Monday, September 28, 2009

Love Thy Neighbour

So here is where the rubber meets the road. Its coming up on 1am. My neighbor on one side has been kickin' it to his music for the last 3 hours- it's the same insidious song, over & over & over, full of crazy bass licks & drum solos. His life is all about music & its a rare day indeed when he neglects to fire up his amp. In one respect, I can appreciate his dedication. On the other hand, there's still such a thing as common courtesy in this world (isn't there?!). Playing one's music so loud that it resonates through my furniture after midnight is NOT cool.

Then there's my other neighbor- an older lady who turns her tv up so loud I can usually tell which show shes watching. Lately she's decided safety is top priority & has recommissioned her usually dark porch light for service. She put a nice, bright fluorescent bulb in the other night & keeps it on all night long. Same said light is less than 2 feet from my living room window & lights up my entire apt! How incredibly thoughtful!

Did I mention I haven't slept well for weeks & at the time of my writing, I'm 24 hours deprived now? I have a nasty headache, my back hurts & I'm grumpy as all get out. I could go knock on my neighbour's doors, sure, but why? This has been their routine for as long as I've lived here. I usually don't go to bed till 2 or 3am anyway. Not a big deal normally. Its just tonight, I feel especially sensitive about it all.

I thought of being passive aggressive (my weapon of choice). Perhaps I should crank up some music of my own... or loudly rearrange all my furniture & wall hangings... I could turn my tv way up or keep my porch light on all night too... But that's not at all a Christlike response. Not even close. He might choose to confront them & ask them politely to keep it down... But you know, I think He would take it step further- He might even get Himself invited in to listen to music with him or watch tv with her... He might show them even more love than they deserve cuz that's what He does.
To be honest, it kind of pisses me off. I don't want to love my neighbours tonight. I want to make them suffer like I am. And why am I suffering, really? Is it b/c their actions are annoying me? Well, yes, there's that, but I have some responsibility in the matter too. It goes beyond asserting my own rights. This must be one of those pop quizzes... faith on the fly. Will this night really matter in the grand scheme of life? Probably not. But how I respond to it does. Will I be like Christ or like the spoiled brat who expected his "just reward"? Afterall, he was the one who missed out on the celebration of his brother's returning. Can this night- even if it means sacrificing my own comfort & "rightness"- be an opportunity for me to learn Christlikeness, love & mercy?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Three In Me

Tension lets the light in... shines down through the waiting.
Heaven's digging in now-
darkness is abating- licked up like a flame...
No more cutting out now! The altar of shame is a ruin....

I am a survivor, surveying all I see...
foraging for fodder to satisfy my need.
Obvious obliging gets me just so far.
In the end, I end up wounded.
Seems freedom takes more doing than I've ever done...
That's always been my cue to run.

I am two in one
one within, one among the faces.
You are three in one, one in me.
I'm following the traces...
I am two steps in, one step away...
& my days keep ticking off like a metronome...

Tender loving mercy like a hardy vine
clinging with its tendrils, keeping me in line...
Seven times I tried to run & seven I was fixed.
I was made to bear this burden.

All my senses steeped in sorrow
make me stronger on the morrow.
I'm fortunate to break & crumble,
fortunate to bleed...
It only means I'm closer to being free.

I am two in one
one within, one among the faces.
You are three in one, one in me.
I'm following the traces...
I am two steps in, one step away...
& my days keep ticking off like a metronome...

Monday, September 21, 2009

creativity as a byproduct of darkness

blindness. stumbling. sadness. fear. crisis. these are words easily equated with darkness, physical or otherwise. but what of renewal? birth? creativity? when i think of these things, i think perhaps of a sunrise or the beginning of something joyfully anticipated, new & inspiring... these words aren't often spoken in the same sentence as darkness. darkness implies despair or danger... its a time of interminable waiting. yet the sun seems to emerge miraculously from the dark horizon of earth each morning. a baby is conceived & forms in the darkness of it's mother's belly... its alive within & comes forth as such into a world of opportunity.

why should darkness always be negative? darkness, like a metal detector, seems to know where the hidden things are... they can be harmful things or maybe, they just might have the potential to be valuable. darkness has it's many secrets indeed.

