Drag on into the shadows

dragon

Dragon slithering
Soars
Across morning sky
Many singed serpent
With cloud shrouded eye

A dusky dark specter
Of future unkind?
Or a hazy mark reflection of
projections of
Darkness in the mind

Trust
Brightening sun will rise
Just
Enlightening dark filled eyes

See
Darkness fading
Shadows shorten shadings
Light
Cascading
into recesses
of the brain

Yet

Still

Shadows Remain

I know, I know, but I love cloud poems and plus that one totally looks like a dragon so… obviously.  In all seriousness this reminded me of a bible study I’m doing on leadership that stated that leaders need to be examples of the truth. Yes! Absolutely! The devotional went on to state that leaders need to show that the truth to be an example of is basically perfection…

Ooops what? If a leader has to be perfect then I’m gonna go ahead and give up my spot, because brothers and sisters I’m a sinner. I’v talked about my journey toward God and away from sin but it’s a journey we don’t finish on Earth. When a leader has the expectation to be perfect or tries to act perfect we are in trouble (and so is he or she.)

The truth I want to be an example of is that I am a sinner and I need God’s grace every day, the truth I want to be an example of is that grace has amazing healing powers, the truth I want to be an example of is that my heart is healing with grace but I’m still a sinner.

I used to get Wilde and say, “I can resist anything but temptation,” Then, through grace I was able to start rising above temptation, but it was still there. Now, through grace, temptations themselves are fading. Fading, not disappearing, and honestly I still have moments of weakness. The truth I want to be an example of is that in those moments, when I’m weakest, I feel my greatest need for God.

In those moments I trust that God loves me, I know that His Son will shine his infinite grace into my brain and help heal me. The imagery of the shadows and feeling like my heart has shadows and that brought to mind the psalm that I first learned in the *Army.

Psalm 23:4

Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil; for Thou art with me, and Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.

*Of course it was a little different in the Army though because it finished with something like, “because I’m the baddest blankety blank in the valley…”

Thanks for putting up with yet another cloud poem y’all and God bless

write all

 

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I Took

IMG_6035

Today
I took
A moment
A breath
A break
for
A rest
From scheduling, solving, collaborating, resolving
From rescuing, encouraging, demanding
From being outstanding

In stead
of Being, seeing, leading, proceeding
A moment
To Be

Still
My thoughts wander
Quiet as I ponder
The sound
Feathers brush the wind
Rising from the ground

bird moment

Still
My heart beats
I check in
Anger retreats
Anger why?

A breath
Escapes
A sigh

a moment

I took…

 

 

Somedays everything is cool, I keep busy, I have lots of important work, work that can help others, work that distracts me from the deep work I need to do.

So today I took my little jeep and found a cornfield at lunch and meditated. I’m sure the farmers were wondering what the hippie was up to as they drove by (although maybe not, we are close to Austin so…)

So today I took some time, not really for myself but to look into myself. To be still and check in. I find some anger and resentment there, angry at myself and and angry at the source of all my crap. I’m so far from where I started, but not there yet. Obviously because today I also took a selfie… Still.

Still have the need to put myself out there for approval to entertain and save.

The interesting thing is that I thought I was smiling when I took it… I thought I was looking whistfully (wistfully?) out at the stubble of the fallow field, bemused at my progress. I see anger on my face though. Is that a problem? Only if I deny it.

If I can just be still and be  for a while and stop moving. So hard for a hard charging go getter with good intentions. But I need these times for myself to check in so that I don’t check out on others in my life. I’m not sure if there’s a better piece of scripture than Psalm 46:10 here.

Be still and know that I Am God.

Amen, I am so glad God that You are God and that I am not, I can barely be me some days.

Thanks y’all, and God bless.

The Future Holds

sun

I Struggle to understand
Violence inside of man
Searching for reason
In a senseless season
It escapes me
The search castrates me
Pain
Undeniable
Explanation intention, safety, prevention, questions, reports, accusations, retorts…
Useless anger flails to find fault
Emotion stretched, strung taut
Control
Evades us
Please God
Let peace invade us
Let us rest and remember
Peaceful pastures lie in wait
Places free from hate
Directions so simple yet so clouded
A point shrouded

Blurring the start
A point within

A human heart

I am not in control

I can’t understand

Serenity still

Fills

The surrendering hand

serenity

On Monday morning I found myself just praying one word, “Help,” I don’t even honestly know if I needed help or wanted help for victims and families, for our country, or a little of everything. When I’m praying and a word stands out in my head I pray it.

