Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Angels in the Trash

I took the cherub decorations off my wall to paint the living room. The celestial decor--not cheesy--but traditional had been the motif, the theme in my interior design plan for years. With new color affixed to the wall, I decided the angels had outlived their usefulness. In my home at least. As I put them out in the garbage, I wondered if I had thrown away the real angels they represented. I'd gotten tired of how my heart looked and felt and was trying new things. Maybe I'd disposed of the angels standing guard over me as surely as I'd dumped their plaster counterparts. I've repainted and redecorated my living room, but how will I fix up my soul? If the angels no longer belong, what does? My actual wall displays an eclectic array--paintings of muses, primitive style art, a replica of a priest's robe. Maybe the parallel is too obvious--eschewing the divine for the material. My soul looks that way too, seeking fulfillment in the very things Solomon said would give us nothing. But each one of us wants our story to have a different ending. I don't know if I really believe that, I just can't see the ending anymore. I have a newly decorated living room, but my soul is still under construction. The old song reminds me "All day, all night, angels watching over me, my Lord." I wonder though, if I threw them away, are the angels still watching?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Please Take From Me My Life

When I don't have the strength to give it away to you, Jesus. It's the anecdote of the keys in my hand. I can't hand them to you, but I'm willing to let you take them from me. I'm of two minds--not wanting the life I have, yet unwilling to let go of it. From this hilltop I look back at the life lived, the ground covered on my journey. Am I like Much Afraid, making progress toward the high places, even when it seems not? I hope today I am. One step at a time, I'll call you Shepherd. Take my life; I don't have the strength to give it away. I can't understand why you'd want it, but you are a better artisan than I. You know how to remove the dross from the silver. Shall the clay tell the potter what to do? Seems I try. Remembering I am dust. Glad you do. Dust in the wind, all I am is dust in the wind.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Killing Me Softly

So who keeps giving out my number? Why does every thing I read or watch or hear seem to apply to my life? Am I that narcissistic? Why is Desperate Housewives about my life again? Could it be that my story, at its essence, is everyone's story? Is it a listening heart or a solipsistic episode? Every life tells a story, but every story also touches a life--mine it seems. Am I on The Truman Show? Sometimes my life could pass for a reality show (or, God forbid, Jerry Springer)--no script, people with bad manners and an agenda, and contrived conflict. On the other hand, though, there are too many coincidences. I ask God for a sign, and I drive by the blue Nova--ours? Accompanied on the radio by just the right song. I follow a truck bearing the motto "life beckons." I see a program about people who stop living in fear and their friends who won't even admit they're afraid. I can hear the words; I know they are meant for me. I half expect the characters to look out at the audience and talk directly to me. Or I'll read an ad that says 'just do it, lorinda.' Maybe there'll even be a song telling lorinda to stop fearing, but will I be around to hear it? I'm not sure, all these signs are killing me.

