Merciless as brain freeze

When I was little, we used to go to that icecream store.

Odd-shaped creations, long and narrow…

A closet stretched out on a torture rack.


Seats that looked stolen from a school room

turned their back to the windows that ran the length of the place.

They were inevitably inconsistently occupied by a recurring cast of characters:


The teen-aged couple, closed off to the rest of the world,

desperately trying to find some new way to open to each other.

They shared a large bowl.  But he took more than his share and she pretended not to mind.


A fish out of water father.

I don’t know then that perhaps he did not live with his kids.

Perhaps he did not like his kids.

They tried to smile and he looked sullen.

Or perhaps vice-versa.


A toddler who made me feel inexplicably queasy.

I do not know what flueroscent flavor was smeared across his cheeks and lips.


This all lived in the background of my mind.


Though the sign boasted only 31 flavors.

It seemed the forever freezer stretched back through the wall.

Out the end of the building.  Across city, state, and country borders.


Tub after endless tub.   Flavors familiar and exotic.

Barely a dent made in the chocolate.  Freezer-burned daquiri ice made my forehead wrinkle for reasons I could not explain.  Vanilla.  Sherberts.


My mother died a year ago.

And I am thinking about grief.

How it comes in all those flavors like icecream.

Surprising in their variety and depth,

As merciless as brain freeze

On a sweaty August day.


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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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