This blog is meant to be an encouragement to you as you journey through your day. If you have a question about the life of faith, please feel free to email me. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I welcome the conversation.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Remembering a Bad Time

On this week, 35 years ago, as a 22 year old, I traveled from my parents' home in the suburbs of Baltimore to Columbus, OH. A month earlier I graduated from college, and was now about to pursue my first graduate degree - a M.A. in counseling at The Ohio State University.

It was the worst year of my life.

While I had experienced anxiety in the past, and had even tried - and failed - at talking to a therapist, everything just got worse once I arrived in Columbus. I experienced panic attacks, followed by anticipatory anxiety. then free-floating anxiety. For a number of reasons, I lost connection with my college friends, and failed to develop new relationships. I was fairly competent in my coursework, but pretty much failed at the normal logistics of everyday life. I was okay at work (cataloging and shelving books in the OSU law library and working with junior high kids of divorced parents), but otherwise could not figure out how to do life.

You would think that, as the year drew to a close, I would have been excited to finish up and get out of that place. However, the anxiety just got worse. I was afraid to be alone, yet did not know how to relate to others. On one occasion, out of desperation, I asked some people I knew if I could just sleep on their couch. I needed to know that I was not losing my mind. They saw my heightened state of anxiety and stayed up with me. We sat up, talked philosophy (even though I was the only one interested in the subject), and played cards. And we prayed. They saw I needed the human contact, even though I seemed to have forgotten how to respond to it. Their ministry of presence was a saving grace to me that night.

Looking back, remembering that year, I am thankful for it.

I learned that I experience life differently from other people. I learned that I know little about the normal human interaction that most folks take for granted, and is the core of their relational life.I learned that I may never be very good at the daily, normal activities of life. However, I also learned that I have an acute awareness of the existential pain that is just under the surface for many of my fellow humans, and I can often see it in their eyes, and hear it in their voice.

Mostly, I learned that there is such a thing as a ministry of presence, and it is often the most helpful way to offer grace in the world. I can let others know that they are seen and heard, that they are not alone. I can let them know that they are not being judged, categorized or critiqued. I can let them know that I was once where they are, and am not there now. But I remember.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


This is another post from Odist Abettor, a singer/songwriter living in Nashville.  He always gives me something profound to think about. And he reminds me that hope is seldom comfortable.

Why I Write Angry Songs About Hope

And that's why we speak of hope like a spark.

It ignites.

It begins.

It can, at times, be so visibly different from its environment that the contrast--which may one day be quite illuminating--is in the moment glaringly offensive.

Hope isn't the butter on your popcorn when you sit down to watch a movie about the good ol' days.

Hope isn't the cool glass of lemonade you sip, sweet and crisp, at the end of a long, hard day.

Nah, hope...

if it comes in any liquid form besides an infinitely corrosive and foul-smelling acid...

if it's any sort of refreshingly cold water...

it's the kind they chuck at runners as they pass.

if it's water at all...

maybe it's the violent rushing stream from the hose...

pushing you down

and back

and letting you know that you got someone up there angry enough to slip up

because hope is the spark

and Eden is burning.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Guest Post - New Shoes

Today, my guest blogger is Odist Abettor. Actually, it is my son Luke Schutz, who is a poet, singer and songwriter living in Nashville. I appreciate his journey and the honesty he shares in his poems, songs and blogs. If you do not follow him, check him out at http://odistabettormusic.blogspot.com and 

sometimes, walking in other folks’ shoes
means walking down their street in their shoes
hearing the jeers and the cat calls
as you speed up in their shoes
getting stopped by the police
for wearing their shoes
having to listen to the ignorant disregard
of those who still wear your shoes
because you wear their shoes
letting your shoes become their shoes
and their shoes become your shoes
while still knowing they can never be our shoes
because each have their own
in which we all must walk
our own shoes for our own roads
yours, theirs, mine
but what matters is what happens
when you put back on your shoes
knowing all along you never really took them off
and let your time in their shoes
affect where and how and why you walk
in your own

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Guest Post- Uncomfortable

Today, my guest blogger is Odist Abettor. Actually, it is my son Luke Schutz, who is a poet, singer and songwriter living in Nashville. I appreciate his journey and the honesty he shares in his poems, songs and blogs. If you do not follow him, check him out at http://odistabettormusic.blogspot.com and 

In continuing my thoughts on actual utopia (remember not the silly individualistic kind but the real better world), I’d like to say something about equality.

I think it shouldn’t surprise me as much as it often does when the words of those critiquing inequality in society make me uncomfortable. When a world exists where a significant shift has occurred toward racial, sexual, ethnic, and/or class equality, my upbringing and current existence within a culture of inequality will make living in such a new society very uncomfortable for me. No matter how good my intentions or how open-minded, tolerant, and loving I can try to be, I must accept that this is all so new to me.

It’s okay to be uncomfortable, confused, even scared. Change feels like that. Even good change is hard to come by. The fires of revolution line a road of glass and coals not soft grass.

This not only means that I need to grow toward bravery in terms of speaking the hard truths I know need to be said but also in the humility of being able to listen to the hard truths that others have to say and I desperately need to hear.

It’s okay to be uncomfortable.

In fact, it’s necessary.