Everyone should go now to the Rabbit Room and purchase Ben Shive's album. It is incredibly stupendous, and you will agree or you will be dead by October.
Leida recently emailed me to ask for a poem that I wrote back in college about Africa. A bunch of my friends went there on a mission trip, and I was swept up by their stories and wrote a poem about my own experience of Africa through their words and memories. Hope you like it.
we stood on the dirt road
cracked and rutted
thirsty for water
blanched by the hot African sun.
in my hat I did not fear the sun
that had darkened his small face
but made his smile blaze.
this child I had baited with candy to love me
now followed me wherever I went
warning me of his approach
with the soft clash
of small feet against crumbling ground.
behind him an old woman squatted
over a hole in the middle of the village.
a gust of dirt-filled air passed between us
carrying the smell of distant fires.
and his words hung vivid in the air
a complicated question
I didn’t know how to answer
“Are the streets paved with gold
So we are 30 weeks along now in the pregnancy, and the baby is beginning to really kick and move around. The other day we were about to get out of the car, and the top quadrant of Steph's belly ("Big Belly, Big Belly!!" as I now always refer to it) was pulsing up and down. Yeah, all Alien-like. But according to all the ultrasounds, we are not in fact having a chest burster for a daughter.
And her legs have caught up to the rest of her body. We were quite concerned that she would have short legs like her dad, but no. Other ultrasound revelations have not been so comforting.
One disconcerting moment occurred a couple of months ago when we got a good look at her face. I made a comment, perhaps a sentimental tidbit or perhaps a witty retort--who can be sure? Right afterward the little girl yawned. Bored of me already, eh?
So there are 10 weeks left until the due date. The other day out of nowhere I blurted out, "Steph, we're going to have a baby." It was matter of fact. It was informative. It was absurd. Steph assured me that she had already checked out all the appropriate books on the subject, and many of the salient passages had already been marked. It was as if she knew that my Oprah moment was coming, that great cosmic "Aha!" in which we come into contact with pure experience, the ground of being, the source of all, and suddenly the obvious becomes as obvious as it really is.
I have heard that the Aztecs did not see the Conquistador ships even as they grew larger and larger on the horizon. They had no way of conceiving of something like those ships; no analog to connect what their senses told them with what they knew to be possible. But suddenly someone entirely new and foreign set foot on shore and their world was forever changed.
Just to be clear, I don't think our daughter is going to take over my land, infect me with strange diseases, and steal my wife. That might be considered over-extending the metaphor.
Well, hello! We had another doctor's appointment last week and everything is going just great. We found out we're having a girl! This makes the seventh (!) girl grandchild on my side of the family (no boys at all), but the first on Steph's side. Here are some pictures of Prego Steph (new action hero, no cape) from Easter, plus one of Cedric, Steph's nephew. Laura, Steph's sister-in-law, came to visit last week and apparently Cedric likes to do dishes.
Eager for more Hough news than what you can find here? Tired of all of my verbal meanderings? Wondering what Stephanie is thinking, doing, and writing?
Now you can find out! Announcing the World Premier of The Hough House. As you can read in Stephanie's first post there, you are going to find much more news and pictures than what you typically get here (although I did hit 20 posts again for the second year in a row!).
So now I'm just Somebody. As B.B. would say, "The thrill is gone."
(PS: Vote for Danny.)
So we're pregnant again. Just finishing week 18, actually, which means we're getting close to halfway done. July 29 is the due date, although Stephanie thinks the true due date should be July 28, since the doctor's highly sophisticated "spinny wheel" probably was not programmed to account for an extra day in February as this is a leap year. Let's just hope there's nothing else the doctor has to account for in a leap year.
You may be asking, If you've known since Thanksgiving that you were pregnant, why are you only posting about it now?
Well, first of all, how did you know that we found out at Thanksgiving? Ahhhh... HA!
Secondly, it's because we had a miscarriage last time. I don't know exactly why this made me reluctant to post, but it did. I think maybe I stayed a bit distant from the whole thing for a little while. Then, all of the sudden, we were at week 12 and heading toward the time when we had the miscarriage last time (beginning of week 14). Those two weeks were very long. Steph knew the point at which we had the miscarriage last time to the day, and it fell on a Sunday/Monday again. Going to bed that Sunday night was like putting down a really intense book just as you get to the climactic moment. The sun sets, and the sun also rises, and things move on. It felt like we had passed one of those makeshift memorials you see along the highway with the leaning cross and the sun-faded silk flowers. I don't know if this will make sense, but it wasn't until then that I began to think of this as a new baby, different from the last.
