Tuesday, January 29, 2008

i see myself in you

there's a great song by my friend and journeyer-at-large poet/singer/songwriter tom kimmel and his co-writer, also a great friend and journeyer-at-large tom prasada-rao, called "see myself in you." i was thinking about that song yesterday. part of the lyrics say:

If I met you, on the corner,
Would I know you, as you are?
Would I take you, for a stranger,
And brush past you in the door?
If you called me, would I hear you,
Or would I walk away too soon?
If I lingered for a moment,
Would I see myself in you?

i was talking to bob, a friend and journeyer, who was telling me about an insight he'd had a few weeks ago in worship gathering. the topic was confession - and the idea that the greek word for confession can be translated as "speak with" or "speak the same as." when we confess, it's not a list of all the horrible things we've done that we're begging god not to burn our asses for - it's a way of saying to god or to a friend, Okay, here's me. all of where i am and what i'm learning and what i'm struggling with. how i've ended up in the ditch. what i'm joyful about. whatever.
when i do that, i feel myself opening up to the work god wants to do in me, rather than hiding.
bob said yesterday that he saw something in that worship gathering. if god is in all of us, and if god is speaking in and through all things and all of what god is doing, then when we look at each other, and talk to each other, and listen to each other, we're seeing and speaking to and hearing from ... god.

when i look into your eyes, i see god.
when i listen to you speak, i hear god.

the trick is, will i listen? or will i see you as just some other human being, or an annoyance, or some blob of protoplasm, or someone in my way in traffic?
or, will i see god in you? will i see god-in-myself in you?
i'm asking god - and you - and god-within-me - for awareness and openness in that today.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

destroyer of worlds

the blog levite chronicles has this post from january 21; it seemed to speak to some things that i think are happening within me, and maybe others too:

Three starting observations:

  • I’ve had two brief conversations in the last couple of days with friends who are struggling with motivation, who are drifting Both have recently finished times of preparation, each have had significant changes in their lives during the past months.
  • I heard that today is the most depressed day of the year, with a convergence of Christmas bills coming due, the weather proving that it is in fact winter (and Groundhog Day itself is still a couple weeks off), and the demise of many of our resolutions, even those made half-heartedly.
i got very, very tired in november and december. i crashed out on purpose after christmas. did nothing. hung with family. napped. by the time the first full week of january got here, i was convinced my ministry was meaningless and that i had nothing to say and journey ifc was on the wrong track.
i thought that the answer was to go on a silent retreat, get myself together, look forward, re-vision, get a sense of what it's all about.
i instead started back to work, hanging out at the journey warehouse, talking to friends, getting back to work. i didn't do these things on purpose - it's just what happened to need to be done. and lo and behold: journeyers are wonderful people, what god is doing through this faith community is startling and gorgeous and profound, i have great friends and an amazing wife and son and daughter, and my vision for the world is worth pursuing after all.

levite chronicles also added this:
  • Many friends, whether I see them online or offline, want to live lives of significance, lives that matter. We look at productivity and time-management and planning as ways to function more more efficiently (doing things right) and effectively (doing the right things). And still, even as we get the methods working right, we still have a deep longing to matter.
i used to think the way for my life to make sense was to make my days make sense. to manage my time more efficiently. to get myself together, organizationally and in terms of schedule and how i handle the stuff on my plate. i read books on organization and management and holding it together. i worked hard.
i dumped my plate a few years ago. accepted that i'm not everything to everyone. fired my inner Hero. let go of the construct that says if i do it right, i can get it all done.
went into therapy. did men's work. became completely invested in my life's purpose. started taking naps and resting and reading for fun. let go. slowed down. did less. asked for help.
guess what: i don't read books on time management or efficiency. i don't start programs at journey. i don't prove anything. i don't make anything happen. i surf the Spirit. i listen a lot. i'm not so afraid. when it's time for me to stop, i stop. i'm even learning not to say yes to anything i'm not going to do. "no" is a good word.
the base, for me, is to know it's okay and i'm okay and the beloved of God no matter how things go. this was huge for me. earthquake, plate-tectonic-shift huge. shiva the destroyer of worlds huge.
i feel more free than i ever have in my life. how the fuck did that happen? i don't know, but i'll take it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

well shit. heath ledger's dead.

