ALMA antennas under the Milky Way

  • Have you ever wondered if God is real?
  • Have you ever wondered if your prayers are heard?
  • Have you ever wondered if your dreams, your hopes, your deepest longings really will come true?
  • Have you ever begged to be spared from a certain suffering, but then you weren’t?
  • Did you ever have moments or days or seasons in your life that were totally beyond your control?

Chances are, if you’re human, you can most likely answer YES to the above questions.

Life can be so beautiful. It’s full of amazing moments: The birth of our children. The day we made eternal promises and said “I do” and “Forever”. The day we accomplished something so amazing, we surprised even ourselves. The day we looked out to the horizon and cried because what we saw was simply beyond words; it was indescribably beautiful. You wanted to just freeze time and stay in this place forever. And that’s always when the first stab of pain hits you. Because you know you simply can’t. Nothing here lasts forever.

When I was a child, I thought like a child. Kind of like Margaret of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret”. I had the same prepubescent worries as she did. Will I ever even need a bra? Will I eventually become a woman in every way? Will a boy even like me….ever?  Does God exist or care about me?   Like Margaret, I wondered where is God more likely to hang? A synagogue? A cathedral?  A mountain top? At the beach?

But those thoughts passed, as did those days. As a child, you can’t even see yourself as a grown up, when you don’t have to feel so awkward or get your feelings hurt so much. We were young. We were naive. We didn’t yet know what we do now: Those were the best days.

Life would get more complicated, time would march forward whether we were ready or not, for what was headed our way. We were still at the beginning of our journey. We still had more hurt to go.

Sometimes parents divorced. Sometimes they died.   Friends moved away.   We outlived our favorite pets. First boyfriends or girlfriends finally arrived on the scene. But they quickly departed too, taking the first of many bites to come out of our vulnerable hearts. Sometimes we moved away or our friends did. Some friends died inexplicably young. In less than a decade we transitioned from girls and boys to women and men. By the time we turned our tassel, we realized some truths:

  • Life isn’t always fair.
  • The hard work of our lives isn’t over just because we graduated, it was merely beginning.
  • I’m not sure if I’m ready to be who I’m supposed to be.

We continued to learn more. We worked. We said I do and we had babies—babies who grew from toddlers to little kids to teenagers to adults almost as fast as one of those rotating doors in a hotel lobby.   From band-aids on boo- boos to full blown medical emergencies where lives are on the line, the days passed. From seeing many dreams realized and some crashed—all these things happened too.

We went to countless weddings, family barbecues and gatherings, and funerals. Two thirds of them were fun and full of promise. The other third, the funerals, many of which were beautiful, never got easier. They only got more frequent. That too made our hearts heavy. We knew where this is all headed.

Which brings me to the point we all ponder in life, especially in times of crisis? Are you there God? It’s me. It’s you. It’s all of us as humanity, but it’s each of us individually and we want to know are you there? Are you aware of me, in this moment?

It’s the question people struggle with at their core, until they finally decide to choose. Even if you make no choice as to what or whom you believe in, you have made a choice, if only to stay grounded in ambiguity, unsureness, maybe even anxiety and insecurity.

Don’t get me wrong. Believers struggle too. But deep down they know. It’s the essence of faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the being certain of that which we do not see.

Faith is truly a tightrope walk. It’s just like life—trying to find balance and not lose your head, especially when you are way out there, fairly far from the gravity of comfort zone, security, familiarity, easy street.   And yet you know, there is a safety net below. Should you fall, you’ll be caught before hitting bottom. It just doesn’t look like it. Or feel like it. You have to get your head and heart in alignment with a thing called trust.

God is like that. He is real. He is here. He is there. He is everywhere.   He sent his Son Jesus to catch us like a safety net, even when we’re way up(or out) there!

Each of us are so precious to him. He knows when we hurt, or fall, are sick, are weak, or when we lose, or succumb, or waver, or any other weakness as defined by us. But He knows differently; something we often can’t wrap our head around: His love is perfected in our weakness. We just have to be the willing Captain of the vessel called Self that will allow him to travel with us, in us, and pass through us in order to change our destination, and thus destiny by simply saying, not my will, but yours.

Jesus said in this world, we’re going to have some troubles and he was by no means exaggerating! But he also said to take heart, for he has overcome the world.   Every time I hear that, I rejoice a little more inside. I reclaim the parts of my heart that which is unfair or unbearable or unexplainable tries to conquer. The truth gets etched a little deeper each time. Because it frees me:

  • From having to have all the answers.
  • From being responsible for fixing that which I don’t have the power to do.
  • From focusing on why (the unfair/hard/unexplainable) of pain, and instead focus on the who I can trust with all this (God/Jesus).

We are not invisible to God. And although the universe is a fairly big place (science can’t even agree on where/if it ends and how long it’s been around), we are by no means small. We are not insignificant in God’s eyes.

We can look from the most powerful telescope billions of light years away and all we see are dots. But God can look across space and time and see us, every bit of us—our tears and our dreams-and all He can see are stars. We are His star, the crown jewel, the masterpiece of His creation.   Whether we are searching outward as far as our eye can see, or inward, as deep as our heart can bare, our heart beats strongest when we choose to simply be still and know He is there.

 

God is so big, He is real, and is involved in the details of our lives.   Verses (promises) that inspired this story:  Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Corinthians 13:11 John 16:33, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 46:10

Books I’d recommend to anyone who is searching:Purpose Driven Life

Search for Significance

0 MA 370Photo Credit: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

The mystery of missing flight Malaysian Airlines 370 only intensifies with each passing day.  How can 239 souls simply vanish?  As the investigation has changed from finding a fallen aircraft to searching for evil intent that commandeered this aircraft and where did they all go, the agony of not knowing is surely some of the most unimaginable pain someone could ever know.

