Archive Page 2

06
Sep
09

Woe.

Woe (reshoot)

 

 

This house was built by human hands,

broken wings that cannot fly.

Traded truth for what felt good,

where moth and dust doth lie.

Burn thy bridges,

Shaking fists!

 

“Woe” to them I cry! 

22
Aug
09

Semper Fi

Semper Fi

 

 

 

Always faithful.  That’s what Semper Fidelis means- you may have seen it on bumper stickers “Semper Fi”.  It’s the motto of the Marines. 

 

I’ve never been a very patriotic person…and I know I have to be careful when I use that word- as you should be when you read it, because it means something different to everyone.  I believe there are things that people have done that should not be celebrated- sometimes those things can attach themselves to a nation’s history; however, there have been beautiful things to happen in all nations of the world.  Those things should be remembered – and celebrated.

 

Always faithful.

What does that mean?

I could vaguely see this piece before I painted it.  The elements were there, but they weren’t solid.  And because this painting was a private request from someone I don’t really know as a gift for a complete stranger, I couldn’t really make it personal.  This was my dilemma.  How do I paint a piece to commemorate a stranger’s years of service to our country?

 

As I painted, I felt good about how it was coming along, but it didn’t really hit me until I painted the dog tags.  You may not be able to see them in the picture, but they’re there- dangling in the wind, hanging from the rifle that serves as a makeshift grave.  It clicked when I painted the dog tags.  I first thought about whose name was on that metal.  Then, I thought about the mother of that person.  I could see her crying on a sofa in a well-kept living room.  There was a piano in the corner and there were white doilies on some of the furniture.  That women wept there, and I soon felt like a voyeur, because she did not stop- and in the movies when there is a scene like this, they usually show enough to convey the emotion, but then they switch scenes.

  

I saw a brother staring at a casket ready to be lowered into the ground, thinking of the unresolved conflict that separated them.  I saw a high school student walking into a schoolroom and meeting the eyes of some of her fellow students- walking to her desk to find some fresh roses there.  She meets them in silence and begins to cry.

I saw a lot of stuff like that- and I could hear those tags dangling in the wind.  They sounded cold.

11
Aug
09

Apologies. (part 2)

The Banker's Gamble

Donald Miller was asked after one of his talks from an audience member why he stopped at Christianity.  The person challenged him with a gentle accusation: that he had narrowed the scope of his world- to only see it through the eyes of a Christian.  Why hadn’t he pursued other beliefs?

Don confessed- that yes, he had stopped at Christianity, and that even though he had done a little investigation into other spiritual perspectives, he did stop looking after he found Jesus.  Don told the audience member that if his Christian Spirituality were just a point of view, then it would be easy to continue to pursue various truths in other belief systems, but because Jesus was an actual Person, that it was not unlike being married to someone.  And would you continue to sleep with other people after being married just to see who else was out there?

So I thought about my wife.

            I live with her.  I eat with her.  I laugh with her.  When I hold her, I can bury my face in her hair and breathe her in.  After I kiss her, I can taste her.  I can yell at her.  Cry with her.  Hold her.  Be held by her.  I can do all of these things.  I know her better than anyone on this planet.  Yet she retains her beautiful mystery.  She is her own person- I could tell you about her, but never could I claim to predict her.  Nor could I ever speak like I fully understand her.

            Then it clicked.

            There was no mystery. 

“What would Jesus do?”…Hold on, I’ll tell you- he did it here, on page 743.  There’s your answer.  There’s the scratch to your itch.  Allow me to quench your thirst.  Ahhhh good- now doesn’t that feel better?  No more discomfort.  You can leave here now with another tidbit of knowledge- a better way to live.  And next week I’ll have another.

            If marriages are hard, why does this feel so easy?  So empty.  This is what my relationship with Jesus had become.

