On the Day I Was Born…

On the day I was born
inflation soared
recession dragged
and gas prices climbed and climbed.
But on the day I was born
Rocky fought again.

On the day I was born
pieces of sky
rained down from on high
and nuclear fear still clung.
But on the day I was born
grace found Poland again.

On the day I was born
brother became a brother
Mommy shed happy tears
and Daddy smiled.
Back when I still had
a home on the day I was born.

Reluctant to Replace Shoes

Playful echoes of laughter are heard in the distance. The same rabbit crosses the path, scurrying off into the brush. But the girl with the book open on her lap is not there. I take each step slowly. Forcefully. I enter my building, and the heavy door thuds behind me. I climb the stairs and each step echoes. I look down to my worn shoes–a hole in the toe, frayed thread. The forty dollars my mother gave me to buy new shoes is still in my wallet. But these shoes have carried me through so much, and I’m some what reluctant to replace them. Call it busyness, call in laziness. My darkened room is quiet. Nothing but the hum of the computer, and my roommate rolling over in his sleep. I feel so purposeless. And yet so purposeful. Somehow that sounds poetic.

Shooting in a Church

Take another drag from your cigarette, spew your venomous hate. Your loaded guns empty into the bright shining stars, silencing them. Precious life snuffed out with your single action. Lives tossed into chaos. You take the lives of seven, then raise the gun to your own head. Mixed emotions, spinning thoughts. You’ve come this far. Hatred. Rage. Clenched fists. People screaming. People bleeding. People dying. People watching. Fear. What will you do next? Squeeze the trigger and end their horror. You wait. Momentarily. Then you overcome the brink of madness. Now you see the demons that fueled your spree.

Tears fall to the blood stained carpet. A church, shattered by gunshots. What have we become? I used to watch this on TV, and laugh. Now I watch it on the 6 o’clock news, and stop. When will the madness end?

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love. Then they’ll shoot us. Why doesn’t the love pierce the cold and bitter hearts? A question we can hardly throw in the face of a God who weeps over his slain lambs. Our only response is to grimly swallow and reply, if this is what it takes.

As the question of gun control came up at a news conference, [Texas Gov. George W.] Bush said, “I believe we ought to have laws like instant background checks to prevent people from buying guns who shouldn’t have guns. I don’t know the law, the governmental law, that will put love in people’s hearts,” he said. (CNN, emphasis mine)

At least someone has realized you can’t legislate morality. It’s come to this, we can’t save ourselves.

God help us.

Words from an Unknown Book

A rabbit crosses the path, pausing as I approach. It watches me, and then scurries off to the trees. Up ahead a girl comes down the path, book in hand. She sits down at the top step and opens the book across her lap. I pass by silently, and continue down the stairs. Three steps after passing her, she begins to read aloud. I slowed my pace, eavesdropping, as her words drifted into the night…

The swirls and actions and patterns of my day send my mind spinning. I’m losing control. There is so much I want to accomplish. So much I want to do. But it is not I. It is you. I so want to serve you. I so want every part of my being to echo you. But I stumble so often. I lose sight. I put you off. How can I want to serve you so badly, yet hardly make time for you? It’s the constant paradox. It’s the constant illusion of the lukewarm heart. No wonder you want to spit me out. But please don’t. Set me ablaze. Let the smoke rise from my heart like the burnt offering, and let my life be yours. Raise me from this bland existence and make me so much more. Make me yours…

Her words trailed off into the night as I descended the stairs, but they reverberated within me. I wanted so much to turn back and take hold of these words of wisdom. Words from an unknown book, read by an unknown girl. But something propelled me onward. Something kept my heart wandering.

A Menagerie

A menagerie of views assaulting my mind…

Why is it you can cry out to the dark night sky, ask the starry host your inner most questions, probe the celestial sphere for earthly answers–but you don’t look up to the blue sky and wonder why? The night seems fit for asking questions, the lightness of the day hinders all questioning. No one looks up to the bright blue sky and cries out for an answer. You look up to the bright blue sky and are silenced. Something about the blackness of night imparts within you the boldness to cry out to the creation. In the glory of heaven there will be no night. The light will shine forever, for the Son of God will be that light. The comforting light that calms our fears, answers our questions, silences our confounded cries.

I don’t seek a clean Christianity where the answers are plentiful, the pews sparkling, the white-tooth smiles gleaming, and everything runs smoothly. I don’t want a Sunday-suit, clean shaven church. Worship in the Old Testament involved sacrifice. Dirty, baying animals. Spilt blood. Burnt offerings. It wasn’t clean and polished, sanitized for all to behold. This morning I sat in All Nations Indian Church, and the sage was burned before me, the smoke rising into my nostrils, and up into the sky, to the very throne room of God. Could the burning of this sage somehow be related to the burnt offerings of the Israelites? What connection is there? The blood of the slain lamb stained their hands. The smoke from the burnt sacrifice clung to their clothes. They were marked with worship. Paul sat in front of me this morning. His thrift-store clothes and unshaven face set him apart. The grocery bag at his feet and unkempt hair furthered the thought that a homeless man had come in off the street for church. But toss my judgements aside, for they are not valid. He took copious notes during the service, sitting long after the Lord’s prayer to finish.

