Exchanging Letters 3

God,

I know the difference between talking about you and engaging with you. I also know which activity is easier. A similar concept is reading about writing and actually getting butt in chair and fingers dancing on the keys.

I’ve been thinking about third person. Do you observe the world from a third person angle? Sometimes I feel as though I’ve lived my life in third person. I live a shave away from wholeness, and see myself pouring the coffee, but hear no sound thereof. I report the life around me as a proof I might just exist. I joke with my family as I scan the obituaries for my picture, then shake my head…”I’m still here!”

So there’s the parallel on how I feel you operate and my own function under the sun.

Hmmm.

There are so many ways to try to reset the dislocation of my heart, spirit, soul, spirit, with the world spinning around me. But there is a simpler way. There has to be. I hear Jesus’ words “come unto me and I will give you rest.” Peter stepped out of the boat, and Thomas was encouraged to poke around the resurrected body of the Lord. I wonder which of the disciples I take after. I lean toward doubting Thomas with a dash of the denying Peter, but long to be like the disciple Jesus loved. John.

Love, Jerry

 

Jerry,

I see you. There is a simpler way. I am the way. Your dislocated feeling is understood. I too want engagement, not a third person detached rhetoric. I want your heart. Remember that dreary rainy day way back when? The day you walked up a driveway with a package and engaged me with a question? You asked me if I loved you. I sent a breeze through a row of pine trees and whispered “yes.” I knew you and one of your favorite things…the sound of wind through thousands of needles.

I see your fear. I feel your resistance to releasing control. I know you struggle with being labeled as one of ‘those’ kind of Christians. I got you. I get you. Bring those thoughts to me like you are doing right now. I can handle them. I Am, you know. Take a deep breath.

By the way, living in third person isn’t always a bad thing. That’s how creatives are wired. They help those whose don’t know their need to stop and smell the roses to consider doing so. I sent someone Saturday night to tell you those very words to encourage you.

Love, I Am

Exchanging Letters 2

Dear God,

As I sit here in this moment listening through the cracked window, how I wish to sing every morning like the sparrows, and fly like the barn swallows. How I hope to enter into exactly what you created me to be. Not to draw attention, but to give attention to the space within my proximity. I want to thank you for the senses you have given me to receive the wonder of nature, and the nurture of human connection. Although there are seasons where solitude sits on a bench, and invites me to feed the birds, the thick threaded reality of relationships gives voice to this life. I don’t understand why I can be so aloof, self-absorbed, and judgmental toward others, especially when You said it is not good for us humans to be alone. I want to leave this solitary place and enter the world, pay attention, and be a giver.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, sinner.

Jerry

 

Dear Jerry,

I will have mercy. And love. And justice. And prudence. And, and, and.  Thanks for noticing my creative acts around you. You keep using the word ‘mystery’ when you share your thoughts lately. I like that. You keep growing low among the grasses like my servant Wendell Berry. Humility will better connect you with humanity. You were made for connection, but solitude has its seasons too. How about I sit on the bench and wait for you to come and tell me about your connections with this world. I’d like that.

God

Sunday Psalm

Slip off your shoes,

before the dew

distills the

spirit of this day.

 

Stroll the field

for evidence

between your toes,

wet blades sewing.

 

Cup your ears,

to hear the sun

paint the top

of the sycamore.

 

Praise with the white

of your teeth,

head bowed

to the forest floor.

 

Find breath in your bones,

marrow reaching,

flowing to the sea,

to the sea.

Exchanging Letters 1

Dear God,

Sorry I left you behind. Sorry for the fear of you. The hesitant kind of fear that brushes you off and finds ways to hide behind pride. Maybe you are a big black lady in a sundress making breakfast in a secluded Shack. Big enough to hide behind. In any case I am attempting to hide. It’s fairly easy, but totally delusional.

I realize life has gotten the best of me. Literally. I bounce off circumstances and restrain my emotions. I think it started when I sinned against myself and would not repent or forgive. Wedged in a great tightness as Pooh stated.

Then my ability to receive began to wane. My dependence on emotional highs didn’t cut the crap. Beauty was fleeting and fleeing fast, because I turned my back on it and ran. I became a member of the Liars Club. I lie around way too often, and reach for the Kool-Aid as it were.

The great trifecta pressed in and I acquiesced. The world swirled around and I bought into its advances. My flesh broke out in hives, and the devil laughed and laughed.

Best, Jerry

 

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for your candor. I like the idea of being a big black lady. But I Am so much more. You are right though, there is no hiding. I Am light, and I bend around corners, under shrubs, and flow down the steps to the cellar.

I am intrigued with your idea of hiding behind Me. That is worth some exploration, as the therapists would say. What better way to stay close to Me, yet not have to look me in the eyes. Your arrogance precedes you. Don’t worry though, you have lots of company.

I Am Love, and I love you too. There are two sides to every story, and similarly, two sides to every relationship. I never left My side of ours.

Here’s something to consider. Is there a possibility I can handle you? Think it over.

Sincerely Yours, God

Invitation. Please Come In.

Come again, another year,

unfold your days

and leave a crease in each one.

 

Come again, another love,

lift your eyes

and cut tenderly our space.

 

Come again, Good God,

comb mercy through

our tangled ways.

 

Come again, breath stroke,

breathe in grace,

and exhale compassion.

 

Come again wholeness,

and bend low

in the present tense.

 

Come again Jesus,

even so come.

 

 

Stardust

Use the word life

sparingly in a poem.

Too vast an idea.

A subtle cliché.

 

Its meaning spread

as the dark spaces

between fireballs.

 

Its poignancy

as constant as

leaky faucet.

 

Each drop a

beat of the heart,

each beat a part.

 

But death,

be not proud,

big banging stops.

