Category Archives: Tragedy

HIT OR MISS! I GUESS THEY NEVER MISS, HUH? (Trust Issues 2.0)

Crazy? I was crazy once. They put me in a white room. The white room was filled with rats.
Rats?! They make me crazy!
Crazy? I was crazy once. They put me in a white room. The white room was filled with rats.
Rats?! They make me crazy!
Crazy? I was crazy once…

When I was a kid, I all too often engaged in idiosyncratic behavior. Such as repeating a phrase over and over and over and over and over (whether under my breath, or simply in my head), or twiddled my hair until I ended up pulling pieces out.

Things didn’t change as I got older. I just got better at hiding it. And then I simply found new ways for it to manifest. New outlets.
Count stairs.
Make sure volume was numerically on a prime number.
Get my hair or my beard or anything appearance-wise to EXACTLY how I needed it to be before leaving the house. Well…before leaving the bathroom.
Checking the locks on every door.

And then things…kinda settled down. I…kinda settled down.
Things became relatively…okay. I found that having kids did manage to kick up my anxiety, but it also quelled a lot of it. Especially my OCD. You either become even more obsessive, or less. And I found myself becoming less. I didn’t need to get the dollar amount of the gasoline tank a prime number. Then volume didn’t necessarily have to be prime. Appearance, I felt free to not have things perfect. That, or I was simply coming into my own. Door locks were something I didn’t think about. Sometimes I didn’t even lock the car door after getting the kids out (GASP).

I found myself accepting more, being present more, letting go more.
I used to write scripts in my head of how I cinematically desired my life to play out, and then tried my damnedest to make them do so. And as life went on, that wasn’t the case. I took a backseat to my life and began to just let what happens, happen.

And I was fine with it.
To just let life happen to me.

But then…life seems to decide that maybe, perhaps maybe, you’re becoming a little too complacent.
Remember that book you were writing?

What about that album you were set to finish?
Remember how often you used to create, and write, and share and just…put it all out there?

And then…remember how Fuller Seminary said they didn’t want you?
Remember how your acting fizzled out after really taking off?
What about your music?
And your garden, and your backyard, and your longing and yearning for that…SOMETHING.

And that’s when life decides to basically end for you. Nah, your old life is done. Time to start over. Guess what. Remember all those idiosyncrasies? Remember that anxiety? Remember how easily your thoughts drift to suicide? Well those are all going to come back.

Because your life is over.

…but it’s not over.

It’s just that what came before is over. And now it’s something new. And it’s not like you’re new. Because this has happened before. Your life has ended…before…

Quite a few times now. And every time it has, it’s this weird mix of you being the same you, but becoming something else. Like…a Doctor Who…regenerating. Same person, becoming different persons.

I wish I could go into details. And looking back, I oh so often do. But this time, it’s this multiple front that involves SO much that’s in flux, and varying family in my life that I just don’t feel I can come right out and say. If /when things get resolved, then I’ll probably end up editing this. And I’m more than happy to share personally, so message me if you’re genuinely curious, cause it involves some pretty heavy and ridiculous shit.

So here’s where I’m at: I have this overwhelming feeling that I SHOULD be titling this post “Trust Issues 2.0”. Because it feels like a new beginning. “Trust Issues” was my very first post on my website. And it wasn’t as thematic, it wasn’t as clickbait-y as other posts, and it was a bit more freeform and just stream of thought and consciousness than any of my posts became from there on out.

Since then, I wrote (read: contributed) for major online publications, I switched career goals at least 3 times, I moved, I became a parent (twice), I began professoring, and got ordained as a reverend.

In fact, THIS POST is the first I’ve written since those last two have occurred.

I don’t have any pithy or profound endings right now. But I can say this, I really and truly, actually think it’s time to “lay down the melancholy burden of sanity” and conceive the strangest project ever imagined.

It’s time to get back to it.

Time to go to work.

->and the world WILL be better for this…

 

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Filed under Dreams, Tragedy, utter nonsense

Make the World (America) Small Again

I was equally torn between not wanting to fall asleep, and going to sleep but not waking up.

My son isn’t to an age where he has much understanding outside of his family, and his immediate surroundings. So last night as my wife and I were nervously watching the election results pour in, he came into the living room with his tiger and his penguin, rubbing his eyes, with his back to the TV, looking at us. As exhausted as I was, I wanted to get him back to sleep so I could return to nervously flipping between news channels.

And while I was aware that I was facing a choice which extended beyond meeting his needs, it didn’t stop me from still being anxious.

Nevertheless, I fell asleep on the floor next to his bed, stroking his little hand.

My wife woke me up around 1 (without calling Ice Cube the top gun), and as I stirred awake, so did my son. As she took over, I went to bed, now wide awake. I looked at my phone, and discovered Donald Trump is going to be our next president.

