Archive for December, 2009

Made the journey from Orlando to Columbia today. First official day of vacation. “Yee-ha.” As much as I don’t like to take work with me, I can never seem to wrest myself completely from things left undone. In this case, a long overdue chapter edit for my friend, James, which I thought would be done last Sunday. I aim to get this done tomorrow, come hell or high water.

The way up was relatively uneventful. I figured I may get tired on account of under 5 hours sleep, and eventually did betwixt Hardeeville and the intersection of 95 and 26… Snafu #1 happened before sunrise when gassing up and checking air and fluids in Altamonte. One renegade tire required air. Yet I spent the better part of 10 minutes trying to fill it up at the Hess Station—a battle ensued trying to get more air in than was leaking back out (Not sure if due to a bad nozzle on the air hose or a bad valve stem. But it would go from 15 psi to 10, then up to 17, then back to 15.) I started getting very angry. Feelings bordering on powerlessness. Then the thought came to me about checking my anger: “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires,” which as I look it up now, is James 1:20. I think I’d just read that in one of Eldredge’s books. And I gathered myself. What would ordinarily take seconds to fill the whole thing, in this case would add maybe 1-2 more psi. Ugh. Probably a nail. Better get it checked out this weekend.

Aside from the incredibly dusty fossil tapes to listen to on the way up (Forget slightly less dusty CD’s, or their Darwinian successor, I-Pods. And the tuner has been unreliable for 5 years now. Even in the city it’s not always reliable). Old Living Color, Bryan Adams, and U2–again… Somewhere between Brunswick and Savannah a car with a South Carolina plate passed me. One of the specialty plates that reads “In God We Trust.” Then immediately above it on the back window was a big Pantera decal. I chuckled. Nothing like God and Pantera together—that’s a powerful combo.

I did stretch out the journey, not feeling so rushed, as I really needed time to gather my thoughts, before slipping back into the spell that so often comes over me when returning home… Even as I consider my visit here in light of the real possibility of making a new start, it doesn’t take long for me to realize—that in spite of having little room to be choosy—I really don’t like this place. Not to live anyways. It really would take a change of heart.

Not unlike what I spent some time outside praying about—regarding the nature of the crucifixion and its place in our lives, in this continual cycle of death and rebirth. As William Bridges says in his classic work, Transitions, while most people think of transitions as times of new beginnings, they are actually times of ending—necessary to bring something to actual close before opening up space and possibility for that which may come in a new life. We fight this tooth in nail in our culture, though the ancient wisdom of others around the world have long known this before the Madison Ave Designer Culture that we created (fancy way of saying denial).

Tonight will connect with Michael Bush and some others for the Shandon Singles New Year’s Eve Party, apparently a nice semi-formal type event. Found out last year they’d been doing this for a couple years over at the Columbia Museum of Art, and he encouraged me to come, but I was gone by then. These are my Baptist kin. I’ll have to settle for iced tea or coffee over champagne when raising a glass. But I still look forward to it. A great way to inaugurate a new year—on a social note—as I look forward to better things. (I also heard there was an Ansel Adams exhibit on display. The photography lover in me may have to sneak out for a few to check it out, amid all the schmoozing.)

So what do I look forward to in this year? As usual, it is not something I give a whole lot of thought to, but as in my recent conversation with Greg Williams, who encouraged me to spend a few days both reflecting on the past year as I look ahead, there are a few things that come to mind: One is less wasting of time and more focus on those things that give me life. Now, so often an activity or day will begin with good intentions, but a necessary detail will snap up precious hours and rob from the better part of what I intended. I want to look at this more. I also want to be a heck of a lot more realistic as I dream. Still dreaming yes, and maybe even daring to do so on days that I don’t feel like it. But still relative to where I am (say as an underemployed single in Orlando vs. some Hollywood director searching for his or her next gig)… Moreover, I’ve spent so much time and energy in figuring out the “What.” I just want to take more small but significant steps to honor it, as in the past few months in working with Jamie. This will include being committed to a group of people. This is already happening at Summit. But the piece of employment has to fit in, too. Has to. Would love to do something like the Job Partnership class that René mentioned. Or even look into that organization in Thailand that Patty mentioned. Now that would be ballsy. And good dangerous work, too. Stepping into the lion’s den. Both would be in support of the downtrodden, bringing dignity and restoration and a voice to those who have been robbed and beaten down. This has not always been my natural bent, but it slowly has grown in me as I’ve gotten more in touch with my own sorrow and losses. And that is the gospel.

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At it again. Here—writing! Well if my life isn’t yielding immediate progress for my hopes, then at least I’m honoring their general direction. I take pride in my words, my voice. My contribution. My creation. It is after all the most godlike faculty we can possess—the creative impulse—which is perhaps why there is nothing closer to the experience of being like God than that of an artist.

Now arguably this could be said about just about anything: being a man or woman in relationship to another; being a communicator; being a leader; father/parent; etc, as after all, we’re made in his image. And if done with artistic zeal, so much the better—it’s in the spirit of which I speak. But perhaps nothing captures it more consciously, joyously, or in orgasmic concentrated fashion—with the full range of emotion (hope, fear, joy, sorrow, anger, ecstasy, etc)—than the one who creates. There’s just something about it. Taking these steps in a conscious and deliberate way that not only tests you; it awakens you.

I remember early hints of these experiences: finger-painting in kindergarten; in elementary school—particularly for projects in Barbara Woodbury’s class—the joy of making my own creation with my hands—colors, and shapes, and cutouts and pastes, and building of structures that began inside of me, and not just in my mind (though the original spark may have come from there), but from deeper beneath—inside my heart. En-theos—the Greek term from which we get the word, “enthusiasm.” And which literally means, “in God,” that we feel like we have God inside of us.

For those spiritually inclined who’ve embraced this concept, you know what I mean. And for those claiming more ownership for the direction of their powers (again, a very godlike quality), you still know what it means to be “entheos.” Like my very creative “I don’t believe in angels or devils” friend, Matthew. His joy shines through! Stamped by The Divine.

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