I can’t even fathom the pain these families are enduring as they have surely been “all over the map” emotionally, logistically, and probably spiritually.  How does one keep faith and hope alive in an ever-changing crisis?

You simply get up and go on, trusting God in every breathe, moment, and step.  Sometimes you don’t even know you have faith or hope, until you look back and you realize that’s all you had or you wouldn’t be here now.

I have never experienced the depth of unknown that these families have, but the few intensely difficult, extremely painful circumstances I have had to endure, all in relatively short order, has both tested and strengthened my faith.

These are the questions we wrestle with whenever the intensely painful unknown occurs:

Why did this happen?

Did I do something to cause this?  Did I deserve this?

Could I (or others) have prevented this?

Where is God in all this?  Is He even aware I can not deal with this for one more minute, even more so, one more day? 

And yet you do.  You will.    Though time stops in your world, the rest of the world keeps on moving forward.

And everything in life is divided into two chapters:

BEFORE and AFTER

You know the moment this occurs, from here until the end of your life, everything else will be referenced by assigning whether it happened before or after.  I don’t know why.  It’s just the way the mind works.

I’ve read the posts.  I’ve seen the news.  I’ve heard every speculation imaginable, as have you.  But this is what my heart knows:

THERE ARE 239 LOST SOULS ON BOARD

My heart hurts because we struggle when we cannot know what only God knows.

It also hurts because each of these souls are so very precious to not only their families, but to God.

My heart hurts because I’ve walked the solitary path of unfathomable grief that only the bravest wish to hear.

My heart hurts because I know what it means to have to wake up with unknowing.

My heart hurts because I know life is brief; and despite our best executed plans, our dreams of how we wish our future to be can’t be guaranteed.

My heart hurts because I’ve known through harsh experiences, what it means to cry out to God to save someone, please just SAVE THEM.  It may be their life; it may be their soul.

Sometimes God seems silent.  I’ve learned not to mistake God’s silence for God’s absence.

We are not in control; we settle for a certain comfort in thinking we are.

Certainly, our soul hungers to know that those we love are okay.  Especially when we are suddenly severed from someone we love.  Like phantom limb pain, our hearts throbs with longing and memory and beats to the rhythm of hope, no matter how slim.  Wherever we are, we feel as if we are held hostage to both yesterday and tomorrow, barely enduring today.

Every time you hear or read a story, remember that talk is cheap and media can dull our mind if we don’t hear properly: that is to say with intention, not just attention.   The investigators have a job to do.  But so do we:

Those of us who believe, have a calling to pray for the souls of each person on board MA 370 as well as their families.  These souls who disappeared in the sky over a week ago are this: BELOVED friend, coworkers, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, beloved grandchild of many remaining souls here on earth.

Pray for wisdom.  Pray for resolution.  Pray for miracles.  Pray for the peace that passes understanding in Christ Jesus.    May you see this and appreciate your own family and life more.  Don’t leave angry.  Say I love you before you say good-bye.   Find, and then focus on what really matters.

Today I pray that God has the souls of Malaysian Air Flight 370 are in the palm of His hand, that they are in His perfect care, as the families carry on in courage and hope.    Because they too were/are loved.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.  Romans 10:1 

 U2′s  One Tree Hill – Auckland, NZ

Staring at the SunI’m not the only one
Staring at the sun
Afraid of what you’d find
If you took a look inside

“Staring at the Sun” – U2

          It used to be that without my glasses I couldn’t see.  Then I got contacs.  Both helped my vision, but 20/20 sight doesn’t guarantee clarity.

We live in a really busy world.  We know this is true because we spend the majority of our day learning about the news and one another because we watch it on a screen.  Our phones, our laptops—we’re everywhere in hi-def and in real time baby. 

Yet we’re blind to some of our real defects:  Pride—an intransigent intelligence that’s always right.  Fear—standing still because we’re  too afraid we’ll fail or don’t know if we possess the disciplined changes success actually requires.   Apathy—Our permanent chair of comfort and convenience reserved for those of us who refuse to contemplate improving our lives or those around us.

 Can you even name your blindness?  This not knowing, or worse: not wanting to know.   Maybe there is something more than what lies between both your ears and behind your eyes.    What is it you choose not to see?

We are all like the books some of us used to read.  Some of us are titled with names so noble or we’re wrapped in colorful jackets so beautiful, we nearly fall into the laps of those begging to slather us with attention.  Others are like nineteenth century secret tomes with thick, dusty matte covers filled with ancient wisdom and epic adventures lived, but never imagined by others.   And yet each of us still have blank pages left that have the potential to be filled with characters, and events the mind can’t even conceive.

In our endless attempt to know more, we’ve become less.  Our lives don’t tell our stories.  Our Facebook pages and Tweets and Pinterests do.  We’re Linked In but we’re tuned out.  Tuned out of what?

Relating.

Living.

A lot of things…..….

I know.  I’m one of them.  I want to be a writer.  And possibly a photographer.  It’s hard, dare I say impossible to get your name and/or work out there without wall-papering the web with your work coupled with a few prayers.  Noticed is what we aim for. 

We spend hours of our lives now, staring at screens of alternating distractions, hoping to produce something of lasting or intrinsic value.

Always looking out, all eighteen inches of it, but never digging deep, we’ve fallen into a state of perpetual sleep walkers.  No wonder Zombies are in when it comes to entertainment.   These high-definition pasty, distorted, pie-eyed  brain-dead creatures mirror us more than we know.

