Darfur!

My spirituality has radically changed the last 3 years or so.  This idea about the Kingdom being a “here and now” sorta thing – it’s really foreign to me.  Up until a couple of years ago, I conceptualized faith as being this very personal thing – a moral system built to keep people in line, following the right rules, doing the right things, and helping others here and there when you can.


But the Jesus I’ve come to know is about self-sacrifice.  He’s about fighting for the weak, aiding the poor, and ameliorating the worst of human conditions by offering a little respect and love.


And now, I feel it’s time for me to start moving past just theorizing about these things, and constructing good orthodoxy.  Orthodoxy without orthopraxy is useless.


I’m aligning my actions with my ideals. 


So Sunday afternoon, you will find me down in D.C. for the Save Darfur Rally.  Those of you in the greater Bmore/D.C. area, I’d strongly urge you to join in this effort – regardless of how educated you are on the issue (Here’s a link for a quick synopsis on the situation in Darfur, Sudan right now).  This IS faith in action right here.  We’re far too powerful a nation to allow these atrocities to continue without at least crying out to say that this is wrong.  And if you don’t have time, try to stop by the website, sign a postcard to President Bush, and become part of the “million voices” who would like to see something happen here.


God bless!


D.J. Free!

Joyous nicotine . . .

This week has been horratious!  Really, really shitty.  Like the get-yelled-at-by-your-boss-for-work-you-can’t-possibly-do kind of shitty.  I hardly got any sleep Thursday nite, on account of being at work until 11pm trying to finish a report that I woke up early the next morning to try and finish – but it never happened   So I just felt like an utter failure at work.  It sucked big time.


I came home Friday night determined to somehow leave the week behind, and get a fresh start.  Honestly, I wanted to just go and get plastered! LOL.  But I went to visit the ‘rents instead.  It was nice and relaxing.  That would have been great if I was looking for nice and relaxing . . . .but I needed stress reduction.


So I headed down to St. John’s College to see my boy Jon perform w/ his a cappella group (Manner Corps), and they were BRILLIANT!


And then Emily promised to take me someplace afterwards to help me ward off the evils of the previous week.  We headed down to Harry Brown’s, and chatted over some drinks.  By the time Deborah joined us, I was nicely buzzed, and by the time Jon joined us, I had successfully shoved the shitty week out of my brain!  And then we just all had a blast! 


The coolness of it all, was that in honor of Manner Corps successfully pulling off a great show, Emily graciously purchased Jon a celebratory cigar, which I suggested we turn into a cigar party, since I had never had the pleasure of the cigar experience.  And what a wonderful experience it was!  Not quite as nice as hookah, but great nonetheless!


We headed off to CRCC this morning to hear an interesting message about trees, and bent-ness (which you Leanne Payne addicts will know all about!).  And then I had the pleasure of spending the rest of the afternoon w/ the beautiful, sophisticated JaneYang and got to meet some new friends!  All in all, a fantabulous weekend to help me forget my sorrows


I’ll try and write someting more meaningful sometime this week.  Until then folks!

Perfect . . .

Intoxicated by your smile
Enraptured by your sultry glance
Immune to my advance
It drives me wild


I touch you, and run my hands down your side
Up and down, back and forth,
You are a stunning bride
With your long legs and veluptuous thighs

I am alive, just holding you
Holding me, I can see
Why the stars dance and comets prance
And you are good
So good

The tilt of your walk
The stutter of your talk
The scar on your breast
Unearth the death and unrest you’ve been subject to
In all your flaws and idiosyncrisies
I can’t help but see
That you are . . . perfect


It’s funny.  I’ve never really done poetry, but I’ve dabbled with it here and there – as a means of catharsis when I’m feeling ultra-nutty.  This is probably the worst poem I’ve ever written though . . . but I give myself grace for its inherent imperfection, because it was an experiment.


My friend Ken (who graciously set up my stay at LivingStone Monastery this weekend) suggested that I actually try to write some poetry outside of being in an overly-emotional state.  Now, I’m a firm believer that the best art (at least to me) is birthed from raw pain, and that deep place that none of us ever likes to go to.  The “dark night of the soul” has been the muse for some of the greatest art ever created.


