14 April, 2015

State of Normalcy: Freedom from Fear

The night I dreamed that I had an epic street fight with Halle Berry in the parking lot of a 7-11, after which she stole my car just as a chemical-biological terrorist attack rolled in to wipe out me and every other person in sight, I realized that I might have just the slightest fear issues.  (I currently have no issues with Halle Berry.  She would never want my dented Volkswagen, anyway.)

The really bizarre thing, though, is that chemical-biological terrorism is a very real possibility in this place I've come to call home.  So are bomb threats, shootings, political scandal, and blue collar crime.  They're so possible that we've adopted some level of fear as normal, like a background song called "National Paranoia" that has played for so long that you've stopped noticing it.

07 April, 2015

State of Normalcy: Freedom of Acronymed Speech

Something struck me recently as I caught up with an old college friend whom I hadn't seen in three years. It was almost an out-of-body experience; I heard myself describing my job, my commute, and the general experience of life and work in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area with such matter-of-factness. I realized how many things I have come to accept as normal after living and working here for nearly seven years, but that mean nothing to visitors or newcomers. How many words and acronyms have become part of my vocabulary, how many expectations I have adopted about time and systems and resources, how many particular articles of clothing or accessories I'm "supposed" to have in my wardrobe...Some aspects of this adopted normalcy are admirable qualities of DC and its inhabitants/commuters. Some of them are truly ridiculous and could withstand some gentle mocking. So this is where we're headed next on the blog: an exploration of this somewhat precious, somewhat cringe-inducing State of Normalcy.

05 April, 2015

Beggars at the Feast

We come forward to receive something only You could give:
Wine that never sours, a crust that is a feast.
In the pouring out, the tearing up, the falling to our knees
we know that surely as we taste and see,
we have been set free.

We come forward to receive what we do not understand:
a homeless king of heaven serves beggars at the feast.
A final breath ignites a life that never will expire,
a broken body paves our path, and
Your bondage sets us free.

02 April, 2015

Morning Prayer: For What You Have Taken Away

A few years ago I taught at a small Christian school where each day began with a brief devotional time called Morning Prayer.  Over the two weeks leading up to Easter I'm publishing posts derived from devotionals I shared or experiences I had during that year, all having to do with presence and absence, generosity and loss.


(This doesn't technically belong in a series of morning prayers since it regards a dinner-time blessing, but today is Maundy Thursday and so I'm more committed to a theme than to a technicality.)

One winter evening during my year as a teacher one of my co-workers hosted a few of us in his home after school.  Our mission was to make egg rolls from scratch, fry them, and eat them while enjoying each other's company outside of work.  It was an evening of greasy fingers and spicy fluorescent-orange dipping sauce and boisterous laughter, but it's one quiet moment in particular that has stayed lodged in my mind since that night.

We took our seats around the table, mouths watering and poor-teacher-tummies rumbling at the sight of steaming golden rolls.  Our host said a prayer to bless the food, ending it with this: "We thank You, Father, for everything You have given us, and we thank You for everything You have taken away."