Thursday, November 30, 2006

crossing the finish line

Wow, I can not begin to tell you what an incredible day today is! Being a creative type person as I am, one thing I sometimes struggle with is completing a project. Today is a winning day! I have completed a monster project; while sitting in my local library, I have crossed the finish line of writing my 50,000 words.

The last 30 days have been some of the most incredible soul searching moments that I have endured. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me to write. Thank you to my wife who gave me space to say the things I wanted to say from the secret closets of my soul. I don't have any expectations of what will come of this writing but I will never forget it.

Next Monday night, December 4 at 6pm, there will be a celebration party for the National Novel Writers of Tallahassee at the Grand Opening of The Coffee Pub, a non-profit coffee house on the corner of Thomasville and 5th st. I can't wait to meet up with my fellow writers and share in the celebration. I look forward to listening with my whole heart to the excerpts that will be shared that night.

Writers Rock! I join a long list of ancient travelers who have recorded many Adventures Along the Great Trail. Hmmm, that would be a good title for a book.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

missionary vs. living missional

Excerpt from 50,000 words

Thoughts from a visit to Mission San Luis

Walking about the Mission grounds we visited the tanner, the blacksmith, and the friar, a seamstress, and the wood carpenter. As we sat down and listened to each of the costumed interpreters tell their story, I began to hear a pattern taking shape. The man working with wood was making a broom handle for one of the women in the mission. The woman sewing was making an apron for the blacksmith from a hide that the tanner had given to her. The black smith was making hinges for a breadbox for the Friar. Each individual was developing their birthright gifts and were giving them in service to benefit the collective needs of the mission. Mission life in the 17oo’s might have meant sharing one’s time, resources, and abilities to help meet the needs of your neighbor. I see the Mission as a village-of-one-another-ness. This spoke in such contrasting language to the self-centered life that has built itself around this beautiful time capsule in the middle of a growing metropolis.

In our metropolis the motto might be, take what you got and hoard it all for yourself. Mission life today for some people might be, a mission in the sense, to divide and conquer taking all the spoils of war for oneself. Now, not to say that there might be little pockets of people scattered all through out the city who with their everyday eating, sleeping, and going to work/school life look to help meet the needs of others before they decide to have two of something, but they are the few.

Seeing the people of Mission San Luis has been stirring in me for sometime. Recently, I have had the opportunity to interact with a friend who is living in one of those little pockets of people here in Tallahassee. Because our city has sprawled out across miles and miles this pocket is and isn’t in one location, it is comprised of little circles of friendships that over lap one another. Here is a real example of how this pocket of people seem to live out the definition of mission as seen 300 years ago.

One guy has a house with a garage that is not being used except to store stuff, so he decides to renovate the space into a music studio because he has some other friends who love music but don’t have a place to play or record. Now there is another guy in another pocket who has some equipment but has no place to put them up. Then there is another guy who has little or no equipment but he knows how to run the equipment because of his time playing in bands and running sound for bands. So all of these music lovers are searching for ways to get together so that they can play. Now that is a picture of desire to form community. They are a community of musicians living missionally to help meet the needs of one another.

That is just an example of one of the little of pockets of people who are naturally gathering around something and using their birthright gifts to have fun and help out their fellow traveler on the road of life expressed by music.

This begins to redefine for me some terms, coming from the institution of church, like missionary. I have thought of a missionary as one who leaves the country in order to become a messenger of particular set of doctrinal beliefs. I have heard of people who thought they wanted to be a missionary, go to some training where they were taught how to get on a plane, go overseas, and take a message to the people. I think our American culture has been so completely altered that it is no longer necessary to board a plane to be in a completely foreign place. I am beginning to see my life as a missional life. Missional meaning to developing one’s individual life for the sake of giving or to benefit the larger community to which I have regular unplanned contact with as well as those I meet with intentionally that we might all grow in the same endeavor.

So mission is not one model that is meant to be reproduced like a factory, rather it is a mode of living that is cultivated and shared with others who are curious about living in a more connected way with their fellow man. It is spiritual. It is physical. Those terms are not separate. Missional is a life lived completely integrated spiritual and physical.

Mission San Luis has reminded me...
I need to relearn how to live;
real life is missional.

