Thursday, March 19, 2009
“He answered nothing.”
The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew he came but to atone –
That day “He held His peace.”
They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?
Your Savior “held his peace.”
There is a place of stillness that allows God the opportunity to work for us and gives us peace.
And the gale unleashed,
My trusting heart still sings:
I know that they mean
No harm to me,
He rides upon their wings.
Today you see only your loss, but then you will see how God used it to break the evil chains that had begun to restrain you. Today you cower at the howling wind and the roaring thunder, but then you will see how they beat back the waves of destruction and opened your way to the peaceful Land of Promise.
- Mark Guy Pearse
Sing for the year
Sing for laughter
Sing for the tears
Sing with me
Just for today
The good Lord’ll take you away!
Dream as though the dream’ll come true.
Dream as though your dream will come true.
“Carry on my wayward son. There will be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more. . .”
Carry on. Continue. Don’t stop. Stay the course. Don’t stray. Keep going.
Seems simple enough. Ideally, it takes little effort to continue doing the same thing. In fact, continuity is basic, natural. Even Newton recognized the simplicity of the concept, placing its main principle in the heart of physics, which ironically has become quite the complex study despite such basic foundation. So why is something so basic and Spartan often times the hardest to carry out? Because it is the nature of humanity to tire, to slow, and to struggle through life. For one who desperately needs to carry on in search of purpose and reason in life, the wayward, doing so is just that much harder. Being wayward, in our world, means that one has already strayed, stopped, or messed up. Discouragement in the form of failure grabs and pulls at the feet of those who have once been lost but now seek the right end. Such a fight, though simple, is a harder battle than what those who have found the goal will ever need to face because they are fortunate enough never to have wandered. Praise Father, for they already get it. But those who will likely never be clear of the brambles and thorns of our veering can own the assurance that one day, when the long, winding road ends and the sun is setting we will find peace. We will be enriched for our recovery instead of critiqued for the faltering. We will lay our weary head to rest; our tired bones will find sanctuary for their determined journey. All that is now inglorious will be turned into triumph, whittled down from a rough branch into a pure and righteous trophy. S, to myself and all else tripped up and distracted, disheartened and downtrodden, take heart for one day the sun will set, the day will be drawing its final breath, we will be weary, and in that moment of twilight when the last ray of light tucks behind the horizon another light will appear. That light waits for us. Calls to us. That light will warm you from the inside and illuminate your victories in life while guiding you the final staggering steps to the end. When you see that light, don’t you cry no more.
- Garth Brooks
Those burdens that are not my own
That I may receive
Those lashes due to others’ backs
That I may give
Those words of life I myself long to hear
That I may offer
Those sacrifices I cannot afford
Oh! That I could give
All of me for naught but a smile
And that look in the eye
From one who cannot understand why
I do what I’ve done
But says thank you in kind.
All because You are the One.
Keyboard. A couple simple notes, bouncing back and forth. Tense and anticipating. Synthesizer now too. Giving depth and something inside me causes me to nod my head just slightly. Two and four are obvious. The mood is patient, the mood is waiting, knowing what is sure to happen in a handful of beats. Then it begins. The lead guitar begins. The symbol begins. The guitar string is silent momentarily, but there it is creeping in, prowling, coming faster and faster, the music grows. The guitar howls that single note, holding at the fret all the pressure, all the tension; the volume is peaking. Now the crash. Bass pedal. Crash symbols. The torrent streams into my mind. The waiting is over and I feel the music flowing through my soul. The waves of sound, minor chords pulling the major strings of my heart. Drums beating furiously, I can not do anything but sit still, brooding and marinating with every note, but the beat fights my stillness. It’s bothersome, it’s active, it’s tired of waiting. Rather the beat desires action, change, the beat craves an alteration of the frustrating status quo. The word is angst, the word is love. The lyrics are I-can’t-take-it, and yet they are I-will-endure-this. The message is of hope for hopelessness, and strength for the weak, determination for the empty spirit. My song is violently meditative. My song is silently instigative. My song has silence, but it has a voice. It says I will not stand by anymore with such a world spitting at my feet. The voice says I will show you the just and right way and you will learn of this wrongful life and its terrible fate. But I will show you the just and right way. I will show you Him.
Well you’ve got your reasons and you’ve got your lies and you’ve got your manipulations that cut me down to size. You say you love, but you don’t love, but you will. If you could only see. . .
