The Stars Look Down

Like the fly on the wheel, who says
“What a lot of dust we’re raising”
Are you under the illusion
That you’re part of this scheme?
Seems like a lifetime ago
You could look with pride
On your world of dreams

What is the meaning of this?
And the stars look down
What are you trying to do?
And the stars look down
Was it something I said
And the stars look down

Like the rat in a maze who says,
“Watch me choose my own direction”
Are you under the illusion
The path is winding your way?
Are you surprised by confusion
When it leads you astray?
Have you lived a lifetime today –
Or do you feel like you just got carried away?

What is the meaning of this?
And the stars look down
What are you trying to do?
And the stars look down
Was it something I said?
And the stars look down
Something you’d like me to do?
And the stars look down

The stars look down

-Rush, The Stars Look Down, from Vapor Trails

Doubt as a Form of Worship

When I was sixteen, I sat on the floor of the hallway in a stranger’s home, back against the wall, next to the Youth Minister, similarly situated. Asking him the hard questions.

He didn’t have any answers, of course, (he was barely older than I was,) but he insisted upon repeating the same handful of questions: “Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? Are you active in Bible-study, both personal and corporate? Have you been baptized? How often do you pray? Have you asked Jesus to answer your questions?”

So on and so forth for about an hour, while all my peers were playing pool and foosball and hanging out in the backyard on the dock over the water and eating chips and pizza.

At age thirteen, I had said the sinner’s prayer and was baptized into my family’s faith. Throughout my junior high and high school career, I spent every Sunday and Wednesday at church. Frequently seeking a compassionate ear. Always asking those same hard questions. Always, always getting the same trite responses to my desperate inquiry. And almost always having my honest doubts dismissed, belittled, rejected.

It got old.

It’s still old. I just try to avoid those scary conversations with true, sincere believers. Especially those of the Protestant persuasion. Well, sort of.

Anyway, I read something encouraging recently (emphasis mine):

Doubt and silence has been written out of the Western view of God.

Protestant and evangelicals not only like to speak about God, they also like to assert about God. Doubt it not a part of our paradigm; thus, when somebody begins to doubt aspects of Christianity, it’s frowned upon, whereas in some Christian traditions – especially Orthodox and in some cases Catholicism – doubt is an accepted form of worship.

Holy Saturday is the Holy Day where doubt and silence is the PROPER POSITION of worship. Holy Saturday is the Holy Day between Good Friday and Easter.  It’s a day when we attempt to understand what the Disciples of Christ were feeling during that dark day of death … the day Jesus was in the tomb.

A day when we try to understand, as the disciples had, the crucifixion WITHOUT the knowledge of the resurrection.  When death and tragedy has cast a dark shadow on life and God, I remember Holy Saturday.

As odd as this sounds, I’ve learned to worship while doubting both God’s existence and the afterlife.

-Caleb Wilde, from Ask a Funeral Director…

Can I Get a Witness?

So many of the people I know (online and in-real-life) are going through major life transitions. Divorce, pregnancy, career changes, crises of faith, cross-country and international moves, so on and so forth. Their lives are turned upside down and inside out.

And in all this confusion and agony and excitement, they’re telling the story. Documenting the change.

And for most of these friends and acquaintances, there’s not much I can do or say (beyond words of encouragement, hugs, and general kindness) that can hasten their journey or even lighten their burden very much.

Sometimes, just being witness to it all – seeing them and their heartache and joy and not looking away or dismissing or minimizing or offering false-comfort – sometimes, that’s all I can offer. And most times, that’s enough.

“See me. Hear me. Know me.”

And to do so acknowledges our oneness in these struggles. We are together, and we are not alone.

Emotional Hangover

Too much time spent
agitating
cogitating
ruminating
agonizing
reliving
regretting
weeping
sobbing
yelling
screaming.

And then someone you love sings you to a fitful sleep. Songs of
mercy
grace
peace
hope
redemption
love.

Love in the face of loss. Mercy in the moment of agony. Peace in a time of turmoil.

A companion in the midst of it all
when you wake up with puffy eyes
when your heart is full of sorrow
when a hummingbird visits a shaded bronze feeder beneath the cedar tree
its furiously beating wings bringing a hazy ray of hope.

Today will be better.

The Joys and Perils of Being an Aunt

I was reading Mr. Lady’s blog tonight, and was completely struck by the painful beauty of her words. Go now and read this.

You’re back? You read it? Good.

Ok. Here goes:

I’m not a mom. These loins have not bought forth life. I’ve not been struck with either the joys or the fears of parenthood, of that terrible vulnerability of watching your heart walk around outside your body with no way to protect or defend it from the real dangers of living.

I do, however, have nine (count ’em) nieces and nephews who have no idea how precious they are to me. No idea whatsoever. Regardless of the words I whisper in their ears, the prayers lifted in the dark to an unseen God, the dreams and hopes for their lives. They could not possibly know any of this.

But it is true.

And, dear God in heaven, how I miss them. Every. Single. Day.

And may they, too, wrap themselves up with big red bows. A present for their aunt, who loves them so.