Saturday, October 27, 2007

a slurry of jumbled thoughts.

as of late i have been confronted with a slurry of thoughts, tears, realizations, confrontations, questions and hopes.

i have realized that i make decisions in partnership with Guilt.

jake & I bought a motorcycle today. in fact, at this moment he is driving his Suzuki V-Stom home from Minneapolis, MN. We've been putting this idea around for a number of months now. weighing the pros against the cons - setting into motion the ever developing conflict within regarding the stewardship of finances and figuring out what not only what works best for us, but what works best for His Kingdom. in reeling through the demons gawking and babbling in my mind i was given the discovery of that nasty "G" word - the word that keeps so me so often immobilized from objective decision making = Guilt. my affair.

i take short showers (most of the time) because my neighbors in Africa are dying due to lack of water. i don't buy "stuff" anymore not wholly inpart because i don't want to but because I can't bring myself to spend money in such a way when women on the corner of cicero & armitage sell their bodies, their spirits for just enough money to feed their children. widows next door are hungry because our promised social security is not enough for her to live on. because day laborers here in Chicago, IL only receive $50 a day. that's just over $18,000 if they work 365 days, no days off while their wives & children live without the paternal figurehead of their home. because every tues. morning cute messy men comb through our garbage cans looking for wood, cooper, and food.

this is how I believe I have in part trained my brain to practice discernment, conviction, discipline. In part out of empathy, in part out of pain, in part out of hope, at times out of conviction and because Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself. now i have realized in part because of the guilt i feel and experience each day in response to making decisions, both big & small. for some reason, i feel a part of this entire messed up system i guess, and with my decisions i don't want to short change anyone. i'm not sure what balance will find it's way into a lifestyle of mindful comfort or cease the raging unquenchable restlessness that feels so deeply buried within the fibers of my spirit but i somewhat long for the day when i can walk into the corner store to buy a loaf of bread and not think about how much better that money could have been spent of feel like i should give that money, in equal amount, to someone who really needs it.

what i do know is this, i am no different than each and every man and woman i talk with each day either on the street corners, around the neighborhoods or at Garfield Counseling Center. each day i find myself within the presence of beautiful men and women whom i know i am no different from.

i am absolutely no different from Sofia whom uses heroin as means to stitch together the deep sever of loss and grief from loosing her two only children within three months of each other. her son from an accident and her daughter from an aneurysm. her husband left her not long after. she uses because no one has yet given her permission to grieve. she needs, she longs for a friend to rest with. heroin is the perfect choice.

I am absolutely no different from Willy who has two college degrees. one in pharmaceuticals. the other in computer science. diagnosed with cancer six years ago he was forced to quit his job as a phar. sales rep. soon after he found out that he had congestive heart failure. his wife left him. he later began to experience symptoms of depression, one of which is inability to fall asleep. he then began using heroin. it was the only thing that would bring him rest.

Ruby grew up in the projects and in her words, "in a home and community of extreme violence." raped, molested, shot at, tied up, stolen from, pregnant at age 15, two children at age 17, dropped out of h.s. because her mom refused to care for her children, physically, sexually & mentally abused by her common-law husband for 17 years. of coarse she uses heroin. she now has HIV is homeless and lives off Jesus. she loves Jesus. I am absolutely no different from her.

some may question my sanity when they read that i believe that i am no different than Sofia, Willie or Ruby. because let's be honest today - i am different. i was given the tools to be different. my parents raised me in a home and community which was different. i attended a school and a church which opened my eyes to difference. yet - i know, without question or hesitation, that if i were in their situations, growing up within their homes, their communities, their schools and churches, i would have seen no other choice than to deal with loss, pain, guilt, grief or even joy & celebration for that matter, without heroin, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, sex, potato chips or pop/soda. i digress.

so here is to gratitude. gratitude for an education and home where knowledge was nurtured and growth was encouraged. gratitude that despite my unfaithfulness, God has continued to pound His unceasing heart within me. gratitude that despite these demons dancing within - i know they are dancing within a transparent cell of serenity in which guilt can be nurtured and used as a temporary means for growth toward a deeper relationship with Christ, a deeper relationship with my neighbors, my clients and these beautiful radiating children.