And if the answers aren’t plentiful or a glitch comes along, what do you do? Stare at the floor? His last day at the church became a tearful goodbye for all. Perhaps for varying reasons. She came through the line, near to the end of the long chain of people, to wish the pastor and his wife well. The woman hugged the wife and kind words were exchanged. But what did he do? What could he do? Perhaps he knew the whole truth, perhaps he was grossly misinformed. Perhaps an unanswered letter still sits on his desk, chewing at his heart. Perhaps he knew where he had failed, and couldn’t fess up to the truth. But no matter what the reason, he wouldn’t meet her gaze. He refused eye contact. Stare at the floor and everything will be okay. Let another hurting human being slip by, maybe next time. In another church, in another city, in another life you can atone for your broken lies. No use trying–not here, not now. How is it that you gained the title ‘pastor’? And all I can do is cry.

You have the gall to ask of me. How’s he doing? Is everything fine? An unanswered letter sits somewhere in your possession. Yet you ignore it, like yesterday’s news. Never mind my concern, ignore my pleas. Everything’s fine now, it’s all behind us. We’re still friends right? Seventy times seven, and I can’t understand. Does forgiveness still stand at a seven hundred mile pace? And all I can do is cry.

Everything We Have Is Not Ours

I don’t deserve anything. No one owes me anything. I have nothing. Everything I have is on loan from God. My two hands are a pure and simple gift from him. I don’t even deserve them.

These thoughts echo in my head, and I wonder why I haven’t reached that point. I do deserve something. People do owe me. This is mine. My selfish attitude is what it is. What would the world be like if we all truly realized everything we have is not ours, but a gift from heaven–and treated it as such?

Heat Exhaustion

Heat. Beating down. Relentlessly. Swarming. Suffocating. Drowning. Hazy air. Choking. Clouding. Blinding. The weight, bearing down on my back, pulling me to the ground like wet cement, and the stereo in my hand, ripping my muscles despite the shifting–how can I ignore the pain? Heat. Never ending. Burning. Aching. Thirsting. Water.

I stop for a moment, allowing my body to collapse to the sidewalk. I set the stereo next to me, and gingerly pull at the straps to my backpack, letting it slide to the ground. Pulling a twenty ounce bottle from the bag, I untwist the cap and take a long, cool drink. Relief. Refreshment. Cold. Soothing. Calming. My legs ache. My stomach feels squeezed and compressed. Sweat drips into my eyes, the salt burning.

Alone. Solitary in the city of millions. But what choice do I have? A 45-minute walk to the train station—then true relief. Oasis. But 45 minutes in good health. I have two hours to make it. I seriously wonder if I will. People hurry by. Suits and dresses, briefcases, cameras. They all have places to go. They all have an agenda. They all pass by.

A woman trips and falls, her knee slamming into the concrete. Wincing, she steadies herself. The pedestrians pause for a moment, hesitating. But the woman forces herself to her feet, before a helping hand is offered. The pedestrians continue. The woman brushes herself off, and limps onward. I feel her pain. I understand.

With another swallow of cool liquid, I force the burden onto my back again, and struggle on. Twenty steps later feels like an eternity, and my throat is parched and dry again. My legs cry out with each step. My stomach tightens. Dizzy. So dizzy. Hazy. Vision failing. Mind reeling. Trembling. Press on. Half way there. Train Station. 8:30. Air conditioning. Oasis. Heat.

Again I fall in a mass. I couldn’t force myself to walk farther. I collapsed and downed another mouthful of cool water. It didn’t help. My throat tightened. I wanted to die. Leaning back, I let my body rest on the ground. Muscles loosened. Stomach relaxed. Heart rate slowed. Trembling stopped. The skyline circled above me. The clear blue sky between the tall buildings. So beautiful. So clear. The buildings towering above seemed to sway back and forth, back and forth. I squeezed my eyes shut. Home. Sleep. Bed. Air conditioning. Mommy. I’ve never been so alone and abandoned in my entire life.

What Am I To Do?

What am I to do? The world presses on, the clock never stops. Sometimes you wish it would go faster, sometimes you wish it would die. My dreams loom heavy on the horizon. My wishes, my desires burn brightly all around me. Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going. Being a student, I sometimes feel so cut off from reality. A life of study is easy. You’re not working your hands to put food on the table. But those days are coming–sooner than I expect. I wonder if I’ll be ready, if I’ll be able. Sometimes I want those days to come sooner, sometimes I wish they’d go away. Can I support myself? Can I support the ones I love? Can I pay the loans that hang above my head? Maybe being a student isn’t so easy. I always seem to be asking the questions, never really grasping the answers. Some day.

Who am I that you are mindful of me?

Who am I that you are mindful of me? My mind reaches to the heavens and my dreams soar on the wings of my potential. I get so far ahead of myself I forget the reason I’m reaching for the stars. My head gets so big I can’t see anything else.

Yet when I come to you, and humble myself before you. When I forget my ego, my dreams, my anything, and grovel before you, stuttering like a dehydrated vagabond–what amazes me, what absolutely floors me–is that you stoop down and pick me up. You brush off the ego, the inflated dreams, and the sin. You let it all fall away with the wind, and you see me as I am. As who you created me to be. And you hold me tight. I stammer like a four-year-old, and you listen intently as if I were a theologian.


That we could be called the sons of God.