Monday, November 20, 2006

reading is a journey

"wounds don't heal until you feel them"

Donald Miller

I can so relate to that statement. The last few months have been one of the most difficult seasons in my life. I can say that I have felt the depths of many wounds. Some doctors may say Zoloft is the way to go, but this is so real. I'll take the pain; at least that's real. Thank you to those who have stood by me during this intense time of intropsection.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

wrestling with the man in the middle

Excerpt from the 50,000 words...

This weekend the girls went to Panama City. Just before they left Andie was playing with a new Barbie and she was very excited. She came to me and asked if she could take the bad man. I didn’t know what she was talking about. After a few minutes I realized that she was talking about the Aragorn figure I have from the Lord of the Rings that I keep in my closet. I wonder why did she call him the bad man?

Compared to her fair-haired beautiful princess, Aragorn does seem dirty, nasty, and just plain old bad. But the reality is that Aragorn doesn’t have any issues with the way he looks on the outside. He is on a different road. He is on a road to find out what his place is in the world of men. He is guided by the ache in his belly that something is not right. Part of his ache comes from the wrongs that his father has done. His father was once a king of the race of men and held the power of the ring to bring harmony back to the people of middle earth but he was captured by the grip of evil pride and wanted the ring for himself. The shame that came from this family curse drove Aragorn underground in many ways. He hid his true identity from the world because of the shame of his father. He no longer went by his name Aragorn, but was known as Stryder. He was, in fact, the rightful heir to the throne, but he was not acting like it. He was not being who he was created to be.

I too have had my share of hiding from my own identity. When I was about the age where most boys come into puberty, I had come into the world of naked people. I had no idea why the magazines were so open about the nakedness. I knew something was not right, but nonetheless I found myself aroused by the women in them. During this time I began to chase girls. Chasing was chasing for the sake of capturing and claiming; claiming as one who claims a prize at the end of a great battle. Looking back I really didn’t care much about them as a person, I just wanted to see them naked. I wanted to touch in the real world what I had only dreamed about in my magazine fantasy world. Because of this driven desire to feel the breast of a girl, I quickly was named pervert in middle school. At first it didn’t bother me, because on one level it was like being called a name that was normally associated with grownups. As a preteen boy, I liked being named a manly nickname even if it was nasty and twisted. But with the nickname came an identity that I did not know. I didn’t realize the identity of this nickname was so damaging.

A year later, I remember turning a corner and not being so driven by the desire, but rather became more interested in having someone who really liked me for who I was. Well, this was rather difficult because in the world of girls I already had an identity; I was a bad boy. I began to understand and to resent my foolish actions as a boy. I wanted to get away from that part of me.

I wasn’t ashamed so much as I was mad at the fact that now that I wanted to change, but the perception of the pervert was still there. I was stuck in a real dilemma. I did the only thing I knew to do; I had to recreate myself. It came at a perfect time. I was leaving middle school and entering the ninth grade, so I changed my name from David to Michael. I had associated the name David with all the accusations of a dirty little perverted boy. I wanted to escape that part of me, so I abandoned my middle name and began to go by my first name.

For my family, changing my name was a huge thing. David was a family name. My uncle, my grandfather, his father, and my own father all had the name David. So switching from that name meant a real sign of rebellion in the family. I was stepping outside of the family name in a way. I would later in life come to find out that the twisted view of sex was handed down from generation to generation just like the name was. No wonder I wanted to escape the heavy burden of the name. It was a generational curse.

With this new identity, I was free to explore the new me. It was great to have people call me Michael. It was so cool and so freeing. I had associated this mental picture that Michael was a person that people looked up to, a person of good social standing. With the name Michael, in my mind, there was no “bad boy” association. Life was good.

Looking back now I think it is interesting that I was stepping away from the “center” of my name. David was the name that was in the middle of my full name. Maybe going to my first name was like moving from the center and taking the elevator to the surface. Maybe Michael was just the surface part of my identity.

Dang this is some crazy stuff. Lord please help me to walk through this and not give up; grant me the courage to keep going.

Now it is not that Michael is not who I am, because it is a part of who I am. It is just not the full person of who I am. Since high school I have continued to be known as Michael. I really hate it when people call me Mike: One, because it is the name that my dad goes by, and I am not my dad; second, it is a shortened version of Michael, which on some level says to me you really don’t know me at all. If you did know me, you would not call me Mike.

My full name.

