The State of the Union

Charlottesville. I wish this outrage wasn’t part of a pattern interwoven into the fiber of our country. That this was some tragic, one off event. But it isn’t. I don’t know how to express my sadness, anger, mourning and disappointment. Posting online can feel trite in such circumstances. The inclination of man to use names and stereotypes to remove humanity and ultimately justify oppression, violence and murder of those “others” so they can stand a little higher is no new thing, but that does not mean we do not push back against the storm that rolls relentlessly against us. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” The best representation of any society, I believe, is when we we look at the margins of that society and see how those who stand there are treated. Are we correcting oppression and bringing justice? Proverbs 17:15 says, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.”

But don’t listen to just me. Tina Fey has some thoughts as well.

A Vivid Dream

I was at an alt grunge EDM concert, but they were also performing the third part of The Pelleas Trilogy. I was there with my sister and a few friends I’ve made at church (I remember thinking it was not my usual concert going crowd).

I wandered around, immersing myself in the show as I drank from my flask. I’m talking to new people and I start smoking again (and in the dream, I got the sense that this wasn’t unusual for me because it was a concert).

I spot my friends and head towards them. They scrunch to make room for me on this hill and next to them is a guy I haven’t seen since high school. We talk real life, the nitty and gritty, about our struggle and how different things looked from how we imagined. Towards the end he said, “You’ve changed a lot too. You really believe all that holy crap?” I smile at him and lean against a wall. “I went through some dark times, Cass. I found Someone who brought me out. So that’s where I put my faith. Can you blame me?” And he mumbled no, that he wished he had that.

Apparently the concert ended and the sun is starting to rise. My flask is empty and all my friends are gone. We walk to his car and he starts driving me around looking for mine. I keep reassuring him, comforting him because he seems distressed. We finally make it to my car and he said “You’re unbelievable, you know that? You never realize the effect you have on people.” And he’s upset with me, about how oblivious I am. I want to calm him down so I tell him I had really liked him in high school. I asked him if he remembered the art trip and he laughed. All the tension left his body and he replied softly, “Yeah, I remember. And I liked you too.”

Somehow we seemed a bit entangled, so I carefully extracted myself from him and exited the car. I waved as I got to mine but he was already driving off.

My Surrender

Once a heart of stone now flesh

A gift bestowed on one You adore.

My emotions stir afresh

Into my heart Your love does pour.

 

For I know so well this darkness

That I give thanks for that which is Light.

Once trapped in a pit of hopelessness

I now soar to an unfathomed height.

 

It is here I kneel and surrender

where there is no pride or shame

my sin You bore on the cross

and my just punishment you claim.

 

Such love is wonder beyond wonder

such truth I cannot grasp

Your grace I can but ponder

your every mercy makes me gasp.

 

There are no words or songs

Of thanks for the freedom I now know

from the sin and from the wrongs

under whose weight I once bowed.

 

I nearly knelt before my enemy

Who accused and declared blame

But now I choose my own King

Whose sovereignty I proclaim.

 

For my name is written on His hands

and His on the tablet of my heart

and from one another

ne’er shall we part.

My Man, Father Mike

Father Mike has been dropping wisdom bombs in my life for a while now (via video; we’ve never met). I’m not Catholic but the wisdom he shares cannot be denied.

Loneliness can drive us to make really bad decisions sometimes; we fill our time with distractions, things and people to avoid being alone with ourselves. I think there is a difference between being alone and being lonely; the way we approach each of these can have a tremendous impact on the path we take in life.

Deafening Silence

We fear Silence

With it’s quiet reflection.

She is a mirror to our soul

our image illuminated by Truth.

She exposes the diseases of our hearts

Unable to be hidden beneath a made-up veneer

of false acts and hollow words

The tender of our world, not hers.

So we drown her in a cacophony of noise

in the weariness of constant busyness

Rushing by the state of our soul

To maintain the way we are perceived.

How powerful we would be

If we surrendered to Silence

Looking deep into her mirror

And receiving Truth’s revelation.

 

 

 

Gentle Heart

Gentle heart, you surprise me.

How did I not know your desires?

You begin to race at his glance.

I wonder what hope he inspires?

Eyes hidden behind a curtain of hair

I act as if I don’t notice his gaze,

Like he is just one in a sea of people

When his presence has me in a daze.

I try to stifle the audacious hope

that his heart beats the same as mine.

 

 

Class & Race Warfare in our School Systems and Loans

We are in crisis in America. We are so entrenched in our own experience and values that we neglect to heed the wisdom that has served as the unspoken foundation of our very nation: diversity. We fail to capture the diverse experiences possible within this singular country and it divides us. As I looked at the upcoming school loan issues, I hear people condemning those who take out loans. “The parents should tell them not to go to college if they can’t afford it.” “Why aren’t their parents helping them?” “They should have planned better!” “It’s their own fault!”

But is it? Or is this the result of how little we value life in this country (after birth, of course). What if their parents don’t have any experience in these skills? Or they aren’t even there at all? The United States incarceration rates are second in the WORLD (and the number that puts us there is still not capturing all imprisoned adults or any juveniles), leaving many children with absent parents being passed from caregiver to caregiver, or a single parent who is gone all the time working just to try to provide shelter and food.

But rather than acknowledge the tremendous obstacles in place and the gross neglect in caring for and equipping our youth to be healthy and productive citizens, there is condemnation and judgment.  A choice that is certainly more affordable and probably allows those sitting in judgment to sleep better at night. But most of those people don’t know what it means to grow up in poverty and rarely are they the individuals who experienced their family being continuously broken up.

“We have to start to understand that the young people we are working with have nothing of external substance or support. They have dangerous neighborhoods. They have poor places to live. They have little food to eat. They have parents who are on the ropes and barely pay attention to them. The externals with which American education is obsessed will not work in this situation…But these students have one thing that no one can take away from them. They have their souls. And from this day forth in this school, we are going to lift those souls up. We are going to make those souls visible to the young people themselves and to their parents and to the community. We are going to celebrate their souls, and we are going to reground their lives in the power of their souls. And that will require this faculty recovering the power of their own souls, remember that we, too, are soul-driven, soul-animated creatures.” -Principal from Allen School in Dayton, OH