Monday, April 28, 2008

knock knock knocking

I believe that the road to enlightenment is enlightenment itself. The search for a spiritual experience, the willingness to seek higher ground in itself creates a higher consciousness.

Ask and it shall be given you;
Seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Well I've been asking and seeking and knocking.

Every morning I start my day with a period of prayer, silent meditation and readings from various spiritual texts. Often times my early morning prayer and meditation rituals provide me with a sense of calm and well being yet at other times I can't quite seem to quiet my mind or feel the conscious contact I seek.

I find satisfaction knowing that I'm not on this journey alone. Being part of a larger spiritual community has given me an overwhelming sense of belonging. It is something I deeply crave. For the last couple of years this yearning to be a part of a larger spiritual community has led me to various congregations around New York City. Maybe because New York has a reputation for being a 'sinful' place, there's hardly a block on the island of Manhattan that doesn't have a church or temple on it. In my search for a spiritual home I've found a veritable smorgasbord of styles of worship to choose from and now I find myself in an uncomfortable situation. I'm sitting here with chicken on my plate and I'm thinking I should have chosen the salmon.

I'm beating around the bush. Plain English: Did I choose the wrong church?

Several months ago I became a member of Marble Collegiate Church. Is it possible that the honeymoon period is over? Do I need to redouble my efforts to be a part of my chosen church community, search inside myself for what it means to be committed to something even in times of doubt? Or am I actually starting to see the reality of what goes on now that the newness of my experience is beginning to wear away?

I'm weighing what it is that pulls me towards this church against what it is that causes me to bristle with doubt. Marble is a completely gay affirming church, accepting of all who come through it's doors and the diversity of the congregation is a wonderful thing. I love looking around the sanctuary and seeing a rainbow of God's children. I don't think I could belong to a community that didn't have these things. Many Sunday mornings the sermon is wonderful. Arthur Caliandro, the senior minister, is a kind, loving old man with a sweet and, often, touching way of personalizing the message. The guest speakers seem to be world class orators with the ability to move large crowds. The members of the congregation are warm and friendly. Two of the associate ministers are smart, forward thinking and loving people who've made themselves available to me on several occasions. All of these things continue to pull me back for my weekly dose of community worship.

Then there is the other side of this argument. The side that gets bigger for me every time the congregation stands as one, zombified, to sing those stale hymns. It is remarkable to me that a church with several very good choirs and a vast music program continues to try and keep alive these dead or dying dirges. There must be another hymnal out there with some more lively or inspired choices in it. Also there is the way it is understood that no one is to EVER applaud for the sanctuary choir even if they perform some interesting and difficult piece of music and even if they kick ass. Huh? What's that about? Why should I sit on my hands if the Spirit is moving me to show some appreciation? Forget about shouting "Amen".

The Minister that has "temporarily" been brought on staff, as Dr. Caliando's health makes it unable for him to preach weekly, is the kind of preacher that has a definite old time southern flavor. Not necessarily a bad thing in itself but one morning he told a story of having had a vision of the angel Gabriel. Are you kidding me? Did he really say that? Doesn't he run this stuff by people for some feedback before he says it aloud to a room full of several hundred and countless others who watch the service online and on TV broadcasts? The recounting of his vision of Gabriel is just one instance of several that have caused me concern. I'll refrain from listing the others here.

Am I nit picking? Am I supposed to just swallow this stuff whole and accept that this is what goes down at a church? I'm very glad that I wasn't forced to attend church as a child. I know many people who grew up dreading Sunday mornings as it was a time to dress up, sit still and shut up. Consequently those folks are seldom seen at church save for weddings and funerals. I'm trying to approach my involvement in church life with as open a mind as I can have.

Marble is a very old institution. Actually it is the oldest congregation in the country dating back to 1628. Truly remarkable considering it's progressive stand on certain issues. Because of this I shouldn't be surprised at the politics of such an institution. Things do take time to change. Should I continue to focus on what I like about the place or should I attempt to bring attention to what I don't agree with? "Hey we've been doing this just fine for a long time. Who the hell are you?"