pict. 1 - the kids couldn't handle getting their hands dirty and at first were making their way to the sink in between ever hand dip into the pumpkin to clean it's guts out. we stopped this madness after the third or so hand washing. kids these days!
pict. 2 - the final result, this really should be at the end. oh well.
pict. 3 - yummm. a gift form the rents - a handwoven basket from Ghana filled with squash & apples.
pict. 4 - jake & ethan. i think it may not be an exaggeration to say that possibly jake enjoyed gutting the pumpkins at first more than the kids.
pict. 5 - they finally got what it's all about. afterward i spent approx. 15 mins. cleaning pumpkin off the walls, chairs table & floor. we're still finding seed scattered about.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

i got bit by a dog this afternoon.
first time in my life.
oh dogs.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

so. i hear that there are some of you who continue to check in and watch this silly platform we stand on. you've been waiting a long time and nothing has happened. at least you know about jermaine though, and his allergy to chocolate.

yes, we are still here.
yes, we both have full-time employment (jake + 1/2 time).
yes, we are finding ourselves wicked occupied with lovely children and delightful neighbors.
yes, we are enjoying finding people we can do life with.

and because of all of the previously mentioned entertainers of time juggling through the air, no, we have not been writing. evidence provided by the date below in the last up-date.

i have to share with you though - i hate not having written to each of you in so long. i hate the distance of time that has passed since last up-dating you on the happenings not only in our life together but in the lives of our neighbors. john & elena. eddie & nora. pedro & abuela. edgar, eric, giovanni, jeremy, ethan, jermaine, kaylanie, destiny, justin, serina, kayla, stephanie, andre, etc. lani & pablo. grandma & irene. i wish that i would make the time to be more diligent in sharing their lives with you. their lives are worth talking about. much more than mine.

john & elena are doing well. now that summer is fading they aren't outside as much, i really just need to take some time and knock on their door. regardless though, they both claim to be doing well and keeping busy exchanging broken coffee grinders (elena) & trying to stay out of elena's mentally challenged son's path (john).

yesterday eddie spoke with one of the christian missionary girls who come into the inner-city from hammond, IN to "save" people and recruit them to come to their church (one hour on a bus) on sunday mornings. eddie asked one girl if she thought she was a better lover of christ than him because she was part of a congregation on sunday morning and he likes to stay home and watch football. she was silent. he asked if she thought god loved him less because he does not go to church. for all reports, she remained silent. eddie shared with her a fraction of his life and showed her the tattoo he has on his chest of Jesus with text, "only God can judge me." the missionary girl asked for his forgiveness. he accepted. she asked him if he would come to church with her after football season. he shared then basketball season would begin. she inquired about after basketball season. he said yes, in july he will go. we told him we'll be his date. later that afternoon eddie invited us up to his apartment. he wanted to show us something. in his bedroom, with pictures of 3/4 naked girls strewn about the walls, directly before his bed was a shrine set up with crosses, pictures and literature he had been given in prison. the picture alongside adored the center of his sanctuary. he shared how and why he can relate to this picture so deeply. he then led me to his devotional and showed us some verses by which he tries to life his life by. he had made notes & stars, lines & highlights by them all. eddie knew where to find what he was looking for. he had poured over this book daily as all evidence shows. he asked me if i wanted to take his book home to look over it. i told him no thank you, i didn't want to take his book away. he insisted. i asked him if he wanted to take out the sheets of paper inside on which he wrote notes. he said no. i told him i was going to read what he had written. he said that would be okay.

i am sure that eddie loves, trusts & understands the love of Jesus more than I could ever comprehend. I still have to battle the demons within me that tell me if i cuss Jesus is angry.

here is eddie though - ex-convict, 3/4 naked women hanging in his bedroom, street "square" selling, lost, found, redeemed, joyful eddie who gets the love of Jesus, knows scripture and exercises forgiveness consistently.

i hope to become more like eddie i think. aside form the 3/4 naked women hanging up in my bedroom - i think he is most whom Jesus would like for me to be. i think.

ugh - i got carried away. later, more on those mentioned above. until then...