I will Abide (to the tune of I Will Survive)

I write this song as my initial goodbye.  I have wanted desperately to depart for a long time.  I plan on writing about the process of me leaving, here.  At this time I anticipate a few posts around the events leading up to my decision to stop being a minister, end my Christian faith, and to step away from the church universal.  This song is a playful way to introduce this topic.

 

 

At first, I was vexed, I was horrified.

Kept thinking, I could never live without you by my side.

But then I spent so many years thinking, how you did me wrong.

And I became convinced that I had to move along.

 

 

And so you’re back from Arnold’s Place.

I knocked over your flannelgraph that spawned your frowny face.

I should have repurposed that box.

I should have hid your tacky tape.

I should have known you would guilt me with eternity.

 

 

Go on now, point out my flaws, I’ve tuned you out now.

‘Cause I’m not welcome as I am.

Weren’t you the one, who demanded I tone it down?

Did you think I’d submit? Did you think I’d passively apply?

 

 

Oh, no, not I, I will Abide.

Oh, as long as I know how to serve, I know I’ll feel alive

I’ve got all my life to give, I’ve got all my love to live

And I’ll abide, I will abide, hey, hey.

 

 

It took all the faith I had not to utterly depart.

Kept trying hard to rend the pieces of my heretic’s heart.

And I spent, oh, so many years feeling shame for myself.

I did cry but now I hold my chin up high.

 

 

And you see me, a youthful giving tree.

I’m not the replacement part to your 68 Corvette.

You complain about my dress and demand I carry your legacy.

My bad, I’m saving all my faith for someone who has faith in me.

 

 

Go on now, go, close the door, I’m not interested in your diet gospel.

‘Cause I’m not welcome as I am.

Weren’t you the one, who demanded I tone it down?

Did you think I’d submit? Did you think I’d passively apply?

 

 

Oh, no, not I, I will Abide.

Oh, as long as I know how to serve, I know I’ll feel alive

I’ve got all my life to give, I’ve got all my love to live

And I’ll abide, I will abide, hey, hey.

The Church is my mother.

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The church is my mother.

In an actual, literal way.

She did not ask to be so.

She could never live up to my hopes for her.

She taught me how to color outside the lines.

She gave me the courage to love others.

She nurtured my soul and showed me I was valued.

She came to my banquets and watched me rock the Psalty chorus.

She gave me clothes when I was naked.

She fed me when I was hungry.

When I felt ashamed, she wiped my tears and told me I was loved.

She has gotten ill and is unable to care for herself.

She tries, like hell, to keep her independence.

The small things get ignored.

The small things become big things and her health decreases.

My siblings stop calling, outside of the mandated occasions.

I call her every week.

I endure the conversations about getting married and having kids with a smile and nod.

When she asks for money I give as much as I can.

I listen when she laments about no one visiting her and the woe of friends dying too young.

The house is crumbling around her.

Yet, she insists to stay.

“What if visitors come, who would greet them?”, she says.

She wonders a loud about how her children don’t appreciate the sacrifices she has made for them.

She can’t drive at night anymore.

She worries about the world around her, it is foreign to her.

She wonders where she has gone wrong.

It was not supposed to be like this.

She was faithful.

She did all the right things.

Her heart beats with an almost constant sorrow. She longs for yesterday.

I wipe her tears.

The church is my mother.

She did not ask to be so.

She could never live up to my hopes for her.

Yet, she is still my mother.

And I love her for that.

-THEM-

I go like a bat outta hell.

My mind wanders from here to there.

Trying to out run the silence.

Trying to hide from the stillness.

Hoping to numb my mind.

You stop at an intersection.

I know you are there.

I’ve seen you here countless times.

Your car changes from time to time.

I judge you. I loathe. I have to face you.

If I face you and acknowledge your existence you deny mine. My filthy face and bandaged legs are a reminder that I am not an island. I am not independent. I am paralyzed on the outside begging for a few friends to lower me off the roof.

Try as I may to forget that I am you and you are me.

I sweat at the light.

I pray trying to make you disappear.

I try to master my mind and deny your existence.

Could you really do something other than hoard?

The story behind my sign is it true. What pride I have, is abandoned.

I am now praying for the light to turn green.

I go like a bat outta hell.

My mind wanders from here to there.

Trying to out run the silence.

Trying to hide from the stillness.

Hoping to numb my mind.

You stop at an intersection.