I have a lot of questions. My faith, trust and commitment seem to be made up of questions. I don't get a lot of answers but I often find my faith by asking the questions and listening for the answers. Maybe a spiritual community really is like a family. I don't agree with a lot of things that go on with members of my family but they're still my family.

I've decided to make choices that work for me within the confines of what's accepted in the church. I look online to see when that interim minister is preaching and I go to a different church on those Sundays. More often than not when I go to other churches I return to Marble feeling like I have made the right decision, that I've come home.

I do enjoy being part of a spiritual community and just because I've become a member of one community I don't necessarily feel restricted from exploring others. So I'll keep on knocking, seeking and asking and if, in the process, I happen to shout "Amen!" in the middle of a very quite service I hope I'll be forgiven.

Friday, April 25, 2008

the land of childhood

There was a period of a few short years before my mother married the second of her three husbands, before my sisters were born, when I was the only apple of my mother's eye. I loved that period of my childhood. We lived in a series of modest one or two bedroom apartments in Yonkers and Dobbs Ferry and every morning before I went to school and before she went to work we had what my mom called cuddle time. I remember waking up, crawling into bed with my mother, listening to the chirping birds in the trees outside of our window and feeling so loved.

During those years, every weekend, or almost every weekend, my dad would pick me up and bring me to his apartment in the city. He would spoil me lavishly. We'd go to movies and circuses and shows. Of all the things we did together on those weekends I remember going to see performances of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and puppet shows at The Bil Baird Puppet Theater in the village. It was a special time. I would get so excited on Friday afternoons waiting for my dad to pick me up. I felt like the luckiest boy ever.

As I think back to it now I realize how difficult it must have been for my parents. They both would have been in their early thirties, not much more than kids themselves really. Divorced, single parents finding a way for themselves and their child. How disconsolate I am thinking of just how totally unprepared they were for what life was to throw at them. My mother was to endure much harsh criticism from her judgmental and overbearing mother and then suffer a succession of abusive men.

My father would have been just starting to drink and womanize his way into what would later become alcoholic isolation.

But I'm turning aside from the main object of attention. I don't want to focus on what was to happen to those two innocent kids who had nothing but good intentions for their prized little boy. I want to recall those feelings of being the most loved and special child in the world.

There is a beautiful song by Brahms that is, for me, the ultimate nostalgia for childlike innocence, for the past and for all that is irretrievably gone. The song is entitled "O wüßt ich doch den Weg zurück". Klaus Groth is the poet and roughly translated it says:

Oh, If only I knew the way back,
The lovely way back to the land of childhood!

Oh, Why did I go seek after happiness
And let go of my mother's hand?

How I long to have a complete rest,

Not to be awakened by ambition,

Only to close my weary eyes,

Gently tucked in by love.

And searching for nothing, watching for nothing,

Merely dreaming lightly,

Not seeing the passing of time,

A child for a second time.

Oh, Do show me the way back,

The lovely way back to the land of childhood,

In vain I keep searching for happiness,
When all around me is a barren coast.

Bleak and very German, I know. But sung well in the original language and set to
Brahms' beautiful piano accompaniment it is truly a lovely song. A wistful and excessively sentimental yearning for return to an irrecoverable past.

I'd like to imagine, just for a moment, going back to that happy land of childhood,
to be able to gently lead and direct my parents with all that I know now. Having witnessed the passing of time and the result of the choices they've made, how I'd delight to delicately direct my young parents toward choices that would have better benefited us. I'd like so much to lovingly express my gratitude to those two young people for giving their little son such boundless love. For giving me a childhood, even if just for those few years, that I long to go back to.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

too late baby

I just got off the phone with a friend who couldn't meet with me because of scheduling difficulties with his wife and his child. Understandably his family comes first and they should. Seems most of my friends work their schedules around their spouses and kids, nannies and in-laws. I don't begrudge them this in the least but somehow these situations bring up in me the feeling that I am missing out on not only the joys of having a partner and family but an overwhelming sense that the ship has sailed and I should just accept it. Forget about it. It's too late. The game has been played and I lost.

