Thoughts

I Will Never Forget You, Gary Phillips

Posted on 2013-01-02. Filed under: Life, Thoughts |


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Twenty years ago, today, my friend died. I’ve been thinking about that for the last week – remembering all sorts of things. Some things I can share publicly, and some things I can’t. And, I’ve been feeling all sorts of emotions as the anniversary date drew nigh. I can’t believe it’s been so long ago. It seems like it was just yesterday. It feels like it was just yesterday.

My life has never been the same. That weekend was a crux point in my life – in many ways, it was a nadir. Looking back, even with the tears in my eyes, I still remember the good times. And, I still remember your smile. And, I still remember you almost could, but never quite, outrun me. 🙂

I wonder how your football career would have progressed. And, how you would have done at college. And, what you would have ended up doing for a living. And, about the family you would have had. I wonder if we would have grown apart, as happens to so many relationships from childhood.

Thinking about these things, paradoxically makes me thankful for my life. It has been nearly ended many times in a number of different ways. I’ve made it to 38 ½ years old. You didn’t. I’m still here. You’re not. There’s no reason nor rhyme to this. Your death was senseless. Is my life senseless? I don’t know. But, I am thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given – even the ones I squandered or didn’t recognize.

For a life that was lived with such purpose, it was ended so meaninglessly, so arbitrarily, so randomly, so violently, so tragically.

It’s been twenty years and one day since the last time we spoke. I am thankful for the chance encounter we had as it allowed us to catch up one last time. I wish I had told you not to go out that night. I wish I had known.

Your death hit us hard. Lots of people felt the loss. Know that. You are missed. And I, among others, will always love you. And, we will never forget you. Peace out, my friend.

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The Enemy of Intimacy

Posted on 2012-06-10. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |


I can’t begin to express how much Henri Nouwen’s writings speak directly to my soul. I read this passage this evening and had to reread it multiple times because of how poignant it is to me right now, in this moment.

Fear is the great enemy of intimacy. Fear makes us run away from each other or cling to each other but does not create true intimacy. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples were overcome by fear and they all “deserted him and ran away” (Matt. 26:56). And after Jesus was crucified they huddled together in a closed room “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). Fear makes us move away from each other to a “safe” distance, or move towards each other to a “safe closeness, but fear does not create the space where true intimacy can exist. Fear does not create a home. It forces us to live alone or in a protective shelter but does not allow us to build an intimate home. Fear conjures either too much distance or too much closeness. Both prevent intimacy from developing.

My own experience with people whom I fear offers plenty of examples. Often I avoid them: I leave the house, move to a corner where I can remain unnoticed, or express myself in flat, non-committal sentences. Sometimes I create a false closeness with them. I talk too long with them, laugh too loudly at their jokes, or agree too soon with their opinions. Whether I create too much distance or too much closeness, I always sense a lack of inner freedom and a resentment towards the power they have over me….

But whether through distance or closeness, fear prevents us from forming an intimate community in which we can grow together, everyone in his or her own way. When fear separates or joins us, we can no longer confess to each other our sins, our brokenness, and our wounds. How, then, can we forgive each other and come to reconciliation? Distance allows us to ignore the other as having no significance in our lives, and closeness offers us an excuse for never expressing or confessing our feelings of being hurt.

There is a balance in healthy relationships that must be maintained between distance and dependency that is difficult – nigh impossible – to find, much less maintain. Just as there is a balance in life between maintaining relationships and maintaining aloneness, without being lonely. Our decisions and actions become muddled through all of this, mainly due to the influences of various fears that lace our thoughts, feelings, and wills. O, to live life without fear! ‘Tis to live life apart from this world. I recognize that I am too broken to even imagine what that would be like.

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Family

Posted on 2011-09-25. Filed under: Life, Thoughts |


Family is not everyone knowing something about you and keeping it from you.

Family is not attempting to coax and cajole an indifferent person to share a life with you.

