Monday, March 21, 2011

Two weeks ago I awoke from a dream. 
I was driving to work, the sun was bright, green grass all around, steady warm breeze, car steadily moving north down a dirt road. The way was blocked by an estranged friend of mine who was being pushed in a wheelchair by someone with a full beard, mustache, reflective sunglasses and wearing fatigues who I didn't know. I came to a stop as they slowly moved forward, knowing I was behind them, my friend knowing it was me and that I was going to work but neither said a word to me, neither really looked at me, instead they were both focused on the waves of tall grass moving across this immense field. Sporting a handgun, my buddy was shooting at gophers. Continuing to wait would cause me to be late for work. Forcing my way around them was possible but it was also being pushy and risking hurting someone or getting stuck. I knew I would have to speak to them but I didn't want to feeling I had tried previously to patch things up between us and it was my estranged friend's responsibility to speak to me this time. He remained silent and determined to seek gophers. My thought was, is this what he's come to for meals and entertainment? Shooting Gophers?
In this realm this friend of mine has been going through hardships. Like many, he lost his job and has been unsuccessful finding a new one. He's been struggling in other areas that compound the job loss. I don't envy him and probably would not deal with it as well as he seems to. Quite some time ago I remarked about concerns for this friend. He was not answering his phone, only texts or facebook. He had started to sell personal items online. Some form of my words got back to him and a text arrived from accusing me of saying things that were less than favorable toward  him. I honestly, to this day, don't know the specifics of what I am supposed to have said but I tried to assure him via text that anything that I may have said was out of concern and not meant to harm or demean him. Though I don't know what I did wrong, he has the perception that I did or said something and that's what really matters. So I try to figure out how to make this right. In an era where we do little communication more than a sentence or two texting or tweeting I don't know if correcting things like this can be done?
It's been a long time since I've done anything social or had a conversation of any substance. I recall standing in a parking lot when the weather was warm last year sharing ideas about God, sexuality, accountability, disappointments, victories, books, movies (more than oh I like that it was good, or oh I didn't like that it was awful). That was months ago. So many things have happened since then.
Earthquakes, tornadoes, tidal waves, nuclear reactor core breeches, people have left this life and gone to the next, birthdays, lay offs, hirings, a new year...
While dreaming I understood that I would have to begin the conversation even though I believed I'd already done my part. It wasn't understood that I had and that made the difference. Though it felt like giving in I had to question what was really important, my pride or the greater good. Waking, I realized the same thing. How does one do that when the written word is difficult enough to communicate effectively, clearly? Now that it's dwindled to nothing more than short sentences, symbols, and tweets it seems doomed to failure. Perhaps it is doomed to failure until we rise above it all, take time from our "busy" schedules and talk with one another again, face to face instead of distanced by space and rectangular brightly glowing pieces of glass. At the very least answering the phone when it rings. I'm beginning to understand that if someone takes the time to call these days, instead of text or tweet, they really do want to speak with you. And what a shame if we don't take the time to appreciate that and instead ask why aren't they texting? It may very well be time to start answering the phone again when someone calls.
Perhaps then I won't be haunted by gophers being executed by a guy being pushed down a dusty, bumpy, dirt road in a wheelchair. 
What it comes down to is sometimes it is important to apologize even if you don't know exactly what you are apologizing for other than you've somehow hurt someone and that's really enough. 

"I search for shelter near the mines we swept
I guess forgiveness hasn't happened yet
There are no words that I can say to you
To turn this careless sky from black to blue
So I'm asking you

Is it safe, is it safe to land?
'Cause I'm not going far on an empty heart
Is it safe, is it safe to land?
'Cause the long fall back to earth is the hardest part" (safe to land-jars of clay)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Just Where Was I Going With This?

It's difficult, working the overnight shift, for me to really get quiet and listen. I read a devotion earlier and have already forgotten what it was about. After that I started to read from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 14. I do recall that is about spiritual gifts, specifically speaking in tongues and prophecy and the difference between them. How speaking in tongues is for one's own spiritual edification but prophecy is for the edification of all present.

Every ten to fifteen minutes I am interrupted by having to quietly walk down the hall where the boys rooms are and carefully shine a flashlight into each room. I am looking to make certain a few things. First to verify that each boy is in his own room where he belongs and hasn't snuck out and gone somewhere. Second, to make certain none of the boys have hurt themselves. Some of the boys are prone to self-harming behaviors such as cutting, asphyxiation, biting, hitting themselves, repeatedly hitting the wall. So I have to watch for that overnight. Third, it's not uncommon for the boys who live here to have been sexually active at an early age, typically forced onto them by someone they know. A parent, a sibling, a cousin, aunt or uncle, someone the parent is dating... Sadly it happens and the boys then will often turn to each other because as awful as it has been, there is often something of these acts of violence against them that either felt good and they want to replicate or they are able to bully, control, force someone else into something that was forced onto them. They are able to be in control, harming someone else. It becomes about power. So the bed checks are to keep the boys safe and protected. To be honest, it's selfish of me to even think of these checks as an interruption considering the idea is to keep the boys safe, prevent them from becoming victims (again) or abusers.

But I do use the minutes between checks to try and listen, read, learn and grow spiritually. Tonight I've been reading about how pornography has potentially effected the male population especially so that many males may not see the importance of building healthy relationships with women because they can turn to a fictional presentation of what sex "should" be. How waiting to marry makes it more likely that women will often feel obligated to compromise their virtue for fear waiting will end a relationship. How men don't feel the need to court and are often not taught or expected to treat women in any special way. It's been a common theme today for some reason as earlier on my drive into work the radio aired a sermon on this and how we need to teach our children to respect others. Teach them to forgo things the world teaches us to seek out and take now.

I don't want to become complacent or even comfortable where I am. I want to keep myself apart from these damaging practices no matter what I may have been part of in years past. I know that alone I am destined to fail but I also know that there are very personal things that are difficult to bring to light. Uncomfortable for the confessor and even the councelor. Often maybe even more so for the councelor. A burden. Something not asked for. Something not welcome. Private, personal, awkward...risky. But I think that's where we need to go and we need to be ready to listen and be supportive. To pray for each other. To build each other up. To lift each other up. To not try and do this life thing alone.

It all got a bit to much for me when I started reading how in the Church the normal expectation is that a man be married and if he's not by the time he's in his 30's he'd better have good reason to not be. I stopped reading at the point, recalling I am in my 40's, single...for what I consider valid reasons if not altogether good reasons. I know people wonder, guess, assume. I can't blame them. Nor do I want to get into long explanations with everyone.

So thinking on these things I decide to put it to rest for the night and go back to the original article before I went off on the trail to enlightenment. The original article being: 5 Health Reasons to NOT Quit Drinking Coffee.

There's something I'm willing to discuss for a while.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Skunks gnawing on dry cat food, dead opossums, moles getting chased through the snow by outdoor cats. These are things that have been happening for the past three weeks that make me really hope that winter is done and over with sooner rather than later. And I'm hoping this icy snow that we had counts as the Lion beginning to the month of March so we can have Lamb weather until (shudder) next winter.
I can't complain, and I won't, because I'm working. I've got a home. I've got clothing and food. I can, and am, work(ing) on my health. Things seem to matter again: how others are treated, how responsible I am with what I have, how what I have can and does effect others, how it all effects me, what do I really need, what can I and maybe should I do without, why when I feel so distant from the Creator do I go to Him so often with requests, with thanks, with question, with concerns, with appreciation, how can I live so that the Wonder is always on display, and why do I mostly fail to do so? Do I spend too much time trying to figure this stuff out and wind up getting little to nothing done?