Sunday, October 10, 2010
This blog has turned out to be a once-in-a-never blog. I have wanted to keep everyone informed of my whereabouts and my whatabouts, but I have been incredibly busy the past month(s), so that original, perhaps idealistic, intent has become lost in the chaos of reality.
Even this, the first post in weeks, will have to be a short one. I just finished scrubbing gouda cheese and romaine lettuce off the floor at Panera Bread, and I am already late for a weekly theological and social conversation with a Mr. Jack Artois, a conversation I cannot simply ignore because so much of my sanity hinges on releasing my mind in some form, and Jack's ears have been a great receiver of my verbal and psychological garbage for quite some time.
I am writing a book.
Certain things have happened which have driven me into a writing frenzy. I have become somewhat of a recluse, hidden in cafe corners and behind closed doors, tapping frantically on a keyboard or scratching in a notebook.
This particular endeavor is already the longest piece I have written to date, even though I have only been working seriously for three weeks. Sometimes my productivity amazes even me, although my current schedule and social limitations allow a great amount of free time. And since I would rather travel to worlds in my head than wallow in a cloud of worry and despair--my productivity seems only logical.
The book is going to be a long book. An epic, even. It is already over twenty thousand words, and I have yet to begin the 'meat' of the story itself.
I will not give anything away, other than to say that it is one part The Giver, one part Lord of the Rings, one part Exodus, and several dashes Lord of the Flies.
Expect updates and journal entries at a later date, as well as a flash-based website once the book is closer to completion.
Also, I have recently decided upon the location for the next chapter of my life, and in the words of a song made famous by Wilbert Harrison:
I'm going to Kansas City. Kansas City here I come.
...............more on this in the (near)future........................
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
They are a part of life. Thoughts on them are often lonely and empty, sad and fearful. My thoughts often return to the disciples of Christ. We've read the account of their calling by the Messiah our whole lives, but I wonder if we've really contemplated what it must have been like to abandon everything.
Liles Henderson, a fictional character, is the product of my own contemplation on this topic. He is a modern version of a disciple called from an old life to a new--an uneducated laborer called by God to a certain task. He is a blue-collar Noah, an inarticulate Peter, a corrupt Saul on the road to Damascus. We are not told what the disciples were like before their election by Christ, so I have naturally taken a few liberties regarding Liles' background. I made him flawed, ignorant, simple. I made him well-liked yet unknown, quiet yet passionate.
The decision to base everything in dialogue, without tags or descriptions was both stylistic and semantic. Our speech tells so much about us, even more so when we are speaking with someone. I wanted this to be a very personal account of a man leaving everything for something he can't explain--something he doesn't entirely understand. I wanted this to be the reaction of his intimate friends, his family, his acquaintances who are all on the outside looking in, amazed at the transformation.
Throughout the New Testament we see dramatic, personal change. Many times in Jesus' ministry it was physical in nature: a leper surprising his family with purity, a blind man confusing Pharisees with his sight, a lame man shocking people with his leaps and bounds. Imagine if each of these people were asked to explain the experience, the source of their cleanliness, and consider, these are never mere physical experiences. The transformation of the soul is much harder to put into words.
What would they say? How would people react?
In the story (found here), I try to tackle these final questions asked in a small town in modern America. Feel free to leave your cyber-footprint in the form of a thought, comment, opinion, etc.
I love you all. Grace and Peace.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Cats or dogs. The preference of companions among humans is often the subject of heated debates. Some people prefer the docile nature of cats, others the active loyalty of canis major. Even though I like to claim Switzerland in controversial issues, I am not neutral in this particular topic and would much rather own a dog than a cat. My reasons for this preference are many, but the purpose of this post is not to divulge every one.
However, one detestable feline trait I choose to address is their stubborn selfishness. Before you take offense because your cat sheds angel feathers instead of fur balls, hear my argument. In my experience, cats have an insufferably free spirit and will resist nearly every form of training. If some sort of discipline is enforced, it’s as if they decided upon it in the first place, like a child choosing to go to bed five minutes before his parents send him. The litter box, for example. New cat owners immediately purchase a plastic tray so the cat won’t poop on the carpet. It’s not a training process, it was the cat’s idea all along, and the plotting beast lies on the kitchen tile contemplating where to place its excretions until the scent of pine breeze drifts from the laundry room.
This may seem like a miracle compared to the painful process of training a dog to wait for a grass toilet, but this controlling, conniving nature of the cat permeates every aspect of its life, not just where to drop the gravy.
Try telling a cat to stop jumping on the counter. Try shouting at a cat to quit biting the computer cord. Try beating a cat with a broom to stop it from scratching the furniture. Chances are the stubborn brat will look at you with lazy eyes and obey until you turn your back. My cat is fifteen years old. In all five thousand plus days of his existence, the table has been strictly labeled off limits, and every time he rebels we have shouted, clapped, smacked, shoved, etc. to get him off. Last night, I walked into the dining room after the house is asleep and the idiot is perched on the table like a king on his throne.