Friday, October 22, 2004

It's the Precious

Hope dangles on a string Like slow spinning redemption There is a Precious in my life. That which I hold dearest. I love the Precious; I worship the Precious. I want the Precious, even as it destroys me. I am not Frodo, willing to give my life for the cause; I wish I were. No, I am Gollum. I want the Precious all to myself, and the nasty little Hobbitses stand in my way. Like him, I must be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom, to be consumed.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I am a born-again Red Sox fan. Let me explain. I remember loving them with all the passion of a junior high girl. Seeking a sense of belonging in a strange country (Canada), being part of the Red Sox nation connected me to the New England I so desperately missed. Somehow they faded into the background as I made connections and put down roots in the strangely familiar foreign soil of our northern neighbors. Baseball and all its trappings became an object of scorn to me, the nonsports fan. As I grew older, I mocked those who loved sports--just kill me was my usual response. My sister married a sports fan, and I laughed--at him first for loving baseball, and at her for loving him. I married a man who, like I, despised TV as a vehicle for anything other than drama and comedy, seeing none of that in sports. Then I had a son, who for reasons unknown to me, awoke into full-blown baseball fanaticism in the summer of his eighth year. He embraced the home team with the ardor of a boy--pure, unsullied love. He spends hours pouring over the stats of any major leaguer. He knows their names, what teams they've played on, what years, RBIs, and all the acronyms that make no sense to me--sports illiterate. You've heard the old saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." That's what I did. How else could I speak to a boy whose world is 'earned run averages' and standings in the National League Central Division? All that to say this. Last night, I came back to the Boston Red Sox--born again into the Red Sox nation. My son was rooting for the Yankees to beat the Red Sox in the American League post-season. I despise the Yankees. They are good because they have the money to be good. It has nothing to do with heart or grit or character. It's about greenbacks. Ok, I'll admit I like the look of A-Rod and Derek in their stripes, but that's as far as it goes. I digress, men in baseball uniforms do that to me--except for all the chewing and spitting--what's up with that? Sorry, digressing again. The Red Sox, down three games in the playoffs. They came back and won game four, then game five, then game six. Didn't watch any of them. Didn't care except in some theoretical way. Game seven, I happened to tune in to the ninth inning as I channel surfed. I found myself transfixed. I watched the Red Sox defy the odds and beat the Yankees 10-3 (or whatever the final score was). I celebrated with them as they and the city of Boston rejoiced. Why? I asked myself, and all I could figure out was that baseball really is a metaphor for life. I feel like I am down three games against my adversaries. I am weary, feeling hopeless, and almost 100% sure that I won't be making it to the World Series. But I can take a page from the Red Sox players, who said they won their way back one pitch, one hit, one catch at a time. What could be more perfect or more encouraging? That's not only how games are won and lost, but how life is, too. One at bat, one pitch, one sublime catch against all odds--out of the park; three up, three down, and picking one out of the air at the last second. Boston rejoices, and so do I. The very sport that I laughed at for its uselessness is the medium that may well save my life. God does have a sense of humor. Maybe the curse will be broken after all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Prisoner

I am locked in a prison cell. The other inmate is dead. Though I pound on the door and the wall and the floor, scream until my throat bleeds, no one comes. I'm like the Count of Monte Cristo, only he escaped. Someone has thrown away the key; am I the one who did? At some point the putrefaction will cease and only skeleton remain, but how long will that take? Will I grow so used to the stench I no longer care? Will this death kill me too? I can hear the rats approaching. I think I shall lose my mind with their gnawing. Let me out. I yearn for fresh air and the light of day. I want to be free--of the cell, of the darkness, of the dead one in chains next to mine. Shall I continue to call, longing for someone to hear and rescue me? I am a prisoner of hope.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Heart alive

Here is a heart alive with the music of another sphere. Do you march to a different drummer? It's a beat most can't hear. A world of fairies, trolls and neverending sky, Giving rise to endless searching, Always asking why. You've ridden past waters cool Stumbled death's shadow valley Alone

Friend

A woman of Christ Mentor, seer, fellow traveller, Brother, companion in labor, comrade, Soldier-roommate in this battle, Star counter, heart soother, Prayer warrior, servant, iron that sharpens, Christ-one, quieter, listener, Weeper with one that weeps, Rejoicer, Sister, Mother, open heart, Colearner, faithful wounder, Counselor, reverent one, devout, Pattern, model, truthsayer, Beautiful, hidden, charming, Gentle, peaceful, Precious to God, Apron of humility, servant's garb Subject, beloved.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Sometimes He Calms the Storm

And other times He calms His child. So the song says. I picture myself sometimes in the eye of the storm. All is calm at the heart. The wind whips wildly around, but I am safe. God is with me, and I am with Him. It is here I should rest, but like a moth drawn to the flame, I seem to thrive on chaos. I veer too close to the edge and am whipped back into the hurricane, the debris, and the destruction. Tossed to and fro, battered by flying bits of wreckage, I realize (again) my mistake. How is it that the whirling dervishes of my life look so attractive from a distance? I have to attribute it to the foolishness rife within me. I am prone to sin as the sparks fly upward. Fortunately, God remembers this, knows that I am fashioned from dust. His patience with me is great; He is longsuffering. Once again, He drags me from the devastation. I have new scars to add to the ones from previous ventures into annihilation. Why does He continue with me? I'm broken, warped, bent beyond repair as I see it. He, however, sees me as I could be, as I am in Christ. He finds in me more than I find in myself, thus He rescues me again and again from hopelessness, despair and death. He tells me, as He told the church in Smyrna "I know your pain and poverty--constant pain and dire poverty--but you are rich." If I look through His eyes, I will see the wealth. If I quiet my heart, I will hear His voice in the midst of the storm. He doesn't promise to take the storm away; in all likelihood it will get worse. He does, however, promise to rescue me from it and hold me safe in the midst. Will I believe it, or will I wander again into harm's way? I cannot speak for every day, but just for today, I will sit in the eye of the storm, embracing the quiet, praying it will imbue my soul and change me. May I long for the shelter and not the squall.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

