Thursday, March 31, 2011

Short Thoughts #6: Drinking like a man.

When I was in Chicago I watched a homeless man down the little cup of communion wine like a shot.

Jerk the head back, open the throat, wait for the buzz.

Thank God I have that memory.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What I saw: Blue collar virtue

The young woman at Value Village, a discount store.

She worked fast behind the counter. Like an octopus she hit price keys, answered the phone and bagged items. And all of this with genuine harried kindness. Her hair was falling out of her ponytail and her cheeks were pink. One would think that this was simply good service. We have been trained to see that way. It was more.

It was blessing and tragedy.

The blessing, of course, was her gifts. She was humble. Her speed on the register keyboard, her double bagging, her price checking. Her breathless courtesy. These were profound gifts of hospitality and humility.

She was trying to make her small space more spacious for me, the stranger.

Blue collar virtue.

It's everywhere and usually presumed upon.

The tragedy is that her beauty and youth were getting used up laying out red carpets on dull linoleum floors. To make ends meet.
For me, just another guy.

She should be out there making the world beautiful with her humility and youth. Stringing red ribbon around sharp corners. Christening wooden boats. Throwing clocks off bridges.

I can't wait until the lion lays down with the lamb and we all have enough to eat and gifts can be shed abroad without fear.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Short Thoughts #5: Listening

I have come to believe that listening is an act of spiritual warfare. Who would have guessed?

Old humble ear. A pathway straight to the heart and no one gives you any credit. They all go for the eye or the tongue or the fingers.

Be patient with the little humble ear, friends. It is a strong lover, fierce and wise.

All around, the strangest things are whispering the name of God. Bad drawings, good songs, pebbles falling back into the ocean, lost footballs, the unexpected jump of a tree, every person that you'll meet, kind and mean.

Of course, we all know this. But it's the forgetting that gets us. This war has been going on a long time.

Don't fret. Cynicism and shame are burned up in the fire of one open and listening heart.

However, I have also learned that listening gets harder and harder the more I commit to doing it. It feels kind of like playing an instrument, skills are bought with sweat, but the best stuff comes after long practice. When I can just let myself go. When I surrender to the absurd hope that all things eventually lead to beauty kissing justice. In front of everyone.


It can be a long 'eventually'. Longer than the best marriage. Hard, too.

The world is full of stopped up ears. Pray for mercy, listen. It is an abomination to evil that one fragile soul would stop, shift and peer into the underbrush, listening like a kind hunter, for the breath of another fragile soul.

There is music everywhere. Be brave.

Something for Someone: Isadora Duncan, the inventor of modern dance (1877-1927)

she was magic incarnate. the wildness of lost punctuation. she broke norms. she broke boundaries. she broke hearts.
apparently, she was killed in a car accident when her scarf, typically long, got tangled around the open wheel. she was pulled down. her neck broke.

awful, i know.

this story is a fierce, sad and strange one, especially for a dancer.

the gravity that she had defied,
then coerced into loving,
then defied again, agile and powerful.
that carried her through the air, at a tenuous peace with her and her legs, arms and lungs and stomach in front of the awe struck world. flashbulbs and all.

that gravity is what took her life.

isadora. what tragedy.

question for god:
why are we often killed by what we love the most?


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Word to live by: Job 38:37

Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? - God

This sentence burns deep in the middle of my little heart. Gerard M. Hopkins filled his diary with descriptions of clouds. The old, absurd poet who scribbled Job, broken and wiser than the other friends, has God come down in a whirlwind and ask these types of questions.
I can't think of anything more severe and beautiful.

Clouds are too soon dying works of art - as unique as any mountain or continent.

Who has the wisdom to count these things? I try.

On my best days I slow down.

I watch the sky and see clouds bloom and disappear knowing that each has a name, and that rarely heard.

Birth and death slowly blowing over our own little births and our own little deaths.
Our little dancefloors, our little hospital rooms.

I guess clouds are icons. They are dramas of the crucified God. Slow beauty explosions that can't last forever on our whirling earth. The winds are simply too strong and the world is such a dry place in need of rain.