Justa Thought

The Randomness that iz mZmO...I have a point, I promise.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How Long, Oh Lord, Must I be a Caterpillar?...

I sat under a tree to "have a quiet time". I tried to forcefully wax theological without letting my mind wander and was soon sucked into a battle of meditating without trying to meditate. Focus, focus, focus. …What is deep and profound…No stop trying and just be…be what? Quiet?, reflective? Mo?...who is she anyway? As the rabbit hole got deeper I enjoyed brief moments of respite from this war within. The “silence” was broken intermittently with the sizzle summer days resonant. I can never tell what the snap crackle and pop is all about but something is sizzling. I think birds make that noise. What a way to glorify God. I wonder if they sound pretty to themselves. Or maybe it’s not a bird or insect maybe it’s just how heat sounds. Regardless., the wind would blow or puff on by and there I was, time ticking away and no life-altering thought to account for. Crap! I can’t even “do” quiet time well. I hate feeling overwhelming ugly and inadequate. …not necessarily physically unattractive but the kind of hideous that is born from wanton spiritual disobedience…It comes out of your pores, you know and you can actually see it on your skin like some kind of sticky, black residue that does not quite come off in the wash. It can be debilitating. Not a good look at all. Most times no one can see it but you. Like living in a funhouse with broken mirrors.

So my attention is diverted to the dirty ground as I take inventory on my surroundings and make sure that no insects are on that list. I notice a caterpillar. Small, green, hungry, determined, focused… just eating and crawling and stopping and eating…digging and crawling and eating. That’s all it did the 20 minutes I was there. I suppose that’s all it does most days...I wondered if it was even cognizant of my presence. Was this giant hovering over it something to be feared and avoided? Seemed unlikely because it never skipped a beat. Then there was another caterpillar, darker and moving with much more fervor and resolve. It was a bold little booger moving further and further away from the tree. It seemed anxious…and then there was another, also a bit browner and faster. This one liked to dig. I think this caterpillar thought that if it moved faster and ate more it might speed up the process…It was fat and juicy like the caterpillar from the movie “Ants Life”.

I picked up a stick and in 3rd grade fashion I poked at it. Not to harm it but just to interfere and wonder and I suppose make my presence known. After all, I am the human here... It seemed startled at first. It twisted its agile spaghetti body into a sort of pretzeled 180 degreed turn to make its get away and at another poke it froze. I poked again…I guess it was playing dead; in that moment my satisfaction of dominance was fulfilled and I stopped. I wondered if its little heart was beating extra fast. Do insects even fear death, do they sense it on any level or was this just a guttural survival reaction…fully ingrained and un-abandonable? Anyways, I wonder if the caterpillar is satisfied with being a caterpillar. Does is have any clue of its future? Its impending winged existence? Is it excited and anxious? Does it get mad each day when it wakes up and it’s not time to transform yet only time for more crawling and eating? Are its thoughts so filled with wonder at what it is to become that it never completes the task at hand and just waits? Is it angry at its lack of control? Does it get bored with crawling, digging and eating over and over again day in and day out? Is it perturbed that it can’t just sprout wings overnight and venture out to explore an area larger than a 3ft. perimeter around a tree? Does it ever ask, “How Long O Lord do I have to be a caterpillar?...”. Do caterpillars give up before cocoon time comes thinking that there is no hope?...when maybe that season is right around the corner? How sad it would be to abandon such a beauty simply because it is stuck on ugly…How tragic? Well, I think the caterpillar has an inkling that this is but a season. It may be a simple creature but I bet there is a hint of destiny that pulses through it as it digs, crawls and eats…not forever…just for now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who Put Murphy in Charge?