You Can't Always Get What You Want

I admit it. I'm a control freak--somedays I'm in recovery, and somedays I'm full-blown off the wagon. I grew up in charge--the oldest. Not my way or the highway, just my way. That's a hard habit to break. The need to be in charge may go undercover as an adult, getting sneaky and manupulative, but it never altogether disappears. I like getting my own way, even when it brings disastrous results. Irrational, I know; but who ever said the heart and its workings are rational? I have met some people who refuse to let me win all the time. I love them and hate them. They set boundaries around the wild horses that are my spirit. I buck and kick and ram the fences of the "no." Sometimes I break free, sometimes I don't. Those who have loved me enough to put the fences in place, first and foremost being God, have withstood many years of my resistance and refusal to be tamed. Some of the fence builders have even given up, thinking I'm not worth the struggle. Sometimes I agree with them. But a few have remained, first and foremost God, seeing something in me that the others (and I) cannot see. They saw past the rebellion, anger, and bluster to the me within--aching and crying out to be loved unconditionally--rebellion and all. Control at its heart is just fear. Fear of being found out, rejected, and left alone. Past the control is the me that is longing to be set free--to create, to love, to succeed. And to those who remained and believed, I give my heartfelt thanks, first and foremost to God.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Forgive and Forget? Forget it! Forgive me.

In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says, "Forgive us our debts, just as we forgive our debtors." I don't like that very much. I want the freedom to hold onto the grievances done to me. I have my scorecard filled out. I want those who've wronged me to make restitution or better yet to have that big shoe from Monty Python fall on them and squash them flat--noisily. God isn't with my program, though, and I have to admit that makes me mad. He says I will get the same measure of forgiveness I extend to others. Now wait a minute. I think we can all agree that my sin is not as stinky or heinous as your sin. My point exactly, God says. No one thinks his sin is as bad as someone else's. God, however, finds all our sin egregious. At its heart every sin is a sin against him. My scorecard detailing the sins of my husband, my children, that SUV driver that just cut me off then slowed down to 20 mph, and the cast of thousands--that scorecard offends him. And here I am offended that my sin offends him. Are you stepping back so the lightning rod about to strike me doesn't catch you too? I want God to sweep in and destroy my enemies while granting me the freedom to continue keeping score. Shows who I think the real god is, don't I? God is just some genie I get by rubbing my prayer bottle. He is forced to come to my aid and smite the bad guys--or the ones who are a pain in the rear, anyway. I do have real enemies. People who have set themselves against my good; people who have placed their desires and pleasures above my good and the good of my family--to my hurt. I have a legitimate reason to hate them. They fall into a different category than the lady who cut in front of me in the line at Target, yet I find myself angry with both of them. What I really want is for my kingdom to come and my will to be done, and I want it now, in technicolor with great sound effects, please. God says that I will be forgiven to the same extent that I forgive others. How can I do that? There are wounds that are soul deep, scars that won't heal. Yet I fear receiving the kind of forgiveness I'd dish out. Gods made in my image are frightening in their capriciousness. I know my only hope is to throw myself at the foot of the Cross. I can't forgive in my own strength--either the ones who've hurt me or myself for the harm I've done. I must lay the burden of forgiveness down each day, releasing it with "I forgive ______ for _______." Then I must pray that God will bring healing to me and blessing to them. That is forgiving from my heart as Jesus commands in the Sermon on the Mount. Pour out your blessing on the ones I must forgive Lord, for their sake and for mine. Then I can go forth from the foot of the Cross forgiving and forgiven.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Enter Sandman--exit disappointed, maybe no exit

