Tuesday, December 29, 2009

the prelude to a coffin

There are a million ways to die in a CVS.
Laxatives to let you eat and keep you thin;
appetite suppressants when your organs stop working; decaying; sluggish and beaten
but who cares? you can't see them
(the scale is on sale and
the numbers it shows better be
less than you paid)

There are a million ways to die in Sephora.
Potions and poisons and glamorous coffins
mascara, perfume, collagen, and powders
and we pray, we pray to the gods of Loreal and Chanel;
bring offerings to Mac and Clinque!
white-washed tombs turn to spring colors;
Mademioselle scented; ruby red rouged; our tombs are
hydrated and lifted and brightened and forever 21

There are a million ways to die in Vogue.
death by credit cards and fabric
protruding bones and blank eyes
caricatures of love
models and envy and my heart breaks because i'm so ugly.

(there is only one way to live but
he bids me come and die
and i
am a coward)

Friday, December 11, 2009

No Man is An Island

Now anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity. It is the fruit of unanswered questions. But questions cannot go unanswered unless they be first asked. And there is a far worse anxiety, a far worse insecurity, which comes from being afraid to ask the right questions- because they might turn out to have no answer. One of the moral diseases we communicate to one another in society comes from huddling together in the pale light of an insufficient answer to a question we are afraid to ask.

But there are other diseases also. There is the laziness that pretends to dignify itself by the name of despair, and that teaches us to ignore both the question and the answer. And there is the despair that dresses itself up as science of philosophy and amuses itself with clever answers to clever questions- none of which have anything to do with the problems of life.

Thomas Merton

Saturday, December 5, 2009

blue

Love defined seems like this
(to me- today)
:
someone to whisper my secrets to-
in the dark, under cotton covers
my mind is open and lips are parted
the world comes tumbling out
and my leg is bare and you are in love
with both skin and voice
and how they slide over and
wrap around you.

...but we have whispered feverish poetry
to intemperate statues
thrown up pearls at the feet of false gods
those more interested in legs than lips
and we must admit
others have spilled sonnets into
our own cold, alabaster ears
and truly, truly
we heard nothing...

(if we could go back
maybe I could hear the words you spoke
maybe they would turn me from stone
but that is Regret, not Love)

Love defined seems like this
(to me-today)
:
Someone to whisper their secrets to me
And i will drink them in through
warm, pink ears you can kiss and
i will bury them in a heart
you chose to love
and hold you with skin
that is like anyone elses except
it is mine and yours.

and when all the world sees gray,
I will look to you and very gently, very softly say
:
blue
you will nod and
hold me closer and this
seems like love
(to me- today).

Friday, December 4, 2009

City and Forest

The City. You are Alone-but-not. A trick of geography and body heat. Surrounded by people more beautiful and those less; information gathered in a single cursory glance; pressed in by boots and scarves and things you should buy; items you can afford and items you cannot. The streets are throbbing with colors and snatches of stories and you are Alone-but-not. Seeing those you want because their advertising appeals to you; the gifts their parents gave; a straight nose, blonde hair; the objects the world sold them; a pencil skirt that hugs; a ripped vest that tells you as much as a conversation and your own advertising appeals to them or does not. if it does not -you are alone and less -and if it does -you have a friend or a lover or something else- perhaps a heart or a heartbreak.

The City will make you a citizen, you will adapt or die off or move. Change your heart; change your temperature. Everyone is a glance; a brief period of time that you exist in a subway or a bar. Speak rapidly, walk quickly, there is no time because if there were there would be too much, too much. But I exist. The person I bump into notices me for a split second; the man that stares in the coffee shop wants more of my existence, or a part of it, as does the little girl who stares at my bracelets; the woman who glares at my tights pants; I have impacted them- I have given them reasons and goals, to want something of mine just as the skinny girl with the afro makes my heart pound because I want what she has and she has not a look for me.

A farm; the Woods; you are Alone-but-not. There is no one to impress. Nothing to covet but that which always remains; leaves and sweet dirt and a brook and you are Alone-but-not with yourself.

The Woods may as well be an empty department store.

I am Alone in the City but I am comforted. Comforted the way a razor appeals more than the machete. One form of solitude is a poison preferable to the other. But comfort is a hand not a high heel.

The Woods do not comfort me; they remind me that I am not a person but a billboard, an ipod and computer and I am simply the culmination of the things I worship. In the City I am distracted. I can be afraid of other men instead of my own heart.

I am comforted by the things I created, subconsciously soothed by the power of men. In the Woods I am aware of nothing I created, only that which created me. Dirt from the ground I did not make, water from a lake and not a laboratory, seasons which philosophy and science predict but cannot emulate.

God asked David to not count his men and so be comforted in the dark by human power; Christ told Peter to lay down his sword and so what do I do with my weapons? There are soldiers in my clothing; assassins in my mascara and snipers in my heels. I command an army every morning; to triumph over men and convert women. I am the head of an army that will turn on me with age and fear; all beautiful women will die by their own hand; friendly fire by that which was most beloved.

And the men that love these women will stay because they are settled or stay because they loved beyond the tricks or be snatched by another army and can you really blame them?

Repentance; to all the women in the City who told me I looked great and asked how they could be skinny too and I should have been honest and said; “feel like shit and believe you are not worthy of food and that no one will ever love you and there is a 50/50 chance you will blow up like a balloon or shrink to a stick”. But instead I told them to be vegan.

The product they want is death-that-looks-like-life and I have dealt it; gladly given it to them; idolized it.

I learned this in the Woods; not the City. And I hate the Woods for it.

In the Woods I meet plain, hippie women. They immediately ask me ‘what is wrong?’ and I say ‘nothing’ but the word ‘everything’ is all that we hear. I do not want to be like them. This indicates that I am Sick, that I am judging them as walking advertisements which I do no want to buy. The fact is my gaze rests on beautiful women lacking serenity or compassion but filled with the frantic palpitations of high fashion. I would rather spend endless seconds consuming rushing sea of clothing and colors and hair styles then have to stare in the clean, calm eyes of women that are not like me. Women that do not want to be like me, but still look me in the eye. These women radiate comfort the way my friends radiate urban outfitters. They are accepting where my culture is bored with things they do not know and cynical of everything except their own fashion and arrogance.

Fashion distracts and hides what is true and what I know to be true from spending four hours in a sweat tent with several very naked and very wet people; humans are not different separate from that we choose to hide in; silk or cotton; cashmere or henna; bikers boors and tennis shoes; the labels we hide behind; the visual communications we offer the world; the signs and symbols that point us out to like minded people and tell the rest to stay away. Those who wear all black and metal studs (but there is a human in there) are this and this and so must go over there. Those indie hipster kids believe this and that so I will strike up cynical, ironic conversation with them (but there is a human in there) ; those women hide in jeans and sweaters and I will hide with them (but there is a human...). Clothing keeps secrets that should be shared while telling stories that should not.

The City makes me a billboard; the Woods make me a nudist.

The City makes me a satisfied atheist (and how could it not when surrounded by things God did not create) or at least a heartbroken Christian (surrounded by people made in the image of God and reformed by Prada and Target) and the Woods make me a believer and a mourner. Progression looks like transgression from this view, and whether the world is taken over by robots or nuclear weapons the world is already taken over.

Lustlove is a drug; like the first sip; the first coil of smoke sliding down your throat; the perfect purchase; and you feel alive, alive (the first kiss, the first touch) but then your lust is expensive and consuming and you are still selfish, still Alone-but-not and I learned all that in the City. But I learned it was Not Good in the Forest. In the Forest you cannot buy seasons, you can buy heaters and bathing suits, but you cannot bribe fall or spring. This tells me about love; the death feeds to life and growth and all the pretty things that will come after. My love is supposed to be sensual in one time, the dying-to-live in another. But we fall in lustlove in the summer and fake tan in the winter; find new lovers and new summers, we all want a life of endless spring nights. Maybe this is why we cheat and divorce and grow cold and bored because winter reminds us of death but beginnings feel like birth forever and ever and so we jump from place to person to heart to bed to cold floor. I don’t want this. How can I avoid it.