Christians are so kind. We don’t always have answers to feed the hungry and defend the oppressed but let tragedy come and we can spout off scriptures and prayers of providence, hope, trust and repentance like none other. I usually think “there’s helping and there’s hurting and right now you’re not helping”…I am a chaplain. It’s my job. I am a chaplain. It’s my identity and my call. I know the Word (or at least parts 1 and 4) I love the Lord and trust Him completely but sometimes life truly does suck. Verbosity is irrelevant in dire situations. Life can feel crappy and unrelentless. Case in point: I well know a 50 something year old couple with a beautiful son, paid off mortage and 3 cars. Lest you are quick to judge them for living the “American dream”. They serve the Lord and labor in prayer with their community as they seek to serve more and be used by God. They know the fear of the Lord. Here is what the past 2 years vomitted up. Her son decides to depart from the way in which he was raised up. Her sister dies of aggresive breast cancer. The husband looses his job of 20+ years. Shortly after this she is diagnosed with the same breast cancer that plagues the women in her family. Oh yeah, and her son who recently gave his life to God is murdered senselessly leaving behind a young grandson. I know Job. She needs silence. She needs moments of laughter. She needs the freedom to question and doubt and be angry. She deserves that much. Often times in my “pastoral moments” when I am wearing my chaplain hat I struggle with this freedom. When do you mourn with others? How far do you let them go? Especially when you know that they know the Lord. When you mourn….Heck, when you just have a bad day the mention of God’s good will is enough to truly irrate you. We just want to be validated in our frustration. Job said it best after his friends issued their remedy. He spit out the teaspoon of their elixir and exclaimed, “Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends for the hand of God has touched me! Why do you like God pursue me, never satisfied with my flesh?” 19:21 & 22. It’s difficult to even type this as I am still frustrated and yes even angry with God for allowing their son to die. Oddly enough my anger stems from the love, knowledge and trust that I have in my Savior. It’s a conumdrum wrapping in an enigma served with a puzzle on the side. This is a new side of the Lord that I have to adjust to. I will say this; I was comforted at the funeral not by songs of praise that were sung (as they should be, I guess) and not seeing the throngs of people that share in this loss (which was great to see) and not even by the words of hope read from scripture (which I’m sure will minister to me in due time). Rather, calm came in the words of my pastor who simply said, “This is not right that a father a mother should have to bury an only son. It is unnatural. So if you are weak, hurt, confused and angry know that God can handle it for He is still a loving God.” Maybe that’s we should say to Job from the jump so that he doesn’t feel so insane and alone.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We're Just Warming Up

We’re Just Warming Up

There is this captivating moment just before a symphony begins where we wait with baited breath and intrigue. Murmurs and coughs settle in your ear and the wait is tangible. The silence is full like someone blowing up a balloon almost too full before it bursts. The audience palpable is comprised of people who have perused the program to the point of empty memorization. No one really knows what those Italian and German songs are. In all honesty most of the audience can only hold an intelligible conversation on the top Olympic Dream Team composers…you know them already..”Bach, Beethoven and Mozart ok and maybe Chopin…At best we are wannabe-connoisseurs of musical wine-tasting. We swirl the glass, sniff and examine the legs but we have no idea what rare libation we are drinking. But we read with intensity and hopeful recognition that we may be fully engaged with this temporary community. We hope that everyone with take the experience seriously. No one would dare take part and talk or laugh at an inappropriate time. This is just as much to feed the Mozart within us as it is to share love and be immersed in something pure and existential with a stranger. Music is a soothing dose of perfection. It is science, emotion, creativity, creation, physics, community, mathematics and language in a beautiful dance. It is a drip of what heaven stamped eternity must feel like. So, that moment before such an experience is hope-fully exhilarating. The imbecile and the guru both become servants of the inexplicable. The complexity of music teases all of our senses. If you aren’t fully consumed by it then your soul cannot be freed to sing. As we stand on the music precipice of melody that moment before the dive is quietly wondrous and necessary. It whets the appetite…but the warm-up can be confusing. Instruments and notes alike bicker in a cacophony of fine tuning. Violins, then saxophones, the obo wants in on the action and won’t wait its turn…even the gentle triangle rings out of time…every part is being perfected to play its role in this great symphony but what a battering it does to the ears. The audience knows, however, that the tune will change…Oh, they’ve read the program and even in their rudimentary understanding music they know that this is not the song…not yet. Just…wait for it. In fact this modge-podge of senseless reverberation is a part of the entire experience because the coming together is nothing short of a miracle. Shhhhh….here he comes…the conductor. When he steps to the platform we fear not for he will tame this noise and bring….harmony yes…sweet harmony. Before it sounds you know it’s there in the fullness of the wait. Can you see it? Look close. Harmony appears at the tip of the baton and demands attention…ahhhh yes, there you are. “Tap, tap tap” That valiant stick is raised in the face of wayward echoes and when it comes down the concord flies. You didn’t get dressed up abandoning the comforts of home for no reason. This occasion is worthy of your time. The confusion, the noise…that’s not the headline for this concert…we’re just warming up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Return

I was supposed to be blogging to journal and spread the love. Something happened to throw a wrench in those plans...life. But whatev. The great thing is no matter whatever beneficial thing you leave behind it is never to late to return to it. Here is a brain tickler of a story. I work at the Methodist home with some of the funniest, brightest, sweetest and hurting(est) teen age girls this city has seen. Frankly, some of their families just suck. I know we aren't supposed to cast blame because hurting people hurt people but these girls have become my "thing that i do" if that makes any sense. I am impassioned about them.