Family is not so riddled with divisions and cracks that people in the same household can’t even attend the same functions, meetings or events together.

Family has proven elusive.

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Prophet or Scribe?

Posted on 2011-07-13. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |


I just read an idea that resounded within me. It is a distinction on how one goes about following and obeying God and even how they may seek God. It speaks to the way people approach God, think of themselves and interact with others.

Men of the breaking hearts had a quality about them not known to nor understood by common men. They habitually spoke with spiritual authority. They had been in the presence of God and they reported what they saw there. They were prophets, not scribes, for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells what he has seen. The distinction is not an imaginary one. Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are overrun today with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they? The hard voice of the scribe sounds over evangelicalism, but the church waits for the tender voice of the saint who has penetrated the veil and has gazed with inward eye upon the wonder that is God. And yet, thus to penetrate, to push in sensitive living experience into the holy Presence, is a privilege open to every child of God.

— A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Speaking with the hard voice of a scribe is something that I hear often and something I have been guilty of in the past. It is sadly also something that I will in all probability be guilty of in the future. But I also know that tender voice of the prophet. Real knowing – to distinguish from “book” (or even “Book” knowledge – of God softens your approach and reminds me of his love for you and those you deal with, regardless of their situation or actions. This experiential knowledge of God reminds you of the universality  of his undeserved grace and mercy.

It also may even make you smile more. 🙂

And lo, even a laugh comes forth from hence…

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Spiritual Combat

Posted on 2011-06-09. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |


Here’s another great quote from Henri Nouwen that reminds one that being among those we love and that love us does not keep the darkness at bay. It actually may even highlight the darkness in such a way that it is felt more acutely.

Life in community does not keep the darkness away. To the contrary. It seems that the light that attracted me to L’Arche also made me conscious of the darkness in myself. Jealousy, anger, the feeling of being rejected or neglected, the sense of not truly belonging — all of these emerged in the context of a community striving for a life of forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing. Community life has opened me up to the real spiritual combat: the struggle to keep moving towards the light precisely when the darkness is so real.

— Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

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Letting Go

Posted on 2011-06-06. Filed under: Thoughts |


Detachment is often understood as letting loose of what is attractive. But it sometimes also requires letting go of what is repulsive. You can indeed become attached to dark forces such as resentment and hatred. As long as you seek retaliation, you cling to your own past. Sometimes it seems as though you might lose yourself along with your revenge and hate — so you stand there with balled-up fists, closed to the other who wants to heal.

— Henri Nouwen, With Open Hands

I am pondering this today. I am being freed from past anger, resentment and hatred. I am ready to move forward and mature into my destiny.

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Panda Ponderings

Posted on 2011-05-31. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |


 

Lord Shen The Zen of Kung Fu Panda

Lord Shen: “How did you find peace? I took away your parents, everything, I scarred you for life.”

Kung Fu Panda: “See that’s the thing Shen, scars heal…”

Shen: “No they don’t… wounds heal.”

Kung Fu Panda 2 quotes 300x203 The Zen of Kung Fu Panda    Kung Fu Panda: “Oh yeah… what do scars do? They fade I guess.”

Lord Shen: “I don’t care what scars do…”

Kung Fu Panda:  “You should Shen.  You got to let go of the stuff from past – because it just doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now.”

My family and I have been dealing with vindictive and selfish attacks on multiple levels for the last three years or so. It has been tiring and maddening and infuriating and … yeah.

But I’m done with that. I’ve been done with that for a few weeks now. I refuse to let the insanity drive me to drink. I refuse to allow it to change my outlook on life and my enjoyment of the few short years I have left. I am just gonna be the best damn me I can be and let the chips fall where they may. I refuse to lie down and let people walk all over me. But I will not let them get the best of me, either. They will not touch the real me – the emotional, intellectual me. They will not touch my relationships with others. They shall not.

