August 19, 2005 § 1 Comment
I was in service a couple weeks ago, and during a worship set, I found myself in some sort of emotional mélange, by which I had been caught completely unawares. I was wholly overcome by His presence, His literal habitation of the words, and the notes, and the fluid interconnectivity of the noise of instruments and voice. I was overcome. Overcome, I say, as in… a veritable emotional basket-case. Now, I’ll admit, I’m a crier, I am a naturally emotional person, but this was plain ridiculous. At first I was stunned, embarrassed. Here I am, sandwiched between people to whom I’d only spoken the required “Good morning!” customarily offered during the “greet your neighbor” phase of the service, and now I’m sobbing uncontrollably. Surely, based on the sheer volume of the waterworks I was producing, my neighbors had noticed, they may even have been getting wet for all I know.
I was embarrassed. I wanted to regain control. I wanted to focus. I wanted to hide. Now, my embarrassment is in admitting my initial embarrassment. Here, I was being given a chance to experience God in a new way, and I wanted bring it to a halt due to my pride and inordinate self-awareness. Then, suddenly, I relaxed. I can’t say how it happened exactly, but a switch was flipped in my mind. And I stood, and basked in the gift I’d been given. God had met me in the music.
I am not alone, I realize. Anne Lamott and I understand one another (or we would, I think, if she knew who I was). I know this because she briefly describes a similar experience in her book “Traveling Mercies.”
“Just last Sunday the people of St. Andrew had sung the old spiritual, “Go Down Moses,” a cappella because the pianist was gone, and a bunch of people were crying, singing very loudly with their eyes closed, and the singing of that cry of a song was a wonderful form of communion. How come you can hear a chord, and then another chord, and then your heart breaks open?” (emphasis mine)
Good words, Anne. Visit again sometime, won’t you? She nodded; she’ll be back. You watch.
Anyway, Jesus met me. And I only had to relax, dismiss my fears, and enjoy it. Since that day, I’ve been marveled by the gift of music. I listen to a pop song on the radio, and aria from “Carmen”, and “I Am a Friend of God” on repeat, and I find communion with my Creator; the Creator of sound, voice, intellect, and talent.
I realize that this experience may not seem extraordinary, but it was. God met with me. Nothing could be more extraordinary. In my very first blog I announced that my aim was to take a closer look at seemingly small things in my life, to enjoy the meaning in the mundane. I don’t want to miss, or fail to appreciate moments like these.
Praise God for the gift of music.
August 11, 2005 § 4 Comments
But then I saw God.
The first thing that greeted me this morning was a note in my inbox. This note led me to find a treasure trove of words written by a friend. Funny word “friend.” We use it to describe so many types of relationships. Acquaintances, co-workers, peers. I use it now to describe a person… a person who so embodies the fine connotations associated with the word that the joys of knowing this person are better left to a guttural understanding of the word “friend” than to my empty descriptions.
My words are mindless traps and endless formulas adapted from words I’ve heard and phrases I have yet to understand. I’m trapped by my inability to combine the values of meaning, creativity, and wit in my prose. Still, I need to try.
There’s happiness when they enter a room. Their heart can be read in their eyes, but there are depths yet to be explored. There’s a bond of loyalty and love that remains unbroken even after abuses and pain. They worry. The worries are written on their face and you smile, knowing they’ll come out okay. There’s history, the moments of laughter and smiles, brief hellos that mean the world, and the embrace of two who understand that words are rarely enough. There are memories, when sadness had turned to physical exhaustion, and the pittance of love you could offer could not be enough. There is joy in knowing them.
There is honor in calling them “friend.” A cliché. Empty words. No. I’ll try to illuminate my true meaning. When I call them “my friend” my heart swells with love and drops its defenses, my mind races with memories, and my spirit is humbled.
Today, I glimpsed a life in the present. And that is where I saw God. As I pored over the words of a friend, savoring each line, each metaphor, each illustration, I cried. Joy, sadness, regret… perhaps each in equal measure. And I was struck by many things. Talent, poise, brilliance. But most of all I was struck by the presence of God in them. They are my friend, but they are a different person. God has shaped them into a person who is not fighting to get by… looking around the corner… hoping something better is coming… striving to be different than the person they are, but into one who is learning, coping, understanding, and enjoying the journey towards the “child” God knows they will be.
I am staggered by the unconcealed display of God in them. And I am reminded of how good God is. I am reminded that my life is not the only journey in which He is working, leading, prospering. Praise God.
