Monday, July 20, 2009

a two-fold dream

I dreamt I was on a naval ship. At first, I thought the evacuation siren was a drill, but then I saw the dark, mechanical army above me, advancing in clouds. Bomber aircraft soared overhead, and the place I stood was enveloped in flames. Fire rained down, and wreckage fell from the sky, crashing down twisted, burning, smoking metal all around me. I did not see, but I sensed death and suffering all around me.

In the aftermath, the captain struggled with the question of whom to save. In that moment, I could tangibly see our perspectives diverge. It was as if I could see both through his eyes and my eyes simultaneously.

Through my eyes, I could clearly see a woman struggling to stay afloat, not far from where our ship had stalled, crippled by the attack. Despite the darkness and the thrashing sea around us, I could hear her voice, calling out for help. For rescue.

And it was within our power to do so.

Yet through the captain's eyes, the woman was thousands of leagues away. A mere blip on the radar screen. He tried to tell me she was too far away, and there was no sense in rescuing one so far off, with so many around us who were dying, struggling to stay alive.

The dream ends with a soul drowning in logic and resignation.

I dreamt I was in a house with friends, many friends. A thief somehow circumvented our awareness, stole into our rooms and cleaned out the entire house. Everything of value was taken, except for my piano and guitar. My friends and I gathered at the house to take inventory of what had been stolen and to move our possessions to a safer location. I went inside to retrieve my keyboard and guitar. For once, the keyboard did not feel heavy under my arm. I carried it quite easily. As the footsteps of my friends retreated upstairs, I suddenly felt a dark presence around me. I could sense the thief was still in the house. And I was alone. I hurried outside to rejoin my friends, and suddenly felt safe as I stepped out into the light, and into the presence of familiar faces.

I wonder at these dreams, because they seem so far removed from the emotions of today, of this weekend. I feel peaceful, thankful, full of resolve. And yet I felt the torment and struggle and destruction, as I became Theft and Death's sole witness and survivor.

A friend wrote to to me that worship is the most powerful weapon against the enemy, an enemy that seeks to steal, kill and destroy.

Perhaps this is why, I somehow emerged from the scene of a crime unscathed, armed only with instruments to be used in praise and illumination of Truth.

"...a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

this will soon be over.

This will soon be over.

Sometimes you think I am not listening. You tell me so. And you are right. My mind wanders, I tell you. I am glad this admission of mine throws you off the scent somewhat, because I'd rather you not know how deeply I've furrowed these caves of mine, carving out infinite space for meeting with you.

In this vast underworld of mine, I slow down all orbits and revolutions, only that I may greedily prolong these moments.

I am helpless to stop it.

I have tasted the salt of ferocity crashing upon the shore, of sweet eucalyptus drifting and dancing through the treetops. I have inhaled this scent, which my lungs have desperately fought to memorize. These self-portraits can never show our deepest colors, how brightly we shine. Or how our intertwined paths wind through cities, across bridges, down grocery aisles and subway escalators, across tidal pools and beaten-down sidewalks, through alleyways and up through sanctuaries. They all resonate with the sound of our breath and our banter, our yearnings, fears, musings and hopes. The biting cold that settles deep within our marrow shall soon evaporate, swallowed up in the heat and its thickness.

I am fearful I will lose this certainty. That Doubt might brazenly usurp Hope's throne, after such a brief but breathtakingly glorious reign.

But perfect Love does not merely cast out Fear--it vanquishes it.

So I will sing its annihilation, like the foolish dreamer that I am.

Friday, July 10, 2009

in a constant state of learning

Yes, it's true.

I am coming home to Orlando at the end of the month. There were a lot of factors playing into this seemingly unexpected decision. Finances, jobs, missing home, and several other internal reasons that I may or may not get into. But whatever the reasons, I feel as though I've crossed from one vista to another, and have a unique opportunity to stop, take a rest on a bench, and contemplate the scope that lies behind me and before me.

Martin Luther once famously said "All of life is repentance."

