Tag Archives: remembering

from a long line of rule-breakers


History is marked by those pushing
into uncharted waters
unexamined worlds
and mostly unacceptable arenas
where people who were not to be
allowed
accepted
approved or
appreciated

were asked to
contribute
comprehend
compose and
conspire

against the ways that things are
and toward the way that things should be

in the kingdom
in the beloved community
in the new ecology
of a world and
of a community where
rich and poor
sick and well
like and unlike
loud and quiet
important and ignored

sit together
eat together
serve together
weep together
laugh together
learn together
give together
sing together and
hope together.

And while we are still so far behind
we have moved so far ahead
of where we have been

and only a few moments of remembering
will give us the wisdom and the humility
to pray to God–our only hope–that we will keep moving forward
faster and surer than the ways we are pulled to move backward

and we will remember
in our trepidation and
in our eagerness for
things to stay the same

that we are descendants of a long line
of rule-breakers
of peace-makers
of hope-holders and
of kingdom-bringers.

And now is not the time for stillness.

Amen.

djordan
Pine Tree

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i dusted the picture frame

I dusted the picture frame that sits on my bathroom counter. I think it has been in the same space four or five years.

I would be lying if I said I have dusted it in the last four or five months. I’m sorry, Mom.

But today I dusted that joker. I cleaned, as in scrubbed, that obnoxious tile in the space between the toilet and the wall. I swiffered the heck out of the space between the bottom of the bed in the guest bedrooom and the floor. I found books, the dog’s collars, and chargers to phones that I’ve long stuffed into the drawers that I have no idea what actually hold.

But for some reason, it was the picture frame in today’s cleaning that stood out to me.

I’ve got a buddy coming in from out of town for the week, and so I found my Sunday evening, usually wrapped up in preparing for work, also cleaning the spaces that have long ago moved off the last-minute-cleaning to-do list.

I picked up the picture frame, long abandoned as jobs and times schedules have shifted, and froze for a moment while wiping the dust off the image.

The last two weeks have been unusually weighed heavily with late-night meetings and early-morning conversations, catch-up schedules and bedtime questions about the worthwhileness of the work itself.

And tonight, in dusting off of photos that sit and are looked at daily on the bathroom counter, I remembered, all over again, of how I am changed, and privileged, by the work.

All is worth it. All is unearned. All is prized.

And all is worth a space in the middle of the daily routine, even the bathroom counter space of the daily routine, as a reminder that the world goes not well, but the kingdom comes.

Thanks to the boys in the picture, David and Kevin, for the voice of the gospel that they continue to bear, and to a friend visiting for the week who forces me to clean the tiles and dust the picture and remember.

djordan
Pine Tree

 

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before the day begins and ends

We pass each other like ships in the night.

The most meaningful conversations happen in person, but there’s an ocean in between.

I can point directly back to certain days, times of day, the commons where the walk was, how the sun was, how low the tree limbs were over the sidewalk that brushed my forehead as we walked back home.

I can point directly back to the kitchen counter, the conversation where the truth coming out meant a risk had to be taken, and once taken, the floodgates open. I remember the glasses and the stools and the way I rub my hands through my hair when I can’t think of anything clever or wise or meaningful to say.

And I can point directly back to the table in the restaurant in the airport where the goodbye was looming, and the risk of the sand ticking pushed me through my cowardice to laying out on the table something other than the beer and small talk, but rather laying out the things that had refused to let me go for quite sometime.

But then I got on the plane and flew back across the ocean. Back to work. Back to class. Back to groceries and bills and friends and all the other things we come back to.

Now, like ships in the night, we pass each other. My late-night hour is the twin of his early-morning hour, and across the latitudes we pass usually only a word or two, a prayer or the promise of a prayer. And while the ocean robs two friends of the possibility of walking through that field, sitting on those stools, or leaning over that table, we still know that the other is out there. Moving and knowing. Working and waiting. Watching for signs of the kingdom together.