We’re all staring at the sun.  This never-ending bright sunshine of glass and buzz and liquid crystal colors mesmerizing us with news and trivia and useless information.   It’s crack, and we don’t know it.  Or worse, we do but we grow peacefully comfortable as we slowly succumb to the blissful addiction of avoiding reality.

Try to break free if you can–if you dare.   Find out who you are. To really look inside yourself, you have to step out of that comfort zone!  Turn off the computer and write your bucket list today.  Because sometimes later never comes.   Especially when we’re all so incredibly busy.  Busy, staring at the sun.

Seagulls

“Sleep tonight.  And may your dreams be realized.”  U2- MLK

       What is it?  You know what I’m talking about.  That thing you just can’t have?  Most people have something.  That thing. 

What is it?  Who is it?   Is it a place in time?  Is it an attribute such as being thinner, taller, or smarter?   Is it wanting to make real a memory of what once was and will never be again?  Is it a certain success?  Is it a conquering of something that plagues you or accomplishing a quest that drives you?  Is it a specific feeling, a way of being loved, respected, or admired?  Is it something you never had, but can taste vividly in your mind but can’t seem to grasp or make happen in real life?

Is it obvious to those who know you?  Or do you keep it hidden in a secret, safe place? Is it readily attainable, or frustratingly elusive?  Is it realistic?

Does it mean you have to change?  Or does it mean you have to change your circumstances?  Perhaps you first have to change your perspective.  Maybe you’ll have to change the way your structure your life.  Maybe you’ll have to increase focus and implementation your intentionsless dreaming, more doing.

Maybe there is a reason you don’t have it.  Perhaps it would harm you.  Or destroy you.  Or mislead you.  Or deceive or confuse you.  Or to come to you for a time, only to leave you wanting it more than you do now, an ultimate abandonment.  Perhaps you aren’t ready for it.  Perhaps it’s not the good thing you think it is.

Life is so hard sometimes.   When it is the hardest, it’s hard to be satisfied right here, at this moment in time, with THIS life.  

We learn at an early age that we are born to die.  We don’t always have the luxury of infinite time here to craft life the way we desire it to be.   We’re bombarded with media and messages on how to dress, act, speak, behave, work, look, love, and live in order to finally be able to get it.

But sometimes you just won’t.  You can’t.  And you don’t.   Perhaps there is an internal reason you can’t or won’t and you know you have to make really hard changes to make it happen.  Or maybe it’s external, such as timing, or something even bigger:  God’s will.

That’s a hard one.  Why is it when you do everything to make it happen, it sometimes doesn’t?  Why would God hold back on something you know to be good for you?  A source of happiness for you?  A completeness of your soul?

     Because maybe it’s not about you.  Ouch!

It’s true.    Life is not always about me, and what I want.   The pain comes in knowing you’ll need to figure out how to live joyfully without it.    

        Many of us walk around with a certain hole in our soul, but I believe those that overcome, even better—they thrive in the midst of adversity or even the subtle continuity of specific tribulations, are governed by a higher law. 

Grace.  The law of God’s unspeakable goodness is at work for you, and within you.  Grace is knowing it’s all good, or at least has the potential to be used for good in your life or others.  It’s all going to be okay because your strength doesn’t depend on you, but instead flows through you from a higher power.   Not getting everything we want, or even a specific thing we want never has the power to disappoint or destroy us, once we understand we are already gracefully loved.

When we frame our desires and wants thru the lens of knowing that we are already loved by an all-knowing, all-seeing God who already knows our deepest longings, we find REST.  We TRUST as we wait, and as we move forward, we can choose contentment as our perspective and feel joyful as we go about our lives.  Even when we don’t get what we want or as we wait for it until we do.

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
Carson McCullers

 “I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds– but I think of you always in those intervals.”
Salvador Plascencia, The People of Paper

“There is a space between man’s imagination and man’s attainment that may only be traversed by his longing.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

 

 

Autumn Floral Heart

And we can break through,
though torn in two we can be one.
I will begin again, I will begin again.  – “New Year’s Day” – U2

      A friend of mine recently told me she chucked her tradition of stating New Year’s resolutions and instead decided on a new tradition of focusing on a “themed” word for the New Year.   It’s hard keeping resolutions.  Perhaps because such lofty sentences feel —well like a sentence.

So she decided to pick a theme for the year such as MINDFULNESS, or RISK-TAKING, or FORGIVENESS.  You get the idea.  She’d purposely focus on a character trait she wished to see magnified in herself.

I like the idea so much I’ve decided to adopt the idea of my own.   Three words keep floating up in my stream of consciousness.  I don’t feel like I picked them.  They picked me.  Which is another reason to abandon the “make a resolution” concept, it’s just one more thing for me to attempt to control when in reality, none of us have as much control as we wish to have or think we might.

These are MY THREE LITTLE WORDS for 2014:

RECONNECT:  2013 was the most difficult year of my life, but it was also a year of miracles.  It’s ironic that God always plants the miracles in the middle of your deepest sorrows, hardest storms, and silent suffering.  But seeds of hope always yield good fruits when sewn in tears and watered in love.  I had the privilege of both suffering and miracles this year, but in the process I’ve pulled away from people who I know love me.   I want to find my way back.  I may not be who I was, but my heart is unchanged.  It’s stronger than ever and ready to reconnect with those I love and who love me.

Who do you need to reconnect with this year?  Do you have relationships that need mending?  It’s hard to humble yourself sometimes or go first in reaching out.   Do it anyway my inner spirit cries, even though it is so hard for you.