So Andie wants to take Aragorn with her on her trip with the girls to Panama City to visit with grandma. Grandma has also had a change of names. Last year the girls decided to change Grandma to Memaw. This was kind of weird for me because I called my dad’s mom Memaw. It was Memaw that knew me as “little David.” So I really had an awkward time calling Darla’s mom Memaw. I did love my Memaw with all of my being. She would always send me birthday cards with money, but even more she would write these incredible words of encouragement on the inside of the card. She would write of how every day she would pray that I would grow up to be the man that God had created me to be and how proud she was of me. I would be so encouraged by the cards, and some years I would be incredibly ashamed by how much I was not being the man that God had created me to be. Remembering her is remembering the internal battle of identity that would rage inside my being. May my Memaw rest in peace and may her prayers be answered some day soon.

So Andie, who is my last born child, carries with her the figure of Aragorn, a man struggling to find out who he really is. I can’t help but to wonder what significance that has. You see, Andie has this funny way about telling people her name. For some reason as she has grown up I have called her not by her first name only, but by her first and last name, Andie Winn. It is not that I have neglected that middle name. In fact, that middle name has a very special role in my family too. Her middle name is Renee. Renee is my aunt. I first met her on a trip to Panama City where my grandparent’s had moved when I was going into the eight grade or so. She saw me with innocent eyes. She too called me “little David.” This wasn’t a putdown like I was small in nature. It was more of a term of endearment because she was dating and would soon marry my uncle who was "her David." I looked up to my Uncle. He was the coolest man I had ever known. He was and is very creative. He was so outgoing. Everyone liked him. He and I would always hang out late at night when I went over to my grandparent’s house. I remember he made these beautiful stained glass pictures. Ahh, he was just magic. So to be called “little David” by Renee was for me to be named by someone who is being who they were created and called to be and to follow in the footsteps of someone you admire.

Again, Andie is carrying with her to Panama City, the place where my family is deeply connected, a man figure who she sees as dirty, but nonetheless wants to take him along with her. I can’t help but to draw on the idea that she, as one who goes by her full name and has no associations with that name, is carrying with her in a symbolic way a token of me. For I am a man, who is struggling with and coming to grips with who I am, and who I am to be in the world of men. Maybe there is hope in the innocence of youth.

Throughout the sacred stories of scripture men have wrestled with their identity, so I am not alone. Jacob, Isaac’s son, grandson of Abraham, was the one to first tell the story of his wrestling match with his true self. For years as a young man, he wanted something his brother had. He deceived his father to give him the birthright and later the blessing of the family that was rightfully his brother's. At one point, he has told his name as Esau for so long he has forgotten who he really is. But one night he comes face to face with the One who created him. He faces the One who knows what his shape is to be in the world of men. The One knows the real Jacob. Two times the Angel of the Lord asks Jacob, what is your name. Jacob returns the question, who is asking, and both times he is reminded of the times that he has not been Jacob. The third time Jacob responds by telling the truth; he is Jacob. It is at that time that the One who created him to be responds and tells him the fullness of his name will be realized in a nation of men. His full name is inside; his name is Israel, the people of God. Now that is finding out one’s true identity.

So I am David, the boy who was taken advantage of and who took advantage of others. I am also “little David” who is a creative and caring person to those who need a mentor. I am Michael, the one who goes out and seeks new ways to reach the desired location. And I am Michael, the one who faced the darkness in order that I might see the light. In the Hebrew language, Michael is one who is like unto God. And David is the beloved one. I am in the fullest sense, in the acknowledgement of the past wrongs of my family, reconciled to the One who restores all things, I am made in the image of the First and the Last, I am son to the Father of all men, I am Michael David Winn.