So the task now is to learn to hope again. Steph has been saying, and I've only recently begun to understand it, that our hope is for a baby, but our hope is in God. Even then, hope is a risk, not the last resort of the desperate as I used to think.
See you later, 2007. You done me wrong. You done me real wrong.
You were a tough year--maybe the toughest yet. And yet I still have some kind of regard for you. I don't think I would call it "like" or "fond memories" necessarily, but I am strangely sad to see you go. It's like when you get in a fight in fourth grade and pound each other with your little fists and roll around in the dirt until you're out of breath and agree the fight is over and then pass each other in the hallway at school the next day and exchange a look that says, "We're not going to be great friends or anything, but I respect you somehow even if I would still love to land one last good one right in your front teeth because we went through something together, you know, and saw it through until both of us were completely expended."
Yeah, that's about right. So goodbye, 2007. Sad to see you go, but don't go walking down any dark allies, you know what I mean?
If you're starting a band, I offer the following name:
Just send the royalty checks to the normal location. Make them out to Stephanie.
Happy Birthday to Stephanie! 28 never looked so good. Damn, girl.
As a special birthday treat (a slight stretch, but I'll use it), there are ten new pictures in the closing pages of the San Francisco album. Stephanie took two of the pictures. In the captions I identify one of them--see if you can pick out the second.
That's right, I'm also listing this as a member of the 'Games' category of blog entries. Games never looked so lame. Damn, girl.
Not anymore, you're not!
Thanks to Danny's help, I grabbed a plugin for iPhoto that exports resized pictures. I think that's what happened, anyway. All I know is that there are now ten pictures in the San Francisco album.
We're supposed to be going on some tours tomorrow, so I should have a few more to post for you then.
Sorry, but I can't get the pictures small enough to load in a reasonable amount of time. But for now, you can go to the picture album page and see the San Francisco album where they will eventually reside.
Oh, and I checked the pictures again--the guy in the halter-vest was actually Rob Siemer. And I thought he was too shy to even wear shorts. Though in his defense he was wearing pants. Leather pants. The kind that are so shiny you can see your reflection in them. But then, how desperate must you be to attempt to see your reflection in Rob Siemer's pants?
I have often wondered about that myself. I do remember one time when I was running late for a job interview and I would have killed to see Flashy Pants, as he is known on the West Coast. I much prefer that to his East Coast nickname: Mirror Butt.
At the diner where we saw Rob, Stephanie asked me, "Do you remember when I said that awful thing about Jesus?" We were in St. Louis in June and we went out to eat with a minivan full of Shives (Ben, Beth, Josh, and Kirsten). We were talking about how we compare ourselves to other people who had already accomplished a lot by the time they were our age. This is a timely conversation to be having since I will be 30 in just over a month.
Then someone said that it was okay because Jesus didn't really do much until he was 30. At that point, Stephanie opined, "He didn't do much after 30 either."
But she's right--he only got three more years. In Swaziland the life expectancy is 34 years, which means if we move there I will only live for another 4 years (I think that's how it works).
I told Steph tonight that I have been thinking of not shaving or cutting my hair again until I get something published. Her burst of shocked laughter said much about her faith in me. Actually, it said more about her disdain for facial hair. And since it will take me longer than two days to publish anything, she loses no matter what.
I hope this meandering blog entry has made you forget about the disappointment of not having pictures to look at. You will have them soon.
My apologies to those who love pictures. Also, apologies to Stephanie for making it seem like she doesn't believe in me. And apologies to Rob for insinuating that he wears reflective apparel. Finally, apologies to Leida, who is, by most accounts at least, black. I am sorry for everything.
We're in San Francisco for the week, and I would post a picture or two if I could get iPhoto to resize them easily. If I don't resize them, they will take forever to load (for you and me both--so even if I don't mind taking up your time, I'm still not going to do it). Maybe I will put a couple in a new photo album (linked above). That could work.