CHERISHI am trying to spend more time praying that God will prioritize my priorities rather than me setting the agenda.  I want to cherish real people not just cyber connections limited to Facebook.  That’s a hard one.  Sometimes it’s easier to just tap out a facsimile of a relationship than to actually flesh out a real one.  Real ones are bumpy, annoying sometimes, hurtful, and well—just very real.  It’s easy to want to retreat to our collective shared diary and catch the news and pics of those we don’t know that well and distract ourselves from taking time to know better the flesh and blood under our own rooftop and in our own neighborhood and even extended family.

This year also taught me that time is actually the most valuable commodity we have.  We can’t hoard it or hold on to memories; for nothing good nor bad lasts forever.  Time:  Will we choose to waste it, spend it, or invest it?  When we invest it in people, we are showing love.  We are giving the gift of being cherished, one of our heart’s most often neglected desires.   Whatever I feel I may lack, I pray God grants me the courage to give what little of it I do have away– be it time, energy, or resources.

       SPIRIT-LEAD“Not my will, but thy will”. That whole control thing in life is a hard thing to shake.  After all God helps those that help themselves, right?  Not exactly.  I do feel called to work, give, serve, pray, love.  But 2013 taught me this much, if nothing else:  Let it go.  Let God.  Which means sometimes we need to sit still.  Rest.  Trust.

Our own sanity is like a rope.  And you know what?  Circumstances beyond your control, coupled with your default emotional thermostat can be a deadly cocktail and you can reach the end of that rope very quickly.  Without something bigger than YOU, when you find yourself in a pit, or feeling misunderstood , or unloved,  or undervalued– well that can be a lonely place.  Trials across time has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt to me that God indeed exists, is good, and above all is in control.

      On that thought, I pray that if or when I am tested, I can continue to hold onto that last strand when hanging over a cliff with flames licking at my feet.

Yes, I want to be spirit-lead and worry less about the future, finances, circumstances, or the biggest demon of all:   What if?

          My head knows that fear is not of God, but my heart forgets sometimes.  I love too much sometimes.  I don’t love enough.   You’re probably the same.  And so it goes and so we sometimes suffer.

The secret is not to waste it.  Choose your suffering a wise pastor taught me.

      Reconnect.  Cherish.  Be spirit lead.  These are my New Year’s resolutions, my small humble prayers I shall utter each day, my big ideas—all planted in three little words.

Blessings in 2014 to you.    You too are loved.

U2 – “No Ordinary Love” — Video Download for U2.com subscribers.

Yep!  I’m a huge U2 fan. Me and a few other million friends.   They’re an extraordinary band not only because their melodies so easily latch on to our auditory taste buds, but more importantly their lyrics speak to a  much deeper place in our soul.  U2′s  music evokes memory and dreams and hopes.  They aren’t the pop flavor of the day, they speak messages of wisdom, if we have ears willing to hear.   A vision beyond visibility becomes a possibility when one is appropriately inspired.

I’m so looking forward to hearing all the songs that will ultimately comprise the soundtrack of Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom  Not only is Mandela a mentor and inspiration for Bono personally, but also he holds a special place in people’s hearts all over the world who have seen or experienced or are touched by suppression, imprisonment, injustice or perhaps are fighting for freedom and human rights.

Even if you’re not a freedom fighter who has taken to the streets, you may be a prayer warrior or encourager  somewhere in the life or lives of those who struggle.  That’s what Jesus did when he read these prophetic words from the book of Isaiah to the people of Nazareth:

“The Lord has put his Spirit in me,
because he appointed me to tell the Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to tell the captives they are free
and to tell the blind that they can see again.
God sent me to free those who have been treated unfairly.  Luke 4:18

I have a friend who for a long span of time wasn’t free.   For a time he was held captive internally by choices, as well as externally by unjust circumstances.   So as I wrote to the face of a friend I’ve never met until very recently, I reminded him that “You don’t have to walk around outside to taste freedom.”  You can get free inside first.  In fact, it’s probably a good idea.   And just because there are so many things you can’t see at this time, doesn’t mean you can’t have a vision of what life will look like soon, very soon.

This is seeing:   Believing what right now you can only hope for and resting confidently in assurance that God will use your hour of trial or suffering and turn it into something beautiful, or redemptive.  But it requires something of you first:

No Ordinary Love

Extraordinary love requires faith, being confident in that which you hope for and being sure of what you can not see.  (Hebrews 11:1) That’s no ordinary love.  Extraordinary love also requires sacrifice; it’s going to cost you something you value: your time, your money, your safety, your reputation, your safety net  or perhaps your freedom.  In some cases, even your very life.

“We can’t fall any further if we can’t feel ordinary love.”   Show someone in need some love today.     Take the plunge.  Give until it hurts.  Give with all you’ve got.  And even when you’re drowning in your own personal ocean of adversity and difficulty, remember you were loved first by no ordinary love,  so this pain you feel from time to time is only your heart cracking around the hard places until it becomes smooth as polished precious stones.

Don’t give up.  Look up.  Reach higher.  Assist the poor.  Minister to the hurting.  Forgive what seems unforgivable.   Show love in the name of freedom, in the name of justice and mercy, in the name of compassion, in the name of righteousness and then wait, and watch what God will do.   Perhaps if we each can show love to even just one, especially the difficult one, God can transform the ordinary to extraordinary.

May you find ways to show love today and be joyful in the anticipation of what God can do with just a bit of ordinary love.

