Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day 2: Handbreaths

When it rains all the world seems a little smaller. 

A little more claustrophobic. 


The world shrinks with each raindrop instead of each raindrop shrinking into puddles and oceans and rivers and soaked coats walking around.  And we all shy away from the streets and avoid the puddles like the Wicked Witch of the West melting.  We don’t enjoy a closet-sized world.

Maybe it’s because we are more apt to notice the world for what the world really is.  But what are we focusing on?

There’s a rose sitting on a windowsill.  Sitting like you and me.  Stem for feet bent into the waters like time spent out on a dock not wanting to dive straight in.  So we sit there.  Swinging feet back and forth, crossed, skimming the water’s surface, barely submerging our toes.  There’s always the shock of the water being too cold even on July’s hundred-degree days.  The world could boil over and we’d still shiver at the thought of diving straight into the pool.

In all her Mother Nature patience the rose waits there, on that old windowsill, for a little light to break from the heavens.  She never speaks.  She barely moves.  She simply remains half sunk in a bottle of water.  Her petals could be plucked but I’d still not know if I were in love or not.  Because I don’t think love relies on chance, but nevertheless love is a chance that we must all take at some point in our life.

“She loves me not.”  I don’t think that’s true, but I’ll pluck the rose petal anyways.  Because I’m wanting to get onto the “She loves me” bit.  So I must work through my indecision weighing the pros and cons.  And weighing them so quickly that the list doesn’t amount to much beside the shallow surface of all that I barely know she is.  Though what can my lack of knowledge bring?

“She loves me not.”

It only furthers my indecision.  Like I’ve come upon a brick wall blocking me from moving forward.  And that brick wall is an arm’s reach taller than me.  So I jump.  And I swing at the ledge.  Fingertips clasping a road-rash-capable surface.  Soon, sure enough, they’ll begin to bleed because I can’t hold myself up.  So I fall.  And the wall grows.  When I walk to the side it extends further.  It won’t allow me to see what’s on the other side. 

Love is my own Great Wall.  It runs for miles and miles and stretches higher than the heavens.  It doesn’t matter how much I struggle to see the other side.  I can’t. 

Even though I want to know her more, I can’t.  Phone lines don’t tell me her history.  They don’t let me watch her life in rewind, pause, playback again and start at the beginning.  I could call and I could call and I could call, but our conversations always start with “Hellos” like it’s the first time we met and end with “Goodbyes” like we’ll never meet again. 

Then I pluck another, and “She loves me.” 

But the wall is still two feet too high and three feet too wide.  I can’t see her.  I can’t know her.

But I can still love her?

Pluck another. Pluck once more.  And soon that rose wouldn’t be that rose in the old windowsill.  It would be a stem, a weed.  How can we possibly justify taking guesses for what love might bring?  How can we prune the edges of love by chance of “She loves me” or “She loves me not”? 

Love doesn’t make sense.  But one thing it does, is it waits.  It waits for that hole in the sky to appear.  For that light to filter through.  And luckily, that rose got placed on a windowsill where it can take in what little life it might know.  Breathe what stale air there might be with a window closed.  Too cold in February.  The wind is dictated by the swing of the front door.  Gusts pushed round the room upon entering.  But air, regardless.  So heart beats and breaths.  And petals on stems, in full bloom, breathing it all in.

Behold, you have made my days a few


(Psalm 39:5)

I breathe in the rain.  Breathe in the mix of fire chimney smoke, crackling inching embers nearing ends and warming houses along with whisps winds whispering gusting gaining speeds and showing storms in small amounts as though it were flexing.

The world is small when it rains.  So small that Creation’s details are as art in a gallery.  New exhibitions open.  No cover charge.  Just our natural tendency to understand the world a little better when all is boxed up a little more.  But that tendency always surprises us like it were a natural responsibility to be more intimately connected with Creation.

And it’s in moments like these, moments when I can’t help but notice a simple rose simply sitting on a windowsill, that I ask my God:

“O Lord, make me know my end

     and what is the measure of my days;

     let me know how fleeting I am!

