09 September 2009

Faces

This is a new song I wrote over the weekend, to play at a concert at the barking Legs Theater. If you'd like to listen to the song, click on this post's title and it'll take you to where you can hear it (smile). If I were computer-savvy, I'm sure I could have posted it here somehow...

Faces

Have you seen the face of Suffering
A common face, ordinary, plain
Yet somehow familiar to the human race

Moving through the crowd Humanity
He stops one man walking dully by
All the other faces turn away and smile
Careless of their brother, they move on awhile

But as faces come and faces go
Turn around a moment, ask him what he knows
Make him tell you why it must be so
There has to be a reason—hold onto him, don’t let go till he tells you so…

Have you seen the face of perfect Peace
Disfigured face, brutalised and maimed
Difficult to look on, lovely just the same

His beauty spoils the following:
Loneliness, despair, and heavy shame
But like a treasure hidden—hidden in a field of pain
The guilty go on looking, desperate for his face

And as faces come and faces go
Turn around a moment, ask him what he knows
Make him tell you why it must be so
There has to be a reason—hold onto him, don’t let go till he tells you so…

He’ll tell you that you have to see him to believe
That his face of suffering is the face of peace
Only eyes open wide see the loveliness inside
But you have to be near—so near—for the beauty to appear
Through the painful tears…

So as faces come and faces go
Turn around a moment, ask him what he knows
Make him tell you why it must be so
There has to be a reason—hold onto him—

And as faces come and faces go
Turn around a moment, ask him what he knows
And he’ll tell you why it must be so
He has to give a reason to hold onto him, not let go…he won’t let you go…

28 August 2009

Six Billion

Six billion hearts in a moment murmuring--
six billion lung-fulls taken in and out--
six billion wonderings what the day will bring--
six billion statements of what it's all about--

30 June 2009

What Leadership Is Not

Loudness.

Disregard.

Charisma.

Passion.

Position.

Fame.

Ignorance.

Cowardice.

Cleverness.

Pleasantry.

Assumed superiority.

Standing at the front of a room.

Sitting at the head of a conference table.

Writing in the blank space of a blog or a comment field.

Scoffing.

Intimidating.

Power.

25 June 2009

Internet

I think the internet is too much for me.

Too much news. I can read the headlines everyday, with new ones popping up moment by moment. I can click on links to related articles. I can learn all kinds of things about all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. But then I do nothing about it. There is no outlet for so much information except mere opinion. So I can leave comments, or click thumbs up and down, or post the item framed with my own view. And then do nothing. Do nothing but wait until the next item rolls around. Do nothing but grow cynical, frustrated, or feel cheap, empty victories for "having my voice be heard."

Too much entertainment. I can drop by Hulu and laugh at Conan's monologues and general silliness, or check out the latest YouTube clip for a chuckle. I can forget that there are very important things happening which ought not happen. I can forget there is evil.

Too much photography. I can log in to Facebook and scan through the photos of my friends, see countless self-portraits at odd angles with faces frozen in rock star screams or Zoolander pouts or eyebrow arches. I can see beautiful face and beautiful face, curvy figure after curvy figure, and skin skin skin on "innocent" sites. And then there are too many faces in my mind and I forget the faces that really matter to me. I forget the innocence of a flesh-and-blood smile. I forget the good, good hardship of a living person and grow more comfortable with the static flat image. Or I grow angry that people think so little of their smiles, their eyes, their bodies, that they would paint them and alter them into meaningless charms.

Too much text. Words, werds, wurds. Too many words sitting open-faced, as if every one of those words and ideas were as important as every other. One man's blog is another man's comment. I can look from page to page, blog to blog, listening to the voices speak through their words--and at the end of the day, I can believe that someone's words matter more because their well-designed website looks much cooler than the other. I can disregard a friend and read an enemy. I can lie. But I cannot pronounce truth in so much text. All is opinion. All is equal.

Too much music. Too much video. Too much sound. Too much fury.

And not enough of the things that really matter.

Am I alone in this?

16 April 2009

Sometimes I See New, Sometimes I Cry (or, For the Love)

Sometimes, while driving around town, I listen to music and it makes me see with new eyes. Take this morning, for example. I locked away Daphne and Gracie, hopped into the Jeep after stashing all the work necessities in the back (and a few non-essentials, such as the disc golf discs), and pulled away to go to the office. As I reached the highway, I realised a song my heart wanted to hear, and clicked the wheel round til it reached Rich Mullins. One button-push later, "Calling Out Your Name" begins to hammer out the speakers...

Well, the moon moved past Nebraska
And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota hills
Angels danced on Jacob's stairs--
Yeah, they danced on Jacob's stairs

There is this silence in the Badlands
And over Kansas the whole universe is stilled
With the whisper of a prayer
The whisper of a prayer

And I see the hawk burst into flight
And in the east all the horizon
Is in flames
I hear the thunder in the sky--
See the sky about to rain--
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

Listening to this as I flew past familiar hillocks and grass leant on by the old Tennessee wind, knowing they were not the prairies described, yet they felt new. And it made my heart breathe deep.

