Goodness, goodness. Folks, I cannot stop listening to an album that's six years old. Normally I'm against that kind of thing, I tell folks to go find something new and great, but "Greetings from Michigan" fits so well with this coming season! So I ask you, forgive my hypocrisy.
But now some truly interesting stuff (to me at least): For those of you who don't know, and for those of you who don't care, I just got a full time job. That's right lads and lasses, an honest-to-God job! I'm a Grant Writer here for The Salvation Army. Now I know what you're thinking. "Kyle? A grant writer? With that hair?" But it's true! It is not a fabrication! I am sitting, right now, procrastinating to write this blog post for you!
^This is how I dress for work.^
Man I'm already bored with this post. I can't imagine how you feel. I guess I'll just jump straight to the witty observation I've had planned and we can take it from there.
I think that this job is the perfect "girlfriend job". What's a girlfriend job, you ask? Is it a job for a girlfriend? No, don't be simple. Is is a job that helps me attain a girlfriend? Well I doubt that. Let me explain, quit pitching your ideas. I doubt you'll figure it out. This job is the kind of job you want for when you eventually have a girlfriend. Why? For this one main reason: when she talks about you to her friends, or when you meet her parents, you or she can drop the top notch bomb of: "Oh yeah, of course he has a job. He's a grant writer for The Salvation Army."
Boom. That just blew up all over your skeptical face. Girl, I could buy you a house. Well, in a couple of years. Right now I can afford rent and not worry about it. But I can put away for a house! Heck yes, and then I can buy it for you! Tell that to your mom and dad, rub it in the face of that friend of yours who has terrible taste in boys but doesn't see it for herself and then criticizes anyone you're interested in.
It happens to me way more often than I'd like. I get excited. I think things are going well and I stay confidant, and then something happens that shakes my confidence and nothing is the same. You keep moving, trying to go forward, pretty sure that this is different than any other thing or any other time it has happened, and you know what? Maybe it is different, but it doesn't matter because something happens and you don't know what it is and all of a sudden whatever you had, whatever hope your were grasping on to get obliterated by a single comment or ignored attempt at a connection. All the sudden you're thrown off into some terrible black hole of a place and you wonder what you did wrong, and you can't think of anything, and then only in this stupid terrible place to you begin to make real mistakes. Then everything stops. It all ends and you feel blindsided. Then you throw your hands in the air and you shout out, "never again!" and you listen to angry music and you feel a little better then you realize how sad you are that things didn't work out and you cry a bit and call your mother. Then you shake it off, walk about.
And a little later, it all starts again.
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm looking too far into a pessimistic future. I hope that's the case. If I'm wrong, if this isn't true today, then I'll take this down. But right now? I'm mad, and I'm hurt, and I'm very clearly in the dark and I don't even know if I want to talk any more about it.
I'm sorry that I wrote this, but there is no one around for me to talk to.
My whole life has been on some sort of path, a certain track that I could always depend on. Even if my heart got broken, I lost friends, had to move, or if any other kind of major change happened in my life, I could always depend on one thing: I would have to go back to school, I would have to continue school, I would have to do well in school.
Well school is over. I've graduated. I have this wide open path in front of me, and no one is telling me what direction I have to head towards. It's a scary thought.
And it's only gotten harder. Last week was one of the hardest weeks of my life. What do you do when you feel as though the Lord provided something wonderful for you, only to have it all stripped away? I was presented with opportunities, work that I thought was the right thing for me to do, but in a long, drawn out moment, when time seemed to go stagnant, it dwindled away and I was left directionless. I had no idea what I was going to do to support myself. In fact, only now do I have a strong idea of what I'm going to do, but I'm still left with no clear goal.
My friend Jason told me to read Psalm 56. I needed to see it. Verse 4 says this:
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?
I guess what it is all coming down to is trust. I'm having trouble trusting God. I'm getting better at it, I want you to know that, but I'm still scared in so many areas of my life. I feel vulnerable and safe at the same time, as though... as though I'm wrapped in silk, but so much silk...
I have to learn that His plan is much more elegant than mine. And to be honest, it may include me stumbling, it may include hardships, so that I may grow, so that I may learn to depend on Him. I am desperate for His grace and intervention. I am craving His presence. I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going and I'm scared to death, but I will depend on God's grace.