And I could not fall back asleep.

I was equally torn between not wanting to fall asleep, and going to sleep but not waking up.

Now, I didn’t vote. And you can feel free to tear me apart for it in the comments, but it’s my choice and I accept all consequences. I didn’t want Donald Trump to be president, not because I wanted Hillary Clinton, but because I felt I had a pretty good idea of just what America would become under his “leadership.”

And between California Proposition 60 and the Presidential Election itself, it’s clear that what America wants to get off to is an unprotected dick.

Hillary Clinton didn’t seem like a great alternative either, and I didn’t want her as acting Chief. But I could at least see a silver lining in a Hillary Clinton Presidency – even if she does a shitty job, I can tell my unborn daughter that she can be President, because that role has finally been pioneered. That’s how I made sense of the country choosing Hillary Clinton. And all I could think about with a Presidency under Donald Trump was that it was going to be just like when in high school, and my soccer coach became Vice Principal.

He was a real dick.

That’s how I made sense of this terrible election, and the state of our country.
That’s what I thought it was going to be.

And then America chose.

And between California Proposition 60 and the Presidential Election itself, it’s clear that what America wants to get off to is an unprotected dick.

I finally fell asleep.

And woke up this morning to my son quietly at the side of my bed.

I feel soft. With a gentle spirit. In the dark.

I got up, started a pot of coffee, kissed my wife (I can’t remember which order), and resigned myself to face just what the world had and will become.

It was as if the lights had suddenly been turned off and I was faced with what seems like overwhelming darkness. As a friend of mine posted on Facebook, the only way I can describe feeling is “soft.” I felt and continue to feel incredibly soft today. Gentle. And it’s a strange place to be. And a strange feeling to have in such a place. To have a gentled spirit while in the dark can only seemingly be described by just saying, “I feel soft, with a gentle spirit, in the dark.”

And my interactions with my son today have been an expression of that. Throughout the morning things have been calm, quiet, and…well, soft. My wife and I both struggled with a desire to avoid the inevitable array of news and coverage and social media. It’s easier for me because I simply have to make the choice to not look at my phone all day.

But even with that simplest of tasks, I still found myself looking at Facebook. And more than looking, I wanted to see people I knew voted for Trump gloating. But I’m tired of being angry, and I’m tired of getting angry. And I wanted to see those that also wished against Trump express their heartache. But I’m tired of feeling shock, and I’m tired of feeling sadness, and I really REALLY don’t feel optimistic.

I feel soft. With a gentle spirit. In the dark.

And it was while I was sitting at the table, finishing my food and the pot of coffee, that my son tugs on my arm again and again, telling me he wants me down. Normally I get frustrated with this, and this morning was no different. I just wanted him to let me be, to go play, and let me absorb myself in the reality that is. I want to make sense of it all. I want to plan out and prepare for all those unknowns that are yet to come. I want to orient myself to this surreal sate of being.

And he wanted me down on the floor, on his level, to play, read books, to color, to sing, and snuggle his animals with him.

Chesterton said, “…if a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small.

It was a form of this statement that came to mind and my son was whining and pulling at my arm and saying, “down.” There’s a scene in Man of Steel that always gets me to cry (and still succeeded in doing so when I looked up a clip for this post) where a young Clark Kent is overwhelmed by his manifesting abilities and in talking to his mom, tells her, “the world’s too big, Mom!” And lovingly, calmly, and quietly, she tells him, “then make it small. Just focus on my voice.”

 

I don’t have superhuman abilities. But since becoming (not by choice, necessarily) a full time stay at home parent, I’ve discovered that I can be present with my son day in and day out.

I can enter his world.

Which is huge and exciting and unexplored.

A world with countless possibilities, and also dangers. But a world where he knows that whenever he’s afraid, I’m there in his world to hold him and tell him he’s safe. For as long as he needs it.

Chesterton said, “…if a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small.

My trouble is that I desire to make my world—the world—small. Because if the world is small, then it’s knowable. And if it’s knowable, then there’s a sense that it’s controllable.
I can’t see that when I make the world small, I miss out on adventures, and unknown experiences that can surprise me. I miss out on SO MUCH when I make the world small.

Which is why when things happen that completely deconstruct the world that I’ve made small—that turn out the lights—that make me feel like I’ve lost my small little world and I’m floating in the emptiness of space, I’m faced with some difficulties.

But when I make myself small…
When I enter my son’s world and see it through his eyes…
When I let go of trying to know, and trying to control…

When I focus on one voice and one voice alone…

That big world isn’t so frightening anymore.