            I was waiting for another pill to swallow.  A quick fix- something to bring back the mystery, but for that that, there is no quick cure.  There is only waiting, and listening.  I have been doing this.  During the church services, I pick up some things here and there, but mostly I’m scribbling like mad in my journal.  I sort of… “open the airwaves”, and just write or draw what I see.  That’s what you saw at the beginning of the previous post.  They are some of my most intimate conversations with my Jesus.  I show you them because they aren’t really just mine.  They’re yours too.

 

I’m staring at the screen wondering what else to add to this thing…I don’t know.  I’ll just tell you that things are better now.  I’m eager to go to church. I’m eager to commune with my Jesus.  I’ll share future stuff here too with you all…when I’m prompted.

 

10
Aug
09

Apologies. (part 1)

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I figure I owe you all something good since it’s been so long.  Much has happened- I hope I can do it a little justice. The images above are from a small journal I use to use back in college.  They’re new (the images I mean).  I sort of picked the journal thing back up after some recent events.  It’s less of a discipline and more like a drug…a good drug.

So about a year ago, we had a really busy summer in ministry at the church…oh yeah- I work at a church.  Teach the kids.  They teach me too.  So last summer we had a really busy ministry season.  It’s crazy how infrequently I was attending the actual church service.  (That’s not a good thing).  Aside from the conditions of my employment, many things were being compromised.  I would say the greatest of these things was my approach in communing with Jesus.

            Only two months ago did I realize this. 

            Here I was- Ten years into a church family.  I had established many friendships.  I had been on staff for…5 years now?  The volunteer team I lead (people who I have invested into- people who have invested into me), teach anywhere from 200- 300 children in a weekend.  I was married at this church.  I baptized my wife while at this church.  My two daughters were born into the relationships of this church.  Amazing job- much freedom.

 

It felt weird.  Wrong almost.

Something wasn’t right- Wife was great.  My kids- great.  My church…?

So I started talking to people.  I talked to my department team, I talked to my Dad, I talked to the Senior Pastor, I prayed to Jesus.  At its core, this thing felt like a discontentment.  Mostly with ministry- the glossiness of it.  Programs crept into the space where the Mystery used to be.  I became a critic. (an expert critic)- and I was justified too, because I worked there- I could say things and think things.  I had a list of reasons why the church had failed me.

I was at a fork- and was seriously considering what my life would look like in some other congregation.  And then God used the convicting voice of a friend to switch my perspective.  Somehow in the past year (maybe longer) my relationship with Jesus became very systematic.  I would go to church waiting for the pastor to get to the point.  After reading scripture the first time, reading it again seemed less important because I already “had the gist”.  I was seeking the period at the end of the sentence, but after all of the cliff notes and shortcuts, Jesus wasn’t there.

04
Jun
09

Unison

Unison

I stare out my living room window a lot.  Sometimes I don’t even realize it until my wife shouts at me (lovingly) from the kitchen to see if I’m available to help with the 2 kids, dishes in the sink and dinner on the stove.  Really, I don’t mean to zone out like I do; there’s just something about looking out that window that is…right.

I find myself doing it when I’m with my friends too.  We’ll be talking about the deep spiritual truths of the universe at Starbucks and I’ll get caught in a stare out the window.  I’m not really looking at anything- at least I don’t think I am.  I just like to get lost in my thoughts.  If they’re good thoughts, I’ll stay in them, but if they paint an ugly picture, I’ll usually pull myself away and ask myself if there’s something productive I can do.   Somehow, whatever it is that pulls me to stare out the window has painUnison detailted itself into this painting.  I can’t tell you how or why, but in my opinion, that makes this piece one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever painted.

 

My favorite part is that the birds sing in unison.

23
Mar
09

Coming of Age part 3

It was drugs.  The friends he was with left him there.

 

There’s two ways I can look at this.  The first one I’m most comfortable with.  It’s the one that assures me that I’m arrogant for thinking that I played a role in Aaron’s life large enough to make a difference.  Really.  It was 14 years ago and how many people do you share life with in 14 years?  I know that there must have been people there in the end trying to prevent what happened.  I know this is true.

