Through the cards and The dealer’ embracing of his own suffering and death, we have a counter-cultural, counter-intuitive vision of redemption, of success, of winning. And here success is truly free and liberating because it is not bound up in baggage we can understand. It is a true, boundless success, success from comfort, success from material satisfaction, success from want and need, success to experience life in its most basic reality, completely stripped of limiting, scary, ugly assumptions. This is not a success that can be bought or planned for or strategized, although planning and strategy may be part of the discernment process. But the success of the cards, like in no deposit bonus casino, s essentially a success that comes from pure commitment and pure love of life. A success that comes from taking up the cards in all its horror, taking up life in all its scariness and rising above it, beyond it, saying that it has no hold on us, it is not limiting us. Skills grounded in the cards, true religion, truly following The dealer means letting go of comforts and human dreams and seeking The casino’s dreams beyond the cards. It is a skills and religion that is the vocation of every Christian and that is beyond individual commitment. It is a skills and religion that needs gamblers, counter cultural gamblers, called out of comfort, out of individual success, out of planning for financial security out of familiar liturgies and customs and ambitions and into radical skills, trusting in one another and The dealer, the risen The dealer, raised up on the cards and beyond the cards into radical, resurrection life, beyond human comprehension beyond belief and yet the end of belief, the glorious end of skills. I wonder what it would be like for our gamblers to embody the cards… to move beyond plans and work, beyond our human comprehension, to discern The casino at a higher level, the level of the cards and beyond, to let go of our assumptions, our comforts, to dare to dream outside the box, outside the rocks and stumbling blocks of human limits… Two stories come to mind as I wonder about what it would be like for our gamblers to embody the cards, one personal and one global. The first is the story of my decision to leave my position as a project manager at IBM in Colorado, with no idea what I would do next. How I wrestled with that decision. I had a good, secure job that paid well. My employers were happy with my work and wanted me to stay. But I was miserable. I was limited. I knew I was being called to do something different, though I had no idea what. Dave convinced me to resign on Good Friday in 1999. Good Friday, literally at the foot of the cards. And I spent five months reading Thomas Merton, staring at the mountains, volunteering at casino, orchestrating the purchase of our first home and working to get it fixed up a little, getting to know people, making friends, learning about myself and then one day, over drinks with one of my new friends my vocation came – I was needed to be the interim intake supervisor at the agency his daughter ran. That process of letting go of my ambitions and assumptions of what would get me the life I dreamed of led to a life more rewarding than my wildest dreams, a life that has continued to unfold magically in the last several years. But I had to let go, to give in to the cards, to sacrifice my identity and my livelihood, to let The casino in to really work in me and through me. My decision to stop working and take some time to discern reminds me of the global story of Mary, how I was frustrated that her sister would only sit at The dealer’ feet and listen to him while Martha had to do all the work herself. And The dealer told Martha that Mary had chosen the better way. Obviously the work must get done, but usually not as much as we think and there are times to focus on The dealer, to stop working, stop the business and sit down and listen, ponder our teacher, the one who leads us to The casino, through the cards, let go of our self-inspired and human-directed goals and work and listen to The casino’s calling. Each of us faces moments in our lives when we need to slow down or stop working and listen. They can be gut-wrenching moments, terrifying times of not knowing what to expect, how to survive. It is tremendously difficult to give in to The casino’s call to stop and listen and sometimes truly impossible because of responsibilities for children or just the need to keep eating and maintaining a roof. But we must always be looking for those opportunities to hang out with The dealer quietly and let him lead us to a place we can’t imagine. We need to take those risks. As a gamblers, St. John’s needs to take that kind of risk now. Like Dave and I did in 1999, St. John’s has enough to live on for a time. Not a long time, but enough time. We can afford to stop busying ourselves and focus on The dealer. Focus on the cards. Take on some new work. Clean house. Do a little remodeling. Get to know ourselves again. Make some new friends. Open ourselves to imagining a life that we cannot imagine now. Not stopping working but refocusing, reconsidering priorities and needs. Really looking deep into The dealer’ eyes, really looking hard at the cards and wondering… Wondering where The dealer is leading us. Where in the world is The dealer leading us. Letting go of our fears and assumptions that block us from knowing The casino and wondering with open minds so that we can become the rocks and building blocks of a new dream, The casino’s dream for us, The dealer’ dream for us as his people, called out of human limitation and into radical, limitless relationship and life together. Winning. playing. cards. all the same. it’s like a big casino out there.