Friday, August 29, 2008
So there's your answer, fishbulb.
Monday, August 18, 2008
For as long as I could remember the house was shrouded, at least from my backyard, by tall pines and generous weeping willows. Even the front facing has its share of shrubbery. I never saw the inside until we were in high school, complete with rustic hand-carved shelves coated with nick knacks and paneling of maybe walnut.
They had moved in sometime during our elementary years. The girl behind me used to hang out with their daughter who went to a private school at first. I heard people say things about her from time to time. Some of it was just talking, some of it kept me wondering at night. Somehow it seemed that people thought things they never said out loud.
She has eyes that stop time and a mouth that never stops.
Her mother had remarried and cussed at me for crossing their yard on my bike.
Lunch my sophomore year was in the middle of Spanish class. She was that special ingredient in the buffet of misfits at our table, from devil to angel almost overnight.
One chance exchange of lingering glances was all it ever took.
Her song is her stories. Times and events fall into a rhyme and meter to which only she can dance.
Calcetínes are socks. ¿Puedo ir al baño, por favor?
I offered consistent presence and she met me half way. Never a couple yet always a pair.
Too blue to stand it but too yellow to make a move.
Rarely did she talk about practical everyday things. Part of her died too young I glean. Her brother perhaps, or her innocence. Or both.
I always liked how she was herself in jeans and a sweater most days.
For such a popular person it was as though none of us really knew her.
Once a week we take turns putting mustard or ketchup or pickles or onions on our breaded pork sandwiches. Years later she tells me she never really cared for breaded pork.
Silly fool deny the undeniable. Go make your bed somewhere else.
It's not easy being green.
Certain males in her life she describes as you would an intestinal disease or heinous crime.
Maybe deeper understanding is not always worth the risk of loving.
What's the new U2 song called?
Desire, she said in a flat voice, staring out somewhere beyond the pines and willows.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Nobody else on the sidewalk. You'd be wasting time to be in a hurry. If you're on just the right slope you can just coast...working the handlebars to stay aloft at times, and maybe moving so slowly the bugs have a chance to land on you. Look both ways, slide down the slope street crossings, will there be enough momentum to make it to the continued level surface on the other side and keep rolling?
Times like this you're glad to have nowhere to go. Not always the case.
Those who grew up in a family active at their church know that there are seasons of reflection and questioning, as does anyone at points in their life. As we mature from childhood to adults we realize things about what we were taught and that some things we'd always believed were now called to question, from Santa Claus to flippant remarks uttered by an adult that a young mind has no choice but to accept as fact. Likewise, when we draw close to God, that leads us to discover certain truths about what we had always believed. Some of these truths are purely theological, about God's nature and interest for humanity...others are less abstract, as they concern how men and women have reacted to Grace over the years.
We're at a crossroads. Science has opened our minds to the point where demons represent that yet unknown and beyond our control. Some had claimed that humans have conquered the universe...just a matter of time. Yet, how come our greatest telescopes reveal more to be seen without, and our latest atom-splitting endeavors uncover more than ever deep within? As soon as we prevent natural disasters we can start on war and disease.
So, modernity's answers failed to satisfy the collective human soul and so now we are once again rife with questions. Some of us like questions. Some of us thrive in a state of “already, but not yet”. Some of us are willing to step out of the familiar and into mystery.
Then again, others simply cannot.
For those of us who are hungry for the now, what God is up to in the present age, it could not be a more exciting time.
Not to criticize those who remain in the established communities of worship, but just know, some of us simply can no longer take comfort there. Over time my senses have become tuned to ingrained attitudes within many congregations. It's been stated many ways, but it comes down to this, which I've heard reported almost verbatim:
Some of us have been participating in a local church for most of our lives, and those there are many reasons why we do. An obligation? A fixation? A staple of the usual week? Social needs? Could we actually be seeking God wholeheartedly every single week or is there some more accurate reason we go? Do we worship worship itself, finding comfort in the setting and accouterments because it takes us to a place of security we came to know at a past time?