Today Lord I have come before You in the awesome power of your grace and I have confessed my life before You. May You now take me and restore my soul that I might be Your signet ring in the world of man where your Kingdom reigns and rules. May you write the rest of this story. Thank you for your incredible forgiveness. I have forgiven myself and those who have hurt me. May you release them from the bondage that I have kept them in; my father, my friend, and those who knew me as the boy. May my family know first the real me. May I be a blessing to the ones I hold dear. For what might have destroyed my family You have given to me as a redeemed story of grace to bind together in love the strongest cords of hope. Bless your Name. I cannot say enough. My heart is full of Your presence. I sense that you are here with me in this quiet space and have spoken to my heart as I have typed out these words. These are the truest words from my soul. You are the One who holds my soul in Life. You have given me true life. May I no longer strive to please men or to be held by the need for their words. For You have said that I am good and You have picked me up when I have fallen and You have brought me to the mirror of myself and have given me eyes to see the full image of me. You have given me the restored identity of Michael David Winn. You are completeness. You are real soul seeking. You are the place of brokenness made whole. Keep me centered here in You. Help me to speak from my full name, the name that You gave to me. This name is not my own but was given to me by my Lord. May I give back in service of gratitude to the One who gave me breath. Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me. Bless Your holy Name.

I cannot express how incredible this time has been writing down this stuff. It really doesn’t matter if this piece of work becomes something. For I have already profited by this work in ways that I cannot express. I will look to see how I might give back to the Lord what He has produced through me. I will seek to give back a portion, a symbolic token of this restoration story. Lord grant me Your powerful creative words to tell the story to the ones who think they know who You are but have no idea because they have not been willing to look at themselves acknowledging the dark so that the light may come in. You take these words, Your words, and You bring them to life. For You are the One who is the Word, the Word made flesh that came and dwelt in the full presence in the world of men. Amen.

Friday, November 17, 2006

am I project or a person?

Before you invite me to one of your "service" times, can I come over for dinner and tell you my life story?

I can't believe how many times in the past during the holiday season I have invited someone at work or someone at the coffee shop to the "holiday service" at the church building I was attending.

Today I was sitting in a local coffee shop working on my 50,000 words and I noticed the guy in front of me. He had Philip Yancey's book on prayer and a Bible on his table. He never really looked at me. Finally I asked him if he liked Yancy's work. We began talking and within 30 seconds he told me that he was preaching next week and invited me to the service. His invitation seemed so cold. It was like I wasn't even a person but just another object to collect in the project. I looked at him and I saw myself just a few years ago, so confident in my church role. I know the guy has the best intentions and he is a brother in the faith, but I was so surprised by how impersonal his initial interaction was with me. Again, I think the thing that disturbed me the most was how easily I could hear the same words that I have said to others and how now the words seem so fake, even though they are not intended to be.

We continued to talk for 20 minutes or so, the conversation was good once we got past that part. Of course he asked where I went to church, and I replied with, I guess you might say I am going through the exile story in my journey of faith. He was ok with that answer.

At one point we discovered that we both had made the jump from corporate Amercia and were both pursuing what it meant for each of us to fulfill our "calling." Finding common ground is a good place for conversations to naturally go.

Interesting enough, just before I struck up the conversation with him, I was working on my 50k words. He asked what I was writing about, and I said it is beginning to take shape as a story of making the jump from the expected life to the life that is crying out inside each of us to be lived. I mentioned the scene in The Matrix, where Neo is going through the "jump simulation" of which he fails. I was writing about when things on the outside appear to be a failed attempt at making the jump.

He ended the converation to go pick up his youngest from pre-K, which is exactly where I was headed. We wished each other the best on our respective journey. It ended up as a pleasant dialogue overall.

I am very excited as today I broke the 20,000 word mark. I can't believe it; this thing gives me so much hope that something is still at work. Like Neo, I too find myself in the "jump simulation." I have just jumped and have, I have crashed into the concrete of despair because things did not go as I thought they would. Lying there on the ground broken and bleeding, I am hearing the voice that says "get up, get up, Neo." I am thinking to myself, that is the same vocie that led me to make the jump in the first place. I'm not sure if I want to listen anymore. But here I am picking myself up off the floor,wondering what is next.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

whats the problem here?

"Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."
Richard Foster - Celebration of Discipline (1978)

How far have we progressed in 30 years Richard?

