Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I Love Georgia State University.

Ok, so there are lots of reasons. A big one, and one that I'm enjoying at this exact moment, is the windows. I love to indiscriminately sit and watch people walk by the windows outside the student center. They're beautiful, all decked out in the flyest outfit that they could put together, with their stunna shades and their fresh kicks. But, as I sit here in the window of the student center, I notice that everyone that walks by is looking over to check themselves in the reflection. People; you look great. Stop worrying about it, you're beautiful. So walk on, Georgia State, confident in how beautiful you are.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Requiem for an Adventure (part 1 of 2)

Alright. I'll say that this is a pretty overwhelming task I've set out to undertake. I want to write out something that can effectively bring my summer to a close. Three months would be a lot to summarize if I had stayed in Atlanta and gone through some form of normal routine, wherein I went to class and taught at the IRC and hung out with Young Life kids, and drank good beer with people that I love. But, I didn't do any of those things. I climbed mountains. So, here's what will be my best attempt at communicating what this adventurous chapter of my life was all about.
I'll start by saying that I was most overwhelmed with/impressed by the people. The college-aged kids that worked out at Ute Trail Ranch this summer were amazing; solid kids with beautiful hearts and a real desire to let Jesus use them to serve and communicate love with the people around them; wonderful people with whom I built relationships that will last.
Secondly will be the ministry itself. I came back with a mixed reaction to the work that I undertook this summer. Sky Ranch is a really Christian organization that does a good job of establishing through their camps a culture that serves to replace, to some degree, the "secular" culture that campers come from. I absolutely abhor this concept for several reasons. One, I believe that we are called as Christians to exist within the culture that surrounds us. We are also called to find our identity in Christ and not participate in the temptation of culture that pull us away from that core identity. But, as soon as we establish a Christian culture to replace the world, we are effectively taking ourselves out of it and shutting ourselves off to the opportunity to love the people that have no understanding of truth. We build walls around ourselves, and wait for those "non-Christians" to come to us. Which is exactly the opposite of what Jesus did in his ministry. It's safe and feels good to not have to interact with darkness nor face the darkness within ourselves. But how can we be effective witnesses if we are not walking alongside those that are lost? Pet peeve, really. That was one thing that I couldn't reconcile. As far as ministry that was done on trail, I usually operate with the understanding that kids need to hear the gospel and see it played out in front of them no matter who they are or where they come from. The program that I worked in did not operate under that same assumption. So, there were a few times when folks I worked with and for wanted to go deeper and deeper into faith and spiritual concepts, when the kids that we were leading on trail had never come face to face with their own need for a savior. There was one or two isolated incidents where we had to talk through some of that, but for the most part we (the other guides and I) adapted to each other and ministered effectively, which was huge. But, kids met Jesus on trail, and while the work that was done wasn't always what I thought was best, Christ is much bigger than me or my plans and expectations. And, he came through tremendously in the lives of the kids that came on trail. Stick around for part two.

Requiem for an Adventure (part 2 of 2)

So, all in all, the summer was amazing. I mean, I got to climb up and down the Rocky Mountains ad nauseam for freak's sake. That's enough right there, I'd say. The landscape was unbelievable, and every time I got up on a 12,000+ peak, I was moved to tears at how beautiful our creator is. And, the fact that his immense love for me is greater than his love for the unspeakable beauty of his creation has changed my life and my understanding of everything. I got to see his beauty first hand every day that I was in Colorado. I will always remember the beauty that I existed in. He is great.

But, for now, I'm back in Atlanta. I took a week to travel across the country, staying in Buena Vista at the Sgarlata's, St. Louis with the family, and Memphis with Michael and Gretchen. I have a lot of love in my life, and got to live in it through my time with friends and family. Y'all are great. I left Memphis yesterday morning and made a stop in Nashville to get coffee with my buddy Drew Holcomb. Then, I pulled into Atlanta yesterday evening and went straight to Piedmont Park where there is always a pick-up soccer game on Tuesday nights. I loved being able to get right back into one of the things I love about Atlanta. It was great. I'm staying this week with some friends in East Atlanta Village, then systematically moving from house to house, sleeping on couches or wherever my wonderful friends will put me, until I'm off to Spain at the end of September. i've been blessed to have friends that care enough to offer me a place to stay for a few nights at a time. Once again, there's a lot of love in my life. It will be a long period of spending days alone and trying to accomplish things like support letters and filling storage units and seeing old friends. I look forward to it.
As I sat down here at Dr. Bombay's this morning, I was struck with a realization. I've been looking forward to returning to Atlanta since I left in May. Now that I'm here, I've begun to develop a distinct understanding. While I love this place, I'm acutely aware that my heart is still restless. I don't know the best way to express that. But there's a sense within me that there's so much left ahead of me that I cannot be content just to simply be back in Atlanta. The Lord has something distinct for me. There is some way that he has in mind for me to serve him, and I haven't arrived yet. I praise him that my restlessness is a disposition of my heart that longs for his presence and to be known and loved by him. That's really what my heart has been desiring all this time; not St. Louis or Spain or Atlanta or Colorado, but Him. And his is a love that I can chase and know anywhere in the world. Access to Him is the greatest gift we ever could have been given. He is a great God.
So, this place is beautiful as ever. I look forward to my month of supposed downtime, as it will be a great chance to see the people that I love and wander this city that my heart identifies with. Off I go to it. Thank you for your love and care, it means the world to me.