I’m sure some were praying, “Why?” Would a God of mercy allow such violence such senseless, severe, and random violence? No Answer.

Is that a dangerous prayer? To question God? Maybe, but it’s a human prayer. I grew up thinking that God would be mad if I questioned him, that I had to work to make God love me, but now I understand that God wants all of us. Our doubts, our accusations, even our anger. Give it up to God even when we don’t know what it is or don’t understand His way, offer it to Him and talk to Him about it.  Is it a sin to question God? We don’t even have to answer that question because if it is we’re forgiven, I think it’s worse to think you can fool God and hide your anger for Him from Him…

And the prayer for help can change with the prayer I say every week with a group of broken and helpless guys , and it’s written on the inside of my bracelet. “*God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

When I talk to my sister (the smart one*2) about trusting God and letting him work she reminds me that He gave me a brain and abilities to work also, that I can’t just sit back and wait. She’s right and it’s right in there.

The question remains, can we do anything about the violence that has occurred and can occur again? Yes, plenty, but it may not look exactly like what we might expect, and nothing I ever do can keep me completely safe. Which is something I struggle with, I am at the mercy of bullets, bombs, cancers, crashes, even the slip of a hand of a professional who thought he was in control of a needle… all these can affect me no matter how strong tough smart careful I am.

The most important I think that I can do then is love; myself, my family, my neighbors. Especially my neighbors… I am going to continue to reach out, to find my friends in isolation and talk with them and try to let some light into their lives.

Reach out and call someone you haven’t talked to in a while, check in with your neighbors and family try to give them a smile. That Aunt (not you Auntie Mi) that you haven’t chatted with in a while, you’re ex brother, father, or mother-in-law, the people who get forgotten, call them. Conversations with those estranged folks can be painful and awkward but it very well could be a conversation  that saves a life.

Paul wrote so much about fellowship and I’m reminded of Ephesians when I think of trying to pull people together in the most difficult of times.

 Ephesians 4:2-3

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

*Quoted above and on my bracelet is The Good Parts Version of the Serenity prayer. The part everyone knows and has on posters. There’s lots more…

*2 Each of my sisters thinks I just wrote about her now

Chances Taken and Branches Shaken

sunrise-oaks.jpg

The wind buffets back and forth

Like taking chances

Each direction like the oak

 

Branches

Perfect?

 

Not quite

Asymmetrical in sight

 

Bark scored from a swing chain

Of children’s laughter only echoes remain

 

It stood through storm and heat

Stayed the rain and sleet

Winds bending not breaking

Limbs creaking

Shaking

 

The whole remains intact

Even as limbs give up and snap

Leaving holes

Gaps

In the soul off center gashes

To beauty’s eye

Empty slashes

 

But the heart sees a different story of these tests

These winds

The heart sees these spaces

As glorious places for the light of grace

to fill in.

 

I have some ugly scars… from winning the jumping from the top step contest, working in a church, and from an accident in the Army along with several others. Each scar though, came with a lesson and left a tough patch of skin. We boys (and maybe girls but I can’t speak for y’all) bear our scars as medals of achievement, of surviving stupidity on the way to wisdom.

I have uglier, emotional scars, some because of what was done to me and some because of what I had done. Men (and maybe women… see above) are taught to hide these and not let anyone see a flaw. Well that’s pure crap. Show off your scars, be proud of surviving, because to do so will help others survive and help others stop their cycle of shame and pain.

Each scar, physical or emotional can be a medal and a space for light to shine through. Each scar can be an example of how our trials shape us and we can decide whether to let them be dark blemishes on our soul or a space for our light to shine through. Thanks and God bless

 

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

 

A Damaged Donor…

life cradle

It started with bad timing. My hands griped the wheel with white knuckles as I zoomed in and around traffic. Engine roaring as a lane would open up so that I could get one more car length closer to my destination, then brakes straining as traffic would grow sluggish, not to a stop but still too slow.

I checked the rearview, not for cars behind me but to see if my precious cargo was traveling well. Two humble boxes, the contents of which could save lives… if I got them delivered in time.