i really hate it when actors, musicians, comedians, thinkers that i like and enjoy ... die young. it just sucks.
heath ledger was a very smart, very intuitive, very insightful young actor. accomplished. deep. mysterious. and he died this afternoon in an apartment in new york. naked. waiting for his masseuse to show up.
so of course there'll be all sorts of talk for days, weeks, about whether he died of suicide, or an accidental medicine overdose, or some sort of illegal/illicit drug; whether he was depressed; whether he was just one of those artistic, funky, strange, beautiful souls.
dr. drew, the therapist whom i really like, told the commentators asking him questions not to make celebrities any different from non-famous people - they're just people. shit happens. it doesn't necessarily mean anything.
but here's a quote from hemingway, that i've had above my desk for years; it's pretty dark, but it's a reminder to keep things in perspective.

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure that it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”

ever have a day like this?

do you worry that it's cuz yor doin it wrong, you loser?

it's not. i promise. sometimes the cheese just lands on your head.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

politispeak or peacepower

i was watching matt lauer on the today show this morning, interviewing the treasury secretary about the economy. i noticed that the guy speaking on behalf of the government used specific language, all of which is very general. in response to questions like, "will there be rebates for the lower and middle classes?" the secretary gives a long and carefully-worded answer used carefully-worded sentences that didn't really say anything - they affirmed without promising, said yes without saying yes, acknowledged without committing.
i was put off by this, and then i remembered: human beings are sometimes really obtuse. dense. stupid. myopic. whatever.
i listen to talk radio for a couple of minutes at a time driving to and from the warehouse. what strikes me is how callers pick up on one little piece of information or a part of someone's opinion and focus on that. they go off. they lose track. they wander. they get the wrong impression. it happens all the time.
in which case, sadly, politicians who are in power (as opposed to candidates seeking power, who can be much more forthright and confrontational - until they get power) do have to watch what they say - or else people will just go off, get the wrong idea, cause trouble, holler, say you said things you didn't say.
this used to scare me. i used to worry that people would take what i say the wrong way. that i might upset someone, or someone might disagree with me and misunderstand. what if they try to take my power?
as i've gotten older, i've realized that nobody can take my power if i don't give it to them. and i don't have to be afraid that they'll take my power away, because what they often want is just to have someone listen and help them think something through. or just vent.yes, i still don't want people to go off on things that aren't the point for me. and yet - if i'm in relationship with that person, i want to listen. and be in community with that person. all they want is to be listened to. and when it's time for me to go on to the next thing, moment, experience, concern i have, i can just say so.
this used to scare me. it still does, sometimes. but i'm learning that i don't think i have to fix it. unlike a politician or CEO or whatever else, it's not about power
over - it's about power within. clarity. peace. perspective. intention.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

you may genuflect

journeyers who do graphic design work crack me UP!

Monday, January 14, 2008

My 200th post! so, to celebrate ...

here are some great words of spiritual wisdom i thought i'd share ... may they bring you peace and hope today, and some perspective on where true hope may be found.

alright. break's over!

let's hug it out bitch t-shirt

yes, believe it! and i'm ordering one!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

let's hug it out bitch

just got up a little while ago from the post-worship nap; i'm actually part of the awesome spirit whispers experience at the warehouse, but i got a headache after worship and was dead. my head was splitting open. got up. talked to my wife and daughter. now i'm waiting for the golden-globes-news-conference-since-there's-no-golden-globes-show-because-of-the-writers-strike.
i dont even watch "entourage" but i'm watching the pre-golden-globes-news-conference dateline nbc show. matt lauer just interviewed jeremy piven, who is awesomely funny in general, and when ive seen the show from time to time, i love his character ari gold the agent.

dateline showed a clip of piven's character on "entourage" doing a great, great line: "let's hug it out bitch."

i'm feeling a new man catchphrase coming on.

