church is not a building

It was Sunday. I really needed to see God through other people today. I needed to connect. I needed to feel the light shining through. I needed to feel the warmth of fellow Christ followers, of fellow strugglers. I woke up early, before the alarm. I put on my church going uniform. I was presentable. I was ready to meet the world. I was ready to experience Namaste. I go to an early morning AA meeting. We spoke of God. We shared our hearts. Our souls touched. I rushed out to make it to the church service. I have been looking for a new community of followers as I have been shunned by my community. It seems as though forgiveness is a lost art. It gets destroyed by judgement, condemnation, and division. Like many churches, it is easier to love the plastic perfection in a mask, then the live tissue of humanity.

On my way to the service, a voice echoed from the meeting. She spoke of a feeling that she no longer wanted to go to church. She couldnt explain it, and asked the question, “What is wrong with me?” I began to answer the question in my head. Not the one she asked, but the larger question. I asked, “Where do you go to experience Jesus?” I thought about the times that I have been secure in the love of God. There were few, but they were never in a church building. I stopped by my apartment. I couldn’t fathom visiting another church today. I didn’t want to be plastic. I wanted to feel Jesus. I stripped of the uniform. I dropped the act. I slipped on my vestments: bike shorts and jersey. I filled my camelback with the Living Water. I grabbed the bread in the form of a protein bar. I also carried my apple. I sped away to the Church of the Greater Outdoors.

Jesus showed up at my church, how about yours?

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30 minutes

I rode my bike. I was on a solo mission. I was fast, my lines were perfect. I never stopped pedalling. I went up and down. I turned in the sand. I thought of nothing else but biking. I was running away in my mind. I needed escape. I needed peace. I needed to be OK.

That morning I woke up crying. I flashed on the bird flipped in my direction. It wasn’t the first, it won’t be the last, but it is the one I will remember.

The night before, I got home, exhausted and defeated. I felt a little better after debriefing with some friends. I called 3 people to keep processing the information. It was a lot to take. I don’t know if I can do it. Actually, I know I can’t. God please help soon.

At the end of the session, I looked over at my teenager. She was scratching her eye and flipping me the bird. To make sure I noticed, she ran it under her nose. I ignored it. I was tired, defeated, and had enough. I ran.

The preceeding 30 minutes were the worst of my life. I heard my child, the one I read ‘Go, Dog, Go’ to a million times, curse, swear, and spew. She spoke of me rotting in Hell. She expressed distaste. She stated hypothesis and conjecture as facts, not wanting to know the truth. She announced that I was no longer her Dad. My heart broke. I cried outside. I yelled and screamed and stomped inside. I wanted to hold her. I wanted it to all go away. I wanted to say that I was sorry and I would take it all away. I wanted to caution her that there are three sides to a divorce: hers, mine, and the truth. None of that mattered. I sat silently. I took it all in. I let her hurt, hate, and fear. I thanked her.

I cried.

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this is…

Tell me again. How often I have screamed that in my head and my heart? Tell me again that you love me. Tell me again that it will be alright. Tell me again that the pain will go away. Tell me again that I won’t be swallowed up by the anger. Tell me again that the hurt will stop hurting. Tell me again that I am valued, appreciated, loved.

It isn’t that I people don’t say it. It is that I have developed the crusty exterior of a pineapple in order to protect myself. My head has taken control. It rationalizes feeling. It explains why and how to survive the pain, the isolation, the anger. I am stuck in the shell. It is dark and dank. The sicky sweet smell has begun to tingle my nose. I want out. There is no human way out.

Please no more. I have heard the cussing. I have heard the disappointment. I know I hurt you. I am trying. I heard the yelling. I heard the anger.I saw the flipping the bird at me. I felt the cold stare and the hatred. I panged at the tainted words and thoughts.  I heard the desire for abscence. I heard the icy exterior. I heard your heart break. I heard mine too. I also heard the hidden spark of love. I can see the glimmer of hope.

I scream, “Tell me again,” hoping that it will crack the shell. It echos in my ears. My head reverberates with the noise. My heart pounds fiercely. The pain is excruciating. The tears flow, the shell cracks. God reaches in and gently touches my shoulder. He tells me to stand and walk away. Is it real? Can I trust this? I am afraid. I step…slowly.

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to the pain…

 

The fighters had met before. The are often at odds. They know they need each other, but just cant seem to agree on much. One fighter is clad in all gray. He is older and has wrinkles that seem to plunge into the depths. He is logical, calculating, predictable. However, he has no intuition, no emotion. He is antisocial and really is as likely to fight as run away.