I read a posting on my internet book club about Stephanie Williams, a writer who died of breast cancer at age 33. She took the last year, enduring chemo, vomiting and pain, to complete the novel she'd always dreamed of writing--Enter Sandman. I plan to read it, especially because part of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I just know in the '1 in 4 line' to get cancer, I'm #4; it's just a matter of time. Stephanie's final article was an autobio in Glamour's September 2004 issue. I went to the library to find it and photocopy it for a friend. I read it today as I sat outside my seven-year-old's violin lesson. Amid the squeaks and squawks and occasional pure sounds, I cried as I heard a dying woman's voice from the pages of that poor quality photocopy. She talked about what it was like to live with the knowledge that she was dying. She talked about the man she loved and hoped to marry and have children with. She talked about learning to slow down and be unselfish, about loving her family--especially her mom and sister. She talked about joys, but mostly the regrets. Stephanie ended the article with a punch. She wanted to be remembered by her family, yes, but she wanted to be remembered by me. Effective writing, yes. Remembered by me, yes. But maybe not for the reasons she meant. What punched me more than her dramatic "I want to be remembered by you" was the bitterness and selfishness that surrounded her story. Now I admit I've never been in love with someone who is dying. My life is not so romantic (excuse the sarcasm). But I read about her boyfriend moving away for his career, and then refusing to discuss marriage with her when he knew her cancer was terminal, even though he knew she wanted to get married. Protecting his interests? She alluded to his not being able to bear the pain. What about her pain? As I saw him, he was heartless and self-serving. I don't think she meant to paint him that way, but it screamed at me through the pages. Could he not donate one year of his potential sixty remaining to be there for her? Obviously not. She talked about feeling robbed of her life. I believe that. Then I look at the life of the seventeen-year-old boy in my town who died last week when he had a heart attack playing basketball. Over a thousand people came to his funeral. "Rosie," as he was called, was a young man who loved Jesus. He wanted to be a missionary and an evangelist and spent his high school years befriending other students, loving them, praying with them and for them, and telling them about his Best Friend. He left behind a legacy of joy and hope--a life fulfilled in its short seventeen years. I contrast his life with Stephanie Williams, what legacy did she leave? Her family knew she loved them; that's truly beautiful. But beyond that, when the Sandman entered, did she exit disappointed? Or did she find there was no exit, because she hadn't prepared for what was to come? I hope she met Jesus before she closed her eyes the final time. I don't know, but based on her article, I exit disappointed--for her.

Vulcan Mind Meld and Bad Words

So I'm writing my blog and go to publish it; it merges in cyberspace with someone else's--like bad reception on my cell phone. Suddenly I'm diatribing (if that's a word) in my mutant blog about what a @^@$*@#&$^ Bush is and what an amazing man Kerry is. I found the situation amusing, and I would have left the mind-meld blog, but I don't want my mom to know I know that many bad words. Even though she's probably already heard me say them, right Mom? It also wasn't highly articulate as arguments go. I'd give it high marks for passion if passion weren't so easy, overrated, and such a cop out. Tony Soprano is passionate, but is he good? Ironically, I just looked down at the Bible sitting open on my desk to the verse that said "A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones." (Proverbs 14:30) It's easy to use the f-word, but does it convey meaning other than that I am too lazy to hit the Thesaurus key on my WP software? I wonder if part of my blog ended up on his page? Did he wonder who the man I called a loser was? A question for the ages. If only I knew the &@#$%$# answer.

I'll be watching you.

There’s a man I know, peripherally, I wouldn’t call him a friend. I watch his life from a distance, and I wonder who he is. By business standards, he is a success. He’s an executive at a big company; he makes way over six figures; he owns two or three or four homes; he vacations wherever and whenever he wants. He’s funny, smart, handsome, and completely in charge of any room he enters. People jockey to sit next to him at business parties knowing they’ll be entertained by his hilarious stories and riotous antics. I see his public persona, but I wonder, when I look at the trail of debris he has left in his wake, who he really is in private. When he comes home after the business dinners, if he’s not too drunk or stoned to think, what does he see in the mirror? The man who cheated on his wife and left her—not even attempting to reconcile? The guy who never really bothered to get to know his kids—the very kids who now hate him? The guy who has to take anti-depressants and alcohol and drugs to feel numb or alive or whatever it is they make him feel? Does he see the man who has lied so many times he actually believes the garbage that comes out of his mouth? At what point will he see who he really is? A schmuck, a loser, a fool. He has thrown away the things of true value to chase the magic ring. When will he see that it’s brass? Or worse, gold paint over plastic or cheap metal. Maybe the truth is that he already knows who he really is, and that’s why he fills his life with noise and laughter, with wine, women and song, with alcohol and Prozac. Every move he makes, I’ll be watching him, because I’m hoping that he’ll not only know he’s a loser, but that he’ll do something about it before it’s too late.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Eleanor Rigby--puts on the face that she keeps in a jar by the door

