Honesty…

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The most freeing event a person of faith can encounter in my opinion is the moment when they suddenly realize they are in a true relationship.  This moment in time lifts the emotional chains that keep us beholden to an all or nothing God and sets us free to evolve in the fashion the master offered.

In any relationship when a person has to hold back certain feelings, beliefs, or desires in order to maintain a clam steadiness, one person by not being honest never gets the full enjoyment of the relationship.  For that matter the partner will never fully enjoy all that is wonderful in the other with this type of arrangement.

Our faith is a relationship.  Opportunities to further embrace, peace, calm, kindness, love, generosity, and other mystical characteristics of wholeness await the willing consort, but do require total honesty.  My personal belief is that my faith remained at a infantile standstill until the day came that I felt the freedom to be completely honest with my heavenly partner.

I had issues with my beliefs.  I found some of the teachings comforting but many others deeply disturbing and divisive.  The inner turmoil kept me from embracing this relationship deeply as I didn’t feel I could be honest.  When the day came I first questioned something I was told I must believe in I was afraid of the repercussion of an angry and disappointed God.  Instead what I got was a freeing breath that encouraged me to embrace deeply this one I loved.  One question led to another and then to many, eventually the willingness to confront became a vital part of my very being.

Why more people don’t ask questions of their faith?  Its all about fear and security.  If one allows a single area of cemented belief to be considered fragile then a spiritual house of cards could begin to falter and eventually fall.  Deconstruction is hard, deep work that many feel unable or unwilling to undertake.  For me, meeting God again anew without so many opinions has been the most refreshing experience this poor chap has ever encountered.

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Tornado…

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If I hear one more person quote Romans 8:28 (…all things work together for the good) today in response the the Oklahoma tornado tragedy I’m getting out a club and soon will start swinging.  You’ll note my face will be distorted with an evil grimace refleting an inner breaking point has now been met.  My zombie like gait will let folks know I’m coming for them, I won’t be stopped.

Seriously, I struggle with understanding God in times like this.  I ask many questions and find the answers elusive and inconclusive.  Maybe this isn’t a time for questioning, at least some will tell us this, I disagree.

Listening to well intentioned people say God blessed them by sparing their family and friends from the midst of horror… while I understand their appreciation, I can’t help but consider what they overlook.  If your belief allows you to have gratitude and praise for lives being preserved it must at some point focus on the converse.  What about those that weren’t protected, especially those innocent children?  Did the same God not feel it important to protect them?

I find it hard to acknowledge these thoughts and putting them down in print almost seems like I’m shaking my fist at God.  I hope it’s not interpreted that way by the Almighty.  I just don’t understand.  I don’t have the pre-programed faith to just willy-nilly say it’s all part of God’s plan and we just have to accept it blindly.  Offering praise for those who lived and not voicing anger for those who did not doesn’t allow my spirit peace in these challenging times.

I would hope the response to such horrific times as these would draw us close to each other in support.  Either through actual physical help offered or in financial resources for others to help in our place.  Cheap pithy statements of faith offer no comfort in these moments.  Only true actions of love and concern make a difference.  God will be found in the rubble not in the rhetoric.

Smoke…

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The black box appearing so unimaginative

yet full of magic.

In the hands of an artisan transformation

becomes divine.

Understanding and harnessing power from the black box,

with it’s mystifying and secretive leaks of smoke.

Just a few components and the mystery begins,

so simple yet producing elaborate delicacies.

The cold chunk of carcass begins its inexplainable

becoming towards mouth watering delight.

The magician stands clear and lets the box perform,

knowing he is but a witness to this metamorphous.

(While the neighbors drool with desire)

Dinner will be wonderful tonight.

Friend…

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He tries to listen without an answer.

Stare…

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As he stands there staring off into eternity he sees it.

Raven…

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By her killing tiny Bailey her doom was sealed,

I’m certain no malice was felt towards her.

A terrible ending to a negative encounter,

together they’ve resided for many years.

All avenues led to one choice, most humane but also most final.

Morning arrangement made,

watching the hands move slowly round the clock.

This last day made special with snacks and brushing,

extra loving keeping anxiety at bay.

Beside me she sat knowing today would be unlike any other,

whimpering cries leaking hidden fear.

As the hour approached the leash was grabbed,

walking sadly into the darkened room.

She sat there alone, bolt upright, ready for what awaited her.

One last car ride, staring out the window deep in thought,

unwilling to exit, she backed away to the far side of the car.

Starring at me in the bright room she’d known for healing,

sadness gave way to acceptance.

The pink fluid slowly released into her body, her eyes narrowed.

I tell her of my love and wish her peaceful rest,

petting her furry head those once vibrant eyes began to close.

I stare helplessly as the shades are drawn,

and light is no more.

My hope is her last memory is of someone she loved.

Goodbye Beautiful Raven.

ReCatholication…

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After seemingly years of struggle we’ve now come full circle and found ourselves content and unashamedly back in the Catholic Church.  This journey has encountered many valleys to cross and hills that need climbing but home again we now are.  For most people this would be less of an issue.  Years of conditioning in the evangelical church found us lacking and uninspired.  Our family has all but found church lately uneventful and dare I say unnecessary.  I find it hard to acknowledge these words coming from me as this doubt was never covered in seminary, but oftentimes the hardest person we have to be honest with is ourselves.