It started with a mistimed harvest and a broken cooling system. If my delivery got to hot it would be useless and it could potentially mean tragedy. So, I mashed the gas and mashed the brakes alternatively as I tried to get south on I 35, a task that is stressful no matter the occasion. From the middle lane I saw a Minivan to my left, if I could just edge up the little Hybrid ahead of me I could pop into the left lane and zoom away. I drew closer to the Hybrid (I hate tailgaters I really do but this was an emergency) and saw the Minivan’s front bumper come even with my back wheel… just a little father… brake lights… the Hybrid was upset at and decided to tap his brakes. As I stomp the brake pedal my hand reaches back to catch the cargo that was sliding forward with inertia. I stopped the car and the cargo just before they ended in a devastating crash.

By the time the Hybrid accelerated (well accelerated for a Hybrid) the van had passed me so I jumped in the fast lane in hopes of a clear path and higher speeds. My hopes were dashed as I saw the sticker family on the back window of the Minivan getting closer as it was keeping a constant 2 mph under than the posted speed limit which is truly more like 12 under for the left lane. The Hybrid was now pulling away and I could feel the smug attitude of the driver from the posture of the care (sometimes you can just tell.) I knew I shouldn’t be mad at the Minivan driver, she was probably just a stick figure mom, driving a stick figure kid to the Dr. or maybe a stick figure dog to the Vet… but still, left lane for passing not getting passed…

Just as I was shaking my head at how sometimes my lack of patience leads to folly I saw an opening in the far right lane. I zoomed over (obviously pausing in the middle land and using my turn indicator in case any law enforcers are reading) and saw a clear path all the way to my exit. From there I knew there were four lights before my left turn onto a side street that had to cross to busy streets after a stop sign…

Nervous beads of sweat dripped from my forehead as if I could feel the heat that was ruining my precious delivery. I was blessed to catch 75% of the lights green and have no traffic to contend on my cross streets. I was only blocks away.

I knew I was only two blocks and a right turn away now… my tension grew inversely to the proximity of my destination. I was imagining an overheated and useless delivery, I could see the disappointment on the faces of my recipients. I’d never let them down before and this would be a new experience. Visions of me leaving the building with my head hanging down clouded my view of the roads.

Almost in tears with worry I finally pulled in to the parking lot, I rushed to the door loaded with my two containers. The smile that Kelly the receptionist usually greeted me with quickly faded. Her eyes widened and then narrowed with question as she took in my sweaty face.

“They took it out too soon and our cooler broke,” was all I could say.

Like a spring Kelly was out of her chair, “Quick let’s get it to the back and see what the damage is.”

She lead me bursting through the double doors and I saw the team waiting for me, I was shaking, so mad at myself even though circumstances were beyond my control.

My eyes locked onto those of the team leader Jackie, “Is it bad?”

Looking down with shame I could barely say, “I haven’t looked.”

“O.k. Bob don’t get down, let’s look at what we’re dealing with.” Jackie carefully opened one of the boxes and looked inside, her brow scrunched and her shoulders dropped.

“Oh no,” I thought, “It’s ruined.”

Jackie reached into the container and pulled out a sample. With horror I watched as she popped it into her mouth and began to chew….

“Not bad,” she smiled, “A little wilted and bitey, but arugula is supposed to have a peppery taste. Besides, any produce you bring us that we can’t hand out goes to a pig farmer who gives us ham every year so nothing you bring goes to waste.”

I was so relieved that my leafy vegetables hadn’t been ruined by getting picked early and sitting in the sun and then a hot room with no ac. I had delivered late but not too late and my humble and meager 50lbs of arugula would go on to feed some hungry families from the food bank.

Oh gosh, I’m sorry did I make you feel like I was delivering an organ for donation? Well, maybe I meant too, maybe food deliveries don’t come with the urgency of say, a new heart, but food saves lives just the same. The urgency of this delivery sort of did bring that fact to the front of my consciousness on this particular trip.

The USDA indicates that as many as 1 in 6 people in the US are “food insecure” which means they don’t have access at all times to enough food for the household. Because I’ve gone hungry before (o.k. it was because I spent my food money on beer, but still) and because I’m trying to change my selfishness through giving and because I work at a place with lots of land and labor I decided that I would try to start a farm to grow vegetables for food banks.