I know you are there.

I’ve seen you here countless times.

Your car changes from time to time.

I judge you. I loathe. I have to face you.

If I face you or reach out to your humanity will you change your ways? You hoard and take more than you need. You justify this with a privilege I do not posses. You did not earn this privilege. You fell in to it. My weather beaten eyes are a reminder that you are not liberated. We are not free from suffering.

Try as I may to forget that I am you and you are me.

I sweat at the light.

I pray trying to make you disappear.

I try to master my mind and deny your existence.

I am now praying for the light to turn green…

-US-

I go like a bat outta hell.

I zip from here to there.

Trying to out run the silence.

Trying to hide from the stillness.

I stop at an intersection.

I know you are there.

I’ve seen you here countless times.

Your sign changes from time to time.

I judge you. I hide. I cannot face you.

If I face you and acknowledge your existence I have to accept that in part you are there on my works. Your filthy face and bandaged legs are a reminder that I am not an island. I am not independent.

Try as I may to forget that I am you and you are me.

I sweat at the light.

I pray trying to make you disappear.

I try to master my mind and deny your existence.

Could you really do something other than hang out on this corner?

The story behind your sign, is it true?

I am now praying for the light to turn green.

I go like a bat outta hell.

I zip from here to there.

Trying to out run the silence.

Trying to hide from the stillness.

I stop at an intersection.

I know you are there.

I’ve seen you here countless times.

Your sign changes from time to time.

I judge you. I hide. I cannot face you.

If I face you or reach out to your humanity I have to change my ways. I hoard and take more than I need. I justify this with the privilege I posses. I did not earn this privilege. I fell in to it. Your weather beaten eyes are a reminder that I am not liberated. I am not free from suffering.

Try as I may to forget that I am you and you are me.

I sweat at the light.

I pray trying to make you disappear.

I try to master my mind and deny your existence.

I am now praying for the light to turn green…

To Quick a Memory

I remember a time when the days seemed long and would never end.

I would ride my bike to the corner market and eat candy bars and play video games.

I admired the big kids and their cool ways. I wished I would grow up and counted my days.

I remember a time when I went to the drive in movies.

We would sit there on my lawn car just outside of the protective stare of my pop. With my brown paper bag full of home made popcorn I shoveled handful’s into my face.

I would try to stay up and finish the last bit…I never could.

I remember a time when I liked a girl.

I would try to talk to her and when I did I would mumble from my face. I hoped she would see that I was skilled in tether ball. I guess that is not an admired skill to a cultured fifth grade girl.

I tried to write a love letter with the gusto of my elaborate eleven year old mind…she never got it. My brothers did.

I remember a time when I would go to the beach and surf all day.

I would paddle out and pretend I was Slater or Garcia. I would return battered, fried, and stoked.

I ate at Neptune’s and smelled the sea and loved every minute.

I remember a time I played with clay.

I would sit for hours molding and shaping it, getting my hands dirty. It was therapy for my soul. The dirtier my hands and cloths got the cleaner my heart and soul became. I would listen till the dead of night my music in a studio built for all.

I relished the nights, the cool air, the glowing pots…I was not the best but I did not care.

I remember a time I sat on a balcony overlooking a thunderstorm on Lake Victoria.

I smoked my cigarette and talked to my wife. Who I did not know. I told her my hearts story and escaped into the show. Magnificent showers dried my eyes, lonely and pleasant.

I went down to dinner and had the finest fish money could get…I was happy and fearless.

I remember a time a sat on my bed in the dorm.

Three years seemed so long. How was I going to do it? I would mourn the days gone and the memories blessed. I met some folks and they were pleasant.

Three years later and I wish it could start all over, unlike that child in the liqueur store playing his games. My days a quick and speed by.

I want to talk to that boy and tell him to calm down and enjoy…all the days blessed to him. To do any other is a grievous sin.

Sisters and brothers I tell you this…today is good, tomorrow I hold hope, but yesterday is what I miss

The Peace of Wild Things [Wendell Berry]

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

I am learning to rest in the grace amongst wild things.

God fill my belly with the bread of life.

Open my eyes to your will.

Fill my heart with your compassion.

Inspire my mind with your wisdom.

Give me the courage to pray for others.

May I no longer fear touching the other.

Come. Come fill our hearts with the peace of wild things.

In the name of Jesus, who is the bearer of all proximity.