POST SCRIPT 12/06/2013:  I started this entry about a week ago.  But I didn’t finish.  God had other plans.  I saw some miracles this week and witnessed first hand just how fast God can transform an isolated  captive person into a person being released into freedom and into loving capable hands.  ALL THIS, on the day Nelson Mandela has passed.  The world lost a true hero, a compassionate soul, and someone who fully understood  this truth: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.(1 Peter 4:8)  Rest in peace Nelson Mandela.  And welcome home too.  You leave a legacy of powerful truth spoken in love for the rest of us to aspire to.

Allow me to close with some wisdom of Nelson Mandela, who capably showed us light can chase away the dark and love is stronger than hate:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” —Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Bono Light IMG_6811 (2)

Let there be light!  That’s what God said when he first created the world.  But did you know, he also said it about us in Ephesians 5:8?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

 So what does this mean?  Does it mean live as if you’re a famous rock star and all the world’s a stage with the spot light on you?  Of course not; you already know this.

If you’re  Christian, you already know  just how dark, how shameful, how sinful you perhaps once were, or currently struggle with, or have the capacity to be.  That’s because our flesh wants what it wantsWe want control.  We want things, people, power or influence.    It’s the underlying motive beneath all our wants that determines whether we are walking as children of the light or darkness.

I snapped this pic of Bono at the 2nd of only three concerts I’ve ever seen him.  He was so close and yet….so far away.   It was taken with an ordinary point and shoot camera at just the right moment, a split second of perfect timing.   It almost seems like heaven’s light is shining down.

 But I know the truth.  Bono is only a man.  Nothing more; nothing less. He has made references before that he doesn’t feel comfortable if fans (strangers to him!) see him as a Messiah.  He’s clearly not.    Yet, he does carry a certain light, or at least seems to be perceived that way by tens (hundreds?) of thousands of U2 fans, and maybe even some people that aren’t even big fans of U2′s music.  

That’s because of his heart.  If you follow news about him then you know what he’s done to shine a light on Africa, and how he’s been instrumental in trying to reduce and eliminate hunger, poverty, political corruption, and the hopelessness these things cause.  You know he’s worked with world leaders in the political arena to bring attention and change to a silent suffering.  He’s used his rock star status to influence and to be a beacon of light—to bring attention to, hope, help, cure, and above all love at a time that clearly God has appointed for him.

He’s not Jesus.  But he gets it when it comes to carrying His light.  Yet it’s not Bono’s responsibility to carry it alone.  He’s a torch bearer.  He once sang, that “I’d join the movement, if I found one I could believe in.”    We live in a dark world in uncertain times.  But in a world of self-indulgent twerkers, endless me-centered  and copy-cat celebrities publicly showcasing their life of flashy material excess and simultaneous emptiness, Bono has been singing for quite some time to the beat of a different tune:

 A higher frequency.  This unmistakable calling of light.  The example of a love in action, not merely words spoken or sung.  He doesn’t just sing to us.  U2′s lyrics challenge us.  (“Am I buggin you?  I don’t mean to bug ya!”)  Kind of like Jesus.    How are you going to step out today knowing what you know of the world’s pockets of suffering?  Will you turn away in apathy?  Or will you reach out in faith  willing to risk  your reputation or security?     Are you brave enough to show goodness, kindness, compassion, or  mercy today to someone you don’t know or is hard to love? 

Truth has a way of showing us which direction we’re going to walk  in life. The incredible light that is ours simply by receiving.  This incredible gift of love that is ours to multiply simply by giving it all away.

So let there be light!  Because you too are loved!

glenn-gould1Photo Credit:  toomanynotes.org

      I didn’t even get to know you.  That’s because you died while I was in high school.  I didn’t even know you existed then.    You died a year after a boy I crushed on died. I never told because his time ran out first.   He was only 17.   He drove me to school for a year, but he had a problem.  And then life got way ahead of him at too young of an age.  More responsibilities than his young mind was ready for.  And depression, the black hole of the soul drives a person to do what they didn’t think they could do.  Perhaps you generate self-destruction, but perhaps for some, in their wake, you leave crumbs from your table for the rest of us–shiny diamonds of pure unadulterated genius.  And collectively we all grieve for you, even longer than you lived.

Maybe that’s where it started.  This incredible empathy for genius, especially the quiet souls who tread the earth with a pervasive sadness.  For me, they stand out like neon in a black and white photo.  You know the invisible ones you see feeding the ducks at the park on a winter’s day or having an argument with no one in particular at the bus stop.  Or maybe it’s the one frantically journaling (what?) behind a smoky haze in a cacophony of chatty coffee bugs at an outdoor café, or the painter who couldn’t straighten up his back because he was too busy painting the world’s most beautiful ceiling, and would’ve finished the sky, had there only been enough time.

The artists—you know the ones who cut off their ears for love, whose fear of germs or fear of being real, or honest, or perhaps fear of madness itself  keep them from the love they were designed for.  But of course, how could they be anything but genius?  The heart must exert its life force into something.

Yes, I found this picture of you in 2007 in the back of a Time Magazine (or maybe it was Newsweek).  I kept it in a safe place all these years.  THOSE EYES!  I thought.  When I first saw you, you had me at look.  The elbow, haphazardly aloof resting on what you know only your round-curled fingers have the right to touch, or in your case tap and roll.  Sometimes when I get blue, I’ll pull out this picture of you and think, why am I drawn to you?  I don’t know you.  You’re a ghost.    

I’m almost the age now you were when you passed.  I lived invincible, unaware then while you lay dying that someday I would be drawn to you decades forth.   I don’t have the demons you did, nor do I want them if that’s what’s necessary to deepen my experience as an artist.