And we give thanks before the day ends and begins simultaneously.

djordan
Pine Tree

Related Posts | Holy Indeed | The In Between Times

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pain is no measure of his faithfulness

Reflecting one year later on a great deal of change and uncertainty, loss and newness, anger and sadness, knowing and knowing nothing, I’m reminded by a friend tonight of the words below. On the eve of the homicide-loss support group beginning again, and the ways we try to hold the pain of great loss and injury saying both that it should not have been this way and yet somehow hoping God is still faithful, I’m reminded of these words. When I curl up on a couch with a neighbor and hear of wrestling with family and wrestling with heartache and wrestling with what we thought would be versus what actually is, and then wrestling with how to look a neighbor in the face and tell the truth about it all–– and ultimately how we try to make sense of God in it all––I’m reminded of these words.

And more than anything, I’m reminded that I need not push so hard to try to force something meaningless to make sense; to try to force something heartbreaking to be lovely; to try to force a fix on anything that is broken. I can, however, say that the heartache and loss and grieving and wrenching and uncertainty are no measure of his faithfulness. And so we fight not to make sense of it, not to make it prettier or easier to share over a game of bridge or a glass of wine, not to make it a lesson for Sunday School class that ties nicely into felt and boards. Instead, we fight only to manage to open our hands, and open our hearts, and do our best to remain open to what waits ahead. We wrestle to remember that the mess is no measure of his faithfulness.

Especially one year later.

So to my friend, thanks for the reminder.

djordan
Pine Tree

I believe in a blessing I don’t understand 
I’ve seen rain fall on wicked and the just 
Rain is no measure of his faithfulness 
He withholds no good thing from us 
No good thing from us, no good thing from us 

I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain 
That broken find healing in love 
Pain is no measure of his faithfulness 
He withholds no good thing from us 
No good thing from us, no good thing from us 

I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes 
To all that You have for me 

I believe in a fountain that will never dry 
Though I’ve thirsted and didn’t have enough 
Thirst is no measure of his faithfulness 
He withholds no good thing from us 
No good thing from us, no good thing from us 

I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes 
To all that You have for me 

No good thing from us, no good thing from us 
He withholds no good thing from us 

I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes 
To all that You have for me

+ Sara Groves, “Open My Hands” from Invisible Empires

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a world lives in you

It’s surprising, really
the way it rattles the ribcage
and then leaps into the lungs.
missing.
missing and needing.
especially on days like today
the missing and needing arrive
when face to face again.
the miles and miles made it easier
to forget the ways they make up my world
to forget that it was them who began to teach me
who I was
who I was not
what the world could be
what the world actually was
how the kingdom insists on bursting through
how the kingdom waits to be released.

but today, this morning
on the edge of the literal sunrise
on the bumpy, muddy roads
on the way to school
when seeing your faces
and hearing your giggles
and feeling your faces
the way we feel faces when it has been so long

I was reminded that you are a part of me as I carry you inside me

and the only words are thank you
thank you to the kiddos who keep growing
growing in their shrinking sandals
growing in their brilliant brains
growing in my heart as they expand my world
expanding the spaces inside me that
had closed in a little too tightly.

And all is well once again.
And the world grows bigger once again.
And the kingdom protests once again.

djordan
León, Nicaragua

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like fish laid out on the grass | Fahrenheit 451

She made us read it our junior and senior years of high school, Mrs. Kee did. Fahrenheit 451 was one of many other classics that were required of our reading, so we read them like we were supposed to and came up with whatever answers we thought would get us the grade we needed.

And then the book went on the shelves afterward like all the old classics did. This classic from circa 1950, and already forgotten by 2002…much less by 2012.

But ten years later, noticed on those center sections in the bookstores where we pretend we know what we are looking for, I spotted it among the list of high school summer reading. And with Mrs. Kee on my mind these last several months for some reason, I bought the book and read it the whole road trip there and back.

“…hold onto one thought: You’re not important. You’re not anything. Some day the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spitting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us…” 

My biggest notion the entire time I reread this high school assignment was how ignorant we all were as we were asked to read this incredibly important work. And even still, ten years later as I began hearing about “recommended reading lists” and “don’t read lists” and “ask these questions” and “here are your answers” and “too much information will just confuse them” and “only one percent could ever  understand” and “just give them something to hang their hats on” being phrases tossed about as if common leadership protocol, the reason Mrs. Kee assigned the book in the first place became all the more important.

