Monday, August 27, 2007

how do i pray?

i take these kinds of questions seriously and do my best to answer them honestly when asked. of course last time things kind of hit the fan. yet what a wonderful catalyst for change it was. hopefully this can be that again. ever since i was tapped for this synchroblog, i have been trying to put words to my experience. to try and explain how it is that i pray. i apologize if this goes astray or doesn't fully make sense, but i often have difficulty trying to put tangible and finite things like words together with intangible and infinite experiences. bear with me.

5 years ago my wife erin and i were blessed with our first child. a boy named zaavan (ZAY-ven). zaavan has tremendously severe cerebral palsey. he does not walk. he does not talk. he doesn't eat. he doesn't play like most children. in fact, he can't do make his body do much of anything intentional that he would like it to. sometimes, when the mood is right, it can break your heart watching him try, for the 1000th time in a day, to sit up. yet all to no avail...

however broken his physical mind and body, i have been acutely aware of the spirit within. and often i have wondered what it would be like to be a true prisoner inside of your own body with no way to do anything for yourself nor even have conventional means of communicating what your needs are to those assigned to your care at a moment's notice.

one day early on into his life, i noticed a strange bond forming between us that i had not experienced with anyone before. it comes not through any conventional means of communication that we normally use between persons. instead of coming through word or gesture, it came from within. from the most base and intangible part of my being. the "me" that is truly "me." the deep level where we do our thinking without words. the base place where you need only conceive and hold those conceptions together to have meaning. THAT place. most common communication takes place, in my opinion, "one level higher". in that place where we ascribe words to the concepts that form in the furnace of our true coneptual being.

but as i said, this is deeper than the place of words. i had noted this place in myself a few times before in exceptionally deep times of prayer where words became not enough. all it seemed i could do was groan or weep or send a great emotional burst outward to something beyond myself. it has always been those times when i felt "the presence" most.

suddenly, i found that i was meeting with my son in this place. i know this is so because i have experienced it daily since the connection formed. when it is just he and i, often there are no words, but there are emotional transactions. i have felt joy sweep through my being in this place only to see grand smiles and laughter burst out on my son's face. i have seen the clouds come down when things are murky in me. i can't fully describe it, but it is a constant connection that i can feel all the time.

one day, i found that the more i got to know my son in this place, the more control and familiarity i had in this place and the better i could navigate my way around myself and others. not long after the connection formed with my son, i found that this is the level where i find god to be at his most intimate and real. the level of pure being and conception that transcends and descends all conventional man made means of communication. this is the place where the divine speaks most clearly. the language of the heart. i believe it is the true language the divine speaks, but we have forgotten how to speak it.

for me, it is simply an openness and awareness of the pulsating divine at all times. words no longer become necessary. i don't need to have lists or "ask" for anything because my heart is already laid bare. i am fully honest with myself and the trancendant one about my hopes, dreams, fears, and desires, so that i need not get into specifics. i only draw near and swim. sometimes the nearness is overwhleming and i have to ask her to stop because i can't take it anymore. sometimes the overwhelming nearness surprises me in the most unlikely of places. usually under the biggest piles of what most in mainstream society would call garbage.

of course there are the times when i have a specific thing laid on my heart. a friend, family member, coworker, issue, concern, news story, etc. at these times, i simply acknowledge in the "lower level" that i have nothing of my own, and in the "higher level" i use a few words of petition, feeble as they are. i generally feel a burst of energy and power flow through me and out of me at this point, and i receive back an overwhelming sense of peace. then i simply slip back into the "neverending nearness" awaiting the next time my concious mind is called upon for another such petition.

(we have since been blessed with our second child, daughter rowyn. she is now three months. i know that children are very good at learning laguanges, and i also know that syblings usually have a very strong connection. enough so that many times one sybling will "interpret" for another whose communication skills aren't so hot yet. most often the older interpreting for the younger. in this case however, i am curious. when rowyn is at the monosyllabic stage that zaavan is stuck at, if she will be able to understand him and bring that understanding with her into the realm of the english speaking as she gets older... just a father's hopes...)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

year zero

on the surface, year zero is the newest album from one-man-artistic-and-musical-genius trent reznor under his nomenclature nine inch nails. what the album is is a collection of songs looking fifteen years into the future in which the religious right has completely taken over the united states of america and has the country on lockdown for security reasons to keep us all "safe". freedom of thought and speech and action are a thing of the past as technology has grown to the point of being able to have round the clock surveillence on each individual who now have computerized identification and location software inserted at birth. each song is from the perspective of a different person living in this era. the poilitical and social climate having changed so much to the point that the totalitarian government decides to start a new calander. but, for the sake of this post, all of that is neither here nor there.