The food bank I frequent was used to me bringing a truckload (ok Grand Cherokee load) of vegetables and melons. Our biggest delivery was 500 lbs of onions, and 497 lbs of watermelon came in second. So, the other issue I was having over the arugula was size of donation. It was only 50 lbs and I was almost too ashamed to deliver it, like, what good would 50lbs of wilted peppery lettuce do?

When I saw the faces of the volunteers and employees and even some of the recipients I knew that 50lbs though small, meant another day between a family and hunger for a few folks at least. And each pound adds up. So far we’ve provided over 3700 lbs of food to our local food bank. The men who are doing the work are so happy to be able to give, and most of them are on a journey of recovery just like I am. It’s amazing to see the growth of the garden and how it’s like a physical manifestation of their spiritual and moral growth. (OUR spiritual and moral growth; I’m on the same path)

When I worry about how small a contribution I can make I remember a story of a boy and some starfish, and most of all I remember Mark 12 and I quit worrying about how much I can give as long as it’s all I can.

43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

 

And I do try to remember that no act and no amount of giving can make me worthy of Grace, but rather I do these things as a celebration of God’s love.

Thanks and just a warning, I have like… at least 6 cloud poems in my head so watch out! God bless.

Dark Places

dark places

They went alone to the dark places

Pain tempered hope

Adding strength to their faces

Looking up through

The midnight Shadows

Empty alone

No site of fellows

 

 

Even as they took

First steps toward the light

No one to share Grace

To share Hope’s delight

 

Then something new appears

From a tangled web

A change

A goodbye to tears

Each face

Turns towards the other

Finding a new space

 

Where footsteps

Sound

Together

Found

Hands to hold

A partner a friend

Lovers to tend

To a new story told

 

 

Ok so it’s been a while! Lots shaking up in my life, job expanding to about 4 times what it was and the buds of a new career starting to blossom also so… super busy! I’m glad that my first trip back to poetry had sort of something to do with clouds though right? I have so much in my head and so much in my heart that just rattles around waiting to find a page. It is amazing to have friends who understand the dark places and know the way back to the light… sometimes it’s hard to find my way and a hand to lead me is always nice.

When I feel myself starting back towards my isolation (which for me is a dark path) I remember Eccleisastes 4:9-10

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 
10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
I’ve got some funny/borderline blasphemous stuff upcoming… it all started because I did an outlaw christian bible study and I’m feeling like a gunslinger 🙂 Thanks y’all and God bless

Shimmering City Skies

suncity

Tiny city under big shimmering sky

Underneath rushing roads more travelled by

Hurry run rush

Never stop to hear the hush

The sound of the sun sinking low

Travelers tightly grip

The illusion of control

Sanity slowly slips

As onward  cars will roll

But some blessed, some few

See the quiet view

A reminder of

the one above

Who steers this world with love

 

Take time to enjoy a pretty view y’all. On Sunday I was Baptised, I did it as a reaffirmation of who I want to be and of the devotion of The Father and His Son who have brought so much healing to my life. On the Saturday evening before I had taken my kids out for a pre Father’s day diner and saw this view of the city and the shimmering sunset spoke to me about the Glory of God’s Grace. I am ugly with sin…. but through Jesus God sees me beautiful. God bless and thanks for reading 🙂

1 John 4:18

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The One who fears is not made perfect in love.”

*Also, even though there are clouds in the picture there is nothing in the poem about clouds so I still haven’t met my quota for the year….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiding From Jekyll

jeckel

Some people like hanging out here… they’re comfortable and they see friends. I’m not and I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see the smiling faces, the handshakes that linger as only handshakes of old friends do. I love to see people content to just sit near each other and not talk, or talk just to repeat, “Uhhh huu,” to each other over and again. Countless wrinkles around countless eyes, wrinkles from a hard life now turned up with a smile of friendship. I see it all, and that’s part of the problem. I see it all.

I don’t just see what’s happening, I see what could happen…. always, the man walking in with a cane who puts no weight on it… a potential weapon that might fool the minimal security here at the VA hospital but not me. That man with the cane can move just fine and has a dangerous grace about his posture. With my back to the wall I can see everyone coming in through the automatic glass doors, young, old, happy, angry, male… female… some on walkers, some in chairs. We’ve all been a little chewed up by the military (ours or someone else’s) and some of us bear the scars (outside or inside) a little better than others.

