completely tossing out the experience of yesterday to shape us.  I am talking about how we might be open to new opinions, to dialogue with each other in these very politically polarized times.  I am talking about how we might find each day as a gift and not as a right, and to see all of our time as borrowed from the holy rather than reserving our borrowed days for the last months before our last breath.  How do you receive new people, new perspectives, new time, new opportunity?  The same way you receive a Christmas or birthday gift?  The same way you receive Hannukah blessings, a greeting of Shanah Tovah, or Eid al-Fitr?  With hearts open wide to receive all that is holy in our days … Every day?  Is every day not too dear to be invited to receive all that it has to offer?





Welcome, Friend

Welcome to this corner of the digital world, where I make no promises on quality of entertainment or intellectual value of the scribblings that will follow.  If you have come here, I invite you as a friend and one who is willing to engage in safe and provocative conversation about just about anything.  In fact, the title and purpose of this blog, are in the spirit of the way our ancestors communicated just a little more than one hundred years ago.  Whatever came across a person’s mind, and if they had enough funding and access to a printing press, they would put out into the world what was on their mind.  The title is a euphemism of that sort, used for things that seem erratic, but may go as the norm for others.  The term comes from when the Chicago White Stockings (now Chicago White Sox) played in their former home, West End Park.  Directly across the street from left field was an asylum, and this was a time when there were no fences around baseball diamonds, nor fixed barriers around the parks.  And on occassion while games were being played, and when the asylum would let out patients for exercise, some of those patients would wander into left field.  They would interrupt the game in many ways, even intercepting live balls and throwing them toward home plate or wherever else.  So when something surprising happened or things started to seem to get interrupted, the team coined the phrase, “that came out of left field.”  So, friend, welcome to the left field of postmodern newsletter publishing.

And welcome to my world.  I am Joby Brown.  I am an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disicples of Christ) – (DOC), and a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC).  I am also a husband, a father of two children, a volunteer coach, and a licensed football official.  I hold degrees from Lexington Theological Seminary, and Eureka College (Philosophy and Religion), both of which render me vocationally useless except for philosophical pandering such as this blog, and the ministry in which I engage in.  It is only life experience that renders my expertise on other things  Though the title is rooted in sport, and the history of my favorite baseball team, I may only occcasionally write about sports.  While I am a minister, I might never breach the subject of God, but often what is holy, and etcetera.  All things are open for discussion, and all things in hope of centering ourselves in community and hope, respect and dignity, and a turn to what really seems out from left field in our world today – civil discourse about all things important for the improvement of creation as we partner as stewards in the days ahead.  Welcome, friend.  I look forward to our time together.