Monday, November 23, 2009

On Harvesters of Light

From church last night.  Pastor Dahlstrom showed a music video of one of the prettiest songs I've ever heard.

Notes on Acts 28:

Above everything, do not let your heart be hardened to the voice of God.

In spite of all Paul has gone through, he still emparts hope to everyone he comes in contact with.  And we can fully identify with Paul: he's us!  He tries and fails; he gets discouraged.  But he's a person of hope in his full humanity.

We're called to be the presence of the future, offering snapshots of the kingdom of Jesus.  We're creating shards of light.

We live in this tension of the now and the not yet.  The darker the world gets, the more opportunity we will have to shine.

The triumph of service over selfishness is where we're called.  Filled up with all the fullness of God, so we are able to give, able to serve.  "I am what I give."  We can still be people of hope in the midst of our prisons.

It all comes down to relationships.  This is the validity of the Gospel: in that you have love for one another.

For you to move into God's story, He asks you to open your hands and die to everything you're holding above Him.  You have to move into the life God is calling you to.  If you don't, you're missing the opportunity to do the one thing that matters in this world: to be light bearers in the darkness.  To be harvesters of light.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Matt and Kevin (3)

Oh Matt, where did this come from?

“Before I launch into some epic speech, why do these particular issues raise such strong objections from you? In other words, why does it matter to you that hypocrites are Christians? Er… reverse that one. I mean, as a non-believer, I guess I’m not entirely sure why you want Christians to be faithful to their own beliefs? Why not just let them, as you would probably say, fuck themselves over, and live a lie?”

“Because I’m surrounded by them every single day of the year. And I have been for the entirety of my life. And it’s bothered me since I was pretty young. But I never had anyone to really contrast them with until you came along. I didn’t know what it looked like to actually live a Christian life in a way that is congruent with Christian beliefs. It seemed like an impossibility to me. But here you came along, and I was like, ‘Huh, people can actually do this. Why am I surrounded by the biggest fucking herd of conformist hypocrites ever?’ And it annoys me. And I feel like this has to be kind of prevalent everywhere nowadays.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, in the New Testament, the ‘bad guys’ are pretty much the Pharisees and other religious leaders. And I’m pretty sure in our reading- well, in the Christian reading of the Gospels, you’re supposed to identify with the Pharisees. And Jesus is always calling them hypocrites, and white washed tombs, and dirty cups, and all of these other fun metaphors. And I think he’s accusing us of that, too. We think we have it all figured out, with our little Sunday school classes, and our memorized Bible verses, and our inspirational sayings, and our church socials, and all of this other shit we subscribe to. But Jesus is calling us to be radical, and break out of that religion and close mindedness and the tendency we always have to be a bit legalistic, and follow him, even when what we’re supposed to be isn’t so spelled out.”

“Keep going,” he pressed me. I didn’t need persuading.

“I think that this is why Jesus got killed. The ideas he proposed were so uncomfortable with the tradition soaked Pharisees; they couldn’t stand to be asked to step out of the formulated comfort zone they had been steeped in for their past hundreds of years. They weren’t ready to take that step. His teachings were too big of a challenge; they got scared out of their minds, and decided to just knock off this man who was presenting these crazy ass ideas. But what Jesus was teaching is what Christians are supposed to mold their lives around. Not the endless lists of laws in Leviticus, not what you should and shouldn’t do. ‘Love your neighbor, give to the poor, care for the orphans, don’t judge or condemn.’ These are our laws. ‘Forgive as I forgave you.’ This is what should dictate our lives, none of that other shit. The Pharisees were trying to play God, I’m pretty much convinced. They thought they were all awesome because they followed the law, but they missed that it was God behind the law, the God of love, who wanted them to live for him, not for the law.”

In other news, I just Google (actually GoodSearched) my title, and got this article.  After being very annoyed by the first half, I think the author had some important things to say.  And I love the poignant last line.

Monday, November 16, 2009

On These Past Three Days

Guys, stop loving me so much, ok?  I'm overwhelmed by it all.  This goes to Jill, Em, Hol, and Ben: without you guys, my life would be lacking much.  I cannot express how much God has taught me this quarter through all of your love, your constant encouragement, your hugs and words, your very presence.  Each one of you is absolutely amazing and my greatest friends in the world.  I love all of you so much, sometimes I feel like my heart is exploding.  Let's be friends for always, ok?  Ok.