I think I’m somewhere between totally broken down and doing just fine. Maybe it depends on the day? This day I had to come and wait to get some bloodwork done and talk to a physical therapist about some exercises I can do for the physical brokenness. For the spiritual breaks I seek other help. The VA does try, the first thing you hear when you call them up is a kind voice asking if you are thinking of hurting yourself and who to call if you are, operators are standing by….

Spiritually I turn to God, I just recently met him, met him and His Son. Funny thing is I always knew they were there, but didn’t know them until I was introduced a few months ago. That was one of the most painful and most joyful moments of my life, death and rebirth I guess will do that to you. At any rate God’s got my spirit, even if I have to spend some nights on my knees clutching my cross tightly to my chest. So tight that blood drips down to the carpet as I pray, the points piercing my palms as I try to forget the stigma of my ways. I pray that God would take over, because I know the mess I make when I’m in control.

Draped in the armor of His love, that’s how I leave my place, a cross around my neck cross on my hand on a silver ring that once was lost but now was found. Scripture on a steel ring and on a leather band around my wrist. Simple shiny cross around my neck on a plain black leather cord. I wear it all on the outside, with pride, with humility to offer myself as a sacrifice to God’s grace.

Today the crosses would cause some trouble. Like I said before I see everything, the young woman pushing her dad’s chair, his shoulders slumped in defeat, eyes weary and sad to be a burden, young woman’s eyes determined but sad to see her dad depleted. I see the guy pacing, back and forth, he’s about 55, 5’10”, and even through his heavy cotton duck coat he looked to be a lean 180. I see him pace back and forth, casting glances at me out of the corner of his eye, looking away when I meet his gaze. I see him sweating in his heavy jacket. A big, heavy, concealing, jacket worn on a 95 degree Texas day.

One of his furtive glances sticks and eye contact is made, his aimless wandering turns to a determined walk right in my direction. His eyes never left mine and he approaches my seat against the wall. With a stiff back and a little rasp in his voice words erupt from his mouth, “I see you wear all those crosses, I’m gonna ask you something.”

His body stiff and his actions jerky, his body language was influencing me, I felt myself getting angry with this man I didn’t even know, I take a calming breath before responding, “Ask away my friend.” I force a smile and try to make it real, I ease my posture and unclench my fists to make my body tell my mind there is no threat.

The man sits down to my left, his jacket is unzipped but he’s using his right hand to keep it closed over his red t-shirt, “Do you call yourself a Christian?”

The question startles me to a moment of silence, “Um… yes, but it’s really new to me.”

“What does that mean?” he barks as he leans closer to me, his posture reminding me of a coiled spring.

I pause for another breath and gather my response, “Well to be honest I got tired of being who I was and finally asked God to help me…”

“God or Jesus,” he interrupts me with a shine in his eyes, a little foam of saliva gathers at the corners of his mouth, “do you claim to follow Jesus?”

I try to stay relaxed but my body is on high alert, I don’t know exactly how to answer him. “I’m Bob. what’s your name brother?”

It was almost as if I slapped him to ask, “I’m Ryan” he says quickly going back to his earlier track, “Do you follow Jesus.”

I’m given a brief moment to think as the intercom announces, “now serving number of 49”… I know my ticket reads, “67,” but I see Ryan glance at his, I hope I might get out of this uncomfortable conversation. No luck, his wrinkled ticket reads, “70.”

“Like I said Ryan I’m really new, I hope I’m following Jesus.”

“How do you know, what books do you study?”

“I have this app on my phone, a Bible app, it gives me lessons and chapters to read. I just started one called “The bible in one year. Where I..”

“Old testament or new testament!” again he can’t wait for me to finish, it was more a rushed accusation than a question.

I barely have time to tell him that it’s a little of both before he’s back at it voice rasping with the quiet anger of one who doesn’t want to be overheard, “You’re in the new testament, you follow Paul, you’re not a Christian, you’re a Paulean!” as quiet as he started he hits “Paulean” with a crescendo of triumph and as he finished his left hand pounded the table next to him.

