Thursday, July 17, 2014

It registers

Lowell George - Heartache

Just heard this for the first time this morning, the last song on his last album. "Heartache, find another place to be. I'm tired of being your best friend. Look to another for your companion, and when you do, my pain will end." 

I'm not sad today, I'm finding my way out of decades of confusion, but I still understand the confusion, and the decades. It just never ends when you want it to. I'm not ready to turn around and try to reach back into Heartache and call for the next person to come out, maybe I'll never be the right person to do that, but I think, and I even hope, that I will always remember Heartache. My prayer might even be that I will always carry a bruised place in my own heart, one that hums along in mercy and tears when I hear that pain moaning in someone else's voice.

Years ago I got my finger stuck in a belt loader. The other people with me didn't understand what was happening, but I got it stopped and out in time before it ate up my hand. It had worn the skin off and having to fight it both horrified me and scared me half to death. That loader was moved and we had a different one when I went out to that job again. Months later, the loaders were switched again. Although no one mentioned the change, my hand recognized the feel of it the instant I took hold of it, the frequency of the engine vibration was unique. The pain shot thru my hand again and the terror shot thru my heart. I came off that loader before my brain could register I was even in motion.

I guess this little post is just an encouragement to carry mercy and pity with you always, for once you were That Guy, and only by the grace of God you are no more. Which guy? The one who vibrates at the frequency that makes you shriek in pain and horror. He's still being churned up by instruments that would destroy the whole world if left to run unhindered, and you recognize the frequency. Remember to share your light and fire with him, not on him, and maybe leave a bit of room for him to get away from what is eating him up for a little while. It might be the space and time he needs to get free. The moment between freedom and complete destruction is just so very quick.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Battle of Chesme

That's a very famous painting of the Battle of Chesme, "fought on the night of July 56, 1770 between a Russian squadron under the command of Count Aleksei Grigoryievich Orlov and an Ottoman fleet under Hassan Bey at Chesme bay on the western Anatolian Mediterranean coast." Fought and won by the Russians six years before we ever declared our Independence in these United States. "The strategic result for Russia was command of the sea in the Aegean during the remainder of its war with the Ottoman Empire. When a peace treaty was signed at Küçük Kaynarca in 1774, the Ottoman Empire recognized Russian claims to represent Christian interests in the empire."

Some things were decided long before we ever came along, and Christians in America need to keep that in mind. American exceptionalism is a wonderful thing, it is true, but we tend to magnify it past our real responsibilities, as well as the power and history of other nations and peoples to act in their interests.  I say that after years of listening to quite a bit of exhortation to pray about world events, particularly at this season in God's time. We should pray, we don't ask nearly enough of Him and we don't lean on Him nearly enough, but that does NOT make us responsible for everything that happens.

We are a dysfunctional people, overstimulated and overworked, no matter how much we try to put the "fun" into it all. Because we can do so much, we think we should be doing so much more - and we all have a list tucked away somewhere with all those things on it. I've actually taken to hanging great big lists of things that need to be done on the walls in my house renovation effort. For every room, right down to the half bath, there's a list of things that need finishing to get finished, but after looking at all the details it's no wonder I haven't - I need a work crew for two weeks to get it all done!

Revelation: vision + ability x strength ≠ responsibility

Even though I can see what needs doing, and I'm able to do or hire done every job, DOES NOT mean I am able to respond and accomplish the vision. It's about learning one's limits, we all see farther than we can grasp, not because we aren't smart or talented or hard working, but because time is against us. There isn't enough time to comprehend it all in our seeing or working or praying. Americans have a very hard time with this, we have done So Much already, we want to do more.

In some things, we never could, so we should cut ourselves some slack. I'm reading Grandchildren of Alcoholics: Another Generation of Co-Dependency as a break from another book where I have to make lists and dredge up personal history. I started out underlining things, but had to give that up as I would end up highlighting most of every page. It's good stuff, I'm the sort of person that I can get out of a mental trap if I know it's there, so it's releasing me from all sorts of triggers I've never been able to figure out. 

Reading it is also making the point that all sorts of battles were being fought and bargains made long before I came along, I was just conformed to the patterns already set. My release is not to make things right or repair the family bonds, it's only to change my own thinking, expectations, and behaviours. History is heavily against me in trying to change it all, my own time is short for what I might accomplish in my self, so that I get anything done in a day or a week is really an accomplishment - although it may be that no one but me and the Lord ever appreciate that.