There is a woman at these Woods who is beautiful whether she likes it or not. Short, cropped blonde hair; wide blue eyes; slender form. She is gentle and speaks slowly and carefully. At first I dismissed her, she had nothing I wanted. But I stared at her yesterday and dreamt of her that night. She said to me, “I didn’t think we would like each other when we first met, but I think we will be good friends now.”

I hope so. Words make up poetry and promises just as easily as they make up lies and justifications. For right now, these are just words.

(last December I was in the City watching golden sunlight slide against wood floors and my mind slipped with it. The light faded into darkness and so did I.

this December I am in a tree house watching the sun peek back and forth through swaying trees. My eyes are lit up like amber and then dark again, light and shade, and my mind is steady, strumming and moving along like the brook barely in my sight. Praise you Christ, Lord of the crazy and sane, Savior of cities and forests and Lover of the whole damn world.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Broford and I



I love this kid. The end.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

things i fancy

Friends









the music I have been listening to




who i'd like to marry

things to d0

I have this exact necklace
and I kind of want to get the tattoo
right there.


what i would like to look like one day


Continued excellence







Jenna Returns!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Shadow

Sometimes I feel as though I walk in the shadow of a giant. I have always been fascinated with time, what I was doing at this time last week, last month, speculating about next year.

And now I walk beside myself, I live in the ever constant presence of who I was a year ago.

At this time last year, I felt the blanket hold of a demon. I do not say that lightly. Whether it was a demon of mental illness or a demon that walked with Christ and fell with Satan, it was demonic nonetheless.

at this time one year ago I sat outside a coffee shop and wanted to die. No particular reason. I just felt the weight of a thousand blades. I looked past the window and felt the darkness suffocating me. The blackness had weight and intent. I saw rape and I saw needles and I saw children hiding under beds. I felt cold though I was warm. I felt as though I would never love or be loved, that the world was full of horror and menace and I could not take it. And I heard, in my head, over and over again “This is how your mother saw the world, and this is why she killed herself.” I felt a connection to her for the first time in my life. I not only looked at the world with the shade of her eyes, but we saw the same things in the dark. .

I walk beside her when I travel through my house, lay in my bed. A thousand Kates have slept in my bed, driven my car. Each day has changed me, sometimes gently, sometimes viciously.

Lately I have been wondering if the sickness I felt at this time last year could possible have been a future me: me from the present screaming at myself to think and stop and stop and please stop. All the things my friends begged of me. But I could not. Maybe I haunted myself.

Oh, Abba. How gentle and loving you have been with me.

it is standing on the edge
and i have stood here before
when i was a different me
and everything was odd as a consequence
the edge, the blackness, my eyes and breath in the sky
and i am afraid
like i was before but different
now
to be here again but to be new and wise
it is standing on the edge
knowing what it feels like to be pushed
or to jump
to hurl through hot air
and to land in ethereal arms
or a cold floor
flying and falling is a matter of perspective
(for now I would rather stand here with you
but if i jump or if i fall
or if i am pushed once more
come with me, please come with me)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

(desire)

fresh light, fresh fire

all around me

(desire)

is it spring, is it heat?
the pressure of space and breath
between you and me

steal my cold with a kiss
and your lips, your look
your-

your eyes are shy
and so are mine
this-

this languid, this melting
inside you and I
so-


so long, so long
i've waited to touch
one who loved to
touch me

break my heart, make it right
i promise, i promise-

i'll care this time,
i'll be more careful with me
this is new-


new light, new fire

all around us

(desire)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Animal eyes: Angel eyes

I have a friend of mine, John Carl, that is brilliant and never sleeps and this may be the secret to his brilliance. There is a lot of time in life to read and create and be smart if you don’t have to engage in something as time consuming as closing your eyes for 8 hours.

So I have decided to embrace my insomnia. I get out of bed at 2:30 in the morning and feel pretty refreshed. I chat with a friend online in Switzerland and put up status updates to see if anyone wants to hang out at three in the morning. No one does, but I will still refer to this offer the next time someone yells at me for not making time for them. Time was made, people.

At five in the morning I gather my life together, which fits nicely in my huge Mary Poppins purse, and go to the Starbucks on Orange.

Driving there I felt very aware, expectant almost. I was intensely interested in what the people were doing in the cars around me. I felt a kinship with the people I saw standing in line at Einstien bagels. ‘Ah,’ I thought, driving by, ‘you are awake at five in the morning too, we are all in this insanity together.’ It felt like a shared secret, how pretty and still everything looked.

Starbucks is not technically open yet, but my barista gets the door for me with blurry eyes. I take a seat while they unwrap the foods and start up the coffee machines. I decide to wait for my order until they are more awake. I am feeling Different, and I am not sure why.

Within a few minutes my coffee is hand delivered, no charge. This is an excellent reason to come to starbucks first thing in the morning (or last thing in the night).

I take it outside to enjoy the cool weather. Across from me is a fancy 24 hour McDonalds. Two employees stand outside, smoking and talking. Again, I have a strange feeling of kinship. These people seemed to sort of own the night. While everyone was sleeping they kept awake the great giant of French fries and Big Macs for the precious few that would come in.

A rarity; maybe that was what I felt. It felt rare to be awake this early and enjoying it. Sort of what maybe it would feel like to have a crazy terror of a child during the day and a sleeping angel at night. 'A paradox,' I think. Jesus is chock full of them. All of this block seemed like a sleeping angel.

The two McDonalds employees cross the street. The man is tall, gangly. The other is a plump, slow moving woman. They are both African American, both young. My sense of kinship dies a little, in a way. They sit a few tables down from me.

The girl has long, curly hair coming out of her McDonalds hat. She clutches a purse and jacket and stares numbly in front of her. I can only see her profile, but she looks hard, angry. I know I can look this way when I really don’t mean it.

I look at her uniform and wonder what it would be like to wear it everyday. To deal with all things McDonalds.

There are true statements I can say about my life; my routine. I wake up in a beautiful bed, a beautiful house, to interesting and kind room mates. I open a closet filled with thrift store treasures and oddities. I drive my car and listen to NPR and work in a place where people respect and value me.

You can read this, but you can’t see it the way I do: words accompanying a rush of memories and sensations. These are just sentences to you like you read in any blog or book. The words you use to update your status today could be summations of profundity; reactions to incredibly emotional situations or fantastic experiences. But we all will scroll through and Like it, or Comment it and never really think of it again, because we are in our heads and you are in yours. Only the best poets and writers and perhaps lovers can ever show us a different way of experiencing life.

What would it be like if we could write these words and they were true:

I woke up and took the bus to work. I made hamburgers for six hours and joked with the other workers. I told a bum he couldn’t sleep in the restaurant. I watched the news. Then I sat down at starbucks to wait for the bus and some skinny white girl was staring at me.

What would any life other than our own feel like?

The man runs across the street, back to the McDonalds. I see her get up, lumber in his direction. Her purse and jacket are left on the table and for some strange reason I want to call after her that I will watch it for her. But I don’t. Her friends hat had dropped on the side walk and she retrieves it for him, sits back down. She glances over at me, and looks away. I look down, and maybe I am just as self conscious of what I am wearing as she is.

I think of my clothes and it makes me smile. A red sweater I borrowed from Doireanne. A black dress Caroline gave me. Stockings I found lying about that are probably Jaime’s and black heels my aunt gave me. I realize in spirit and in truth that I really am a collection of a hundred other people that have influenced and formed me. Usually thoughts like this depress me. I don’t want to be a reaction, I want to be my own true person. But for some reason, for the first time, this thought pleases me. I guess I usually thought of all the bad things I learned from people. My thoughts turned to all the good.

I learned kindness from Jenna, fashion too. Going far back, I got a love of knowledge from Tony Bowick. I learned how to argue from Giena. I fell in love with philosophy because of Matt. I saw how to make people feel important and loved by watching Tom. I received forgiveness from a wife I wronged; parents I disappointed; friends I hurt. Chopin from reading Megan White’s update about loving him and then punching it into my Pandora. Today I see my spirit is made of soft clay, and I think it’s beautiful for the first time. Because even bad impressions and the result of poor artisans can be redeemed through Him. From Christ I have a heart and know redemption is offered at every turn.