Monday, November 13, 2006

being true to the real me

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements, and lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
C.S. Lewis – The Four Loves / Chapter 6

There it is. One of the most influential writers and champions of truth claims it from the rooftops – to love is to be real! At this time in culture, the cry for authenticity is the banner of a whole mass of people. Things are not as they seem because everyone is pretending to be someone that they are not. The have become these personas because everyone else is wearing a mask. Wearing the mask helps us as a people to avoid the risk of being mocked, ridiculed, or jabbed for being the ugly duckling. The longer we put on the masks the further we push down the real us. Our identity is buried so deep, we have no idea who we really are. The scary thing is that the personas work so well in the fa├žade of this charade of life, that we don’t even consider looking beneath the mask. The mask has become our view of ourselves. We have accepted our own deception as the truth.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

writing like crazy

A friend of mine told me that November is the National Novel Writers Month. The challange among writers is to take the month of November and commit to writing 50,000 words. That was all I needed to take the challange to get on paper some of the amazing things happening around me. Since November 1st I have tried to write at least 1500 words a day. As a result of this crazy mad writing, my blog entries have been somewhat limited. I am a little off track, but the thing is, I'm currently at 13,500 words. Here is an exerpt from my writing today:

"Over and over I have this continuing conversation with myself of what does it mean to center on something. People meet for all kinds of reasons. They meet to plan for the next session of Congress, or the next budget meeting. But what if you met for the sake of speaking the truth? I don’t mean speaking the truth as if it is something that you can argue, is it true or not. I am talking about speaking the deepest truth that you know that is from your heart of hearts.

Maybe this truth could be called soul speak, or maybe it is just being real about your faith and fears, your dreams and nightmares, your successes and failures. Some people might be afraid to hear their own voice speak. Afraid for what they might hear. I think for me, the reason why I have continued to blog beyond the point of it being a fad is because it has become an outlet for me to write the thoughts and words that are wrestling around deep within me. When writing a blog, there are no blockers, there are no walls; I can simply write or express what is beneath the surface. Having comments are fine, but when I am writing the thoughts that are playing ring-around-the-rosy in my soul, I need to be able to turn the editor off. As I write, I am not considering whether or not anyone will comment, but more importantly saying what I need to say is preeminent.

This is an important understanding. I must come to a place where I can speak/write what is on the inside regardless of whether or not I will be complimented or criticized for the words I write. Writing with this purpose in mind is the starting block for me to explore the question of who am I? Exploring this person through writing is vital. Can someone be who he or she is on the inside without being shaped by the external forces of the accolades of men? What things or experiences occur that shape or deform one’s being? That is the journey that I am on. I find myself on this journey and it is a journey that is a lonely one. It must be a lone walk, for it is only I that can walk down this path. Sure there are others that come in and out along the way, but ultimately some roads I must walk alone. It is this solitude that causes me to look deep into the mirror of the soul.

Once a person has spent time in solitude wrestling with their own angels and demons, I think they might be better equipped to cross over into the world of others. A silent retreat is the marinating place where someone can journey to the center of life. More and more I am thinking that this is the place of peace that transcends all things. I am beginning to understand the benefit of solitude.

Many times when I talk with others, what happens is I am looking for other people to either validate or contest my thoughts that are expressed in the conversation. I have never realized that in that context I am more interested in what people are thinking about my thoughts and ideas rather than me actually listening to my own voice. It is really kind of sad that I take the comments of others to determine whether or not what I am thinking or saying is right or wrong, rather than listening to my words to determine whether or not it is real or just something that I am reacting to because of the circumstance or situation at hand.

Jesus addressed this external focus when addressing a group of people who were supposedly experts in the way things are supposed be. He said, "All you think about is the outside of the bowl, when all you are on the inside is dry bones." Well, of course they were dry bones on the inside; they were trying to live an external performance rather than an internal cleansing life. One of the apprentices of Jesus gives a very practical illustration of what it looks like to live an internal cleansing life in this world. My understanding of what James writes in his letter is this: Make this your common practice: Speak your inside brokenness to each other and take new cleansing thoughts and speak (pray) to (Yahweh) the center of Complete Wholeness; in doing this you can live together whole and healed.

Could this be a picture of what Jesus spoke of when he said that the people of God are to be the salt of the earth? Salt by its character brings out the flavor of all kinds of food. In steak it brings out more steak; in corn it brings out more corn. Salt does not try to get the steak to smell or taste like corn. I have been guilty of thinking my salt-ness has been just that, trying to make every thing smell and taste like salt. My Christianity has been the same thing; I have tried to make my views the views of others. And that position comes from the thing which I said earlier, that I want someone to validate what I am saying so that I don’t have to question my views.