But a funny thing happened.   A tragic thing actually.  This thing called life with all its mystery, and majesty, and sadness, and joy.  Hard things and beautiful things, things we think we can’t endure, and they keep happening, wave upon wave.

And then I think I get it; or maybe I just perceive I do.  Maybe we leave messages for those in the future with our musical notes and sounds, our voices, our pictures, our words, our paintings, our constructions, perhaps as a harbinger, or maybe a love note that testifies and reminds us:  live, live, live.  Breathe life.  In.  Out.  Live full; live well.   

   Yes I probably would’ve loved you had I known you.    And if these words for some reason extend beyond cyberspace and into eternal space, maybe you’ll finally know not just me, but many like me, and especially those who actually knew you, loved you too.

      All that you can’t leave behind.  Except that we do.

And as we someday walk into the light, I feel certain we’ll hear your music too.

And love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind….”Walk On” – U2

A fascinating look at Glen Gould — Genius Within

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu-sn8lNt-8

Where is the Love IMG_8531 1

A royal baby was born today.  A baby that will undoubtedly grow up in a fishbowl, his every move fawned over, analyzed, photographed, and reported as if it were earth-shattering. He will have loving parents to dote over him, a staff to serve him, a press that hounds him, and a fan base that will swell and wane over and over like the tide of the ocean.  He will one day rule, if only in the hearts of those that put people on pedestals simply because of pedigree.  Will he know what it means to suffer?

Also today, across the world and across two oceans, in Syria, a nameless unphotographed baby, like countless others before him this month, is born in a refugee camp, drawing his first breaths in the middle of conflict, a deadly war.  He will be on the move soon enough, already fleeing and hiding and struggling to live before he ever learns to smile.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed; it is only the faintest of hopes.  Hundreds of thousands of children sleep tonight in a tent on dirty ground not knowing whether tomorrow they eat or not, move or stay, live or die.   Families are broken, scattered, displaced, diminished, and shattered by wars they did not start and have no power to end. This baby of no recognition and no worldly significance,  whose sole purpose it seems is just to survive—will he feel loved? 

In Afghanistan, a village of young girls risk disfiguration by acid being thrown on them simply because they wish to go to school in secret.  An eleven year old girl in Yemen begs for death rather than being forced to marry.  In Thailand, hundreds of thousands of under age children are abused every year in childhood sex-trafficking and prostitution.  In America’s capital, more than 40% of high school kids don’t graduate.  Granite columns and indestructible walls meters thick fill up the entire epicenter of capital landscape, yet kids fall thru a broken system of family, culture, and community like water thru a sieve.    In Africa, hunger, AIDS, and death by Malaria still exists despite decades of humanitarian aid both government and private.  Why?

The world is on fire because we are at war.  There are wars on drugs.  There are wars on women and children.   There is war between social classes and political parties.   We are at war and we fight. We fight over land, food, politics, possessions, principals, philosophies, lifestyles, religious belief systems.  We fight over what is true.  Often we just fight, seemingly for no reason at all.  We fight because our rage over takes us.  Our inner evil is compelled to extinguish that which opposes us or our right-ness.   We are at war within ourselves as we easily love one person or group of people and detest another individual or group.  We exchange our peace, our righteousness, for a need to be right, a need to own or control, a need to possess or win.  We exchange love for a lie.

When you look at the world, what is it that you see?

There is so much fighting, and evil, and brutality, and pain and so much needless suffering.  And yet there are those small voices, the small minorities with limited resources, small hands, big ideas, and bigger hearts that risk death and dying daily, armed with nothing more than a sack cloth of courage and a heart full of faith trying, always trying.  They try desperately to feed the hungry, shelter the orphans, assist the dying, spread words of peace, trying their best to litter humanity with goodness and gentleness and kind deeds.

It is a world of dark and light, of yin and yang, a garden of good and evil.  But these days the weeds are rooting ever deeper, trying desperately to strangle the good fruits of human goodness.   It’s easy to despair as we watch the world around us all ablaze.  It feels as if we are flaming out, we’re burnt out, past the point of being able to care.

I say don’t give in.  Don’t give up.  Don’t ever give up!  Return to love.  Help your neighbor or whoever God puts in your path today.  Write respectful letters to those in power that can make a difference.  Above all, do not remain silent.  Use your voice to point out injustice, and to persuade others.   But then DO SOMETHING!  Use your hands to help others.  Use your mind to stay centered on solutions, not just rattling over the problem.  Find small ways to be the change you wish to see in the world.

We all have the opportunity to be the royal sons and daughters of a higher law, a higher King.  We can discern without diminishing. We can serve with humility.  We can love without limits.   We can rise above the madness.

Feed.   Pray.   Give.   Serve.   Love.

Where is the love?  It’s up to each of us to light the way.

********

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12

“This world’s anguish is no different from the love we insist on holding back.”   Aberjhani – “Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love”

“Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work — hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss — loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.”   Jean Vanier – “Finding Peace”

Aside  —  Posted: July 23, 2013 in Inspiration, Love, Poverty, War
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Mermaid by Ruth Price.JPG u2areloved

“You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end”——Someone I Used to Know — Go Tye

      I watch as you set sail this morning.  So close to me; mere yards away still in my line of sight; I could swim to you so quickly, yet you’re so far away.  I’m frozen here, suspended in this sea, a suspension of salt and tears; I’m gliding  through wave after wave totally unseen by you.  I watch in horrified silence as you pull up anchor for the last time from this vast ocean. This dark mysterious element that’s taken many a strong man down, condemned for having had the will to wrestle it.  Yes, it’s swallowed the souls of brave and strong, timid and weak–all meeting, perhaps some seeking, the same fate: deep silence.