What is it for? I'm thinking about the masks we wear. We'd put the Mardi Gras maskmakers to shame with the collections we keep. There's the "I'm fine" mask, the forced smile, the slits of eyes. No one is allowed to see what's behind. Fear of rejection or discovery, or just having to expend the energy to discuss it. Easier to put on the mask and take a Prozac or eat a Twinkie or slug back a drink. In a book I read, one faerie tells another that one can sometimes see through the glamour (the protective magic to hide a faerie's true identity from humans) out of the corner of one's eye. Sometimes even we humans can see through the masks. They wear thin, develop cracks, or we become adept at looking beyond the mask. That's if we can expend any energy beyond keeping up our own facades. It's exhausting, this mask-wearing. They become cumbersome and heavy, and we weary of the effort it requires. Yet if we risk enough to remove the mask, someone may run screaming from the real us. That is a price we may not be willing to pay. So each day, like Eleanor of the Beatle's song, we pick up the mask in the jar by the door and put it on. All the lonely people, where do they all come from ?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Murder, tonight, in the trailer park

The words to that Cowboy Junkies song keeps running through my head (the few words I know). Murder, suicide. Our cup is full of them when we turn on the TV or go to the movies. We're not as highly evolved as we'd like to believe; our gods still call for blood sacrifices. We challenge that assumption--we worship the One True God--be we Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. And those of us who claim no religion don't acknowledge any god demanding of us blood, blood, and more blood. Why then the murder and suicide count as high as it is? Pull back the thin veneer which hides who we really are. Which gods do we truly worship? I look around my temple. In the courtyard, where everyone can view my life, the God posters are ten feet high. Image management is perfect, truly my forte. Step back behind the curtain however, into the secret places, the holy of holies. Here I have spent much time setting up the objects of worship. They are polished, candles lit, oblations laid before them. I tell myself no one will ever see them but me. These are the gods I truly adore. There is Comfort, Happiness, Prosperity, Fame, Revenge, Desire, and of course, the Self, in all its splendor. I light candles before each one, never allowing myself to acknowledge that there is someone who sees. If I think he's looking, I simply blow out the candles and pretend there's nothing in the secret place but what should be there, God and I. But the gods we worship (for you have them in your secret place as well) do not remain content with half-hearted worship. They demand sacrifice--blood sacrifice. What will they require next? Your health? Your marriage? Your children? In the end, your life? They are relentless in the pursuit of atonement. What you've given is never enough. There must always be more. Why do you think God castigated the Jews for the gods erected in the holy of holies? Yes, because he's a jealous god and doesn't want to share us. But also because he knows the end result of our idolatry--prices too high for us to pay, more blood than we have to give. He makes a counter offer: choose me, he says. I have already made all the sacrifice that needs to be made. I gave my son. And that is enough. I share it with you freely, all I ask is that you remove the clutter of gods from the secret place and leave room for only two things--My presence and your companionship. Shall I take his offer? I have spent years building these altars and worshipping at them. They are as familiar to me as my own soul, because they are my soul. Knocking down the idols and cleaning out the secret place will take effort and time and energy. Is it worth it to me? Can I see the difference between the idols of murder and suicide and the God who would banish them from my heart? A God who was willing to die for me rather than asking me to die for him?

Friday, October 08, 2004

Desperate housewives--are you talkin' to me?