The painting above was not chosen for illustration, it's the image on a jewelry pendant made from a Russian stamp featuring that painting. I bought it two years ago, one of several, the others given away as gifts. This one I liked for myself because of so many allusions in it to things I was praying about, then and since. I found it again this week and finally strung it on a chain. It's resting near my heart, the prayers continue to rest before the Lord, the answers still unknown by me, but perhaps the responses were set in motion long before I ever asked. The very best I can do is wait and accept them as they come. It's very, very hard.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Da beginin'

That little lolcat is on to something big. Nuffing will ever change unless you can see the nuffing that needs change. Fifty something years thinking some things were not, other things were sumfing else, and taking comfort in a few things that actually were really big problems.

Like being tough, tough enough to go without and go it alone. Some really funky point of view changes going on - like thinking maybe I need someone who can read right thru the defensive smiles and defusive understatements and know what all that really means. And care.

Still have nuffing  - but nao I can see it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Time out of mind

(This post is actually from some months ago, but it ended up in the draft bin. So here it is now, instead.)

I found this article absolutely Fascinating, for two reasons. One, the 80 millisecond lag interested me because it seems that lights always take much longer to go off than that for me. That is to say, when I flip the switch that turns off the light, it looks like it takes almost a full second for the light to "run out." I couldn't imagine what the electrical excuse could possibly be for it, but it's probably just my brain. There are all sorts of implications in this article for people whose brains have a lag between one part and another, and for people (like me) who have especially high thresholds for attention spans and focus.

The second aspect, yet the trigger that brought me into the article, was the idea that things happen, but our brains lag until they've Formed the perception of it. As a Christian, I've always looked for some kind of analogy to explain to people how one "hears" God, because the word "hear" is so very audible, but the experience is pretty much guaranteed not to be. That is, God doesn't talk in your ear, he talks to your spirit, but the experience is not subjective - he is not you, he has his own words to say and, for the most part, they are not what you expected or particularly wanted to hear.

The analogy I've come up with is that when you "hear" him, it's the immediacy and the echo of someone who's just spoken. You know, like when someone at the next desk tells another friend, "Our English test has been moved up to this afternoon." Wait! What??? You were doing your own thing but the echo of those words are stamped very clearly in your mind. Or perhaps an announcement comes over the loudspeaker at Walmart, "Will the party meeting Darcy Milbanks please come to the Service Counter to pick up Mr. Milbanks." You may not be meeting anyone as you browse the cereal aisle, but the words catch your imagination a moment later as you recall, "Darcy Milbanks. That's a bit unusual for around here. I wonder what that's all about."

The voice of God is something like that. I'm not hearing it audibly, but I'm perceiving it as if the words still hung in the air between us. 

There's a second aspect to the voice of God that is ALWAYS true: He never disagrees with Himself. He will never say anything or ask you to do anything that doesn't line up with scripture. Count on it.

Now that you know that He always agrees with the Bible, you want to know where the best place is to hear Him? The scriptures. Just go read them. Read them so you are familiar with all of them. Don't worry about understanding them all, just read them all until you know all the stories really well, can recognise when someone is quoting the New Testament or the Old Testament straight away and (this is when you know you are starting to know the sound of his voice) you know when someone is misquoting the Bible. When you know someone has inserted words that aren't there, or has left out the the big context of a scripture so they can bend the truth and whine about their pet peeve instead, then you know you are beginning to recognise God's voice.

I heard someone make a great analogy once about knowing the scriptures and hearing the voice of God out of them, and it really is true. Imagine you had a little wireless teletype machine, one that you could use to send messages back and forth by radio, but the only messages you could receive would be the ones you had letters for. So if you only had five letters of the alphabet on your machine, you could make out short little words and do some little abbreviations of some others, and you could get some kind of information going back and forth.

Well, imagine if you got five more letters of the alphabet on your teletype message machine, what an explosion of information you'd have in your ability to send and receive message traffic! It's the same way with the voice of God, He is going to talk to you first out of the Word. The message of salvation is the same as it's been since that first day Jesus came out of the grave, and that's the first thing God is trying to get over to you. After that, He's trying to talk to you thru all the other things He put in those scriptures - and if you will go add those to your receiver, He can talk to you out of them, just like adding alphabet keys to your typewriter.

The Holy Spirit is your teacher and He is present with you always, and will never leave you. You don't have to go to every church in town or graduate seminary or hire a tutor to teach you about God. Read the scriptures, talk about what you are reading with your Father God, and let the Holy Spirit instruct you from the inside out.  If you are listening to Him, don't be rehearsing all the time what you used to think, just observe what's going on in the Bible and follow along with what He is saying in there. You'll learn if you LISTEN.

