Notes from Pastor Lou

March 2018: Singing Under Water

Dear Dunes Friends,

A few years ago, I read a book by Richard Rohr called Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. In the book, Rohr works through the 12-step process often used to assist those struggling with addiction and relates it to principles of Christian spirituality. As Rohr says, “We do not think ourselves into new ways of being; we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” The idea is that addiction isn’t something that goes away, but something with which one learns to live.

Similarly, most of us live lives filled with busyness, obligations, and responsibilities. Sometimes the load can feel very heavy. As time passes we realize that these things don’t go away, but with a focus on God, they are something with which we can learn to live.

While reading Rohr’s book, I was struck by the metaphor of “breathing under water.” I was reminded of it again a few weeks ago, when I started swimming after nearly a year hiatus. There is nothing like exercising after you haven’t for a while. It’s frustrating to see how much ground one loses physically when exercise is not part of one’s routine. I found I couldn’t swim the distances I used to be able to swim. I could only swim freestyle for part of the time or I would be overwhelmingly winded. I had to settle for sidestroke, backstroke, and breaststroke as my body acclimated to exercise and swim-breathing.

About a week into this regimen, I increased the portion of my swim that was done using the freestyle stroke. My body began to panic that I was not going to be provided adequate recovery time. The more my body told me to stop, the more winded—and panicked—I became.

The day before that swim, I had done worship planning with Megan, our church’s new Director of Music. From that meeting, my head was full of songs we had discussed, hymns we had chosen for the following Sunday, and prayer responses for Lent. One by one I began to sing them from memory in my head: “How Great Thou Art,” “Standing on the Promises,” “Jesus Remember Me,” “Breathe.” With each song, my heart began to regulate and my breathing became more even and regular. I began to swim lap after lap without needing to stop to catch my breath. I discovered that my breath was with me, even under water.

A number of years ago, Scott Krippayne wrote a song called, “Sometimes He Calms the Storm.” There is a lyric in that song that says “Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms His child.” In the frenetic rhythms of our lives, we are invited during Lent to allow God to calm us. Let’s sing songs of faith until we remember that God’s grace is sufficient and that God’s comfort is found even in the midst of the storm.

Pastor Lou



February 2018

Dear Dunes Friends,

Lately my heart has been aching, as I realize what a difficult world we live in.  I spent the last few days working through the technical challenges resulting from my children having access to the worldwide web.  It is there that they simultaneously learn to deal with the risky, constant stream of data, pictures, music, videos, addictive gaming, and instant reports that include real-life scary news that includes violence against women and school children.  Honestly, our children have very limited access to the ‘net compared to most.  At the end of the day, in desperation and frustration, I conclude that the best I can do is narrow the amount of temptation foisted on them, begin to teach them my deepest values, and offer them spiritual tools to deal with what they see, hear, and experience. I need to constantly trumpet that there is hope for a better tomorrow.

I am not feeling that the world is devoid of hope and goodness.  I am not saying that children have not always had to deal with temptation.  Instead, I find myself loving my children and the people of God’s world more than ever, in the midst of our despair.  All of us desperately need to find a way to navigate a society full of challenges that are infinitely greater than the world in which I grew up.  My heart is breaking for all of God’s children.  It’s time to leave the sidelines.  That’s what God did in Christ Jesus.

This year, Ash Wednesday begins Lent on Valentine’s Day.  We can get all sugared up and think that’s what love is about, or as we begin Lent, we can remember that God in Christ was the founder of the Lonely (Broken Heart’s) Club.  God loves us with an everlasting love, and God’s heart breaks for us each day as we struggle to deal with life.  In desperation and love, God sent us Jesus — not to judge us — but to teach us about God’s love as we grapple with the tangled web of the world.

Welcome to the Season of Lent,

Pastor Lou