There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.

inversions

Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.

soundings

soundings
click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.

bridges

bridges
Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.

echoes

echoes
Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.

Accidentals

This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

random reads

Sqaush and the Spiritual Life

If you were like me growing up in church, analogies for the Christian life taken from the world of sport (and somehow these seemed ubiquitous in the pulpits of my youth) always came off as a little contrived.  The ones that didn't leave you flat felt forced.  I recognize, of course, that sporting analogies have a long and deep biblical tradition.  Paul himself likened the Christian disciple at various times to a boxer in training, a runner in a footrace, an Olympic athlete striving for the laurels.  But comparing an Ephesians 1:17 Christian to a basketball player putting up a hail Mary against the final buzzer in the championship game (true story, true sermon) leaves one feeling like the preacher cared more about his sport of choice than the text he was wrestling with that week.

My sport of choice is squash.  And the above paragraph is my disclaimer for the squash-court epiphany I'd like to share today.  I was playing with my regular partner the other day, and, though I started off strong, somewhere around the third game in the match, I noticed things starting to slip away from me.  I was running ragged, wearing down, chasing shots from pillar to post.  Between gasps for oxygen, I could smell skunk on the wind.

Now for those who haven't played, or maybe forget, there's a T roughly in the centre of the squash court (and a little to the back), where the two serving lines converge. It's the prime piece of real-estate in squash, because as long as you're hovering roughly over the T, you can see most of the court laid out in front of you.  From the T, you can anticipate drop-shots before they happen; from the T you can reach the back corners with ease; from the T you're in control of your game, and usually his as well.  But as my game slowly unraveled, I suddenly realized that I'd not been keeping on the T. Instead I'd been chasing balls all over the place-- into the front pocket, digging deep cross-court, down into the opposite corner, now kitty-corner to where I was before.  No wonder I was running down and running out of steam.

As I gasped for breath again between serves, I made a determined decision to stay on the T.  After my serve, hover on the T; after my return, get on the T; after that long lunge to recover a drop shot, back to the T.  And my game came back.  It was actually quite amazing how quickly peace descended on me, as long as I stayed on the T.

Now for the epiphany:  because in that moment, as I realized the difference staying on the T made to my game, I suddenly saw an analogy for the Christian life-- for my Christian life. When we "get off the T," and start chasing balls - our personal ambitions, fears, goals, agendas - into the corners and along the edges of life, the game unravels really quickly.  When won't hover on the T, we risk burning up our spiritual stamina and burning out our hearts.  When we fail to "get back on the T" after every shot, we wind up playing more and more desperately and out of control.

And the T is Christ. 

And almost like the sting of a squash ball between the shoulder blades, it walloped me:  "You've not been staying on the T." Blogs are probably not the best forums for true confessions, but let me at least say that right there on the court, in one of those rare flashes of clarity, I saw how sloppy I'd become in my discipleship of late, and next to that I saw how much burn-out and chaos I'd been feeling in my spiritual life as a result.  And I realized the two were intimately connected:  I'd not been staying on the T, and my heart knew it, and my soul had lost its wind because of it. The welt stung, of course, but it also woke me up:  as long as you're staying as close to Christ as you possibly can, and keep your eyes open for where he is in any given moment, and move there, you'll be playing (as Paul might have said) "in such a way as to win the prize."

I won't tell you the final score that day, but I will tell you that I left the court with new resolve and eagerness to play (if I haven't yet pushed the sporting analogy too far)-- to play with my heart hovering "on the T."

1 comments:

Curtis said...

As a squash player and follower of Christ, I really appreciated this post. Good stuff; good reminder.