August 31, 2005

stairwell accompaniment:Damien Rice-O

this weekend we drove through the midwest. we ate white figs and slept on the floor in sleeping bags. we rode the train into Chicago and reminded why friends are paramount. we wandered the city streets and peered from the 96th floor. we soaked up the sun and we ate coconut curry.

this weekend we read books and we came before our Holy Daddy with honesty and reality. we drove to the beach and felt the sand between our toes. we walked out to the lighthouse and we dodged the waves. we found reconciliation and intimacy.

this weekend we had meaningful conversations with friends of the past. we asked the difficult questions and we strived to learn. we ate hometown ice cream and we laughed from our bellies.

this weekend we held close and recognized each other from afar. we visited old memories and we walked on the rivers edge. we became the children we desire to be and we looked forward to the days ahead. we laughed with family and we found joy in growth.


August 25, 2005

stairwell accompaniment:Guster

In the middle of the night I sometimes wake to the labored breathing of my dog, Levi. I am consistently aware of her presence in the room. She dutifully sleeps curled up beside my bed and each night, without fail, I step on her slumbering body as I begin my zombied walk to the restroom. She lets out a low moan, rolls over and waits for my return. I really love my dog. She makes me laugh out loud. She makes me smile out loud. I don’t know why I love her so much, except that I’ve chosen to believe she is the most profound and beautiful dog that exists. And so she is.
I often enjoy Levi at my feet simply because she is another living thing in the room. She doesn’t do a thing for me, provide me with conversation, give me anything… I loved her simply for her movement, her noisy barking through dreams, her loud hound dog snores. For her desire to be loved and the consistent affection she limitlessly offers.

But tonight an upset stomach has descended upon the world of Levi. And I’m not sure there are words to communicate just how awful is the awfulness of the pain and the ache and the affliction, and did I mention that it was awful? She is pacing the room, pausing only slightly to lay for a moment to moan LOUDLY and then back up to pace. According to sources close to the stomach, the pain goes all the way up from the part specified, along the shin, around the knee, up up up unto the jaw-line. The whole body is nearly paralyzed, except for the voice part, which CAN‘T STOP MOANING ABOUT THE PAIN.

This upset stomach is the most awful upset stomach there ever was, monumental in its awfulness, and I need to spend the next paragraph talking about just how awful it is, just in case you missed the awfulness that I have already mentioned. It is just so awful, really and very much awful, OH SO AWFUL. Ouch, it hurts, and it is still hurting, and in the two seconds since she layed down and acted as if might subside, it was hurting it hasn’t stopped hurting because it still hurts and IT IS AWFUL.

I really wish I could take away the pain, because I don’t like it when she is in pain, but more importantly because I would like to sleep tonight without worrying about waking up to a floor covered in paw-pacing marks and dog vomit. But there is just so much pain. And the puppy eyes are more desperate by the minute. And to illustrate that pain I am going to type this:WAAAAAAAHHH!!


August 24, 2005

stairwell accompaniment:the shins

the day is beautiful. there are few earthly things that bring me as much joy as the month of october and today we are closer than any other day this year thus far. i am savoring the sunshine and the wind.

i’m feeling Jacob lately. wrestling with God and continually walking away with a limp. painful. staggering. tender. i’m becoming more aware of the deeper battle going on here. yet deepening the battle only deepens the significance of my Savior. He is merciful for His sake. yet i will not go unless a blessing is issued.

August 23, 2005

stairwell accompaniment:Chasing Furies

and i muse…

That my obsession with the beauty of autumn might become the pillar of fire by night and the cloud in the sky by day of my search for that something more. And I want to redefine beauty.

The opposite of beauty is deformity, brokenness, not-the-way-it’s-supposed-to-be-edness. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, but deformity, brokenness. We must not paint beauty into the corner of simple aesthetics, or of the purely physical; it is too big, too grand; it is more than a pretty flower on the hill – it is the whole landscape, quite possibly the moment in which the landscape breathes.

And we long for it; beauty is desirable. I want it in my life. It’s the way I love the colors of the dying leaves; what I feel when I’m at the brink of a mother giving birth, the first gasp of her child, and how instantly the inhabitants of the room feel like family surrounded by such joy; it’s the smile that covers your face when you’re all caught up on phone calls and emails; why a volcano could erupt and hot lava could be cutting a fiery gorge through the room when I’m near Joy and it wouldn’t matter to me one bit.

Encounters with beauty are those startling, ineffable moments when we are in the presence of something bigger than ourselves, and we can’t explain it, and we don’t necessarily feel the need to. Sometimes, I feel like I’m seeing it all at once and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst, and then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold onto it, and then it flows through me like rain and I don’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.

Everyone and everything experiences some degree of beauty and its opposite, brokenness. For each person who revels in the beauty of sex, another person is sexually abused; for each beautiful sunrise, someone is devastated by a tornado; for each beautiful new baby born, someone is eaten away by cancer – deformity, and its opposite, beauty, are universal. They go together; they’re inseparable — we recognize beauty in light of deformity. Everything speaks of either beauty or deformity.

So why doesn’t beauty satisfy us completely? The simple answer: because it can’t. God created us to enjoy something better than beauty – He created us to enjoy Him. The beautiful sunset is but a reflection of His beauty – beauty is not God, and God cannot be consumed by or contained in beauty. He made us to find satisfaction in Him so if we seek fulfillment in reflections of Him, we’ll remain as unfulfilled as if we try to shave or put make-up on the reflection we see in the mirror.

C. S. Lewis, in The Weight of Glory, compares our desire for beauty to a man who is hungry for bread. The man’s hunger doesn’t prove that he’ll get any bread, but there is a reason for the hunger; the reason is that he belongs to a race that “repairs its body” by eating, that is created for, among other things, eating. In the same way, we have this hunger for beauty for a reason, because we belong to a race that is created for, among other things, beauty. Another way to put it is that our desire for beauty is just one manifestation of our desire for heaven.

I cannot express this better than Lewis, so I will use his words:
“We do not want merely to see [experience] beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. . . . At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. . . . The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing . . . .”

Because beauty is not an end in itself.

August 19, 2005

…wait for it…wait for it…
(savor it)