Thursday, October 29, 2009


fresh light, fresh fire

all around me


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 eyes are shy
and so are mine

this languid, this melting
inside you and I

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


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.


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!
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.


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.



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 ( 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.


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


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