Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Late-Night Theology

I have, once again, entered into a situation where I am confronted with the realities of this world. Only this time, I have begun to deal with it in the context of attending seminary.

Two gentlemen asked for money tonight, one for the bus, the other for some sort of medical treatment. The second man followed us down the street, his plea remaining the same, “Please…please help me.” What do I do? I had some change, which I gave. I had some dollar bills, which I didn’t.

Immersion in a theological framework is the background to my newest foray into the world of the rich and the poor living side-by-side. I must ask myself how my interactions affect me theologically, and what sort of statement they make.

Which leads me to a very simple question: What kind of theological statement am I making when I turn down someone who asks me for money? What does it mean for me to lie about having money, currency that jingles in my pocket as I walk home to the roof over my head? I don’t know.

All I know, besides the fact that I have limited amounts of money during this year of working, entering into graduate study, and paying my bills, is that the person on the street could be Jesus. It’s probably not, but it could be. And that’s all I can think about as I attempt to sleep tonight.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Windy City

Why I'm Glad I Don't Have a Car, Reason #41: (see above),

I would LOVE to see how the driver gets out of that space...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


My mom ate in silence, once looking up and taking stock of my dad. Her eyes widened, and the faintest smile crossed her lips before she went back to staring at the spoon. Later my dad told me that such a moment was “a ghost of Mom’s former self, but it’s enough to make me think she recognized me.” Well, absolutely. My rational side tells me that any facial tick that could barely be interpreted as recognition is probably just nerve endings firing randomly, some sort of side effect connected to the wretched state in which her brain resides. But my dad believes it to be my mother reaching across an impossible void, even for just a second, and touching him.

Come to think of it, it’s just as improbable that a guy was killed and came back to life three days later.

i’m hungry

Many of you have read my incoherent ramblings concerning my mother, as I try to somehow deal with what it means and how it can be understood in a somewhat rational way. As was likely, I have failed miserably. But I have kept on.

I saw my mother again with my dad, with the entire visit lasting barely five minutes. Just like in April, she didn’t recognize me. Yet somehow the shock truly registered this time. She doesn’t know me. Wow. I had, in the course of reflecting on my previous visit, underestimated the power of not remembering. I wholly recognized it that day.

As is usual for odd workings of chance (i.e. the Holy Spirit), I ended up at a service later in the evening at Texas State, where I heard a sermon about the physicality of the body and blood of Jesus. In the assigned lesson, Jesus tells his disciples that unless they “eat my body and drink my blood”, they have no part in him. Interesting words. Pastor Lou mentioned the beauty in this charge, namely that those who do not have the mental capacity to contemplate the majesty and wonder of Christ can still receive him. All they have to do is eat and drink. This is especially compelling with those that can do little but.

When we arrived at the nursing home, Mom was eating heartily, her chapped lips opening and closing seemingly at random, waiting for the spoon to arrive. Her mind is done grasping the mundane details of life – she is concerned with nourishing her body. I guess when the mind is all but gone, the need to pay attention to its physical partner is all the more necessary.

Ours is not a faith that requires anything but the grace of God. I think that word takes on new meaning when applied to someone who, in all probability, has no idea about the importance placed on the sacrament of communion in the first place. She must simply eat and drink, fulfilling the most basic of human needs.

And what a beautiful example of God’s love for us. It crosses all the physical and illusory boundaries that we create to separate and divide us, yes. But it also crosses the seemingly impassable fortress of the mind in order to fill us. Stripped of our intellectual capacity, we can still receive the body and blood.

Pastor Lou ended his sermon by asking us to ponder the age-old phrase, “You are what you eat.” I would like to think that my mother illustrates this perfectly. She, although crippled by a monstrously invisible disease, can, in a subtle but powerful way, become that which she eats: a beautiful and loved child of God.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

what was i saying?

Recently I have been struggling with what to say, but I don’t want to let my blog falter. It feels like a discipline in many ways to keep this up, to keep my words going, to keep spitting out these thoughts.

I woke up this morning in somewhat of a cloudy haze. I couldn’t understand where I was, and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. Once I realized that I, in fact, could go back to sleep, I was so indescribably happy that I couldn’t stop grinning. Such is vacation, some will say. But, believe it or not, I felt like I was simply finding contentment in the richness of my ordinary, day-to-day life.

So many thoughts run through my head in the course of the day, but once I sit down to write in this thing, they have all but disappeared, with only shards of the remaining ideas floating around…somewhere…just out of reach.

I have done very little this time around in Texas. I have seen people, unpacked, repacked, packed again, and slept, but most of my thoughts have been geared towards the elusive idea of seminary – what it will mean, how it will be, what will come of it.

I always remember the ubiquitous send-off prayer read to many an idealistic volunteer before their service begins – I can’t recall the exact words right now, but it mostly reminds us that wherever we go, God will be with us. I don’t know how many times I’ve prayed for that exact thing, only to forget it the minute I start imagining any new phase in my life.

Perhaps I should pray for patience, to remember that God is always with us, no matter where we go. But I’m much too busy to remember to do that.


Friday, August 11, 2006

don't say it

Wow, I haven't updated in a long time.

Sure, I've been packing, re-packing, saying goodbye, saying "see ya later", and doing all the horrible detail shit that characterizes my fear of moving, but this is no excuse.

Karlyn's in the corner, mouthing "I told you so," with a sneer while giving me the finger. I'm not gonna let this go, K! As far as blog's go, third time's a charm, right?

I haven't kept up with people, and the next whirlwind tour of Texas, Des Moines, and finally Chicago will prove no better. So, I'll just apologize now and promise to write again when I'm freaking out in between orientation classes at seminary.

Goodbye, LVC. Goodbye, LC/NA. Goodbye Brett, Jerry, and Emily. Goodbye Cat, Cole, Ben, and Mitsy. Goodbye weird guy in the corner pushing buttons trying to act like you're working.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

take to the skies

We are in a holding pattern hundreds of miles from our destination (my own personal hell), and I am understanding less and less of how, exactly, an airplane stays in the air. Perhaps I shouldn’t be spending so much time considering this at the same time that I am sitting in one, you might say, but for some reason this is calming me down.

And so I will go ahead and highlight another thing I just don’t understand concerning airplanes:

Out of sight, out of mind.

For some reason, a few people feel inclined to act like complete assholes on planes. My best guess is that since they stand little chance of seeing another person ever again, they figure they can dive into their own personal, self-obsessed, others-obliterating universe whenever they damn well please.

I just returned from the bathroom in the back of the plane, and when I was done, I forgot to shut the door. Honest mistake, I tell myself, as I realize the error and turn back to correct it. Lest my abrupt halt and about turn was misunderstood, the gentleman next to the door – less than 10 inches from the toilet – is pointing at the door with his eyebrows raised, as if to say, “Forget something, dumbshit?” I raise my hand and nod my head, again recognizing the lack of judgment. But he’s not done. He watches me close the door, shaking his head and turning to his neighbors to make sure they understand the severity of what I’ve done. He was truly inconvenienced, I’d say. If he was so inclined, he could have reached over with his hand and closed the door – a monstrous task that would have taken a full two seconds to accomplish. Or he could have, when I turned around, smiled politely, acknowledging what I had already acknowledged – my “oops” moment. But, no. His flight was on the verge of being ruined, and he was not going to let me get away with my senseless act of violence against his sensibilities.

I’m sorry. I really am. Now stop trying to shame me, and show a little empathy.

That’s really it, I guess. I was going to go into some other rant, but we are approaching Atlanta. This is my favorite part of the flight: the end.