Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

hope is the thing with feathers

because emily dickinson is wonderful - and because she was such a badass, and had hope, even in the midst of life just not being tidy or easy. and when i forget to hope, because i am tired or all up in my head, or angry, or sad, and not letting myself feel or be awake, here is emily, a reclusive spinster genius whose times did not acknowledge her absolute genius as a poet and thinker and whose suitors didn't stick and whose family didn't understand her ...
and we live in what feels like a "sore storm" and yet the bird keeps singing if we listen. and it won't ask a crumb.

254

"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of Me.


"god and nature - i neither knew" she wrote. but she was lying.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

honestly, i don't get it

i was born and raised, and have made a living and raised my children, and built a life, in the richest country in the world. the richest country by far. maybe the richest and most materially successful country ever, including throughout history - even if adjusted for inflation, technology, etc.
i have absolutely no way to understand this.
i've been to, and worked in missions and relief work in, very poor places.
i care deeply about issues of social justice and care for the oppressed.
i know that rampant materialism and consumerism and greed are incredibly toxic.

i am frustrated by the wireless internet at my house cutting in and out while i'm reading something on the internet. i get sad that my children's choices in which colleges to go to are complicated. i'm overwhelmed by my to-do list of shopping and errand-running.

my wife and the women's study groups at journey are reading Three Cups of Tea; she was telling me a few days ago about how the men and women in this story, who live in Pakistan, are very willing to suffer and live what we would consider an unimaginably hard life ... and yet, they persevere, and have joy and hope, and work extremely hard. as in, carrying building supplies uphill all night, singing as they go, to help with the construction of a school.

i'm not romanticizing simplicity or the good old days. ask anyone who was there; the good old days weren't particularly cute or easy. and contemporary culture has given us modern medicine. and mass communication. and travel. and literacy. and awareness around mental and emotional illness, and family dysfunction, and abuse.
it's not an either/or. i'm not even saying the culture in which we live isn't healthy.

what i'm saying is, i grew up here. i don't know how to appreciate it fully. i want to. i want not to miss what a miracle it is. even though it has huge flaws and drawbacks - i live in the richest country in the history of the world, with the most resources, and the greatest possibilities and options. i want to pay attention to what an awareness of that, even a small one, can help teach me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

we must be doing something pretty right

check out this post from a person who goes to churches in the austin area, in cognito, and experiences their worship - and then writes about impressions, feelings, insights, etc.
here's what this person said about a recent visit to journey worship.

austingospel.blogspot.com re journey ifc worship

Thursday, March 12, 2009

my sweetie

sometimes it's just nice to look at pictures of people you love.
here's my wife.
yeah, she's beautiful.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

beautiful and terrible


for a few weeks, i've been looking at this painting of an angel speaking into joan of arc's ear. i'm not sure what it is about the painting that is so moving to me, but it speaks into my ear. there are artists whose work do this to me - 20th century southern fiction writer flannery o'connor; bach (thanks dave madden); 20th century american painter georgia o'keeffe; irish rock band u2; 19th century american poet emily dickinson; the biblical books of Genesis and Jeremiah and Mark. when i read, or look at, or listen to, this art, I can feel it: something mysterious is happening, and this art is so honest about the human experience that it's no longer just human. the poem, or short story, or painting, or song, slips into a place where the spiritual, the beyond-this-world, the god-in-this-moment, is present.

what is it about this painting? is it that we know joan's story, and she ends her life burned at the stake by a fearful political-religious empire? or is it that we can see that she is, in this moment, no longer anchored in the life in which the rest of us live? or is it that we’ve sensed that it’s both beautiful and terrible to be whispered to by the angels? or maybe it's knowing that i've felt those moments, too, and that they always fuck my life up and invite me into those beautiful and terrible spaces, and i'm never quite safe again?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Everything is amazing, nobody is happy...

everybody must watch this! we need some perspective! hello!