Sometimes I would prefer to be an Island, prefer to be a Robot. I hate being negatively affected by people. But me hating that is like hating that I have to drink liquids. It’s pointless, because I cannot change that fact. I will always be influenced by the people and situations around me. I will be constantly molded; so perhaps I had better chase the best relationships possible, rather than hiding from all of them.

Even though it is still dark outside, it is like I am experiencing an unexpected dawn. Words and ideas and sensations are flowing through me slowly and surely, like golden sunlight sliding over a meadow.

‘Where is all of this coming from? This hyper sensitivity and…sense of beauty?’ I wrote in my journal. And then it kinda clicked.

Last night I went to a time of prayer and worship in my friend Coles house. I usually don’t enjoy those things; it feels odd and forced. But it just wasn’t. I can’t tell you why, or be sure it won’t be terrible the next time; but it was amazing. It wasn’t cool, we weren’t edgy or hip. Nobody was posing or trying to throw out sound-bite intelligence as so often heard in conversations these days. Everyone seemed slightly uncomfortable at first, but also expectant. And I understand why some people keep going to prayer meetings, and some do not. For some, the hope that they leave changed, that they experience the presence and fullness of God with other people outweighs the fear of it being …well, weird. And during the course of the night I thought of the Plato (or Aristotle? I always get this one confused) analogy of earthly and spiritual bodies. That we are shadows on a wall, and someone who always looked at the wall only would think shadows were the primary existence. But if they turned around then saw people, they would understand what shadows are and how they are made. So I guess I felt like I was in a room of shadows and as the night continued everyone turned around and I saw people in color and form.

But that means that most of the time I am a shadow as well. And this morning in starbucks I felt like a real person, looking at the real world.

Sean read scripture over us last night (and for reasons close to my heart it is one of the most beautiful memories I have, a moment I studied intensely as to never forget it). The scripture he chose was from 1 Corinthians 12:25 “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependant on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, ever other part enters into the exuberance!"

I have left community in the past year because it has hurt, I have been hurt and have hurt others. So it seemed wise to leave. And maybe it was, for awhile. But even beyond my hurts, this spiritual body has given me so much happiness and character. I witnessed first hand how sickness can infect a church. But I have also witnessed first hand how Bradford has infected me with joy. How being in a room with other believers made me healthier when I left.

Along the same lines as this is when Paul talks about how body parts should not despise each other, a hand should not sulk because it is not the neck. Every part of our body is important (except our pinky toe or something, right?). Now, for contextual sake, Paul is using this analogy for people to not compare themselves or think some positions in a church to be better or worse. I looked at it more personally, as me literally despising parts of my body, and how ridiculous that is.

I ignore my emotions because I prefer logic. But both are mystical gifts, and both are given to experience the world through. Who am I to say which should have a greater preeminence? I can’t go through life covering my nose because I prefer to see.

The world has been destroyed by mans cold logic just as much as his passion. Emotion and logic are swords made of silk and metal. People logically thought the world was flat; logically believed witches wouldn’t float; twenty years ago people logically believed the Miller-Urey study, which proved that life started through electricity charging an earth atmosphere of methane and ammonia. Adding lightening to the mix gave you amino acids- building blocks of life. This logically proved evolution, until NASA logically told us that the earths early atmosphere was carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Inert gasses with no reaction to electricity.

Does this prove God? No. Does it disprove evolution? No. It just proves that knowledge changes. That logic must be balanced with emotions. And for those of us that are more emotional by nature, logic must be considered.

I do this with my spirit as well, this picking and choosing. I am not just an animal that hungers and thirsts. I am also a spirit, an artist and dreamer. But most of the time I focus on the real world, on my shadow only.

Last night I was a spirit, and this morning I have real eyes and spiritual eyes and even using the word ‘real’ doesn’t make sense to me. Physical eyes, animal eyes, I have. But they are both real in us- the angel and the animal.

We are all familiar with the idea of starvation in the physical world. I know that eating brings vitality and health; but sometimes I do not want to do it. Starvation seems preferable. I think I do this spiritually, too.

And last night my spirit had a banquet. Christ, when the devil tempted him to turn rocks to bread-

‘It takes more than bread to really live.’

We can starve ourselves physically and die. We can starve ourselves spiritually and not really live.

I have a feeling that my eyes will fade. That not everyday will feel like today. But I do know that I am committed to doing everything I can to continue to see people in this way. And that means not only reading and praying on my own; I have done that immensely this past year. But it also means really meeting with believers.

I don’t feel very comfortable in big churches anymore. It is difficult for me to worship at Status. And I have to confess that it is easier for me to tell people that- than to actually find or start a small group where I can interact and be spiritually uplifted. A true human temperament-it is always easier to tear down someone elses passion than to build your own.

I can’t ignore the rest of my body. I can’t keep praising my brain while shaming my heart. I can’t ignore my right arm while adoring my nose. I need all these things; whether I like them or not. I need healthy community, so that I’m shaped the healthiest way possible, and to not die of shock when it gets sick. I don’t kill myself when I get a cold, and so I can’t keep walking away from churches either. I need to experience horror to experience joy; I need to know loneliness to fully appreciate companionship; I need to feel the world as much as I think it, to pray and read in my closet and to gather with others.

When I left starbucks the sun was just thinking about rising. The sky was still inky dark, with a slightly lighter blue halo on the horizon. And it looked very familiar. I had been at starbucks many times when the sun was just setting. It made everything look exactly the same, and if we were dropped somewhere with no sense of time or direction, we wouldn’t know if the sun was setting or rising. We would just have to wait and see. And so another paradox that made sense to me, and comforted immensely: endings really are beginnings, and beginnings always mark the end of something else. And this is Good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Grace and Truth

John 1:17

Moses brought the law, Christ came to bring grace and truth.

This verse has always stuck out to me; it made sense but it did not. I knew somewhat of the law of Moses; 613 commands on how to eat, bathe, marry, work and generally live. As Christians I think we can only vaguely understand how stressful Judaism must be, unless of course we have grown up in a conservative church that had a lot more than 613 ways to piss off God. Either way, the idea that Christ brought Grace and Truth on the foundation of law is fascinating. And I have seen the beauty of this played out consistently in my relationship with Christ and good friends; but I have also seen the twisting and ignoring of these two delicate words. So I wanted to share some thoughts, hopefully some encouragement.

I wanted to start with the greek definitions of the two words John used. Also, I know many of us have learned that Christ spoke in Aramaic, however John was assuredly written in Greek, and there is good scholarship pointing to Christ speaking in Greek often as well. It was a common, almost universal language in Judea at the time. It seems beautiful to me- the lovely word 'charis' (greek for grace) also rolled from Christs' lips.

charis: grace
that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
good will, loving-kindness, favour of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them toward Himself, keeps, strengthens, increases them in faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

Aletheia : truth
-objectively what is true in any matter under consideration
what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man, moral and religious truth
in the greatest latitude
-the true notions of God which are open to human reason without his supernatural intervention
the truth as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man, opposing alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians
-that candour of mind which is free from affection, pretence, simulation, falsehood, deceit

so these are the definitions the writers of the gospel, and Christ meant when they used the words 'Grace' and 'Truth'.

I am not quite sure if our English definitions match up exactly. I think 'grace' means letting people get away with things. 'Truth' can seem standard, except that so many are not sure if they believe in universal truth anymore. We are seeing not the onset of Relativism (you can see this in the writers and intellegencia of the 30's), but we can see the effects of it in our generation; open-mindedness; kindness; a true pursuit of knowledge, hand in hand with apathy; cowardice and selfishness. That is another note.

In regard to Christianity, it is easy for us to adopt one or the other. Most Christians are known for their 'truth', we have all heard the megaphone on the street corner. And perhaps what he is screaming is truth, but who is listening? As well, we have all told people the truth, but most of the time it is reserved for heated conversations- truth screamed over email or updates or break ups; over dirty dishes, missed appointments; uncovered lies or the like.