I am surrounded by wonderful, loving, caring, needy people whom I enjoy genuinely. And I will enjoy them whilst I may.

The scars are still there. The wounds are still there. But I still have the ability to choose the life I wish to live. And I shall. I choose life and life abundantly.

 

Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin.

By fearing the Lord, people avoid evil. When people’s lives please the Lord,

even their enemies are at peace with them. http://bible.us/Prov16.6.NLT

 

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Loving Our Enemies

Posted on 2010-12-28. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |


I needed this quote today. As I deal with nonsense and insensibility, I hope that I remember this:

Assuredly there is but one way in which to achieve what is not merely difficult but utterly against human nature: to love those who hate us, to repay their evil deeds with benefits, to return blessings for reproaches. It is that we remember not to consider men’s evil intention but to look upon the image of God in them, which cancels and effaces their transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity allures us to love and embrace them.  —  John Calvin

When it’s impossible to ignore the foolishness and selfishness put before me, I have to try and remember that there’s more than just those sort of qualities present. There is good within. Not all mistakes and misjudgments are malicious; some are simply… mistakes. Or, perhaps misfortune. Fools are not necessarily miscreants – even when they believe I fall into either category. Sometimes, they are simply fools. And sometimes, I need to give fools the benefit of the doubt because God would have me to do it. It would be so much easier to do so if the foolishness of fools didn’t affect the innocents. When do I live and let live in love and when do I stand up to protect the innocents?

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Only A Name

Posted on 2010-03-23. Filed under: Life, Thoughts |


So, this past weekend I realized that I had mis-remembered my blood father’s name. For whatever reason, I had remembered it as Danny and well… it’s not. It’s surreal that I’m so disassociated from this person that I didn’t even know his name. Well, now I do but I lived for 18 years not even knowing of his existence and then another 17 years thinking of him with the wrong name.

It does explain why this person was a complete ghost when I would search for information about him. He seemed totally off-the-grid and now I understand that I was looking for a person who didn’t exist. But, with the correct name, I was able to find out a lot about him very quickly – in about an hour’s time. For starters, I know that he’s still alive. I now know his birth date and therefore, his age. I know his parents’ names and that he’s a junior. I know where he currently lives and that he’s registered as a Democrat and that he almost always votes an absentee ballot. I know that he was divorced before I was even conceived and the name of his ex-wife and that they were married for five years and one month before separating. I even read their separation agreement so I know what he was driving back then and that they had no children together.

I know that his dad died while I was in middle school. I have the probable address of the house in which he grew up. And I know that he remarried while I was in high school and that they are still married. I know his wife’s name and that she currently works as a teacher in the Caldwell County Public Schools. And it appears that they have had no children together, either. So, as far as I know, I am apparently his only blood child.

I know all of this but I don’t know him. And he doesn’t know me. For me, he is still little more than a name.

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Sacred Time

Posted on 2010-03-16. Filed under: Quotes, Thoughts |


I read this today and it sparked within me, especially given my preoccupation with the concept of time.

A person’s life is a movement through chronological time that is encapsulated on a memorial stone as ‘year of birth’ – ‘year of death’. Our journey from cradle to grave becomes a dash! At times, life does seem to be as fleeting as a mere dash; and in the context of eternity that may be true. One’s physical “three score years and ten” might indeed have as much meaning as a dash – even a minus sign – unless we were simultaneously undertaking an additional journey; the journey through sacred time. This journey is walked on the “highway of holiness”, which is not a dash, a straight line from point A to point B, but a line that spirals ever upwards. It is cyclical in nature, and each cycle raises one higher and instills a deeper awareness and fosters a more intimate relationship with the Beloved of our souls, the One who is the Source of Life and the reason for it all.

Indeed! Thinking from a physics standpoint, the same movement can be perceived as occurring in both a straight line and a helix if the perceiver simply adds an additional dimension to their perception. And in this case, that dimension is most certainly named holiness!

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