and so it is, just like you said it would be

Last night, trying to fall asleep, I was thinking about my kids, the ones that exist only in my imagination and some distant future; in my mind’s eye I had to look straight in the eyes of this little boy* and tell him that yes, he’d done something wrong, but that didn’t mean I didn’t love him, in fact I loved him before he was even born, and I just started crying, because right then, for a brief moment I think I understood how God feels.(*For some reason I imagine having sons, probably because I don’t want to have a daughter like I used to be as a punk teen, which with my luck means that I’ll have a whole houseful of girls. Ha!)

P.S. Appropriately enough, “For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti” just came on while I was writing that. Oh, for more musical serendipity.

and so it is, just like you said it would be

a brief theological statement

Or, #69 on my list of things to do before I die:

For those of you who wonder where I stand
In the whole range of spiritual beliefs
(Although I have the feeling that you know
By now), here is a brief and basic piece,
Put down in blank verse, of the Christian faith,
Which I have called my own for several years.

This, then, my brethren, is what we believe,
The tenets of an ancient holy faith,
Passed down to us from men and women through
Millennia of Christendom: We do
Believe in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Creator, Savior, Comforter—the Three
In One, the Triune God, the Lord, the King
Of glory, crowned in holy majesty.
He has created heav’n and earth, the seas,
And all that lives and breathes and moves within.

And He came down incarnate to this sphere,
In person of our one Lord Jesus Christ,
True God, true man, the mystery we believe;
Conceived within the virgin Mary’s womb.
He suffered under Pilate’s judgment, and
He bled and died to cover all our sin.
And Joseph laid His body in the tomb,
But on the third day He would conquer death
And rise alive, victorious, then ascend
And sit at the right hand of God
The Father. And one day He will yet come
To judge, to rule, to reign, to make things new.

He sent the Holy Spirit to the one
And holy universal church, His bride
And now His body here on earth,
United with the ones who went before,
The ones who are to come, and now the ones
Who are far off and who are near.
And through His perfect life and perfect death
We now have full forgiveness of our sins.
We have been baptized in the triune Name,
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and
One day we will rise like Him from death
And live and reign eternally—amen.

And I could still say more, but then it would
Then venture into areas of debate—
Predestination versus our free will,
End times, the sacraments, the covenants
The role of men and women, and so on—
But what I’ve said before, that statement there
(In case you didn’t know, what I just did
Was paraphrase the old Apostle’s Creed),
Is what we all as Christians still believe
And will believe until the end of time.
To go much further goes into the grey
And nonessential areas—so there.
(Although, here at the end, I will now say
That for my part, Reformed beliefs
Are where I take my stand, but that won’t mean
That I don’t welcome others, too, of course.)

a brief theological statement

one-word song title sestina #1: wanderlust

London, Cape Town, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Portland, Amsterdam–
places I have never been, would go except for the financial liability,
for the job, for the parents, but the voice of wanderlust whispers
to me all the time at the dawn of August,
setting my workday workweek worklife mind wandering
towards the airport, toward the horizon, toward harmony

with the world, with some new community–harmony
I can’t seem to find here, harmony I want to believe Amsterdam
would bring me (not the marijuana, just the wandering
through Dutch streets without thought of liability
or accountability). But I need to settle into Houstonian August,
no need to travel anywhere, not even school, ignoring the whispers

from the voices in my head that say, “Hear the whisper
of the wind that goes where it wishes, its harmony
singing the songs of the planet, and the August
days pushing you toward somewhere as close as New Amsterdam
and far away as the moon”–but no, there’s too much liability
to my bank account and my sanity at risk to go wandering

over the earth’s surface; I have not been cursed like the wandering
Jew to hold her too dearly beneath my feet, so I whisper
back: “You’re too much, you muses of travel, too much of a liability
for the normalcy I have to embrace these days, disharmonious
with the new rhythm of my life–Rome and Sydney and Amsterdam
still to be pursued, but not now, not this August,

