Thursday, December 20, 2007
What is true, though, is that this cat is remarkable for his lack of desire to do more than sit and blink and his propensity for vomit.
I woke up the first morning I stayed over here looking forward very much to a warm shower when I pulled back the curtain to reveal a nice pile of barely-digested cat food. Furious, I realized that whoever wrote "That Darn Cat" surely started with a much different and much more profane title for his movie, because no adjective so innocuous could ever be truthfully applied to a cat.
"That F-ing Cat."
Not as catchy.
Anyhoo, I woke up this morning about seven when Jake was jabbing my leg as if it were a punching bag. Then again at eight when a wet nose was probing my face. Ultimately, I woke up with him on my chest.
I don't know if I'll ever own a cat. But then again, this can't be too different from raising a child.
Except the kids probably won't be able to lift themselves up to vomit in the tub.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Two posts ago, I wrote about love and how that is what I want to do. Well, I'm not doing it right.
I have been worried this entire semester about an ex-girlfriend who tells me that she wants us to be friends and then promptly ignores me. Splashed around in this maddening cycle are sporadic periods of anger. I thought we were to be friends! I have been trying.
I keep thinking, especially while at church, how we aren't supposed to even be at the assembly if our brother has something against me. But what can I do? I have tried.
Now the main result of this semester has boiled down to whiny journal entries and a palsying fear of relationships.
No, I'm just not loving right.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I forgot about a final.
That is to say, I thought it was tomorrow. I was SURE, in fact, that it was to be held tomorrow. I even had it written in my planner! But alas, I was sitting in the library when I received a text message from Jacob asking, "R U coming 2 the final?"
I walked there and laughed very hard, as I normally do when I feel the stupidest. I took the test and it happened. Now it is over.
The stupid thing is that I was in the library studying for a final on Wednesday, feeling a little proud for being "on top of things."
Moron moron moron.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
For one, he mentioned that singleness is almost frowned upon in the church. This is true. When a man gets to be about forty or so and is unmarried, people start to talk a little bit. And singles classes are, like Shane intimated, essentially dating services. But it is a time when one can be completely devoted to God for love. Completely promised to him.
And he mentioned that if singleness were celebrated more in the church, people who choose to be so due to being attracted to the same sex would feel less alienated.
Very interesting thoughts.
Another great thing was a quote by Mother Teresa, saying that we cannot do great things, but we can do little things with great love.
All my life I've wanted to change the world. I've wanted to write a book or sing a song or take a photograph that makes people think and changes them and leaves them closer to God. But not just them, but all of their friends and families and pets and etcetera! I've wanted to be able to speak to a crowd and make them laugh and then make them think and make them jealous of my abilities and make them love God.
And so I've waited and waited for my mediocrity to pass.
I'm sorry to say that it has not. I will do no such things.
So I will teach. And be poor. And love.
And so now I just need to learn to love well.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
So. . .I have nothing to say.
School is almost over, and I am glad. Things aren't quite where I'd like them to be by this point, but c'est la vie.
Christmas is upon us.
It makes me feel lovey.
Who will let me love them? LET ME KNOW.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The drive was not so bad and was relatively short. I didn't even use the restroom once on the trip! It's okay to be impressed.
My city has changed. It has left me behind.
I instinctively looked around at all the people when I entered this coffee shop, although my fears were proved true when I recognized not one of the pairs of eyes that were locked on their newspapers, coffee, or loved ones.
Of course, this was a common occurrence even when I lived here, as there are about 700,000 people here, but I think I need something here. I'm looking for some familiar feeling or pair of eyes that will anchor me back to this place that used to be home.
Am I home?
Is there home, anymore?
I used to leave my front door and meet homeless people and fall in love and sing songs and dream about all the potential that I was sure I had. And dream about whom I'd fall in love with. And wonder when she'd get here. And wonder when I could bring her home.
Am I home?
Is there home, anymore?
I would walk down the streets on overcast days like today and fall in love and sing songs and dream. Now I just drive through them. Always on the way to somewhere else to dream of some other time and being there with someone.
I left Arkansas on Friday and kept looking over, half-expecting someone to be in the passenger seat with me on the ride home.
Am I home?
Is there home, anymore?
Louisville used to make me sing of love! Where have all these dirges come from?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Just kidding about the "up yours" part.