The other fighter is dressed in loose red garments. The wind rustles the clothes and they seem to pulsate. His cheeks are always flushed. He is angry, or excited, or impassioned–no one really knows. When asked why he is flushed, he rarely has an answer. He is young and impulsive.

The fighters circle. The stare at each other. They remember the alternating times of partnership and adversaries. The smile at each other. They begin the battle. They fight, they push and shove, they bite and claw. They want nothing more than to be independent of each other. The battle wages for days. They collapse into each other, panting. They know they can never be totally separate and have come to realize they are never fully alive and real without each other. The one benefits the other. Together they are a whole.

The fighters were my head and heart. I have repeatedly tried to separate them. I tried to live by rational thought alone. I tried to protect my heart with logical and predictable thought. And while there is safety in knowledge, there is no passion. I also have tried to follow my heart, to feel the wide range of emotions. The risk is a broken heart. The flushing of pain.

I arranged the arena. I went to referee and let my head and heart battle. I want to be whole. I want to live connected with myself, my God, and my life. To do that, I need head and heart. My retreat had a secret agenda. I would let them fight to see the strengths of the other. I would let one explore the others’ being. I would let them grow to appreciate the fellowship of the other.

The fighters left: arm in arm.

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are you?

Dang it, crying AGAIN!

I am not good at emotions. For a long time, I hid from them. I retreated to my basement (physically and metaphorically) and escaped from having to feel anything. There was a moment in my life when I was faced with the option of either feeling them and dealing with them or exploding. My sister was diagnosed with her cancer recurrence. there was no other options for treatment. It was nearing Christmas, and I was planning a trip down to see her. I would be with my Dad and all my siblings. I realized that I don’t know how to just ‘BE’. I was so used to faking emotions and hiding from real emotions, I didnt know how to be real with my family. I was scared and already missing my sister, but I didn’t want to feel that. I needed to.

The cork came off the bottle like a rocket. Tears flodded my eyes as the smell of the nectar inside assaulted my nose. My heart paused briefly in anticipation. My skin prickled. My breath quickened. My lips ran dry. I knew what was inside the bottle. I had seen it before. It was raw. It was bitter. It was delightful. It was painful. It was emotion. All my emotions. Unfortuantely, to address this new fear, I would have to open them all. Out they came. The whirled around my head, my heart, my soul. They taunted me, they comforted me, they beat my with a stick. I cried. I bawled like a baby, unable to hold it back. I couldn’t talk. I was in a group of 20 or so people I hardly knew. I cried. I cried. I cried. I felt a hand on my back. No words were spoken. Nothing. Just a nonverbal touch that said, “Been there, done that, and I am here. I am not going anywhere.”

That was several years ago. I tried to expres my emotions since then. I explored my head and heart vigorously. I thought I had left no stone unturned. Then it hit. Reality of a stone left unbothered. I lifted it like a kid exploring the backyard in summer. The bug scurried underneath, hiding from the light. The ground was cold to the touch. It was fetid. I knew I would have to dig. I would have to chase the bugs of discontent, restlessness, and irritability. I would have to address this spoiled spot in the garden of my soul. I fought against it. I didn’t want to do it. I knew I had to, but I had uncorked the bottle before and it hurt. I flung the rock over in a show of strength. I stired the sand with my finger. I hoped the airated sand would take care of itself. It didn’t. I have begun to dig. I know that I might never find all the bugs. I know the ground might always stink. But, I keep digging. The emotions attack me once again. I can feel the pain, the insults, the isolation. I hurt. I cry. I cry, I cry.

The difference this time? I know that the comforting hand is God.

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excuse me, spit or sweat?

I was remembering a time in college. I was at KU for my first year and went to a Frat party. I never pledged, never really wanted to, and maybe this story is why. I walked the street of the Frats, looking for a party. We went into a large house and were asked to take off our shoes. We did and noticed our feet sinking into the sand they had filled the living room with. I got my beer and checked out the scene. (OK, I was 18, I stared at every co-ed hoping someone would look back.) I watched an obvious Frat Boy walk up to a very attractive woman. I knew he was a Frat Boy because he was dressed like an animal House want-to-be. I never understood the toga and sand connection. After talking with her for a few minutes, he licked his forefinger and pinky, brought them to his eyebrows and smoothed out both of them at same time. He then made a clicking sound and shot her with both forefingers. I did not stay long enough to see if it worked. I know the move was in a movie–it may have been Anthony Michael Hall. I am not sure which one of these two stole it from who, but either way–not so much. The questions then and now flood my consciousness. Are slick and wet eyebrows a thing? I mean does anyone really say, “He was so cute, if only his eyebrows had been a tad moister”? Did this technique start as a way to fake sweat on your brow? If it is a woman catcher thing, how moist is moist enough? What if I have just had a Jolly Rancher and my eyebrows end up all sticky, acting as fly paper–do I still get credit for the moist thing?

