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Friday, January 30, 2009

taciturn and tentative...

It never ceases to amaze me.

One day you're in a stride gliding effortlessly across the continuum of life only to wake the next day feeling like a different person altogether.  What was fluid yesterday is clogged today, jammed with conflicting emotions and insecurities.  If you would have asked me yesterday how I was doing, you would have heard something like, "Life is good.  I feel free and centered."  If you were to ask me this morning, I would say something like, "Life is leaky and leaking.  I can't put my finger on it, but something spilled out last night in my sleep and I woke up empty and pathetic."   

This is the curse of being human.  Finite and fragile.  Prone to atrophy and entropy.  

I'm forever tangled in the web that conjoins the kingdom of heaven and the fiefdom of earth.  Some days I feel like the spider skating across its surface hovering above safe and sound, other days I feel like a fly caught within its crisscrossed clutches...my convulsing only making matters worse as I fight to free myself from its silky bondage.  I am a spider one day, a fly the next.  And you wouldn't believe how little it takes to induce the change.  Sometimes the cause is so miniscule I can't even troubleshoot its origin.

All I know is this...yesterday I was effervescent and relaxed...and today I am tentative and taciturn.  Filled with second-guessing and the secondhand feelings...(by secondhand I mean I watch myself from without even as I type this...out-of-body, onlooking, outlying).  

But I know this too shall pass...it always does.  I don't know why I feel compelled to journal it for future reference, but I do.  

I wish I was stronger.  The fact remains, I'm not.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

yesssss...

Longing is the umbilical cord of the higher life. 

-Kierkegaard

Thursday, January 22, 2009

a-muse-ment...i don't think so...

Well, my favorite shows are back on.  24 and Lost.  I know that some people pit these shows against each other, but I’m an integrationalist by nature.   I also like the Office and American Idol.  The American Idol thing is especially unique in that I can watch it with my girls.  The laughter and mirth we share is transcendent.

I know that I’ve written before about my love of story and the idea of living a storied life, but I don’t think you understand.  I soak in story like a taproot.  I marinate in it.  I gestate.  I percolate.  It flows in and out, through and through.  It is romanticized, yes.  But it is romantic even more.  It is vicarious, yes.  But it is so much more than that.  It is a wellspring of life giving nourishment to the soul looking for a picture of what is and what could be if only... 

I realize, believe me, that none of the aforementioned four shows serve to speak perfectly, or deeply for that matter, to my soul’s yearnings, but they do shake certain desires out of their slumber and these desires pandiculate as they stretch their sleepy arms toward the starry sky.  The sleepy seeds flake and fall. The eyes of the heart are illuminated, enlightened.  The blind in me sees.  The deaf in me hears.  The dumb in me speaks.  And I am taken, if only for a moment, into something more than what I’m living.  It reminds me of what a heart could look like if it was fully alive.

Some people watch shows for amusement.  A-musing by way of definition is “no thinking”.  It speaks of shutting down and going limp.  But I watch shows to start thinking, which is what the word entertainment evokes.  To wake up, to excite, to illumine.  And how desperate we are to wake from the long winter of the soul.  How much the mass of men needs something or someone to press lips against the cold and blue lips of the dead soul needing resuscitation.

Stories show me what I’m missing, what I’m wanting, what I’m wasting, what I’m wishing, what I’m feeling, what I’m trusting, what I’m hating.  They aren’t pressuring me with propositions that I’m not adhering to.  They aren’t beating me over the head with duties to perform and disciplines to instill.  They are beckoning me, seducing me.  Some days they’re killing me softly.  Other days they hurt me so good.  All in all, I feel transported to a better place.  A place that feels safe, safe enough to relax and let your heart’s hair down.  Safe enough to be yourself and even take out your cup and let life kick you as hard as it can.  I need this.  I’m so guarded, even when I don’t know it.  And when I shed the armor or amorous activity, I feel things when they touch me.  I feel the prick of compassion. I feel the pinch of passion.  I feel hurt and healing.  I feel stirred and stayed. 

Stories do this for me, be they great like “Slumdog Millionaire” or decent like “Lost” or silly like “American Idol”.  They move me.  Maybe that’s why they are called “Movies”.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

hidden love...

Proverbs 27:5 - "Better is open rebuke than hidden love."

_________________________________________

Some days I wonder how much people are holding in, holding back.  I wonder what they would look like if they could just let their hair down.  What would they look like if they weren’t covering themselves with that dang Edenic fig leaf?  That covering that spoke of secrecy, withdrawal, and suppression.

What would people say that they don’t for fear of sounding juvenile?  What would people do if they knew they wouldn’t fail?  What would people let out--blurt out—if they weren’t guaranteed immunity from the label—stupid? 