Intrigued by the buzz of this new show, I tuned in for the opening episode. Let me clarify by saying I live in middle America--"the flyover states." Never in my years in suburbia have I seen that many hot women living in one suburb. It doesn't happen. Now that's out of the way, I found myself seeking a character with whom I could relate: Teri Hatcher's single mom jumping back into the dating pool? A little, yikes. Talk about skewed boundaries in the mother-daughter relationship; every single parent struggles with that, maybe every parent. Next, the lady who committed suicide. Bullet to the head? Looking good on some days, but not today. Secrets in the family to run from? Every family does, but I'm not so afraid of my secrets, maybe everybody else's. The stay-at-home mom with bratty active kids and a husband gone most of the time? Been there done that, felt the craziness. Thankfully past most of that; maybe because the kids are in school. The man-eater divorcee? No, thank goodness; hopefully never. Either the man-eater or the divorcee. The ex-model having an affair with the teenage gardener? No comment; I don't have a garden. I'm left with Bree, the perfectionistic, pearl clad mother of two. Image management is her specialty. Pearls? Give me a break. She's so over the top her kids hate her and so does her husband. I'm punched in the gut with myself--even the red hair--on the TV screen. I don't want to be her! I want to be one of the hotties--drinking life to the dregs. But I have to be honest. I can relate more to Bree, whose fragile, brittle perfection is her only protection from screaming madness. Letting people in means risk, authenticity. Those are words I hate. They might see the real me and leave. They might hate me. But I know they already do. Isn't it so? I have a small reprieve. I'm already learning this lesson--for almost five years now. I'm a little ahead of the fictional Bree, but her pain is my pain. It may be too late with some of my relationships, alienating with my utter perfection and criticism--like the frigid coldness of a Manitoba winter. From a great height, God dropped me and I shattered. I keep trying to pick up the pieces and reshape them into the perfect woman, but He keeps knocking them out of my hand and melting the shards with His radiance. He likes me broken, because then I am listening, not in control, maybe even teachable. I am a recovering Bree. By God's grace I won't go back to being controlling, unendingly cheerful, and murderously depressing to those around me. I may indeed be a desperate housewife, but my prayer is that it will be desperate to know God and His love and to share it with a world of housewives as desperate as I am.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

This is me in grade 9, baby.

I remember being in school, the desire to be included, the eager anxiety each day as I maneuvered clique politics. Will I be accepted? Will I be sought after? A child's dream becomes an adult's nightmare. I thought I was cured of the desire to be heralded. Then I find the internet--chat rooms, bulletins board, blogs. Suddenly it's me in grade 9 baby. I log on wondering if anyone thought I was witty or thoughtful or ironic enough to comment. I pretend I don't care; I'm just checking my email. But I do. And it makes me sad all over again. Why is it so important to me what other people think? I had, at some point, sought God's face about it and lived a good long time not caring what others said or did--content with me. But I find that I have not gotten rid of the desire to be desired. I had merely stuck it on a back shelf in my soul, and it waited until the time was right to show itself again. I do care, more than I want to admit, what other people think. Will I ever be cured? I don't know. It seems to me it's a process (maybe like AA); each day I get up and realize who I am in Christ. Accolades are nice, but how can I please everyone? Or even anyone? I will try, as they say in AA, "just for today" to live for an Audience of One. And if he likes my blogs, or my chats, or whatever, that's enough. And more importantly, he loves me, and that is more than enough.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bad boys--Whatcha gonna do?

What is it about bad boys that attracts me? I find myself time and time again draw to the quintessential bad boy-brooding artist, ne'er do well; you name it, I love it. When I see Lucius Malfoy, the dark foil to Harry Potter's shining gem, do I deplore his treatment of Dobby the house elf? No, I wonder what it would feel like to run my fingers through that long blond hair. Mmm. Luscious. I mean Lucius. And don't get me started on the Italian bad boys. Sonny Corleone makes my heart pound, to say nothing of Tony Soprano. Flawed, evil, and utterly attractive. I don't think I'm alone, though. How many people watch every episode of The Sopranos or own every Godfather DVD? It's like a cult following. Why is it that I find myself attracted to this type of person? When the boy next door is the obvious choice, why would I pick the boy from the wrong side of the tracks? Is it feeling included in that secret club of angst and alienation that leaves out the rest of the world? Being part of a club feels great, even if it's the wrong club. Leaving others out is what makes it attractive. I belong and you don't. I'm in and you're out. I've got shorts on and you don't. I'm a wannabe, a bad boy groupie. The passion I feel being around dangerous people and dangerous ideas is like a drug. Safe is dull. I'm a lifetime student in the school of hard knocks, and here I learn that I might be part of the 'in crowd' today, but there are no guarantees for tomorrow. By their very definition bad boys are just that, bad. Their loyalty may last for ten minutes or ten months or even ten years, but then they are compelled to find a new crowd of adoring fans. My worship is stale, unbelievable, undesired. Lucius and Tony and Sonny move on to fresh meat. Here I sit, alone, on the outside. A friend asked me recently if I had to do it over again, would I choose differently? I had to admit I wouldn't. I'll always be attracted to a certain type of person--the one who is walking the tightrope quickly without a net. As a wannabe I can only watch. I'm not the tightrope walker Nietsche heralds as the hero. Here on the ground, alone at the edge of the crowd, I ponder my choices. I know in my head that God calls me to be a part of his in crowd. It's a place where I'll always be accepted, never ostracized or rejected. Why do I find it so hard to believe that his fellowship is more desirable than the bad boys I've chased all these years? I read C. S. Lewis's words that we choose the things that are less passionate than God's love and call them wondrous. What fools we are. What a fool I am. Yet I can't seem to get beyond my attraction for the less wild loves, the pale imitations of true love and life. I can't seem to live with my heart in the truest sense of the word--trusting the one who made me and gave his life for me. I choose instead the counterfeit--my bad boys--because in some way it seems safer. As Aslan is not a tame lion, God is not a tame god. I can't put him on a pedestal as I do with my bad boys. He keeps getting off and shaking me up. The bad boys stay put. They may disappoint and hurt, but they stay put. That's the way it is with idols. They won't do you any good in the long term, but they stay put. I'm settling for that even when I know there's something better. When God tells me that he'll be even better than the bad boys, I hear him, and maybe I even believe him, but can I do anything about it? I wonder, and I ask myself, "Whatcha gonna do?"

