listening to life and letting you in on a few secrets
just a few moments ago, while reading andy crouch's unexpectedly engaging article about jerry b. jenkins, the christian writer's guild and the calvin festival of faith and writing, a lump arose in my throat and tears filled my eyes. in moments like these, uncle buechner often intones, you are very near to either the truth or something like it. thus, in honor of my physical reaction to this piece of non-fiction, i would like to enter the booth and offer confession. please take a moment to listen.
that there are a few authors i cannot critique. indeed, i hold the life and work of these authors so close to my heart that they have gradually become gatekeepers. senior among these are henri nouwen and frederick buechner. i know it would be more pious to give Luke, Paul or the preacher of Ecclesiastes pride of place, but i might as well be honest. years ago, when someone critiqued nouwen's exegetical approach in professor windham's senior seminar class, i almost broke into tears. nouwen was the only one who dared to speak into my loneliness. he was also the pastor who taught me that upon the narrow road, the way up is down. finally, uncle henri lead me to L'arche, where, for a moment, my life became a fusion of faith and action. L'Arche was the context wherein i was able to be the Christ-follower i had always wanted to be, and want to be still. Buechner, well, he rends me in ways i cannot describe. in fact, crouch's mere description of how buechner came "onstage looking like a bemused hound dog" is what brought me to this place. over the past three years i have not had a more trusted guide than uncle freddy. well, that's not exactly true. there is another. but some cards are meant to be played close to the chest.
on friday i have an interview with the good folks at the beverly bootstraps food pantry. i know, i know, the name sucks, but they are the most influential social service organization in beverly. i have been volunteering with 'straps for the past two and a half years and have recently been working part-time with them in hopes that that they will be misguided enough to hire me. i am well aware, as my wife has often reminded me, that not everyone has the opportunity to line up their occupation with their vocation. but when that opportunity arises, i think you have to take the chance.
speaking of my vocation, i once expected more clarity in that area. when they taught us in leadership class that we could boil down our life mission to a short sentence or simple paragraph, i took them at their word. but i do so no longer. i am beginning to realize that my vocation is not only more complex than i originally imagined, it is also evolving as i move from age to age. if someone unexpectedly violated my personal space (read: my cube. yes, rhys, i am fulfilling your uncanny foreshadowing) and inquired about my vocation, this is how i might respond (in a stream of consciousness style). "i feel called to: love God and listen carefully to what he says; incarnate Christ's compassion among the poor; help Christ's body grow up into its head; sacrificially love my wife; share my story through writing; educate the young; be a trusted companion of the old; follow my Pa Pa's lead; seek out wisdom and invest it wisely; watch the cardinals win their tenth world series; learn how to listen to and relate with those i love more than others, and those i love less; let my story unfold within the boundaries of beverly; run a marathon; proclaim the promise of reconciliation; read a library full of books; and die well." i think that's a good place to start.
that when i'm in a public place, and see someone i know before they see me, i will most likely leave before stopping to say hello or calling attention to my presence.
that you can "take the boy out of the country, but can't take the country out of the boy." a couple of times a week, i can still hear oklahoma in my voice.
that i still kind of miss monological, expository, stand behind the pulpit and pound-on-the-wood-for-emphasis preaching.
that i will always love katy more than dizzy (especially since the latter just interrupted me by pissing on the floor). i do love the latter dog, but have never felt compelled to love all friends, family members and animals equally.
that the farther removed i am from my time at soybean bible college, the more i appreciate it.
that i haven't read a serious theological book in over a year and am completely unrepentant.
that i was once a rabid republican.
that i once had a confederate flag bumper sticker on my car.
that's enough for now. may you experience Christ's peace, and receive a good dose of r & r this weekend.
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