Behold, you have made my days a few


     and my lifetime is as nothing before


Surely all mankind stands as a mere


(Psalm 39:4-5)

Because when the world is smaller I tend to be more introspective.

I pray that you evaluate your life.  That you see the beauty which may be sitting right behind you on a windowsill.  And know that love is a chance worth taking.

Then go for a walk in the rain.  And intimately enjoy the world around you. 

Breathe it all in. 


Do it again.   

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Confession XLXIX

The coastal roads dive with the waves.  They crash going right and left and this way and that.  They merge pavement with light.  They blur.  Reflector passing onto reflector hinting that there’s a trail, which even leads travelers home in darkness.  They follow cliffs and follow stars and cut through February airs with little ease.  They drive on with no drivers driving on them.   

And a carousel of lights spins round giants in the air.  Zigzagging lights blinking fast and slow depending on a driver’s speed.  But speeds are always slow at night.  There’s no rush home.  No rush to any destination.  Only below 30s mimicking colds and their frozen bogs or what’s left of the skating ice. 

So pop your collar to hide the chills from your neck.  And rewind the song like it’s an old cassette tape so you can hear your favorite lyrics again.  Then find yourself not in the light anymore. 

She sings while the piano plays.  And you’re struck by the chord.  Staring off to figure out how life as a tire might be.  Going round and around, spinning pedals pushing harder to the floor to spinning faster and faster and faster some more.  Till you find yourself back in the light.

It’s like quick glimpses between sun and naught, moon and dark or any apparent opposition.

But you’re drawn to both, like a film that never ceases to reel the picture forward on the screen.  You’re drawn to progression as it swerves and licks the corners of the road making your heart stop when you look down that cliff to the ocean bed.  And you doze off.  And your head nods, neither yes nor no, just the indecision between sleep and wake.  And its accompanying necessity to drive one more mile till whatever destination you have in mind is reached. 

It’s then that you realize you’re playing in a silver screen.  The kind that continues on after the credits stop rolling.  The kind that brings you back home at night imaging the next scene.  You play it out in your head.  You say the lines as your prayers beside your bed.  Knelt down before your God.  Moon through the window.  Blinds left open.  Eyes shut.  All alone in your room.  Mystifying the night like Odyssey’s and Hercules’ and all fantasies from the heavens. 

You are as Mars fighting for his one love.  Battling against armies numbering the sands of Dover Beach.  Overwhelmed and at your last edge.  Ocean foam circling your feet.  Coursing tides molding your last steps.  Fighting cowardice.  Fighting your heart.  Fighting all of life just to stay alive.

You cycle through every emotion till all escapes you, till you find yourself gazing into flashing reflectors outlining the column you drive in.  They blink.  And blink.  Blink, blink with less pause. 

The lights above flash, blurry flashes, like old cameras leaving smoke residue in the air.  Foggy photos.  Moments caught slow but continuous.  You string them together like pulling elastics over the tops of each telephone pole making some geometric shape.  But be careful how far you stretch the elastic.  It might break.  Snap.  Shoot the moon.  And make the coastal drive home that much more memorable. 

Will you really remember this moment?

Or will you just stay lost in it?

Unfortunately we don’t last that long when it comes to holding time in an hourglass.  Because even hourglasses constantly drip sand for sand grains.  One after the other.  Slipping faster than second for second, counting the most miniscule of time increments like a second is the smallest conceivable idea for time we understand. 

I drove that coastal road home last night.  I caressed every curve.  I jump-roped the hills and broke keeping from losing control.  Driving down.  Driving down.  Down in and out of light and dark then back and forth till I noticed the reel as a series of still photographs strung together in some purposeful way.

And sometimes the purpose doesn’t matter because you’re not focused on the still frames.  You’re looking at the moving picture as a whole.  Trying to figure out the grand scope of your life as you drift in and out of the night.  But it’s not even the understanding of life that we’re concerned with.

