October 28, 2010

a separate peace

I'm shouting out on the open plain
Furious under a wide sky.
I'm a geyser shooting up despair
Releasing rage into the air.

I just want peace, real peace
Not censored screams or polished prudence.
I'm crying save me even though
You have already, I know. . .

Dear God, I believe.
You're taking all my anger away
I'm licking up acceptance, almost greedy-
I'm sobbing, blessed, thankful, needy.

October 18, 2010

What I thought of Hannah Coulter

I have a room in my imagination where the walls are lined with paintings, full of fields and full of faces. Beside each painting in its gilded frame is a white screen, like a blank board, but I sense that it's more alive than that. For constantly I go to the screens with an old cloth and a spray bottle of water, and rub and rub to get them clean. But as soon as I've scrubbed them - hard in the center and all around the edges - they start sketching, etching brown marks onto the surface. And as I turn back to look, I realize why I was trying so hard to keep the screens blank.

Inside the painting I've just passed, I see people in stories, connected to one another. I step backwards into the center of the room, now a great hall, and I'm reeling with so many paintings before me at once. Here's a whole history laid out, births and friendships and deaths and loves, always loves. But the faces - the faces are what stand out to me. They're living, and I think I can see myself in some of them. And as I draw closer to look more intently, I see that the other faces - the ones that aren't me - are matching the drawings on the white boards: every line and pencil-mark is being transferred to a richly-painted interaction. When I've cleaned a board, the corresponding face is hazy, undefined; it's a telling and I am a hearer. This, this is what I wanted.

I can pause with my cloth resting still on the clean screen, and held, the pictures shimmer and move me. If those stories are mine - I hope they are - then I won't go writing them myself. If they're not mine, I can't claim them as my own, but only appreciate them by beholding them. In this measured balance, the moment is sacred. But I can't stay. I turn to go until I find myself standing at the doorway. One last look, and I slowly turn off the light, and pull the door shut, sealed. I'll keep tonight forever.

October 16, 2010

Information and water bottles

My family and I just finished watching this documentary about water, called "Tapped." At first, I unimpressed with it; it seemed kind of socialist in the way it expressed anger at big water companies making profits. But it was eye-opening, too, to realize the legitimate points it made. Such as: the sickening amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean, the fact that tap water is more tested for purity than bottled water, and the dangerous types of chemicals existing in plastic water bottles. It makes me think that the world would be a lot better if we stopped drinking out of plastic water bottles, and filled our own reusable bottles instead.

The first time I tried writing this (just a couple of minutes ago) I realized I was ranting, and for a moment wasn't sure what to do with myself. Information seems so obnoxious sometimes; it's burdensome to realize how many causes there are to get angry or mournful about. I didn't see the purpose in complaining.

Perhaps what makes the difference is the way in which information is presented, if it's in a spirit of self-service (anger, pessimism, unintentionality) or in a spirit of honest concern. Today's documentary was the latter, which is what made me want to listen to it.

I was thinking of redemption while I was watching. In this context, the good work is to do right by the earth and believe in the possibility of a better future, at least in one respect. To make better what you can.

And it also makes me think about the variety of human concerns and causes. How I shy from forming political opinions and how I dislike thinking about legislation, focusing on more on changing hearts and beliefs. I'm ever more thankful for people who've taken it upon themselves to understand and make known things I don't stop to think about. My parents have always been very careful about chemicals and vaccinations and foods they expose us to/feed us with/give us, and I'm just a little bewildered by how much there is to be wary of, and glad to be  their child, not having to worry about medical things. I hope I'll be conscientious enough with my kids, if I ever have any.

But most of all I'm reminded of how there's good work to be done everywhere. And I can't do it all; I just have to learn how to listen to what concerns me, and make the kind of small changes other people's big movements need. Interdependency makes me want to be informed.

[side note: I was trying to find the appropriate label for this, and I realize just how little I blog about current events, there's not even a category for it. Alright, I'll stick it in the general truth category.]

October 12, 2010

"Christ in you, the hope of glory"

Futility: It's not hard to stagnate, spinning your wheels and going nowhere. Meanings slip through my hands, disappearing. Deeds and words are all shells, with their essence missing.
I want a reason to live.
Purpose: The Spirit puts meaning back into the body. It's space and spark contained by the physical, a whole being.

Finity: There are arcs that begin and climb higher and then fall down, ending at that edge separating life and death. The flame expires and we're left in darkness.
I want to live forever.
Eternality: There's a line thrown into the air which soars in a curve and passes through the curtain of death. It's the soul of man powered by the life of God, drawn by a belief in the unseen.

Disconnect: If we could stay on this earth, we would remake the world, forge a future that ends in peace. But the story is grander, spanning past time. So where shall we go?
I want to lose my life to find it.
Unity: In resurrection, we leave our old natures, so the world that remains exists to worship him. It's a hope sustained by an unending purpose, satisfied by the glory of knowing an infinite God.


When I tell stories or write essays, I try to ask a question big enough so that I see the threads all cast outwards, diversely, and then am able to weave them together into one. Or else there's hardly a point in writing.

But sometimes I set my sights on a problem too big for me to understand, especially in one sitting. Or two, or three. Such is the problem that I have for the essay I am writing right now, about my aspirations. Such also is the state of a poemish thing I was trying to write today, about future and purpose and redemption. The complexity of the problem is so linked to my own understanding of ideas, my own history, that I am having trouble expressing the true answer, apart from the answer I found which brought closure in the context of my own life.

So this post is a break from universals into the satisfying particulars of my life. I mainly want to say that the sky is glorious, and gave me an answer today. The way the sun glows through the clouds, the way the sunlight reflects on the water, the way the clouds shaped a pink dove with wings spread broadly across the sky: all of that reminded me of the expanses of the glory of God. And it's a beauty I remember even when I can't understand the extent of my question or the doctrinal answer. I want to get my mind around things and understand them fully, but it's good sometimes to let things surround me, and instead of containing them, be within them.

October 3, 2010

This evening when we walked in our neighborhood I was worrying a lot about my future, vocation, education. Asking questions when no answer was what I was looking for, expecting to know everything.

"Can I pray with you?" my mom asked, stopping my train of thought. She'd been listening to everything, trying to help. And I didn't want to be treated like a problem to be solved, but she wasn't giving me pretend answers.

She thanked God for my walk with Him, affirmed how I needed to read His word, and listen, and follow. I was … convicted, and agreed. How I’d put myself on shaking sand, being hit when I’m not fully armed… And then she said I was hearing a lot of voices telling me I needed to be something, do something, make something out of myself. I’d been listening to my college mail more than listening to God, His promises. Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Of course the questions and the answers will be in discord when I’m not remembering my foundation. I was worried about where I was going; but the problem was where I’d begun.

My iTunes library was at “Daisy” by Switchfoot when I just opened it.