The homeless here are much meaner, except for one man who seems like a concierge, offering to help people find places to eat that fit their budget and taste. Parking for the week will run us just less than $100, but driving up on the Pacific Coast Highway was worth it.
We went to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 today. Too many people. Don't go.
While we sat at a diner tonight a guy walked by in a leather halter-vest. No, he didn't have a shirt on underneath. Yes, he was Jeremy Patch.
Oh, and they painted the Golden Gate bridge gray. You can see it in the pictures I'll post.
We have eaten neither rice, nor roni. We also have not seen the Olsen twins or Bob Sagat. This trip has sucked. Other than that, it has been great.
Both of these are Stephanie's:
"I don't want you to die, whether or not you have a life insurance policy."
"On my tombstone I want it to say, 'You done me wrong!'"
I put my shoes on to run today and I was surprised by how quickly they have become dirty. This is not veiled bragging, don’t worry. I bought the shoes a little more than a month ago when I was in St. Louis. Stephanie was spending the day with her mom, so I convinced Laura to go shoe shopping (it didn’t take much convincing).
Steph always laughs when I buy new running shoes, because it normally means simply that I no longer like my current running shoes. I make all of these promises that I will only use the shoes for running, and that I am going to really dedicate myself this time. My philosophy with running shoes is like Mitch’s philosophy with pens: “I bought a seven dollar pen because I always lose pens, and I was got sick of not caring.” So I figure if I spend more, I’ll be sure to use them more. This time it will work out, I say.
But the fact is that once I get the cool new shoes that are comfortable and don’t yet smell like dead animals, I begin wearing them everywhere, and soon enough I forget about running altogether. That’s why Stephanie laughs—because I am truly ridiculous.
This time I bought white running shoes that tend more toward the dorky end of the design spectrum, and I did well at only using them for running. About three weeks ago I was running my favorite trail at the Rose Bowl while praying and thinking about Hebrews 11 and 12—that so many have run before, and that it was my turn to run this race with perseverance. When I got back up the hill and began walking to the car, I thanked God for the ability to run and had a strange thought come into my head: You are still running; you still need perseverance. I thought perhaps I knew what it meant.
Less than three days later my baby died and I caught my wife before she fell unconscious to the floor. In the hospital we had an ultrasound that confirmed nothing was left in the womb. Our first and second ultrasounds were bookends of promise and disappointment—parentheses marking a mere interruption to a way of life that would not change, actually.
When we got home several hours later and Stephanie fell asleep, I took a quiet, warm shower. After I got dressed in fresh clothes I stood barefoot at the opening of my closet and stared at my running shoes. You are still running; you still need perseverance. So I put them on.
Stephanie asked later that day about the shoes, but I was embarrassed and didn’t give much of an answer. The next day I wore them again, and at the OB-GYN Steph again asked me about them. I was embarrassed again and nearly cried. She pulled me aside later and told me that she wasn’t trying to make fun of me, but just wanted to know. So I told her how it was to remind me that I was running a race.
I wore them exclusively for a week and on the following Monday, seven days later, renewed my summer goal of getting used to flip flops. Stephanie asked me about the shoes. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want the running shoes to become an overused and undervalued symbol of spiritual struggle, but I also worried that I was giving up the race.
From reading the book of Hebrews, I always thought that faith was founded upon the faithfulness of God, which was clearly displayed in a divine cycle of promise and fulfillment spanning generations. Matt P. (not Matt the boss), who always sat in the second row with me in our class on Hebrews in seminary, said that his impression was almost exactly the opposite. He said that Hebrews—and especially my precious chapter 11—was about faith in the absence of fulfillment. The many who have run and not received a reward are those we now follow.
I have been aware that this running I do is part choice, but choice driven by impulse. Running is just something I do. When trials come, you strap on the shoes and run. When the promises are farthest away, you run the hardest. In the absence of a fulfillment of hope, or maybe even more in the presence of a contradiction to hope, all you have left is this running.
Abraham ran without knowing where he was going and, therefore, without knowing if he was even getting anywhere. And Abraham’s children run because that’s what our father did and generations of brothers and sisters can’t be wrong. We are a people who run and struggle in the silence because a voice long ago told us to. And we have this testimony from the cloud of witnesses: We ran, we died, we did not receive the promise. Yet I find myself lacing up the running shoes to follow in their footsteps.
