Monthly Archives: August 2014

In the Lonliness

Some childhood memories stay with you, as clear as they day they happened.  But the meaning of those memories changes I think.

 

Walking slowly.

Hanging back.

Brows furrowed,

partly from the morning sun

partly in fear.

 

One of the last through the doors,

cold heavy steel pushes against my bare arms

encouraging escape.

 

A wave of ammonia hits me in the face as soon as I step in,

mingled with the odors of sweat, vomit, loneliness and death,

they drive through my nose and mouth, up my eyes, through my forehead,

and into the section of my brain programed for fight or flight.

 

A howl scream moan comes from somewhere inside.

I hesitate in the doorway.

My Sunday school teacher bumps into me and

gently pushes me into the entryway.

 

The other kids have formed a line.

Last in, I find myself at the end,

unprotected.

 

Children sing while I scan the room.

Three grandmothers sit near us,

smiling, keeping time with their heads and feet.

Others, further back, sit, staring at nothing.

 

Wandering zombies complete the picture.

One closes in from the left.

Slowly spinning, her wheelchair describing a large arc,

propelled by one tenacious foot, the only part of her that seems to live.

 

As she eases past I catch her eye.

Her head tilted, translucent sagging skin melts off her face

and mingles with the line of spit dangling from her open mouth.

As her eyes meet mine, she greets me.  “Aarrrrrrghhhhhhh.”

“Arrrrrrghhhhhhhnnn.”

 

Does her foot pause as she passes me?  Her chair slow?

 

I look away, pretend to sing,

stare at the back of the room, at nothing,

wait for this to end, and

try not to breath

in the loneliness.

 

Superliner

superliner

I’ve been fortunate enough to take a few trips on Amtrak. One of the best was playing board games with a group of seniors on the way to a Chicago senior trip. One of the worst was on the way to D.C. with my wife and the kids. It was an overnight trip. There was a woman a few rows ahead of us (we weren’t on a sleeper car) who had night-time dementia. She kept screaming at and hitting her adult daughter. “This is not my home!!!! Why did you bring me here!!!! Why are you going to kill me!!!! Although when you kill me, I’d rather you use liquid, and not a knife.” Sad, annoying, scary for the kids, and a little amusing as well. Four-year-old son suggested we call the conductor to ask her to stop the screaming.

When Things Get Awkward

awkward

I taught yearbook for years.  For some reason in that class the girls always greatly outnumber the boys.  Sometimes in fact, there are no boys enrolled in the class.  So a bunch of high school girls spending an hour everyday with each other sometimes result in at best female centered conversations that I don’t want to be privy to, and at worst, cat fighting and snarking of the worst kind.  I believe that’s what inspired this drawing.  This girl is so talented.  She would knock out a sketch like this in every other class and then just leave them behind.  I gathered them up when I saw them.  I wasn’t alone.  Another student did the same thing.  We both had our own collections of her work. This one though, was a gift.

God Who Waits

I don’t know when this is from.  Could be anytime.  Well anytime with a Sunday dated the 22nd.  It’s sort of a demonstration in how not to write a communion meditation.

 

Last night at 10:00 I sat down to the computer to do some work.  Hmmm, I thought as I stared at the monitor, tomorrow’s not the 22nd is it?  A quick click showed me that indeed it was.  Arg.

Ok, not a big problem.  Not in the mood to write anything, and really, I didn’t have time, so I pulled up one of my favorite pieces by Real Live Preacher called “Open Communion.”  I read over it and wasn’t sure I wanted to go there today.

I looked over some of his other stuff.  “Well, if I edit this a bit so I don’t accidentally say that . . . ”

What else?  Let’s see, awhile back I had put together a film, (added some prayer and scripture to an interesting music video); and I thought I’d use at communion one day.  I couldn’t find it.  Must have accidentally deleted it when I was freeing up hard drive space by clearing out all the church video from the past year.

Great.  I checked a couple other blogs.  Johnny Baker had some promising links.  There’s one that’s a retelling of John 4, “Jesus Talks with a Gay Man,” that was really good. And while I’d love to read it all to you, I wasn’t sure it really worked with communion.  Or maybe I was just chicken.

It was nearly 11:30 now.  Desperation was setting in.  I was going to have to write something.  But what?  Ok.  As I was leaving my Star Wars crazed nephew’s birthday party yesterday, I called out, “May the force be with you.”  My sister-in-law responded, “And also with you!”  Maybe I can work that in somehow. (May not work, not really a liturgical crowd.)

To be honest, sometimes I’m just not in the mood to write about God, or talk about God, or think about God, or even surf the internet about God.  I just want to get done what I need to get done, do what I want to do, and go to bed.

And the thing is, God gets that.  And waits for us.  Like the father of the prodigal son, he waits for our return.  He waits for us when we need a few weeks to get “things” sorted out.  He waits for us when we spend a lifetime avoiding him and doing our own thing.  And of course he’ll be there the next morning when we go to bed tired and grumping.  When we turn to him, he’s there.  He’s always there.