My daughter has been the driver in this homecoming for our family.  A dear child with a passionate seeking heart coming up with many questions and securing fewer answers.  Each Sunday she would ask us about going to church only to be met with a chorus a groans followed but rationals why we need to pass this week.  Top her credit, she kept asking even when the answer was quite clearly not what she desired.

One week we were approached with a unusual request, “can we go to Grandma’s church?”  My wife and I looked at each other with startled eyes.  Unknowingly we both shrugged our shoulders and said  “sure.”  As each of us was raised in the Catholic Church and have been away for an extended period, our quick commitment gave us concern as memories of a brutally harsh church experience of youth surfaced.

Fast forward, it’s been a couple of months and so far the roof of the church hasn’t caved in and we still desire to go each week.  Without getting too caught up into tomorrow, today we still enjoy attending.  Here are a few points I’ve observed of our transition.

  1. Saturday night mass fits our life plan just perfectly
  2. Digging the ritual and ceremony of the service
  3. Priest – humble, genuine, honest, and thought provoking
  4. Watching my family worship together is special
  5. Comfortable taking what I need and leaving the rest for others to enjoy
  6. Fascinated by the mystery/unknownness of God expressed
  7. Love that I don’t have to worry about being a leader in church
  8. The congregants drink wine and beer at gatherings without any concern
  9. Friday fish fry – enough said
  10. Quiet reverence inside the building.

Let’s see how next week goes!

Late Night Snack…

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The beasts were stirred up and not willing to relent.  Shouts of “be quiet” and “no” had zero effect whatsoever.  Unable to cease their expression of concern I put them in the room without a view of the yard allowing them to stare at our neighbors garage.  Even behind closed doors I could hear the low rumblings of discontent coming from the dogs, yet my efforts to quiet them were met with greater resistance.

The sky seemed empty that evening except for the glow of the moon which cast an eerie haze upon objects in the horizon, a dark night resembling a sixties horror movie.  Now all that was required was something sinister.

The beasts continued their warnings without any break in sincerity.  Whatever was out there certainly had captured their attention.  Trying to slowly sneak off to bed and enjoy  a restful nights sleep I glanced one last time out the front window.  Something unusual caught my attention.  Misshapen images appeared in my yard.  The night’s hazy view limited a clear understanding of what I was seeing.

I stood transfixed allowing my eyes to adjust and like turning the focus knob on a microscope, soon I understood what caused my beasts such alarm.  There before me stood half a dozen deer of various sizes taking in a late night snack on my newly seeded winter grass.  It must have been tasty as they seemed to dine in peace without a care in the world.  Rigidly I stood viewing this wondrous sight trying to not make a sound thereby sending my guests fleeing into the night.

About that time my daughter came bounding down the stairs needing my immediate attention as it was now way past tucking in time and she couldn’t go to sleep without our nightly ritual.  As I turned to tell her to be still I feared what I would see when I turned back around to look again at my evenings entertainment.  Sure enough they had gone.  Left for another quick bite maybe this time without any interruptions.

Thanks for stopping by.

Darkness…

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She plays innocently alone while her parents watch their favorite television show in a darkened room nearby, only the glow of entertainment offers light.  Suddenly without warning the power goes out throwing the house into complete and utter darkness.  Calmly, the father walks to the cupboard, slowly grabbing for familiar objects to guide his way when suddenly his little darling daughter screams in panic.

The Father now emboldened by her fear turns on his inward parental night googles and dashes feverishly towards her upstairs bedroom.  “Daddy”, “Daddy”, “Daddy” echoes through the house.  The father yells “I’m coming, just listen for my voice.”  Cries of panic shriek in the dark.

The father doesn’t tell her to come to him, making her weave through the dark stairwell, instead he goes straight to her, without pause talking out loud, reassuring her with with each step.  Reaching the princess chamber the father scoops up the crying child huddled in the corner of her room.  He stands still holding her tight telling her all is going to be alright and there is nothing more to be afraid of.

Gradually the anxiety passes while still holding the angel ever so tightly.  Slowly they embark down the stairs while she constricts his hand until together with mom they all embrace on the couch quietly in the dark.

The princess sleeps well that night knowing her protector is real.

Forgetting…

For the first time in my life I’m acknowledging some real fear.  Not the fear in worrisome activity seeking to avoid a painful encounter.  Not the kind of fear of not attaining some far-fetched goal in the future, no not that kind.  What I’m fearful of is forgetting.

Perhaps I can point to a busy schedule filled with many responsibilities and activities for my forgetfulness.  Sometimes in response to overloading my thinker, my brain will just decide to take a breather and chill, often to the frustration of my zip-zooming lifestyle to which I’ve become so accustomed.

Sadly, I see this as more of an onset rather than a temporary adjustment.  Each day I’m finding it harder to remember details which should be so familiar.  More and more I catch myself standing alone not remembering what I was just doing or what I was intending to accomplish.  My ever free thinking mind has slowly ebbed into a more concrete perspective seemingly losing much color and hue in verbal communication.

My lips seem to often be talking for somebody else and not sharing what my mind is really trying to say.  Almost like somebody is poorly translating my speech into another language at the most rudimentary level.  My brain seems to be shouting out enthusiastically inside my head while a monotonous drone leaks from my lips.

I think I could handle the loss of many functions if I had to.  Sight, sound, speech, even movement.   But the loss of my mind terrifies me beyond any created horror imaginable.

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