Sometimes, too, the music makes me cry. When the first song ended, I paused the music to revel for a few minutes before starting another song by this, probably the greatest poetic lyricist I've ever heard...

Aidan, you're young
But, Aidan, you're growing
Fast
Me and your mom and all the love we have
We can only take you so far--
As far as we can--
But you'll need something more
To guide your heart
As you grow into a man--

Let mercy lead
let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They'll find peace
And I'll meet you
In that place where mercy leads

Oh, this song made me cry! Only a few small tears, but cry I did. Cry for the beauty of a foolishness which saves by the awesome power of God. Cry for the mercy which ought to lead us, step by step, to overcome the world. Cry for the church which contents itself with the wisdom of this age--with its tactics of complaint and resistance and advertisement, rather than sacrificing, enduring, overcoming, winning. Tears for the peace of Christ, which He gives, so unlike the peace of this present, dark world; for less activism and more grace-persistent, loving activity; for foolish hearts to break, for my foolish heart to break.

They were but a few tears, but they were enough to move me. Add a cup of hope, stir, and such moments can move many, many more, I do believe.

12 April 2009

The Recreation (An Easter Story)

(reprinted from Easter 2006, by the author)

The echo still resounded, "Let there be Light!" This Light beyond all light which transports the soul from the black of evil to the bright shine of goodly glory had come, had spilled all over the earth and over the hearts of men, exposing all, radiating all, loving all, burning all. Some seared souls arose against that Light and resolved themselves that this Light would have no part of them! They shook angry fists to the heavens from which that great Light shone; they spewed blasphemous rage. They sought to destroy the Light.

With a sigh, the Light absorbed their derision and rejection. The Light faded with the weight of infinite sorrow shrouding its glory moment by moment. At last, the very Daylight died. There was morning and there was evening: the first day.


Rage. The earth itself did tremble and rupture, and the dead began to crawl from their graves. Look! Look to the heavy curtain of the universe, veiling all things from the unapproachable Light which would consume them! The glorious Light, the Holy of holiest Light, which men could not enter lest they die--the marvelous Light did not kill the foolish trespassing Man, but true to the nature of Light, it only exposed the reality: that the trespassing Man was already dead! The curtain sways as all things slip into tumultuous darkness, heaving groaning despairing dark. The curtain sways, and suddenly is torn! Men avert their eyes, lest they too die...fall to their knees, grieving that they should stand so close to the Holy Room...and then they raise their eyes. They look, in faith, they look and can see as the Light wills them to see!

Silence elsewhere. Men strike hands in sinful pledges, women seduce, children revolt, parents despise, fathers abuse, mothers tantrum, sons lust, daughters envy. It is as any other day. There was morning and there was evening: the second day.


Night passes and begins to ebb away. A slow blue burns the edge of the horizon, burning itself into a watery light which creeps farther and farther heavenward, ascending as only the Light can ascend! At the same moment, watery tears yet fall from the cheeks of those precious few who loved the Light which left them two days hence. Will they be left alone in darkness? Darkness still within them, darkness all around--O, will the Sun also rise?

Unknown to them, the earth again moved--this time, but a single great boulder, a stone which stood before the shadowy cave. A hundred men who doubted the Light (but also doubted Death enough to stand as guards against the imperishable Light) look in awe for a moment and are struck down. They lie as though dead.

It is the breaking of the Dawn! Light passes among them, and among many more, thousands upon thousands more, Light passes among you and I...the Light burns on, loves on, restores on, proclaims on, satisfies on, sears on, frightens on, rages on! The Light remains and darkness cannot overwhelm Him! O God! What Light!

It was morning and it is forever morning: the Third Day.

03 April 2009

On Point

Click the title above to check out our new website. Why Know is no mo', our new name is On Point. Not bad (smile).

Last night, we held our annual banquet here at the Chattanooga Trade Center, with this year's speaker, Dr. Benjamin Carson. Dr. Carson did a wonderful job--he communicated much wisdom learned both from his childhood struggles and from more modern trials in the operating room. A very nice man, he.

While he shared much I could reflect upon (and probably will), I was musing over one tidbit just now: Dr. Carson's mother, in case you do not know, decided to kill their TV and require her two sons to read books (2 per week) and write reports on each book. Little Ben hated this at first (he joked last night that he and his brother called it "child abuse"), but within a few months he loved reading. And he said his morale was boosted greatly as he began to earn things that none of his classmates knew. He said he realised this impact from his reading, even as a young boy.