"Oh the glory that the Lord has made, but He took my shoulders and He shook my face, and He takes, and He takes, and He takes. " (Sufjan Stevens sang that in Casimir Pulaski Day)
I am lost and cold, but I will wrap myself in that silk. I will embrace His tender grace and sleep in its strength. Pray for me. I have yet to completely smother the fear (but maybe I'm not supposed to rid myself of it entirely. That is a different story).
There's a dirty pane of glass between us. I can clean and wash and wipe and rise all I want but it's still sitting there. I grit my teeth and tear my clothes but there is just layer after layer of cloth wrapped around me, like a terribly soft prison. There, in front of me, but suddenly I'm a cotton-mouthed ghost with nothing more to say. I sit suspended in time, haunting an immobile moment and watch as the rest rushes past.
I wipe the sleep from my eyes hoping to shed it like the dreams that brought it, playing unwanted scenarios in my subconscious mind. My most vulnerable moments. My feet are cement, not dipped within it. There is no opportunity for speed.
There's a photo album with empty pages. Fill me, fill me, fill me. I pray.
Here is my wound. Bind it, loose it. See me bleed and watch my face. I will not flinch. I will not flinch for you. You probably have the sutures, but I won't hold my breath. Fill me, fill me, fill me. I pray.
The sky today looked like cotton dipped in liquid coal. I walked home slowly as the smell of waiting rain gathered between the ground and sky. I sat in bed to work. There was a soft pitter patter, like horses in the distance. I opened my door and watched as the wood on my porch darkened under the weight of new water.
Dust turns to cement as rain plops down. You run your finger over a car, banister, or railing and you get a glue that you can use to cement your other rained out memories to the one you're making now. No one speaks. Birds only whisper. The water has the floor and it always says the say thing, only its volume changes. Soft, the little pitter-pat of drops wandering down to the ground, loud smacks as the rain is spit from the sky.
Water can sprinkle onto a bare forearm. It can sit, more welcome than sweat, reminding you that your skin is breathing. It can wander down your arm, past and through invisible hair, leaving a rumor of goosebumps in its cool trail. It can drift down to the ends of your empty hands, hanging onto lonely fingers, never wanting do crash down to the ground. This is the company nature gives.
The mist and clouds and fog and rain and dew wash the grass and roads. Why should your skin seek better? Congealing in the early morning on mailboxes and bicycle seats, reminding us in the quietest hours that we are not as lonely as we think. It is there. It is waiting. It will condense and clean our filthy skin.
Snow freezes in its fall, lingering in the sky and above the ground. All sound gets sucked up, soaked up in the flakes as a hush settles down around your shoulders and nestles up behind your ears daring you to make a sound. I'm too scared to, I don't know about you.
I'm prone to wander. I'm prone to leave the God I love.
But I fight it and I push it back and I remember that the impossible is what makes my life worth living. Life is just the membrane, living is the fruit inside. But sometimes everything I want and feel is soaked up, sucked into the frozen snow. What I know to be true and lovely is broken into thousands of tiny pieces that fit nicely in the cracks of miniscule ice crystals and I wonder if it will ever be warm enough to get them out.
My breath clouds into the black space, light bouncing off the snow on the ground and the snow in the air to cut though my exhale. An elk fades into view. I wonder if he's symbolic. I don't move. He looks around. The stars begin to separate themselves from the snowflakes. The world is coming into view and I can feel love beginning to thaw under my frozen skin and the snow begins to move. It drifts down, leaving my hope and faith lingering in its ghostly shadow, hanging in the air between me and the animal. I breathe. It breathes. Everything is collected in the plumes and I feel my faith begin to take a beautiful, shapeless form. The deer turns and leaves me quickly. I feel the blood rush to my face as my heart begins to beat again.
There's a smell in the early morning, you know. When you crouch down, just after dawn, when you lean into the grass and wait for the rest of the world to catch on that it's daytime, there's a smell in the dew of the grass that is getting your feet wet. All of your feet too, the bottom, the top, the little parts that are tucked away between your toes, the little spots you thought you hid so well. Surprise, the morning is hard to hide from.
Summer mornings. When you're up way before you have to be because the sun is lonely. When everything still feels free even though responsibilities are solidifying as the dew evaporates, but right now don't worry about it. Right now just feel it between your toes.
Something nostalgic. Some kind of English countryside where your mother or your aunt or a family friend read you Beatrix Potter stories and you assumed one day you would live that life. You assumed that one day you would buy a house, find a lover, build a chair that would always feel that way and keep you in a moment in time when the sun was only thinking about setting and only got around to it when the both of you agreed it was most appropriate.
