Another Wednesday

6 03 2014

a meditation on yesterday:

another wednesday

another disappointment

i wanted to imagine the metamorphosis had occurred
to find that this year
i had become something more solid
something capable for doing real damage

no one ever smashed a window with a handful of dust

i didn’t need to be granite
i would have settled for pea gravel
anything with a modicum of staying power

i can understand being taken down by years of erosion
or the violence of a tsunami
a long fight against terminal illness
or the chaos of a car crash
tragedy seems excusable
noble even

but truth is
i am scattered by a headache
washed away by a flat tire
one word
one freaking* word
and i’m gone
no need for hurricanes

another wednesday

another reminder that i cannot do this alone
have no power to save myself
much less get my crap* together
(this thought alone might end me)

my hope lies in another
to apply the time and pressure
that will reveal the beauty in this carbon
changed yet unchanged

but for at least another wednesday
i remain
ash

*some words have been changed to protect the innocent





What hard travail God does in death! by Wendell Berry

1 06 2012

I WILL find a way to use this next Easter! :)

 

What hard travail God does in death!

He strives in sleep, in our despair,

And all flesh shudders underneath

The nightmare of His sepulcher.

 

The earth shakes, grinding its deep stone;

All night the cold wind heaves and pries;

Creation strains sinew and bone

Against the dark door where He lies.

 

The stem bent, pent in seed, grows straight

And stands. Pain breaks in song. Surprising

The merely dead, graves fill with light

Like opened eyes. He rests in rising.

 

from A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997

 





i am your enemy (maybe, not now, but in the future…)

31 05 2012

Jesus was once asked “Who is my neighbor?”

The story he told in reply has become so well known that the name of one of its main character has entered popular vocabulary: good Samaritan.

I wish Jesus had been asked, “Who is my enemy?”

Neighbors stand out, because there are so few. Enemies are the opposite.

There are too many to number, too many to even notice that they exist, like forgetting about the presence of air. They move in the obscurity of plain sight.

Neighbors also have some measure of control over whether or not they live up to their designation. Enemies are branded by direct malice and circumstantial perception alike.

I did not mean to take your seat at the movie theatre, but I took it nonetheless. Now I am your enemy, although not of my own volition, until I grow angry at your accusation of seat-stealing and punch you in the face. That was intentional.

Either way, I am your enemy.

(I am assuming that you do not like getting punched the face, otherwise you might consider my assault as an apology and act of reconciliation. For the sake of this post, you hate being punched in the face.)

My enmity toward you might have real substance or it might only be perceived, but your feelings toward me are likely the same: anger, fear, hatred, dismissal, aggression, etc.

These feelings are overabundant and overwhelming, not only toward Republicans, Planned Parenthood, or serial killers, but toward our partners, best friends, and the busboy who inadvertently misted me with cleaning solution meant for an adjacent table. Suddenly and with little warning, our worlds have been overrun by enemies.

Maybe Jesus was asked, “Who is my enemy?” and the brevity of his answer did not give it the weight of a parable or sermon.

“Everyone.”

And we know what Jesus said to do to our enemies.





That Which Leads Unto Death

18 05 2012

I perceive two great negativities in the Christian thought.

Sin.

And death.

And that is the order I hear emphasized most often.

I hear that Sin is the first and greatest problem with humanity.

Death is merely an afterthought. A pesky consequence. Even our definition is couched in terms of Sin. The wages of, if you will.

What happens if we think backwards?

What if Death is the great negative in our lives, and sin merely the thing which leads unto it?

Death.

And sin.

What if we defined sin in terms of those things which lead unto Death?

Would everything that we call sin maintain that moniker? Would other things acquire it?

Perhaps, the more important question becomes: What is Death?





The Futility of ‘Justice’

23 03 2012

After watching the Kony 2012/Invisible Children events that have unfolded over the last few weeks, I can not help but get the feeling that we are missing something in our quest for justice.

I get the same feeling as I listen to the advocates of many of the social justice initiatives that exist in our present culture. Advocates for gay rights, gender equality, the impoverished, the friendless, the oppressed, the forgotten.

I am not subject to oppression on a daily basis, so I must be careful to note that I am not belittling anyone’s efforts on behalf of any of the aforementioned groups. But I am concerned that in the majority of cases, we are merely treating the symptoms of injustice, not the root cause.

Protests and boycotts and parades and awareness campaigns have value and can be effective in changing practices and patterns of behavior. But as a follower of Jesus, I am less concerned about changing behaviors and more concerned about changing hearts. Without sufficient heart change, I may treat you in a way that simulates justice, while continuing to degrade and dehumanize you internally.

No one does anything without prior motivation. In order to influence others toward justice, we must give them sufficient cause. In order to effect lasting justice, we must exact lasting internal change.

This article by J. R. Daniel Kirk recently sparked my imagination. He writes:

‘One ongoing puzzle in reading the OT, early Jewish literature, and the NT, has to do with what it means to be human; or, what it means to be God’s elect people.

One thing that I have been working out over the past couple of years is the thesis that humanity, as depicted in biblical and early Jewish traditions, occupies a higher place in the cosmic hierarchy than angels.

This means that people can share God’s sovereignty over the earth, and at times even receive worship, because of the role God has given to humanity: it is God’s image and likeness, ruling the world for God.’

What if Jesus meant it when he said that whatever we do for the least of these we do for Him? Not in a symbolic or sentimental way, but literally? What if our depravity is only a veil, masking the fact that we are all glorious beings who have been imprinted with the image of God?

Could such a thought provoke us to justice, regardless of the characteristics and actions of the other person?

Just imagine. Joseph Kony and Jason Russell and Rick Santorum and Dan Savage and Pope Benedict XVI and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and you and me. Bearers of the image of God.

Are we willing to deal with that truth? Are we willing to do justice not because the oppressed have rights, but because they have the image of God stamped upon their very being? And are we willing to do the same for the oppressor?

Justice for the sake of justice itself is not enough to change my relationship with you. Justice for the sake of the image of God in you might be.





A Prayer for St. Patrick’s Day

17 03 2012

Growing up in very evangelical church, I was not exposed to the great prayers of Christian history until I could find them for myself. This is one of my favorites and rather appropriate for today:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)





Make Me, Pt. 2

15 03 2012

Tell someone to do something, and you change their life — for a day; tell someone a story and you change their life. -N.T. Wright

As I expressed yesterday, I am tired of worship gatherings where behavior modification seems to be the primary goal and where the primary vehicle for this modification is instruction on how to live the right way.

I am not suggesting that we leave admonition behind in favor of some other technique. It is necessary.  However, only telling me what to do, without making me want to do it, is like throwing uncooked pasta at a wall, expecting it to stick. What I suggest is that instead we steep our admonition in the context of story.

We operate on the basis of the story in which we see ourselves. If I see myself as the hero of my story, and I must confess I do most of the time, then I will naturally act only in my own self-interest. Even my most altruistic action will ultimately be performed for my own selfish purposes.

However, if I see God as the hero of the story, and myself only as a supporting character, I will naturally act in ways that bring about the reality of His Kingdom on earth.

For example, I will forgive not because it makes myself or anyone feel better about themselves, not because I will be able to co-exist more easily with others, although those may be pleasant side-effects, but because forgiveness furthers the story that God is already writing

Right action is no longer a simple reaction to a command, in order to avoid the guilt that comes from failed expectation, but a response to the story of God, actively participating in the Word made flesh.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 127 other followers