This is precisely the worst time to be honest with those we love, or those we don't. When we reserve Truth bathed in anger, it gives the other person all the right in the world to dismiss your words based on emotion or all the truthful hypocrisies of your own life that they can shout right back at you. And so we float through life, stuck in our minds and eyes, unable to see our action and words from any point of view other than our own.

And how desperately we need the truth. I know everyone is aware of my abject fascination with Meyers Briggs/ The Five Love Languages, and the reason for it is because the only time I believe truth to be subjective, is when it applies to the standards by which we judge people. When someone doesn't follow through; when someone doesn't offer to help me; when someone says one thing and does another- these things boil my blood. Because acts of service is my primary love language, because I try to stick by my word (to be honest, this has not been a strong point with me lately- sorry friends) however, this is not how everyone relates. I could care less (usually) if someone says something unkind or questionable to me, I can laugh off words, but many cannot. And so when I have had friends that are primary 'feelers' or in which words of affirmation is important; i am in trouble. And this is not because I don't love them, or because I am mean; I am just different in how I love and communicate and value things. But this does not change that I hurt people with my words or lack of them. And 'this is just how I am' is a selfish way to go through life. And so the Truth my friends have given me has been incredibly important. But if it was not delivered in Grace and Love; all I could see was all their own faults and inconsistencies and I was so busy thinking about that, I hadn't the time to consider the things they told me. Words spoken in this way is not truth. It is Cowardice.

And then there is Grace. This seems to be the most often characteristic of friendships. We let things slide, we avoid confrontation; and mostly we just bitch behind backs to our other friends, trade stories; feel affirmed; and then never give the other person a chance to change.

Confrontation is terrifying to our culture. Generally we surround ourselves with people of similar temperament and vices, people with whom we can avoid friction. And so we allow vanity or shitty treatment of women/men, poor spending choices or apathy; because we don't even notice. Good friendship is just building each other up mutually, affirming anothers place in the world and lifestyle. We may know our friends are hurting people, we know they are heading somewhere dark, we know they are addicted to pornography or shopping, we know they are not eating or eating too much; their hearts are hard and dark; but who are we to bring up difficult things? And so we have 'grace' for them and figure they will work it out. This is not grace. This is Cowardice.

I say Cowardice because it does not take Bravery or Strength to yell at someone, to gossip or slander. It does not take Integrity or Character to ignore or allow our friends to drown behind their own eyes.

I am a coward in some of my friendships. I have a few friends that are Liars, in that they lie quite absurdly and often. Other people know this and it is talked about frequently behind their back. I have gracecowardice because I've been a Liar and because I know they don't like themselves very much and desperately want other people to (things I can relate with). I have never spoken to them about it. Isn't it terrifying to think about all true things people say behind our backs? Let's hope to God our friends tell us before our enemies or spouses or bosses or children do.

So the delicate balance of Truth and Grace are necessary, and rare, so rare.

I see this in Christ. The longest recorded back and forth conversation Jesus had with someone in scripture was the woman at the well. She was a racial outsider (think of a white southern preacher having a conversation and with an African American prostitute in the 1950's Alabama- in plain site for all to see) and a woman of ill repute. Christ strikes up a conversation with her, asks her questions to which he obviously already knew the answers; and encouraged her toward change. Grace and Truth.

In my own life Grace and Truth has ultimately meant humbling myself and being humbled. It is uncomfortable and vulnerable and so counter intuitive, no wonder it is so rarely done.

But the Truth is- I could ignore everyone who spoke behind my back, shrug off the gossip that reached my ears, or the catty passive agressive comments some of my friends slung at me. But I could not ignore my best friends coming to me in tears, begging me to stop what I was doing. I was doing things that seemed okay to me, things that comforted me and made sense in my own mind. But this was not the Truth. And they did not hide behind Grace or the caricature of it.

When I have gone to friends I thought were hurting themselves and others in Truth and Grace, it was like shedding all of my clothes and kneeling before them in tears. It was like peeling back my breastplate and giving them full access to my heart. Anger is a wonderful shield. It blocks words and actions and can throw bullets and knives back at your attacker. Grace and Truth require terrifying vulnerability. But, it works.

The truth is most of the time when we are angry with the actions of another, we may not want them to change in the present moment as much as we want them to hurt or we want to feel better. Shouting and back biting and condescending exchanges are perfect for accomplishing this.

But going before someone and loving them, affirming them and admitting that you are not perfect, not flawless- saying upfront that the purpose of your words is not to hurt or cause pain- but because you love them, are worried to what they are blinded to- (various flaws here) - that requires a lot of bravery.

Example.

Your best friend bails on hanging out with you for the umpteenth time; another broken promise; or phone call that never came, etc.

the option of truthcowardice: Telling her/him they suck at life, complaining to other friends, being cold to them; etc.
What does this do to the best friend? Reminds them of every time you have failed to come through, or that time you made out with their ex, or ruined that thing you let them borrow or how you never clean up after yourself. So they tell you as much or say it behind your back. And they don't change.

the option of gracecowardice: ignore it, avoid it, forgive them and lose faith in their words or become repeatedly hurt.

And the truth may be that your friend is terrible about remembering to call or follow through in the same manner that you never remember to encourage your friends, or clean up after yourself, or any number of personal inconsistencies. You don't mean them personally and are confused when people think you do, it is just how you are. And that is exactly what they think about their own faults. So they don't change.

the option of Grace/Truth: sitting them down and telling them that you love them, you miss them and only because of this does it hurt when they don't follow through. Letting them see not anger, but vulnerability. Apologize for the ways you have hurt them as well, and ask one another how the friendship can grow.


I think Grace and Truth come easily to Christ because he knows all of us intimately, on a micro-level. He knows our wounds, the memories and words that haunt us, the Reason Why We Are How We Are.

I know we all have friendships in our lives with difficult people- and we may hear others gossip about them or argue with us as to why we spend time with them. And I am sure we all say the same thing 'You don't know them the way I do...'. For many of my friends this person has been me. I used to joke that my friends all had part time jobs running damage control for me. I don't know how many times someone has gone to Jenna or Jenn when I have said or done something to offend them. And their response is the same "She didn't mean it that way..."

But when have we not all been guilty of this? We can make excuses for our best friends, but we can also honestly defend them, because we know them on a Micro Level- we know them intimately and personally.

I recently saw the movie 'Infamous' about Truman Capote writing the very first true crime novella ever published. He spent time interviewing and getting to know two men who killed a family of four in rural kansas. One of the killers was typical; unrepentant; ignorant- things we may automatically assume a murderer would be. But the other was an artist; was gentle and broken. There were so many little, tiny things that added up to this man shooting a father and son in the head. His father calling him a sissy and a fag, and his friend using those same words right before he took the shot gun and became a murderer while trying to redeem his masculinity. Truman Capote knew him intimately, on a micro level, the way God knew that man. The way God knows you and I.

God has Grace and Truth for us and we must, must, must have this for other people.

Anything else is Cowardice.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Work Correspondence

Emails sent to my entire department:

Hi All!

I have missed all of you terribly while I was on
vacation (sorta)
LOL. Anyway, While I was out of my office a fellow
co-worker took it
upon themselves to care for my heater so that it would not be
lonely. And I appreciate that, however, now that I am back, I
would like
it if that person can see to my heater making it back to it's home office.

Thank you so much!
Sincerely,
Giena Small

Giena then came to my office and stole it back, as I was the perpetrator. So I then write:

I am absolutely appalled! I just got to my office, and MY heater
that I found lying around last week is gone as well! Unbelievable!
I'm really disappointed in whoever enacted this travesty of justice
and temperature control.

Regards,

Kate King

So then my boss...

Toby Williams wrote:
From now on if you all are too cold, GO GET A HEATER, or, and if you
do BORROW, someones heater please return at the end of the day.

Toby

Whoopsie.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Best. Quote. Ever


"the worst judge of all is the man now most ready with his judgments; the ill-educated Christian turning gradually to the ill-tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which he never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows not what, and already weary of hearing what he has never heard." G.K Chesteron

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oscar Wilde "De Profundis"

Remember that one should be thankful that there is any fault that one can be unjustly accused.