We merely enjoy the moment for the moment.  And we drive on our way for another twenty minutes.  And we let ourselves get carried away as our body directs us home taking the same roads we always take home.  It’s like we’re a passenger even though we’re driving the car.

So we’re able to stare out the windshield and see a never dying horizon.  Able to hear the crashing waves ‘gainst distant stone throws for old old giants skipping boulders on the water and counting the number of skips. 

We’re able to enjoy the simple of life.  The little that God might grant us.  But that little is quite enough.

Better is the little that the righteous has

   than the abundance of many wicked.

(Psalm 37:16)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Confession XLXVIII

Tie your shoelace.

Sit down.

Stare at a sunset.

Let twelve o’clock be your new start.

Run as fast as you can as fast as you can as the world spins swirl wind-whirl passing stars on both sides upside-down right-side of the sidewalk out of the water whistle fall gallons upon gallons of rain collected storms and sunshine and picturesque models for life all strained through the same heavens into two-eye sight looking glass; it’s all about perspective.

I went for a walk.  Today.  Out back in the woods.  Walked on the last snows Christmastime left.  Slipped on the ice.  Caught my breath.  Fell down a hill.  Kept my step.  And regained my walk.  Out back in the woods.

I went alone. Left because I couldn’t let the day pass without experience.  Experiencing the day for all its fullness.  Or its full-of-potential, if you look at it that way since its fullness depends on your meeting the day to experience such magnitude, weight, burdens, relief; the day holds so much, but it’s what we’re looking for that we’ll get.

And I went looking for God. 

And I went to places I’d never been before.  Walked steps I never stepped before.  Left my house a way I never left before. 

I don’t afford myself the freedom to be random enough of the time.  I play by schedules and routine.  There’s always an underlying agenda to the day.  There’s never just me and the day like we’re two separate entities meeting up to complete what is only natural: living.

Wash your hands.

Turn on the radio.

Hide under the covers.

Stop to breathe.

Today I went to stop.  And I did.  Stop.  I sat on a boulder set off the road.  The sun glared in my eyes.  As I looked around.  Breathtaking.  Wonderful.  Broken brush.  Old trees folded like linens, but not with as much care.  Dead grey branches flung flopped over more like laundry still in its basket after a wash.  The wind never moved.  Planes in the distance.  Engines sputtering.  Cold on my neck.  Not cold enough to see my breath. 

Button up.

Take a step.

Climb a hill.

Find yourself miles from home.  And call it your home.  And find that you’re always at home.  And let life live as it was born to live: limitless.  Without bounds.  No fences.  No borders. 

Die when you’re seventy.

Feel alive the moment before you die.

Realize your heartbeat.  Realize your breath-beat.  Realize the sun beating down.  Realize beading rain on rainy days.  Realize beating your lethargy will wake you up.  Realize “hellos” and “goodbyes” as a never-ending cycle to your moving on, growing up, gaining wisdom, insights, knowledge, acknowledging that life continues even when you don’t continue on.

So stop a while.

Do something you’ve never done.

Check the box marked “Not Ordinary.”  And see what you’ve signed up for.

Commit your way to the Lord;

   trust in him, and he will act.

(Psalm 37:5)

Sometimes life doesn’t look the way you wanted it to.  Let me rephrase that by saying most of the time life doesn’t look the way you wanted it to.  But one thing is for sure: if we give over our everyday to the Lord, he will remain faithful. 

Today I took a walk out back in the woods and returned home.  It was simple.  It wasn’t normal.  And it was new. 

I needed a change in life and that change was a dirt road right behind where I sleep.  It’s always been there.  I just never ventured out back. 

We need to come to the point in life where we are aware of our surroundings.  And if we are not aware, then we need to adventure.  We need to explore.  Not for the mere sake of becoming aware, but for the simple fact that as human beings breathing some possible seventy year life, we need to live.  And how can we ever truly live if we don’t change the rhythm of –

Untie your shoelace,

Stand up,

Walk into the sun –


May you find God in a new way today.  And may you change your life if even in the slightest.  Then may you truly understand what it is to live.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Confession XLXVII

I did nothing.


