“Come on, oh baba don’t you want to go / Oh come on, oh baba don’t you want to go / Back to that same old place / Sweet home Chicago” (The Blues Brothers)
Hey, guess who’s going to Chicago for the summer? That’d be me. Seems like I landed myself an internship in the windy city. Of course the pay is nonexistent, so I’ll be finding myself another job, but the housing’s free. So if anybody reading these ponderings is gonna be anywhere near Chicagoland this summer, give me a call. You can buy me lunch.
It’s really amazing how things work out sometimes. It only bolsters my faith that God watches out for us and has things planned so well.
Lately I’ve read several articles about the Columbine shootings, and it’s really made me think. In some senses, I rejoice, because these articles have been confirming the fact that a girl was martyred in that school, something the news media ignores. Not that I’m rejoicing in death, but when someone dies like that, it deserves to be heard. Her action can inspire thousands. But what I feel is sadly lacking from these articles is a call to action. I found this quote rather ironic, “Another student, Rachel Scott, seventeen years old, had just days before performed in the school play, cast in the role of an outcast, a student searching for herself in a world of peer pressure and popularity contests.” The writer was trying to show what a real person Rachel was. And yes, it’s sad that she died. But playing the role of the outcast? The very words ring in my ears. Outcast. Who were the outcasts? Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. I’m not trying to justify their actions, but it seems that people need to realize just how important it is to reach out to people. If Jesus Christ had been at Columbine High, who do you think he would have had lunch with?
Continue reading Columbine Shootings
Well, it’s officially spring. Today it was finally warm enough to don the shorts and have class outside. The two sure signs of spring.
“I still can’t believe you two,” he started. “I still have to do a double take when I see you guys together.”
So do I. So do I. Sometimes it’s strange how things work out. You just can’t explain it. The next thing you know you don’t want to let go. You find yourself looking back to catch one last glimpse before it’s time to go.
While sitting at my desk this morning in my pajamas, reading an e-mail, I heard a knock at the door. Annoyed, I stomped over to the door, grumbling about roommates who forget their keys. I opened the door to a bouquet of flowers. Not for me, but for one of my roommates. It was his girlfriend. She was standing there all dressed up with flowers in one hand and a plate of breakfast rolls for the townhouse in the other. “Fresh out of the oven,” she offered. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, standing there in my pajamas, grumbling only moments before about flowers and food.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
Ah, what a beautiful day. What a beautiful evening. What a beautiful night.
You say the dandelion is a weed. You ignore its simple beauty, and classify it as a pest. You call it ugly. But it’s not just about a dandelion. Look at the children. They enter school and life so vibrant and open, and in a few short years they’re scared. They won’t draw some wild-eyed, fanciful picture anymore. They’re convinced that they must color within the lines. They think the dandelion is a weed too. But it doesn’t stop there. Look at the young woman. She sees her body in the mirror, and images from magazines in her mind. She’s no cover girl. The two don’t match. She must be worthless. Society has crushed her concept of beauty, and now she no longer fits that category. An inner battle is fought, and too often her body will lose, and the pounds will come dangerously off. She thinks the dandelion is a weed too.
But don’t they see? It’s a magnificent flower. It adds balance to the vast green field and puts amazing splotches of color everywhere. A dandelion isn’t a weed.
“Lord, search my heart, Create in me something clean. Dandelions–You see flowers in these weeds.” (“Dandelions” by Five Iron Frenzy)
I noticed today that the dandelions are finally popping up, and so I’ll take the chance to talk about a song I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while. I can’t pull just a few good lines out, so here’s the whole thing.
Continue reading Dandelions: You See Flowers in These Weeds
This morning the church service was held outside. What a beautiful way to worship God. As a side effect, I now have a sunburn.
“So what’s on your mind?” she asks. You again, huh? Hmmm. Where do I begin and what do I say?
Projects, tests and papers bear down on me, and finals loom on the horizon. The sun has finally come out, and the warm weather is beckoning me away from my work. 15 people died in the Columbine massacre, and people struggle to understand. Bombs fall in Yugoslavia as the ethnic cleansing continues in Kosovo. Conflict guts my church at home, my mother breaks down crying as she tells me, and I’m 700 miles away and can’t do a thing. And my heart finds a new love that the old won’t understand. “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” the Psalmist cries out (10:1), and I understand the pain he feels. But I also know that “You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing,” (Psalm 16:2).