Yet you are one of the lucky ones.  You’ll leave this sea for the same reason you came to it:  Escape.  This singular concept has captivated you and countless other men over the centuries.   You will ultimately abandon this sea, and those that remain here.  Yet I know it will never completely leave you.  Its waters course your blood now.

Escape has a magnetic pull all of its own.  Combined with the pull of the moon, this sea has tempted then swallowed men from all continents for eons as it whispers:  Come set sail with me. Ride me; and I’ll give you a highway with no one on it.  And to a few who hear incorrectly:  Tame me.  I’m yours. 

And then there’s me.  Seen only by the rarest few I choose to allow, I bare my soul, my body, always with hope—this incessant, plague-ridden hope that there will be a way other than death to make you stay.  Never!  The sea denies me.  Never!

Haunting.  That’s the word you said to me when you first saw the endless deep in my eyes.  I’ve heard it in other centuries by other men, but from you it suddenly meant well–moreArrested you said as you described your heart around me.  Soft as sea glass were the words you used when you caressed my tale.  Then suddenly you’re:  Gone.   When I leave you, I’ll lie to myself: what you leave behind you don’t miss anyway. 

My tail is anchored to me as much as it is separate from me; for it is a tale as old as time itself.  The tail of a mermaid is worshiped and cherished by the fraternity of the sea as a symbol of freedom and of wanderlust–the sea’s  mysterious ways, and yet I know differently.

For it is not a tale of freedom, but a soft and gentle enslavement.   A craving to be bound to a soul that equally yearns to be anchored to no man, to no ideal, to no promise, no permanent residence.  Certainly to no woman.    My tail is my story; it is a part of me as much as it is about me.  I can’t remove it, though God knows sometimes I would if I could.

I don’t know if God purposed this tail to assist me or to curse me; perhaps it was to protect me.  Either way, it is mine and mine alone.  Never will I feel the Italian leather strap wrapped around my ankle propping me up like the land women you always return to but never give your heart to.  Even when I gave you my body, I knew it was only half of what you needed.  I would never be enough.  I have the potential to swim for miles, yet I stay anchored always to drifting in the same circles, hiding, avoiding danger, and cursed above all: waiting in silence. 

I’ll never take to the skies and fly across the continents like your land women do.  Never will I be adorned with a diamond or a ring of gold.  Yet once you placed a string of pearls around my neck.  I laughed at the irony.  Why I could get those anywhere!  But your heart was pure that day.  I cupped my auburn hair to my right shoulder and let you clasp them around me as I felt your hands wrap around me. You touched me where I was vulnerable, the parts of me that other men spend countless hours laboriously carving, sanding, smoothing, painting, while silently worshiping me more and more in the process of trying to recreate me.  It’s odd, these figureheads of  me mounted like a sacrifice to adorn their ship’s bow in order to ward off evil spirits, as if that’s where their protection lay.

When I felt your warm touch on this sacred part of me, I immediately felt electrified, like an eel.   Did you know then what you were doing to me?  What you were touching?  Were you aware of this singular moment in time?  Rareness.  One in a hundred million.  Exquisiteness. 

I forever remember the night I met you Captain.  With your steely legs and arms bursting with enormous strength, yet a conscience as fragile as fine porcelain.   You awoke, drowing in my blue sea Captain.  Do you remember how?   I watched from afar as you emptied in futility a brown bottle of spirits, tossing it afterwords carelessly into the sea. You kept looking over the starboard as if looking for the lost part of you in some magic mirror.  Did you forget who you were?

Intuition is such a curse.  You always know what’s going to happen next

I could almost hear you pleading and doubting.  Jesus. Could you take the time to throw a drowning man a line?

When you jumped into the soothing warm depths I understood.  We all want to escape that which haunts our soul and terrorizes our ability to move forward.

You were in the black.  You couldn’t see or be seen.  And so you fell, drowning man. You went down, down, down.  I waited a moment as I watched, mesmerized, momentarily paralyzed by the last trace of your beautifully illuminated face  as it quietly slipped away under the moonlight. It was then I risked discovery as I propelled towards you like lightening.  My sea sisters shook their heads as if to say, ” No!  Don’t!”

It’s a lesson my heart can’t wrap its tentacles around. “ Don’t you know,”  Father Neptune once told me, “The moment you start to save them, you begin to lose them?” 

I couldn’t believe then how this could be true.  But I understand now. It’s so hard for man to maintain belief in something he can’t see, much less prove to others.  This cognitive dissonance you possess, this incredible ability to love me the deepest and believe in me more than you do yourself, and yet in the span of a singular sunrise leave me, forgetting me, sometimes for a very long while.  This!  This is the scourge of my soul, the reason for my tears.

I dove straight down until I found you.  I didn’t have a choice, but to lift you up.  So I did; I lifted you up with my tail.  I carried you away.  I wanted to keep you, just for me,  if only for a little while.  My arms embraced you.  My hands, though small were strong enough to pull you up and out.  I pulled you towards me.  I blew the breath of life into you, until I could feel your heartbeat against mine, until we were in sync, co-existing, two hearts that beat as one.

Oh Captain, how magnificent that moment was.  The night your life came back to you, I thought I would burst with joy.  I should’ve known from that moment forward a small piece of my soul would be taken with you on each ensuing voyage.

When you came to, you were looking deep in my eyes as if standing on the edge of unbelief.   It’s not a mirage of madness I nodded.  It’s true.  I’m here.  I saved you! 