I realized the other morning that I am still spiting on my eyebrows. I have learned behaviors and sayings to make me seem different and intriguing. I am developing a peacock tail to be brighter and more colorful than the next guy. The problem comes when they are not a reflection of my inward and spiritual grace. The idea of showing who we really are, who we really want to be is incredibly difficult. I, and I think men in general, have been asked to squelch our emotions, dreams, desires, fears and ‘get the job done.’ We have been told that ‘big boys dont cry.’ We have been told that being a swaggering idiot charging into a fight is being brave. Most of our hard earned soul and heart work is lost. We dont use it, there is no sweat on our brow from clamoring to be ourselves. We fake it with color, extravagance, and spit.

Our opportunity as men is to search who we really are and want to be. We have the chance to live fully into our lives. We can live fully into what God dreams we are. I intend to do so. Wipe that spit off your brow, lets get busy.

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Moral Kiosk

Thats it, isn’t it? It seems you are going along in life, trying to do the right thing, and you stumble upon the moral kiosk. It has pretty displays, and screams out, “Buy me, Buy me!” The tantilizing colors, the appealing sirenesque sounds, combine in a cacophony of delight. It feels like a circus. Out of nowhere, a man in a striped suit steps out of the kiosk. His voice melts over you. You feel swept away. You feel uplifted and supported. The lights begin to flash and your vision whirls. You blink. You are in the kiosk, looking at the passerbys. You feel pity that they dont get to see the show from this angle. However, you say nothing and look away.

The kiosk is the church. Not the Body of Christ kinda church, but the brick, morter, doctrine, structure that we call a Holy place. We sit in our pews speaking a good story about forgiveness, understanding, inclusiveness and then shake our heads at the ‘other guy’ passing by. We say nothing. We wait for him to approach the kiosk, so we can scream, “Buy me.” We decorate and put on a good show. It’s a circus.

It doesnt have to be like that. It shouldn’t be like that. It isn’t always like that. Remember the time that a person behind you in line chipped in some change so you could get that gum? Recall when someone went out of their way to open the door for you? Flash back on the guy in  traffic jam who let you in. We do church better sometimes when we are nowhere near a church building.

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red badge of courage

I went biking yesterday. It was not a stroll, nor lolligagging. I had some frustrations going on and needed to take it out on my legs and lungs. I am pretty effective at doing that. It was 93 degrees, and dry. I set the ground on fire riding the speed of light. Ok, I probably just warmed it up a bit. Thi trail goes up for about 6 miles, then you turn around and come down. Down is not easier then up. By the time I got to the top, I had succeeded in my goal and was all mellow. Hikers and other bikers actually stopped to ask me questions, and I answered in sentances rather than grunts. I was on a spiritual upswing.

I rode down and only crashed one time. It was into a prickly bush, but no one saw it so I am pretending it didn’t happen. As I reached the bottom and the trail flattens out, I noticed 2 boys with a bike upside down. I asked if they were OK, but didn’t understand their answer. I stopped and looked at the bike. the chain was stuck between the frame and the gears–CHAIN SUCK! I stopped to fix it for them and got to work.

As I did, the 7 year old began to talk. Now this kid was serious. He had orange lenses on his Oakley sunglasses. He had elbow pads and knee pads. I cant be sure, but in my memory the bike changed into the Rodger DeCoster bike I always wanted as a kid. He began telling the story of his crash that resulted in the chain suckage. I responded with similar stories and asked if he had any ‘red badges of courage.’ His slightly older brother answered, “He means blood.” I didn’t but thought it was funny and so said nothing. He hung his head and said, “No.” Then brightened a little as I said, “Yeah me either, just scratches.” He then showed my his road rash.

I grinned much more at the thought: “This kid will make it just fine,” then at the feeling when the chain gave way and his bike was ready to ride again.

