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a theology of bones: for all we bring are broken things.

a new book.

in my moments of deepest fear
I turn to find myself face to face with a terrified God,
& a terrified humanity

and then one day i was too afraid to jump off the high dive.
this simple story, like all stories, points to a larger story—

what is this larger story?

on a good day I would say:

that our fears are meant to turn us toward each other.

that all things are meant to turn us toward one another—


On a bad day I would say that the larger story is:

we are all doomed.


*
One day i tried to jump off the high dive.
but i got too scared.
—couldn’t do it.

One day I was too afraid.

one day—every day,
i am afraid.

*
In my moment of fear,
in all my moments of deep fear,
I turned to find myself face to face with a terrified God,
a terrified world,
a terrified
humanity—

—our fears are not meant to be conquered,

rather,

they are to be cherished.



but here in the raging waters of our deepest terrors—

we swim?

no we drown.

our fear and terror pull us to the heart of all hearts,
and the heart of all hearts—

is god?

eh,
i think it’s just a group of terrified humans trying to love
even in all the fear.
here in our terror
we reach the end of god—————.

ad the end of god is where our lives begin,

and our lives begin and end in fear,

and frankly i’m too scared to jump off the high dive.

frankly, i am just so afraid.




*
May you be baptized in the tears of your loss,
May you be washed in the waters of fear,

you will indeed drown,

but in your death,
in your fear

you will find the only salvation:

humanity afraid together.

Go ahead and drown—

for here,
deep down here

you will find—

well,

just us.

and the only thing we have to offer is our fear.
the only thing we have to say:

we are afraid too.


So we might as well be afraid together.

.

why is beginning anything so difficult?

i am trying to begin the wedding poems for Austin and Lindsey and the words are stuck in my throat.

stuck.
stuck.
stuck.

i want the poems to write themselves.
and sometimes they do.
but sometimes we must begin digging.
put actual shovel in actual hand and feel our muscles working and exercising.
we must feel the tension and the release.
we must get to work.
tend the plow.
pick up the shovel.
the muse will show up.
she has to.

for she is the shovel.
and the hole you dig.


she will show up


for she is you.

i speak of things too holy for me to mention. forgive me.

i don’t remember what preceeded these words,
i couldn’t make out my own handwriting.
so i begin here…

…of course this makes me think of Brave.
and the life he now lives through his death.
he didn’t get to live his own life-
he lives in our lives now as we carry him in our hearts to
our parties and our funerals,
to our church services and our bars.
his life is now lived out in heartache:
in our hearts that ache.
Does this child rest in peace?
i hope. and yet maybe he too rages at the unfairness of death.
of never being able to have his heart break wide open.
i know he must ache for his parents.
i know he aches.
to see their beautiful tear scared faces, and not be able to be held by their warm hands.
to not be able to tell them he loves them with his own voice.
he says it, he is saying it, he is spilling his love,
but now it’s through the holy spirit.
through walks late at night.
through orchids,
and light dancing through prisms.
but forgive me. i speak of things too holy for me to mention.
forgive me.

i heard once that a good spirituality is one that eventually leads the seeker to the place where he or she can forgive god.

but i am not there yet.

god doesn’t know anything about death.
here, in this arena she is clueless as a child.
-a child who knows she is alive,
so alive,
and thus can’t comprehend any other way,
cannot comprehend death.

gods own child died,
and feeling the bitterness of its finality,
broke all the rules to bring him back.
broke her own covenant and brought him back.
well, she was a mother after all.
And just like Christy would have done if she could,
she broke every law,
every promise
anything
to bring him back.

but Brave? Brave, oh Brave, the ground holds your body now.
and we visit you through Christmases, and mothers days, and fathers days, and rainy days in june.
how long, O lord, how long?

the dark womb.

there is a terror in creating.
and then you arrive to watch.
-to watch the drowning.

the creative process reminds me of my fate
as a human:

that every birth leads to a death.

and we are called to this reality every morning
that our eyes pull the rest of us toward waking once again.
the creative process reminds me that the real work of life
begins when I have lost sight of the shore,
when I have been undone,
when I have been waylaid
by the very forces that put our lives together
in the dark wombs of our mothers.

we have been born to die.
and for the time, however short, in between?
we create.
we row like mad.
we create.
and it will surely kill us.

but this,
here,
where we have lost sight of the shore is where we
will
be born again.

heartache of the world.

I am beginning art work for the Infectious Disease Research Institute.
They remind me why I labor in the desert of creativity;
to find hope and healing.


They are working on a vaccine for the vicious disease cutaneous leishmaniasis.
We are focusing on the effects of this disease on women and children.

___________________________________________________

I believe art to be a call to beauty, to honesty, and to justice.
I believe art to be the agent through which we learn to see,
learn to suffer, and learn to speak on behalf of our grief,
the grief of our neighbors, and on behalf of the grief of the whole world.

I do not believe there is justice for any until there is justice for all. How can there be health and wellness for us when there isn’t for our brothers and sisters? If my art doesn’t take me into the heartache of the world, then simply,

I have gone off course.

I long to suffer along side the broken in all of us, and in the brokenness all across the world. My calling as an artist is to work on behalf of those who cannot work on behalf of themselves. My calling as an artist is to tell the truth.

and the truth that I can see:

There is not health and wellness for any of us,
until there is health and wellness for all of us.


___________________________________________________

We have colonized and abused. We have been violated and we violate. And here in this place where we meet and gather together abused and abuser alike we come to ask for grace and justice, for ourselves and for the world.

We weep and mourn the paths that we have forged through other cultures and races.

We come to confess where we have bivouacked on the shores of the other.

We come to weep where we have pillaged.

We come to repent, and we come to offer the hand of forgiveness and repentance.

We come as women to this soil where our dreams and identities have been buried and discarded like bones rotting in the sun. We come as women with our uterus and breasts, with our menstrual cycles and ovaries, with our tears and our blood, to plant seeds in the graveyard of our equality and justice.

We will sing and cry and rant and rave and bleed and scream and be silent and pray until all are heard.

We as women know what the roots of all living things know that are tucked deep bellow our pillaging and ravishing;

that we are not saved until all are saved.

more than half in love with my enemies

my head is heavy in my hands.
as i long for my own demise,
my own flight from
the goodness
that grows like weeds in my heart,
the goodness i despise,
—the weeds i pluck and pull and discard,
while i lovingly tend to my own doom,
while i carefully prune my own destruction.

i tend my own burial plot.

i am, like buechner says,
more than half in love with my enemies.

"despair and destruction and death are the ancient enemies, and yet we are always so helplessly drawn to them that it is as if we are more than half in love with our enemies. Even our noblest impulses and purest dreams get all tangled up with them just as in Vietnam, in the name of human dignity and freedom, the bombs are falling on both the just and the unjust and we recoil at the horror of little children with their faces burned off, except that somehow that is how the world has always been and is, with nightmare and noble dream all tangled up together.
that is the way we are doomed-
doomed to be what we are,
doomed to seek our own doom.
and the turbulent waters of chaos and nightmare are always threatening to burst forth and flood the earth”.
fredrick buechner

despair wakes up early,
and the tea kettle of my loneliness screams
until i am ripped into daylight,
ripped from darkness
to drink from the bitter cup
of all i
run from
in my dreams.

A Barbeque.

I went to a barbeque a few weeks back, and i remember talking with a friend there about the push and pull between living creatively and also taking time to let it all blow away, to just be at a barbeque and to be no where else. and for this to be okay. To let creativity go, to let it slip from our fingers, for we are busy; we have burgers to eat and beer to drink. I think creativity is creating us, and mostly while we are looking the other way.
mostly while we are busy learning how to live good lives.
so cheers, dear friends,

let it all go.

sink your weight into the something larger that holds us all,
even if that bigger thing is only gravity and nothing more.
be washed by the waters that have been here long before we came to this earth to die.
be washed by the life that is being made while you barbeque on a Sunday evening in early spring.


A Barbeque.
It is sunday.
and we are barbequing.
and wondering if maybe there is not yet something else we should be doing,
creating,
working toward.

and yet here,
oh here,
oh here,
oh here,
it is here where our souls are forged and made,
where we ourselves are created.

we are created here,
where we hurt and are hurt
by each others careless hands.

we bleed into the soil from which we are born,
daily.
we pull from the dirt as breakfast slowly cracks us open,
revealing
over easy eggs,
waiting for the blessing of salt,
the blessing of tears,
and all day we journey back to
our deaths,
we spend our days dying,
we spend our days returning to the dirt,
waiting for the darkness to cover our graves.

but before we are buried
we pause to barbeque,
to spend time,
to hurt and be hurt,
by the kind ones among us.
we pause for ketchup and
lonliness,
for anger
and burgers.

we pause here,
oh here,
to let creativity create us.
and she has made unruly
disciples.
we are ever always
attempting to walk on water,
and ever always,
pulling our brothers down
with us
as we go.

we drown alone,
and yet never alone,
a drowning man is always reaching.

in this brief moment since i was born and before i die,
i come here to this barbeque to say,
it is a gift to hurt and be hurt,
for there isn’t another way to live close,
to live together,
in the soil of our shared
loneliness and
anguish.

it is a gift to live close enough
to bleed when the
knife
slides
in.

we hurt and hurt
and hurt one another,
we bleed into
the soil from whence we work.
we bleed into the soil
from which all things grow,
from which we create,

and we can only create
out of our bloody
soil,
our bloody hands,
our bloody hearts,
and a mouth only half
willing
to beg for forgiveness.

we bleed into the soil
from whence we grow
all that sustains and breaks our hearts,
from whence we live.

we live by what we break
and by what breaks us.

all i have are bloody hands,
and a bloody heart,
beer for the party,
and enough sense to ask you
to please use
your sink.

I see you. I hear you, but only sometimes.

This is for my friend Melodie, and well for all of us, who are afraid of not being seen. and i think we are all afraid of not being seen. i am continually asking forgiveness for my flailing to get you to see me, that i completely miss seeing you,
and i know that when i see you i can finally see me.
and when you see me you will finally see yourself.
for we are in this together.
failing and falling
and flailing,
and rarely seeing one another,
but oh, the moments we do.


For You, For Us.

I see you.
I hear you.

but only sometimes.
most of the time i am yelling so loudly,
burning,
no,
lighting myself on fire so that i am sure i am being seen,
that
i miss you.

i see you.
i hear you.

but only sometimes.
mostly i am terrified to not be seen,
to not be heard
that my eyes blur with desperation
for recognition
and your image sinks fast into the
raging waters
of my need.

But oh,
the moments i see you.
hear you.
and you come roaring in through my television
set after i’ve spent hours adjusting the atena.
The always static,
the always raspy picture clears,
and there you stand.

I, like a heathen desperate for the gospel,
am bowed by the glorious weight of seeing another human being.

-your human being.

the moments where i see you,
where i hear you,
are small scattered,
but holy enough to mark.

the moments where i see you,
hear you,
i leave a breadcrumb.
that eventually,
if grace can survive out in the wild,
makes a path,

to heaven?
No.
to hell with heaven,

to here.
to here.
to here.
to here.