I felt that way too. I feel that way too.
There is a taste in the evening. A certain type of sweetness that is thick in the wandering wind as it curls around your neck and around your face. You wonder if you're in the South, the North, the East or the West and you realize that really you're just in that moment and you better hold on to it and not think about it so darn much. Then you smell the air, and it creeps into your mouth and you taste it, you taste summer evenings and you forget what the winter even feels like and you thank God you're not somewhere like Southern California where you can take this kind of thing for granted.
This must be how people have always lived. With dew like silk settling on the ground, clothing the blades of grass in something you can't buy. With cool air soaking your skin, whispering to you how you'll regret getting that jacket you're thinking about. Don't block it out. This is how people must have always lived. Before ringing and buzzing and blinking and chiming. But with voices and intonation and whispers and laughs that don't need to be written out because you can see their head thrown back with their mouth open wide, and you're laughing too and never looking at your watch because there's a chance— a rather bold temptation— to live with the dew and see the morning. To keep the sun and moon company while others worry about themselves and the lives they wish they had, realizing that if they just opened their eyes— if they just stopped for a moment and opened their eyes they could have the same life as we do.
Ever since I was a little kid, I've wondered if certain things will ever actually come to an end. Gimmicks, story lines, characters, will these things even close? Allow me to give an example. I have often wondered: What if Trix cereal is finally discontinued? Will the add campaign finally allow the rabbit to get those Trix? Will anyone ever finally say, "No more, Star Wars is over, quit adding stuff,"? It sounds silly, but think about it: how would hose kinds of things end? Will all Spider-Man story lines finally wrap up? Blah, blah, it all sounds geeky, but those are just my examples.
This whole idea has changed since the internet. Let me ask you, is there ever a day when you think you will get rid of your facebook account? Think about it. Is there a point when you'll close it down, turn it off? Maybe we'll use it less and less as we get older, but maybe we're a new generation that will keep it up. Now think... one day, we will have had our facebook accounts for years. Five years. Ten years. Twenty years. And the internet will have frozen pictures of us and our friends in progression for the past twenty years. When will we shut them down? Will our kids log onto our accounts and see these progressive photo albums of our teenage and adult lives?
There is a time of the day, it is early, when the light from the sun moves like grey water slipping by under the ice of a frozen stream. Amber light begins to sneak out growing cracks, lifting into the air, causing you to realize that the only thing you have any peace with in this world is with God and it is a comforting and terrifying idea all at once. The inky night knows that it is being erased, washed away by light the color of fruit, and I realize that I am thirsty as I look at it all and realize that in this moment I am not tired. I will be soon, once the day is no longer being born, once I've had that glass of juice, my body will remember that I am tired. Where are you? I'm here, watching the morning. How do you feel? I am at peace, and it scares me. Then you are not at peace, are you? Drink this sky, and try to feel stress. It is impossible. I feel God here in this moment. My knees are shaking. I understand you. I get you. Others say I don't but I do. Swim in this sunrise, and feel joy. Dip your fingers in these colors and wash the contented feeling out of your fingers. You can't and you don't want to. This is the morning. You get me. This is the morning and the light is decided it will stay. This moment will change, but my fingers will stay stained with color, and I'll never get the smell of peace out of my clothes. Not that I would want to.
Oh no. I'm going to get in trouble with this one. Take everything I say with a grain of salt, it's one in the morning after all.
So this is something that I've been thinking about for, well, years to be honest with you. I am sure that all of us have heard the term "God the Father". I'm also sure we've heard plenty of people shaking things up (read that with sarcasm please) by calling God "her" or referring to God as a woman.
Can I throw my hat into the ring? Let's get one thing out of the way: Jesus has a gender. Jesus has a gender because Jesus has a body. He had to be a man (unfortunately) because cultures past and present would not have listened if he were a woman, blah blah. Trust me, men and women are one hundred percent equal in God's eyes. But the main point here is that yes, Jesus has a gender because Jesus has a body.
When I was a little boy, I would make fun of the girls in Sunday School and say that since we are made in God's image, and "boys were made first, the God is totally a boy, duh." Other people, Christians and non Christians alike tend to image God the Father as male, or at least assume that Christians see God as a male. Please allow me to address this.