I know this reads as completely self-pitying and effusively sentimental but it's how I feel.

Childhood ideas of romance are just so much Hollywood tripe. I don't believe someone is going to sweep me away into a wonderland of hearts and flowers and, as if by magic, make my life complete. Life doesn't work like that. Love doesn't work like that. I've been in relationships before, granted not very successful or sober ones, and I'm aware of the amount of compromise and work that they take. I truly believe that, today, I'm more ready and capable to give that kind of effort and maintain the necessary level of emotional availability.

I'm not lonely. I don't think I am. Not really. I have friends and a large network of support that I feel I can reach out to. But there is a lack of intimate closeness. An absence of that personal kind of familiarity that only lovers can have. The smell of someone else's hair on your pillow. Knowing how someone else takes their coffee.

Honestly, I've had more sex than any three people should have in a lifetime. Still I continue to think that this absence of an intimate bond can be fixed by a sexual encounter. I know this is not true. I resist and I resist and about every three or four weeks my thinking reverts back to believing that sex is what's going to work to fill this aching emptiness. Whether it's my thinking or my groin I'm not sure but the end result is always the same.

So what happens? I use the various venues available to a gay man in New York City. I get excited at the prospect of a new experience and my hopes rise only to be disappointed and I feel farther away and more isolated than before. Sometimes I say "I'm sorry but I don't think this is gonna work" other times I go through with it blinded by my throbbing physiological need. I shudder with regret short moments afterward and an all too familiar veil of sadness descends on me.

What's a guy to do when he realizes that this behavior doesn't work anymore? Apparently when I wasn't looking, middle-age attached itself to me in the dark of night and didn't bring with it the pamphlet explaining the appropriate updated behavior.

The result of these repeated attempts lead me to believe that "hooking up" doesn't fill the aching emptiness anymore than a box of Oreos.

Could it possibly be true? Have I really missed my chance? Has the boat really sailed? Was I too busy seeking pleasure and immediate gratification to recognize a good thing even if it smacked me in the face? Perhaps my soul mate was sitting across from me on the crosstown bus and I missed him because I was busy looking at a bicyclist's butt out the bus window. I might actually see Mr. Right every day and not realize it because my idea of what Mr. Right should be is so rigid and narrow.

I could make myself crazy following this train of thinking.

What do I do? I try to throw myself into service as the only way I know how to increase self esteem is to do esteem-able acts. I redouble my efforts to be available to the sick and the suffering so I don't have to concentrate on my own lack of fulfillment.

Living in New York City certainly presents it's challenges. It is easy for me to compare my situation to the privileged, ultra rich and beautiful on this little island. They are seemingly everywhere. Juxtaposed to that, however, poverty and suffering are everywhere too. If I focus on what I don't have I become paralyzed by envy and greed. If, on the other hand, I focus on what I do have, on how protected and blessed I've been, then I can be grateful and maybe even be useful to somebody. I might even stop this self indulgent whining.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

four twenty

There were very few people in the park this morning. There was a mist over the river half obscuring the buildings on the other side. The apple and cherry trees were blooming. The London Plane trees were budding green and the new spring grass was coming up. It was like walking inside a watercolor. I wished I had paints and an easel to stop and capture it. Who knew there were that many different shades of pink?

Maybe it's because New York City is so dense with cement, stone, steel and glass structures that the park spaces are so meticulously planned and planted. The placement of all the beautiful spring color is not something one would actually happen upon in nature, it's much more deliberate. Perhaps those early urban landscape architects like Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux had the foresight to design the city parks as contained areas of escape to fill up ones senses with more natural beauty than would be possible otherwise.