i find my greatest times of creativity have come during or just after a period of darkness. it assists me in feeling my humanity- those bits of me that are so easy to shelve... eventually they bend under the weight & crash... i can sit there for hours or days, sometimes weeks or months, attempting to piece things together. some things can't be salvaged & are inevitably cast off. some things must wait for a better day, better resources. perhaps this is a project not tackled in the solitude of my 'closed-loop' thoughts. maybe this is something better talked out with a friend or worked out with a life change of some sort. crisis breeds some measure of darkness, despair, waiting. and then- just when i feel there isn't a solid piece left in me- eureka! there is the renewal, the birth, the creativity. light follows not suddenly, but as a gradual thing. it rises up from that dark horizon within & eventually floods me with sanity & hope.

no matter how many times i experience it, i still fear the darkness. i sometimes think i won't make it up off my knees this time... but i do. its a matter of holding on, having hope that it will reveal something worth keeping, something worth using. its not an easy thing, darkness as a muse, a catalyst... but its been invaluable to me regarding creativity.

darkness renders monotony powerless for me, anesthetizes it so i can move past... monotony is a sentry of sorts, guarding me, keeping me "safe" from the unknown... its a harsh taskmaster, forcing me to labor for the ordinary, to "make a living" while slowly squeezing the very "life" out of me. but darkness i've learned (while not a friend), is a sure necessity if i am to live out my days with any sort of purpose. it reminds me i'm alive, reminds me i can feel. i can "do" differently, "be" different because of the darkness that sets my senses ablaze, always making way for something new.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

courage & cowardice

a lot of people fear dying. i admittedly fear living. the thought occurred to me the other day that i just might have to live out all my days & grow old on this earth... that's one of the most frightening things i've come to realize about life...
but i have too much courage to give up. i sort of envy people who can give in to their sadness & surrender their lives to it- not that i think its the right thing to do, but in the temporal, they've gained their relief. they no longer have to wake to struggle, wake to their loneliness, wake to their innumerable thoughts, wake to their inane yet seemingly insurmountable obligations. in the long term, on the eternal side of things (& this is sorely disputed) they've committed an act of murder- "self murder" & have doomed themselves to damnation. but what if the person is a christian? what if they're so broken & worn down that they just give up? will God receive that one into heaven with the others who had just an iota of courage to live?
i have too much courage to find out for myself... something drives me to keep pressing on- even if i have to shove my dark bits aside to function day to day. part of me hates it, wonders why i can't just deal... wonders why i can't just give up like some. another part of me knows elusion is necessary for sanity, survival, for keeping the peace between me & the outside world. this too, is temporal & a relief not easily gained or experienced in full.
courage has become my enemy, lifting its sword & jabbing me at every turn... when i go to find refuge in the darkness, there is courage. when i go to find refuge in despair, there it is again. always courage. always with the sword... it seems i've gained more wounds from courage than cowardice. i admittedly fear living. yet i have too much courage not to live... i am a contradiction living in skin... bound to this earth, bound to sin. i am bound to darkness, yet bound to recover. i am bound to hope in Him...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/10/74

today is my birthday. its not particularly special to me. i woke up alone & made my own coffee just like any other day. i do however, carry with me the memories of birthdays past...

for whatever reason, i don't recall ever having a cake for my birthday. so one year, i decided i was gonna make my own & invite people over. i'd also never had an actual birthday "party" & was very excited at the prospect of having one. when my mom figured out what i was planning, she was furious. my one friend who came for "the party" was sent home & i got the third degree. i don't remember what was so wrong about wanting a party...
birthdays & holidays seemed to erupt in rage with peculiar regularity. they've become a sort of Veteran's Day for me. i wonder what i would be like if there was no yelling... if i had had a party, a cake, friends to celebrate with? sure, my mom & grandfather (& even my dad at times) would bring cards & presents & say "happy birthday" & "you're a year older now! How do you feel?" but that didn't necessarily convey to me that my life was anything special. a birthday, a holiday, these were obligations, not celebrations. its just the way we did things... and for the life of me, i can't figure out why. would i have been a different person if someone had gone all out & celebrated me so many years ago?

as i've gotten older & gained more friends, i've since had cakes & parties for my birthday, but the damage is done. i remember only the yelling... being most expectant of that than what i put on my wish list. birthdays & holidays are "just another day" to me- obligations to be tackled or avoided or downplayed if possible. i really do think this way- but there's something in me that knows that kind of thinking is bunk.