Here it is:
The white lanes of the road rushed by him into the dark night like hundreds of bunny rabbits strafing him at high speed. Gordon had lost count of them long ago. His CD player lay by his feet, motionless and useless due to the short lifespan of his overused rechargeable batteries.
Gordon didn't mind the silence; he could use this time to think.
But thinking made him sleepy.
Three tears rose to his eyes as he bemoaned his situation. His cell phone was low on battery and no one was calling anyway.
Gordon needed a miracle.
"God," he prayed. "I am getting sweepy, and I still have a couple of hours left to drive. Please rescue your servant! If you follow through on this, I'll so owe you big time."
He amen-ed the prayer and looked around for a sign that he had been heard. Figuring the billboards were a good place to start a search for signs, he stared intently at invitations to rest well, eat well, spend well. There was nothing obviously divine here, although he was mildly intrigued at the prospect of joining "Midnight Disco, a Gentleman's Club." Sadly (on many levels), Gordan was not technically a gentleman as he was not a landowner.
Running out of options, he turned on the radio to find his Sign. Static-surfing yielded no results until he switched to FM. He stared so hard at the console that the car began to weave about the lonely road. If the lanes had actually been white bunny rabbits, they surely would have been destroyed.
Searching the high end of the spectrum, his hand froze on the dial when the distinctive bass-and-beat of Tag Team's "Woop (There it is)" filled the car.
Three more tears rose in Gordon. Only these were happy tears, like when the grocer gives you too much change in return or when no one notices that you farted at a dinner party.
Gordon was elated.
"Now I know that God exists."
I imagine that you think less of me now.
I'm fine with that.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
As you got if you read the last post on Soka Gakkai Buddhism, I was thoroughly unimpressed with such a set of "beliefs," mainly because it didn't sound like anything besides one big ego trip set to the tune of religion. It is so self-centered and me-based.
Which leads to the response: why is that so wrong?
As long as I've been conscious I've subscribed to a largely pessimistic anthropology. That is to say: man is inherently evil.
Which leads to the response: but why would God make man so? And how does this doctrine (even taken to the extreme of being named "Total Depravity" by Calvinists) take into account God reacting to man's creation with the poignant "It is good"?
Is there room for a positive anthropology in theology? Maybe not the point of Pelagianism (which states that man can practically achieve or earn salvation on his own), but at least not knocking man's nature so much that we can excuse our mistakes as "human nature"? I feel that this perceived characteristic in our nature makes room for a lot of expectations to fail and displaced blame.
Hmm. . .what do you think?
Monday, November 12, 2007
Anyhoo, after the Mosque we went to a Soka Gakkai Buddhist temple, which looked like a post office. We went in and a lady, Barbara, spoke to us for some time. She seemed a little crazy, like someone who had been very hurt by very many people in the past. She mentioned having planned to commit suicide because some things had happened to her, including losing her hair. On her way to kill herself, someone invited her to chant and she felt better, and has kept up with it for twenty years now.
There is nothing but you, according to her. You chant for things and actualize them. You cause them. You don't chant TO anyone; you just chant. You don't chant to contact or tap into anything; you just chant. She spoke of having chanted for things, their not going the way she wanted, but working out better in the end, thus showing that she actualized greater goods that she wasn't even aware of.
Also, there is no evil, but you have your own sense of good through terms of cause-and-effect, and "what works."
It really freaked me out and was completely unappealing. It's just chanting. In Japanese. To a shrine.
I guess that's all I have to say about this, because I dislike it so much. Perhaps I'll write more when I have some free time.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I am feeling a bit better, to be honest.
I was very sad when I woke up and went about my day. I went to the cafeteria and drank coffee and some friends talked to me. Then I left and a friend that I don't know terribly well but love terribly dearly told me that she had seen me from far off and was concerned. It is nice to have someone genuinely care that you are sad. And while telling me about the clinicals she was about to attend to, treating two elderly women with many health problems including Alzheimer's, Elizabeth told me that she would pray for me.
What a beautiful person she is. Even in the middle of a stressful situation, even when worrying that her patients would die under her watch, she would pray for me.
Then Alia, who knows just how wicked I can be and am, hugged me and told me that it hurt to see sadness in my eyes.
Then Mary, who has let me cry like a child on her shoulder before, hugged me and let me cry again.
Then a man who suggested a Grad School for me to go to, Mark Parker, asked what I needed him to pray for. He said, "God bless you" as I left, but he was the blessing he wished for me.