I see how people live.  I watch the goings on of humanity.  I see the pent up passion that is looking for a runway to land on.  People are cagey because they are caged up inside, shackled to insecurity and inferiority.  They have so much to offer, but they are scared to do so, scarred from offerings in the past that have been turned down and turned against them.  And so they hide.  We hide.

The Bible says the fear of man is a snare.  It also states that the shameful run when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.  And I wonder…how often do I come across someone who isn’t hiding to some extent?  Have I ever truly met a man who does have fig leaves hiding his naked thoughts and feelings?  What would such a soul evoke if I happened upon it?  Would I be able to look it in the eye or would I affect to laugh and crack jokes to buffer the awkwardness of full exposure?  What would I look like if I stopped hiding my true self…if I stood naked before a clothed world?  If I let out a yelp occasionally that reminded everyone of Eden?  If I chirped a freedom song?  If I grunted out a pang, an ache, an angst of bare-naked longing?  What would happen?

I know what would happen…I would rush to the thicket and seek cover once again.  I would redouble my efforts to look for fig leaves that weren’t as see-through, sowing them together for additional layers of protection.  I would make sure I wasn’t embarrassed ever again.  T.M.I.  (Too Much Information)  And what gets hidden isn’t just me, it’s love.  Because love is life and life is love.  When someone isn’t experiencing or offering love, they aren’t living, they aren’t human.  And yet, so many hide their love for fear of how it will be received.

What would they say if I told them I really wanted to be their best friend?  What would she say if I told her my deepest fantasies about her?  What would people think if I worshipped on the outside they way I am on the inside?  How would I offend people if I took this abstract feeling and incarnated it…made it happen?  What if I hugged that person?  What if I shared with him how much I look up to him?  How would she react if just kissed her in public when I feel like it?  What if I struck up a conversation and asked that one question I’ve been dying to know?  What if I told the group what I was really thinking?  What would be the fall out of unleashed love?  Would others lose respect, would I lose my reputation, would I lose control, would I be humiliated?  Would he leave me?  Would she give me that look?  What would happen?  What’s the worst thing that could happen?

And we deliberate carrying on this conversation within ourselves, back and forth, talking ourselves out of things…talking ourselves off the edge…talking ourselves into falling out of love.  And it lays hidden yet another day.  Covered under composure, a place it was never meant to be.  A place that is as foreign as “smelling the color nine”.  It will never make sense…and love will keep whispering that to you until you let it out, let it go.

So I dare you…let love win today and do what it says.  Don’t hide it another day…you might meet yourself for the first time…because you haven’t really experienced life until you’ve experienced love.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My daughters cast a spell...

Last night we had a family over for dinner...the Stewart's.  They have two boys around Kami and Aly's age (9 and 7).  We weren't sure how the girls were going to do with entertaining boys, but we thought it would be a good time for them to start knowing how to adapt and interact with the peculiarities of the opposite sex.

When they arrived, the boys had brought over their "Build-a-Bear" stuffed animals to show the girls.  Our girls have their own, but they are naturally more girly.  I don't know exactly what their animals were, but they had a more masculine garb on that said, "Don't mess with me."  Classic Boy.

The girls took them upstairs to show them their rooms and to show off their bears...we watched them go and made our way into the kitchen to mingle and get the Mexican feast together.  In about fifteen minutes, things were ready and we called them to the table for feasting.  After dinner, they went down into the basement and started dancing together to some of the girls more upbeat music.  They were very concerned the boys would get bored, so they wanted the music to be more aggressive to match the aggression of their hearts.  They also put away their girly movies and had "Narnia" and "Spy Kids" ready should they decide to settle down and take in a flick.

As adults, we were neck deep in conversation about our stories of how we met each other and what brought us to the place we were today when I heard the music change downstairs.  It was a subtle change, but anytime you go from upbeat hip hop to Steven Curtis Chapman's "Cinderella", you know the atmosphere is changing.  I had one ear bent toward the adult conversation in the living room and one ear bent toward the basement shenanigans.  When I heard the song repeated for the third time in a row, I had a crazy thought, "The girls wouldn't be slow dancing with these two scrapping young men, would they?"  The minute I had the thought, I stopped our guests mid-sentence and said, "I think the girls are dancing with the boys."  The father of these boys said, "Na" and shook his head.  I got up and he and I proceeded to tip tow down the basement stairs to see if we could catch them in the act.  Sure enough, we peeked our heads around the corner and the girls were teaching these boys how to slow dance.  Everything from how they held their waist, to how they held their hand, to how to twirl them and resume the swaying posture.  It was enchanting.