I must be crazy.
I'm sitting here writing with one cat licking the walls and the other trying to make off with Stephanie's iPod, both signs that they are hungry. Stephanie is at work, her second shift this week. She has been doing a lot of reading most days to make up for lost time last week. She puts on her skinny jeans and faces the world like a champ. She even rocked an interview for a promotion earlier this morning.
I've been back to work as well, and was excited this week to purchase for the school a new MacPro with a 23" Apple Cinema Display, Final Cut Studio, and Adobe CS3. The computer comes tomorrow. My friend (and boss) Matt said it was an answer to prayer. I know what I would trade this computer for, but I don't think it helps anyone to say it. It's just that maybe I could have been clearer in prioritizing my requests.
This weekend I take my new student chaplains on a retreat to bond and plan for the upcoming school year. They don't know that my real desire is to follow the plan that Jesus outlines for the disciples he sent out: don't take any extra clothes, don't take any money, just go and minister and find someone to stay with in each town you visit. If no one offers you hospitality, then go on to the next town. If something goes wrong, I will certainly be fired, possibly go to jail, and the school will be sued.
I guess that's why Matt told me I couldn't do the retreat that way. At the end of our conversation about security, control, personal responsibility, and faith, I looked him in the eye and said, "So what you're telling me is that I can't take Jesus at his word."
Then, just for comic effect, I yelled, "I quit!" and stormed out of his presence, straight to my car and left for the day without another word. He has called a few times, but I have been too busy to answer. I am guessing he wants to tell me how impressively funny it all was.
The thing that was funny, really, was that when I told him, "So what you're telling me is that I can't take Jesus at his word," I don't think I was really talking to him.
It's more on the tragic funny side of comedy, now that I think of it.
Why does it feel like going back to normal is the same as acting like we never wanted this baby? And why does it feel like faith means pretending like we get it--life and why things happen the way they do? And why does Jesus say we aren't worthy of him if we don't hate our father, mother, wife, and husband?
Maybe we're not quite back to normal.
As yesterday came to a close and we made our way to bed, we turned our thoughts to the morning and wondered what Day 2 would feel like. In one way, we wanted the morning to come quickly, and Steph even stayed up till 9 or 10pm to make sure that she would sleep through the night. I urged her very strongly that she should wake me up if she woke up in the night, so that she wouldn't be in and out of bed for a second night facing grief alone.
So we all--Steph's mom included--went to bed anxious about the night, and both Gloria and I awoke at every sound.
But we were anxious about what the morning would hold, too. What would it be like to wake up no longer pregnant? What would it be like to open your eyes and have to remember everything that happened the day before?
But we slept through a peaceful night, and the sun rose, and coffee was made, and life continued. But life was changed. It seemed a little emptier and a little quieter somehow.
Day 2 had much less commotion, and much less noise. Even the phones that rang and buzzed all day yesterday were silent today. Today was the day for beautiful flowers, and we received many. In the silence we remembered the day before, we retold the stories to a few more family and friends and doctors, and we realized just how difficult it all had been. In some ways it was more grueling and shocking and fearful than we had allowed ourselves to feel at the time. I remember this afternoon thinking how glad I am that yesterday is done and how I never would want to go through it again, but how in a strange, detached way I don't even quite feel like it was me who went through it this time.
And we thought, too, about the outpouring of love, sympathy, and understanding that we received from family and friends. We are grateful for the wonderful people in our lives, and for the grace and love that we have been given through you.
Steph's mom, Gloria, flew out to be with us yesterday, and knowing that her mom was on her way was a comfort while we were in the hospital and wondering if we had anything left to look forward to. Our friend Shanelle acted as family spokesperson, chauffeur, professional shopper, and anything else that was needed throughout the day to keep us from having to be detail-oriented. Aaron, Aron, and Matt suspended their plans for the day to make time to get coffee and cry with me in a public place. Innumerable friends and family called or emailed words of encouragement and hope in the midst of shared sorrow. Our employers and Steph's professor were all accommodating and sympathetic in every heartfelt message. I feel certain that we could have asked any of these people--any of you--for anything in the world, and we would have received it. I cannot adequately express our appreciation.
I especially want to mention Larry, Stephanie's dad. Steph wanted to call her mom as soon as possible, but she didn't want her mom to be alone when she heard the news. We decided to call very early on in the hope that Larry would still be there. But when Steph called, he had just left for work.
Although it might seem odd, I am now thankful that he was not there because the situation allowed him the opportunity to show such love for Steph and her mom. As soon as he got to work and heard Gloria's messages, he raced home, knowing that he may have put his job at risk. When he got home he told Gloria to pack because she was leaving on the first plane to California. He drove her to St. Louis and made sure everything was taken care of for her to get on the plane on time.
That was the gift.
Then he drove home alone. He went back to an empty house. He had a quiet dinner. And he waited for a phone call with news.
That was the cost.
He gave Stephanie what he himself needed and wanted most. In a poignant picture of grace-filled, fatherly love, he decided to be alone so that she and her mom could be together. He did not give from his abundance, but only what he took from his own heart, and his lack is our blessing.
Such sacrifices of love have carried us in our weakness, and we are so humbled to be so loved.
Very early this morning we had a spontaneous miscarriage. I don't really know how else to start, and looking at those words is difficult.
Stephanie is doing well physically, and we will today or tomorrow see her OB/GYN. We got home from the hospital a little over an hour ago, and all tests seem to indicate that everything has passed naturally. So that's supposed to mean that everything is fine.
A few minutes ago a dear friend asked me what stage I'm in. An abstraction, but a caring one. It's too early to talk about stages. It's more like breaths. This one shock. That one anger. This one resignation. That one hope.
They come and go like waves, some stronger than others, lulls in between. But they come and subside and come again. Soon enough they will turn into days, then weeks. Then maybe I'll recognize stages, which of course will mean that it's all over.
Another friend wanted to make sure that I am well networked with people I can talk to. I've never seen my network, but I know the faces of my family and my friends. I know love, and I know that I have it in so many people. I know that words like 'network' and 'stage' are shorthand, but time has stretched and slowed to make room for good words, old words, deep words. Mourning. Friendship. Grace.
We feel bad for people who try to comfort, because what can you really say or do? And yet you want to and even need to care, to act. I guess in that way you're stuck. But we're stuck, too. We haven't found a script for this yet, just as you haven't found one for how to respond.
And in some jacked up way, that's care and it feels healing to us. We're all just trying to make our way through this, and if anyone else could play their part with much finesse, I would probably be angry. Somehow I much prefer the stammering missteps and the second-guessed consolations.
So you can call if you like, or write, or just pray. You don't need to write something out to make sure you don't say the wrong thing. We will treat you with grace, and trust that you are doing the same, as we offer one another tender mercy in a tender hour.
I added about 15 more pictures to the gallery from what was saved on Stephanie's computer. Once I can access the rest, I will post pictures of Samuel's and Galilee's families.
Also, enjoy the new captions. Mostly benign, but you might get one or two chuckles.
There is a new picture album with a few of the pictures that I took while in MO. Most of the pictures I took during the trip I put on my brother's computer, so I will get those pictures as soon as I can. There are also quite a few on Stephanie's computer that I will send up soon. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures of the thunderstorm that rolled through the last night I was there.
...oh yeah--forgot to mention that you click on "Photo Gallery" at the top of the right margin.
I think I might redesign the blog. Well, look at me. Two posts in one day and I think I can do anything!
For those of you who have not heard, there will soon be a "Somebody Else" joining the blog! December 29 is the release date, and we couldn't be happier. We have moved into a two bedroom apartment right across the street from the library where Stephanie works, so let us know if you need or want the new address. Just email me and I will send it to you.
I have a friend named Aaron who has been trying to get into philosophy PhD programs for about three years now. The first year he got turned down, so he decided to get a Master's degree in philosophy to complement his Master's of Divinity degree from Fuller. (Oh, he also has a Master's in Engineering from Stanford, just so you know.) Last year, halfway through his Master's program (in philosophy--pay attention now) he applied again to just one or two programs and got turned down again. He is now finishing his program this spring and applied to six or eight schools (or eight or ten?), got into a few, but especially wanted to go to UCLA.