So here's the deal...I have never felt more like Jesus than before I started this job. Not the peaceful, non-discriminatory, WWJD Jesus but that Jesus that seeks out the company of the drunkard, the abuser, the murder, the liar, the sex addict and the demented and who loves on them until it hurts. 40 hours a week these girls are the source of many a days greatest thrill and debilitating exhaustion. Typical day...they come home school greeted by a smile on my face and tell me I am a crappy advocate (sarcasm, unwarranted or needed after a Ngan day nonetheless). They also grunt or make faces when I tell them I'm happy to see them...I get cussed out (F-bombs like WWII) throughout the evening and fear being shanked by some :-P We served them dinner once, made their plates and set the table, the whole 9. We explained how Christ served his disciples and we wanted to do the same...Reaction??? confusion and even frustration with our service. WHAAATTT?! EXCUSE?!!!! I am serving you...gratitude much? Sadness...some of them are not socialized to respond to acts of grace and mercy because they have never been offered to them...They don't say thank you because goodness has often come with a price, if at all.

Want my job? A surface analysis paints a thankless picture. When I work I have to make a minute by minute decision to ignore my instincts to shake them and verbally go "tet a tet" with them and love on these chicks until it hurts...and it does sometimes...most of the time. I turn my cheek until I stand dizzy. I also remember that I am no better. I serve a God who pours his heart on me even when I respond to Him through my hurt. No "thank you" or loving glances in his direction...yeah, I do that. It is love that changes. It is love that heals. It also clenches the jaw, gives without thanks and extinguishes the snap back. It takes time and determination and intention. I decide to love.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Molo Mr. Num Yummy!

Did I mention how well we ate in Cape Town? No barefoot missionaries here with hollow stomachs echoing hunger. A scant blog grants no honor to the indulgent nature of our daily repasts. Take a moment...imagine being serenaded by a choir of angels chanting heavenly arias as you behold the manna of South Africa...

The Spread

Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Pizza from Panorotti's in the mall...I CANNOT explain how gooood this was!

Appetizers from Moyo's

The best chips in the world! I forgot to buy the season salt they used...DANGIT!

Malva Pudding...give me a moment

Leg of Lamb from Poplars...I don't really like Lamb but it's still noteworthy

Hake...like the catfish of S.A. but much cleaner.
In addition with jet lag, spiritual lag and missing the people, the food ooooh the food was so hard to leave...nothing here tastes the same.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sari I'm not NDN

I went shopping last weekend with my dear friend and partner in crime Angie. She's abandoning me for matrimonial bliss on July 25th and for some reason I thought it was next summer. I was trying to delay this for another year. When I realized that it was July 2009 I broke down in tears and Angie told me to stop because I embarassing her :-) Her fiance is simply a God-send. I can't begin to tell you what an answer to prayer he and his family is to her...Here's a tidbit...getting his PhD in Theology in December & graduating from medical school this summer. Yeah, the Lord did His thing big time! Here are our adventures in wedding shopping and fellowshipping. I love this girl!

We always have 2 take a myriad of these poses because I am horrible at centering.

At church the NDN's call me "black woman" in malayam but they don't know que yo comprende.

This so much more interesting than buying a boring white wedding dress.

How beautiful! Sari for Aunty!

Yeah so I've pretty much decided a wedding sari is the way to go. I hope my family doesn't mind.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Holy Foot Fetish

I'm not particulary fond of feet. I think God put them at the lowest point of our bodies for good reason. However, these feet are beautiful & noteworthy. These are the feet of the men and women that I served with in CapeTown and I adore these feet for they tirelessly carried the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I traversed the Book of Kings chapter 19 and sat with the prophet Elijah as he told me his story. There were several things that came to light in my study that I hadn't noticed before. One was when he was running from Jezebel for his life he ran from Mt. Carmel to Mt. Sinai wanting to just die. He was emotionally and spiritually spent. This wasn't a lap around the neighborhood folks. We're talking over 300 miles. He meet the Lord on the same Mt. Sinai that his ancestor Moses did and the Lord comforted and reassured him. Then the Lord said go back the way you came...(I don't know whether to insert a tehee or a tear here). Elijah went though. This was a serious walk in the wilderness...not a darn thing figurative about it. Carrying the Gospel boldly is not always supported with pomp and circumstance. It can be long, lonely and upsetting. But oh how beautiful are those feet that not only carry the gospel but carry us to meet with the Lord.