 

Drip, drip, drops,

fall like a star,

not far, not far.

 

Digress, Die!

I want to keep distance.

Stiff arm the collective

and wave you over for tea.

 

I want exclusive and inclusive

to come out on the floor

and step into a rhythm.

 

I want it both ways.

Doesn’t everyone secretly

want their cake and…

 

I’m sure Theo is logical

and offers tea and cakes.

Why wouldn’t he?

 

When more than one you

shows up for the discussion

my neck starts hurting

 

from the back and forth

discussion of true

spirituality between you.

 

Fear has closed my mouth

and you two rattle on

in front of my indecision.

 

You can’t make this horse drink.

Behind your backs, though,

I take sips of this and that.

 

I sit in a silent slice of hope

that Theo will moderate

the mystery of love.

The Laziness of Despair. The Nerve!

What? It takes much effort to despair. There is the resistance of asking the questions to break despair’s vice grip on this hand-cuffed free agent. To disengage in the tension of all there is to be tense about… that takes work. It takes energy to avoid the linear or circular arguments as to why things are the way they are. Lazy Mr. Merton?

That is like what my friend told me about loneliness. “Loneliness is ultimately selfish.” My first thought was don’t take my loneliness away from me. Ha. How selfish that sounds. Oh, the arrogance of island living. “No man is an island.” That was the parting phrase after that same friend dropped everything and listened to me gripe and grumble over unresolved tensions which clamored for my attention.

My wife, the one closest to me, labels it stubbornness. Despair has whittled me down to a stub on the inside. Oh, woe is me. I am victim, hear me whimper.

I suppose loneliness and despair are kissing cousins. A pair indeed. An undynamic duo nurturing any passive soul willing to engage in their auspices.

We are not lazy, my wife and me. Even now I am thinking about what I can physically accomplish this day. But personally I can clean the outside of the cup, spit shine it, straighten things up, but on the inside is a dank, musty ole grave. Stubborn. Selfish. Set in stone. My heart can continue to acquiesce to the lonely lazy despair or…

Look to a good God, who is Love, and operates in justice, mercy, and grace. Who holds my tension if I set it in His open palm… you know, the one with the hole in it.

Sound too simplistic? Well, just remember every island is surrounded by water, and if we walk long enough we will touch the edge of the water’s great expanses and be refreshed.

Prayer: Oh God, thank you that I am not too much for You. Thank you that my tension can be placed in your palm. Thank You that I am never alone, and hope is just a prayer away. Help those who find themselves in similar states of mind and give them grace to turn to You. Amen.

Kind Yourself.

This is the day we will forgive ourselves.

Today will be the yesterday of grace.

This day was the tomorrow

of hope deferred.

 

This day of a thousand years.

 

“Do unto yourself what you would have others do unto you.” Revised Jerry Version

“From his fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 ESV

Tuesdays With Morrie

“The most important thing in life is to give out love, and to let it come in.” Morrie Schwartz

I cried when I finished reading Tuesday’s With Morrie by Mitch Albom. Yesterday morning at 6:00 I closed the book, leaned on my knees in the padded rocking chair and sat in silence. I’ve seen the movie, but the words written were well timed as I come to the close of the winter of my discontent.

As Morrie Schwartz’s body relinquished its rights to the debilitating effects of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, his spirit/soul gained strength and momentum. One of Morrie’s college students, Mitch, reconnected with him after a sixteen year absence. Mitch began flying from Detroit to the east coast to visit his professor every Tuesday. The memoir captured their often poignant conversations about life, death, and the space between.

When was the last time you had a poignant conversation with someone, your spouse, a friend, a relative, or a complete stranger? When did you make eye contact or embrace with the freedom of knowing trust and grace? Humans are designed for connection, relationship, and community, are they not?

I signed off Facebook, the ‘ultimate’ social endeavor, over the Christmas rush (I deliver for UPS). I signed back on in January, to delete my account later after I realized it affected my real time, in house relationships. I was distracted, unfocused, and longed for affirmation and ‘likes’ to underline my existence. By the way, this isn’t a wagging finger at anyone who Facebooks, no. Someday when I am on the other side of this ‘reboot’ of my life I will return to social media of this sort. Not as an escape or some sort of pseudo therapist, but to connect in a healthier way.

Some of you know my real life is full, full, full…of, well, life. My comrade and love Barbara and I keep working at being on the same page with all these children around. I keep falling off the page. She has been in the trenches as I go off to the Big Brown UPS. It’s a culture we chose with little knowledge as to how stretching and challenging it would be. As with any challenge we were brought to our knees on many levels. There is lots of baggage sitting around to trip over. Sheesh.

So, we are looking over our own baggage to see what we can do to get on the plane with just a carry-on. This involves self-examination. As Socrates aptly said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” So, this winter acted like a white cocoon as I prayed a little, thought a little, and got (and am getting) some help from a counselor, a class, and always from Barbara, who knows me better than I do.

So, back to the book at hand. Listening in on Morrie and Mitch’s conversations woke me up to the possibility of deeper relationships and re-engaging. Quite honestly, I would rather stay in the cocoon sometimes. Retreat and withdrawal come naturally to me. I even had it out with my writing and told it to leave and not to let the door hit it in the ass on the way out.

I found that I had a form of ALS of the heart. I wasn’t nurturing the God given relationships right here, right now. All the distractions, work, and activities didn’t do a thing for what really matters…the heart. Ask Morrie, he will lay it out for you. His aphorisms and quotes from poetry will engage you. Even this agnostic “lifer” relinquished to engaging with God.

I will end with an excerpt.

“Love is so extremely important. As our great poet Auden said, ‘Love each other or perish.’”
Mitch wrote it down.
“Love each other or perish,” Morrie said. “It’s good, no? And it’s so true. Without love, we are birds without wings.”