Friday, January 11, 2008

find your note and sing it for all it's worth

a good friend and journeyer michelle, who's a wonderful teacher, wrote me an email about an awareness she's having and it was so good i'm including part of it here. WORD UP!

maybe there is more to all of us. maybe we settle for our own mediocrity, accepting the muzak piped in daily (soundtrack available at starbucks), devoid of originality or individualism, because it is too hard or too scary to step out and sing our one note openly, loud and clear (i think i stole that from poet john fox). this keeps coming up in my classroom: find your note and sing it for all its worth, even if what the dragon says is true and it is only for one second in a million, million years.
that one second matters. it is a very small rock, but it makes a ripple if i will stretch out my arm
and throw it and not worry about the size of the ripple it makes. if we all sang our notes for our single seconds, all of time would fill with music.

maybe this was what Christ was trying to teach us all along: loving God is loving your neighbor, and his song, regardless of what key it is in, accepting that none of us know all the tunes there are to know.

the little kingdom in the corner

yesterday afternoon at the austin city council meeting, my friend dave madden sang a song and received recognition by the mayor that he had named yesterday Dave Madden Day in austin, texas. it's something mayor winn does to promote local arts and especially music. and it was really cool. madden played a new song and it is amazing and beautiful.
then, a few of us went to the other side of the very cool austin city hall building, to austin java, and sat with dave to relish in his moment.
so, melinda says, Hey, you should play your song in here. and dave says, Okay. so melinda talks to TJ the guy at the bar and he says that'd be great. so after my wife and son get there, late because of weird bad traffic on I-35 - even worse than usual, which is saying A LOT - dave gets up to play. no stage, nothing - just sitting by our table in the corner.
melinda doesnt even want to introduce him - it's awkward - and yet, i say, No, sister, do it. this is special. it's dave madden day!
so she stands up, and tells people it's dave madden day, and that he's going to play the song he played at the city council meeting, and here's dave, and we all clap and the people clap and then they listen while they go on eating and talking.
most of them are listening while they eat or have their coffee or whatever. (btw, this isn't a big place - maybe 15 people, ten tables.) in the middle is this big, loud, growing group of women (i find out later that it was a junior league committee meeting or something like that) who get louder and louder.
meanwhile, i'm listening to dave play this song, and it's easily one of the best songs he's ever written - it's holy - it's sacred - it's really, really good - and he's just playing it and singing it with beauty and simpleness; he knows it's a good song and he's at peace.
and melinda is getting pissed off and is thinking about telling the loud table of woman to be quiet. and i'm just transfixed by this song.
madden finishes, and it's beautiful, and, surprisingly, the people clap. i didn't think they even heard. maybe they didn't. or maybe they heard, and it was nice background music. in austin, there are lots of places where musicians play live music while you're just sitting wherever.
and i thought ... this is the kingdom of god. beautiful, and simple, and about real things that matter, and it's happening in the corner, or right in the middle of things, and its music and joy and sadness and hope are there. present. at work. doing their thing. sweetly. powerfully. with faith.
and all around, the world is busy. eating. talking. on to the next thing. checking email. fighting. laughing. thinking about something else. not noticing.
or, noticing. and wanting to know more. and maybe even unplugging a bit, to see what this is about.
or not.

and jesus said the kingdom of god would be like that.
and i can get mad/sad about nobody really hearing dave's song.
and i can get happy that dave's song was there, and believe that maybe it brought joy or hope or beauty or awareness to someone sitting there, and maybe they didn't even know it. and maybe it'll take a long time to sink in. and maybe it never will, and it Just Was.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

clarification re xmas tree

because kj didn't understand the pictures i posted of our xmas tree, let me be more clear:
this is our tree after i nearly died trying to get it to stand up, and then it did, and we decorated it.

isn't that nice!
and then, since i'd had so much trouble after it fell down three times while i was setting it up back in november, the lovely christmas tree bag that i put under it, surrounding the trunk, to wrap around the entire tree for taking it out the door after christmas, had been destroyed, i now have no bag to wrap it in. and the tree is SO DEAD that its needles are FLYING OFF into the house as i have been taking down the decorations.