Friday:  Rising early for the first time after two days of sleepin' in.  Sleepy Brit Lit class full of John Donne.  Curling up in my giant orange blanket with the novel, vowing not to go to UFND.  Calm Gwinnsy times.  Easy Animal Bio test.  And the promise of an amazing weekend.  Hide and Seek on the floor for an hour (almost suffocating in Taylor's bed, sitting in Holly's closet for ten minutes, listening to Ben's exclamations every time he was found).  Apples to Apples, followed by fellowship, followed by UP (and all the memories that brough to mind.  Also, every girl in the room tearing up).  Snuggles in Holly's bed, followed by an enthusiastic Happy Birthday song once the clock struck midnight.  Climbing into bed, excited for tomorrow.

Saturday: "Good morning, good morning..." A song at 6:48 AM.  Holly and Em being the greatest roommates me and Jill could ever have.  Pumpkin spice pancakes and hot cocoa on an empty floor.  We are so loved.  Climing back into bed (oh, the bliss).  A lazy afternoon, complete with lack of concentration.  Speculation and nerves.  Bananagrams.  Blindfolded in the toaster.  "SURPRISE!"  Everyone I love all in one house.  Oh, how beautiful.  Tacos.  Funfetti.  Coloring.  The smell of leather, familiar lyrics... Hide and Seek.  Friends.  Collapsing into bed.

Sunday: Sleep.  Breakfast picnic.  Christmas music.  Church.  Parents.  Coloring.  Pasta.  Books.  Cuddling.  Snoozing.  Relaxing.  Seven Passages.  Breathless, adrenaline filled hour.  Worship.  Writing.  No sleep.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Pies and Pints

This was a beautiful outing.  Meat pies and punk music.  Drink lists and sweet potato fries.  Escaping campus and reveling in high school friendships that have survived.  Tales of new friends, old friends, sporting events, theatre, and Harry Potter.
"How's this for a mundane super power: being able to heat the beverage you're holding to the perfect temperature.  Anyone?"

Saturday, November 7, 2009

On Matt and Kevin (2)

I am hellishly behind.  Still excited.  But the words are slowing down.

But here's this:

Two minutes later, we sat on the floor of the bathroom together, side by side. With his breathing returned to normal, he was twirling the inhaler between his long fingers, staring blankly at the opposite wall. We could have sat there forever, in pregnant silence, postponing what I thought was the inevitable. But that was almost more painful than hearing the truth. I clasped my hands and turned to look at him.

“So… about what you were saying before?”

He took in a deep breath, and looked back at me. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m at war with myself. And I’ve been praying and praying. And it seems like God is saying nothing in response. And I don’t know if that means, “no,” or if I’m supposed to wait, or what.”

I rubbed the side of his arm, lacking any comforting thing to say.

“I’m just completely lost here,” he said, blowing out his breath in a rush. “Oh, Jesus, where am I supposed to go?”

“I’ll come be lost with you,” I said, my voice small. He looked down at me, mouth in a small, sad smile.

“Shit, you make this hard,” he told me.

“I’m sorry. Is this struggle hitting you all at once, or have you been thinking about it for a while?”

“A while, I guess. I’m just confused. This was a completely black and white issue for me before. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Because it is sin, right? I mean, it’s in the Bible. God’s destruction…” His voice faded.

I tightened my grip on his arm. “I love you,” I said firmly. “Is that a sin?”

He looked at me with clear blue eyes, and slowly shook his head.

“You look terrified,” I said, trying to smile.

He shook his head. “I’ve never been this uncertain before. It’s a little disarming.”

“Someone very wise once told me that we are called to lives of instability and uncertainty so God can work through us.”

He laughed, because I was quoting him. “You don’t believe that, though.”

“So?” I asked. “You do. Maybe God’s trying to teach you through this. Maybe your understanding of the law is wrong, or too narrow minded, or too legalistic. Maybe he’s transforming your mind into the image of his own.” A wave of guilt washed over me as I spoke these words. I can speak the language of Christian. I know Bible references, I know clich├ęs, I know, I know, I know… I felt like I was manipulating him with my words. But I didn’t want to lose him to his faith. But I didn’t want his faith to lose him, either. If anyone could find congruence between Christianity and homosexuality that made sense to me, it would be him. He could save me.

“Maybe you’re right,” he said, voice small. He rubbed at his eyes with the tips of his fingers. “All of this thinking makes me feel like my head’s about to explode.”

“Exploding head is probably not the best thing. Take a break from thought. Want to go get some coffee?”

“That would be good.”

I nodded to myself, and stood up. Offering my hands out to him, he laced his fingers in mine and pulled himself off the floor.

“Don’t worry,” I said in what I hoped was a reassuring way. “You’ll figure things out.”