If you find one false excuse for yourself, you will soon find a hundred, and be just what you were before.

You had no motives in life, appetites merely.

The real fool, such as the Gods mock or mar, is he who does not know himself.

I had always thought that my giving up to you in small things meant nothing: that when a great moment arrived I could reassert my willpower in its natural superiority. It was not so. In the great moment my willpower completely failed me. In there is really no small or great thing. All things are of equal size and value.

I recognized the ultimate moment had come, and recognized it as being a really great relief. And I knew that for the future my Art and Life would be freer and better and more beautiful in ever way. Ill as I was, I was at peace The fact that the separation was irrevocable gave me peace.

Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one centre of pain. The paralysing immobility of a life every circumstance of which is regulated after an unchangeable pattern, so that we eat and drink and lie down and pray, or kneel at least for prayer, according to the inflexible laws of an iron formula: this immobile quality, that makes each dreadful day in the very minutest detail like its brother, seems to communicate itself to those external forces the very essence of whose existence is ceaseless change. Of seed-time or harvest, of the reapers bending over the corn, or the grape gatherers threading through the vines, of the grass in the orchard made white with broken blossoms or strewn with fallen fruit: of these we know nothing and can know nothing.

Prosperity, pleasure and success, may be rough of grain and common in fibre, but sorrow is the most sensitive of all created things. There is nothing that stirs in the whole world of thought to which sorrow does not vibrate in terrible and exquisite pulsation. The thin beaten-out leaf of tremulous gold that chronicles the direction of forces the eye cannot see is in comparison coarse. It is a wound that bleeds when any hand but that of love touches it, and even then must bleed again, though not in pain.

Where there is sorrow there is holy ground. Some day people will realise what that means. They will know nothing of life till they do, - and natures like his can realise it.

I used to live entirely for pleasure. I shunned suffering and sorrow of every kind. I hated both. I resolved to ignore them as far as possible: to treat them, that is to say, as modes of imperfection. They were not part of my scheme of life. They had no place in my philosophy.
I am a born antinomian. I am one of those who are made for exceptions, not for laws. But while I see that there is nothing wrong in what one does, I see that there is something wrong in what one becomes.


The only people I would care to be with now are artists and people who have suffered: those who know what beauty is, and those who know what sorrow is: nobody else interests me.

The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured
into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. I amused myself
with being a dandy, a man of fashion. I surrounded
myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds. I became the
spendthrift of my own genius, and to waste an eternal youth gave me
a curious joy. Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went
to the depths in the search for new sensation. What the paradox
was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the
sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness,
or both. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure
where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little
action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that
therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day
to cry aloud on the housetop. I ceased to be lord over myself. I
was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I
allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace.
There is only one thing for me now, absolute humility.

But while there were times when I rejoiced in the idea that my
sufferings were to be endless, I could not bear them to be without
meaning. Now I find hidden somewhere away in my nature something
that tells me that nothing in the whole world is meaningless, and
suffering least of all. That something hidden away in my nature,
like a treasure in a field, is Humility.

It is the last thing left in me, and the best: the ultimate
discovery at which I have arrived, the starting-point for a fresh
development. It has come to me right out of myself, so I know that
it has come at the proper time. It could not have come before, nor
later. Had any one told me of it, I would have rejected it. Had
it been brought to me, I would have refused it. As I found it, I
want to keep it. I must do so. It is the one thing that has in it
the elements of life, of a new life, VITA NUOVA for me. Of all
things it is the strangest. One cannot acquire it, except by
surrendering everything that one has. It is only when one has lost
all things, that one knows that one possesses it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lynchburg and Tuscaloosa and you know, the rest of my life-

Stories in your twenties are maybe the only time they are and should be mostly about you.

And so I have a story. I went to Lynchburg, Virginia a few weeks ago to see about a future. It’s a magical place. Downtown is filled with antique stores and gorgeous loft apartments. There are no chains, or blinking neon lights. Everybody in their twenties knows everyone else in their twenties, at least of the artistic hipster variety. I am thinking about moving there and it was strange. I walked streets that seemed very beautiful and very bare. There were no memories to cushion the sight of cold buildings and unknown faces. But my heart was there and it seemed enough.

My friends, Ally, Matt and John, have their own film/design company in Lynchburg (http://duckduckcollective.com) and they are pretty much hot shit. They were incredibly busy while I was there, so I spent a lot of time exploring the town and hanging out at White Hart, a coffee shop that only offers the best Christian books around. Only the classics and philosophy. None of this self help, Jesus get me money crap.


John Carl, Ally and Matt live in the red brick apartment right next to White Hart. They are definitely three reasons I was contemplating a move.

John is brilliant, an artist and philosopher, but nicer than you would think a combination of those two characteristics could be. His house is a treasure trove of books and electronic geekdom. He has mounds of equipment and camera stuff and the crown jewels of the literary empire strewn about like underwear. The man keeps Dawkins in his bathroom. Needless to say, he is a hundred times smarter than I and I love it. He is one of the few people I know who can call me out on weak philosophy and I couldn't bullshit him if I tried even though I do every once in awhile.


His girlfriend, Ally, is a kindred soul. All I knew of her when we met was that she was an extreme introvert and generally disliked girls. So I, of course, liked her immediately on that information alone. But I assumed much would not be different with me, since I have pretty terrible first impressions. But to Matt and John's amazement, Ally and I fell perfectly into a complementary form together. We ran past small talk and settled into the Heart and Soul and Questions and Fears. She is perceptive and sees the world in a beautiful way. We are very different; she has too much Emotion, and I have too little, and that is the secret to us, I believe.

So I came to Lynchburg to see how I would 'feel.' I applied to Liberty for their Counseling masters and wanted to poke around the university and town. I wanted to see if I could meet any other friends, see if there was a fit for me in Duck Duck, and drool over the gorgeous loft apartments littered over downtown. I took pictures (like the one above) with Matt by the James River and slept a ton and read.

But more than anything: I wanted to hear from God. I thought he had a pretty good idea about what it is I would be happy doing with my life, and I pretty much had none. So every morning I would troop down to White Hart- books; bible; computer; pen and try to wrangle some answers out of him.

It always makes me feel pretty shitty to only pay attention to God when I need an answer.

I hate seeking you only to get an answer. I am weak- to be able to manage without you in the daily little things, yet to run to you for confirmation in the large. All the little things are what make up the large- the sum total of my life. I know this, but I cannot keep myself consistent. Consistent in my thoughts, my books- but not my heart-

God, as usual, felt gracious in my soul. He opened himself up in my seeking, instead of slamming a door in my face. Sometimes wrath would seem more appropriate than a never ending stream of grace. But we slipped back into each other and for the first few days I learned very little about my future but some wonderful things about him. Like-

Reading scripture is like interpreting a friend. There is a way that a friend searches my face- like he is looking for something. It does not matter what I am saying; my eyes, or the set of my chin when I'm annoyed, or the way I'll arch my eyebrow- these things speak to him more than words. And I think the bible is like this. Without the context of history and culture; without knowing whom Paul was rebuking and why- information you can only learn extra-biblically- we will never truly learn the bible the way we should.

and

I sat on the revelation that the road block to God in my life is not necessarily my sin, but my trying to be good. Because it looks like good religion- being a good person at all- but we cannot. I cannot be good separate from God. And so it's not about being a good person, or not hurting people, or worrying about others- I am just called to be close to Christ. That is all. But from that comes many things. My roadblock to God is one of moral effort; of trying harder and harder instead of moving closer and closer. I cannot Lord, but you can.

And so I would sit there, secretly pining for Starbucks soy latte’s but dutifully drinking White Harts', reading books and perusing their collection. I read Anne Lamott and wanted to write. I read C.S. Lewis and wanted to be that brilliant. I would look at everyone else in the cafe; and more than anything I just wanted to be sure of something. I am overwhelmed with choice. Counseling seemed a smart bet. I believed in it, believed that people needed help. I am selfish enough to want to impact people directly, to see health and healing and wise enough to be unsure if giving advice about the heart for the rest of my life would be a good thing for anyone.

