What I learned

When they stood there

      Faced off

      Two so close

      Staring at the third one,

      The outcast one

I learned that I should have acted sooner,

This had been brewing all morning.

When the four of us stood in the hallway

          That empty hallway

          And it was silent

          And their was no one

          How could there be no one in the normally crowded hallway?

I learned that there are all sorts of silence

All manner of lonliness 

When the fight started

          When the two of them fell upon the third

          When that third started to go down

          When their was cursing, the grunts, the thuds

          Filled up my world

I learned that there are moments that spread upward

Eternity is not always a good thing.

 When I dropped my Styrofoam coffee cup

          And lept in between the boys

          Like animals

          And the blows landed on me

          And I cried out and pushed them away from each other

I learned that there are some decisions we make

And some decisions that make us.

 When the scuffle finally drew an audience

          And when the audience finally drew those who would intervene

          And when those who would intervene

          Finally did intervene

I learned that sometimes pain sends out a scouting party

I actually thought I’d make it the rest of that day.

 When the adrenaline

          Sweat itself out my pours

          When the dust settled and it was just me

          Writing an incident report

I learned that pain

Pain is a beast 

When the pain wormed into my spine

          It stretched something across my lower back

          Muscles betrayed and me squeezed,

           Clamped down…

          They’d all told me to go.

I learned that sometimes the people

Around us know more about our hurts than we do 

When the next three weeks

          Were this whirr of appointments


           Pain, pain, and pain

I learned that sometimes things just get so big

I never would have thought it would get so big. 

When the right kind of pills

          At the right time

          Punched a whole in my cloud

          But they started to run out

          And the doctors offered no more, nonchalant

I learned that there is something terrible in indifference

And addiction is hell.

 When I made it back in

          And those kids were still there

          And I still had to teach them

          And I limped and I gasped, often

          If it was damp.

I learned about injustice,

I think.

When that wound

          Keeps  me from wrestling my kids

          Or hiking in God’s favorite place

          Or laughing outloud

I learned that it’s best

Not to know

           If I’d do it all again.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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