None of us donned in flesh have perfect motives at all times, as sure as Christ was tempted, I just hope we're examining them appropriately...watching for what's over the horizon, even if it scares the hell out of us.
Call us rebellious, call us daring, call us sacrilegious, call us what you will. As always, internal conviction must overcome external persecution.
I may not have a church but I have been blessed with friends. We talk things out and ask the hard questions. We choose a measure of discomfort because it leads to a more meaningful life...hopefully teaching us to listen more than we speak, to think before we act, and to put others first.
Old-schoolers ask, “what about sin”??
We ask, “what about relationships”??
To put it simply, the Victorian social morality is now arbitrary, free-floating in a vacuum with no connection to reality for many people. We question institutions and the preacher is not always right. We won't tear them down but we won't blink if they implode.
God will not smite you with fire for laughing your buttons off watching Life of Brian.
Some of us don't easily find our place in traditional ministry settings, which are a perfect fit for some folks but a nightmare for others. We are convinced that God has purpose for all people, both individually and corporately. It's in these times we are thankful for an age that allows for innovation and provides many supportive mentors and friends who help each other out during the journey.
Yes, I said journey, and not always a summer bike ride in dreamy weather where we have no place to get to...well, maybe we want to stay where we are but that's not the best thing....and sometimes we want to be somewhere else, as vivid as we can dream but it's out of our means to get there.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
“Looks like we're gonna make it -”
I startled and nearly dropped my bottle.
“Oohh sorry, I forgot you probably wouldn't hear me coming...”
“How convenient,” I offer along with a wry glance to acknowledge her poorly executed attempt at concealing amusement.
Our conversations are rarely without consequence. There are times when we simply convey textual information, following the script word-for word, but, hardly ever does it lack some sort of context...or is it pretext? Something, some sort of knowing that surrounds and transcends our words. Her eyes stay on mine forever and a day. Sometimes I look away, in disbelief, and she stubbornly beckons me to believe anyway.
From a lonely patch of paddock fence we have a side view of most of the action, stick figures in black velvet helmets, mounted and roaming about, some with game faces ignoring all but their sheer concentration, some constantly in need of a parent's or coach's reassurance and some with parents in need of someone to fuss over, most but not all are adolescent females. The horses and ponies catch a snack when their humans provide the leisure of standing still near fencepost weeds or slip the occasional starlight mint, otherwise heeding commands via reins and boots. This is the day. Fifth-wheel rigs have hauled man and beast to this place to compete for ribbons and honor.
“How 'bout your group? I just got here...” I ask after a couple sips of water in as many minutes.
“Not bad. Not sure how many placings to expect since they're a young group, but it's experience and they seem to be having fun.”
I take a deep breath of sweet summer evening country air and turn towards her.
“Remind me, did you ever train?”
“Thought about it, but...ihh...it's a lot.”
Another sip to buy time, or let her finish her thought, seeing as I'm not sure what to do with that just yet.
I glance back to find her in a slightly agitated nostalgia. “Seems you're just glad to provide rides for these kids.”
“I am,” she finally smiles convincingly. It's amazing how much that smile can say, and a little unnerving at how much of it is beyond me. Yet some things are beginning to make sense. Usually in a barn setting you have families who own horses that their own kids ride and some own more and let out ridership for a fee, or else the trainer owns and lets as such. But here's this gal who owns quite a number, at least a dozen, but never charges for kids to ride.
“May I ask you something?”
She turns toward me deliberately that curious smile. Whether I'm unnerved by that act or just by the fact that I'm pressing in to her life with the next question, I am still unsure.
“So...when....” which fades into a sigh as I look the other way.
“Yyyyyyyyyyyessss?” I can hear the smile. I take a deep breath and bellow it out.
“If this an appropriate thing to ask, how do you choose which kid gets to ride?”
Her smile brightens and brings her eyes into the act as a pair of luminescent blue hounds following a scent into my depths. She breathes deeply and looks away, into her head, as though life itself depends upon the accuracy of her answer, despite the fact that we had stood around and talked many times throughout the weeks, about the weather and our crazy schedules and getting called to work at all hours, and now we stood in a paddock next to a corner of the ring.