AMEN

A Lenten Poem

I exam myself to see where the chinks in my armor are,
I forgot that I don’t have any armor.

I hope that my penance is good this year.
I race in thought to the finish line. I bought a pair of new kicks.

Prayer fills the air. The tax collector pounds upon a well worn chest. It beats fashion a rhythm unlike a symphony and similar to that sound that is made when the garbage collector arrives at 6am on the morning of your unfortunate hang over.

Those pious fasting children of Africa and else where make us all look bad. I must fast better than that. I can give up…

Love flows over the season. Mourners cradle the thoughts of loss and the conviction of gain. Suffering coats the walls of the flesh temples that make up the church. Us and them march in a sing-song of cackles and wailing…only Bob could understand. Yet love works to free us and them stand and watch.

I vow to read the living waters. Only I get washed out. The ink bleeds from the pages and stain my fingertips. My nose itches and now I have a puppy nose.

So I sit under the Bodhi tree. The sun rises and falls. The crowds come and go. The moon blankets the land and reveals the mystery of creation, the misery of life, and the joy of relationship. I sit. I wait. For 40 days I chase the dragon. The dragon will bring truth. It will deliver peace. I wait there under the tree with my eyes closed. Unconscious the Bodhi tree becomes the dragon I chase.

God whopped my ass!

I am annoyed at the mirror of myself.

Painting time on the walls. Only I forgot the second coat.

Restless and weak my will stands still.

Understanding the battle is just over that hill.

I have no time to let that old paint dry.

I claw and scratch to let it go on by.

I draw breath in this hapless shell.

Wondering if I will ever go to hell.

I close my eyes and peek around the corner.

The carnival rides and dunking tank are attractive glitter.

I approach with fear and trepidation.

I grab a ball and throw it as if I was Nolan Ryan.

I hit shit and the ball slows with a thud.

What does this say about my faith?

Jack and shit?

My help shall come.

From that battle over that hill.

I crack my knuckles and wait for the fight.

I sweat and the beads collect at the corners of my mouth across my mustache.

I whip my brow and face and flick the sweat on the floor.

I am exhausted from waiting.

I get up am go looking for that fight.

There was God smoking a Camel and leanin’ on a wall.

Our eyes met and the light stick was tossed as more knuckles cracked.

God said, “ boy you gonna fell this in the mornin’!”

As if I was Sue and God was the one that named me, we fought.

In to the night…cut, slash, and crack.

I got my ass kicked.

But I fought back!

And unlike the man named Sue I did not win.

I lay there tired and restless.

Plannin’ revenge.

God kicked my ass again and I want to get even.

There goes the pompadoured divinity sauntering away.

Turning back to me God says, “Son you I have let you live so you may fight another day.”

Poem 2008!

Good night 2007!
2008 is here.
Welcome.
We begin with hope.
We begin in joy.
We carry sorrow.
We carry anger.

What is in store this year?
When will Jesus come?

We too shall vote in a new leadership.
Will Jesus come then?

Graduations will come and go.
We will leave the nest.
Will Jesus come then?

Is it where and not when?
Fear slathered on the bread of life, like a bologna & cheese sandwich on wonder bread.
Comforting like PB&J.

I want to smile when I see 2008.
I peek my eyes at you and flirt.

In 2008 will Jesus come?
Better yet, where will Jesus be in 2008?

The most deeply penetrating book I have read in years…

A poem by Mother Teresa, found in Come Be My Light.

Farewell

I’m leaving my dear house

And my beloved land

To steamy Bengal go i

To a distant shore.

I’m leaving my old friends

Forsaking family and home

My heart draws me onward

To serve my Christ.

Goodbye, O mother dear

May God be with you all

A higher Power compels me

Toward torrid India.

He ship moves slowly ahead

Cleaving the ocean waves,

As my yes take one last look

At Europe’s dear shores.

Bravely standing on the deck

Joyful, peaceful of mein,

Christ’s happy little one,

His new bride-to-be.

In her hand a cross of iron

On which the Savior hangs,

While her eager soul offers there

Its painful sacrifice.

“Oh God, accept this sacrifice

As a sign of my love,

Help, please, Thy creature

To glorify Thy name!

In return, I only ask of Thee,

O most kind father of us all:

Let me save at least one soul –

One you already know.”

Fine and pure as summer dew

Her soft warm tears begin to flow,

Sealing and sanctifying now

Her painful sacrifice.