The heart is tricky, mysterious. I have always preferred thoughts; my own and others. Thoughts are safer, easier to predict.



It was in White Hart I looked at the class schedule for getting my masters in Counseling and was not looking forward to it. It was there I looked at the Masters in Religious Studies, picking an emphasis in Philosophy or Apologetics, and my heart beat fast. It was there I called one of my closest friends and told her that I secretly wanted to be a professor. I think I could spend the rest of my life reading and writing and grading papers and encouraging students I saw something beautiful in. I had never considered being a professor before because I didn’t know anything I loved enough to teach. But I really, truly love things of God. I have fallen in a lovely awe of the philosophy behind Christ. That laws and science and philosophy that point to Christ outside of blind faith and just the bible. And I could certainly spend the rest of my life teaching and exploring that.

My personality type according to Myers Briggs is an INTP: the ‘thinker’ or ‘philosopher’. And the mystery of God, the proof of God, the correct context of scripture and science- these things I love. These things I think everyone should know.

And that was it. The moment I have been waiting 26 years for. So I decided to go home.

When I was packing up my car to go back to Orlando, I dreaded the long drive. Matt Mackey and his band were leaving at about the same time for their hometown, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

They had come through town the night before and rocked out in Johns' loft. They have a four person, damn good looking band. They all sing and play an array of instruments- a mixture of folk, blues and good old rock and roll. It's an incredible show to watch them weave through instruments, their voices layering songs, especially when considering the amount of whiskey they ran through.

I walked up to him. “Mackey, I am having a thought. “

“Lay it on me, darling” he said, taking a drag of his cigarette.

“Howsabout I come to Tuscaloosa with you guys and crash for a few days?”

“Fuckin’ RIGHT!”

They are coming to stay at my house in Orlando this weekend anyway for a show. And I could help them drive their gear down. So I jumped in my car and headed to Alabama.

Matt Mackey and I sipped from a flask filled with Jack and enjoyed intermittent conversation. I've known Matt Mackey for a year or so, but have only really hung out with him a handful of times when he would visit Orlando. He is bestfriends with Matt and David, and the three of them together are ridiculous. He is kind of a walking tragedy and living legend. He has a raspy voice and a rolling memphis accent that everyone else seems to pick up when they are around him. He just wants to sing, to play and tour and he rocks out like a medium channeling Joplin and Jagger. It is fearful and beautiful to behold. He has a wife and baby and you can tell by looking at him that his heart is split. We vibed immediately when we met, talking shit and trading stories- the genetic gift of our irish ancestors.

He looks at me from the corner of his eye.

“If you want, I could be that inquisitive questioning friend,” he starts in his cool-cat southern accent, “or we could just keep it chill.”

“I just want to keep it loose” I said, smiling at him. “I don’t need to talk about much for the next few days.”

“Fuckin right.” Matt said.

That night I crashed with two of his excellent band mates. Rachel and Stuart have an incredible little tree house apartment. It is a tiny thing located on top of what looked like a garage. But that shit is magic. Stuarts' type writer is huddled by the kitchen. A more than comfortable vintage orange sofa by the window. The tiny bedroom shoved in the corner. The place was littered with great books and better records and damn fabulous boots. I fell in love and fell asleep, listening to them talk about music. I have never had a very strong connection to music, minus Fiona Apple and David Grey. But these two live it, breathe it. It’s a part of them and Stuart played me record after record.

Stuart is beautiful, in a CK model sort of way. Tall, thin -ridiculously tall. Rockabilly hair and a great smile, and this boys heart is nothing but tender. I gave him shit from the first moment I met him and he threw it right back at me. Stuart is 20.

We were on the porch next to the loft the night they played in Lynchburg, drinking Jack and smoking American spirits. He is making wise ass comments about my age.

“What was it like when the beatles came out?”

Suspense hung in the air. This was an interview of sorts, a test. I could laugh it off, or do something cheap like give him the finger, but I was ready.

“About as great as when your acne cleared up.”

The porch exploded.

And who knew the next night I would be crashed in his apartment?

It was a strange thing. To wake up breathing in cool Alabama air from an open window. “Where am I” I thought, “who am I?”


I am Kate Lynch. I am 26 years old and two nights ago I fell asleep in Virginia and last night I slept in Alabama. Life had a strange, hysterically beautiful quality to it.

Rachel is tiny, dry and beautiful. She has a gorgeous voice, green eyes and hair that kills. Looking at her relationship with Stuart, lover bestfriends, made me envious for something I have never had. I loved their apartment, their friendship and talent. The way they barely knew me at all but let me crash with them.

"It's the rocknroll life!" Stuart laughed.

This life had better be good to them.

My step mother lived her twenties in rock and roll. I thought about her when I was in Lynchburg, hanging out in beautiful lofts, with beautiful artists and bars. I knew this was her existence in the 70’s and 80’s. She had Stories, Lovers and Tragedies. I wanted desperately to speak to her about those things. To learn what wisdom I could. I spoke with her the next day and her voice felt right. It felt like everything I wanted to hear. I told her of the past week and she laughed with me. “That’s something I would have done” she said when I told her about hopping on with the band.

I walked around Tuscaloosa, from the apartment the next day. Stuart was making us dinner and I put on praise music and walked. The houses looked like something from the shire. Close together and different and beautiful. I walked and thought and talked to God and fully realized how amazing it was that I wanted to teach. How beautiful it was to have the freedom to change and to move and travel. I was already dreaming of a bearded history professor husband and books, and all the kids that were ten now but would one day be in my classroom. I was getting stupidly ahead of myself; but for the first time in a year, the future glittered like an ocean instead of looming like a storm. I had hope in something, in a future. Not a man, but in me, in God.

And the last picture I'll leave you with, I took on my ride home from Alabama. Yes, it is of a rainbow. Piss off, I dug it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

rebirth

maybe it’s this heat
the Ancient Age and American Spirit
the smell of the leaves
(and you know-
my favorite month is all around me)


I feel alive, I feel alright, tonight

it could be that I’m 26 and free
could be the music in my ears
(the records he played for me,
his face was lit with love
as we listened to song after song
just a rhythm and a heart and a beat
and i wished i felt that way about anything
but i do-
i feel that way about You)


the south beneath my feet
(an orange, vintage couch underneath me
an alabama breeze rushing across my cheeks
best friend lovers in the room next to me
and i sleep alone for the first time in a week
but i feel alive, i feel alright, tonight)


and a river of unread books in front of me
(bring me Lewis and Dante; Sartre and Nabokov;
Joyce and Dosteovsky- let other women
take care of men and raise them and break them
i just want to be left alone to read)

maybe it’s the pavement beneath my feet
a light in front of me
(i cannot leave You
but i cannot seem to love You very well either
Your patience is painfully sweet)


i am alive and i am alright, tonight.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Poetry Arc of 25

i come up
out of dark waters
gasping in comfort
throwing up fear
dragging Christ into my lungs
and for a moment
i believe i've learned to swim
and i can stay here
with him
and then
down, down, down
God escapes in bubbles
i push him out and away
my fingers claw an inch of air
but my feet are heavy, so heavy
immersed in alone and lead
and i'm gone-
the surface and spirit above
unseen and unknown below
and i know, i know, i know
soon i'll have to come up
or learn to breathe dark waters instead

November 25th, 2008

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

hey you
hey heart
you have no right to hurt
so just beat your blood
and shut the fuck up
i don’t care what you’ve heard
you’re a bloody fist, valves and tissue
not a romantic flower
a sighing lover
so stay out of my business
and try not to seize, palpitate, murmur or fail.
Just try not to kill me thanks
Unless I tell you too
Because I hate being the bitch
Of a mythological shape in my chest
That doesn’t exist

December 23rd, 2008

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I woke up and
loved the captain of the football team
with a Mohawk and 67 dodge and
he had my heart
but I was too hard, too dark
so I had him
when we were alone and seventeen
and for a few years
that was enough

but then I closed my eyes
I woke up and
loved a boy in a jeep and
he had my heart
with an unpacked room and a worn passport
he would kiss me then say “it’s just not right-“
so I had him
when we were weak and twenty
and for a few years
that was enough

and then-
I shivered without my pride and closed my eyes
and faces flew by
blue eyes and brown
rings and long distance
martini kisses

and it was not enough
because i was lost
and twenty-three

and then I woke up and
there was no love
there was no heart to have
but there was blood
on my boots, a coppery stain on my lips
and I was surrounded by those I’ve destroyed
and those destroying me
when i was dying and twenty-five

and now i wake up
reformed and something more
my bones are still healing
but i love a spirit and community
poets and theorists arising
desiring more than words and wine and intellectual meaning
forming into healers and lovers and their hearts are breaking
so they can have my mine
i choose to love the wiser and better
the fools that Christ loved in all their selfishness and glory
now that i am almost alive and twenty-five.

