Monday, December 14, 2009

Confessions of a Recovering Seventh-Day Adventist - Part 1

UPDATE - 05/26/2010: I've decided to remove this post because it no longer reflects my heart. There are actually a lot of posts here that no longer reflect my heart, especially if you go back to the time that this blog was mostly about politics. I'm not removing them because I want this blog to serve as an expression of my journey. For that reason I suppose I should leave this post here but I just can't. Maybe I'll rewrite it one of these days.

I'm leaving the comments. I think they're valuable.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I hear you (and I see you too)

You may have heard the true story or seen the short film, Cipher in the Snow, about a teenage boy who gets off the bus one day, collapses in the snow, and dies. It turns out that this boy was dead long before he died there in the snow. At least he was dead to those who walked past him every day in school, and even to his family at home. He was invisible, inaudible, a ghost haunting the periphery of so many lives, but for lack of being noticed he finally just accepted his status as a non-being and went away.

In orphanages of the past, and even those of today in some parts of the world, another type of ghost haunts the margins of life. Little babies lie in soundless rows. They weren't always so, at first they cried just like all little babies do, from hunger, or a wet diaper, or maybe just because they wanted to be held. But after awhile when no one came to pick them up and share their life, they fell silent. They became soundless and invisible. Little ghosts gazing up at a featureless ceiling. Their hearts still beat, their lungs still drew breath, but for lack of being heard their voices went away.

We can now begin to unravel the horror that is inflicted upon the human being when it goes unnoticed and unheard. Through the study of children from hard places, researchers can tell the tale of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual damage upon a developing mind and body when a child is denied a voice. Be this through abandonment, abuse or any of a number of situations, a child who is not seen, heard, touched, held and doted on by a loving parent or caregiver simply does not become a whole person. In some sense the child just isn't "real".

The good news is that when such a child, even when they are older, even as an adult, is able to be led back through the stages of development by an understanding caregiver, they can be, as it were, reborn. Neural pathways that were once thought to be set in stone, or forever lost if not forged in early childhood, can be re-created. When the child is given a voice, is seen and heard and touched and held and guided back through those missing stages, then they can begin to become real. Just like the Velveteen Rabbit becomes "real" through the attentions of a child, an invisible ghost of a child begins to solidify into flesh and bone and become real through the attentions of a loving foster or adoptive parent.

If you are prone to notice such things, you will perhaps have begun to notice some parallels to the Christian story. Jesus, who had existed forever in loving relationship with his Father and the Spirit came "in such mean estate" and was incarnated (put on flesh and bone). Jesus became one of us, He became one with us. Jesus was sent here for one primary reason, to make all of us "real". We, who through our loss of relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit had becomes orphans without a voice, were adopted by the Father. Jesus through his death would become a hopeless, voiceless, corpse, just like those babies lying in the orphanage. But, through His resurrection, we were all reborn and through His ascension we can all be guided back through the missing stages of development as we are reunited through the bonds of adoption into fellowship with our Father through the Father's Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

A simple reading of the Gospels illustrates this story over and over from so many different angles. Paying attention to who Jesus spent most of His time ministering to speaks volumes. Jesus ministered to the Cipher's in the Snow. Jesus loved on the outcasts, the unclean, the ones without a voice, those people on the margins of society. Those ghosts haunting the brothels and bars, driven to accept their status as non-beings, were the very ones Jesus smiled at. The very ones Jesus had lunch with. Jesus didn't always touch those he healed, but if you notice he touched the lepers.

I remember back in the 80's when we were all so scared of Aids I worked as a waiter in a restaurant. One of my regulars was a gay man dying of Aids. You could see it on his body and in his eyes. He was a walking corpse. Back then it was scary stuff, but I remember when I would clear his dishes off his table something would not let me show my revulsion or fear. Something drove me to stand right beside him, look him in the eye, smile at him, talk to him and, most importantly, grab his dirty dishes firmly with both my bare hands instead of using a towel. I was no saint at the time, not by a long shot, but somehow I just knew that what he needed more than anything else was for someone to see him as a person with dignity. He needed someone to see past the ghost and the corpse and actually see him as real. Someone to listen to his words and give him a voice.