I loved to hear the simplicity of that, that kind of honest pride in knowing things. While it can lead to gross pride, the simple desire to learn and know more can be simple, pure, and sweet--it's something we are made to do (John 10:10). But I think about our culture today, with its countless media sources and outlets from televisions to theaters to cell phones and computers, and I wonder if we haven't grown into a culture where young people don't care about knowing more (or even just other) things than the next person--to them, it's more important to know exactly what everyone else knows. How many conversations are begun, "Hey, did you hear..." How many times I have observed young people hear the first few seconds of a popular song, and turn to look at one another for that glance of recognition: "You know this song, too? Oh, I know this song--in fact, I can sing all the words, watch this." They are content only to know the same gossip, rumors, speculations, and useless superficial knowledge that their peers possess.

But do they love learning? Do they dig deep into knowledge? Most importantly, do they know, do they press on to know the Lord? For in the light of Him, knowledge knows its limitations and is humbled. But who will show this generation how?

23 March 2009

Holy Ground

listening to music that makes me want to go out hiking
in the heat of the day
along dry streams where flies buzz and spiders dangle,
feeling the occasional cool pocket
of breath
along the stream bed--
feeling the sun slant through still, still branches,
going sometimes blind
studying the rocks to find the surest footing
along an uncertain path,
steadying
myself
by holding onto trees who've known every one of these rocks
for much longer than i have--
steering my course up along this empty waterway
with no destination in mind,
glad to have
a plain direction--

feeling in the roughness of the wilderness,
the holiness of the ground

29 January 2009

Stories

I love stories. Telling them, hearing them, reading them, discussing them, polishing them, turning them, painting them, singing them...really, is there anything which cannot be done with Story? It's a marvelous invention.

Has Story always been? since man begun,
His thoughts and deeds, hopes, fears, have all been sung
In poetry and prophecy, and told
Through novels new and ancient plays of old.
Perhaps the only thing as old as God
Is Story...

I write stories from time to time. In days past, I would write them in pieces or over instant messages, just making them up as I went along (which I'm sure genuine authors would chide me for, saying I ought to govern my creations more strictly than such wandering accounts). I wrote one a few weeks ago about the noise in my office wall--when the wind blows hard, a strange metallic creak goes through the wall, and this inspired my story:

A story written over IM… January 7, 2009

Something metallic rattles over my head, like the wind is in the ceiling or wall. I could probably write a good story about it, but the truth of it is far more amazing than even I could imagine. And if I had time, I would surely tell it.

You see, it isn't the wind that is causing such a ruckus. In fact, it is a story locked up within the wall.

You know how this building was purchased some months ago by Yerbey Construction? Well, during the second week of September, a work crew came to begin the process of gutting the old place. They walked in and found a mess of old two-by-fours, wiring hanging from a sunken ceiling, lights broken, small standing pools of water from the recent rains.

So they rolled up their sleeves and started throwing all the old useless things in the dumpster out front.

Well, one such worker--a lean, scratchy fellow named Carl--moved to a little-used corner of the space: the corner just outside my office, in fact. And pushing soggy warped boards aside, he uncovered there something unexpected.

It was small, rather old, and it showed its age. Still, he could tell it wasn't useless, and this caused him some dilemma. 'Should I throw this away, too?' he asked himself. 'I mean, surely I can't leave it here.'

He called the foreman over: 'Um, sir? Can you give me a hand with this?' The foreman, who was large with a large head and nose, and who was not the nicest sort of fellow, growled a little and came round from another part of the building.

Carl showed him the Story, trying very hard to pretend like he knew what he was supposed to do. But no need--the foreman himself had never seen such a thing before. He grunted in surprise, then grunted again to call for their electrician to come check it out. The electrician came and murmured to himself a bit before concluding he had no idea what the Story was, either. So they called the plumber, considering how the Story yet sat in a small puddle of water. The plumber came. And simply shrugged.

The carpenter, not wanting to be left out of the free break time everyone seemed to be getting, came over, too. He was always left out of the bigger decisions of the crew, but wouldn't be left out this time--so when he saw the Story sitting there, he saw his opportunity to prove himself.

'Why, that's a load-bearing chisel slack-joint,' he said to them all with all confidence. 'Sure, it's important. We need to tack that puppy up here out of the way, between the joists, like so,' and taking a pencil to mark a ridiculous X on the beam, he nailed the Story to the joist.

All the workers shrugged a little at this, but as the unknown Story was someone else's problem now, and not theirs, they were content to move on to other habitual tasks of gutting a building. So they turned and did not see the Story move slightly.

They laboured here a few weeks, feeding wiring, mounting sheetrock, applying paint, and so on. And the little story, still affixed to the joists, was locked up inside.

So now whenever the Story moves, the joists creak and the metal supports groan. I figure the Story needs to be heard, and I guess it will keep groaning until someone listens to It.


I stopped there--what do you all suppose happened to the Story?