Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Something's Gotta Give!

Well, just thinking of the ever expanding rays of technology. Between blogs, cell phones, myspace, etc etc etc.... come on. (And I know I'm kind of anti-tech).

We all know that it's kind of fun and trendy right now to jump on board. But There is NO keeping up! Not to mention we continue to be so much more mobile in our society which means we continue to meet new people (to reconnect with on MySpace, and keep up with on blogger and so on). So the next level of our throw-away society is throw-away communication to our throw-away friends! Sorry guys, I'm not talking about you. But you know what I mean. The pace will just become inhumane someday and then something will give. And I bet that true face to face interaction will always be more valuable then pseudo-talk via the wireless.

I'm just another lemming, running towards the mass-communications sea.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Cat Who Made Enemies of FriendsLarry being Larry

Day In and Day Out

Yesterday I painted again, first time this year. It felt good. Sometimes life gets swallowed by the mundane. I begin to wonder, how do we keep moving forward? Do you ever feel restless? A favorite poem that poses spiritual questions (but offers no answers) by Stephen Dobyns:

How To Like It

These are the first days of fall.
The wind at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let’s go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let’s tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.
The dog says, Let’s pick up some girls and just
rip off their clothes. Let’s dig holes everywhere.
Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud
crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie,
he says to himself, a movie about a person
leaving on a journey. He looks down the street
to the hills outside of town and finds the cut
where the road heads north. He thinks of driving
on that road and the dusty smell of the car
heater, which hasn’t been used since last winter.
The dog says, Let’s go down to the diner and sniff
people’s legs. Let’s stuff ourselves on burgers.
In the man’s mind, the road is empty and dark.
Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder,
where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights,
shine like small cautions against the night.
Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.
The dog says, Let’s go to sleep. Let’s lie down
by the fire and put our tails over our noses.
But the man wants to drive all night, crossing
one state line after another, and never stop
until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.
Then he’ll pull over and rest awhile before
starting again, and at dusk he’ll crest a hill
and there, filling a valley, will be the lights
of a city entirely new to him.
But the dog says, Let’s just go back inside.
Let’s not do anything tonight. So they
walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.
How is it possible to want so many things
and still want nothing. The man wants to sleep
and wants to hit his head again and again
against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?
But the dog says, Let’s go make a sandwich.
Let’s make the tallest sandwich anyone’s ever seen.
And that’s what they do and that’s where the man’s
wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator
as if into the place where the answers are kept-
the ones telling why you get up in the morning
and how it is possible to sleep at night,
answers to what comes next and how to like it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Taste of N'awlin's "Southern Gospe'tality!"

Whew! Back from New Orleans and it was quite a ride. I got to be a part of a demolition crew ("guttering" homes-ha!) for the first time in my life. The people were very kind and friendly. The destruction was woven into everyday living in such frustrating ways, as no home mail delivery until last week (for some folks I talked to). So many homes are an utter ruin. Below the interstate overpasses there are flooded-out cars lined up for miles. There is no place to put them all. Many neighborhoods are still without electricity! As we worked, folks driving by would pull up and ask how they could be added to "the list" to have their homes gutted. There are still houses blown flat by the winds and waters, in piles of rubble next to homes that people are living in. Almost every business has "Now Hiring" signs in the windows, or plywood covering the windows. The "waterline" demarking the extent of flooding in each neighborhood, is a visible daily reminder of who was affected.

There is no way this degree of need can be met by the people still living in New Orleans and the government working together. We ran into other crews from churches down there working in the same way. Thank you God, that you use us as your hands and feet to accomplish your work. Desire Street Ministries has my respect, as they continue to minister in the neighborhood. In the building we stayed at, they once housed a school for kids in the projects. Now that the kids are gone, the building is being used to house teams of workers coming in to help clean up homes and tear out moldy drywall, wood, floorboards, ceilings.

I also loved my team! It was fun to grow closer to these folks as we sweated our guts out and struggled. I'm so thankful I had a chance to participate in this trip. I feel so thankful knowing I have my health, my faith, a job, my life, my community of family and friends- all gifts. All easily lost. But for now, present. I know that God is present with or without these add-ons...

Frederick Buechner, in The Hungering Dark, "The place God calls you to is the place where our deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hard Questions

I was put into a difficult spot yesterday at work. I was working with a little girl, six years old, whose mother was killed by her boyfriend. The little girl and I were playing with barbies. The girl took the "daughter" character (her) to the "mean man" (murderer) in jail and I was to play the "mean man."

Then the child played:

Girl: I have a question for you.
Mean Man: What?
Girl: Look at me when I'm talking to you!
Mean Man: Ok, what is your question.
Girl: Why did you hurt my mother?
Why did you have to be mean?
Why couldn't you just be nice?

Hard questions for anyone. I could imagine how a murderer might answer such questions, (avoidance, blame, anger), probably none of which would be a comforting or healing response for a child who has lost her mother. Plus, no child of six can fully understand that we all have the potential to do terrible evils in this world... this man was probably not a monster, just a hardened sinner. Grievously sinful. Yet the crime was real, and the need for punishment and justice is also real. Why this little girl? Why her mother?