Tuesday, October 09, 2012

It is enough

I feel like I go big or go home with my faith.  As if the little bits of truth aren't enough.

I write big things on my blog of real profound truths that I discover...only to fall on my face the very next day.

I think the point is to get up and keep going, not lay back down just because I didn't "get it" this time.

I need to see the LITTLE thing that God has for me today and be satisfied with it.  My daily bread is enough.

I need to learn to take it in steps.  Kind of like my friend Emma and her physical healing.  My spiritual healing is a slow process that should not be rushed.

I need to leave quiet space in my life in order to hear what the Holy One is saying.  To hear the Voice say, "you are beloved, I AM enough."

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Finding God in the Everyday

God was up to something this weekend.

Not that he ever ISN'T but this was one of those times where I was actually somewhat cognizant of just what God was up to.

Only a few days ago, I had written about how I felt my soul has been cryonically frozen. It seems like God decided to start the thawing process sooner than expected.

Friday, I went to a MuteMath concert and if you aren't familiar, go check them out...they are an amazing group of musicians. I talked to a girl in between the opener and the main act about my favorite song on the newest album. Mine was the last one, which was about (in my interpretation) how we who grow up in religious households often lose the faith of our childhoods, but don't worry, "we can get it back."

After the concert, I had a conversation with my friend about life and faith. I shared with him my struggle of the past few years to see how God is working in my everyday life.

Today I went back to my former church, Hot Metal because Catalyst was off for the weekend. This was cool on several levels: it was nice to be back after a long hiatus, and it so happened that a woman named Emma, who my church has been praying for healing for the past 4 years, shared some words with us today.

The brief story on Emma: we were on a mission trip in Mexico in 2008 and she had a terrible accident that caused her to flip backwards out of a cattle truck. She miraculously survived, but has been plagued for the past 4 years by constant searing headaches. She recently had brain surgery to hopefully finally rectify what was wrong with her head.

Her talk explained how she was grateful for the continuing miracle of the surgery and hopeful recovery (she's not out of the woods yet - it's a slow process), but she mentioned that part of what she was learning was that God showed her blessing both through the valleys and the high times. Her worry was that in yearning for a better day later she was missing how God was in her life in the present suffering. She quoted Chardin as saying:
"...in all these dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is You (provided only my faith is strong enough) who is painfully parting the fibers of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance and bear me away within yourself."

I was very affected by her words and how they connected to the message in the book of Job that morning: "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

Later that afternoon, as I was sitting in my car listening to the rain hit the roof, I felt compelled to reread the first chapters of Richard Foster's book on Prayer. I have been at a point for a few years now where I struggle with even being able to pray (so I've only gotten through the first chapters).

I hit this passage (it's too poignant to not include the whole thing):
"How do we practice Simple Prayer? What do we do? Where do we begin? Very simply, we begin right where we are: in our families, on our jobs, with our neighbors and friends. Now, I wish this did not sound so trivial, because, on the practical level of knowing God, it is the most profound truth we will ever hear. To believe that God can reach us and bless us in the ordinary junctures of daily life is the stuff of prayer. We want to throw this away, so hard is it for us to believe that God would enter our space. “God can't bless me here,” we moan. “When I graduate…” “When I’m the chairman of the board…” “When I’m the president of the company…” “When I’m the senior pastor…then God can bless me.” But you see, the only place God can bless us is right where we are, because that is the only place we are!
Do you remember Moses at the burning bush? God had to tell him to take off his shoes—he did not know he was on holy ground. And if we can just come to see that right where we are is holy ground---in our jobs and homes, with our co-workers and friends and families. This is where we learn to pray."

I include this because Emma made a comment talking about her struggles being "holy ground". Where we are standing right now is holy ground! If I truly start believing that, how differently I would approach my living!

And so the spiritual thaw continues... Ever so slowly, but I hope to remain patient, because as Emma said, "So much happens in the waiting." Why would I long so much for 'wholeness' that I miss how God is very real and present in my messy life right now? There's a process to go through and the only way to the other side is through it. And the important thing is that I don't miss God now. If I can't see the Holy One here and now, in the valleys and plateaus, how do I truly appreciate his presence in the high places?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Cryonic Soul Freeze

You have probably heard of the futuristic cryopreservation in various science fiction.  Essentially, freeze a body, to let it thaw at a future time when perhaps decades or generations have passed - perhaps to avoid an uninhabitable catastrophe.

While this science is far from becoming a reality, it made me wonder:  Can our souls undergo a cryonic freeze?

Instead of our body, maybe our soul can be in a state of almost being alive, barely existing, laying dormant, waiting for a better environment to thrive?

Ok Han, maybe not carbonite freezing, but you get the idea.

I kind of feel like I've been in this state for a while.  I think it was a necessary reaction to some things I've been feeling in my heart, but I'm getting tired of laying around feeling unable to move and unable to find God.  I don't know why I am stuck in this, I just am.    I hope that my time to thaw out will come soon.  Perhaps my hand is actually over the button?  Perhaps I'm afraid of the damage that will happen if I do thaw?  Perhaps I'm afraid that I won't be able to keep up with the world around me if I do come out of my soul freeze?

I feel like I've tried to unthaw myself, but that I keep freezing up again and again.  It's not enough.

Perhaps I'm going through this for a reason?  Maybe I will become stronger in spite of my lack of motivation to change?  Maybe I need to be just in this state of hopelessness for God to come and pull me out of it - knowing that no one, including myself, could do it better.  Just like Eustace having his dragon layers peeled off by the lion Aslan.

I cannot do this myself.

Please God, I'm waiting, I need you to get my soul of its frozen state, in spite of the pain I might feel.  Only you can do it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Awesome Possum!