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Standing--what does that really mean?

To stand--the dictionary tells me that it comes from the IE root "sta-" to stand, to be placed; to be or remain in a generally upright position, supported on the feet; to remain unchanged; to maintain one's viewpoint, remain resolute. To stand for something then carries with it the understanding that the stander remains in one place, generally upright and resolute, as a soldier would guard a fort. It is tiring to stand--both physically and morally. The legs begin to hurt, next the back, then the neck. Eventually you want to sit down or lie down. But when you stand FOR something, whatever it is--faith, policy, ideology--do you have the luxury to sit? I smile when I read the words 'generally upright,' for perhaps this is answer. If sitting or lying down or quitting is not an option, then maybe being 'generally upright' is. I can't always stand ramrod straight for the things I believe in. I get tired; and bored too. For a season then, I will stand 'generally upright,' maybe leaning against the wall or my weapon or even my neighbor until I am renewed. Until I'm given leave by the commanding officer to take a load off. As the root word says, I've been placed. Not of my own volition certainly, for going willingly and joyously to war is the province of those out of touch with reality or unattached to those left behind. There may be an initial surge of adrenaline--For God and Country, yadda yadda--but it is replaced with the long obedience in the same direction. That becomes a drudgery hard to bear. Glory, however, does not come quickly with showy parades. No, I believe, as Jesus said, it comes in taking up a cross daily and following--through the pain, through the heat and boredom and sweat and general nastiness of duty. Glory may be the destination after the tour of duty. For now, though, it's my turn to be at the sentry post. My CO doesn't ask if I feel like it or want to. He doesn't care about that. There's a job to do, and it's my turn to do it. I could say no--go AWOL or sit down on the job and fall asleep. But who would be there to protect the innocents? If I don't stand and defend the post where I have been placed, the enemy will as surely invade as the sun will rise on my sleeping form. There will be a price to pay, maybe not today, but some day, some tomorrow even into eternity. That's a pressure I can't endure. So even though I want to stop standing, can't see the end in sight, wonder if my CO is crazy, I know that I can't. I guess I'll just lean against the wall for a while in a generally upright position, tired but still on duty.

the genesis of blogging and great hair

Wow! I'm officially a blogger. Waves to jt who inspired me to try this. Feels like dancing in my nuddy pants. Just thinking about the most inane things. Maybe dumping them will clear the road for thoughts of substance. Have you noticed that people spend tons of money on hair 'product'? I do. Just for that fleeting feeling of beauty. Yet the other day, I was looking at my seven year old daughter and thinking her hair looked great--Jennifer Anniston eat-your-heart-out good. I realized, with a wry smile, that she had just spent the last hour sliding bases at the park with her nine-year old brother. She and her hair were completely filthy. So the answer to the fab-looking hair dilemma is to run over to the park and steal third. It's a sure-fire winner.