He nodded his head, chewing on the inside of his cheek, and we walked out of the bathroom together.

I was scared for him. I didn’t want to see him break over this issue. It was a struggle: I knew firsthand how much. You live your entire life, happy, blissful, close minded, and unaware, believing in one thing, when suddenly your whole person, the very life you’re leading conflicts directly with that belief. What do you do? You’ve done nothing wrong, but this huge gate with spikes on the bottom of it has suddenly crashed down between you and everyone you know, everything you believe, and you’re left without anything to grasp onto but the cold, unforgiving metal stinging at your hands.

It’s rough.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On a Smidge of Nostalgia

So, I was just wasting time on Facebook
(Welcome to the existence of college students),
And I ran across those pictures from Hall Ball.
You know the ones, of you and me slow dancing.
What an absolutely joyful time of remembering;
How I could scarcely breathe when you pulled
Me closer to you in the midst of the song;
How I frolicked on the side of the dance floor
With Holly and Jill, on the point of screaming;
How I could not stop smiling, pouring out my
Thanks to our God, for His goodness and joy.
What a beautiful night.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Matt and Kevin

A flood of words. I am so excited about this project. It's me spilling my inner most thoughts out on paper in the mouths of my two most favorite characters.

An excerpt:

“Give me an example of someone loving someone who’s fucked them over.” This is the question I posed to him one afternoon before we were dating. He was sitting on the floor of my living room, history book open in his lap. I was behind him, in a similar position of studying. I rapped him on the head with my highlighter as I posed this question.
“Woah. Where is this coming from?” he asked, turning half around. We’d been reading quietly for almost an hour.
I backed off a little from the vehemence accompanying the initial question. “I was just thinking.”
He nodded, accepting this as a completely legitimate answer. He thought for a moment, running a hand back through his hair (he does this all the time…). He pushed his book onto the carpet, and turned completely around, facing me, folding hs arms on the cushion of the couch.
“Jesus,” he answered after a moment.
“Ok, how about we pick someone who existed,” I said, scooting away from him, leaning against the back of the couch, pulling one knee up to my chest.
“No, just think about this for a moment,” he said, leaning forward. “Ok, you’re just chilling, living your life, and all of a sudden, people are plotting to kill you. They arrest you, unjustly at that, torture you, and execute you. But you still love them.”
I hugged my knee to my chest. “That doesn’t happen.”
He tilted his head to the side. “But it did.”
I sighed, looking up at the ceiling. “I hate it when you preach at me.”
He pulled himself up off the floor, and sat beside me, one hand suddenly on my shoulder. “I’m not trying to. That’s just where my mind automatically goes.”
I wasn’t looking at him, eyes forced onto the floor. He squeezed my shoulder, and I almost swallowed my tongue.
“How did your mind get there?” he asked.
“Fucking Bible class.”
“Oh, yeah? The “Love Your Enemies” paper?”
“That would be it.”
“Why’s it seem so backwards to you?”
“Ok, how is it not backwards? You love people who love you, and hate people who hate you. That’s how life functions.”
“But that’s so easy. Think about it: you have to put forth absolutely no effort to like people who like you. But not everyone’s going to like you. And if you can love someone who’s not to fond of you, that’s going to completely blow them out of the water.”
“But that’s…”
“Hard? Uncomfortable? Terrifying?”
He suddenly smiled. “Love it. You’ve got to throw people off guard, make them question, allow them to see the difference in your heart. That’s how change happens.”

I sat in stunned silence, letting his words infiltrate my mind.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Halloween

The last day of October. A day of wind and rain and blustering leaves. A day filled with sitting in a blanket fort, studying in Cafe Ladro, conversation with friends, costumes, episodes of Friends, dancing, tears, and words.

The first day of November. I'll share the intro to my novel:

I was asleep when the second call came, the call that ended my life. In that moment, lying in my brother’s arms, everything cracked and fell in tragic pieces. Cracks… cracks let the light get in. And light, it comes in various forms, in different hues, from so many new and unusual sources.

This is a shameless account of my thoughts, my words, my actions, my life over the past year. This is my confession. I make no claim toward repentance. I merely aim to share my experiences, and pray to be met with love instead of condemnation. I claim no understanding, no wisdom, no authority of any type; only a humble desire to love and be loved without the judgment of a legalistic religion, a close-minded town, a conservative family.

I live as I must, in silence and in honesty.

Here's to the words that will be penned, the friendships grown, the tears shed, the love deepened in the season to come. As the leaves fall, may joy soar.