Today is colder than I expected. Today is Sunday. Today is my birthday.

As it is my birthday, I've been reflecting on opportunities lost and find myself floating somewhere between regret and gratitude. Dog by my side, coffee in hand, I've been musingly thoughtful. I'm well aware that had I not lost certain opportunities I would be a completely different person. With you, reader, as my witness I would like to remind myself that I am becoming exactly who I am supposed to be and everything is in perfect order. I can believe that most of the time.

Protected and shielded from demise, the damage and injury I have endured have brought me greater strength and understanding.

Last night I went to a detox in a locked ward of a hospital to bring a message of hope and recovery to people there. I brought a friend with me to tell his story.

I understood the people there. I identified with their scepticism, fear, contempt and most of all desperation. One young woman shared, in a very arrogant way, that she knew what was best for her and no one could tell her what to do. Then she sat there quietly and cried. Tears I hoped that were melting the resistance inside her.

Multicultural and multi generational, all of us in that room have shared a common experience of being brought to a place of needing help. Still there were those who seemed unwilling to consider a different way of life. There is no way of knowing what someone is going to say that may trigger some willingness in someone else. This is why I go to these places. I go with the hope that what I have to say may hit someone smack dab in the middle of the intersection of willingness and possibility. Just maybe someone will be able to hear something coming from me in a way that they have never heard it before. Just maybe my particular way of phrasing something might cause someone to consider making a different choice.

It's not like I'm going there and casting about original pearls of wisdom. Anything I've said is something that's been said to me. I'm really just a parrot.

My friend and I left the hospital and walked out into a warm spring night. His story had clearly moved some of the people who heard it. It certainly moved me. The most significant feeling I left with was, whether or not we moved people to change the direction of their lives, both my friend and I were, not only willing to, but happy to show up for complete strangers. This is something I don't believe I would have even thought to do before. It is only by lost opportunity and it's consequent experience that I have become willing to do for others. Today I really do see how my experience can be beneficial.

Weighing these thoughts I am swaying more toward gratitude and farther from regret.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sure on this shining night
Of starmade shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.

The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.

Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder
wandering far alone
Of shadows on the stars.

James Agee

Thursday, April 17, 2008

on earth as it is in heaven

It is not unusual, at least in the hustle bustle of this town, to go for what seems like days without someone extending some extra kindness. Seemingly no one is holding doors open for anyone else, no one is offering to help commuters struggling with packages and strollers on subway stairs, no one is helping old ladies cross busy streets nor does anyone seem conscious of how their lack of sidewalk etiquette effects others. To say nothing of how callously the hungry and homeless are passed on the street. Unpleasant distractions to be side stepped and avoided at most. All things I've been guilty of to be sure.

Amidst all this, dare I say, "non-Christian" behavior the media and the country are aflutter with the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI. This morning the Pope led Mass at Nationals Park before forty six thousand people. Tomorrow hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to see this one man travel down Fifth Avenue. The local news is warning to stay away from the area if you don't need to be there as traffic and crowd control will be mayhem.

So many people are desperate for a glimpse of what Holiness looks like yet so few of us are willing to extend to those around us even the smallest of niceties.

At the core of all the major world religions is, I believe, the basic principle which we have come to know as the golden rule: "Do not do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you".

This seems simple enough and though I believe this to be true with everything that is in me I still find myself treating others poorly. Not so much by intent as by indifference.

Can I actually run through life as though I don't have time to be considerate? Throughout the teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddha is the common thread of compassion. These traditions urge us to have a sympathetic consciousness of others' distress and a desire to ease it. Can I continue, in good conscience, to go forward with the belief that my own personal gain is more important than having compassion for someone else?

My religion, my faith and what I believe don't matter. What matters are my actions.