And so did picking it up again ten years later.

The book describes a world of the future, written in the 1950s lest we forget, where entire walls of living rooms were taken up with TV screens and “reality” programming. Earbud headphones were commonplace and firemen burned down houses with intellectual contraband instead of putting out fires.

And a ragtag group huddled in the woods, whose ideas had put them on the street, who reminded each other…

“…hold onto one thought: You’re not important. You’re not anything. Some day the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them…”

I think remembering this book, buried deep in the places we bury most of what we value when we are young––where we bury what it is about encouraging dissent, opinions, opposing views, challenges, diversity, thoughtfulness and disagreement––it is in remembering that the importance of continuing to evaluate the voices we have decided have no value, have no right, are better shut out…it is in noticing what those voices are and what we are afraid of in them that I can follow Bradbury’s words.

And Mrs. Kee’s words.

And the words of those who have come before us, and who have learned before us, the danger is silencing those who speak in opposition of us.

It is in the dialogue that the truth is always found.

djordan
Pine Tree

RELATED POSTS | Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close | Real Life Fiction | Narrowing the Voices

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not drumming alone

“Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.” she said into the camera on her computer.

We were finishing class today, and I had just asked my friend Caroline––skyping in from a patio in the shadow of the great Table Mountain in Cape Town––what advice she would give to my classroom full of students going into the world with the issues of poverty and the church on their minds and hearts.

I was sitting in the front of the classroom which I suddenly regretted as these words came out of her mouth.

“Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”

She went on to elaborate, and my mind floated back to my days in Cape Town last spring almost a year ago. I was in the middle of major transitions where the issues of poverty and the church were becoming issues that meant a world of difference when it came to my job, my income, my church, and my future. I remember sitting, clinging to the future as we now refer to it, scared of what the future held, but knowing there was nowhere to go but into the issues of what it means for the church and its people to worry less about success and more about obedience.

Caroline went on to say to the students, with me sitting in the front of the classroom, “Never give up. You will follow Christ in pursuit of the kingdom, and you will struggle. And you will feel like you are the only one. And you will feel as though you have been beating a drum for a very long time all by yourself and no one is listening, and no one else is beating that kingdom drum…”

Sitting in the front of the classroom, where the students can see me but Caroline cannot, I feel my eyes beginning to well with tears.

“…but you are not the only one beating that drum. And there are others, too, following Christ not into success but into obedience, into the kingdom, who feel as though they are the only ones being champions of justice, and they need to find you as well. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”

My intentions had been for our class to pray for Caroline before we ended the Skype call, but we were not able to.

I caught myself trying to say, “Caroline is a dear friend who has taught me much. And she and other very dear friends have reminded me in times that felt quite lonely that it is worth speaking out for justice and working toward the kingdom…” But that is where the thank you had to end, because my eyes were getting thick with tears at the wrong time.

Another friend spoke today at the community-wide Holy Week noon service. “The time is now,” he said, “to worry less about seeking our own success, and more about seeking the kingdom.”

He also reminds me that I am not drumming alone.

I had a conversation tonight with an elderly gentleman about our small house church joining their older congregation in serving the homeless this summer. He reminded me that I am not drumming alone.

A dear friend once grabbed my shoulder at a time when I needed it more than anything else, he looked me in the eyes, and he said, “You are not alone. There are many of us, and we are seeking the kingdom together.” He reminds me constantly that we are not drumming alone.

Thanks, Caroline, for making me choke up in front of my class.

And thanks for reminding me, and them, that we seek first the kingdom together, and that we are not drumming alone.

djordan
Pine Tree Dr.

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rosa parks | in remembering and in hoping

Rosa Parks | February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005
On thoughts of Black History Month 

Rosa Parks Black History Month

+ “Rosa Parks” from Walter Brueggeman’s Prayers for a Privileged People

djordan
Pine Tree

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