August 4, 2005 § 4 Comments
I know that some of you may be wondering what Karen and I have been up to as of late. (If you couldn’t care less, indulge me.) Hopefully this page will be a good resource for people to check in on us, but I thought I’d take a minute to fill you in on the gaps between when we last saw you and when I started this blog.
Let me take you back to, oh, about two years ago. I had been seriously considering grad school, and then it all sort of fell through late in my senior year. (“Fell through” is really a nice way of saying… I wasn’t good enough for the places I applied.) Karen and I had been praying that if God didn’t want me to go to grad school, that he would shut the doors, and oh, they did! They slammed hard. In my face. And it stung. But, it was clear. What wasn’t clear was what should come next. So, we found ourselves getting ready to graduate, and without any clear direction. We considered moving home for a bit, but beautiful Toldeo, OH didn’t seem to hold a lot of thrill for us, and we wanted to go out on our own. So, we moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.
This move was really on a whim. We’d heard the area was nice, so we decided to go down for a weekend and check it out. Well, by the end of said weekend, Karen had a job as a nurse at a hospital there, and we had bought a house. (I know, that’s fast. Do not try this at home. Admittedly, it WAS exciting, but the terror factor was rather huge.) So, within a month we Yanks had taken up residence in the South. I floundered for a bit and then took a job as a technical director at a regional professional theater and promptly ran that 45 year-old organization into the ground. Actually, the ensuing bankruptcy had nothing to do with me, but the resulting unemployment sure did.
So, thwarted again, we found ourselves sort of looking for what might be next. Throughout this process I’d really been searching for what God had for the two of us. I knew God had gifted us for something special, and I also knew I hadn’t quite figured out what that was. (I’m still not sure I know, but I’ll take it as it comes.) I think God had to knock me down a couple times so that I’d stop running after what it was I wanted, and really focus on His goals, or… where I fit into His story.
Well, I’ve always had a certain penchant for ministry, and God began to put in my head what that might really look like for me. He started to show me how my theater and video gifts could be used in the Church. So, I took some time, assembled a portfolio, and sort of put my feelers out among churches around the country to see if anyone was looking for someone with my skills. Well, as God would have it (I’m certain luck was absent from the equation) Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, CA came a’ calling. Karen and I came out to take a look at them, and they took a look at us, and they offered me a position on staff as the Video & Media Director. Shortly after, Karen got a job working at a hospital in Chula Vista.
We thought about whether we wanted to make a move that big. It was a difficult decision, though looking back on it, the choice was clear. (We had an extreme vacuum of real close friendships in NC and very few ties to the area. Besides, I wasn’t gonna argue with God, and He’d made it pretty clear where He wanted us.)
So, now we’ve uprooted and made the big move. I came out at the beginning of June, heavy hearted, leaving my wife and my pup behind since there were a few things that needed to be finished up in NC before Karen could move. But, I went back to NC about a week ago, we packed up the house, and made the trip together. So, now it is official. We are residents of sunny socal. This is the place to be apparently.
So, now you’re caught up. From here on out… you get the play-by-play. Every sordid detail. Read on!
August 3, 2005 § 3 Comments
When first we met in early June
I knew we’d take you home quite soon.
When Karen saw
She made the call;
She’d fell in love with such a goon.
You were the fattest pup we’d found.
Your belly scraped the dirty ground,
And then you’d fart.
It was quite tart.
But by then we had been bound.
By next morn, the pounds had floated.
Of your new physique you gloated.
You’d had to pass
A load of gas.
Clearly you had just been bloated.
A heart lies there between your ears,
And that should have waylaid my fears.
Would you be good,
Or just a hood,
Like spastic pets of many peers?
You sit, and roll, and shake we see,
And quickly learned where not to wee.
You’re just a mutt
But think you’re Tut.
More pleased with you we could not be.
We wanted pets who didn’t shed.
From bigger breeds we all but fled,
And then there’s you…
You shed, you’re huge.
We’d not have others in your stead.
Now, you’re wont to run and play,
And with your kisses you may say,
“I love you dude,
Now where’s my food?”
We love you more with each new day.
I know, I know, this is pretty ridiculous. This is a joke… mostly. Many of you have not met our dog, and since he is very much a part of our family, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce him. So, that moment is now… this moment… here. So, thank you for taking the moment to meet him.
By the way, I’m not much of a poet, so please excuse me.