Atheist

Maybe it is because we know
even the atheist cries out, “Why God!”
on his most broken day.

If Jesus is for the poor…

As I was about to take communion in a church in Findlay, Ohio earlier this year, I was struck when the pastor quoted Paul saying, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.” Paul goes on to say we should “examine ourselves” before we partake.

I took a hard look at myself and wondered about my standing with God. I thought of all my doubt. I thought of my trials and when I shook my fists at the heavens in anger; beating my chest was not even a metaphor. Times when I’ve said ‘Fuck You’ to God and really, deeply meant it.

I wasn’t sure exactly where I stood.

There was an uneasiness during this part of the ritual that I had not experienced before. Was I unworthy? Was I going to ‘drink judgement’ on myself? I felt unsteady on shaky ground.

Then I thought about the person of Jesus, looking for things I knew for certain. There is no one else that has been presented to me as perfect. Not even fictional characters, that I can think of. Maybe more than that, there was no one who even came close. No one who is thought of as spotless and wholly righteous. Other religious figures claimed to be prophets. Claimed to be enlightened. But Jesus claimed to be God – and also claimed perfection with that lofty statement.

My mind seemed to ‘settled in,’ remembering all the teaching and studying that I have done; my footing seemed to manifest under my feet again. “If I am going to hitch my wagon to anything,” I thought, “It might as well be perfection.”

Then I also traveled down another road in my mind.

If Jesus is for the poor, then I am for Jesus.

That thought seemed to anchor me down to earth, because I do believe that Jesus is for the poor. There are these counter-cultural aspects to Jesus that I love – the idea of an ‘upside down Kingdom’ where the lowly and oppressed from this life are exalted on high in God’s Kingdom and placed on the same plane as the Almighty Throne.

If Jesus is for the weak, then I am for Jesus. If Jesus is for cancer patients and widowed mothers and suicidal addicts and paralyzed children and abuse survivors and the mentally ill and the hopelessly hungry and the war-torn refugees and teenaged girls contemplating abortion…

then I am for Jesus.

I’ll be honest, sometimes I have to think of God as a symbol because I can’t wrap my brain around the mystery of ‘existence.’ I get caught in my own head a lot; questioning everything at every turn.

My disorder is difficult; a very fickle thing. I run the gamut of emotions – all in a given day. I struggle with thoughts of suicide as I have mentioned before. I struggle – wrestle and writhe and twist and grapple – with knowing my worth; wondering if I am a contributing member to society.

Sometimes I need to simplify my spinning, swirling ideas and this thought seems to help: If Jesus is for the poor, then I am for Jesus.

After that I took communion and was glad it wasn’t a mindless act as it had been at times in the past.

Red River Gorge 8/19/17

The trail, brown and worn, is thick with roots – it slips and churns through rock caves, sand and dirt. I find myself forgetting to look up, focusing instead on keeping my footing. I remember the river next to me, and all of a sudden, I pick my head up and I see a new translation of beauty. Caleb stops to take the scene in. Rhododendron leaves line the trail – they brush against my face and it feels as though we’ve walked through several (back) countries in the past mile. “I’m almost expecting to see snow up ahead,” Bevan calls back laughing. We nod in agreement, smile at the plausibility, with sweat dripping down our faces.

I haven’t carried a pack this size before. I almost tip over with each defined step and bob from right to left and back to right. Jacob slides under fallen trees, grabbing at the bark to keep his balance. The upslopes are definitely harder, though the downs burn our knees. It’s not much farther, which is good for me because now I’m really breathing heavy.

We climb that last upslope to the site, which sits next to a boulder, and tear the buckles off our packs. It feels like we earned our dinner and our sleep. We laugh with mouths full of potatoes and drink expensive bourbon first to toast and diluted bourbon later. It is almost like you are sleeping in the hammock behind us, with a big grin on your face – hands laced, resting on your stomach. Maybe you are, in some way, but if you aren’t then we hope the toasts reach up to the place you are now. Maybe “up” is the wrong word. Maybe it’s more like “out.”

You have your mother’s

2011-06-26-21-23-34

Jade green
Mahogany brown
And glistening chrome

A band of dark and light
A rim full of brightness
Slick, sharp tongues lapping

Yeah, the night wishes
to be so dark and brooding
and have that mysterious octane

The jade blisters
into the brown
and all the chrome can do is bleed

A see-through membrane
A pool of gelatine and liquid
The glowing orb, behind, the soul sits

I’d give up all my green
And trade some black for brown
If I could just steal your shine

Comment on Moving Backwards – A Tribe Called Quest

“I have been feeling like a row of cups, some of them full and some of them not. Spilled one day, filled the next, empty then overflowing. The changes have been too fast, too sudden, to follow. I am an inconsistent row of cups. I am thirsty, I am prosperous, I am doomed, I am safe, I am among friends, I am alone. Just a row of cups. When Tribe’s Jarobi and Tip arrive, with Anderson.Paak and Consequence, it is as if they are holding pitchers of water. It is free refills. Music that’s pure relief – rhyme and rhythm, beat and leap, restoration. The reminder of a kind of solidarity – kinship despite difference – or of other artists’ dexterity – an admiration for everything you can’t do, but others can. Moving backwards but making progress; this isn’t my song but I’ll borrow it.” – Sean: saidthegramophone.com

The Dead

It has come again –
The dead
It’s creeping in

I don’t mind it
It’s really not that bad
So, I let it in

It comes whether you want it to,
Or not
You can’t will it away

The dead doesn’t work like that
It is concentrated power
It’s consecrated too

The dead is a valley
In between two mountains
You must journey through

What is the difference,
Between the dead and winter?
Nothing.

Winter
Is a coat
The dead wears.