Repentance is a continual return. Re-orientation. Perpetual redemption. A shift toward God, and away from self. This is an art that is never mastered, but always catalyzed by the Spirit in a tried and true, ancient way that somehow never fails to surprise. I'm finding that often God interacts on a profound, mysterious, intricate level with our own free will and decisions, orchestrating things to bring us to transformation and growth.

Repentance reminds me that I am not the Teacher, but the student. I must constantly shift and adjust my attitude in light of how God is moving in my life and in the lives of people around me.

I feel like I am in a constant state of learning. This trip in Australia if nothing else has brought me to a constant state of humiliation, where I confront again and again how little of life I know and understand.

I am not saying I have mastered any of this, only that my eyes have been opened, and my vision clarified just a bit more in light of my experiences.

From Australia, I am learning how beautiful and vast this world is. I am learning generosity, and hopefully how to worry maybe just a little bit less.

From Walter, I am learning the incredible importance of family, and how crucial it is to love, appreciate and spend time with them.

From Ellie and her family, I am learning openheartedness and warmth through shared meals and board games.

From Michael Ondaatje, I am learning again how writers can capture truth and beauty through language. How they make words sing.

From Tim Keller, I am learning to come to grips about what the Bible says about marriage, what I truly think, want, and believe about marriage, and how I want to be a better friend in all of my relationships.

From Christian, I am learning about a spirit of generosity and servanthood and kindness.

From Hillsong Church, I am learning the importance of reconciling an intellectual faith with a passionate, spontaneous, emotional faith. I am learning the joy of inclusive love, kindness, hospitality. And I am acknowledging the power of openly worshiping and declaring truth and faith and hope. I am learning refreshment and joy.

From Jeanne, I am learning the necessity and redemptive power of constant communication and friendship. I have learned the importance of constantly investing in people, how to be honest, vulnerable and consistent. And how to be more efficient:)

The feelings and emotions I believe that I currently have regarding Australia and this constant state of learning (repentance) is something that I know will fade in time. However, I am praying that God will help seal these experiences and knowledge within my heart, that they will be deeply internalized, worked out in the details and decisions of my life.

Jeanne has declared the following to be her favorite Hillsong song. I actually finally listened to all of the lyrics of the chorus early this morning and I was stunned at how the words and melody and music together so simply and beautifully captured this idea of redemption and transformation and growth, in light of God's glory.

Your Name is Glorious, glorious
Your love is changing us, calling us
To worship in Spirit and in truth
As all creation returns to you

May our hearts be set upon and continually transformed by this incredible truth.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." I John 3:1-3

Sunday, July 5, 2009

the sky exploded

One evening,
the sky exploded.

It rained fire and light upon us
And we felt time and space wrinkle
for the briefest of moments

We created fire of our own
on cool, clear nights
Forging and welding us
Knitting us through and through
to joy and smoke and heat
on the far side of this floating island.

The explosion rocks the universe
Rending it
We peel the night back
And examine the stars
and the nights from which they fell.

That was after the night
I dreamt we drifted
as a mist through your mansion
Your secret labyrinth
Conceived and carried and birthed by you

Although it was not quite you.

We wandered, winding through mirrored hallways
Lamp-lit tunnels fragrant with your ardor and mystery
Sensuously draping the tapestried walls
like garments flung off
in the heat of night.

Last summertime
We watched you perform from afar
And you,
You transfixed all.

You seduce time and physics
While the audience waits in exquisite torture
tense and enthralled
like the eternity that looms
in a prelude to a kiss.

the orange tree grows in but a breath of a moment.

You produce marvel
and splendor upon splendor
You confounded all.

Yet as we tread lightly upon
these marble hallways of your dominion
I see the trick

Beautiful, yet not cheapened
in its simplicity

You and I,
we laugh in delight
in clarity
in joy
in understanding

A shadowed figure haunts our steps with his cunning
He, too, peruses
As lost in his reverie
as we.

I corner him, daring to pull back his hood
to find a guileless face
And horror falls away
with this soul recognition.

And even here,
In this dreamworld,
I am reassured

That things will be all right.