Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On Taking the Next Step...

Walk forward now in the light you've been given. Do not bemoan the darkness ahead.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Need This Reminder

'Whether we think of or speak to God, whether we act or suffer for Him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than His love, and the desire of pleasing Him. All that a Christian does, even in eating and sleeping, is prayer, when it is done in simplicity, according to the order of God...In souls filled with love, the desire to please God is a continual prayer."
-John Wesley

"One may long, as I do, for a gentler flame, a respite, a pause for musing. But perhaps there is no other peace for the artist than what he finds in the heat of combat. 'Every wall is a door,' Emerson correctly said. Let us not look for the door, and the way out, anywhere but in the wall against which we are living. Instead, let us seek the respite where it is - in the very thick of battle. For in my opinion, and this is where I shall close, it is there. Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps, then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear, amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that this hope lies in a nation, others in a man. I believe, rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever-threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundations of his own sufferings and joys, builds for them all."
-Albert Camus

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
-Galatians 6:9

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Come stone, dry bone,
Come Ebenezer,
Come grace, come raise
This dead believer.
Be still, come kill
My sweet deceiver.
And turn from whence you've come.

Done death, old breath,
Done whitewashed tomb,
Done lost, done rust,
Done fruitless womb.
Come near, I'm here,
Done empty room.
And look at what you've done.

New flame, new name,
New soul and marrow,
New birth, more worth
Than many sparrow.
Done falter, fresh altar,
Burn smoke and sorrow.
And see new life is come.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Lie of Well-Roundedness, or Why No Man is Really an Island

I guess I have been meaning for a while now to get this down in writing, but I've been spread thinner than "gold to airy thinness beat" as John Donne so nicely put it. Subsequently it's been bouncing around in my brain, picking up speed until I had a chance to sit down and put paper to pen...or keyboard to screen, in my case. Anyhow, the fact that I've hardly had a minute slow enough to write this just augments the point I've been meaning to make, that I have once again become caught up in the lie of well-roundedness.

Here is what I mean. For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in countless activities which have, thankfully, provided me with copious opportunities to decide who I am and where I'm going. Piano lessons didn't last long. Ballet only slightly longer. Soccer nearly a decade. Show choir. TNT. First Priority. Community Service. Church of God State Youth Leadership. Not to mention school and church. (Is this starting to sound like a resume? I apologize.) And all of this before I received a high school diploma, with honors of course, because universities actually care about that sort of thing (or so I'm told). One would think that when I hit college and started discovering a little bit more about who I was, I would begin to pare down and focus my efforts in one or two directions. On the contrary, my schedule only became more discombobulated with a hectic class schedule now involving professional training time, social justice, various ministries, intramurals, making meals and cleaning house, bible studies, study groups, getting a job, etc. etc. etc. Once in a while I might even revert to satisfying those basic needs like fatigue and hunger.

And I get the creeping feeling that I'm not the only one thinking "Stop the world! I want to get off!" I think this is pretty typical of college students and twenty-somethings, and maybe it gets better with age. Or maybe it gets more monotonous as we learn to handle a hectic routine. But what answer do I so often hear spoken or implied for why I run myself absolutely ragged? "We just want you to be well-rounded."

Oh, well that makes everything worthwhile. Right?? I mean it's great that I can be anything I want to be and that I don't have to worry about being stuck in a job I hate for the rest of my life because I can just change my specialty or get another degree, or six or seven. Surely if nursing doesn't work out I can just be a folk singer, if that fails then a chef, and if all else falls through at least I'll be married by then with 2.47 children and a dog and 3.6 masters degrees and no more clue about where I'm headed than when I moved into my dorm freshman year of college. How encouraging! Maybe I'm exaggerating just a little.

When did everyone become required to be a Jack of all trades instead of just two or three trades, the ones that bring Jack the most joy in life, the one's that best fit Jack's God-given gifts, the gifts that Jill and Joe don't have because they have other gifts that Jack doesn't have? Maybe this is why Jack's feeling pulled apart at the seams. Cultures that appear to us much more "primitive" may just have more of a handle on their own identities in terms of individual giftedness and how they fit into the bigger picture. If they go to college (which, don't get me wrong, I wish everyone could) it's for the purpose of a vocation. If they don't, this specialization starts earlier. But I haven't, in my tiny limited view of others cultures, see such an emphasis on production or convenience or immediacy.

If I am well-rounded, then I can purportedly be self-sustaining, but I don't know if that's such a good idea. If I can be and do everything, then I don't need other people. And they, in their well-rounded individuality don't need me. What happens when I run into something I can't do, or when I get lonely, for crying out loud? How do I communicate that need if I've never needed anyone before? A fine example of this is our world economy, where sweat shop workers are pieces of a well-oiled machine, where exchange is in the form of information, where small farms who aren't using chemicals to produce more faster (or growing too much and then "dumping") are going out of business, and anyone who can't keep up simply perishes. Why buy from a local artist, farmer, tailor, whatever when you can go to Wal-Mart where they have everything?

Because it's cheaper and easier. Because we're stretched to the max with activities from morning until night and we don't have time to take the scenic route. The route where we stop and talk to people along the way. Where we notice when the leaves are changing colors and we are in touch with our families and communities. Where we can be the good samaritan because we're not in a hurry to get to church by 9 o'clock sharp. Where we can read a good book or take a trip to somewhere we've never seen before. Where I need what you give and you need what I give. Where a three-in-one community-oriented God looks with joy on the lovers he made who are pushing and pulling and heaving together, not against each other, and not each on our own isolated road.

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." -Mother Teresa