25 September 2012


Is it irony or grief that makes me grimace? I am reading a book whose stated intent is to help me "live life nearly free of fear". The author says we know violent acts by the subtle signals preceding, and we know the subtle signals because we, too, are human. In other words, we understand violence because, deep down, we are capable of it. I am not saying that the knowledge to be gained from observing human behavior will not have practical implications for daily living. But will I really live a life nearly free of fear simply because I know a little more of the depths of human depravity?

-- --

A man sat in the chair across from me,
speaking of a pain that leaves you
on your knees,
on the ground in public places, even.
It leaves your chest constricted, and you
no longer wonder if you'll make it.

This man, older than my grandfather,
looked at me.
This man with three times my life's years looked and said,
you have to help me.

I look him in the eye and wonder at my own mortality.
I am not free of fear, but I know whom I have believed,
and am persuaded that as deep as darkness goes, grace is there to meet it.

Maybe tomorrow, I can meet the next person's plea with a bit more courage.
And the day after that.  

17 September 2012

Spaghetti and Coffee

Transitioning to graduate school is not necessarily the glorious hop skip and jump that it was thought to be back in high school. (Graduate school--for the nerds--was the holy grail of higher education, an endeavor rarely spoken of, and from which few ever returned.) As I went from a traditional undergraduate degree program to a graduate program, I found myself easing into the life of a college student turned....college student. This was highlighted by my first purchases for a"nother" new apartment--coffee and spaghetti. On a budget, these seemed the essentials. Two months later, I still think great wisdom went into that buy.

A professor spoke, "it only gets better." A man in Kroger could say the same six syllables, and I would catch his cynicism by the third. The professor reawakened in me a hope of which I was once convinced. It only gets better.

I told you a story, once. Maybe twice I've repeated it. There was a man and a woman in a garden. There was no 'organic this' or 'organic that'. Labels do not matter where the FDA and pesticides are not involved. The crops grew easily and the animals did not fight the work.
The man and woman had no communication issues--stereotypes had not formed barriers between the two, and it was never an issue as to who would take the trash out at night. The maker of the garden and of the creatures walked with humanity, guiding and teaching and speaking and loving. The fruit of Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was not to be eaten.

A serpent came, a servant of darkness who had once been light. He spoke to the woman, questioning the words of the maker. Did he really say not to eat, the serpent questioned the woman. And pride grew as belief vanished.

The day you eat of it, you shall surely die.

The man was with her, and she ate. He ate. The earth shuddered into a bondage not yet felt. With crops, weeds. With communication, conflict. With God and man, separation.

A seed will come to crush the serpent's head.

Years passed. The earth grew dark and men's thoughts were only evil continually.

I will send hope, Abraham.

I will send hope, Isaac.

I will send hope, Jacob.

The son of David will save his people from their sins.

A son was born of the line of David, in a town called Bethlehem. A carpenter's son, a virgin's son, the son of God. Without sin, without rebellion in his heart, this image of the invisible God was hated by the leaders of the day, the religious leaders.

The light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.

He reflected the sin in men's hearts, and it seems one can only do one of two things--fall to one's face in light of one's deadness and filth, or rise in pride and deny one's fault. This God-man was judged and killed by men--only to rise from the dead, crush the serpent, and return to heaven until the day when all will be made right.

This summer, my vegetables were choked by weeds, and I struggle to be in fellowship with God. But what I have seen and heard gives testimony to the hope that is in me. He is coming quickly, and it only gets better.