My husband sent me a link to a blog he reads fairly regularly written by Seth Godin. (I've posted the link to the original blog at the end of the article.) This post talks about companies that choose to "Organize for Joy", based on the belief that corporations come to a dead end if they organize around the concept of efficiency. Here's the end of his comments:

"These organizations (ones that organize for efficiency) have people who will try to patch problems over after the fact, instead of motivated people eager to delight on the spot.

The alternative, it seems, is to organize for joy. These are the companies that give their people the freedom (and yes, the expectation) that they will create, connect and surprise. These are the organizations that embrace someone who makes a difference, as opposed to searching for a clause in the employee handbook that was violated."

This week's thought experiment is whether as Christians we can create a "theology of love" that is strong enough to motivate us to live in the way that God desires. The connection between joy and love seems inseparable to me. I'll be writing about that soon. But I'm happy to see this post, and hopeful to see where it will lead.

To view the entire blog entry go to:
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/10/organizing-for-joy.html
 
Last week I was driving through upstate New York with my husband, Dan, when I passed a house that was, well, pretty much ugly. At least according to my aesthetic standards. It appeared that someone had decided to add an addition and then without much consultation with an architect or even a book on design, just "done it". The result, though perhaps functional, was hard on my eyes.

It made me wonder about the things that we create while we're learning. Our attempts at growth, at experimentation may produce some pretty ghastly results. I, for one, would love to scrap (and not with Precious Moments either) much of whatI've done in the past and forget that I ever tried it. Sort of like the haircuts that I've had along the way. In retrospect, they may for a pretty hilarious evening's entertainment (once a church did a slide show that included about six different shots of me at different times with accompanying changes of hairstyle). Pretty funny, but then again, it would be fine with me if they'd all gone missing along the way.

But one of the values I drew up for myself a few years ago was "grace for learning." And I can imagine that like museums find valuable the sketches that go into creating works of art, God is happy to keep the efforts I've made along the way in His scrapbook. They remind Him of the fact that I'm working out my salvation, learning as I go, growing in my knowledge of what the life that He loves looks like.

 
 
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I like who I'm becoming. This morning on my walk, I passed a family down by the Yellow Breeches. They were on a nature outing. "Hoping to discover something?" I asked. The two children were quiet. Who was this strange woman? "Perhaps you'll see our blue heron," I added.
 
"A blue heron?" The boy looked up at me. "That's a bird, right?"

I nodded. "And you should keep an eye out for the kingfisher. Here's what he sounds like." I tried my best to imitate the chirping sound I'd heard the other day.

The boy started dancing around - "a kingfisher! I've read about those in books!" 

His growing enthusiasm made me grin. "And we also have some familiies of bluebirds", I said, trying to think about other birds of note in our neighborhood. That pretty much concluded my pack of tricks, though, so I resumed my walk as the mom thanked me for the nature tips.

I smiled to myself as I crossed the swinging bridge, as I wondered who this famiy saw. A neighborhood orthnologist--this 50ish woman with her hair in a ponytail, cutoff sweats and a t-shirt? It reminded me of how happy I was when I realized, as Dan and I dragged our kayaks down to the Yellow Breeches for another Sunday afternoon jaunt, that we were "kayakers." Not just people who owned kayaks, but people who enjoyed using them. Like weekly outings to the farmer's markets in Costa Rica or frequent visits to the National Zoo when we lived in Maryland, living on the Yellow Breeches is making me into a person I like to be with.

 
This morning the news announced that the drilling has broken through to the Chilean miners who are trapped more than a half mile underground. They have been waiting for more than 2 months for be rescued. As I added my prayers to the many who are praying for the safe conclusion to this operation, I couldn't help but be reminded of the words of Psalm 40:2: He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure. (God's Word translation).

There is nothing that these miners can do to reach the ground level. It is only the diligent and costly efforts of the community above that will bring them to safety. May God in his grace set their feet on a rock and make them secure. And may we be greatful for the many times God in his grace has done the same for us.
 
Yesterday was a beautiful fall day, and I spent part of the afternoon at the Forum in Harrisburg, listening to the Harrisburg Symphony perform a wonderful program of piano and organ music. (Another orchestra theme!) I was drawn into the concert by the promise of hearing the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony, a favorite of mine and one I'd caught last year while visiting in Florida. It was a true delight to hear again.

But what got me thinking during the performance was a different piece, this a Piano Concerto by Keith Emerson, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame. The concert notes read that this piece was composed in a barn adjacent to the house, where afternoons spent at the Steinway would draw an audience of birds to the rafters above. The Concerto's three movements celebrate the cycle of nature - "its joy, its destruction and...its optimistic triumph". As we're heading into fall, and the first leaves are beginning to settle on the lawns and driveways, I was caught by the image of the turn of the seasons and the inevitable "destruction" of nature.

The cycle of seasons is nothing new - I've been talking about the fruit of summer quite a bit in the previous posts and a friend of mine speaks often of the inner work that happens during the winter, when all is barren on the outside. Still, it was interesting to settle a bit into the coming season of fall, and contemplate the yearly composting that nature undertakes. Composting often involves taking our scraps and leftovers, perhaps the tomatoes that didn't quite make it, or the rinds from cantaloupes or watermelons and placing them in a bin or pile to turn over time into rich, dark earth. But much of what nature composts are leaves that fall from myraids of forest trees, leaves that all summer have performed their function well, have not faltered in their photosynthesis, nor failed to give shade when called. Still, the change of sunlight and temperature commands they must fall, and fall they do into mounds and mounds. Those that fall in our yards are raked and set aside for the county trucks which vaccuum them up like cat hair. But if you live in rural Pennsylvania, you simply allow them to add yet another layer to the padded carpet that anchors the woodsy undergrowth.

Dan and I had been talking that morning at breakfast about the process of being deconstructed. How it's easy to understand why the stripping away of what's not pleasant or helpful or healthy is important, and even necessary for maturity. But what about those aspects of your personality that have been helpful over the years - the very things that have helped you navigate successfully thus far in your life, your sense of intuition, your abiity to judge accurately, your vision of the future (or even the present)? Surely these things shouldn't fall from the tree. And yet, our experience seems to suggest that even what has been good and helpful might need to fall. Even what has served us well might come to the end of a cycle of usefulness, and now need to be given back to the earth, to be plowed under, to become the stuff from which we will receive the nouishment that is needed for the next season. The idea of becoming stripped bare again, of letting go of past successes, and embracing the destruction of even what is good seems uncomfortable at best, terrifying at worst. 

I do get a sense that this is what the recent season of our life has been about. Of course, I'm the eternal optimist, and so, like Emerson, I trust that having let it all fall, after waiting patiently for the decomposition, we will be ready and nourished for the spring that lies ahead and the fruit it will bring.