Can you imagine God walking around? Does he have a beard? A mustache? Some killer biceps? Does he enjoy knitting or playing football? Or maybe the other way around: Is God beautiful? What shade of lipstick does she prefer? Does she prefer dresses or skirts? Is this sounding ridiculous to anyone else? Are we, as people, so ignorant that we believe that that God has some form of biological gender?
That's absurd. It's stupid. It's closed-minded and silly. I think that some people get hung up on the term "God the Father". Yes, it is powerful, it is true, but don't limit the semantics of it. People tend to freak out if anyone ever says "God the Mother," but you know what? Read scripture, it's true too. The truth of the matter is that God is not just the perfect father, God is not just the perfect mother, what it really comes down to is that God is the perfect parent.
God created both man and woman in his image. God contains perfect masculine attributes (whatever those are) and perfect feminine attributes (whatever those are. I don't even pretend to have those answers guys.) Let us not get hung up on the idea that God is one half of anything. He understands us, man, woman, and anyone else because God can relate, God can understand, and because God created us. Don't be afraid or offended if God is referred to as "He" or even "She" unless the speaker honestly believes that something as grand as GOD is limited to physical plumbing. If that's ever the case, well smile and nod to yourself. You know better.
So I've been thinking a lot about masculinity lately. That sounds weird.
Well I'm too lazy to hit the delete key so I'm rolling with it. I think that masculinity is mostly defined by character, you know. Wisdom and the ability to make good choices. An education doesn't hurt either. (Okay, so let me clear this up. I think that having these traits improves upon masculinity. How's that? Does that sound better? So those things are not masculinity in themselves, but having those traits... well I'm about to repeat myself. I hope that's better.) So to sum up, masculinity is really just Atticus Finch. Or Gregory Peck. One and the same. Oh, and John Adams. He was a man's man.
Anyway, I did something that I felt was pretty masculine today. No, it wasn't breaking a moose's neck with my bare hands, though I've done that before.
I fixed a bike!
My friend gave me an old busted up bike for free ninety-nine, and I took it home and looked it over with my roommate Brian. We snapped the rusted chain off with sheer brute strength. We found and adjusted the problems with amazing mechanical dexterity. The next day I found replacement parts and brought them home. And so, spending most of the afternoon on it, we created my new bicycle. It works fantastically!
It is very pretty and red. It felt so good riding it today, knowing that I didn't have some pro fix it, that my friend and I went at it on our own. That I was actually riding the fruit of my labor. I set out to do something and get my hands dirty, and benefited greatly. It is my new favorite thing! I take this space to formally thank Tori, for giving it to me, Steven, for buying the parts with me, and Brian for helping me put it all together.
My bike, she has a name, but you have to ask me what it is in person. Maybe I'll put a picture or two up tomorrow!
Next on my masculinity to-do list is learn to ride a horse, preferably a bareback mustang. Then declare myself an independent nation.
I'm not sure about you, but every once and a while I'm not sure how I "feel." It's not an: "I don't know how I feel about that" kid of thing, like I really just don't know how to describe it even to myself sometimes. Do you ever have that happen to you? It's not even a bad thing! It's not some odd melancholy that stops me in my tracks or anything like that. There are something that are simply hard to describe or explain.
This is where I find music to be absolutely essential in my life. How do I feel right now? I can't explain it, even to myself, but this song feels right at this moment:
I have called your name I've an idea placed in your mind To be a better man. I've made a crown for you, Put it in your room. When the bridegroom comes, There will be noise, there will be glad, And a perfect bed.
Rest in my arms. Sleep in my bed. There's a design to what I did and said.
So I think I blog a lot more when I'm here in Virginia. There are just so many zany differences out here!
Virginia, as it happens, is on the East Coast, and is also in what many consider "the south." I, as it happens, originate from the West Coast, mostly California and Seattle. Out here things are old. Well as old as they get in the U.S. Colonial towns, Civil War cemeteries, etc.
Last night, I watched No Country for Old Men with my family. I've been reading a lot of Cormac McCarthy on top of that. The thing is, his stories, that movie is awfully "American." It American in the same way the wild west is American, adventure in a harsh landscape, horses, guns, all that jazz. But it is such a different "American" than this colonial feel.
I have very little to say. Only that there is such a fascinating, interesting diverse palate of what is American, in culture and ideals. Powdered wigs to cowboy hats, I guess.
I'm going to go fire my pistol in the air and sing the star spangled banner.