Beginings

All that is

And all that ever was

And all

That would ever

Be

 

Not even emptiness

No time to stretch out into

Yet

 

Oh you trinity

Of primal forces

Conjoined meeting of matter and

energy.

 

You

You gave up your body for

Me

 

When you burst forth and made space-

time

 

There was a serpent

And also

betrayal

Torrent

This torrent comes crashing down,

A wild thing from up so high.

Niagra would look with awe at this fall.

 

Here, below.

Mostly we gather on the shore.

And the holy men in their hip waders bring the little cups.

They grimace as they fill them and bring them back to us.

The spray and the run off have soaked them.

They walk slowly.  Slowly to us.  

Apostles and apprentices towel them off solemnly.

There are so many of us here now.

We wait.  And the water is so much of everything.

But the cup is emptied so soon.

 

I do not listen to them as I step into the water.

I discard my clothes and I do not care that they are watching.
I stand beneath the waterfall with my arms stretched out wide.

They make a wide space for me,

As they continue their conveyance to their followers,

Back and forth, back and forth.

New Cool Stuff

This little blog is home to whatever random things wander into my head: poetry, theology, politics, cultural criticism…  It’s been pretty awesome to throw my thoughts out into the world and have a sense that somebody is listening.  I think probably I will continue to post here.

But my journey has been leading me to feel like I have some relevant things to say in one pretty specific area.  Contemplation, meditation, and silence are becoming increasingly important to me.

I have put together a site focused on these things.  I think it’s some of the best work I have ever done.  It certainly has lots more useability and looks prettier than jeffsdeepthoughts.

Why don’t you click the link below and give it a look?

The Contemplace

Apophasis

Now comes the time of unsaying.

Unseeing.

 

I will thank you for this desert time

This darkness is different than the place of fear I once knew.

It is the same.

 

I went, maker,

As far as those roads would lead us.

I stood in the light and I sang of joy for such a long time.

 

Until this love,  more than love is no longer love.

Until this joy more than joy is no longer joy.

This wisdom more than wisdom leads me into this blessed new holy foolishness.

 

Leafless naked branches do not part like a sea for me.

Night insects eat of my flesh and drink of my blood.

I must and I must not turn back to that gathering I am walking away from.

 

I step foreward one foot after the other and remind myself that

It always was and will be a journey

Inward, and downward.

 

The world got so full or miracles.

They were suddenly everywhere and by definition nowhere.

 

I am so glad to find you here

In this place where I do not see your hand.

 

Burden

I am a straight, white, male, CIS,  Christian.  In a disgusting variety of circumstances, me, or somebody a lot like me, is likely to be the first to ask questions, answer questions, expound, pontificate, and attempt to take charge.  I am learning that this is a problem.

It was a bunch of years ago I started to wrap my head around this.  I first started to think about it when the film, “Cry Freedom” lead me to the book, “Biko.”  These are a portrait of a South African freedom fighter who wouldn’t allow European-descended allies to join his groups.  In college, I began to process the idea that racism, sexism, etc packs a 1-2 punch.  The obvious loss is the way that oppressed groups are made to feel as though they can’t, shouldn’t, and don’t have the answers.  The more subtle, but no less significant problem is that people in the majority like myself are socialized to think that we always have to provide the answers, that we have this burden and duty to work out these issues.

Steve-Biko-Quotes-5

Much more recently, my awesome church spent these months focusing on these issues.  I was introduced to the concept of whitespaining and mansplaining.  (If these terms are new to you, I rustled up this definition online: ” to explain or comment on something in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner, from the perspective of the group one identifies with,”

I have been trying to listen more and talk less.  I am embarrassed by how difficult it is.

And yet…  here I am.  Pontificating away on my little blog.   I am hoping that this is ironic, and not hypocritical, that I am pondering these things here.

Here is the thing I was thinking about today:

In addition to all the problems and injustices that this system perpetuates on myself and others, I had this realization today about the ways that I think this fouls up my attempts at relating to God.

I have these delusions that I ought to be self sufficient.  I live on these happy lies that I am not dependent on others.  I can earn my keep and my worth is proportional to the value that I have created.  I think the world needs to hear my deep thoughts.

None of this is true in the material world.  But is also diminishes my relationship with my maker.  Because I require and fully depend on “him.”  The love “he” holds for me is not earned, and he has already thought and dismissed every silly little thought I will ever have.

Maybe this is why Jesus shows up among the starving, naked, and enslaved; maybe this is why the rich man will have such a battle in entering the kingdom of heaven.  It is such a primal lesson, how we hold ourselves in comparison to the other in our relationships.  If we can’t get past that, holding ourselves above the people around us, we aren’t likely to connect with God.

 

 

Kenosis

Hurt is the fastest emptying.

And I will open myself to this Godly purge.

I will scrape out my deepest places,

because now, they are mine at last.

 

I will hold and behold

this vast emptiness within me.

To that wilder and neverending emptiness within you.

 

There is a cry.

And it echoes.

In this space among us.

 

 

Love at a Distance

I teach students with a variety of emotional disturbances, psychiatric diagnosis, and traumatic histories.  Most days I love my job.  All false modesty aside, I am pretty good at it.

A part of my journey, as a special educator, has been to navigate the distance I ought to keep between myself and my kids.  This is partially about the specific student.  It is also about where I am at a given point in my life.  And it is also about deeper-running, more consistent aspects of my own personality.

I try and be nice.  I can usually mantain respectfullness.  But I tend toward not being particularly close and intimate with the kids.  I have been at my best when I have been partenered with aides or co-teachers that tend toward a little more close, a little more affectionate, a little more nurturing with the kids.

These professionals have been a good balance for me.  I hope that my colleauges would say the same thing: that we balance each other well.  It is much more complex than good cop/bad cop.  But in a radically over simplified way, sometimes, I am the bad cop.  Or at least, the neutral one.

And I think this is really good for the kids.  I thnk that they feel safe and comforted by the idea that I am who I am with the kids.  They may not know their times tables.  They might not care who Magellen was.  They may not possess many anger management skills.  But most of my kids?  They have pretty highly tuned bullshit detectors.  The know when somebody is just imitating somebody else.

I am reading this amazing book.  It is called The Solace of Fierce Landscapes.  There is this section where the author writes about how we want a sort-of distance from God.  Their is grace in his failure to be too close.

solace-fierce-landscapes-exploring-desert-mountain-spirituality

I am repulsed and attracted by this.  I guess maybe because it is deeply true and also very much untrue.  We want a God who cries our tears with us.  I believe in a God who does.

And yet…  One of the things I know is that when I am distant from my kids, they draw some comfort from this.  When they are in the middle of overwhelming emotions, they need somebody who is not wrapped in the highs and lows.  The number of kids who end up in residential care because the overly sympathetic parents ride their roller coasters is huge.

And here is the thing: I am not so different from my students.  I can be an ignorant knucklehead.  I want a God who cries with me.  But I also want a God who speaks to Elijah in the silence, who justifies himself to Job by not justifying himself.

I guess the amazing thing about omniscience is that God’s complexities can transcend my little categories.