He stood there slumped over.  His trousers rolled half way to his knees.  With frail legs for old stumps holding him up.  He slouched, bent forward by too many years walking from door to door.  He was no peddler.  No evangelist decked out in shirt and tie going from door to door trying to save a world from fire hell and brimstone.  He belonged out at sea centuries earlier in the hot beating sun chasing after Moby Dick.  Not in Boston with a chill that licks your skin and makes you squeamish because springtime is tempting, but winter’s still here. 

And he belongs better dressed.

And housed, yes, I bet he needs a home.  His lack for attire screams street monger.  His rolled up cuffs, his wandering eyes, his confused gait; does he even know where he is?


I did nothing.


And for a second I think I caught his stare.  He noticed that someone was watching.  Whether that someone was me or the hundreds of others walking into City Place.  It’s then that I was judged.  Then that I was caught apathetic.  Then that I was caught indifferent, save my sympathy.  Then that I was caught in a selfish adultery where I chose to walk through the Starbucks door, buy my black Americano, and proceed to walk away with only one thought in my head:

“Why didn’t I do anything?”


That man wasn’t there the hours later when I walked back to City Place.  Maybe he found the door he was looking for.  Maybe he blended into a crowd of the housed and the homeless.  I don’t know where he went, but I know that half a day later I’m still thinking of him.  And I’m condemning myself for my pathetic apathy, for my criminal lack of care, for my infidelity with fellow flesh and blood, heart soul mind and God’s beloved; he is just like me, human and loved by God.  Now why can’t I love him just the same?

You read this and say to me, “No, no you can’t care for everyone in the world.  You can’t worry about every homeless person.  You can’t keep letting your heart break over the man sleeping on a street vent to keep warm during December.  You just can’t think on it as much as you do.”

“But I did nothing,” I plead and I plead and I regret and I guilt.

And you keep going on.  You keep telling me, “It doesn’t matter how much you give her.  She’ll still be homeless come tomorrow.  Why do you waste such amounts of money of them?  You know they’ll buy booze.  You know they’ll go back to drugs.  You know they won’t get the drive enough to sustain themselves.”  You say it like you’re shaking me with a breath pause between each word accentuating your point.  You yell at me, but it’s slow yells.  It’s like your convincing yourself that indifference is the only way to survive a sin-ridden world while you’re trying to convince me.  That sometimes you need to turn a blind eye.

And we argue.  And we disagree.  Because, then, why am I a Christian?

How do I claim Christ as my Savior, Christ as my first love, Christ as my one hope, and then not care for the needy?

How am I a Christian without displaying Christ’s love for the world?

My sacrifice of a few coins, maybe some bills even, will never compare to Christ’s sacrifice for my life.

Maybe I’m ridiculously extreme in saying that I failed Christ today by not giving to someone in need, but in all honesty, that’s what happened.  I failed my Lord and Savior.  I failed to love.  Yet, love never fails.  It’s we, in our display of love or the lack there of, who fail.

Because I did nothing.


May you love when it is needed to the extent of the need.  And may you never stop loving.

And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.  (Acts 3:5)


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Confession XLXVI

On nights black as these I wonder how I’ll ever find God.  God way up in the clouds.  Gone past Jupiter and all the biggest of stars.  Moons orbiting stardust, dus-ting split-second light trafficking from miles away and finding me where I sit.

Sometimes light in the darkness are far away stars, but that seems like enough to get me through the night. 

I can’t imagine constantly living in the light.  I mean, that summer daylight, the kind that gives you sunburns even if you’re out for less than an hour.  I was always the kid who slept with a nightlight when I was younger.  I don’t know when I kicked that habit.  When I let go of that safety net.  When I couldn’t sleep unless it was completely dark.  And now I leave the blinds on my window open because I like the natural nightlights filling my room while I sleep. 

I like the thought of being able to find God among the stars right before my eyes shut. 

Why else are those stars way up there?  If not to let us dream of playing among them?

So I will continue to take liberty and dream of where my God is. 

Dream of finding myself among those stars.  Of finding that perpetually perfect life. 