Atlanta and a Sense that I've Not Yet Arrived (Funny How Things Work Out)

shift back into symmetry
we're dead if we're alive
I only want to ask you for a light

and morning is a mystery
why does the red sun rise
how is it that we never find the time

atlanta, how I love you
but I cannot say why
there's life here, I can see it in your eyes

and when I finally come to
the truth is close behind
and so I wander on alone into the night

my soul is slowly sagging
underneath the heavy weight
of mountains, coffee, pills and interstates

I can blame it on the staffing
or the hidden files of fate
but if I sit still too long, I fear I'll waste away

and in my heart's a question
and its spreading wide and long
will my wandering be through before I'm gone

so come make your suggestions
yes, come sing me joyful songs
and point my heart towards the coming dawn

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Sunlit Sonnet, As a Tired Traveler Rethinks His Route

Oh, bless this shaking city boy
all fair-toned skin and fragile hands
we wait where ground is pavement
in shadows of towering triumph

and life moves fast, speeding
in and out of consciousness
the days run short as we tend
our flocks of material possession
and 401ks

there, sunrise is a light switch
and sunset comes at 2 am
when we collapse in a pile of
exhaustion, not from hard work,
but from listless accumulation.

there, we fight each other
for say in the plot, for a grasp
on the wheel of time
as, shaking, I quickly lose interest
in the details of this city boy

No. give me some horizon
obscured, not by buildings
not by industry and wealth
but by towering Colorado Mountains

where the skyline is the pine trees
all ancient and alive
where the guarded grass and gravel
are my foundation,
holding strong for weary feet

and conversation is talk radio.
where full-blossomed clouds
are my television screen
spelling out soap operas,
exhilarating as the soul inside me.

and stars are our street lights
as we climb into bed,
calloused hands pulling covers overhead

and the trickling river, unyielding
consistent as time
rushes through valleys
where we sit and write our love songs

yes. give me days to sit and stare
at deer stalking their fields,
and unending horizons
where we could see forever
were these mountains not so tall

where those house keys to our hearts
are softly set in place
and we hear whispers through cracks in the door
that something is moving
in, out, through our tired souls.

and we taste jubilation
as the world quietly whispers
as He is setting things right

if you need me, I'll be there
lying down in greenest pastures
I'll be there,
beside silent and still waters

I'll be there
singing in foreign languages
odes and sunlit sonnets
to the one who makes all things new

as He is making me new.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Colorado Update: It's Love that Makes Us Who We Are.

'tis been a while since I've updated, so here's a quick one to wet your appetites. I'm entering my last week at Ute Trail and its a bitter sweet. My heart is calling out with anxiety and fear of what's ahead. The folks I've walked alongside out here have grown dear to me, and it's coming to be time to say goodbye. Goodbyes are not necessarily something that I'm afraid of, as I've gotten pretty used to them. But, the community and the hearts of the people that I've been walking towards will be hard to walk away from, despite the natural role that walking away plays. It's been a life-giving experience being out here, and it's not quite time for a requiem yet. There still is one more week. Tonight, I'm playing a show at a coffee shop venue in Lake City, CO. I don't quite know what to expect, but I feel excited to get to share my music with these people out here. I'm convinced that most of calling and ministry is hashing out the details and specifics of where we're supposed to go and how we're supposed to labor. Tonight is part of that. So, we will see how it goes. I've got some friends that are going to play with me, and I'll be recording the whole show in case any of it ends up share-worthy. Should be fun. But, I'm entering into this last week with a quiet calm about the uncertainty of the next six weeks. There is adventure to be had and Christ to discover. So off I go to chase it. Thank you for all of the birthday wishes, as well. It's love that makes us who we are, and yours is invaluable to me. And, you haven't had a birthday until you've had one at 12,000 feet. Be loved.