Some people, my wife chief among them, heeded the impulse to treat me like a person instead of a ghost. Jesus did the work. He provided the love and the rescue. He came to lead us back to the Father. And now that we're seated with Christ, all of us whether we know it or not, in the heavenly places, the Holy Spirit gives us those impulses to hear, to see, to incarnate the ghosts haunting the margins of the world. They're just as alive in Christ as anyone else is, but they just don't know it. Just like a child adopted from a Russian orphanage doesn't know it's alive until the adoptive parent comes and takes them home.

We, all of us who know we're alive, should stop everything we're doing. Drop everything. Sit down and think about the fact that we're actually seated at the table with Jesus. We're seated with Him at the right hand of God. We, who once were dead, are now alive. We were captives and we've been set free. We were orphans and we've been brought home to the most amazing family in the universe. We were snot nosed brats who squandered our Fathers wealth in "riotous living" and when we came back home we were welcomed with a party the likes of which have never been imagined. We shouldn't think another thought, or say another word, until the joy and freedom of that knowledge completely drives out everything else. And only then. Only when we realize just how incredibly free we actually are, and realize that nothing we ever did or ever could do would earn us our place in the Father's family. Nothing we ever did or ever could do would lose us our place in the Fathers family. Only then, out of that joy and that freedom, start to look around. Start to listen. Start to notice the ghost's and the corpses. Start to notice the orphans. Start to notice the voiceless. They're everywhere. In Beetlejuice there were two humans who had to come to realize they were actually ghosts. This world is haunted by ghost's who don't realize they're actually human.

How does an adoptive parent bring the child back to reality? By giving them a voice. By seeing them ("Mommy, Mommy, look at me!"). By holding them, and touching them, and guiding them back through the missing stages of development. The parent uses their mouth, their eyes, their hands, their feet, their whole body is poured out as a sacrifice of love for the child. Jesus does the same for all of us who've been adopted by the Father (That's ALL of us by the way). He uses all the parts of His body just like the adoptive parent. But think about it, His body is you and his body is me. His body is that whole body of people who realize they're alive in that freedom and that love.

The Author of Cipher in the Snow was a teacher in the boys' high school. It was discovered that the boy had listed this teacher as his favorite teacher. The teacher sadly realized that he had hardly known the boy existed. He ends his story with the following words.

I've never forgotten Cliff Evans nor that resolve. He has been my challenge year after year, class after class. I look for veiled eyes or bodies scrounged into a seat in an alien world. "Look, kids," I say silently. "I may not do anything else for you this year, but not one of you is going to come out of here as a nobody. I'll work or fight to the bitter end doing battle with society and the school board, but I won't have one of you coming out of there thinking himself a zero."

Somehow I think the consummation of all things won't be until Jesus' body, his whole body, refuses to let a single person come out of here thinking themselves a zero. If that takes another hundred years, or even another thousand, it will nevertheless be so. For that light is the light of all people and the darkness will not overcome it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When all other lights go out

For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:16-19
I'm sure you'll remember Frodo making his way through Shelob's lair. If ever there was a dark place that was surely it. What he needs is a light, and not just any light, he needs a light that can cut through the oppressive darkness around him and bring hope and courage to his frightened heart. It is then, when all seems hopeless, that he remembers the voice of Galadriel and reaches for her gift to him. When he holds it up, he calls on the name of Elbereth Gilthoniel, the kindler of the stars.

Our road will certainly take us through dark places, it will even take us through the valley of the shadow of death itself, and what could be darker than that dread road. But when we are in the darkness we would do well to pay attention to the gift we each carry, for we do indeed carry the light of the kindler of the stars.
In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4,5

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What are you looking for?

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
-- St. Augustine

I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
-- U2

This goes out to all my fellow seekers. All those wild eyed men (and women) poring over dusty tomes. Sitting at the feet of wise men and teachers. Searching, ever searching, for some hidden truth, some mystical formula, some forgotten knowledge that will finally slake the unquenchable thirst. That will finally answer the questions and the mysteries surrounding our life in Christ.

For some of us it's a desire for holiness, a desire to live the life of Christ. We read the Bible, we hear the sermons, and we realize that we fall short, far short, of what we're "supposed" to be.

For some of us it's a desire for theological consistency. We wrestle with different models of the atonement. We try to wrap our minds around the doctrine of the Trinity. We struggle to make sense of the sovereignty of God.