That life that continually chooses to shine, but only for a certain time after dusk. 

The kind that masquerades around during the day hiding behind clouds and sun.

The kind that sometimes stumbles out during the last minutes of a sunset as if to say, “This is how life is meant to be.  Don’t worry.  You’ll always have some sort of light to read your books by.  No worries, okay?”  And it’s those sunset fumblings that usher in a comfort for a night easing itself into another hour of existence.

So how can I not find God among these black-black nights?

Well, it’s all that we bring into the night.  It’s those last minute conversations with an overseas love before she goes to bed.

She let out a sigh and I could hear the letdown in her voice.  I could hear the way she didn’t feel appreciated.  The way she didn’t feel loved.

And she was tired.  And she said,  “Oh...I guess I won’t be getting any Valentines card this year.”  Said it running out of breath.  Depressed.  Like a sad-ness overcome her.

And I really had no words to say back to her.  No way to comfort her.  No little white-colored lies because what was the use?  Her card would probably reach her door late.  And if I send flowers then they’re not natural.  They’re some reproduced little cyborg monsters for flowers that grow on Dr. Moreau’s island all steroided-up so the arrangement can look exactly how the advertisement posed it.

Maybe she was tired, but I thought she was going to cry.  Thought I could hear the tears.  Thought I could hear her heart.  Crying.

Into your hands I commit my spirit;

   you have redeemed me, O Lord,

            faithful God.

(Psalm 31:5)

But one thing still remains: God is faithful. 

Whether we understand God the most when we’re standing in the spotlight of day, floodlight, high-beaming drive-by highway light or whether we understand God the most when the sun’s settled in for a night on the other side of the planet; we still see his illuminating presence.  We still see his faithfulness.  We still see his redemption.  It doesn’t matter if we’re staring into the sun or staring through a pinhole in a wall.  Light will flood in to even the most remote areas of life.

That is why those far away stars at night are enough for me.  Because they’re still a light in the darkness. 

There’s still light. 

That’s it. 

So bring to the night what you will.  Bring a love separated.  Bring a cancer discovered.  Bring a great wall blocking your way back home.  And bring the everyday emotional ebb and flow.

But just know that your God is faithful.

For he has redeemed you.




Friday, February 6, 2009

Confession XLXV

Have you ever played a song over and over again, till you just smile and want to play it one more time?  It’s one of those days.  I just keep pressing the back button till the guitar kicks its smooth elegance, then drums with a beat to make all dancing illiterate feet to dance, and lyrics singing “Wash away, wash away the sound of all these sad days, the sound of the wind blowing, say we’ll be here always” (Nizlopi).

And my beautiful sweetheart ain’t here with me.  But I’d play her this song.  And we could sit in my car right before the bay.  Watch the waves break from all frozen morning. Watch them through filters of reeds blowing, moving, how can they not be frozen with snow at their feet? 



Maybe we’d take up the two chairs that are just perched at the edge of the rocks.  Stolen from someone’s house like someone had the thought of the world being their house; like God’s creation is the only place to ever live, not houses as we know them.  We’d sit out in an open-air shelter so wherever we go in life will always be home to us.  So that no matter how far she is from me, she’s still at home when she walks to work, walks out her door, walks anywhere where God has already been.

We’d sit and watch the grey horizon grow dimmer with the day.  Sit and wonder how this far away, this – I can’t picture this future when I’m not with her, but it’s days like these sitting before the bay listening to songs over and over again, play: “Wash away, wash away the sound of all these sad days, the sound of the wind blowing, say we’ll be here always” (Nizlopi).  It’s times like these that no distance can tear me from her.  Because... 