The pain she feels is tremendous. I can only imagine. “No, you can’t.” she retorts. Well, maybe I can’t. But I think I can. Do you think I planned this? Do you think I meant it to be this way? It’s times like these that I can only cling to God. I didn’t write the script. No man could write a plot so complex. I’m just stumbling along, trying to read my lines and adlib the ones I forget. Somehow He gives me the cues I need. I know it hurts. Your tears pierce my soul. You don’t want to believe that, because that would mean I have compassion, and you can’t hate me if I have that. But enough of that. It gets us nowhere. I don’t want to see you hurt, but this is the way it’s working out. There’s a plan behind it, and it makes no sense now, but someday it will. I’m following the way I know. I showed care and concern for you, and still do. And now I must move forward. I’m sorry. Don’t bury your rage in a ball. Don’t hate yourself. This is more than that. This is beyond all that. Can’t you see?
And so I step forward, knowing the past is shaky, but confident in the present. I hold your hand, and I know that only God could have put it there. So we walk forward, and move on to the next scene, “Line please.”
How can things be so right, and yet so confusing? The chorus of a cheesy pop song from middle school returns to my mind. “I need to hear from you,” (Petra). A good friend and I used to sing those words in jest, referring to his girlfriend who had been ignoring him. The words return to my mind for vastly different reasons, but they still return. So much confusion and cloudiness can so easily be cleared up. I know it’s hard, but why must you take so long?
“Do you want to go for a walk you can hold my hand we can laugh and talk. You can lead the way, which way you want to go, tell me all the things I really, really want to know. Hair is gold and her eyes are blue I’m in love with the girl with the flower tattoo and if I wrote the perfect song you know I’d name it after you. t-shirt, sneakers, some faded blue jeans, pockets in the back ripped from the seams. Doesn’t really care what she hears or sees, what they think about her what they think about me. Hair is gold and her eyes are blue I’m in love with a girl with a flower tattoo and if I wrote the perfect song you know I’d name it after you. Do you want to go for a walk you can hold my hand we can laugh and talk. You can lead the way, which way you want to go, tell me all the things I really, really want to know. Hair is gold and her eyes are blue I’m in love with a girl with a flower tattoo and if I wrote the perfect song you know I’d name it after you.” – ‘Flower Tattoo’ by the W’s
As the horror unfolds, it seems I can only ask questions. What is wrong with this country when such a thing can happen? What is wrong with people when they stoop to such a level? What is wrong with the rest of us that we let them stoop so low, and never stop to think of them?
Cassie Bernall, Steven Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matthew Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Daniel Rohrbough, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Shoels, John Tomlin, Lauren Townsend, Kyle Velasquez, and William “Dave” Sanders, we cry for you. It breaks my heart to hear the 911 tapes, and hear the shots in the background. The shots could have been the bullets that ended your lives. They could have been the bullets that wounded someone. The more I hear of this tragedy, the more it breaks my heart. The picture of a bloody, wounded student pulling his way out a broken window will never leave my mind. When humanity stoops to this level, we must stop and ask ourselves what is happening. When young children can see the graphic carnage on the evening news, we must ask ourselves just what we are doing.
Here’s some more thoughts on the shooting in Colorado. I wrote the following piece for the Table Tent:
I sat in the quiet of my room, enjoying a chance to stop for a moment. How was I supposed to know that somewhere else gunshots were shattering the silence? With anger, rage, and confusion, two students strode through the hallowed halls of their school, firing shots and throwing bombs. Blood flowed, people cried, and part of me died. Now the questions are being asked, and everyone’s coming up short. How do you know someone would take their life, and the lives of 13 innocent? The answer seems painfully clear to me. They were outcasts. Alone in their thoughts, they struck back in the only way they could. Did anyone stop to reach out to them? The blame is now being cast on lax gun control laws and violent TV shows, which certainly share the guilt. But what about you? What about me? Did we stoop from our righteous lives to show love to the outcast? Or did we ignore them, leaving them to wallow in their hate? Seven school shootings in the past two years. And those are only the “safe” suburban schools that the news media cares about. The problem isn’t desensitized violence, easily available weapons, and deadbeat parents, although they all contribute. The problem is the Christian who refuses to make a difference.
“Is there anybody out there? Does anybody care? Are the people really there? Is anybody seeking? Does anybody see? Or are they deaf and dumb like me?” (‘Anybody Out There’ by Burlap to Cashmere)