I jump a little and I can feel the monster inside, pulling for control, for a chance to be let off the chain. In Inhale….pause…. exhale. I feel the energy drain from my body with by breathing.  “What does it mean to be Paulean brother? I haven’t heard of it before.”

“Do you know the Tanakh? The Mosaic Law? Are women allowed to preach in your church?”

He’s erratic but I feel like he’s knowledgeable, I think I know at least that he’s probably trying to catch me in something Paul said about women teaching in Corinthians…  my curiosity somehow calms me though, “No I don’t know what that is. Women give lessons in my church though.”

His left hand shoots up extending his index finger like a “#1” and his eyes are wide in triumph, “Exactly what I thought, you don’t follow the law! You think you don’t have to follow the law because of Jesus, but you still have to live by the old testament.”

I know that right now no matter what I answer with he will use against me. A part of me just wants to pacify him and go along so that he’ll leave me alone and I can calm down. The other side of my monster just hates the conflict and will do anything to avoid it. But I really believe that God is moving things for me to learn tough lessons, and this is probably one. I feel like I am supposed to have this conversation. I decide I might deflect some of his anger with questions, “Where do you go to church? Are you in a Bible study?”

With a brief shake of his head he addresses the question, “I don’t need that. I study on my own.”

“Well I thought that in order to interpret God’s will from scripture we had to read together with other people so we could interpret…”

Again his left hand shot up, “Interpret?!?! You can’t interpret God’s word, it is as it’s written!”

The loudspeaker stops his verbal assault, “67 please come to the window.” Relieved to be out of the conversation I excuse myself. I get to the window and the nice lady just needs to verify my name and DOB. No relief.

I stand there a moment… as I decide what to do my mind goes back to the dark day I realized I how badly I needed God. I was looking into beautiful blue eyes tearing up as she realized I had another side, a hidden dark side.  I was hit in the face with the fact that I was living two lives, one a hero and one a monster… I had decided that I would never cause harm again and that God was my only hope. As soon as these thoughts pop in my head the idea that there is a lesson here moves my feet back to the chair next to him.

I know I have to go finish my conversation.

He’s craning his neck looking to see if I’ll come back as I walk around the chairs to my previous seat. I expected to see him relax when I sat back down on his right…

His face flashes read, even his ears, “I’m gonna show you!” His eyes glossy and wide look down into the left inside of his coat, his right hand reaches across slips inside….

My body is electric, with chills on my skin every option goes through my mind.

The minute I see the cold blue steel emerge from his jacket I reach with my right hand to his elbow, pushing it to extension so that his hand can’t draw the gun. I quickly step over his body to put my full weight on his elbow trapping the arm against his body, his exclamation is cut short as the claw of my left hand closes around his throat. His left arm is restricted against the arm of his chair but I still feel it clawing at my shoulder.  I press hard against his trachea and just wait for his eyes to flutter and glaze.

That’s what I would have done had I seen a gun, that and three other scenarios played out in my head before I see nothing more dangerous than a pamphlet come out of his coat pocket.  He unfolds the pamphlet as I try to remove the image of his body squirming while light fades from his eyes.

For one who came so close to death his voice is very animated now. He looks at his pamphlet and points a weathered finger accusingly into the page, “See, Jesus never said we are free from the law, it was Paul, you say you follow Jesus, but you don’t really study the books, the first books of the old testament….”

I almost can’t hear what he is saying, I feel nauseous as my brain tries to recover from my imagined fears. Now my face is red and the back of my neck is hot and sweaty.

Ryan looks at me, “Hey, are you listening?”

“Yea, I’m trying to understand you. Like I said I’m so new to scripture…”

Looking back at his paper Ryan begins again, “It’s all so simple, we aren’t free from the law,” he opens his left hand and smacks the page with the back of it. “It’s all here, you can’t keep on sinning.”