So he gets on the waitlist at UCLA, which is an incredible feat because the PhD program at UCLA is in the top three or five in the country (let's compromise and say it's the best one imaginable). The scene at UCLA is idyllic: green pastures, sunshine, liesurely academic discussions around putluck dinners, lions and bunny rabbits lying down together for afternoon naps, unicorns prancing around and doing tricks for apples, in the middle of campus there is a fountain flowing with grant money--you get the picture.
So the waitlist is great, but it means prolonged agony, since decision day for PhD programs is April 15. On that day, everyone finally decides where to go (I offered to tell a few of them where to go to make it easier, if you know what I mean) and there is quite a shaking out of the waitlists at various places.
So Aaron finds out on Friday that he is number one on the waitlist, but that there are four undecided people with offers still out there and only 2-3 spots left in the program. So he emails. And we all pray.
This morning he finds out that two of the four have accepted their offers, one has rejected, and the other is in Cambodia or someplace really out of contact (okay, not really). So we wait. And we pray.
Aaron comes down after a shower (I am taking him on his word here--I wasn't there to see it) to his wife, Angela, crying at the computer. Oh great, right? She asks him, "Is this real?" and he reads an email congratulating him on his acceptance to UCLA. Yes, it's real! It's as real as the prancing unicorns (maybe not the unicorns, but again, you get the picture). So he emails. And we all pray.
When I read his email I threw my hands in the air and shouted, "Yes!" (what must the neighbors have thought, eh?). Then I rushed to read past the first line and make sure that my uncharacteristic display of unrestrained exuberance was not in vain. It was not, and so I repeated (now the neighbors just figure I'm bragging).
Then a couple of thoughts set in. First, I am truly happy. I write him a congratulatory email of my own, with probably a tad more lighthearted profanity than the one UCLA sent him (I am assuming, although I would be pleasantly surprised to learn otherwise). I tell him I am happy and end the sentence there. It occurs to me that I ought to put "for you" after the "I am happy," but just as I reach for the key to go back, I pause. I am happy just. Happy "for you," sure, but mostly happy. Period. Happy.
Now you have to know that it has been a tough couple of years out here for us (for me) with friendships, especially ones connected to our church. I have wondered if I am a good friend, if I bail out of friendships and abandon relationships (I do sometimes), if I have any real community or am really capable of it or willing to pay the cost for it. But in the aftermath of that moment today I realize that I am tied to Aaron--my life to his, my happiness to his, and who knows what else. The admonition to laugh with those who laugh was not needed, and it didn't take conscious effort to obey it. I was not happy for him, because I did not need to imitate his joy in order to share in the moment. I was happy just. I had my own joy. It was shared, yes, but it had become as much mine as his.
And I realized I had done something right, or perhaps more accurately, God had done something in me to set me right, at least in this relationship. I felt, perhaps for the first time in any relationship, blessed to have this friend that I have and at the same time also blessed to be this friend that I am. I don't think these two have ever really come together for me before, and the latter one has been much more elusive.
The second thought came later as I was driving and listening to Tommy's song "What a Good God," which he sings every year (on Thanksgiving?). I was thanking God for his many blessings, blessings so beyond what we deserve that to even mention deserving or not deserving muddles the point. They are blessings with no reference to what we deserve, as if it doesn't matter, as if they are free gifts.
Then I thought, well shouldn't we be happy like this all the time? Don't we always have blessings that are more than we need? And remember, there will be parts of this PhD program that Aaron won't like, that will wear on him, that will stress him out. Let's not forget about that, now.
Then I stopped the song, took a deep breath at a red light, and when it turned green I started the song again and regained my joy. I decided I did not need to be happy, but remember it would also be hard. I didn't need to be happy, but acknowledge that I should always be this happy about food and breath and the many other necessities of life--as if having meaning and a calling had become disposable appendages to life, true life, eternal life. I did not need to be happy, but. I could still be happy just.
And so I started to be happy again, and I stopped there and didn't move on to the many qualifiers and disclaimers and statements of supposedly mature faith that buttress tattered hope against the imminent likelihood that God will turn out not to be as promising as he first seemed. Or if he is as promising, then not as fulfilling as I would like. And so it struck me that my joy stands or falls with the faithfulness of God, and when I lack joy it is so often because the God I serve is not faithful enough to ellicit joy, not strong enough to warrant unrelenting trust, and not deep enough to secure the anchor of my hope.