Then I went to a Shantih function with a dear friend, Alicia, and met many of her friends that are now my own, and we all had a wonderful time together.
I am amazed, in short. That anyone could love me at all, much less so many people so dearly. That I have such beautiful people in my life in general. That God would go out of his way to prove me wrong yet again. That I don't mind being wrong. That God would let me complain so much, and answer me. Just like with Jeremiah.
Truly, truly, I am unworthy.
Thank you for your concern, friends. I love you.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I am very, very lonely. More than usual, recently.
If you look at Facebook, you'd get the impression that I am a popular guy. People call me "Mr Popular" and it irritates the crap out of me. They say that I have friends to spare.
Well, they're pretty lousy friends, for the most part.
I remember Freshman year, when I was heartbroken over a girl that I was in love with. I needed to talk, and a friend volunteered to listen. . .while doing a Spanish quiz online. So I poured out my guts and wondered if I should perhaps try to cry a little bit to get more attention than her sporadic glances over and slight head nods. At the end, I felt as if I had not said a word. I felt like a man crying in the woods with no one around, and it made no sound. Okay, that was a stupid analogy. Forget it.
But that is how I feel right now. I hurt inside, and most people don't care. They say stupid things and tell me not to be sad. "Don't be sad" is the stupidest thing to ever say to a sad person.
And on top of it all, I am trying! I am calling people! A select few, at least. But they never pick up! Or call me back. Or care. Is that really so much to ask?
People say I have friends to spare, but it feels more like I have a lot of spare friends.
It took place in a side-room in the library here at Harding (where I work), but the side-room was connected to the second floor of my old church building, back at home. In there, my old youth minister was giving a presentation with the aim of training me and several faceless, nameless bodies to become better youth ministers.
The method of teaching was simple: two projectors were set back-to-back, in order to DOUBLE the amount of information taught. However, this led to a bit of Tennis Neck as my eyes shot from one side of the room to the other, trying to keep up with the lesson. I voiced my frustrations and physical woes, and my youth minister struck me.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Last year it was words, and fears thrown back at me. And shame.
Now it is just shame.
Does this make sense?
I woke up this morning and felt attractive for the first time in quite a while.
I walked and rode my bike and didn't need anyone to look at me.
I read and picked flowers and pressed them in my Bible.
I listened to a song I wrote about a month ago.
Such potential to be impressive!
If only that were the goal.
Does this make sense?
Oh, it doesn't matter, anyhow.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
After leaving the Baha'i temple, we drove to a very large mosque. It was full of people, and the traffic around it was terrible due to the fact that we approached it during the transition time between two prayer services. We disembarked and were gawked at. The people were primarily Pakistani, and many looked at us. No one said a thing.
One man did talk to us, recognizing our confusion. He was Caucasian, as were the majority of us. Pity. He guided us to leave our shoes in a small room full of shelves, and we sat in the back of a large chairless room as people streamed in continuously throughout the entire service, even up to the final seconds of the final prayer.
The Muslims seemed. . .normal. Despite being sadly racially aloof, it was odd seeing men I could have gone to high school with walking in with an unhurried, long-step stride, one hand in pocket and the other flipping shut the cell phone they had just silenced. They went through the prayer rituals as a group, which was lovely. Then we all sat through a "sermon" that could have been presented in any church I've ever been to, save for the mentions of Muhammad and Arabic words used for specific theological terms. It all felt so. . .not strange.
We filed out and got back on the road, but only after a man with a very nice car and with very poor driving skills ran into our van when stubbornly refusing to back out and get a better angle coming into the adjacent parking spot.
Perhaps there's a metaphor for life in that last episode, but I don't see it yet.
Tonight at a Bible study, a guy asked who at the group was a child of missionaries. No hands went up. Preachers, next. One and a half hands went up (she was not dismembered, just indecisive). Elders, a few. Deacons, a WHOLE bunch.
First off, I hope that the order that he used does not betray a hierarchy that many people seem to hold in the importance of those roles. Secondly, I was taken aback for a moment at how many of these very dear and good-hearted people were raised in a house where Jesus was clearly a priority. One guy, Mark, even mentioned how his father was his own biggest encourager, as well as an inspiration to live up to.
My father is not a Christian. He is a wonderful man with such a big heart, but he has never seen the import of "religion," besides being grateful for "what it has done" for other family members.