I am responsible for my own life experience. If I want to experience kindness I need to be more kind. If I want to experience love I need to be more loving. It couldn't be more simple. If I take the action to do the next right thing then I am that much closer to bringing an experience of Holiness to my own life. I don't want heaven when I'm dead I want heaven right now! I suppose this means I need to behave in a heavenly fashion. Can I do this? I can try. Will I fail? Absolutely. But, I find, the more I am willing to deflate my ego and do for others the happier I am. This dichotomy is astounding.

I am reminded of the St. Francis prayer that says:
it is by self forgetting that we are found;
it is in giving that we receive

How is it possible to achieve success living by these principles?

I once heard someone define success as the number of people who smile when they hear your name.

Monday, April 14, 2008

spring fever

This morning Zeke (my pitt bull) and I took an early walk through Riverside Park and down by the river. Spring is here. The sky is a clearer and crisper blue than it's been in months. There is a clarity in the air that doesn't happen in winter. Bunches of daffodils are bursting on all the hillsides of the park landscape. The crab apple trees have fluffy white boughs and, though the cherries haven't blossomed, they are covered with small points of deep pink. Pink pin pricks of promise.

It's hard not to be aware of the presence of a Higher Power when the world begins this transformation. When seemingly everything emerges from it's cold, grey cocoon and arrives anew flowering with life and color.

I enjoy the change of weather. I'm glad not to be burdened by cumbersome outerwear. I enjoy all the flowers and foliage. And yet I'm sad. All this new life reminds me of the passing of time.

This is my birthday week. Where was I last year? Where will I be next year? Have I made strides in accomplishing my personal goals?

Two days ago I found a photo of myself by doing a Google image search of a former moniker. A photo I will not publish here thank you very much. Why I was driven to do this will continue to escape me. Perhaps precisely because it is my birthday week. Whatever the reason, aside from the obvious thick head of hair, thirty inch waist and abs (yes, at one time I actually had abs), the difference between then and now is staggering. There is a deficiency of worldly wisdom and informed judgement in the eyes offset by an arrogant bring it on stance. A deficiency that has been replaced by experimentation and experience. What is so remarkable to me about my response to this photo is that I remember not being pleased with the way I looked at the time. Years from now will I look at a photo of me now and feel the same way?

Outward appearances are not accurate representations of inward reality.

Will I never be pleased with what I have? Is this dissatisfaction part of the human condition or are certain of us programmed to believe that we aren't good enough? I try to express gratitude for what I do have. What a gift to live in a place where I am able to see, daily, the spectrum of humanity from poverty to privilege. For someone like me, who is seldom able to be right sized and rarely able to stay there for long, this is a great blessing.

I may not have all that I want. I may not always feel good about where I am at a given moment. Today, however, I am able to distinguish feelings from facts. I know that I am cared for and protected. The spring flowers may bring up certain feelings but the fact is that it is spring and the flowers are lovely.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

not my job

I can identify chaos and remove myself from it if I'm uncomfortable but I can't prevent it and I will only make myself nuts by trying. I may also do a great disservice to those involved.

If most of what I've learned has come through difficulty then how can I rationalize preventing difficulty for someone else? Suffering, trouble and hardships are often extremely useful as most people will not bother to learn coping skills or seek out solutions to misfortune until driven to do so.

In The Beatitudes Jesus says:
"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."

If I prevent someone from mourning am I not also robbing them of the opportunity to be comforted?

This could easily be seen as an argument for 'not getting involved' but that is not what I'm suggesting at all. If I see violence or injustice I believe it is my responsibility to stand up for what I know to be right and change the situation if I can. Anything less than this would be inauthentic and even cowardly. When I see someone struggling with personal difficulty I need to remind myself that I don't know what that person needs to teach them their life lessons. It would be arrogant of me to think I did. If I am asked for help, however, it is my duty and privilege, as a member of this family of man, to be of service if I can be.

I'm writing this, not only because I think it's an important principle to practice, but because as I make myself ready for the day ahead, I need to be reminded that my job is not to prevent a crisis. My job is not to mind anybody else's business. My job is not even to please myself or to seek gratification. My job is to be of service where I can be and to align my will with that of Something greater than myself.