February 29th 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

damn that man

I was going through an old journal and found this. I liked the vulgar simplicity of it.


[my blood ran cold
and my stomach clenched
and my heart just packed up
and fucked off
and I thought to myself
'damn that man. damn him']

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lisbon, Portugal

The kingdom of heaven is like a bad road trip.

After two weeks of traveling through Spain, my two best friends and I started our trek to our final destination: Lisbon, Portugal. I had heard and read amazing things about this place. But the day started off wrong from the first hour.

Although we had a set schedule to leave at 8 to avoid traffic, one of my friends decided to take her sweet time. She had taken her sweet time the entire time we were traveling, and I was about to strangle her. We had had a conversation with her the night before, and even though she assured us that she would be ready first thing in the morning; such was not the case.

But she was not the only thing. I lost my passport for five heart stopping minutes. But of course I lost it in my purse. There was a momentary concern over whether or not Lisboa, where we had booked our hotel, was the same thing as Lisbon. And the GPS let us know in a snobby British accent that Lisbon was not three and a half hours away as we had heard, but 6. We got on the road an hour and half later than scheduled. And we hit traffic. And car accidents. The gps took us on the scenic route through towns and even preferred that we off road next to the highway instead of actually being on it. The GPS tried to run us into oceans and off mountains and for most of our trip told us that the road we traveled did not exist. We turned her off after a few hours and some heavy name calling.

Once we got to Portugal there was a 35 dollar toll. When we stopped for gas it took 45 euros, which was about 75 dollars to fill up the car. The food we purchased had a lovely 35 percent tax added onto it. People spoke Portuguese that sounded more like Russian. Once getting into Lisbon the GPS told us our hotel didn’t exist and we spent an hour circling the town.

By the time we reached the hotel, which did indeed exist, we had been driving for nine hours. We were grumpy, discouraged and broke.

That night we trudged out to the historic downtown. Within a few minutes however, we were greeted with some of the most beautiful sights of our entire trip: Portuguese men.

Our spirits lifted somewhat.

We noticed second the weather- it had been miserably hot in Spain. As the sun began to set it was a beautiful, cool 75 degrees. We walked by shaded parks and fountains and beautiful statues. Nearing the historic center the paved roads turned into white mosaic tiles. It was like walking on art.

The architecture was elaborate and dramatic. Entire buildings were covered in tile mosaic, like fine china. Statues of angels and past kings on horseback adorned parks and squares. There were enormous fountains and towering cathedrals. The golden sun was setting behind an ancient monastery nestled into the hills right above the city. The ocean glittered, visible from the streets. Lisbon is the most beautiful city I have ever seen.

After walking around for a few hours in awe, investigating museums and palatial structures, streets that seemed virtually unchanged in the past thousand years and antique shops, we settled into a little café on a quaint winding side street. A few meters away a street performer sang requests and painters painted and children danced on the white street.

Surfers from brazil sat behind us and we small talked with them. Next to us, a dignified man in a three piece business suit sat to enjoy a fine dinner and glass of wine alone. He did not attempt to talk to us, and I thought to myself that he had sad eyes.

Half way through our wine and desert a street performer made his way over to us. We requested a song of his choice and he began playing ‘the girl from ipanema’. A few minutes into the song, with sad eyes raised to heaven, the businessman next to us opened his mouth and sang the chorus, moving his head along to the tune.

We gasped.

The two surfers behind us were not to be outdone. They sang along with him. A family of Italians walking by stopped and joined in the melody. Other tourists and shop keepers came out to listen to a real life musical in the middle of Lisbon. I looked at my friends and I think our hearts stopped.

You know those moments in life that you know, while experiencing them- that it is a time you will think about for the rest of your life? So I tried to memorize every moment, every detail and sensation. The smell of the sweet night air. The building adorned with flowers and lights; the guitar chords; the man next to us singing to the stars, the expression on my bestfriends faces…

When they finished, we burst into applause. The business man paid for his dinner and left. The Italian family continued down the street. The surfers went back to their meal, the performer on to another group. We walked back to our hotel in a daze.

It is one of the most beautiful memories I have.

And perhaps Lisbon was so sweet because the way there was so terrible. And perhaps heaven is a little like Lisbon. I don’t think of heaven much, it starts a lot of controversy down here and all. But when we were in the middle of our fairy tale song, none of us were still thinking about the car ride. None of us cared about the toll or the tax or the gas. None of us were still fuming about driving or sleeping or being late. We were so grateful to be in the present that the past was only a brushed away memory. St. Theresa, a woman much accustomed to suffering, said that life would only be like a bad nite in a hotel once we reach heaven. life is like a road. Sometimes the drive is wonderful, music is great, you are sitting next to someone you love. And sometimes the car breaks down, accidents happen, and we lose our faith, our trust in God. But no matter the road we take, our destination is the same. We don’t know heaven, but God does. And so when we cry out for justice in the present, he knows it will come to everyone in the future. When we suffer, he knows how all of it will be erased, he knows and is the destination for everyone. God did not promise an easy life, Christs road was lonely and bloody. We don’t have a God immune to our suffering, we have one that entered into it. We have one that will ride with us, remind us of the importance of being the justice, the kindness, the answer to prayer the people around us are asking God for.

So when on the road, remember the destination.

Friday, September 4, 2009

European Story Snapshots: Madrid, Spain

Giena and I are languishing on a quaint side street in Madrid, Spain. It is 100 degress, or at least, it feels that way. The winding road has beautiful cobblestones and white shop fronts. The street is mostly empty; it being siesta. Spain shuts down between 1-ish and five-ish for food and sleep. This is highly inconvenient to Geina and I since we did not leave our hostel until 1:30. We managed to find an Asian store, “my people!” Geina declares triumphantly, that sells pure junk. I pick up a fanny pack. Geina drags me outside to question my sanity.

Pro: my wallet was pick pocketed within an hour of being in Spain. I feel confident of not losing and/or something being stolen which is strapped to my body.

Additional pro: great fanny jokes.

Con: rather hideous, fashion wise

Or

Pro: rather awesome, fashion wise.

While going over the practical and emotional ramifications of such a purchase, a stunning African woman walks by.

She stands out especially because there are very few minorities in Madrid. I have noticed in European travels that cities along the coast support varied ethnicities. Futher inland, cities and entire countries have the same skin color, as well as similar facial constructs. Spanish women are elvish, to my surprise. They have rather sharp faces; more handsome than pretty.

This woman’s white flowing dress and hair wrap glows against her dark skin. She is older, perhaps in her forties. Her face is smooth and broad, accentuated by dramatic black liner and red lips. She floats through the Spanish street.

“Giena,” I whisper, “how do you tell someone they are beautiful in Spanish?”

Geina pauses. “Tu es bonita?”

The woman notices us looking at her and smiles grandly. She runs her eyes over us. We stand out just as much as she.

Geina is half Scottish and Korean. She has the large, almond Asian eyes combined with dark auburn hair and freckles. She is beautiful in any culture, any country. While most Americans have always spotted me as Irish for the red hair and freckles- Europeans are not fooled. During my first trip to Europe I had to admit and embrace my mothers Germanic heritage. My face is the exact opposite of the Spanish women; broad and angular. My hair is red and blonde, two colors not at all popular or natural to Spanish women.

“Spanish men will either find you very beautiful, or very ugly,” our first hostel employee tells me, “you look different.”