One of the most quoted parts of the second Batman film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight, is the speech about darkness and light. Harvey Dent says, “The night is always darkest just before the dawn.”
When I actually think about this, based on experience, it’s a bullshit statement. The night is darkest when you go from bright light to no light. It makes you feel as if all truly is darkness; as if light has abandoned you. But give yourself enough time to adjust, and you begin to see light—wherever it may be, however dim it may be.
…if you’re looking for it.

There’s a tendency to close your eyes when you get scared. And what’s scarier than darkness?
But if you keep your eyes open long enough, you see light in the most unexpected places, interacting and doing things in the most unexpected ways.

When I focus on one voice and one voice alone…
That big world isn’t so frightening anymore.

I wish I could give answers.

I wish I could say what all of this is for.
I wish I could give something tangible that helps make the world smaller again, more manageable, comfortable.
But I’m realizing that I don’t really want to.

I just want to hang out with my infant son.

I want my eyes to soon adjust to the dark.

And I want to seek the light.

I want to be small. And enjoy the world, for all the good it has.

And it sure does have a lot of good.

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Filed under Political (as such), Tragedy

What Do You Say When No One Has Ears to Hear?

It’s been the span of just one month (at the time of writing this), and the amount of horrific tragedies having occurred all over the world have been nothing short of countless (while nothing compared to the amount that this entire year has wrought).
I say countless, not because these events have been innumerable, but because even just ONE of them is ONE TOO MANY.

It’s felt as if the whole world has just been soaked—steeped, like a bag of tea—in chaos; in darkness; utterly in a void.

And it didn’t take long for the Internet…well, social media, to follow suit. What I’ve witnessed it become, I can only describe to be some sort of collective madhouse serving to accomplish nothing but an overwhelming—damn near deafeningcacophony.

i don't know what we're yelling about.gif

Articles and blog posts after articles and blog posts after articles and blog posts.
Politicians and speeches.
Articles and blog posts about politicians and their speeches.
Tweets.
Facebook posts.
Facebook profile picture changes.
And all theLikes.” Ohhh, all the “Thumbs Ups” Facebook “Likes” and “Shares” and “Repostings” and “Thoughts and prayers,” after, “thoughts and prayers,” after, “thoughts and prayers.”

loud noises

And for reasons I’ll elaborate further on in time, through it all I’ve remained…uncomfortably silent. Not because I have nothing to say (quite the contrary, in fact), but rather, for motivations I’ve felt to be considerably significant.

I’ve remained silent because it’s been abundantly clear that EVERYONE has something to say…and NO ONE really seems to be doing any listening.

It’s as if whenever our world is steeped into the VOID, the only thing we ever find ourselves doing is nothing; nothing but stand at its precipice, and scream, and shout, and cuss, and cry out, all of it, into that VOID.
And it just feels like it accomplishes NOTHING.
I have seen so so much of people’s hearts hurting, aching, breaking, for all the suffering and tragedy and loss that has repeatedly occurred within this span of just one short month. Now whether these emotions are genuine or just for show is not for me to say; though I will state with certainty that I believe there is an unmistakeable distinction between having a big heart, and having a heart in the right place. And please don’t misunderstand me here, I am by no means criticizing (nor calling into question) anyone’s sentiment, anyone’s heart, and anyone who has found themselves on that precipice screaming and shouting and cursing and crying. Nor am I just cynically ranting about the pointlessness of social media and all that it entails (the fact is not lost on me that this very piece represents exactly what I’m eluding to…).
But rather, I am sincerely expressing the personal struggle I’m having with a question as difficult for me to find an answer to, as it is for me to just simply find the correct words in the correct order to correctly word the question itself. And it is a question I long to have answered both for my own selfish reasons, but also in hopes of righting all this wrong I’ve seen in response to the world unavoidably spewed and spewed and spewed all over the internet.

And I’m as much asking myself these questions (if not genuinely so much more), as I am positing them to you.

When you stand at the precipice—filled with emotion that you’re just longing to express—and you scream and shout and spit and cuss and cry into the VOID, just WHAT IS THE POINT.

What do you do when it seems as if NOTHING you say or do seems to make ANY difference?

What do you say when all you see is no one listening?

I mentioned before that through everything that has occurred recently, I’ve found myself in a place of tense silence. And to be fair, much of it had to do with timing, and a preoccupation with caring for my infant son. But the fact remains that these questions have plagued me long before thematically outlining this piece. As I said, I’ve personally had many thoughts about so much of what has transpired these past weeks, coupled with a desire to write them all out (I even had a clever, kitschy title summarizing what I wrote, “Teething, Terrorists, Trump, and Troubles.”).
What stopped me? Well initially I’d like to say that because no one asked my opinion or thoughts, I really didn’t give a damn about sharing anything.

And I know that there is at least a part of that remaining.

But the bulk of what’s been holding me back are those very questions I listed above.