See, the road less traveled shows happiness and wonder. So, what will you give up to keep what you love? ‘S what you gotta do. You say you love, but you don’t love, but you will. You say you love. Will you stand tall when you should? If you could only see. . . “
Take a look at these lyrics. The song was a popular alternative hit in the late nineties, and is one of my all-time favorites. Originally just another rock song about love for the apple of the singer’s eye, I have slightly altered just a few of the lyrics in order to shift the object of such passionate love from a woman to Christ Jesus. The music and lyrics maintain the deep emotional connection of the original but I am amazed at the similarity in such love, such desperate and longing desire for a connection as these most vulnerable and intimate lyrics suggest, with the relationship of I have in my life walking in the way of the Lord. This new version might as well be a worship song or Christian rock anthem. What I am suggesting is that we can, we are allowed to and should, view our love for God as having the same fire and heart-wrenching pulls as a man who desires nothing other than to be with that one special woman and let her know how sincerely he cares about all of her being. Our love for Jesus, and consequently for the world and for life, should be worthy of such high praise as the best of love songs. God gave us such a wondrous capacity to love another individual because he wanted us to share in his divine power, his image, his being, his love. Though we pervert and manipulate such love in our thist for gratification, lust never truly satisfies. It is false, but the true form of love, the kind that brings life, the true love from which the resonating lyrics of musical genius spring forth, can not be replaced. It is pure, it is holy, and it is all that is so good and sweet in this world.
If you could only see the way He loves me, then maybe you would understand. . .
If you are what you say you are, a superstar, then have no fear.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
“I used to think that going to the jungle made my life an adventure. However, after years of unusual work in exotic places, I realize that it is not how far off I go or how deep into the forest I walk that gives life meaning. I see that living life fully is what makes life – anyone’s life, no matter where they do or do not go – an adventure.”
- Maria Fademian
- Geographer, Ethnobotanist, and National Geographic Emerging Explorer
I read Maria’s two cents on the back of a Venti coffee black, free and courtesy of John, Paul, and Simon, my local Starbucks’ employees who also just so happen to be some of my closest friends. I love freebies, especially when some other people are struggling to purchase their favorite new indulgence, from a Soy Skinny Extra-Dirty Caramel Macchiato to a Banana Chocolate Vivanno, for less than four bucks a pop with coups. I don’t feel too bad, though, about it all. I mean I DO tip the Three Wise Men whatever change I have in my pocket for their generosity. But somehow I don’t know if John, Paul or Simon is seeing much of it ever, mainly because the slave-driving wench manages the local branch. I have never met her, although I do recall hearing “her” name once or twice. We’ll call her Beelzebub. For instance, two employees recently left and the vacancy in staffing will not be filled with either new employees or increased hours for the remaining baristas. Some are not scheduled enough hours anymore even to utilize the insurance package by which they used to be insured. The workers are all experienced (maybe not necessarily capable for one or two, but experienced nonetheless) but yet couldn’t BUY a raise for their hourly earnings. They have possibly the fewest average floor hours per day in the area but are the top selling branch all the while. Hands down, these guys kick ass. And hands down, they deserve better treatment and leadership from the higher ups. Did I mention that the Three Wise Men will be attending law school in the fall? You’d think that the company would want to piss them off least of all because they just might come back and sue the pants off this joint. Maybe even one large general suit against all major coffee corporations. I am not sure how or with what claim but there is always something. If at the very least for too small a “Caution: Hot” disclaimer on the cups. Ya know, like that old geyser did Mickey D’s a few years back. Caribou Coffee, you better get your act straight too or these boys might just be paying you and all your granola-type customers a visit here in about three and a half years. Hold on a second, I have hardly touched my free coffee yet. Did I mention yet that it was free? K. I’m back. Where was I going? I dunno. Where ever I want! That’s where I am going with this! Now hold your horses. I’m getting there, where ever that is.
I originally was going to try and relate my personal experiences in life with Maria’s, so that’s what I’m going to do. Like her, I also thought that a full life meant doing what few others do, going where only a few dare go but most only dream, talk or write about. I did do all that. I rode on the top of Land Cruisers through the African bush; I saw people living in straw huts; I met the face of AIDS in person; I held her hand; I even told her a joke and got her to laugh as she lay on her mat on the dusty earth. I heard a lion roar two feet from my face. I met a real witch-doctor, in person, and learned they do exist outside of National Geographic and Scooby-Doo. I even crept into President Mugabe’s backyard without him knowing. Trust me, though I’m only twenty, I’ve seen some things you won’t see. I’ve done things you won’t do. And as sure as this coffee I’m drinking now was free, I’ve learned some lessons I hope you will never have to learn. And you know what? No, I know you don’t know yet. I haven’t told you yet. It was rhetorical, Buddy. I haven’t made my life any fuller by any of this. I’m not sad or emotional about it so don’t go having a pity party, but I have learned what does make life full. So let me tell you this.
The secret to a fuller life is not doing outrageous activities. The secret is finding out who you want there by your side doing them right along with you. Who is the one person you would want to sit next to you riding on top of a safari rack as you bounce your way through the grasslands or ford a flooded stream as some impalas bound alongside? Find her. Keep her. If you want a fuller life, find out who are the people that can bring the fondest and dearest memories to mind if you were a world away from everyone you know. Only then do you really grasp who truly matters in your life. Spend time with those old friends. Facebook that fool from years ago if you need. Find out what issues really tick you off, I mean the things that you just can’t STAND anymore, what you will still lose sleep about even if you weren’t in your daily routines but on vacation on some island in Fiji. What is it? Then, do something about the situation to make it the way your gut tells you it should be! I don’t a baboon’s bare backside how old you are, how poor you are, how fat you are, how dumb you are, how depressed you are. Really, I don’t! Most likely you’ll be that way the rest of your life because you’re reading this instead of changing the status quo. I am genuinely furious right now! Give me a sec to chill out. Go get a cup of coffee and then come back before you finish this. Seriously, go ahead. That’s what I am going to do.