About thirty meters away she stops and shouts something to us in Creole. I speak rudimentary French and understand she is trying to tell us she thinks we are beautiful. Giena shouts “Tu es bonita!’ at the same time I say “Tu es tres belle!”

The woman and her companions laugh. Shop keepers and tourists come out to see what all the shouting is about.

“Beautiful girls,’ she calls in a heavy french accent, continuing her walk down the street.

Geina turns to me, “I want to live in Madrid.”

“I want to look like her.”

Geina and I grin at each other. There is something magical about being in another country, yelling compliments across cobblestones.

We decide to get the fanny pack. While we doubt the gorgeous woman would wear such a thing, the jokes are just too good to pass up.

We transfer all of the things from our purse into my fanny.

(Hee hee hee)


I am on a balcony at my hostel, smoking cigarettes with a fellow traveler. The balcony is barely that- it is more like a fenced in ledge. We have about five inches to lean over the railing and look at the busy Madrid street. There are diamond shaped blue tarps criss-crossed over the busy avenues, about forty feet below us, to shade people from the sun during the day. I have never seen such contraptions, but they prove to be both beautiful and useful. It is about 11 oclock, and the sun has just set. The tourists from earlier are slowly being replaced by locals and younger travelers eager to experience the famed Madrid night life. My tourist book says people from Madrid are the only ones that can say New York and Paris was boring with a straight face.

My hostel room mate is a pretty, curvy girl from London. She has a delightfully thick English accent erring more on the side of cockney than upper class posh. Geina and I are trying to get her to come out with us, but she is recovering from heavy partying with a group of Australians from the night before.

On the stone paved street below we watch two police officers sitting on the hood of their car.

“What do you suppose they are waiting for?” She asks, blowing smoke.

"Geina and I.” I respond.

She looks at me wide-eyed. “You’re kidding?”

“Nope. I went out earlier to grab some food and they were leaving the building when I was coming back in. They asked if I was going dancing later and I told them yes, with a friend. They offered to escort us for the night.”

“You’re going out with bobby’s? Are they old?”

“Nope, only a few years older than us. One of them has great tattoos. I figured it was the best way to keep Geina from getting in trouble. She is a handful.”

“Lovely girl, that one.”

“And she knows it. What do you do in London?”

“Oh, God. I don’t want to tell you!” She exclaims, lighting another cigarette. “It’s so terrible.”

“Accountant?”

“Worse. Teacher.”

“What do you teach?” I ask.

She takes on a pained expression.

“It’s too awful.”

“Math? Science?” I prod.

She turns to me, biting her lip.

“Spanish, I teach Spanish.”

“What’s so bad about that? Spain must be a great vacation for you.”

She shakes her head, her blonde hair floating in the wind. She sighs, lifting her expressive blue eyes. “I’m here because I am total shit at Spanish. I don’t really know it. The students are better than me.”

“Wait, what? You teach Spanish and you don’t know it?”

“I know, I know,” she says mournfully, “I know French but to get the job I had to teach two languages. So I told them I knew Spanish. But I'm shit at it. The students are onto me. They know I don’t really know it. So I figured I would spend a few weeks in Spain before I go back to work.”

“Is it helping?”

She shrugs. “I should have found Spanish blokes to party with, but Australians are just so fun.”

“Understandable.” I put out my cigarette on the ledge. The cops below get into their car and drive away. “Darn.”

She grabs my hand and I turn to her. “Promise me you won’t tell anyone about the Spanish thing. It’s so embarassing.”

“I promise.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

wilt

i wilt under the weight
of the world- it revolves
it does not need me
but it uses, turns and moves me
the machination of existence
before and after
i am a little bolt
a paving stone
a wisp of cloud
that could be rain
could be shade
one day gone

i wilt under the weight
of my heart- it hurts
it needs me
the continuance of lovemaking
but it kills, thunders and breaks
i fall in love, i grow cold
i am someone elses joke,
their unwilling muse,
ex-lover,
would-be wife
one day gone


(i am filled with the joy of christ,
but i shake my head like peter)

lies

let me hide in poetry
in shifting prose and lilting rhyme
to say in metaphor
a meaning
of endless interpretation
to others
then to say quite plainly
(what i am afraid to be understood)

my poetry is a great pretend
a stage of make up and props
all beauty and delicacy
with a very plain truth
hiding in the wings
(i am too ugly to tell)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A spoken word: Fresh

my heart is empty and restless
i've lost my lover and my love went with him
i do not need either to be found but
new ones to be brought
give me something new to love,
to pine, to worship or date or discover
the difference
i am new! i am fresh!
i am newly unselfish!
but i am bored with me and mine

but don't give me someone new to break
i've moved on, i'm gone up
above petty and cruel and all the words they said
that were mostly true

give me a new heart, then
one that beats for more
than thrills and drinks and a wisp of poetry
give me a heart that runs on good knowledge and
grace
maybe a sip or two, a soft kiss,
a camera lens, a kind face

oh for Christsake, give me a new spirit
a sense of purpose without the self importance
so rarely accomplished
but i have heard it done
by one
whose name i've just used

i am new! i am fresh! I am newly selfish.

Monday, August 3, 2009

adultery

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.


My faith would be easier if I believed that I was only a daughter, or a servant of Christ, an ambassador or friend.

In studying the history of scripture- the narrative- I believe more and more that we are called to be Lovers of this God. We are the Bride of Christ, not just his slaves, or employees or whatever other more comfortable word most pastors and churches teach.

This very language hurts us.

Imagine two people going into a relationship- one expects an employee, the other a wife. A bewildered pair. This is most Christians.

How I would love to be a soldier of Christ! To take my orders, black and white commands, and march forward, never caring for my leaders heart, emotional well being, not thinking he would ever care for mine.

How comforting to be a servant of Christ. To serve his church and do what I must, and never presume to think that I should sit at his knee or have him heal my heart- there are dishes to wash, and things to do at church and meetings to attend.

How easy even to be a daughter of God. I'll check in, bring the boy friend around, call when I need money.

But to pursue God the way we desire a lover. To think of him, to bring him gifts and words. To consider him above myself, to spend time learning his language and desiring his advice. It's too much. Being in love is a terrible gift.

I remember the first time a boy gave me a foot massage. I was so content I could have purred. He looked at me and said, "I wish you could see your own eyes. You look so happy." I was.

I went to work and my heart felt tight and alive. One of the other servers spun me around. "You're glowing, you're in loooove." I was.

I remember him coming over early one morning and laying in bed with me. He was losing me and I was losing myself. He held me so tightly but it didn't work. "I love you." I said. I did.


How do I love God more than this? How do I light up with his love? How do I stay with him. Falling in love is not difficult with me. But the staying part-

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love


The intimacy of prayer is too much for me at times. To be fully naked- to stand before someone who knows all your faults, no secrets, no excuses, and to still be loved and desired. It is what everyone wants. I have this in Christ but it is too much. I run. I pick fights. I sabotage. I want more immediate lovers. I throw my heart to dogs and pearls.

But I know I want more-
I know I was made for more-

Here's my heart Lord, take and seal it.

If we could just learn to be lovers over servants or friends. I think this would hold the key to the world. If we can love Christ patiently, persistently, to be satisfied in him- with that would come character and integrity, discipline and gentleness, faith, hope and love.

What fearsome creatures we would be.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

i do not understand

freedom is a heavy burden, tonight
when the voices of saints are free to go quiet
when those whose faces shone
go blank and dark
or perhaps brighter with another god

your gift is a terrible thing
to allow your art to think against you
to allow my mind to curse your clay-caked hands

you are either a very stupid god
or a very patient one
you either could care less
or your definition of love is more, more, more

(are my thoughts
really
the pointless pulsations of an ape
is the world
really
devoid and temporal
or am I
the frame work of a masterpiece?
)

the only truth I have found is in forgiveness
a bloody cross that makes sense
when i remember
what it is like to swallow anothers sin
and redeem
it is blood
it is blood- every time

faith is a terrible gift, tonight
when surrounded by those given the freedom of disbelief and disappointment
i miss their voices, i miss their faces, i miss their light