My really terrible attempt at drawing an opossum... Before and after a reference photo...

Ugh, the first one looks like a rat dog...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My perspective on perspective....or the lack thereof

Perspective - is a peculiar thing... It changes at the slightest vantage point.

I think I should take my memories with a grain of salt - who knows if I accurately appraised the situation due to my point-of-view at the time?

When I assure myself of the certainty of what I've perceived - I then begin to see it as the only reality possible.  Sure it may be my brain's built-in self-preservation mechanism - to keep me from having to process difficult or emotionally draining information early on - but there comes a point when I need to step back and look at it again.  Maybe uncover some callouses or veils I have set up to block out any other truth?  I need to face this truth full-on, with no filters.  I must feel every effect that comes with knowing the truth - or at least as much as I can understand it.

That's part of the rub: how can I ever know the FULL reality of any given situation?  Can I crawl into the mind of anyone else other than my own?  Do I even know my own perspective all that well?  And somehow - even when directly seeing the truth - my mind and heart still dampen the blow, because it might be too hard to take unfiltered.

Still, it is important to let go of my own reality and open up to a larger truth - else I might be stuck in a fruitless and endless cycle of, "But I KNOW I am right!"

In the case of romantic relationships - the "knowing" could keep me from ever really moving on - even if the next guy is "perfect" for me.  I don't want to carry this baggage from relationship to relationship.  It's not fair to me and it's really not fair to the other person.

In a relationship, there's my perspective - then there is your perspective - our perspectives are tainted or influenced by a multitude of factors: cultural expectations, previous experience, family and friends, social status, mental health, financial security...etc.  The point of "knowing thyself" in one sense is to recognize how these factors skew one's perspective - to get down to the raw truth of the matter.

I feel I need a divine intervention to help me actually sort through all that crap.  I need to calm the other raging and competing voices that inundate my own psyche and try to discover the One that really matters.

Then there is trying to understand someone else's perspective...which is harder than figuring out our own.  We can be as open as possible and talk very frankly about our points of view, but somehow, because I did not GO through what the other person has gone through, it is hard for me to really see from their perpective.

In addition - maybe I'm not meant to know the full truth of anything - because really...can I handle the full truth?  It's like when Adam and Eve's curiosity got the best of them and they ate from the one tree (out of hundreds) which they were forbidden to eat - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Perhaps the reason it was forbidden was because God knew we would forever try to fruitlessly understand what we are incapable of understanding?

I don't mean this as a cop-out or a way of throwing my hands up into the air saying we shouldn't strive for knowledge and understanding: it seems to be human nature to try to sidle up to things that are beyond our grasp and try to reach for them.  Which can be very good.

It's just at any given time - because we are human - we always have limitations - to our understanding - to our abilities...  Death is a particularly sober example of our limitations.

Anyway, back to the idea of perspective:  I think the essence of human existence is trying to live on that fine line between striving to understand with all of our faculties and giving up the need to know.  Once we think we have arrived at the place of understanding, that's when we need to realize, no we don't.  Look at all the places in history when people think they know it all and I'm sure you can understand the grave problem of thinking you have the right perspective.  It was bad for people like Hitler and the Grand Inquisitor and it is bad for people like you and me: We must stay ourselves from thinking we have the corner market on the truth or else bad things will happen.

When are the times to give up?  The times when holding on to my view or perspective is causing harm to myself or my relationships with others can be one rule of thumb.  Again, meditation and quieting false voices is probably a good way to recognize this.

When my brain keeps going in circles on the same topic with no real revelation...
When I cannot wrap my head around why someone made a certain decision or took a certain action...
When someone else's world view doesn't line up exactly with mine...
When instead of trying to truly understand someone else's perspective, I am rewriting their perspective from my own standpoint to make the situation more palatable...

AND when something important is at stake:  a friendship, a future relationship, my sanity...then it is time to let go of the need to understand.

Letting go can seem like voluntary amnesia - like (SPOILER) Winston at the end of 1984...it can be infuriating to have to let go (ok, that was a bad example...a BETTER one is the brilliant video game BRAID - in the end the protagonist realizes maybe his perspective wasn't exactly the whole picture --> look it up or go download and play it if you don't know what I mean).  It's like forgetting that a piece of me exists.  It's like having to mourn yet another loss.

But it is necessary.

In the end, I can't help but think that after we let go - then - maybe then - we can also get the perspective we wanted in the first place.  But not before we go through that process.  In a way - we aren't ready to understand when we are in the state of trying so hard to understand.  Surrender might be a more appropriate word - because it does feel like a defeat - until we actually begin to heal and develop new perspective on the situation.

What bigger thing am I missing out on because I'm holding on to my own narrow view?

It's time to surrender.

It's time to move on.
It's time to heal.

God help me to do so.

And I'll leave you with the very appropriate lyrics from Andrew Bird's Lazy Projector:
If memory serves us, then who owns the master
How do we know who's projecting this reel
And is it like gruel or like quick drying plaster
Tell me how long til the paint starts to peel

Is it like Pyramus or Apollo or an archer we don't know
Though history repeats itself, and time's a crooked bow
Come on tell us something we don't know

Now who's the best boy and the casting director
And the editor splicing your face from the scene
It's all in the hands of a lazy projector
That forgetting, embellishing, lying machine
That forgetting, embellishing, lying machine 

They say all good things must come to an end
Everyday the night must fall
How it all came to this, I simply can't recall
Too many cooks in the kitchen 
How the mighty must fall

But I can't see the sense in us breaking up at all
I can't see the sense in us breaking up at all 
I can't see the sense in us breaking up at all 
Breaking up at all 

And it's all in the hands of a lazy projector
That forgetting, embellishing, lying machine