Then comes the transition: The moment becomes about my lack, and not his. Have I entrusted myself to the sturdiness of my disappointment? Reality is so predictable, and it masquerades as a pessimistic kind of faithfulness. I can safely count on things to fall apart, to fail, to die. The moment becomes about my life and reaching for God, not halfway so that I don't lose my balance, but forsaking all others in an all out desperate attempt to hold onto something sturdy--or, rather, to be held by him.
And so I am tied to him as well--my life to his, my happiness to his, and who knows what else.
And I smile at the declaration of my dependence.
And I am happy just.
That's how long it has been since I have been back to Missouri, but the date is set and the tickets are bought for the next visit.
We will fly into St. Louis on June 5, travel to U of I for Steph's classes on the tenth, then make our way to Kansas City after that. Steph flies out of KC on the fourteenth, and I leave the following Tuesday, June 19, from KC.
So schedule the parties, arguments, and thunderstorms--we're looking forward to all of that.
Man, I hope there are thunderstorms.
I just read all the posts in this blog. Because that's what you do when you're on Spring Break.
I don't recommend it--reading all the posts in one sitting, I mean. Spring Break is great, and I would recommend that to almost anyone. Well, probably to anyone at all, but I don't want to speak with such certainty and therefore never be able to not recommend Spring Break to some undeserving fellow.
See what I mean about not reading all the posts in one sitting?
This evening we went to an Easter musical at a local AG church to see our friend perform in one of the leading roles. He was the best singer in the group, if you must know, so it was good that he had the best part. Here were a few of our thoughts as we drove home:
Why do the antagonists in the play have to be so bad? We're talking 100% bad--no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and no allowance for the fact that at least some of their intentions may have been good, if misguided. Maybe this is a question for the Gospel writers?
Related to the first point, Satan was portrayed as a hideously ugly, terrifying monster bent on challenging the power of Jesus. This Satan is easy to reject as evil. But what about the Satan I more often see, the one who is alluring and deceitful? The one who parades around as an angel of light?
Why do we see the need to be immediately okay with Jesus on the cross? It seems to me to be an awkwardness about suffering in general. In the play, one of the disciples sings a song of thanks about Jesus being on the cross in his place. I agree that this is part of the meaning of the cross (although there is much more needing to be said), but this is not a genuine reaction of a disciple watching his master perish.
And when Jesus emerges from the tomb, why is he clean? Was there a shower in the cave? He stepped out of the grave to the loud applause of the audience. Again, this is fine, since the resurrection belongs to that great climax of our faith. But it is fine only if we recognize that we are not actually experiencing the event as the disciples did.
Some of the most powerful moments were the healings that Jesus performed, and the way that the people responded. There was real amazement and joy on their faces, and I felt it with them. Why, then, allow me (as the audience) to feel the joy, but not the pain? Why undercut the disorienting power of the cross? Why at that point stop and wink to the audience and say, "Oh, we know better than the disciples did"?
I know that we benefit from their later reflections and the way that they began to work out the meaning and even the beauty of the cross, and I am not even sure that we could encounter the cross with anything like the horror, frustration, or hopelessness that they may have felt. But I think it is important that we try, otherwise we will lose faith in our moments of horror, frustration, and hopelessness.
Well, hearing or seeing that I have posted is probably enough of an April Fool's Day riddle (is he really posting, or is it actually someone else?). But I have decided to go above and beyond, and to provide a "2 truths and a lie" treat for you. Which one of the following is the April Fool's Day trick?
A. I recently beat Andrew Peterson in a foot race.
B. I recently taught Great Expectations without ever having read it.
C. I recently ate cereal.
Okay, they're all true. I didn't know what to put for the lie, and I didn't think it would be that difficult to pick out anyway.
I did beat Andrew Peterson in a foot race. By way of explanation, though, he was barefoot.
And I also taught Great Expectations without ever having read it. Now, mind you, I have read it by now, but just not when we began.
And finally, I did eat cereal just last night. By way of explanation, though, it was Golden Grahams.
and they say I should post more often....