When I drive into my neighborhood, I pass by not one but two cars that have the same exact decal on their windows. It is not some political statement or baseball team, but a simple graphic saying, “He is greater than I.” I have seen this same image on other vehicles, on coffee mugs and last year at the Jiu Jitsu World Championships in Las Vegas I saw it tattooed on the side of a man’s neck.

One of the struggles I have as the pastor of a congregation as I attempt to lead, or shepherd the flock, through times of great turmoil and confusion deals with the public face of the ministry itself. On just the surface level of things, the stuff most people see, should I be the calm strong voice of unmoved determination, assuring everyone that it will be alright? Should I just mimic the words of the rest of society and say, “This too shall pass,” or, “We’re all in this together,”

Dear God, I can’t pray to you. It wouldn’t be right.  You listen to the prayers of your loyal people. Those whom you love. Those who listen to you. You want me to be good, you wanted me to act like your child, and I haven’t. You want me to honor you in thought words and deed, but my faith is not strong enough. You want me to love you above all things. I don’t. I don’t want to. And I’m not interested in making a change anytime soon. So I understand, there is no reason why you should listen to me now.

For people in the middle of some trouble, trauma, or grief, the light at the end of the tunnel can appear very dim or non-existent. On the other side of the hurricane, though the damage remains to one degree or another, it can be hard to remember the full reality of that particular time (at least until something triggers the emotions again in a similar way). In the midst of all the lingering effects of various degrees of trauma, healing is an open question. Can these wounds be healed? How and where? By whom? Those questions are at least part of what the films The Way Back and Driveways are exploring.

It is weird out there, is it not? I mean yesterday we celebrated the 244th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a moment in history that radically changed the course of world events. Those brave and daring colonist flexed their muscles of freedom and independence and were willing to go to war to have it. Independence Day is marked every year by great celebrations, by fireworks and parades and barbeques and picnics and concerts and baseball games and family gatherings. But not this year.

I wondered: how do you get a word that means both the place from where something is mined—and the thing that is mined—as well as the prey that is pursued? Indeed, the word “quarry” has a dual etymology. The latter meaning is from the Latin word (via Anglo-French and Middle English) for the skin on which the entrails of an animal were left for the hounds that pursued it. The former meaning comes from the Latin (again by way of French and Middle English) for hewn (square) stone. Two different Middle English words converging in modern English, spelled the same.

The words of our Lord found in the 10th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel are stark and difficult words to hear. They are marked by a raw honesty about the faith, about discipleship, about what it means to be called a Christian. There is a foreboding darkness hanging over Jesus’ words in this section. It is not all sunshine and rainbows or a prosperity preacher’s Pollyanna dreams.

Red swirling tails overtaking the ripples of clear water. Ribbons of crimson twirling quietly, in this silent moment. A secret flood, a hushed wave, a hidden current rolling smoothly beneath the surface. All by herself, she watches the scarlet dance. Entranced by the simple beauty in the water. Hypnotized by the simple horror of the blood.