Monday, August 27, 2007

In the towel

At the start, before everything, at the very start - there needs to be love. Love doesn't have to come after understanding, love doesn't have to follow knowing, getting, grasping, likeing, wanting - any other verb- Love is the start.
And yet more often than not we bypass love to move on to those things that are easier. We move on to expressions of love rather than love, we hold on to emotional responses rather than love. Rationality, logic, understanding a 'desire' to 'help out' can all oddly enough be enemies of love - and yet for me, and I suspect for most of us, these things come easier than the root.
It's easier but ultimately not sustainable to love after any of these other things - I think at least.
Caring and 'getting along', initially pose as love's co-pilots - so it's rare when we have these two that we stop to question if we really can love one another. We think that these will steer us into love, but more often than not they just 'exist' in a blahze sort of manner - in a ditch like-stagnancy that does little more than allow us to float our dingy on.
We, as relational beings, crave this love. And it is phenomal the ammount of hurt we will cause to get it. It is this love that we need in a community context, this base level of love - not neccessarily understanding, just plain 'ol love; yet it is this love that we at times seem to do everything to avoid. We dodge in word, action, thought, mis-action, lies. In the course of two months, I have had a bit of an outsiders perspective in seeing a group of people dodge this love in truly original ways.
Much of our failings at this really cannot be solely pegged on 'us' per say. Everything wrong with creation does truly pull us from knowing this kind of love. Suspician, hurt, real tragedy, mis-understanding; the cards are not often stacked in our favour. We are almost "too big," too dramatic for having this responsibilty of love.
One of the mysterious elements to this pursuit is that; wrapping our heads around what it means to love, understanding how we show it etc. should not actually be our primary focus. The most challenging thing about this kind of love is that it is both passionate and patient - it cannot be self-driven and it cannot be bastardized by contrived expressions.
It is such a process of radical confidence in the source of such love, and such a rigorous (for me at least) reduction of anything else, that I think this kind of love is probably what part if not all of this life is all about.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Speaking of Awkward

I have no crutch except the desire to please everyone

The self preserving, selfishness of the human condition has been revealed recently to me in what I had thought was nothing more than a social oddity – that of the awkwardness.
It should have been so obvious – my intelligence, self –awareness, social currency – all completely mocked, blinded and bound up through this disease. I am as happy as the people I surround myself with – or so seems to be the myth that I often carry.
I will avoid at all cost the awkward situation. I will talk, I will lie, I will sing and I will run all to hope that the awkward turtle swims past me without causing ME harm. I am plauged with having extra sensitivity to such situations, the radar for me tends to be a warm feeling in my throat which works its way to the upper stomach. Yeah - it's bad.
So when the unavoidable awkwardness of this world decends, I'll take any self-centered port in the storm.

A man named Forest once blessed me as being an agitator for God, and cautioned me from being an agitator of the devil. I've typically linked that to my unique ability to send mis appropriated emails at late hours of the night. But now I think there is more to it.
I think part of what he meant by that is that awkwardness persevered, awkwardness recognized and pushed through, agitation that is listened to and dealt with can ultimately have the scent of God on it – as weird as that may sound. Awkwardness avoided, agitation brushed off can just socially smell. I know it true in my life and wont go so far to blanket the notion to all situations but let's face it, Jesus was potentially the most socially awkward person around (I bet it was awkward when his parents asked him how his day was and he told them he destroyed the temple..)

You'd be surprised at just how primal our adversions to those things which may cause us social harm are. Atleast in my life I am stunned to the depths that I can dig all in an effort of social self preservation.

I'll just leave that awkward comment with y'all -

Saturday, August 18, 2007

walking in memphis

"Yes, I know, I've talked with him, we prayed about it – it's alright"

The condition of Christians is caught up in a world where prayer has turned from process to purchase. Marketing masters have seeped our soul, and our Christian consumption has become satisfied with a commissioned based sales process. Prayer is no longer passionate patience, or a persistent petitioning – it is now the equivalent of using "words" to solve our problems, as sticks and stones break our bones.

To use the vernacular of my workplace – if you are dissatisfied with your current service you can call in to your provider and lodge a complaint. Depending on time of day etc. you may receive a few credits on your account (a few months free, new accessory) – but more often than not, you'll get some rookie who will tell you to suck a lemon.

Faced with this, you can do one of three things:

1) Hang up, call back and hope that you get a better 'agent' – odds are high with enough persistence, either your service will improve, or you'll forget that it was ever a problem.

2) Switch providers – it's easy enough, so long as you're not in a commitment.

3) Cancel service all together

Our reference for suffering is similar to mushy fruit at a produce stand, we expect customer satisfaction or we'll go
elsewhere. And in someway, this is how we have begun to pray.

This is not however a blog post to point out suffering extended – I am frightfully and thankfully aware that I cannot preach about those who wear the white robes of expired promises. Nor am I trying to address the need for patience, I'm not trying to solve the question of every 15 year old - "why does God take longer than a week to answer my prayer...?"

I can only write poorly on that character that I have come across a lot this summer: the concept that a whimsical prayer will make our Ying come back to our Yang. I'm not calling for a reduction in faith – if anything this summer has taught the opposite. I think it's a fleeting cry for an enlargement of what our concept of faith can be – sure it's in response to a frustration to the flippancy in which both I and those around me often approach our problems; but, I think it's something more than just that. To begin a partnership of faith in which prayer is no longer about tossing the marble and hearing it roll down the tin roof of reality – how that looks for me is different than you I'm sure. I guess it's (wow) expecting it to be tough, at least that's what I've felt in the past few weeks – that I expect prayer almost to be part of the battle, it's messy, complicated and not to be checked off the list when 'done.'

So there it is, no 12 point step for effective prayers, but just a realization I guess that I'm peering into a hole and I have no idea how far down the looking glass I really am going.  



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

devils and dust

I've got my finger on the trigger, and tonight faith just aint enough, when I look into your eyes, there's just devils and dust.

Sand and Spirit, Sand and Spirit. It's become increasingly difficult to tell one from the other and it seems like ultimately despite a world that wants clean divisions between the two - we are condemned to live in a fractured, yet not neatly split world. It's that space between knowing, and not just guessing, but really actually knowing that sand has blown off the rock, and spirits remain - and yet feeling the weight of ultimately what we really are - life blown dirt.

Now every woman and every man, they wanna take a righteous stand. Find the love that God wills and the faith that he commands. Got my finger on the trigger and tonight faith just aint enough. When I look inside my heart, it's just Devil's and dust.

Grammatically incorrect ramblings spill over as emotions pour into prayers into songs and into complicated actions. I am stuck in between this place of seeing a mirage, feeling a weight of deisre to reach it, and living in a dull, dirty reality. Every now and then God has given me an opportunity to see this rock without sand - but it makes this dusty city all the harder to bear.

It's not with a weighted spirit that I bear it, seeing him in the whirlwind seems to be part of my schtick. I can't say I know if I'm any good at it though - my hands covered in dirt and my spirit sometimes lacking.

Got God on my side, and I'm just trying to survive, but if what you do to survive kills the things you love, fears a powerful thing - turns your heart black you can trust. It will take a God filled song, fill it with devils and dust.