And for others it's a desire to go beyond head knowledge. To somehow translate those words of truth we have memorized into an actual experience of knowing God. We know ever so much about God, but He seems a million miles away and so incredibly disconnected from the realities of daily life.

And so we search, we seek, we embark on quest after Knightly quest for our particular Holy Grails. Only far too often we are carried forlornly back to La Mancha instead of riding victoriously back to Camelot. The latest book starts with so much promise, but fails to deliver in the end. The newest teacher gathers them in by the thousands, but the words just somehow fail to translate into lasting change or a satisfying peace. Sometimes we think maybe it's our theology. Maybe if we became a Calvinist, or a Quaker, or Eastern Orthodox, maybe that would do the trick.

Well, I for one have had just about enough. Over the last month or two I've put down most of my theological tomes. I've laid aside the latest McSpirituality books. I've resisted the allure of doctrinal sparring matches (mostly). And I've begun to discover something that was right there all along; it wasn't hidden, it wasn't buried in ancient texts, it hadn't been lost through the vagaries of time, it didn't need 10 steps to find or some guru to point it out, I've begun to discover the presence of Jesus.

That's what I've been looking for all along. That's what brought me into this crazy, mixed up thing called Christianity in the first place. The presence of Jesus. And I've found that when I'm in the presence of Jesus I'm not nearly as worried about all those other things that used to cause me so much consternation. It made me realize that I'd been making an idol out of information. Even though I knew at some level that information about someone is not at all the same thing as an intimate relationship with that person. I realized that all my questings were just the religious spirit raising it's ugly head, trying successfully to obscure the true object of my hearts desire.

This morning as I was having a morning drive-time communion with Jesus this all became so clear. I was reminded of a period of time when my daughter was 5 or 6 years of age. She used to have something that I called night-terrors. I don't know if that's what they really were, but it was the best explanation I had for it.

In the middle of the night she would start crying and calling out in severe distress. I would go into her room and she would be sitting up in bed, eyes wide open, and in a complete state of agitation. I would ask her what was wrong and she would say something like: "You know. You know what I need. Where is it? You have to give it to me." She would continue to insist that there was something that she needed and that it was critically important that I get it to her. Only she would never say what it was she needed. It was very frustrating. Nothing I could do would comfort her. All my attempts to soothe her and hug her would be rejected and she would lash out in anger and fear until finally she would tire herself out and go back to sleep.

I knew, because I understood the difficult circumstances at the time, what was going on psychologically. I also knew that what she most needed, and really the only thing that would help, would be for her to accept my soothing. To relax in my arms and feel safe in the fact that I was never going to leave her or forsake her. Even though her world didn't always make sense, there was peace and safety that only I could give her, but I couldn't force it on her. She had to accept it from me.

Isn't this just what we do? We chase after God, demanding that He conform to our systems of thought. Demanding that He make sense out of everything. Taking the Holy Scriptures, that wonderful collection of stories, letters, poems and apocalypse, and turning them into a systematic theology in which we grant degrees and with which we ferret out the faintest inklings of heresy. We see our own failures and think it must be up to us to figure it all out. Paint by numbers holiness. Orthodoxy for Dummies. Surely we can learn enough about it all to finally find some peace, some ease, an end to our ceaseless quest.

Are you tired of it too? Tired of seeking after those elusive answers that somehow always seem just out of reach? Jesus said that if you seek you will find, if you knock it will be opened. What have you been seeking for all this time? If you haven't found it, maybe you're not seeking for the right thing. If the door hasn't been opened, maybe you're not knocking at the right door.

These days when my daughter is sad, hurt or confused, she comes right to me. She asks questions and she listens to the answers. She hugs me and accepts my hugs. She takes comfort from me. She believes that my heart towards her is good. Even though her life is still difficult, even though she still goes through heartache and pain, I no longer see her casting about anxiously for something that isn't there. No longer does she scream in the night while her comforter stands open armed in front of her.

Listen to these words of the one who wants to comfort you. The one who stands there open armed while you scream into the night.

You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want.
--John 5:39-40 (The Message)
Now don't go running straight to the NIV, the RSV or the KJV to remind yourself of how it reads there. You know who you are and you're just like me. Don't do it. Stay here with this. Let the unfamiliarity of the translation be an opportunity for Jesus to actually break through to your heart. Read it, mouth the words, imagine Jesus right there with you saying the words. Hear him. Let him speak.
Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: "Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You've concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that's the way you like to work."

Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. "The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."--Matthew 11:25-30 (The Message)

Again, stay with these words. Forget about dragging out your other translations or your commentaries. Resist all those familiar urges. Jesus is speaking to you. Right now. Listen to his words. Hear them. Really hear them. Rest your head on his shoulder... accept his hug... hug him back... breathe, relax, repeat.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thoughts on a passing

I got this little reading this morning. It came at a perfect time. I just had to share it, and some thoughts I had.

Our next door neighbor passed away recently. Doyle was in his eighties, so it wasn't as tragic as it could have been I suppose. Still, he left behind a wife who had already lost her first husband.

We had gotten to know the two of them somewhat. We would visit them from time to time. We would look out our kitchen window and see his white head as he sat in his recliner reading the paper, watching TV or chatting with his wife. Now the white head is gone and, as E and D have both said, it just won't be the same anymore.

We don't ever get used to death do we? Somehow we know, at a basic, fundamental level, that it's just not right. At the memorial service we overheard Doyle's sister say, over and over again: "It's shocking, it's just shocking". And it is, isn't it? Even though Doyle had been very sick for a couple of months, even though he was in his eighties, even though realistically it didn't come as a big surprise, still, it is shocking.

But here is something even more shocking: "Since we humans have flesh and blood (and are subject to death), Jesus himself became flesh and blood, Jesus took on our humanity, so that by his death he could break the power of that grim reaper who holds the power of death —that is, the devil— and free all of us who all our lives were held in slavery by our fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14,15). Now the devil still holds the power of death, and he will until the end of this age, but the devil's power is broken. Death no longer has any mastery over us. Now death is just stepping from one room into another. One moment I'm here talking with you, the next moment I'm in the other room talking to Doyle. And before long we've all stepped into the next room.

Through the looking glass... Through the wardrobe... Back to Eden... Back home.

As John Eldredge has said, "we get the whole thing back". Everything that matters. We let go of it, we go out naked and empty-handed like we came in, but we get it all back, new and restored. And so much more.

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. (T. S. Eliot)

Look, I am making all things new! (Jesus of Nazareth)

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come. (Song 2:11–12)

I was walking in the woods and fields behind our house one evening four months after Brent’s death. My heart was so aware of the loss—not only of Brent, but in some ways, of everything that mattered. I knew that one by one, I would lose everyone I cared about and the life I am still seeking. In the east, a full moon was rising, bright and beautiful and enormous as it seems when it is just above the horizon. Toward the west, the clouds were turning peach and pink against a topaz sky. Telling myself to long for eternity feels like telling myself to let go of all I love—forever. It feels like accepting the teaching of Eastern religions, a denial of life and all God created. We lose it all too soon, before we can even begin to live and love. But what if ? What if nature is speaking to us? What if sunrise and sunset tell the tale every day, remembering Eden’s glory, prophesying Eden’s return? What if it shall all be restored?

(Desire, John Eldredge. p. 107–8)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ignorant Bliss vs. Smug Satisfaction

Had I not clicked on that "news" link this morning I would still be blissfully ignorant of the latest internet phenomenon. The name Susan Boyle would still be completely unknown to me.

In my defense, as soon as I got far enough into the article to realize it was about some unwitting insta-celeb getting their 15 minutes via youtube, I stopped reading. I did not, and will not, go watch the video. I did not, and will not, ask my co-workers if they have seen it. The whole sad affair will leave my mind minutes after I click the "Publish Post" button, hopefully never again to be remembered.

As such, my smug satisfaction is still intact. I can still claim to be immune to the freeze dried pop culture (just add hot water and stir). But, had I just not clicked that link I would be blissfully ignorant of this "story". I would not even be posting this confessional right now. And that, my friends, would be so much better.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dared to Love

I ran across this today and just had to share it. I was held captive by the kingdom of darkness for quite a lot of my life, and it is definitely a lonely and desperate place. Now that I've been rescued I am increasingly aware of my heart going out to those who are still there.

I was reminded again today of the tendency some of us Christians have of putting time and effort into trying to change the world through politics, military might and other power structures of this present age. Maybe there is a place for that, I don't know, I just know that the way Christ and the Apostles went about turning the world upside down had nothing to do with politics, earthly kingdoms, military might or the law. It had everything to do with coming alongside the hurting, the outcast, the orphan, the widow and the poor. With bringing them help and healing. With winning them, one by one, through personal love, effort and prayer, out of the kingdom of darkness and into the glorious light of freedom in Jesus.