Friday, April 11, 2008


He looked in all His wisdom from the throne
Down on that humble boy who kept the sheep,
And sent a dove; the dove returned alone:
Youth liked the music, but soon fell asleep.

But He had planned such future for the youth:
Surely, His duty now was to compel.
For later he would come to love the truth,
And own his gratitude. His eagle fell.

It did not work. His conversation bored
The boy who yawned and whistled and made faces,
And wriggled free from fatherly embraces;

But with the eagle he was always willing
To go where it suggested, and adored
And learnt from it so many ways of killing.

W. H. Auden

how i got over

my soul looks back and wonders:
how did i make it over?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

the lost, the lonely and the last

God is either everything or else God is nothing.
What is my choice to be?

I can see how people might use examples of tragedy and bad luck in their lives to explain away the existence of God. How can there be an All Loving Supreme Being in a world that allows children to waste away in sickness? How can God be present when there is war and poverty bringing with them the stench of death and the promise of horror? Atrocities could be listed ad infinitum...

I have decided to take a very radical step. A leap of faith.
I have decided for myself that God is everything and that God is good.

Yesterday I went to Rikers Island and brought two people with me to carry a message of recovery to inmates there. A message of possibility. A message of hope.

Rikers Island is not a prison it is a jail, a holding pen for people who are awaiting trial or sentencing or waiting to be sent away to do a longer bid upstate in a penitentiary. It is the largest of New York City's jail facilities as well as the name of the 413.17 acre island on which it sits in the East River between Queens and The Bronx. Although it is not a long term facility people can stay there for months. Waiting.

Rikers Island is a very scary place. Arriving at the first security checkpoint, having driven through a quiet industrial area of queens, we saw the highly guarded island. Every long shadowed surface covered with multiple layers of razor wire. We drove slowly over the 4,200 foot bridge that is the only access to the facility. We spotted guards with sniper rifles on boats and on docks set up around the island. It looked like a maze of wire fencing all crowned with nests of razor wire. Within close site of LaGuardia Airport and the non stop sound of jets taking off and landing. We arrived on the island. We got out of the car with an orange sun hanging low in a grey sky and the glitter of black water and of long unwinding spirals of silver razor wire.

Once on the island we went through several security checkpoints. At the first we explained where we were going and why, showed our ID, they checked that our security clearance had been called in and gave us passes to the specific building where we were going. Rikers has ten separate jails on it. Once we had those passes we continued through to the other side of the building where we waited for a shuttle bus to take us to our destination. At that specific facility there is another security checkpoint. The guard found our clearance in a stack of papers and we checked our ID and personal belongings. We were allowed to keep our wallets but cellphones are forbidden. We were given yet another pass which we attached to our clothes in plain view and then we waited for an escort. It is a time consuming process.

We waited inside a continuous cacophony of airplane engines and hard, heavy, iron gates slamming shut. Locking. Clicking open. Slamming shut. Locking. It's an old facility. All metal, cement and dust.

We were led to the chapel. A room with rows of wooden pews and boxes of King James bibles stacked against the back wall.

We laid out the literature we had brought with us on a table at the side of the room and it was announced in different areas of the building that we were there.

It took some time but twenty men entered the room single file. Five of the men were joking and restless and left rather quickly but the ones who remained sat quietly. Respectfully. Eager. Sad. Wounded. Desperate. Lost. Lonely. Last.

I spoke, my friends spoke. Inquisitive, broken eyes searched us at the front of the room. The curve of these men's shoulders said it's too late. But the quiet, upturned faces whispered maybe. Those men were just like my friends. They were just like me. They were my brothers. They were me.

Something happened. An invisible blanket covered us. Held us. In the hard, grey coldness of that lonesome and unlikely place something happened. Something real that we all shared. It was the evidence of Something unseen. Possibility. Hope.

