Friday, October 12, 2007

Strange Dance

This Sunday our church is holding its first service in the new building.

Two and a half years ago my son found himself alone in our church. Other kids have trouble relating to a teen with an IQ of 46.

He heard voices.

He turned on the ovens and stoves in the kitchen.

He found a candle. He found a lighter. He went to a stairwell and played with fire.

We were in a meeting at the church. Our church elders were talking with folks about our youth program.

My youth was burning down the church.

Jeremiah was born in Haiti.

There are indicators he was abused.

Physically (there are scars on his head).

Psychologically (he thought we would withhold food from him).

Sexually (odd reactions when he was bathed).

Spiritually (he witnessed Voodoo rites).

Now we are moving into the $2 million building.

There is a beautiful cross going up in the new building. It is made of laminated beams from the old building, charred by the fire. The seared burns on the wood are centered, fading toward the ends, symbolic of the sins our Lord sacrificed Himself for two millennia ago.

There are a lot of mixed feelings about this new building which provides a superior place for worship, for our youth, for offering a resource to our community.

But it is just a building.

Though our family has a unique perspective on this I recognize how others see it. It is a wonderful improvement. It is an asset to our community. It is a place where people can more easily meet with our Lord.

This building will host concerts, and weddings, and baptisms, and services which will draw people together.

Still, it is only a building.

The real purpose of church isn’t a building. It is the relationship which springs between human beings (an odd little species on the edge of a rather ordinary spiral galaxy) and the Creator of the Universe.

That is a real mystery.

There was an interesting image recently on Astronomical Picture of the Day.

A survey of the galaxies which lie south of the axis of our galaxy of 100 billion stars shows 2 million other galaxies.

I’ll let that sink in a bit.

One direction from our galaxy we can easily count 2 million galaxies, which might comprise as many as 100 billion stars each.

We are clinging to a tiny ball of soil which dances about a rather ordinary star on an outer edge of a rather ordinary galaxy floating amid perhaps 500 billion galaxies.

I believe that our universe is is held together at the quantum level by an intelligent force. A force that appears to work in groupings of three. A force I have come to know... and love.

That is the real church.

This being, a being who works through trinities of the quarks within the depths of the fabric of atoms, is the Church.

I don’t understand the details of the strange dance my spirit has waltzed these past few years, but I know that the rebuilding of this church has at its core the growth of the Church.

Strange mystery.

The Creator of the Universe is interested enough in a soul among 6.8 billion to use his family to change the intersection of the souls in the community and Himself.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Character & Hope

I haven't forgotten this blog.

I have been busy with the usual stuff... work and family... and have had some added stress in my life.

I have been focusing on the latter.

In that pursuit I have been blogging quite a bit. Almost a post a day. Those are on another blog where a few have gathered around me to pray and follow how I am processing new challenges.

But I love this little blog, Job's Tale, which chronicles my weird life, and I need to give it a little attention now and then.

Lately I have been thinking about character.

My character, God's character, the character of those in my life.

I have been trying to be true to what I know is right, but that lends itself to narcissism, the idea that I can attain anything exemplary on my own.

It isn't true.

I, like every other human who has ever lived except one, am self-centered first.

It is not in our nature to readily accept our own failings, deny our own desires, and live the perfect life, following the example of our Lord.

We are born with the intrinsic belief that we are the center of the universe, demanding to be fed, demanding to be held, demanding the world conform.

I suppose that tends to reach its peak about age two when the world starts to put its foot down and say: "Wait your turn!"

However, there is something about being intentional.

There are folks who float along, their faith casual, their actions flow along the path of least resistance. Lately I have found that nearly every decision I make comes at a price.

It gets old.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. --Romans 5:3-5

Interesting progression...




According to this passage character develops out of perseverance. It means that holding true develops its own reward, character.

I've hit some hard spots of late.

But out of those hard spots I emerge better able to... hit further hard spots.


From that I develop hope.

That doesn't mean I will gain the rewards I want. It means that I will gain the inner space where I see possibilities of success when others may not.

That is good enough.

For without hope there isn't much point in riding this ball of dirt around and around as it dances circles about the sun for the three score and ten years of a human life.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Just a Dream

It was just a dream. Bits of flotsam and jetsam. Or is it jetsam and flotsam since that is the order they would happen? At any rate, dreams are often weird metaphors for what is going on in our lives, a way for the heart and spirit and mind and even the body to work together to keep us sane.

Still, I am going through my day with the emotional residue left by a strange dream.

I think the emotions of a dream are often stronger than their content. When we relate a dream it seems to carry no emotional impact to our listeners. They may find it odd, but they miss what the dream left behind in our hearts and minds.

I wrote a post last night, and I posted it this morning feeling the emotional residue of a dream crystalized in the post I had written.

The post was about the strange series of mechanical breakdowns in our home. How it laid stress on my fragile marriage and offered the fodder for theological debate between my wife and I on the goodness or even existence, of God.

Drifting off to a prescription drug aided sleep I found myself wading in deep dark water, a common dream metaphor for feeling overwhlemed.

There were things floating in the water.

Some were right on the surface, much of it floated at varying depths in strings and clumps.

They were fish hooks.

They were brightly colored bits of rubber and plastic imitating edible tidbits fish might enjoy, and each had hooks on them, some single, some triple, all brass.

I was moving to get people out of the water, my wife, my children. I could feel the hooks biting into my arms, legs, back, chest, sides.

When I emerged from the water the weight of those hooks, some of them clinging to dozens of others, pulled at my skin.

I got my family out. I pulled out a pair of wire cutters and clipped the barbs off the hooks that most hampered my movements and started going around, removing the brass snares from the flesh of my family.

A sense of horror rose in my heart. I snipped the tiny gaffs from my wife’s flesh, backing the curved metal pieces out of her skin.

Now and then I paused to remove a few from myself.

Snip. Off came the barbs. Then I’d tug at the bits of metal and nonsensical, nearly Dr. Seussical type rubber creatures with their impotent hooks stabbing out of their bellies, tossing them to lay beside the lapping water.

As the sun rose in my dream it rose outside my window. The alarm went off. I rolled out of bed.

I began my day with emotional gossamer threads of the strange dream clinging to my heart... Six hours later I still feel wrapped by tiny spider threads of emotional horror and pain and damaged flesh, it is clinging to the emotional reality of this new day.

At work I can accomplish clear goals. I almost wish I didn’t have to go home.