I don't think the author of this post will mind my sharing it here. I'm putting the link here to the original post, but I'm also including it here in full.

Anyway, without further ado...


I recently attended Times Square Church in New York City and went on a one day mission trip to a local shelter. At the shelter, we handed out leaflets and conducted a church service. At the end of the service, we asked if anyone wanted to come up for prayer. A slender, attractive lady with long straight black hair, standing about six feet tall, was toward the end of my line. Earlier during the service, a friend pointed her out to me and told me she was a transvestite. She was standing alone in the back of the room in the doorway during the service. I struggled accepting her/him inside my small moral box. But as she got closer to me in my line, I heard God tell me, "My Kingdom is for all. All belong to me. I died for all. I dare you to love her as I do." When it was her turn for prayer, I looked into her eyes. Tears had caused her mascara to run down her cheeks. In that moment, I knew that she needed someone to accept her, embrace her, and love her. As I held her hands in prayer, they trembled and I could feel the world's cruelty that was placed on her. She sobbed in shame and humiliation. Her words were few.

Outcasts are real people with feelings just like us. They try to hide a lifetime of hurt, cruelty, and violence underneath their mask. Only a compassionate heart can see through their mask. They lead vulnerable lives in an angry world resulting in a lifetime of self hatred. God longs to hold and comfort them. True tragedy is when people, like this transvestite, never experience a love that God has for them. The main type of love they experience is when someone uses them and then spits them out.

All of us are no different. We are all in the process of becoming. When God's grace and compassion strikes us, we become more like God – who wants to hold and comfort our hurt, rejected and lonely selves. With His embrace, we are all allowed to become.

Once a man and now a woman
No where can you fit in.
You're swept into the world's gutter
Because the world just sees your sin.

You live outside my moral box
You've strayed so far away.
You don't fit in my living room
In Suburbia, U.S.A.

When I can't see beyond the mask
The world put over you;
I've stopped the process to become like God
Whose love you never knew.

I cannot know my fullest self
Unless I see beyond your sin
And bring to you the love of God,
The lifter of your chin.

I pray today for courage
For myself and fellow outcasts;
That we shine through our blindness
With a love that forever lasts.

Musing by Dean Robinson

Friday, January 30, 2009

Human or Dancer?

It would seem from what I'm posting here lately that I've been immersing myself in pop-culture. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. I've really been avoiding radio, TV and the internet quite fastidiously. Still, for some reason, I keep coming across these little gems that just hit a nerve. This song is a really good example of that. Unfortunately I can't embed this particular video so you'll have to click the link.

Human - The Killers

Personally, I think the answer is quite clear. We're human of course, but if that's all we are then we are truly to be pitied (of course, if all we are is human then who would do the pitying?). But "when we dance", as Sting so eloquently puts it, "angels will run and hide their wings". When we dance (or sing or write or love unselfishly) we tap into something glorious, something transcendent, something that proves we can't possibly be simply human.