If there is to be any litmus test to real life, it could be to put them against the stories of others who have lived their lives in pursuit of real life. These stories are not just stories that happened to some people thousands of years ago in some faraway place. What would make these stories powerful and life-defining would be their ability to speak to lives in generations of people who walked this earth many years after they are gone. So the evidence of whether or not these stories were real is not that they happened, but that they continue to happen today, and that they will happen tomorrow. The only way to know whether or not you were living this story is to know your story, as well as to be familiar with their story going back as far as the stories had been told. The best collection of these thoughts and lives lived is recorded in the journey of the people of the Bible."

Well, that is what I have to say about that today... I don't know if this is actually a novel that I am working on. I am excited that I am getting these thoughts and ideas down on paper. I am on my way to 50,000 words.

Monday, November 06, 2006

taking deep swings at old walls

I have this weird idea that everything we do in the physical world does have some translation in the spiritual realm. I say that because we are made from dirt given breath from the Creator of Life who is the Spirit of all things in Heaven and on earth. So we are in fact fully human and fully spiritual. Fully integrated. I guess some people might then classify me as a mystic. I don’t really care for the labels but I am very interested in how things are connected on the various levels.

Yesterday I was working on a little home renovation project with a friend. It is rather interesting that this house is not just some house that we are flipping for the sake of making a profit. This house is his old house.

Swinging a large sledgehammer during the deconstruction, I realized one must have above average strength or inner determination to make a mighty swing with the heavy duty tool. We joked with each other about tapping into some repressed anger to give energy to swing the hammer. It's funny that when we make jokes like that we don’t even realize how we have just connected the spiritual with the physical.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense, what on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity, Book IV Chapter 9

Friday, November 03, 2006

walking barefoot

"The journey toward inner truth is too taxing to be made solo: lacking support, the solitary traveler soon becomes weary or fearful and is likely to quit the road.

The path is too deeply hidden to be traveled without company; finding our way involves clues that are subtle and sometimes misleading, requiring the kind of discernment that can happen only in dialogue.

The destination is too daunting to be achieved alone; we need community to find the courage to venture into the alien lands to which the inner teacher may call us."

Quoted from Palmer Parker “A hidden wholeness”

So there it is, said by a professional, or better yet, a seasoned veteran of the journey of the soul. It is a journey that is best taken with others and not alone. I think this is really profound. It is not just a whimsical dream to want to be on the road of life with fellow travelers. The daunting question is where are the real travelers? Where are the ones who want to explore life, faith, doubts, success and failures, with a few close friends?

I continue to pray that the Great Conversationalist will bring forth into our lives the real ones who want to walk along the Great Path that leads to restoration.

Can we walk together?

I have never been one to go barefoot. I have always preferred the feeling of a pair of warm socks even on a hot summer day. Maybe it comes from a couple of bad experiences I had as a child. I remember when I was very young, maybe 4 or 5, I was playing barefoot in the back yard of a friend's house and I stepped on a bee. It was the most painful thing I had ever felt in my life. My parents freaking out over the incident didn’t help things either. Maybe it was because I was their first child. As a parent myself, I know that with your first child everything that happens is on a heightened level whether it is their first words, first tooth, or first fall. I must have sensed in my parents that there was something serious about the stinger. I remember them making up some baking soda paste trying to get the stinger to rise to the surface of the skin so it could be removed. I guess they thought it was a killer bee or something. Really what was all the fuss about? Needless to say, that was the last time I played outside without socks and shoes on. I was not going to leave myself exposed at the foot.

The second lesson that helped me develop the need to wear socks was an event that occurred inside the house. I must have been around 7 or 8 and we lived in an older house that had the air and heater vents on the floor of the house. I remember it was a cold winter month and the heater was turned up to keep us warm. It was late at night and I was walking across the hardwood floors and all of the sudden I stepped on what felt like what can only be described as a row of a dozen red-hot butter knives sticking straight up. I must have screamed bloody murder. That was it, I would never go barefoot inside or outside with out socks or shoes on.

I can’t help but to wonder if for some people when they have experienced pain that is somehow associated with trying to be open and vulnerable it causes them to, as I did, put on a layer that protects their bareness? Seems like a very natural reaction when traced back to the original source. But at what cost does this covering up come?

For me this foot issue has taken away things I know that others have said are really beautiful moments of being connected with the ground that our feet are connected with. To this day it is a real stretch to walk in my front lawn barefoot even though I love the inviting appearance of a nurtured lawn. I can watch my children run and play in the grass, but to me the blades of grass are like small prickly leaves that make me want to go put my sandals on.