There is no fear of punishment, no desire for hesitation, no respect for authority. Cats do whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want, and if on some occasion you think you have finally crushed its rebellious spirit, wait a few minutes. It’s not refraining out of obedience, it’s refraining because it doesn’t really feel like walking all the way over the couch and shredding the fabric. Maybe in a few minutes. Maybe tomorrow. All in good time.
This is why I love dogs. Tell a dog enough times with enough force and you could stack fine china on a tower of toothpicks. Wag a finger and a dog sulks. Pitch your voice and its tail thumps the tile. Dogs have a memory. Dogs have a desire to please. Dogs are obedient, trainable, loyal.
Tonight, I went into the living room with a delicious bowl of ice cream. I had just fed the aforementioned cat and now prepped to watch the next installment of The Lord of the Rings. I set my bowl down on the floor and began to load the DVD player. Out of the corner of my eye, I see an orange mass waddling slowly in my direction. I give a sharp reprimand after seeing his projection would take him directly to my dessert. The second my attention returns to the television, his returns to my bowl. I wave an annoyed hand in his face, call him an insulting name, and slide my bowl once again. This continues the entire time I am eating. The audacious animal sticks his nose in my face, breathes into my bowl, sniffs the spoon and my fingers—all while I am trying to eat. This is not an act of flattery or cuddling. This is a mission to sneak a lick of Blue Bunny Strawberry Banana Frozen Yogurt. A treat dripping with sugar and chocolate syrup, which would be the death of such a fragile animal should I grant his wish. Curiosity kills.
I voiced my disgust in a fit of sarcasm, and my dad answered me with something unintentionally profound.
“Cats are independent,” he said.
Independent. This is the word I had been looking for. This is the word I had been replacing with “stubborn, annoying, selfish, disobedient, dumb.”
Immediately I was struck with the concepts of free will and human independence in connection with the Father. As I make the comparison now, I think about how very similar we are to cats.
I think of how many times I do something humanity has been commanded to avoid for thousands of years. I think of how many times I stare at a passage of Scripture, read a blatant command from God, and decide to wait for my own convenience. Maybe in a few minutes. Maybe tomorrow. All in good time.
I think of how many times I shove my face into God’s business, poking, prodding, begging, pestering for something I want without listening to the constant refusal and warnings, without respecting his knowledge and wisdom, without knowing what I want most could kill me.
I think about how many times God looks down at me and wishes I was more like a dog. How many times He longs for me to fear and love His voice. How many times He wants me to yield some of my independence for obedience, selfishness for loyalty.
Monday, July 26, 2010
There is a sort of irony in the naming of this blog. Contrary to first glance, it is not a spell from Harry Potter or the motto of some secret society. In fact, much of the inspiration came from my friend, Jack Artois, whose recent exposure to the Nautilus persuaded him to tattoo “Mobilis in Mobili” on his forearm. Translated from Latin, this simply means “movement in motion” and is the cry of a truly transient soul.
Keeping with the Latin (while also referencing my current city of residence), I decided to mirror the same idea. Those who know me know I have walked many different roads since graduation from high school. With the longest time in one place being nine months, my life has been anything but stationary.
Therefore, as I deliberated upon my time in Mobile, I regarded the city as just another dot on the map—a blip on the radar, a beat in the steady rhythm of motion. I made plans in my head, a timeline in my thoughts. I decorated my new house, picked out my new dog, walked the trails winding near my house in the mountains. My eggs were in one basket and hatching fast.
Those of you beyond me in wisdom, years, or both, know what comes next. You know of Life’s tendency to see our cards and bet accordingly. You know as soon as plans become concrete, the wrecking ball of circumstance turns them to rubble.
It may seem surprising I am just now learning this lesson, and be assured it’s not the first of its kind to cross my path. Several times in my adolescent naivety, I was sure my heart had found its counterpart, only to be surprised by reality. However, this is the first time such a lesson has crossed from relationships into the realm of my career plans. Every other decision in this vein: Italy, Canada, Bryan, Nashville—worked without problem or difficulty, a fact perhaps most noticeable in my time in Nashville. I literally packed my car and drove to Nashville without a job or a place to live. Within a week I had both.
Based on these previous experiences, I believed my time in Mobile would be spent choosing another destination and preparing for departure. I didn’t even bother unpacking. However, as March turned to April and became July, a slow and steady feeling of unfamiliarity crept into my head. Questions and doubts reproduced like rabbits in spring.
What happens if I don’t leave? What happens if I don’t find a job? Where am I going to live? How am I going to pay my bills? What will I do for the rest of my life? What happened to my independence?
It was the first time I had decided to do something—planned everything on that something—and then had that something take a train to Denver without so much as a kiss goodbye. I panicked. I realized I was completely helpless when it came to making my mark on the wide open world.
(Admittedly, there is something we call “The American Dream,” which says each of us can become anything we want to become. Each of us has the power to pull our lives from the gutter by our bootstraps. I cannot say this for certain, but I would imagine that if one were to choose the greatest examples of the American Dream’s fulfillment, one would find several instances where the dreamer was aided by forces beyond his or her control or knowledge. Charitable donors, prestigious sponsors, freak accidents, or other factors which offered assistance in the dark)
The realization of helplessness collided with determination and the two waged war for several months before I succumbed to a lack of control over my life. No matter how many hours I scoured websites, called principals, or emailed resumes, there was nothing I could possibly do to create a job. Sure I could increase my chances with persuasive cover letters, personable phone calls, and genuine hard work, but when the sun set I was just another pawn in the hands of the Master.