today, i think it would have been nice to wake up to a husband who offered me coffee & a massage, who would take me out to breakfast, who would celebrate my "special day" with me. last year, my best friend & i went camping for 5 days on a little known lake in the middle of nowhere. that was special to me. this year, we'll be celebrating my birthday on the coast. today however, is thursday & i have to go to work. this year, my birthday brings with it the realization that i'm 35 & alone. i'm 35 & only getting older. my wrist brace is cumbersome as i type. my back & shoulders ache as i lean into the couch. some phantom pain surges in my gut. i'm tired from a restless night. my birthday makes me feel like i'm one inch closer to the edge of darkness. this is a horrible way to think of it. and even though the yelling has ceased, i've come to expect (& expectation is much different than hope, mind you) a heaviness, a foreboding negativity that accentuates my worth (or lack thereof) in the universe. now that its grown up & gotten stronger, my hope pushes back against those awful expectations, but they're still very strong... difficult to budge...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Conversation on Security

T: "if/ when i achieve something, i cannot stop there- i must move or i
will grow stagnant, i will atrophy... i must constantly move, like a
nomad. i must crest one hill & then another & on & on.... in my search
for security, am i focused on the wrong thing? security is something
fixed & sure, isn't it? i'm beginning to think not. security is
movement. progression, growth."


K: hmmm, heady topic. there are two themes here, movement and security.
movement is necessary for growth - for everyone.
security is defined differently - by everyone. but we all need it and seek it.
for you - achievement is not the end, no. you are wired to never sit still it seems, not be happy with just existing. (unlike me) you do have to keep moving or you feel like you've died and you act like you want to die. :) but i'm just talking about physical movement, body movement.
i don't know what your idea of security is, besides taking care of
yourself - food, clothing, shelter. taking care of one's self is not a
stagnant business, i do know that. security is different things to different people - to me it's more stable and boundaried (not stagnant by any means) than it is to you. but we're both right.


T: i so want to be satisfied with achievement, dust off my hands &
have that be that! i was thinking about my music or my writing or even
my menial job at work- how i've accomplished such & such, & to others
its a big deal. to me, it means nothing b/c i am not producing new &
better things- there is no movement. my achievements are ok, but they
feel worthless if they aren't "presently productive". when i am
moving, i feel alive... yes.
security is knowing i'll be taken care of- my bills will be paid, i
have a place to live, eat, etc. i can sort of create that for myself.
but that is only one facet of security for me- there is another facet
that 's beyond my reach it seems... one i can't seem to touch, but
search for, empty without it... maybe its a security that says all my
doubts will be calmed, all my fears negated, all my talents &
abilities put to use. all my loneliness gone. maybe its a security i
have no control over- one that relies on a sense of community to
achieve. security to know i am human & its ok to fail in my quest...
its ok not to know all the answers... security that says there is
something more beyond this point...

K: i know what you mean about wanting to be satisfied with achievement. i
feel the same way. once it's done, i feel empty and like i have to
start something new to be proud of myself. it's hard to truly
celebrate accomplishment (i think). i guess that means we need to always have something to work on. plan (vaguely) to have another project after the current one is finished, which of course means giving definition to whatever you're working on, so you can pin down when it's "done".
we all need that security that we can't get for ourselves. it's the security that comes from trust (in others and in god). develop that,(trust) and you will be on your way. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Doodles


Doodling helps me concentrate. I'm a progressive doodler... I don't know what the object on the page will become. It may begin as a line, or a form. The line or form may disappear completely into the greater mass of pen strokes. Often, the doodle has no meaning. But sometimes, there is a subtle message staring back at me when I lift my pen from the page.

I drew this while listening to a sermon on God's love. This is the message that came with it:

"I have broken through & set to flame your stock... I will give you a new pasture without fences... you offered it to Me when you offered yourself as My servant. Remember."

I looked at the details of the picture again. There is a barbed wire fence, broken. There's a hammer sitting there, as if it had been used to nail the wire to the wood post... & there is a figure, stoking a fire. The burning isn't pleasant. It irritates the eyes, the lungs... It mars the light of day & the landscape for miles... but a day or two of of burning can apparently mean the difference between a healthier crop & a poor one the following year.

Yet the words "stock" & "pasture" are used, indicating the field isn't for harvesting, but for grazing. The figure in the doodle isn't burning the field, Hes burning the "stock"; annihilating whatever it is I've been tending. He promises to give me a new pasture, without fences... and perhaps that means new stock to tend... too numerous to be retained within a fence... Or maybe it means nothing at all. After all, it IS just a doodle, isn't it?