Whatever you’ve been up to, now is a good time, if you want, to remember that God is there for you.  He loves you.  A lot.  And when you’re ready, he will be too.

Wesleyan

Wesleyan

This photo really illustrates the amazing camera of the ipod2. It’s a little bronze (copper? brass?) lapel pin that says Wesleyan. I’m not sure where it came from. It looks old. Maybe from my Methodist grandparents. Grandma Laura, as my kids called her, was a good Methodist. Both my brother and I made her nervous when we dated catholic girls in high school. Just like grandma made her future mother in law nervous when she (a shabby German girl) dated grandpa (a young English gentleman). They met in Sunday school at the Methodist church of Peabody, Kansas. He tied her dress (that part that ties in the back) to the chair she was sitting in. When she stood up the chair came with her, and she cried. It seemed to have worked out though. They were married for about 70 years.

Someday I’ll Be Big Enough

I remember working on this one with my students.  They didn’t care for this assignment, and I didn’t either.  The idea was to create an illogical world, a world where anything could happen, a world where nothing made sense.  It was hard.  We all felt like what we were writing was horrible.  Then we took our illogical world, and we examined it.  Changing it as little as possible, or none if possible, we found the logic in it.  We found the truth.  Then we put it through a couple more drafts, cutting, always cutting with poetry, and finally made it look like a poem. 

 

Someday I’ll be big enough

 

“I can’t hold this thing up forever,” Dad says,

already losing his grip on the moon,

his fingers digging deeper into the dust,

searching for a hold.

 

“I almost have it,” the boy says.

“There it is.”  The boy grasps a purple plastic case.

The makeup inside rattles,

causing clouds to gather and a thunderstorm to begin to form,

rumbling around his waist.

 

“What were you doing with your sister’s makeup anyway?” the father asks,

gently putting the moon back in place.

He claps his hands and

wipes them on his pants.

The dust falls, filling in a small lake.

 

“Someday I’ll be big enough to touch the moon.”

The boy clutches the box to his chest,

hops on a passing cloud and calls,

“Sissy!  I found it.”

As he rides the cloud

he smells the rain coming,

the smell of clean and dirty mixed together

makes him grin.

 

His sister appears tiptoeing

along a ridge of mountains.

Her little feet crush aspen and pine,

and send boulders crashing down the slopes.

She snatches a handful of the broken trees and

pops them into her mouth.

The taste of pine and squirrel,

bluebird and spiders,

and a hundred other natural things

tickle her tongue.

“Sorry I lost it,” he says.

His sister stops, grins,

takes the box from her brother,

and playfully knocks him off his cloud.

Three Dog Night

threedognight

I’m going to need a little help from my brother on this one. I don’t remember seeing Three Dog Night, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t, but I suspect this button didn’t come from me. I do remember seeing some 1960s bands in Manhattan like the Drifters maybe and the Association, who didn’t have any of the original members in it. Just not sure about this one.

Friend Carrie: LOVED the Dogs!! Friend Lisa and I saw them at Worlds of Fun a couple summers. Black and White was my jam!

Brother Mike: I saw them with the Beach Boys in the bicentennial center in Salina. They maybe had one original member, or the cousin of an original member.

Blah!

blah

I think this is some kind of color study. (See how all the colors sort of match.) Very Southwest.  I like it.  I don’t know where this artist is nowadays.  College?  Some of these pieces I have because I asked for them, and some because I was gifted them.  Others, like this one, were just left in my classroom and never claimed at the end of the year.  Some of those I pitch.  This one I liked and kept.

Christ is Counting on You

This on is from the summer of 2007 I think.  This message contains one of my favorite themes for my communion meditations–go out and do Christ’s work.  I wish I was better at doing that myself.

 

When MaryEllen and I lived in Virginia and went Sundays to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, we attended a Cursillo one weekend.  Cursillo is basically an adult church camp and revival where attendees learn (or are reminded) what it means to know, love, and serve Christ.

One of the many cool things about Cursillo is that at the end of the weekend everyone gets a crucifix; and on the back it says, “Christ is counting on you.”

Now we know that we are counting on him–every step, every breath, everything we do.

But think about Christ counting on us. Christ, the logos, the word, the creator of the universe, is counting on us to be his hands and feet. To go out into the world and do what he would have us do– to care for the sick, to visit prisoners, to feed the poor, to tell the good news, to grow the kingdom.

That’s all.  No pressure.  Do what Christ wants.  Except we all have a tendency to mess things up, right?  I can’t do the will of those around me, my wife, kids, students, friends, or even of my self without breaking something, saying the wrong thing, hurting someone.  How can I do what God wants me to do without fouling it up?

I can’t.  Mother Theresa is credited with saying, “We’re not called to be successful, but to be faithful.”  We’re all going to mess it up along the way.  That’s part of the journey.

But in the same way that Christ was faithful to his father’s will, all the way to the cross, let’s remember as we take the bread and the cup, Christ’s body and blood, that even as we get it wrong again and again, we are called to be faithful, to live the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; not just to believe it, but to go all the way.

Christ is counting on you.

Amen.