We lingered in the water for a while, neither of us daring to move.  The crescent moon sliced our water with a bright blaze of wet white light, near to us, yet just out of reach.  I let you hold me for a while hoping,  praying you could somehow divine what I most wanted.   Yet it could never be.  You, o creature of land, could never stay here.  I knew that too.  But denial is a sea where even a mermaid can drown. 

Our arms wrapped around one another, my tail gave your weary legs stability as we tread water for a spell,  entwined like vines of the sea. I saw a tear begin to fall from your eye.  I put my finger to it.  You hung your head in shame.

“My sweet angel.  My sweet angel of the abyss.  How could you save me?  For I am an unworthy man.  I’ve been dishonest.  I bartered my soul in exchange for silver and gold.  All my men! They’re sailing their last voyage.  They’ve been promised by the arrogant kings of earth treasures of glorious riches, but deep down they know.  They’re off to fight the endless wars started by these same wicked kings and rulers whose blood lust is always for more–whose wars were always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight.  More land!  More treasure!  Above all, more power!  My protection is assured; I only have to deliver them to the carnage, pawns of their kings, to their dreadful end. I’ve always had the luxury of returning home. Yet I’ve exchanged many nights of rest for these few days of worthless riches.  The only thing more vast than this God-forsaken sea is my sorrows. And now my sorrows have learned to swim.”

I couldn’t take another minute.  Why?  Why is living on the land so complicated?  Where is the love?  Why can’t there be peace on earth?    And in return one’s soul?

At that moment I put my lips to yours.  Your strength was not without humilityYou did not know your weakness was actually a treatable disease.  You, a mere man who resisted interrogations of all sorts, who fought and won many a battle and overcame some temptations in your younger years, fought me not when I kissed you.  You kissed me back.  Then you closed your eyes.  Were you blinded by the beauty of me and my home in the sea or were you pushing back a life filled with too many lies?   Did you savor the taste of my salt-water kisses?  Did you carve a place somewhere deep in your heart at that moment reserved just for me?  In this garden of the sea, my gypsy heart simultaneously shattered and swooned.    The seas swirled; everything was spinning around us.  We were kissing, living life true by moonlight, but only for a little while.

It was time to return the Captain of the Gloria.  Back to the men who would be depending on you—your fierce courage in adversity, your decisions under pressure, your steady confidence as together you faced perilous storms and unknown futures.  You knew.  You didn’t fight me when I began leading you back to your ship.   A stroke of fate had allowed a sailor on deck to hear you as you splashed into the water.  A crew was already in the water searching for a trace of you with their search lights.  As we neared your vessel, I propelled you like a rocket, away from me. In a flash I was gone.

I dove down deep, always evading discovery.  I’m able to suspend time unlike you.  On my way down, the last thing I saw were your feet.  I froze here for a moment.  For all eternity I will replay that moment in my mind.  For the briefest of time you were with me, but I know this to be true.  You will walk on.  Yet in my dreams, I stay here, always falling– falling at your feet.

Forever my mind will see visions of you, a treasure just to look upon it.  Eternally my heart will pine for you.  And I will always wonder but one thought:  Had I remained visible, would you have returned to me? 

The morning after I saved you, the skies were clear.  You didn’t pull up anchor.  Nor the next.   Or the one after.  I could not imagine what excuses you used to avoid sailing.  And on the fourth day, I saw you then.  Your dark hair tossed with strands of silver, and strong arms escaping your white sailor’s shirt.

I saw it then.  I followed the curves and lines of your sinewy arms down to your forearms as you hoisted the sails that would eventually carry you home, and away from me.  A tattoo.   Your first one; your only one.  A man your age with virgin skin on these seas was so rare, but during this voyage,  you broke ranks with yourself and cut yourself for me, exchanging your blood for the inky green of the sea.  I knew.  Only love could leave such a mark.

I smiled when I saw this portrait of myself reflected in the mirror of your skin.  I cried too.  I knew these same arms would deliver Abraham’s sons to their death; collect a king’s reward, and ultimately wrap around the torso of another.  Your strong hands would outline the small of a back of a woman who could walk the earth, and say what she meant, though she would know you not.    Not like me.

I was overcome as I was left in the water.  Waves of regret and waves of joy washed over me.  In five years, I saw you three times after the night I saved you.  You would share more secrets with me each time.  You would kiss me as your adorned me with your pearls, electrifying me with your touch.  Each of us would be what the other wished to possess but could never have.

But the last time I saw you, I stayed far away.  I could see storm clouds gathering that your eyes couldn’t yet see.  Death would be your fate if you were to fall in love with only my humanity.  I saw you late the night before pacing from bow to stern checking with the stars and searching with your binoculars for that which you knew, but couldn’t prove.  I, the harbor in your tempest, the lighthouse of your soul, will always be here.  I know deep down you will come to know this, and yet you will continue to returning to this place until finally you simply believe it.

That is when I will see you no more.  You will make your peace with your memory of me and your life with all of its trials and storms and lies and heartaches.  You will reconcile them along with possessing the beauty of a woman who walks, a baby who smiles, and men who’ll give their life for you and a few who did, and all the fine things that treasure can buy.  Yet I know on the darkest nights, when your soul is in knots and your heart is black and blue, and you’re fleeing again all that pains you, I, the soul of your mermaid will be with you.  I’ll be your North Star; I’ll be the one that lights your way. I’ll help you and carry you as you navigate safely home.  Always!

*Mermaid Painting on Porcelain Plate:  Ruth Price – Artist — Beaufort, NC