The second perspective demands acknowledgement that, yes, there was a brief moment in Aaron’s life when I had a chance.  There was a time when I could have done something.  But Jesus, you don’t think about that when you’re 14.  You can only reflect later.

 

When I think of Aaron, I’m back in his living room staring at the pink wetness around his father’s eyes.  I feel small because I know now that what his father was saying was all true.  The mix of love and fear in his voice hoped for any other outcome than the one he’d received.  He loved Aaron so much.  And in that one moment he was asking me to help him protect is beautiful son.

 

 

Sorry Mr. Levett.

 

 

His folks still live in that house and every time I drive by, I look to see if they’re there.  One day, I hope to have the strength to knock on their door to offer my condolences for the loss of their only son. 

Aarons Obituary

23
Mar
09

Coming of Age part 2

Coming of Age

The guys from Stand By Me all grew up.

 

Wil Wheaton (Gordie) had a couple of other movie roles, but is probably most known for his role in Star Trek: The Next Generation as Wesley Crusher.  Today, he does background voices for cartoons and writes quirky novels about his past.  I saw his first book at Hastings a while back and was tempted to pick it up. I didn’t.

 

Corey Feldman (Teddy) was hugely popular in the 80’s and early 90’s.  After the fame waned, he disappeared for a while and his drug addictions were exposed to the nation.  He tried to make a comeback, but it never took and now he’s found on reality television shows.

 

Jerry O’Connel (Vern) lost all the baby fat and ended up with a pretty successful career.  I saw him in Jerry McGuire, but preferred his work in the Sci-Fi series Sliders.

 

River Pheonix (Chris) was landing roles in huge movies, but his life ended early because of an accident that took place while he was under the influence of illegal drugs.

k

 

When I try to associate memories from high school with regret, I find it difficult because kids no nothing of regret.  Not true regret.  When you’re a kid, you do kid things- you drink and try smoking.  You pursue girls unapologetically.  You make mistakes, but you learn from them (hopefully).  The bad stuff that happens- you have to chalk up to life experience.  You live, you learn.  The really bad stuff that happens is harder to brush off.

 

Aaron’s dad called us out into the living room after the sounds of Aaron’s heaving woke his mom up.  The night prior, Aaron and I had been out by the creek drinking- a lot.  After making it back through his window, we passed out on the floor, but Aaron got up early and started vomiting.  It wasn’t a big deal until I heard him crying through the wall.  We found out later that the blood in the vomit came from the ulcers in his stomach.  After we got back from the clinic, Aaron’s dad sat us both down and, with his wife by his side, started his plea for us to see where this would lead.  He was talking to the both of us, but I felt like a lot of it was directed toward me.  See, Aaron had a lot of friends, but I was the only friend that was there before his vices got dangerous.  His dad’s tone told me that they saw me as a sort of “inside guy”, someone who could help look after their son- someone who truly had Aaron’s best interests in mind.  I nodded and apologized for our childishness without really understanding the depth of it.

 

In the following months, Aaron and I would hang out less and less.  The people that he roamed with grew more and more sketchy and while with him, I found myself consuming more and more toxic poisons.  I want to pause here to say that this lifestyle was never appealing to me and it sounds worse than it actually was only because it’s coming from me.  The whole drug scene really wasn’t my thing.  Amongst my peers it was somewhat casual, but nobody forced you if you didn’t want to.  I tasted enough to know it just wasn’t for me- you live you learn.

 

So with differing interests, Aaron and I drifted apart.  He called me every now and then- mostly when he wanted to let me know that he was doing better.  There was one time he called me over to take and destroy his meth pipe-  which I did promptly on the way home from his house.  I was proud of him and things were looking up.

 

The next memory I have about Aaron was a couple of years ago when my Mom told me they found him dead in a local hotel room.