“Ryan brother, that’s the whole reason I’m trying to follow Jesus, I’m tired, I’m tired of doing these things that feel like it’s another person controlling me. I’m tired of lying to cover up the things that other person does. I’m tired of being angry, I’m tired of hating myself… I don’t have any answers but I sure hope and pray for a God who gives grace more than vengeance…”

Ryan looks at me again…. I’m embarrassed as I realize he’s watching the tears well up and roll down my cheeks. His body looks like a balloon loosing air as his shoulders slump and he leans forward. His face now relaxes, “Bob? Your name’s Bob right? Hey, God’s got you, I just want you to be careful…” He jumps a little as the speaker screeches, “Number 70, please to the window…”

Tucking his paper back into his inside coat pocket he gets up and walks to the window just as an orderly comes to take me to talk to the physical therapist. Ryan looks back at me as I start to follow the orderly, he looks back and gives a small smile.

 

 

 

O.k. so all that actually happened, no kidding. Of course the guy’s name wasn’t really Ryan but the conversation and where my hyper active brain went when he reached his hand into his coat were real. There was something just a little off with him, really, but God still used him to get something out of me and a lesson into me.

I often look back and feel like I was another person when I did those horrible things in my past. So much of what I did goes against so much of who I really am.

I don’t understand my own capacity to cause harm… when I’m really spiraling I remember what ‘Ryan’ told me… “Hey God’s got you…”

Sometimes I feel like a man broken in two, sometimes I feel like I’ve been two different people, but both still broken. But I work on trusting God to fill in those broken places.

 

Psalm 34:18

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The Man I work for…

sunrise promise

Riding off into the sunrise

Heading toward the day’s surprise

Working for men so broken

Hurts hidden if left unspoken

 

Cages contain

Consequences

Of choices remain

Just a history of pain

 

Incurred

Caused

Lives ended

Lives paused

 

Such

Dark deeds

Done in passion

Or greed

 

I arrive

With

Judgement suspended

With

Grace extended

By the Man I work for

Put here to teach

To reach a place of forgiveness for crimes for wrongs for pains received, self deceived, pain progression, passion, obsession. Pain perceived pain given, pain as a means of living, the cycle goes on the pain is spread.

Until

hearts stop

and forgive instead

 

 

Well… that might be the darkest poem I’ve ever written about a sunrise…. dark but hopeful.

Maybe that’s why sunrises remind me of my work.

Work with men who look to needles, alcohol, pills, to drown pain. Men who have done such dark things to be able to keep drowning the pain. Men who have done such dark things while they were drowning. Sometimes it is a challenge for me to forgive them, even when they are earnestly seeking God’s grace. I find it easy to suspend judgement and to work closely trying to help the guys get a better future.  I know that God will forgive just as he has forgiven me. Maybe I don’t feel like I have the right to forgive them, because they haven’t harmed me. Maybe that’s why I have trouble forgiving myself, because all the harm I had done to others I don’t have the right to forgive myself. It’s something I struggle with.

The really funny thing is that when someone has done me wrong I forgive easily. The harm that was done to me still makes me angry, but I have forgiven my abuser and pray for him often.

The guys I work with have shown me about healing and recovery and about the sunrise and promise of new beginnings, and truly they are helping me as much if not more than I am helping them….

 

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Dark Sun

dark sun

 

Dark Clouds of Night

Foreboding sight

Through this dark lense

My vision sends

Fearful view

My sight askew

Dark  filter makes perception

untrue

But even in Darkness the light shines

through

with this Dark vision

Start

Unfiltered life

Rise above past strife

See beauty clear

See life without fear

Sun so dark through pain’s perception

Unfiltered

Becomes beauty’s perfection

bright sun

Ok… admittedly this is obviously another cloud poem, but when I was playing with the filter on my phone I noticed how this bright sun in the middle of the clouds over this pasture looked almost like midnight with a bright moon.  (ok I probably have well over 1000 pictures of the sun in the clouds but I should get credit for not writing a poem for each one right?)

The brightness of the light almost looks crystallized and cold and in the dark version and it just reminded me of my view of the world when I refused to feel anything. The light was always there waiting for me, I just couldn’t see it for what it was.

The unfiltered light has an intensity that could only burn from truth (well as true as a digitized image taken on the third latest i-phone can be).

Truth is such an amazing healer, and like many remedies there is sometimes more pain before there is relief… In my case the truth shed light on that dark lense in my heart, His light is so intense that it shattered the lense (and broke me down to nothing). And now hopefully, His light can grow in me to provide a beacon for other broken and dark souls.

I was healed as in

Matthew 4:16

..the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

And hopefully I can light a path for others

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven