Archive for September, 2004|Monthly archive page

In Uncategorized on September 29, 2004 at 11:32 pm

alex just reminded me of bill mallonee’s warning that there are times “when all the best metaphors, are hittin’ to close to home. when all the best metaphors are bleeding from your bones.”

amazing post alex. thank you for opening a vein.


In Uncategorized on September 29, 2004 at 9:26 pm

wrestling with jean

jean vanier has constantly reminded me that ‘the poor are our teachers’ and my experience at l’arche confirmed this. however, i don’t want to live it.

yesterday i left the office early because of a last minute doctor’s appointment. over the past few days i’ve been experiencing numbness that stretches from my left shoulder down to the tips of my left index finger. i tried to ignore the numbness as long as i could, but eventually gave in and decided to contact the doc. i hate visiting the doctor on account of both the cost and a deeply held fear that i’m always on the edge of being a hypochondriac. nevertheless, eventually the numbness annoyed me to the point that i was willing to go in.

the doctor on duty, who seemed more interested in practicing his spanish with an overweight nurse than diagnosing my problem, quickly hammered my shoulder and elbow with his instrument and proclaimed that i was dealing with a pinched nerve (the same self-diagnosis that he scoffed at when he first entered the room). after performing an odd, robot-dance illustration of what kind of neck movements can produce a pinched nerve he instructed me to purchase an orthopedic collar and exhorted me to wear it faithfully for two weeks. after that period ended, he said, we will know if further treatment is necessary.

i don’t know if you’ve ever seen orthopedic collars, but they don’t reflect the height of fashion. likewise, they restrict your movement to such a degree that you resemble joan cusack’s character in sixteen candles. thus, i may be typing this entry with trembling fingers, but at least i’m not wearing a damn collar.

unsurprisingly, kellie was not pleased by my defiance. she told me that she will not listen to me bitch, if i will not respond to the doctor. more jarringly, james told me that i should remember my reluctance the next time i admonish our friend with cerebral palsy to wear her leg braces, which she refuses to don for the same superficial reasons that i employed above.

for some reason, james’ barb struck me like a revelation. i am willing to exhort and instruct the poor in our community as long as i am not expected to live like them. i have often complained about our friend’s unwillingness to wear her braces, which she will probably have to wear for the rest of her life. however, when faced with the prospect of wearing an orthopedic collar for two short weeks, i opt out. as long as i am unwilling to put one foot in their lives and experience the world with and among them i am not going to learn what they have to teach me. this grieves me, for their lessons are many. they want to teach me how to set aside the illusion of control and embrace my powerlessness. they are offering to show me the life of dependency and interdependency that i have long valued but never lived. the poor want to teach me the faith of a child.

but i am unwilling to learn. i don’t want to wear the damn collar.

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2004 at 7:13 pm

fondling francis’ midsection

I loathe student presentations. They aren’t quite on par with group projects, but I detest them nonetheless. Thus, you can imagine my reaction when Prof. Guider, whom we affectionately called Meg, announced that our final assignment would require us to explain how a particular work of art was influenced by the Franciscan tradition. “Great Meg,” I cynically mused, “why offer us another insightful lecture on the incarnational theology of Bonaventure when we can endure a few poorly-prepared presentations by students don’t have the least idea what they are talking about. That’s well-worth my hard-earned tuition dollar!”

Like every other student, I put the project out of mind until the last week of the course. It was only then that I decided to talk about how the life of Francis was refracted through Rich Mullins’ well-scored but poorly executed Canticle of the Plain. As I walked into the stone chapel with the CD and the ubiquitous Giotto reproduction in hand, I felt the queasy feeling that always accompanies a distinct lack of preparation. Meg gave us a few minutes to walk around and take a closer look at everyone else’s Giotto reproduction as well as the calligraphy marred poems and cheaply produced icons that that were going to be discussed before settling down into a circle of chairs in the center of the chapel.

As soon as I sat down my anxiety level began to rise. After the odd exploit that is kindergarten show-and-tell I have always been more than willing to let someone else endure the penetrating questions and sharp critique that rains down upon the opening presenters. I always try to find a plush time slot in the middle period of the class, when fellow students are both thoroughly bored and not yet ready to launch the terse, antagonistic questions that come near the end of the period. Usually when the professor asks for volunteers in these situations, it’s quite difficult to find the first victim. Fortunately, this day was different, for our class included Daniel.

Daniel was a friendly autistic student who always found his way into the center of attention. His questions and statements always included at least one word that was emphasized by an acute inflection (i.e., ‘when did francis walk naKED before the bishop?’). And when he raised his hand, you never knew what you were going to get. He could go from questions about “ontological founDATION for Fransiscan natural theology” that belied a considerable amount of insight, to questions that were patently absurd, such as when he asked Meg “Did Francis smELL funny?,” without any warning. In addition to his erratic reflections, you never knew whether Daniel was being totally sincere. His autism led you to believe that the absurd, and often sexual, questions were sincere, but the gleam in his eye always left you wondering.

Though I should have expected it, I was surprised when Daniel responded to Meg’s question by waving his hand in the air as vigorously as a first grader who wanted to be ‘line leader’ would. “I’ll go firST” he told Meg. My response was a mix of relief and expectation. As per usual, Daniel did not fail to upset the latter.

He began by holding up a little kodak photobook that had been half-heartedly covered with a piece of notebook paper. Scribbled all over the notebook paper were the ‘tau’ crosses that are used by Franciscans as well as ‘sco’ which was Francis’ nickname. “For my creative proJECT” he intoned, “I created a photo album of my trip to the St. Francis prayer garDEN at the old north chURCH.” “When I entered the prayer garden,” he said matter of factly, “I realized that FranCIS was quite short. Moreover, he was regular size. He wasn’t fat like most Americans, nor skinny like most concenTRATION camp survivors.” The last phrase elicited subtle, but noticeable reactions from people throughout the room. The Jesuit priest across from me quickly inhaled, the beautiful Muslim girl who sat next to me giggled and my eyes began to well up with tears. “As I got closer to the statue,” he continued, “I realized that there were two pigeons on the nearby rooftop of the Old North ChURCH. This made me feel like FranCIS and Clare were right there with me, in the garden of the old North ChURCH. As I walked closer to FranCIS I realized that many of the tourists were looking like me like I was crAZY. I felt just like FranCIS did before his father and the bishop of Assisi.” At the mention of the word “crAZY” several eyes darted around, as if the reaction on other students faces would confirm that this experience was real. However, our attention did not lapse for long, as Daniel quickly continued his story. “After sitting on the bench that is opposite of FranCIS, I went over to the statute itSELF. When I got there I looked deep in FranCIS’ eyes while I fondled his midSECTION.” At the word fondle, the beautiful Muslim and I began to laugh uncontrollably. She was doubled over, hiding her face in her hands, and I was trying to control the volume of my laughter while tears rolled down my eyes. Surprisingly, the rest of the class was more effective in maintaining their composure, leading me to wonder whether the reason the Muslim girl and I couldn’t control ourselves was because we had missed far too many off color jokes that were muttered in the midst of early-morning Mass. At that point, Daniel concluded and said that we could take a closer look at the pictures “if we liKED.” No one signaled a desire for the photos to be passed. Obviously, there was no physical picture that could be quite as striking as our mental picture of Daniel fondling FranCIS

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2004 at 6:38 pm

happy haiku friday!

sitting in my cube

lead me to a sacred space

pay sprint bill at lunch

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2004 at 2:44 pm

and now for something completely different…

i just agreed to interview john eldredge on october 12. in order to prepare for the interview, john requested that i climb mount washington, canoe the snake river and run five miles of the appalachian trail stark naked. by the end of this experience, i’m going to be so wild. i am MAN, hear me roar!

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2004 at 12:30 pm

longing to be stoic, yet so damn emotive

i have no desire to be tossed this way and that by every wave of emotion. but, in all honesty, i usually am. while this realization is nothing new, it is usually something i am able to suppress. but not today.

earlier this week, the only other home church in our network decided to officially disband. our personal relationship with the remarkable families and individuals in this church will continue, but their church will cease to exist.

thus, the network formerly known as ‘city on a hill’ will cease to exist. sinners and saints is on its own and it feels like we’re performing on a trapeze and preparing to fly without a net. henri, at this point i would love to say that i am fully trusting the catcher, but it is far more accurate to say that i am filled with fear.

i am afraid that i am unable to lead a home church, much less create a new network.

i feel like at some point i stopped walking with you and started to work for you. hence, i hardly have the character that befits an elder.

i realize that you can, but fail to believe that you will, transform the dying seed that was ‘city on a hill’ into an organism that is glossy with new life.

yet, with trembling hands i receive the new task you have set before me. fill me with your Spirit, so that i might participate in, and help guide, a community that is engaged in your mission. once again, i ask you to bring life out of death and to call something that is not as though it were. Lord, i really don’t want to fuck this up. help me, help me, help me.

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2004 at 1:43 pm

avoiding work, yet still pimpin’ product

last week i had the opportunity to interview doug pagitt of solomon’s porch. we had the opportunity to talk about his excellent reimagining spiritual formation and converse in the strangelanguage that is emergent speak. in the off chance that you would find the interview interesting, you can access it by clicking here. i will also be interviewing brian mclaren in late october. i’ll post the interview when it’s complete.

also, if you haven’t already noticed, i really enjoy reflecting on the experience of the sinners and saints community. if you find those posts interesting, you should check out dr. james’ post entitled ‘finding a place for jim grace.’ props to the doctor for providing an eyewitness account to the resurrection.

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2004 at 1:20 pm

monday morning musing

i awoke this morning to evidence of a weekend well spent. the body of evidence included:

  • 1 completed novel
  • 2 torn ticket stubs for the door in the floor
  • a half painted study
  • a half primed bookcase
  • 4 x-box controllers strewn across the living room floor
  • 1 partially read, but wholly dismembered sunday edition of the globe
  • 1 reconciled relationship
  • 2 empty bottles of wine
  • 2 empty boxes of prinzi’s pizza
  • 10 empty bottles of sam adams’ octoberfest
  • 5 empty bottles of harp
  • 3 empty bottles of mike’s hard limeade

as i spent the morning hours carefully cataloging, and then dispatching of , the evidence, i realized how each piece points to the presence of our community. due to this realization, the act of collection became not merely a task, but an embodied prayer of thanksgiving.

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2004 at 7:04 pm

Remembering a Man Above Reproach

A reminder has been flying over my head for days as if to ensure that I wouldn’t forget. On this day, in 1943, Preston A. Davis, my grandfather, flew his last mission over occupied France. Though his crew had completed more difficult assignments, including being a lead plane on the first Schweinfurt raid, a dead engine over Nantes, France led to their demise. My grandfather and three of his crewmates were captured on that very day and detained for the rest of the war. Three other crewmates were lucky enough to escape occupied France and make it back to Britain. And, tragically, three others were buried inside the burning B-17.

By his own admission, my grandfather was largely shaped by his wartime experiences. For it was his wartime experiences that made him aware of providence (only a minuscule number of airmen completed their tour of duty), tempered him with endurance and taught him that life itself (especially such luxuries as 45-minute showers!) is grace.

Preston A. Davis is not only my Pa-Pa, he is my mentor and my best friend. I thank God for him on this day.

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2004 at 3:21 pm

happy haiku friday!

sitting in my cube

avoiding seminary

brushing and flossing

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