SO ... i decided to cut the limbs off, put THEM in trash bags, carry them out, then carry out the tree trunk. so here's what it looked like last night when i finally went to bed after 11, having fought this tree yet again:

so, enough freakin' christmas already! i'm ready to move on to 2008. for which i have made no new year's resolutions. so there.

i think the holidays are over now.



Thursday, January 3, 2008

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

a new year reminder

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."
- Guillaume Apollinaire, 1880 - 1918, French poet, writer, and art critic.

life cracks me up. this quote,
the man who coined the term "surrealism,"
who wrote and thought alongside picasso, jean cocteau, marc chagall, henri rousseau,
was on a birthday card i got last week.

a reminder: keep an eye out for beauty in unlikely places this year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

ps it's brim's that did it

check out my post from a few minutes ago, then go to brim's snack foods' website page on everlasting life.
hell, a quote from romans ain't even a warmup. i got out lucky.

the gospel via chicharrones

so my east texas buddy chet and i were hanging out last week one afternoon, just catching up. laughing. we'd gone by fred's store in whitehouse tx south of tyler, and then headed out to sit.
we bought some cheap junk food and cigars. yay. we were sitting there, enjoying the cold air, talking about life and marriage and kids and church and memories, we chomped pork rinds. smoked cigars. drank some coronas.
the thing about these chicharrones wasn't just that they were good - they were really good. the "sweet & mild barbeque" flavor rocked. so chet looked at the package to see what the deal was.
the front of the bag looked like this. ("chicharrones" in this case means "pork rinds." yum!)

he looked at the back, to figure out the ingredients, and then - he saw it.
the back of the bag contained this beautiful message:

and so ... now we know. we know, now, the secret of the wonderful flavor of the $1.00 pork rinds. we know, too, why the afternoon was so blessed and beautiful.
it was the gospel being presented on the back of the pork rinds. it was a sacred afternoon.

we started to laugh our asses off, mostly because of the implications of this. pork rinds bags at the pearly gates. pork rinds as gospel tools. theological discussions regarding old testament dietary restrictions about the eating of pork vs. st. peter's experience of christ telling him that all food is now clean. and yet, can you use pork rinds gospel bags as a tool to reach our jewish brothers and sisters?
it went on and on. i laughed so hard my face hurt.
you gotta give it to fred's, or brim's, or whoever it is that produced those pork rinds - they're committed enough to put a bible verse on the back of the package. i'm sure they're sincere. but it just made me LAUGH.
i'm saving the package to put in my "tacky religious shit" altar in my office at the jifc warehouse. how could i not?

happy new year

i've purposely taken a week to do nothing. be with family. no cell phone. no laptop. (i did check email once while we were out of time, and about four times since we got back, but that was it.) (okay, i did check my cell phone messages about three times, but that was it.) no journeyifc work, except showing up sunday morning and being part of the worship gathering. and then leaving, and spending more time with family. and then more time with family last night for New Year's Eve.

about two days ago, i was so not ready to get back into a routine. i was still exhausted. november and december at journey, and with birthdays and holidays and christmas stuff at home, and end-of-the-year stuff to take care of ... i was absolutely exhausted. so, i rested. and rested. slept late. did nothing. NOTHING. watched dvds. took a few walks.

and now i'm ready. i woke up ready, today.

i have a feeling about 2008. it's a year when god's going to do some cool things and we journeyers get to be in on it. our year of getting settled in the warehouse, and with our structures, and with ourselves, is pretty much over. it's time.

so, happy new year.