The men took the literature we'd brought for them. They said "Thank you. Please come again. We need your message here. God bless you."
We might have been leaving a church picnic.

God is everything or else God is nothing.

I have decided to take that very radical step. That leap of faith.
I have decided for myself that God is everything and that God is good.
All the time.

I don't know what God has in store for me but I continue to walk towards it and I thank Him for it. I am placing the outcome in God's hands with boundless confidence.

I have come to believe.
Through hard times I have been protected.
I am protected. Cared for. Carried.

I can't make sense of the horrors of the world.
I do, however, have a personal experience.

I have been brought from there to here and I am better for it.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I don't really like the idea of posting an ongoing journal as that would be too boring to even imagine - today I bought some green bananas... zzzzzz

In the past I know people who have used blogs as a way to find out information about others, a kind of gossip database. That doesn't appeal to me either.

I like the idea of trying to use this space as a canvas for spiritual ideas, transcendent moments or thoughts, a place to note the kind acts of others that move me to kindness, a place to make note of the extraordinary where I've come to expect the ordinary.

This morning on my way to the subway, in front of the First Baptist Church on Broadway and 79 St, I watched a young woman place a McDonald's bag next to a homeless guy who was sitting on the steps of the church with his head in his lap. He may have been asleep. She didn't say anything. She didn't even slow down. She placed the bag next to him. She didn't look back. She kept walking. I don't know if anyone else saw.

I hope that young woman had a terrific day.


Grace tells us that we are accepted just as we are. We may not be the kind of people we want to be, we may be a long way from our goals, we may have more failures than achievements, we may not be wealthy or powerful or spiritual, we may not even be happy but we are nonetheless accepted by God and held in His hands.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

wind that mixes in your fire

I see myself as a thorn: I move near
the rose. As vineyard, I remember the

vintner's skill. As a cup of poison,
I long to be the antidote. I am a

glass of wine with dark sediment: I
pour it all in the river. I'm sick:

I reach for Jesus' hand. Immature, I
look for one who knows. Out of the

ground a poem grows eye medicine. Now
love says to me, "Good, but you can't

see your own beauty. I am the wind
that mixes in your fire, who stirs and

brightens, then makes you gutter out."


whack a mole

I'm usually a pretty happy guy.
I do live in New York City. Trains run late, trying to maneuver through crowds can be annoying and sitting next to someone on the subway with cheap earphones and blaring hip-hop coming from their head can be trying to the most tolerant. But even with that I somehow have managed to put into practice tools to help ease the irritability of city life.

There are days like today, however, when almost everything leaves me restless, irritable and discontent. Was there a moment when I could've made a different choice and my day would've turned out differently?

I welcome the opportunity to be of service to others. It helps me to get out of my own self-centered mindset and to feel useful. Why then, when I'm experiencing emotional discomfort, is it so hard for me to ask others for help? Is it pride? Do I see it as somehow emasculating to say "I'm uncomfortable could you please help me?"

I do wish I could welcome hardships as an opportunity to grow. I know that without having been through the trials I've been trough I wouldn't be who I am today.

Every morning I start my day with a few moments of prayer. Every morning I ask God to remove from me all the short comings in me which prevent me from being of service to God and to those around me and I name a few of those things. Top of the list are always selfishness, self-centeredness, self pity, arrogance, impatience, intolerance. And I ask to be shown the way of kindliness, patience, tolerance and love in all that I do.

I've come to really treasure this morning prayer time and sometimes I think it really makes a difference in how I relate to the world. Other times I think I've just made myself more aware of the short comings in my make up and as I go out to face the world around me I begin to see just how selfish, self-centered and intolerant I really am.

When I think one of those short comings is taken care of... POW another pops up and is, seemingly, more unpleasant than the previous one.

Perhaps I would be a happier person if I could just get away from myself for a while. It has been said by many and often:
"No matter where I go there I am".

Oh to be relieved of the bondage of self.

I'll have another chance tomorrow.