often times what i get out of a piece of work and what the artist intends are often two completely different things. no disrespect to the artists, but hopefully they enjoy the fact that they changed my life. what appeals to me here is simply the phrase "year zero." the thought of a new beginning. a true new beginning. a complete severing of what has come before and not looking back. i think this is a concept that the original church had that has somehow become watered down and almost lost as far as the mainstream (society as well as church) has become concerned.

in my mind, to think in terms of "year zero" is to think, act, and live in completely subversive and couter-cultural ways. but to the extent that it is no longer a rebellion against the establishment because you no longer even recognize the establishment (be it religious, political, or economical) as having any genuine authority or bearing on yourself as an individual. rather you recognize your ability and responsibility as a free being to make your own decisions about morality and conduct and community. one of the reasons, i believe, that the early church was so persecuted by the roman state.

on the surface, they were "rebelling" against caeser by calling jesus their king. but underneath, in 'year zero' terms, i think the real problem was that these people no longer even recognized caeser or the roman government as being real things. they had already turned their backs on the goverment and now believed themselves to be TRUE citizens of another kingdom. and they acted in like manner. they acted as those who were no longer under any human authority. and when you refuse to give a human their authoritative due, they don't take too kindly to it.

enough people still believe in our human governments as to give them power to operate and convict you and destroy you if they so desire. yet, i think we need to know where that line is drawn for each one of us by god. some, i think, god would prefer to use wisdom and prudence in decisions and NOT rebel so openly against the authority for protection and perseverances sake. others, i believe are called to manifest "year zero" much more openly in the here and now. to live according to their convictions no matter the cost.

and i believe the call is the same today as it was then. the call to year zero. the call to start over again. the call to make the break in your mind and set yourself free from the chains of the past. to free yourself to dream up a new world and live in it now amidst the current world people are too afraid to let go.

if you want me to take a crap in a box and mark it guaranteed, i will...i've got spare time.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

the summer of love. one generation later. what the hell happened?

john lennon
sgt pepper's lonely hearts club band
jimi hendrix @ monteray
dr martin luther king jr
bob dylan
jim morrison
janis joplin
pink floyd
andy warhol
timothy leary
allen ginsberg @ the san francisco be-in

i don't know. maybe i'm crazy. maybe i'm romanticizing. but it seems to me as if there was some sort of a massive spiritual bubble of wonderful goodness that began to surface around this time exactly one biblical generation ago. (40 years) and i have to ask... what happened? could anyone who actually lived through the period or has read about it help me out? i'm just curious how we could have been on the cusp of such wonderful changes only to find them surrepetitiously snuffed out. a lack of planning? pipe dreams with no bearance in reality? is it so much to think that we could actually live together in peace? is it so much to think taht we could actually love each other and accept one another? is it so much to think that we could let kids be kids and artists be artists and so on and so forth? do we have to make everyone be just like us? or can we let everyone be who they are?

is it never for us here to know anything wonderful? does my one life here really have to be wasted doing THIS? this current modern life? can't we continue the uprising they started by learning from where they failed? or must we simply give in and accept this world as it is? is it really unrealistic to acknowledge that the world truly is filled with infinite possibilities and that the way of doing things we have known is not the ONLY way for things to be done? can we not still create new worlds better suited for the people of our era instead of continuintg to live out the ideals of people long dead hoping that they might give us a pat on the back some day when we die?

i mean, when studied, these people showed that when enough people of like mind ACT, things change. which is why they were beat down by the establishment. if only we could try again. but perhaps be better organized this time. i don't know. i'm just not a big fan of this beast that i live within. i'm not a big fan of knowing that this beast has life because i give it life by participating in it and enagaing with it every day. if possible, i would love to stick a sword right through it and watch it die. but i know i can't do it alone. i need other people who are willing to walk away from it. because without the people who actually give it life every day, the beast will have to die. yet, without the beast, we would not know how to survive right now. as chris rock said, "it's like that rich uncle who puts you through college...but molests you." what to do. what to do.

any and all thoughts are welcome.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

the end of an era

for the first time in 20 years, my parents have a new address, phone number, and zip code. as a pastor and wife, moving was no stranger to this couple. but after 20 years, you've got to start feeling like maybe this is permanent. kudos to them for being willing to uproot and start all over again in their sixties!

a lot of shit has gone down since we moved into that house in 1987. i was only 12 for one thing. more memories than can be counted. i only hope that the love that has been generated within those walls will pass on to the next people to call it home.