This struggle had severe affects on my physical, mental, and spiritual health. Physically, I was exhausted. Mentally, I was devastated. Spiritually, I was starved.
In God’s grace, He allowed me the wisdom to see only one of these areas of my life provided peace. I had come face to face with my physical helplessness so that route was closed. My mental health has always been fragile, and I would rather trust a feather not to float than to place any authority on my mental fortitude. Therefore, the only possibility of strength and stability was my spiritual health, and I pursued it with the fervor of a starving man at feast.
“Seek and you will find.”
Each day, God continued to give me a passion for Him and for His Word, and each day I found my perspective shifting from my future to His Future. He blessed me with friends who enjoy my company and encourage me to be content. He blessed me with parents who are patient and supportive. He blessed me with a job to pay immediate bills and allow for the occasional entertainment. But most of all, He blessed me with a constant reminder of my complete reliance upon Him for my future.
I would like to say this means I am without problem or difficulty, but those of you who know the Christian existence, know this is not a promise He will make. Most of the time, these problems are the result of my stubborn attempts to guess God’s next move and act accordingly. I only hope He continues to force me to a place of humility, a place where I surrender every ounce of control to Him. I only hope He doesn’t grow impatient with my interference and give up control to myself.
A farmer lived with his wife in the fields of Northern Missouri. Together they passed through each of Love’s unique and beautiful stages. The man was a bit quiet, the woman a bit stubborn. The man a bit wise, the woman a bit of a pest. Each Sunday they drove a dusty road, through dusty pastures, to a dusty church. It was the only time they rode together, and for good reason because throughout their marriage the man had never once allowed the woman to drive. Now, some might think this extreme, but he had his reasons. You see, he loved the woman more than he loved anything. He loved her more than the sun when it rose over the valley. More than the sky when it rained on the barn roof. He loved her more than he loved himself. And the man knew, if he ever let her drive, she would hurt herself beyond repair. She pleaded, cried, kicked, screamed, and cursed, but his zeal outlasted and each Sunday he drove in silence, listening to her rant about the unfairness of things. Some weeks she instead coached him on every aspect of driving, as if to show him she was capable of handling it on her own. “Turn here. Watch out for that car. Put on your brake. Go faster. Go slower.”
For thirty years, this continued until finally, for a reason the old man never admitted, he handed her the keys and opened the driver side door. She nearly fainted onto the driveway but managed to slide into the seat just the way she had seen him all those years. She shifted into gear, backed out of the driveway, and roared down the gravel road like a comet streaking across the sky.
They never made it to church. They never made it a mile. The truck veered off the road and into a dry riverbed. The man pried his door open and pulled his wife from the wreckage. She was alive. Her face was scratched, her arms and legs bruised. Blood trickled down her neck. The man wiped it away and held her for several minutes. Everything was motionless in the riverbed until the woman stirred in his lap and handed over the keys.
The next Sunday, the woman, in all of her bandaged humility, sat in the passenger seat. Silence lasted until they reached the second turn, when through muffled gauze she whispered, “You’re going to slow.”
I know this analogy isn’t perfect, and I am sure some of you will draw some ridiculous conclusion that I am somehow against women driving or against women in general.
The point is: I am the woman. We are all the woman. I tell God what to do. I scream and yell and cry because I think He should have done something differently. I cry injustice when I am not allowed to make a decision for myself, or when a decision I make is not allowed. Even though, in all of my life, the only times I neared destruction occurred when I was behind the wheel. In my head I know each second I am in charge is a second closer to my soul’s demise. Yet I still want control. I still feel some strange urge to critique His driving, when what I need is to sit still and appreciate the scenery.
So for now. I am in the passenger seat. We have stopped in Mobile, Alabama, and we will leave when He is ready to leave. I am very much enjoying the scenery, the relationships, and the growth of His Spirit within me. Foolish of me to think one had to be physically moving to be considered a wanderer.
We are all wanderers.
Far from home.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
A city on the gulf coast.
not florida. not mississippi.
there is a strange character to this city. a wariness in the inhabitants that watch alien things with furrowed brows and anxious eyes. people mutter to themselves when anything abnormal crosses their path, blaming youth, social progress, or wealth for the inconvenience in their routine existence.
The closer one gets to the highrises, the more one sees the starched white sleeves and pressed jackets of the business world. There is an invisible line they will not cross in order to protect their status as lords of the realm. Peasant dirt does not wipe easily from the pampered skin of royalty.
Architecture is unlike anything I have seen in person. There is the typical feel of the south, but not country like Nashville. The buildings are low to the ground and the abandoned structures await the inevitable wrecking balls of renovation and modernization. Windows are watchful eyes on the streets below, hiding innocent and guilty faces behind the same honest pane. The street is the stage and the audience gazes from balconies with excitement and revelry.