 (Don't worry, worryworts, the Holy Spirit always leads us to be in the company of fellow believers. Remember that in the scriptures?)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fireworks and Fairytales on the Fourth

Yesterday was a beautiful day, cool winds and open windows on the Fourth of July (!!!), all due to Hurricane Arthur pulling the heat and humidity out to sea. 'Preciatecha, Arty.  A friend called late in the day and just needed to hang out awhile while his new Arthur-itis medication kicked in and kicked him around, so we ended up talking about living with crazy mothers (his, mine, his nephew's) and all the things you learn later after the storms have passed on thru. I think I said somewhere before that my mother was like a hurricane, she scrubbed the earth clean behind her, not a structure remained.

Earlier in the day I discovered podcasts by Malcolm Guite, a lecturer and chaplain at Cambridge - and a big C. S. Lewis fan, as am I! I think I listed to a couple of short podcasts, then came across this one. 

It's called TOUCHING THE WOUNDS, IN PRAISE OF 'DOUBTING' THOMAS. "Here is a poetry reading and accompanying sermon I have at St. Edward's Cambridge on the first Sunday after Easter. The traditional reading for his Sunday is John chapter 20: verses 24-end, which tells the story of how Jesus invited Thomas to touch his wounds. I am fond of Thomas, a man who dared to ask questions, and this poem and sermon are a celebration of his role in the gospels." . Listen first.

If you followed the link, you saw lots of typos. I like that. It tells me he puts up his podcasts himself. :)

After listening to that, I had this comment to add to my Facebook recommendation of it:

"(quoting Guite:)"[Thomas] knew it wouldn't be the same Jesus if he [Jesus] didn't come back with the same wounds"

That little insight says a lot about not only Jesus and his eternal union with us in his flesh, but the nature of our wounds and our flesh. We aren't spirits living in bodies, we are men (male and female) and we aren't really ourselves without our bodies. The chief indicator that Jesus had conquered death was the resurrection - the restoration of flesh joined to the soul - which tells me something I had never understood about the nature of death: it is the ripping apart of a human, the soul and his body separated and unable to repair the junction.
Wounds and doubts and resurrection and change... I think I'll listen again..."

It's the wounds and the scars that remain that have me.... that have me. I'll just stop there - they have me. Jesus the Healer is doing his Great Physician thing on me - the more I scream that he isn't doing enough, the more he does - and when He does, it's nearly no different than when I've had mere little "p" physicians take a bottle of antiseptic and a knife and carve out the infected flesh in the office. You can't numb infected flesh, so you might as well just get it the hell over with as fast and as skillfully as you can. (BEWARE doctors who don't know their knife skills!) Once the skin is cut open and the wound has been drained, you are left shaking and exhausted, but the relief is deep and it can be better than lying abed for ages hoping some pill will cure it instead.  

Somehow by the end of the day, I had found the song on the previous post, which is why I put it up last night. It's all part of being who I am, not what I might have been, "wishing only wounds the heart." I'm posting the song above today because the wounds and the doubt and the people who have changed us change us forever. We never get to go back to who we were or who we might have been, we are changed for good. We don't get the fairytale we want, we are the story that's still being written, and I'm a girl who won't read a story unless she knows it turns out alright. 

This story is very hard for me to keep to, but I am reading a little bit more every day.

As darkness fell last night, I was still doing scut work in the basement, shoveling weeds in the driveway as heavy fireworks boomed all over the city. For the first time ever, I could actually see some from my house. I'll leave you with a video that flies you thru the fireworks with the night sky all around. It's beautiful and scary and ....

(Originally, the music on this video was Con te patirò as sung by Andrea Bocelli on his Romanza album. Youtube made them change the music to generic electropoop (a typo, but it's about right.) I bought Bocelli's album because of this video, they should have left it alone! Listen to Bocelli in one browser tab while you look at the video in the other. My  lousy paraphrase still follows below.)

"I'll Go With You"

When I am lonely, I dream.
I search the sky as far as eye can see,
And still the words won't come.

It's true, there is no light,
My sun has all gone dark
When you are not with me.
But outside my window, everyone sees,
My heart you set on fire.
Safe inside me is the light
We shared when we first met.

I'll fly to you in places I have never, ever been,
And live my truest days.
With you, I'll sail in ships on seas,
Deep waters passed, unknown.
Though never have I been this way,
With you, I'm sailing home.

When you are far away,
I dream and wait, for a word that's yet to come.
Even so, I know you still burn bright.
The moon, it shows me where you hide,
Fiery sun, in all your light.

I'll fly with you to lands I've never been,
And live their all with you.
With you, on ships I've never seen,
On seas that rise no more,
With you, I want to sail just once,
And once for evermore.

Translation of Con te patirò via
Updated Sunday July 6, 2014
Lousy paraphrase by me alone. Rhyming is hell. All copyrights reserved.