But there’s something to be said for letting art come from other places.  So I’m practicing that, and seeing where it takes me.  Beauty can be found all over.


But getting back to this idea of perfection . . . I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently.  Mostly after buying Santiago.  See, I wanted him to be nice and shiny for all time.  Now, logically, I know that’s ridiculous.  But I think there’s something lodged deep within our souls that longs for perfection.  And it’s a good thing.  It’s a God thing, I think.


About 2-3 weeks after buying Santiago, I noticed a small scratch on the front driver’s side panel.  Literally, my heart sank.  It was all I could think about for 2 days.  My new car.  My BRAND NEW car had been marred.  And it was a teeny, tine scratch.  Practically imperceptible.  I was showing Jonathan the scratch the other day, and he could barely make it out even as I pointed directly to it.  But *I* noticed it.  It was . . . imperfect.  And You may think I’m joking, but I seriously was depressed about this every time I thought about it.


It was a very spiritual thing, I think.  It was exposing my need to hold onto perfection.  In essence, I think it’s a soul-cry for God.  A cry for things to be better – to not have to die and decay.  It’s an echo of Eden reverberating in my bones.  I think it’s beautiful really.  It drives me to want Him so much.


It also drives me to seek for and construct this Kingdom of God.  This is a concept I’m REALLY starting to finally understand.  It hit me today as I was listening to Matthew preach on this radical “way” that Jesus taught.  My internal shout was “holy SHIT! I’m starting to see this!”  I mean, this is REAL.  Whoa.


It hit me all last weekend in my time at the monastery, as I was finally able to get a chance to read through “The Secret Message of Jesus”.  It’s not a groundbreaking book by any stretch.  It doesn’t speak of anything “new”.  But it just puts the Kingdom in such conceivable, functional terms, that I see this string of perfection and returning to Eden laced all throughout Jesus’ words.


And it hit me as I reflected on my life, and the things I’ve been facing.  This second time down at LivingStone was quite different.  I had peace.  A peace that I was on the right track with Jesus, and that I was seeing how this Kingdom was being enacted in my own life, and changing me.  And despite the fact that I have no fuckin’ clue where I’m going, or how to get where I need to be, I have this AMAZING peace about the presence of Christ in my life, and this ever-clearer picture of what this Kingdom of change and restoration and acceptance and reconciliation is all about.  It’s . . . beautiful.


What a great way to celebrate Easter.  To remember what this death was all about.  To remember that this beautiful disaster of a crucifixion is about hope for a better reality – here and now.  Praise God.


And praise Him for answering prayers.  About this time last year, I was feeling desperate for a discipler or mentor of some sort.  And here I am a year later, and I have several.  Ken is definitely one of those guys.  Thank you so much for speaking with me for THREE freakin hours!  I know you’re a super busy guy, but I am indebted to you for giving me some perspective on life.


Anywho . . . I hope you’re all out there living and prospering.  And if not . . . what the hell are you waiting for?


Holla!


P.S.  Shout out to John for hosting me this weekend at LivingStone.  Thanks, dude!  I was hoping to get more time to talk to you . . . but I guess I’ll just have to come back again for that

R&R

So I’m off for another weekend at the LivingStone Monastery down in Virginia.  I was supposed to be getting some rest and relaxation, but with the torrent of thoughts I had this morning, I’m not sure how relaxing the time will be!  We’ll see . . . I’m looking forward to it.


1) I FINALLY get to meet John
2) I always love seeing Ken
3) 8 hours of silence will either kill me, or make a man outta me
4) 3 meals a day that I don’t have to prepare is frickin’ nice
5) I just feel more “spiritual” when i’m praying at a monastery


So I’ll see ya lata, punks!  Enjoy your Easter weekend, everyone.  For the CRCC folks, I’ll definitely be back home in time for Easter service, so I’ll see ya then!


Peace

The goal . . .