Once they found out we were watching them they stopped dead in their tracks and we thought that was the end of that.  Embarrassment has a way of shutting down the freedom of a little person's heart unfortunately.  But to our amazement, they kept on practicing and about 20 minutes later, they came upstairs and danced in front of us like they were at a palatial ball.  Heidi video taped the event.  They were switching partners, dipping them down and twirling them around like they were performing for "So you think you can Dance?"  It was a moment when time stood still as these little wild boys became gentlemen and our daughters were courted like princesses.

Just a word to the wise, if you want to come over to our house, and you have little boys, be forewarned that my daughters may abduct them, take them to the basement, and turn them into little princes...not men in tights or anything, but something close.  

I love that my daughters have the strength of femininity to convert small ruddy boys into courteous and gallant gentlemen.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

this 'by faith' business...

Liquid Courage.

What a ingenious description for alcohol!  

And it seems to me people are looking for courage to face the day.  I am.

There is so little encouragement to sustain the output.
There is so little courage in the tank on any given Monday morning to get to Friday.

Meager fumes can only last so long.

I don't drink alcohol...but I know what drives a person to the bottle.  The insatiable longing for courage, even if only for a moment--and that just an affectation.  To swell up with robust confidence and charisma.  To grow a pair and move toward your fear.  To hear God even, deep inside your being, whisper "Peace be still".  That is the calming voice I don't feel I've been hearing lately...not as I desire...not as I need.

I haven't slept well for five days now.  My soul is tired.  My body beleaguered.  My eyes swollen and my neck muscles cramped with stress.  I need a massage.  I need a full body massage.  I need a full being massage.  Inside and Out.  Upside and Down.

I don't know if you ever feel this, but there are days when I can't even begin to imagine how I'm going to be able to stay awake during the day, let alone make a meaningful contribution to life.  Even as a pastor, I wrestle with futility.  I grope with tiring arms for something to grab that won't move on me.  Something or someone in whom there is no shadow of turning.

And then I realize that I'm wanting God, for he alone fits that bill.  But he is invisible and inaudible and intangible, dwelling outside my senses, outside the physical, the palpable.  And that makes it hard, because I really want to hug him today.  I need to be hugged by him.  And I don't want to just pray into thin air knowing, by faith, that he's listening and absorbing my heart, I want to meet him at the local coffee shop for a living conversation--you know, the kind of conversation where the other person actually talks back and maybe, just maybe, asks you questions about your life and listens intently to your answers.

I want God to be realized...I tire of the conceptualized God, the "by-faith" God.  But that's really the only kind of God available, so it seems.  The God who speaks with nudges and helpful hints along the way.  The kind of God that grunts, but not with breath being forced over moist vocal chords.  Not with a tongue and mouth, but with spirit and silence and written narratives passed down as oracles from ages past, this book called the Bible written by many, but with the stylus of one.  Sometimes the Word suffices.  It satisfies my need for something to grab ahold of and something that grabs ahold of me.  But then sometimes--like this morning--I yearn for more than that.  More than just faith and feelings.  Something more like a hug.

Maybe this is why Paul said, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."  Some days I can't wait to get this over with...this life of faith business.  I want to see God.  To know him even as I am known.  Then I will be like him, for I shall see him as he is.  This is the promise of the Word.  And with Paul...I long for his "appearing".  Cause writing now -- right now-- all I'm feeling is His...

"disappearing".

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Jonesin' for Disney...

Well, it's Saturday morning and I'm sitting in my favorite coffee shop, Voyages.  It actually doesn't open for another 20 minutes, but they let me in as long as I locked the door behind me and kept the lights off.  So I'm sitting in the dark tickling my Mac Notebook keys trying to wake my heart up to the day ahead.  

2009 is here and I've been thinking about New Year's Resolutions.  I don't have any as of yet, but I want to set my sails toward a few things.  I know I want to lose a little weight and take another crack at some additional muscle mass.  I'm not a corpulent lard or anything, but I do feel soft and flabby, a long way from what I used to be back in my soccer-playing-college-days.  I was a chiseled chump sporting a well-sculpted six pack.  It seems like another lifetime.

I'm excited about the new year.  I have some schematics in place to make this a year to remember.  These schematics involved fathering, husbanding, pastoring, adventuring, friending, reading, and Disneying.  That's right.  We're planning a trip with our girls in the coming months to fly down to Florida and hang out with our animated friends in Orlando.  The girls are stoked. They have been Jonesin' to see the magical world of Disney for some time now.  And how I love to make their dreams come true.

Well, my Saturday morning brother-in-arms should be getting here presently, so I will push off.  Thanks for hangin' with me this morning.  May your day be swell and your heart be merry.  Tootles.