There’s poetry of space. And poetry of context. And poetry of memory.
Sitting in the City’s courtroom, where one of my Drug Treatment Court clients reminded me is where the District Attorney’s table is usually placed, I sensed a strong push to remember that holiness shows up in the places we forget to look. And when it shows up, it reminds us that we often look for truth and good gospel news in places that, while religious, are dry and sterile and only shadows of the actual good news. And then there are these other places, where we anticipate the bad news and the emptiness, that we discover the thick and sticky good news that we couldn’t not notice even were that our intention from the beginning.
And in that poetry of space and context and memory, I sit eating a meal and celebrating process and progress with those at all stages of recovery from addiction. Recent drug dealer sitting next to the city mayor. New addition to the Drug Treatment Court program sitting next to the judge that made an offer to seek treatment in lieu of jail.
I find myself sitting next to program participants, grateful for their insight, their courage and the ways they push the truth of the church into my own heart and head through their recovery-minded honesty, acceptance and perseverance.
And the poetry of space and context and memory seems to be ringing louder and louder every time I scan the room. The poetry of people landing themselves in the courtroom after committing a crime in the wake of substance abuse. The poetry of other people, long on the road to recovery linking hands and holding out hope for a future of clarity that seems impossible at that dark time. The poetry of sitting in the very place where you were once sentenced and forced to stare, maybe for the first time, the ugly truth and lies of addiction and powerlessness and unmanageability in the face, now sitting in that very place to celebrate your sobriety and recovery with those ahead of you and those walking in the path left a little more believable in your wake.
And you breath it in deeply because it’s easy to forget when the music isn’t as loud and the poetry isn’t as bold. The day to day and the task to task and the decision to decision doesn’t feel like it’s actually saddling up next to transformation of whole persons with the whole of the good news. For the clients, for the families, for the therapists, for the attorneys, for the judge. The one step at a time mentality feels like it’s actually leading absolutely nowhere.
And then you sit in the room where people were once on trial, convicted of a crime, and watch them now celebrate their newfound strength and resilience, sharing a meal with the ones who made the arrest and the sentence as they cheer for each other.
It’s a sign of the kingdom, no doubt. A sign of the hard work and tested patience of transformation of whole people in communities with the church finding them rather than waiting for them to show up to building. A reminder that we find Christ all over again when we do life with each other because we find him when we look the truths and the lies in the face. The sign of the kingdom stands as a reminder that the presence of the church better be in every crack and cranny of every need in every community before we rest, because there are great opportunities and great stories to be told and great poetry to be created. In our own lives and the lives of those in the margins. Even in the courtroom.
Pine Tree Dr.
Over the last week, there were a few different works of art, all different in style, which reminded me again how much I appreciate the diversity of our histories and stories, and therefore our perspectives and needs to narrate. Nothing crazy, just a few works of art I found stunning.
To think of endless concrete barriers as an opportunity to use childhood memories, illusion, and skill to create a shared asphalt gallery…
To photograph happy and loving families who can quickly put everything they own in front of their homes, and to view them with some sense of envy rather than any sense of pity while taking in the photograph…
To catch a glimpse of a world that from one corner is everyday and from another seems like it’s only from a cartoon, reminding that there is so much more that is so very real than we can even begin to imagine.
Good art. Good perspectives. Good stories.
Mashed together for Monday morning. A Monday Morning Mash.
Click the title or image to see the collection. Post your own in the comments.
Pine Tree Dr.
The weekly mash is back from hibernation. Below lies a collections of links to some of the most fun and innovative sites or ideas I’ve come across this week. Enjoy. And post your own.
1. SIMPLE DRAWINGS
A collection of simple illustrations about everyday things. Brilliant. Whimsical.
2. ONE WORD
When you click go, you have sixty seconds to write stream-of-thought whatever comes to your mind.
3. ALTERED BOOKS
A combination of old book pages and other mediums creating new poetry from the page.
4. BOOK SPINE POETRY
A combination of books spines bearing their titles. Poetry created.
The more I think about it, there is incredible power in a kingdom imagination. Weighted down by constant thoughts of what we could and couldn’t and should and shouldn’t do, our conversations twist and configure to make the kingdom about our own personal pious behavior or lack thereof instead of the whole of redemption and all things new, including our little selves…in the context of the big kingdom.
And this morning, I woke up thinking of the Mad Hatter’s words: There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter. Which luckily I am.
When Mom and Dad would go somewhere and find a little something they thought we would enjoy, whether a bag of coffee or a cd or a book or whatever, they would return and inform us they had brought back “a little happy” … an unrequested, unsolicited, undeserved, unneeded little something that only is a little happy because it hits the spot.
These are my little happys (little happies? who knows…) this morning. Enjoy.
I insist on following Christ with a holy imagination into the kingdom, but even to imagine such a place requires me to be crazy. And luckily I am.
When in Louisville this March, I went to see an art exhibit of Goicolea’s work at the Museum Hotel 21C. The piece above is a photo of his work where a relative of the Cuban American artist has been drawn from a negative rendering of the old photo, then posted on a telephone poll that sits inside the gallery.
I’ve been haunted by the piece ever since, and have been trying to understand myself what is so compelling about it.
With an ancestor’s portrait posted as lost on a telephone poll, it seems as though there is something deeply honest about looking, as if for someone lost, to find out who we are, where we’ve come from and what we are made of. We know that the stories we can remember of our own lives have been incredibly impacting, and we know that our parents share similar stories which have shaped who they are as well, and on and on through a timeline of generations ahead of us, a timeline that will precede after us.
Everyone looking for and finding themselves.
Shaped by the stories of who we are and who those who came before us were.
And we claim the stories of heritage we want attached to us. Stories of hard work and family and ingenuity and generosity and imagination.
And we wrestle against the stories we don’t want attached to us. Stories of racism and illness and greed and selfishness and arrogance.
The folks who check in for help to the psychiatric inpatient unit have been teaching me this last month what it means to grasp both sets of stories as we search for who we are and who we can be in the world. We look at our own lives and the lives of those who have come before us, we take a deep and unjudging breath, and we embrace the stories of hard work and racism and family and illness and ingenuity and greed and generosity and selfishness and imagination and arrogance.
In losing hopes of curating our stories to manipulate who we wanted to be, we find ourselves in the wholeness of who we are.
And in so doing, we are held and found accountable by those who have struggled with stories before us.
The picture below is a triptych of Goicolea’s where he has brought together all the family images from generations past and present, and placed them next to each other in one print. Because of the dates of the compiled photographs, a grandmother might be sitting as a child in her own granddaughter’s lap, blurring the lines of space and time while fortifying the lines of influence.