The air was nippy – and humid.  I ventured outside anyway, clutching my body to keep warm.  I was too lazy to go back inside to get a coat.  Besides, there were things to get done.


As I returned home, there were flashes of light across the sky.  A glorious blaze of dancing rods, zipping across the vast expanse of heaven above.  I never liked storms as a kid.  They frightened me.  But for the first time in my life, I could appreciate the beauty of it all – the colors, the sounds, the wetness all over my body.


But I was getting ahead of myself.  This storm was miles away.  I would not be able to experience its full beauty, as I needed to get back inside and commence with my self-deprecation and moping.


As I stepped outside my car, the air was still cold, but the breeze . . . the breeze was warm.  It was the oddest sensation on my skin.  I couldn’t help but feel the ominous nature of nature.  I’m not sure who produced more tears that night – Me or the Clouds.


Despite the heft of death upon my soul, I survived it.  And a new day brought new hope.  My new job didn’t seem so bad.  I was starting to get the hang of the most discombobulated pharmacy practices I’ve ever witnessed.  But that’s how they do things at good ol’ Sheppard Pratt.  So learn it, I must, if I’m ever to pay the rent and maintain this lifestyle that I’ve become accustomed to.


The evening was certainly more bearable because of a good run to clear my head, and the enchanting company of the alluring Ms. Schmidt – weird, and less-than-hilarious movie notwithstanding (“the Benchwarmers”, if you must know, is not worth the price of a box office ticket).  Yet a return home met me with that same sense of impending doom and worthlessness.


But again, a new day, and a new hope.  Communion is the most magnificent thing on this planet.  Jesus somehow meets me there, in that time, in that place, every week.  And He always seems to bring Peace with Him.


As the day wore on, and my mind began to clear, I went for another run simply because I had the time.  But I didn’t realize I was running short on energy.  It was a pathetic site . . . running 1/5th of a mile, and then sputtering to a halt.  Suddenly it dawned on me that maybe the problem wasn’t my lack of energy, but my heightened expectation.


It’s true, I set lofty goals.  It’s the Type A in me, I suppose.  I thought to myself “why don’t you just slow down, take it at a slower pace, a pace you can handle, instead of trying to measure up to some expectation of how you ought to be running right now?”  So I slowed down, and after awhile, I broke into this rhythm, and found this energy coursing through my veins that I haven’t felt in a long time.  I went about a mile further than I expected to go.


I wonder how many of us do this in life?  We have all these expectations of where we ought to be, how we ought to be, what we ought to be.  We get it from our parents, from our friends, from church, and from all the cool people in Hollywood.  Then we integrate these judgemental voices, until we can’t even recognize where we get it from anymore, and we transform our voice into the most judgemental of all.


Yet the story of grace is one where we have this wonderful freedom to just slow down, and not worry about all the huge measuring rods out there.  The love of Jesus releases us from the bondage of our goals.  It allows us to travel at the slow, meager, Special Olympics pace of our handicapped selves, and find that the true strength in our bones comes when we give up on being someone, and just be . . .


It’s the very nature of God to simply be.  “I am what I am.” I am.  I be.  You should be with me.  It’s really pretty cool.  The only goal worth having really.

Gettin’ Comfy . . .

I’m still journeying down the road of just getting comfortable with myself.  So far, so good  


I’ve been spending a lot more time w/ myself and my thoughts.  I seem to go through phases of overt extrovertism, followed by introvertism.  I’m enjoying the time alone, but I’m starting to feel the pressure from those around me to get back into the game.  I’m in no rush though


This week has been pretty chill.  Wednesday nite was another wonderful evening w/ the St. John’s crew (pics below). . . lots of good thoughts and good drinks to share   Last night, Audrey joined me for a really great run followed by some awesome food from Poulet.  I mean, that place is usually great, but after a run?  It’s phenomenal!




I’m expecting a pretty chill weekend too.  If you gots plans and I don’t exactly jump at ’em, don’t hate me, I’m just exercising my right to be comfortable w/ myself


Peace and love!


D.J.