Sunday, November 12, 2017

Free Too

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I want to be free

I stood there when she said it
She came straight up to me
So filled with His spirit
So gentle and free

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I need to be free

I was there when she said it
She came straight up to me
So filled with His love
So beautiful and free

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I must be free

Monday, October 30, 2017

I want to be free

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I want to be free.

Love's not an excuse
It isn't a lie
It doesn't come in youth
But only when we die.

When we die to self,
Die so we can live,
Die to receive
Receive life as a gift.

Love's not an excuse
It isn't a lie
It doesn't come in youth
But only when we die.

I hear what you're saying
I see what you mean
I know what you're doing
But I want to be free.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Addendum to On Freedom

And my Kids. Praise God for them. They had lost all the trappings of wealth that they were born into: the private school, big house, beach cottage, winter skiing. But they never complained or blamed me. The only thing they said when then came back from their first week of public school was  "the kids here are nicer". My daughter would frequently ask me to help her with school projects and for a couple of hours I would lose myself with her. One day I offered to drive her home - it was cold and snowy - but I ran out of gas right in the underpass of a rush hour freeway. I shouted with frustration and and cursed myself and she broke into tears. But my son was there to help us within minutes. He was always there when I needed him. Their steadfast love and refusal to judge or complain was the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.

Monday, October 16, 2017

On Freedom

Four years ago I moved into a minivan. I handed my house keys to my Son and told him to sell everything and give the proceeds to his mother. With my business bankrupt, my marriage gone, my self respect and confidence in tatters, I moved into the van to die. I was in despair, everything that I had built my life on was in ruins.

I spent nine months there. I overnighted in strange places - one was an auto body shop amongst the wrecks. I went days without speaking to anyone. I experienced 100 degree heat all the way down to minus 15f - not windchill - temperature. My toes still tell the tale. I kept clean by bathing in men's rooms and occasionally strolling brazenly into the local College's faculty locker room as if I were a Professor of Indigence, the Hobo Sage.

No one from my Church came looking for me. A couple times old colleagues came by and gave me money - claiming that they had forgotten to pay me for work I'd done.

I was angry at myself and at God. I acknowledged that I had wrecked my life but insisted I didn't do it alone. I was an active Christian: tither, promise keeper, BSFer, sunday school teacher, Deacon:  the full Yaweh. From where I stood it seemed that God had let me run off the rails. I told Him "you let me do this to myself". His answer was: "Yes, I did. Now pay attention."

Spoiler alert: I didn't die. Which was a problem: what exactly was I supposed to do? I couldn't sit still so I started walking which led to thinking then to ideas and ultimately writing. Early on I wrote angry polemics against God. I would send them to my pastor friends. They were hot stuff, I'm sure I could get a gig writing for the Atheists if I still believed any of it. The irony was that I had announced  that I was 'done' with God yet He had never dominated my thoughts so much as in that van.

And then slowly, at first almost imperceptibly I began to see people differently. I started really looking at them, looking into their eyes. I began going up to complete strangers, trying to understand them. It made them really, nervous. I became friends with the disabled woman who worked at McDonalds. I had always avoided her  because her small twisted body made her slow. But I had become slow too and it allowed me to see what I had missed. It was a revelation: up until that point I had looked upon most people as "tools" to be used or obstacles to be gotten around. But there, at the bottom I began to see people for what they truly are: God breathed miracles, on their journeys to eternity.

Then Mom called: Dad had cancer and needed my help. So I became my father's primary caregiver for the last 18 months of his life. The truth is I never really knew my father until then. And then as if by plan, the week Dad died an old friend called asking me to join his new west coast software venture.

It was shortly after that I strolled into this building on a Sunday morning and someone said 'Hi'.

God brought me full circle. From failure and despair to renewal and purpose.  So how did I change? First of all I am so much more holy than I used to be (snort guffaw)...No, that's a lie. I am the same knucklehead I've always been.

What God did with that time was teach me what it meant to be free.

Free to fail. And being free to fail, free in Christ to truly try.
Free to see myself and to see others for what we truly are.
Free to be honest, to confess sin openly, and ask forgiveness.
And Free to really love, to love God and to love you.

John 8:32 "and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But I'm still that knucklehead, ask anyone: "Is he really?" "Oh, yes, without a doubt".

Most of you are young, talented and industrious and you will go far. But I'll let you in on a secret: Someday you're going to fail. And I pray that when you do, you'll find the freedom that comes from knowing that you can't possibly live up to God's Standard - the only one that matters. That's the edge we street veterans have. We know that there's nothing we can do by ourselves.

So during this time of feasting and plenty remember that crucial truth that street people know better than anyone else. And take a moment to stop, listen and learn from them, it will bless you. I say this  not because "There but for the Grace of God go I" no, I say it because "There with the Grace of God went I".

One more point: One of the reasons people on the street look so defeated is that they are often so very alone. There is really nothing quite like 'street alone', people everywhere ignoring you. There's a song that expresses that loneliness well. It's not particularly pretty but it is True. The Song is The Wrestler by Bruce Springsteen.

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the Field so Fancy and Free?
If you've ever seen a one-trick pony then you've seen me.
Have you ever seen a three legged dog making his way across the street?
If you've ever seen a three legged dog then you've seen me.

Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door.
Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I have before.
Then you've seen me, when my blood it hits the floor.

Tell me friend can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

Have you ever seen a scarecrow filled with nothing but dust and weeds?
If you've ever seen a scarecrow then you've seen me.
Have you ever seen a one armed man punching at nothing but the breeze?
If you've ever seen a one armed man, then you've seen me.

Then you've seen me, I come and stand at every door.
Then you've seen me, I always leave with less than I have before.
Then you've seen me, when my blood it hits the floor.

Tell me friend can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

These things that comfort me I drive away.
This place that is my home I cannot stay.
The only faith I have is in the bruises I display.

Tell me friend can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

Have you ever seen a one legged man trying to dance his way free?
If you've ever seen a one legged man, then you've seen........me.

 Thank you.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

All that's left is love

I heard about another slaughter
And that people don't have  homes
But in the end none of that matters
Rich or poor, black or white
We're all losers in this game of Life
Not one of us gets out alive

Love brought us here
Love will take us home.
All we get to keep is love.
For love never dies.

So many people are shouting
Hating on each other every day
But no one will win the argument
Right or left, my country or yours
We're all lifers here,
There are no eleventh hour reprieves

Yes Love brought us here
Love will take us home.
All we get to keep is love.
For love never dies.

We can't eat it or sell it,
We can't wear it or steal it
Love can't be bought,
It's not for sale.

But we can accept it
Accept it from it's only source
And we can share it
For love never runs out
Love multiplies again and again
Until it covers every sorrow, every sin.

Because don't you know that:

Love brought us here
Love will take us home.
All we get to keep is love.
For love never dies.

Look at all the souls
on their journey to eternity
All beautiful, all loved
I love you.

Words of encouragement to a friend

We are all constantly in a process of becoming. Once in a while we suddenly discover what we've become. It's never quite what we set out for. But if we're fortunate and true to ourselves it will be where we are meant to be. Here's to you becoming an ever wiser, more joyful and creative version of yourself.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A striking bloom



I spied a flower, a striking bloom
It shocked my soul and pierced my gloom.

But I can't keep her, nor make her mine.
Only love her grace, her beauty, her life.


Photo by author: Texas Hill Country Wildflowers