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the truth is a lie

I have had several experiences lately where I have been told the truth. But the truth didn’t sound like the truth. It wasn’t the truth as I rememberred it. The truth was a lie. There is a kids movie where the line is “there is your story, my story and the truth.”

Big Boys dont cry. That one is a lie of dimensions. It negates the ability to feel and be whole. It says that hurting is bad.

We need to fight for peace. That is a lie of intention. It sounds great, but implies that the result justifies the means.

You are what you eat. A lie of minimalization. It denies the soul. It denies that we are so much more than the substances that make up the body.

Time heals all wounds: Time doesn’t do that. If it is a linear function, it just moves forward. If it is cosmically intertwinned, it moves randomly. Either way, Time doesnt heal. If the wounds are to be healed, it takes effort, skill, and maybe luck (if you believe in luck). That is for all wounds, mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. It does take time to work through whatever wound. Sometimes, merely acceptance is required. Either way, the rent in the body, mind, or soul will always be there. complete healing will not take place. But you can live through whatever it is, if you take the next step.

It is better to have love and lost, than never to have loved at all: There is no way to know if this is true. No one could have done both. his is a trite saying for people in pain from an ended relationship. It is no more true than when Tom Cruise said in some 80’s movie, “Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end.”

There is a paraphrase of the children’s movie, “There is your truth, my truth, and the Truth.” (OK, you caught me, I just made it up.)

We have taken Jesus, God, Sunlight of Spirit (whatever you want to call the Creator), and corrupted the message, or Truth with a capital T. We added doctrine, religion, exclusive thought, hate, rules, regulations, judgement, etc and stole love from Love.  I am a fan of Church Universal–the idea that a community exists and is growing, committed to a journey towards God through Jesus. I am not a fan of church, for the most part. I have seen Church in church, but not often. We get caught up in doing before being. We forget that until we have accepted the Love, until we feel the hurt, tears, pain, love, joy, and release. Until we have let the Light in, we can’t let the light out.

A good Christian would/not buy this product. There is no such thing as an evil product. Inanimate objects have no soul and cannot be good or bad. They can be created for malicious intent. They can have been held and used by someone rejecting the Will of God.

Our religion or way is the only correct one. Really? How do you know that? It isn’t possible. Jesus is the Truth, the Way, the Light. If one believes that (or frankly any claim by any diety), then man-made religion is a community of support (at its’ best). It is not a stepping stone, or path to Jesus. It gets in the way of spiritual progress sometimes.

God won’t give you more than you can handle. Yep a lie of misdirection. The actual quote is, “God won’t give you more temptation than you can handle.” The intent to strengthen a friend through a hard time has become a lie.

You should be perfect. A lie of expectation. Paul wrote this in one of his letters. It is one of the ways that Paul contradicts the teachings of Jesus. We can’t be perfect in the utopian sense. We have no chance of ever being perfect or flawless. The scars of our hurts will always be there. The wound on our sides will always be present. However, it is possible that what Paul meant was that we should set our path in a perfect direction. Sort of like heading due North. In that our direction makes us perfect in intent and movement. It would mean we are listening and obeying God’s Will. That would be great, however I have yet to meet the person who realitically believes that have a continuous contact with God leading them on a perfect path. (OK, maybe I have, but I didn’t believe them.)

God hates… It doesn’t matter how you fill in the dots here, God is Love. Love cannot hate. After the Passion of Jesus, we have been freed from a God that punishes etc. The New Testament in a new contract between God and His people. God can feel the pain of a child misbehaving. He can grieve a soul turning away. He can hold us as we cry from our wounds. However, we are His beloved children. And so is the idiot who cut me off in traffic.

The Truth does not lie, is not a lie, will never lie. The truth is a poor reflection of the Truth. It might even mean to be the Truth, but since it has gone through an imperfect lens and struck a flawed mirror, it will fall short of the Truth. The truth should only be used to lead us closer to the Truth. The Truth loves you.

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thought I would reshare this one

theranadamson

I have three friends. I hold them really close and rely on them frequently. They are not friends in the usual sense, in that they have no body and no soul. In actuality, I can’t even really call them friends in that each and everytime I lean on them, I end up hurt. I know this, I anticipate it, but I still lean on them. The problem with friends like these is they urge you to focus on the past. They taunt you with the mistakes you made and require you to bury your head in the sand of miscontent. These friends speak loudly. they say there is no future, that no mistake is forgiveable (well at least your own mistake). They blind you to the future and numb you to the present. Friends is the wrong word, companions? Perhaps, presence?

The friends I speak of are: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda.

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