Have you ever read “A Dream Deferred”? It’s a short piece. Open another browser tab and Google it, read it, sip your coffee, ponder it, think slow, let your mind mull it over a bit ( I know, it’s going to make your head hurt, but that’s what Tylenol ES is for), and then come back to this. Do you understand what it’s telling you? It’s telling you to move, to act, to VERB. You’re a stagnant puddle, with mosquitoes hatching in the bottom and all that stuff; you’re a festering sore if you don’t go out and just do, just be, just live. Think, believe, write, or even sue! Just do. But don’t believe for a second that all that will help you find a fuller life, because it won’t. What it it WILL do is help you understand what you’re missing, who you’re missing, and things that really will fill up your life I can tell you this much as a teaser trailer of sorts for what you will probably find:
The emptiness some feel, the love some may not be receiving, and the confusion about what life means; all these cannot be answered here on Earth. You’re going to have to as the Big Guy about all that. And you’re going to have to be willing to listen.
“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Mental Side Note: I just saw in the paper that Clinton (Hilary, that is) has been Iran jive for their missile activity. Good for her, but is that not exactly the approach that the Dems were telling the GOP would not work anymore just a handful of weeks ago? And weren’t the Dems getting on Bush for his spending? And now tell em how much has Congress okayed for Obama already? And how do mass tax cuts and breaks to the masses help the deficit? And only how many months has President Obama been in office? And how much sense does that make? I remain hung up on the fence about it all while the federal government just plain hangs itself period. Are the Jeffersonian Democrats still around? I want those boys back. Give me strict construction!!
Monday, March 2, 2009
I’ve never written on a napkin before. So, because I am sitting in Starbucks and wanting to save the battery on my laptop I will sketch out this entry on the brown napkins that are “Made from 100% recycled fibers with at least 40% post-consumer material in a bleach free process” – Whatever all that means.
I was taught in high school that introductions should catch attention, embody the main subject of what is to follow, yet withhold most of the story. Otherwise the reader could just be content with your opening ideas and not wait for everything else you have to say. So, keeping this in mind, for today’s reflection’s I’ll just start out nice and softly and then ease into what has been hanging heavily on my consciousness for the past two weeks now; all in the aforementioned style I’ve so graciously learned from my omniscient AP English teachers. Are you ready?
I was exiled from Africa, given the boot from the program, and I might not ever be able to return to that place I have grown to love over the past two months.
The details are too innumerable, the experience was once in a lifetime, and the whirlwind that swept me up for a crazy ride back over the Atlantic Ocean devastated me. Unfortunately, I do not have enough napkins to provide you with everything you are going to want to know, so please do not act like an only-child-spoiled-brat-who-won’t-be-getting-her-way. And yes I did consciously decide to make the “brat” a “her” because my experiences have convinced me that they are the worse of the two in the greater intensity of brat-like behavior. I digress. Ten of the fourteen students in the inaugural IWU Zambia Study Abroad Program went to a particular establishment, namely the Diva Nite Club, one Friday night, danced, caroused, mingled, left, were confronted by administrating officials representing both World Hope International and IWU, waited for over a week and a half to learn what would happen as a result of the fateful evening’s events, heard arrangements had been made for an early exodus back to the States, made the puddle-jump, and now are working out all the details of what is still to come now that they are back in the States. On top of all this, two of the ten who were ordered home contracted Malaria, holding them back several more days and postponing their glorious return to the homeland until they were well enough to fly the thirty-three hours from Livingstone to Johannesburg, to Dakar, to D.C., and arriving in Indy. What a wonderful life!
Just know that this IS based on the real event, the life and times of Yours Truly, and I now have another great story to include in my biography once I’m famous. E-mail me and I’ll send you a personal, authentic Starbucks napkin, including my authentic signature and a one line personal message for only a small fee. PayPal may be accepted. For any questions, contact my consultant Mr. Paul Barlow of Global Wealth Management, Naples, Florida.
Have fun filling in the details on your own, and please feel free to do so, even wildly creatively if you would like. It is no longer my story to tell. Own it yourself. Make it yours. What happened? If you would like to, post a comment to this blog, with your own details. How would you tell the story? What would YOU say happened to make this story grow? Would you claim that Zimbabwe’s hackjob of a president invaded the Southern Province of Zambia and we were forced to leave regardless of the incident that Friday night? Or, did other more unimaginably scandalous events take place that then merited the exile? Is it all a misunderstanding? Though we students might have made a mistake in judgment (maybe), were there other factors on the part of the irrational administration that complicated the matter? Fill me in! I want to know what YOUR version is.*
How did I do Mr. Lakes? Did I get your attention? Did I “leave some to the imagination”?
*The employment of italics indicates parts of this blog that were not in the original manuscript on coffee shop recycled napkins. Rather, they were added during the final editing process as a curious after thought by Y. Truly.