not while I still have Texas and can roll down my windows August
Saturdays with Garrison Keillor on the radio while I wander
through the suburbs in search of something better than Amsterdam,
which is to say, contentment. And when I whisper
in the dark to God I have to ask to be given harmony
with the world as I see it standing here, no fear of liability

to what I’m supposed to do, but the waiting makes me liable
to still go a little stir-crazy, especially in the hot August
days thinking of Scotland 60 degree highs, but now I sing harmony
to the stereo, and let my memory start to wander
towards places I have never been, let the muses whisper
one more time of Rio and Berlin, and yes, even Amsterdam,

before I shut off the radio (Coldplay, “Amsterdam”) and whisper
sweet to the horizon, “One day I’ll hear your harmony, but now I’m liable
to wander in my mind and my hometown alone this August.”

one-word song title sestina #1: wanderlust

t13

This week: 13 favorite actors and actresses.

1. John Cusack.

2. Katharine Hepburn (RIP).

3. Paul Bettany (I think he’s vastly underrated–terrific actor).

4. Reese Witherspoon.

5. Russell Crowe.

6. Meryl Streep.

7. Matt Damon.

8. Rachel Weiss.

9. Hugh Jackman (yum).

10. Virginia Madsden.

11. Denzel Washington.

12. Julia Stiles.

13. Don Cheadle.

t13

wait.

Put me in a line, a really long one, like the one at the DPS or for returning Christmas gifts, and I’ll do fine. Put me in the middle of life, on the other hand, like the one my skin and bones currently occupy, and I don’t know if I necessarily do so well.

I’ve been out of college for a little over two months now, working retail, living with my parents, driving a borrowed car, waiting to get on to the next stage of my life. It’s much better than being a punk teen again (I wish I could tell my eighteen-year-old self no, don’t go to the prom), but there’s a sense in which I feel as though someone has put me on a treadmill in front of a picture out of a Roadrunner cartoon—if I can just move forward, I’ll be able to go through. And so I run. I run until my legs fall off, waiting until I can touch that light on the end of the tunnel, even though I subconsciously fear that if I do finally reach that horizon, I’ll smack my face on the painted brick wall. And yet I’m supposed to trust that that won’t happen.

Hope and faith are the burden of waiting we have to carry, this unreal expectation that yes, we will carry on, the world will be better. And yet Paul says that if we wait, we wait with patience—such a contradiction, and all the more difficult as a result. My waiting is nothing compared to that of the planets’—“All creation groans, awaiting our redemption as sons.” At least I haven’t been reduced to groans yet. Tears, yes. But groans, no. Not yet. The weight of it isn’t so heavy on me yet. I wait for a future; creation waits for God. Maybe I should follow its lead.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits
Like watchmen wait for the morning,
Like watchmen wait for the morning.

I’ve always been terribly aware of time, to the point that I can’t wear a watch or else I’ll be looking at it every moment. This is why, of course, the liturgical year appeals to me so much; it’s a marker of time, a chronological standing stone that makes me remember Jesus.

Right now we’re in the middle of what is traditionally called Ordinary Time—so called because the Sundays are called by their ordinal numbers, e.g. the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, what have you. But it’s also ordinary in the sense that no major church holidays are going on, at least not in Protestantism; we’re not celebrating Jesus’ birth or death or resurrection right now, but rather the everyday life of the church. The fact that this is the longest season of the church year says something, I think. This is where we live our lives, the normal and the ordinary, alternating with the briefer periods of bursting celebration.

Most of us don’t like to think about this; most of us want to seek out the bigger moments like all those Bible fellows had on mountains and in battlefields, forgetting that the rest of the time Moses had to carry an entire country on his back through a desert for forty years, that David had his sin breaking his bones for most of his adult life. And so it is with us. It’s heavy, this waiting for Jesus to come and make things right, make us right. But His yoke is easy; His burden is light. In the end, we all carry the weight of glory; everything else is extra baggage.

At the end of our ordinary days, Emmanuel will come. Until then, we wait, and we groan.

wait.