When it feels as if all I’m doing is shouting into the VOID—when all I am doing is nothing more than adding to that VOID, WHAT IS THE POINT.

When I struggle with believing that NOTHING I do seems to make ANY difference, what is there for me to do?

And ultimately, regardless of anything I might have to say…about anything, when the response appears to be as if NO ONE has “ears to hear,” WHAT IS THE POINT of saying anything?

… … …

I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard the phrase “ears to hear,” anywhere other than in a Biblical context; “for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” Though it’s a phrase that I’ve easily glossed over time and time again when reading Scripture, I’ve become enamored with it, because it truly captures both the simplicity and sincerity that lay at the heart of genuine Christianity like magic from fairytales being both the same and different, hard enough to build a foundation, but fluid enough that you never can quite think you’ve got them all figured out.

For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Simple and straightforward.
A phrase I’ve always (or, at least until recently) taken at face value.

Jesus is recorded frequently finishing whatever he was speaking with that phrase: “for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” And THE closest I think I come to understanding it is essentially saying, “for those of you that are truly actually paying attentionfor those of you that are truly actually listeningYOU’LL get what I’m saying.

I quite often find myself easily bombarded by a mess of bright and spastic, overwhelming visuals that…I fail to really see.

And even more frequently do I find myself comfortably consumed by the cacophony of long winded explanations and pompous justifications that…I fail to really listen.
When I find myself staring at the VOID too long? That’s all I start to believe.

And voids are anything BUT simple, and anything BUT sincere.

For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

What is the simplicity promised within these words?
What is the sincerity promised within them?

What are the words?

Echō ous akouō akouō(!)

Echō (G2192: to have, hold)
ous (G3775: the ear, ears)
akouō (G0191: hearing, to hear, listen)

Echō ous akouō, akouō(!)
Whenever Jesus finished with these four words, it was never a conditional statement.

It was a PROMISE!* (*Yes, exclamation point included.)

Jesus wasn’t concluding by saying, “for those of you actually listening, you’ll get it.”
No, Jesus was making a promise:

Oh listening ears, listen!*”

(*rf. Greek grammatical notes on Matt. 11:15)

Were there those ears that didn’t listen? Of course there were.
And neither is it any different today. There are those that just DO NOT LISTEN.

There are those who—for whatever reason—cannot hear the “Word(s) of God,” instead hearing only thunder*, and there may very well continue to be so.

(*rf. John 12:28-30)

There have been—and may always be—“children” in loud, busy marketplaces, willfully and firmly placing their fingers in their ears and making whatever cacophony possible in order to drown out the music that would compel them to dance; who preoccupy themselves with countless distractions of their own design so as to never hear the “dirge” and mourn; simply and sincerely, mourn*.

(*rf. Matt. 11:16,17)

The reality of the world we live in seems far too clear:

EVERYONE has something to say, and yet NO ONE is listening.

EVERYONE has enormous hearts, but enormous hearts that have become hardened and calloused.

There have been, and always will be, people who make so much noise—who make the most noise—not out of a desire for themselves to be heard. No. We all have that desire, and not all of us struggle with it that way. There have been and always will be people who make as much noise as they can solely (dare I say spitefully?) to KEEP TRUTH OUT. Whether it’s truth in the form of thunder, or truth much less in the form of a whisper, even a whisper sharp enough to cut through prideful, arrogant, opinionated, cacophony.
There have been, always will, and may even currently be, people you know, people you’re related to, people on Facebook, and people staring at you every time you look in the mirror, who boisterously spout off their views and opinions not because they long to have them heard—not because THEY long to be heard—but because in doing so, they effectively deafen themselves, drowning out anything and everything else…especially truth.
Because truth isn’t safe.
Because truth can (and quite often times does) hurt.
Because truth quite literally forces us to face an end of ourselves, the end of ourselves.

But at the end of ourselves is something so much bigger, and—trulyso much better.

The truth of the matter…the truth of ALL matterthe truth of everything THAT matters is this:

We ALL have ears to hear, and those ears were MADE TO HEAR.

And whether you’re unable to hear due to impairment, or due to affliction, out of violence, or out of fear; or whether you’re unable to hear because you’ve spitefully crammed your fingers in your ears and are screaming at the top of your lungsJesus made a promise that ALL WILL HEAR.
And I may not be able to convey in detail and with certainty just HOW that promise will be kept, I do know He’s pretty good at keeping His promises…at keeping His Word.

Oh, and when He does make due on His promise?

That moment ALWAYS tends to be enough to melt hearts and get EVERYONE listening:


What else is there to leave you with but this:

Echō ous akouō, akouō(!)
“OH, You listening ears, LISTEN!”

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Filed under God stuff, Tragedy, Uncategorized