As soon as I got baptized, I remember how I got to work! I just about wore out my knees asking God to "soften Dad's heart," to "open his eyes/heart/etc.," to "work in him." And I asked Dad to come to church one morning when I was going to read a poem I wrote.
He came, and I daydreamed of his tearful admission that he wanted to be baptized, that he wanted to put his faith in Jesus. And later that night, I couldn't wait and asked him if he wanted to come again the next Sunday.
He told me, with more than a little sadness in his eyes, that it wasn't for him.
But I kept praying.
Now I don't even know if such a prayer is worth the words. I don't think that is how God works, springing into someone's heart and doing all the tidying up and changing without cooperation or even the volition of the man, like Calvinists think.
But I want to pray these words. Because I want God to save my Dad. Because I want him to be in heaven. Because he deserves it more than I could, and yet God would stoop to embrace a mess like me. And, because I am afraid to talk to him and want God to do all the work himself.
Because how could a mess like me show the glory of God?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I miss home.
I am nervous, because the program usually works in concert with graduates of VERY prestigious universities, like Harvard and Yale. I chose a lady from the University of Louisville to write my questions to, not the people listed from Yale. Although I am confident that my grammar and mechanics were impressively pristine, I worried that they would look down on me for going to school in Arkansas. Heck, I do.
I did not say "heck" in my email.
What I want: to be accepted in the program, to go home, to teach, and to serve. Oh, I can't think of anything I want to do with my life more. I can't think of a better use of this life I've been given.
I can't think of much that frightens me more than this not working out.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The first place we went to was a Baha'i temple, the only one in the United States of America. It is a beautiful piece of architecture, planted in the middle of a subdivision. As you walk up to it, the walls are adorned with symbols from several different faiths, representing Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and others (including Zoroastrianism, which surprises me in a way that betrays my subtle bigotry).
We went inside and were warned not to say a word. We sat as two women and a man took turns at the microphone, reading or singing short psalm/hymns. One of them was from the Old Testament Psalms. The service was suddenly over after about ten minutes, and we were herded to a Q&A session.
Our hosts, Jeremy and Samar were pleasant, personable, and cogent. They discussed that their faith is a mixture of the teachings of nine great men, some of them founders of past religions. Baha'i does not replace these old faiths, but rather is the culmination of them.
The strong emphasis on tolerance makes clear why this faith would be considered delivered from God as "THE religion for today." I cannot think of another possible faith that would better match our culture.
Jeremy, our guide, had been a Christian in the past. He said that he found some philosophical questions on the character of God for which he could find no "Christian educators" to answer. So he began to seek elsewhere.
How convicting this is. I am convinced all the more that I must work toward 1 Peter 3:15, being ready to give an answer to those that ask. If I am not ready, others will look until they DO get an answer, even if it isn't the right one.
Oh, to be pluralistic. How much simpler life would be!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"October 22, 2007
Mr. Lucas Emery Matthews:
You are approved to receive a BA in Youth & Family Ministry and a BA in Spanish on May 10, 2008 provided you satisfy all requirements by that date."
I got this email today, telling me that I am on-track to graduate in a few months. In May. In seven months.
I don't know how I feel about this.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I told her I feel like Lazarus.
My youth minister and I are friends again.
MJ and I are friends again.
Meghan and I are friends again.
Kacey is my best friend again.
I am surrounded by resurrection.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
My current paper is on Jewish views on free will and determinism. I was going to include Muslim and Hindu views as well but I am running out of room, which is a first in my paper-writing career.
I was going to write about the paper, but I have had enough of that. Instead, I will write of something happy. My youth minister and I are talking again. Again. That is to say, we've had some bumps in our friendship the past few years. But something has changed in me this past year, and I don't want to be bitter toward anyone. A bitter heart is one of the ugliest things I've seen. And one just yelled at me for quite some time last night. I don't want to be like that.
This blog is boring me. I used to be funny. Really, I did.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I have had a xanga for five? six? years now, and my university has decided to block that site for some reason ("Dating/Personals," which they certainly haven't had a problem with in the past, much less on campus).
I still like to write, and it is nice to have something to look at even when I don't have my notebooks with me.
And this will be good for me. By the slow end of my xanga, all I wrote about was the big thing on my mind: death. My grandfather's death, the death of my relationship with my last girlfriend, and the death of who I thought I was.
There is a sincere hope in my heart that this Blog will host less navel-gazing and self-pity.
So, let's see how it goes, shall we?