Friday, January 23, 2009

How 'bout a little Dylan

When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race
No matter what yer doing if you start givin' up
If the wine don't come to the top of yer cup
If the wind's got you sideways with with one hand holdin' on
And the other starts slipping and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood's easy findin' but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin' and the street gets too long
And you start walkin' backwards though you know its wrong
And lonesome comes up as down goes the day
And tomorrow's mornin' seems so far away
And you feel the reins from yer pony are slippin'
And yer rope is a-slidin' 'cause yer hands are a-drippin'
And yer sun-decked desert and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water and yer drain pipe's a-pourin'
And the lightnin's a-flashing and the thunder's a-crashin'
And the windows are rattlin' and breakin' and the roof tops a-shakin'
And yer whole world's a-slammin' and bangin'
And yer minutes of sun turn to hours of storm
And to yourself you sometimes say
"I never knew it was gonna be this way
Why didn't they tell me the day I was born"
And you start gettin' chills and yer jumping from sweat
And you're lookin' for somethin' you ain't quite found yet
And yer knee-deep in the dark water with yer hands in the air
And the whole world's a-watchin' with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves and she's long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick like fish when they're fryin'
And yer jackhammer falls from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly but it lays on the street
And yer bell's bangin' loudly but you can't hear its beat
And you think yer ears might a been hurt
Or yer eyes've turned filthy from the sight-blindin' dirt
And you figured you failed in yesterdays rush
When you were faked out an' fooled white facing a four flush
And all the time you were holdin' three queens
And it's makin you mad, it's makin' you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine
Bouncin' around a pinball machine
And there's something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin'
But it's trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when your layin' in bed
And no matter how you try you just can't say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers turn to blankets of lead
And the lion's mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you'd never taken that last detour sign
And you say to yourself just what am I doin'
On this road I'm walkin', on this trail I'm turnin'
On this curve I'm hanging
On this pathway I'm strolling, in the space I'm taking
In this air I'm inhaling
Am I mixed up too much, am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking, where am I running
What am I saying, what am I knowing
On this guitar I'm playing, on this banjo I'm frailin'
On this mandolin I'm strummin', in the song I'm singin'
In the tune I'm hummin', in the words I'm writin'
In the words that I'm thinkin'
In this ocean of hours I'm all the time drinkin'
Who am I helping, what am I breaking
What am I giving, what am I taking
But you try with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts and never to let
Them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know why they're around
Just waiting for a chance to slip and drop down
"Cause sometimes you hear'em when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed, from yer last chapter of dreamin'
And you can't remember for the best of yer thinking
If that was you in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it's something special you're needin'
And you know that there's no drug that'll do for the healin'
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin' train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a stream engine howler
That's been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don't bar no race
That won't laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin' long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good
"Cause you look an' you start getting the chills

"Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill
And it ain't on Macy's window sill
And it ain't on no rich kid's road map
And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house
And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain't on that dimlit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving and taking yer money
And you thinks it's funny
No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club
And it ain't in the seats of a supper club
And sure as hell you're bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you
And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you
And it ain't in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star's blouse
And you can't find it on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'
Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
When you can't even sense if they got any insides
These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows
No you'll not now or no other day
Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache_
And inside it the people made of molasses
That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses
And it ain't in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies
Who'd turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny
Who breathe and burp and bend and crack
And before you can count from one to ten
Do it all over again but this time behind yer back
My friend
The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl
And play games with each other in their sand-box world
And you can't find it either in the no-talent fools
That run around gallant
And make all rules for the ones that got talent
And it ain't in the ones that ain't got any talent but think they do
And think they're foolin' you
The ones who jump on the wagon
Just for a while 'cause they know it's in style
To get their kicks, get out of it quick
And make all kinds of money and chicks
And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat
Sayin', "Christ do I gotta be like that
Ain't there no one here that knows where I'm at
Ain't there no one here that knows how I feel
Good God Almighty

No but that ain't yer game, it ain't even yer race
You can't hear yer name, you can't see yer face
You gotta look some other place
And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin'
Where do you look for this lamp that's a-burnin'
Where do you look for this oil well gushin'
Where do you look for this candle that's glowin'
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You'll find God in the church of your choice
You'll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

And though it's only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You'll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown



(Thanks to Andrew Rilstone for reminding me of this one)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm still here

On the off chance that anyone actually swings by this blog from time to time I want to assure you that I am still around. I have just been going through some things that are really deep, difficult, profound and amazing.

I have wanted, many times, to write some things up but I just don't feel like I am ready to do so yet. I'm afraid that if I write something up here I will, in some way, cheapen or denigrate what is taking place within me.

The rubber has met the road, so to speak. The God I serve has promised that he who has begun a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (see Philippians 1:6).

There was a time of refreshing. A mountain top experience of joy as I discovered what my Father God really thought of me and the healing and restoration he had planned for me. There was much healing and restoration - much joy and peace. After this, inevitably I think, come times of testing and fire. Times when the great "I AM" must become a consuming fire and begin to burn out the impurities that remain. A time when HE says: "You have rejoiced when I took you into the beauty and peace of my restoration, now will you remain in me when I send you back into the battle? Will you count it all joy when I let the enemy, the world, and the flesh have a go at you?"

I DO count it all joy. I DO say with confidence that I will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

A Psalm came to mind as I was writing this. I want to share it with you. This is Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolation's he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

This is the word of our Lord: Jehovah Sabaoth - our Lord of Hosts, Adonai - our Sovereign. Thanks be to God.