The heavens declare the glory of


and the sky above proclaims his


(Psalms 19:1)

It’s when I’m sitting here, away from all the hustle and bustle of our modern society, that I’m able to see my God.  When I have the sun breaking snowy clouds and making me squint.  When

I stare off and see blues mixed with whites, grays, pales like some kids upstairs had fun out in their winter tundra building castles in the sky, with clouds for sand and sky-sands for pale-formed towers.  When I’m able to see the world as still, with trees barely holding on through the winter, but I bet they’re really used to this because it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

I mean – God is still God.  The same God I’m able to enjoy in the most simple way: when I’m sitting cold in my car, playing the same song over and over again singing “Wash away, wash away the sound of all these sad days, the sound of the wind blowing, say we’ll be here always” (Nizlopi).  It’s the same God who orchestrates life.

I mean – the every single little minute detail of the day.  The way I notice foot-tread snow with hole for hole leaving evidence of every pedestrian having passed by similar sites.  The way my eyes pull together the entire scope of this morning’s reality.  And how creation acts all of one accord like some secret unheard language whispered from plant to plant, waters to horizon, giving way to miles and miles; she is so many far miles away from me, but this same God is so many more miles far greater than all distance between me and her.  Because... 

Day to day pours out speech,

   and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words,

   whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the


   and their words to the end of the


(Psalm 19:2-4)

And I am able to watch the day evolve.  Watch God land a group of ducks and stir others to whist and whirl and spin in the air like some carnival ride with no strings attached.  I am able to see God in his perfect nature.

It is here in nature that I am comforted about every turmoil, trauma, trial, hardship, longsuffering, anything that really plagues my living.  Because it’s here that I see God and I keep playing over “Wash away, wash away the sound of all these sad days, the sound of the wind blowing, say we’ll be here always” (Nizlopi).

So today, may you look for God under the heavens and have eyes wide-open to his handiwork.  And may you revel in his glory.





( you are not far from me.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Confession XLXIV

I sat at water’s edge watching a sunset trapped frozen in waves.  Stared through the horizon.  Gone. 

She sighed.  Let out months separated, March May, she came in July and left before August turned October November new year, one year gone.  Let it all out like depression depressed, unpressed traveling back in time to when they first met.  And all the two years gone became more breath for the wind.  Her long sigh ended when she said, “Goodbye love.  Come soon.  Good.  Love -Bye.”

There was no trail to her words.  The phone cut all ties.  And their separate lives went on separated still.

For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.  He knows your going through this great wilderness.  These forty years the Lord your God has been with you.  You have lacked nothing.  (Deuteronomy 2:7)

If the world can actually look cold outside, then it’s seemingly cold right now and I’m glad I’m by a fire.  But if the world can look cold for other reasons rather than a wintry cold, then it still looks cold outside.  Cold because a love separated.  Cold because she’s not sitting in the next seat at the table.  Cold because I’m up while she’s sleeping.  Cold because – well, because I’m missing her.

And there’s this theme of trust playing out more and more in my life.  This theme of “Yeah, things will get better soon.  Things will work out soon.  Things won’t always be gone like phone calls – gone; time together – gone, where holidays aren’t holidays any longer and the everyday of life, love and God are here to stay.”  That sort of trust where it’s like, “God, you know I’m always up for a good thrill ride, but what’s with this whole long long line waiting?  And what’s up with those people cutting me in line way up there?  Why does that door magically open for them? and I’m here – here, still.”

Each one of those questions is rooted in this idea of trusting God.  This idea that God has it all sorted so I should just relax.  This idea that God’s in control and I should be happy with it.  And I’m not just talking about being happy, contented, or cool with God being in control of one miniscule situation.  No.  It’s a matter of constant serenity for life, for situation after situation, for hours of line waiting.

He knows your going through this great wilderness.  These forty years the Lord your God has been with you.    (Deuteronomy 2:7)

With you.  With you.  The Lord your God has been with you.  These forty years.  With you. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. 

I sat at water’s edge watching the seagulls fly in a roofless shelter. Silent.  Sunsets.  Mixing day tonight.  And night to moon.  Looked at how it all works.  How Creation constantly creates recreates, revels marvels, marvelously reminiscing and never missing a key stroke when it comes to progression.  I looked through a horizon and knew it works.

God simply works and we must learn to simply trust in his workings.

You have lacked nothing.  (Deuteronomy 2:7)