Another sad result of this condition is missing the cool sensation of sand and surf when walking on the beach. For years I would wear those mesh like wet-socks when playing at the beach. I think this summer I went to the beach for the first time and was completely barefoot and I was ok. In fact I had an amazing time.

Little by little, I have tried to walk out this fear or discomfort with leaving my feet exposed to the environment. I guess I am going through life therapy like Bob in “What about Bob?” I am taking baby steps to being ok with my feet.

I wonder if there is any connection to becoming bare and vulnerable in order to really engage life in the fullest sense. I wonder if Moses had a foot sensitivity issue? I wonder if he really had to think long and hard when the Voice of Truth said, remove your sandals, the ground you are standing is hallowed ground?

Can we walk barefoot together?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

what to do with this sadness?

What does one do when they realize the pain in their heart comes from a sadness that is beyond their control? My sadness comes from the condition of so many people like myself who are wondering like exiles in this land. My sadness is for the broken hearts that long for the people of God to be who they were created to be. How long will we wait for our hearts to melt like wax before we like the first people of God turn around and come home. But we ask ourselves how can we return home when everything has been trampled and burned to the ground? How can we return to what doesn’t exist anymore?

The dwelling place of God left buildings built by the hands of man and has been searching two centuries for a new dwelling place – the hearts of mankind.

This feeling of sadness might be named as depression to some of the medical profession. Depression might be the oldest plague of the heart. When the plague of darkness fell upon the Egyptians because of Pharaoh’s hard heart, the world might have experienced the first massive regional outbreak of depression. And what brought this on? God was trying to lead his people into freedom and liberty. Liberty to be the people of God. Liberty to love all the people of the world. Liberty to proclaim the good news to the captives of the hopelessness. Liberty to live in harmony with one another and with YWHY.

I look to heaven wondering how long God must I wrestle with my thoughts and everyday have sorrow in my heart? How long? How long? How long?

Was this the agony in the hearts of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Ezra, and Nehemiah? Were their hearts broken over the state of the people of God? How did they not just want to give up? How did they remain faithful to the One who brought his people out of the jail of oppression when it seemed like there was no hope for rescue?

Something about this song touches the heart of what I am lamenting.

"Did I disappoint you or let you down?
Should I be feeling guilty or let the judges frown?
'Cause I saw the end before we'd begun,
Yes I saw you were blinded and I knew I had won.
So I took what's mine by eternal right.
Took your soul out into the night.
It may be over but it won't stop there,
I am here for you if you'd only care.

You touched my heart you touched my soul.
You changed my life and all my goals.
And love is blind and that I knew when,
My heart was blinded by you.
I've kissed your lips and held your head.
Shared your dreams and shared your bed.
I know you well, I know your smell.
I've been addicted to you.

Goodbye my lover. Goodbye my friend.
You have been the one.
You have been the one for me.
I am a dreamer but when I wake,
You can't break my spirit -
it's my dreams you take.
And as you move on, remember me,
Remember us and all we used to be.

I've seen you cry, I've seen you smile.
I've watched you sleeping for a while.
I'd be the father of your child.
I'd spend a lifetime with you.
I know your fears and you know mine.
We've had our doubts but now we're fine,
And I love you, I swear that's true.
I cannot live without you.

Goodbye my lover. Goodbye my friend.
You have been the one.
You have been the one for me.
And I still hold your hand in mine.
In mine when I'm asleep.
And I will bear my soul in time,
When I'm kneeling at your feet.

Goodbye my lover.Goodbye my friend.
You have been the one.You have been the one for me.
I'm so hollow, baby, I'm so hollow.

I'm so, I'm so, I'm so hollow."

Here is my response:

I long to be in love
long to share my life

with the real ones
with the ones who live the Name
to live my life with no shame

I’m still holding on.
I’m still holding on.

I’m walking in tears of hope
one day I will hear, I will hear
the horns blowing,
blowing in the distance
calling the wonderers home.

I’m still holding on.
I’m still holding on.

I have fallen
Fallen on my hands and knees
crying will we once again
know the warm embrace
of thee.

May the One who calls out to the lonely hear your cries. And may his Face shine upon you. Peace to you. May the Exiles find their way home.