Sunday, January 29, 2012

Can a motorcycle alter your personality?

Riding a motorcycle is a fundamentally solitary experience.

Squeeze the heavy helmet over your head and separate yourself from the world, alone with your thoughts and your adrenaline. Knees wrapped around the gas tank. Thunderous speed at the flick of your wrist. Reaction. Balance. Instinct. Distrust of every other vehicle around you. Isolated. You can ride with other bikes, but you are always alone. And it's wonderful.

Once I was a total people person. Now, I'm part time.

"I've never been so alone and I've never been so alive." Motorcycle Drive By ~ Third Eye Blind

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nicaragua... what moved me.

I would say three things have really moved me during my trips to Nicaragua. The first being the sheer poverty; the lack of anything comfortable, the shacks pieced together from trash, the grandmother never leaving her one-room house because the
stairs are broken. You've all seen the unpleasant pictures from third world countries.

The second, just as stark, is the attitude of most people there: happy. Inexplicably content. Or is it so unexplainable? They have almost nothing, and not in ignorance, they know what they don't have. Make no mistake, they have their share of tragedy and sadness; I watched this grown man cry at the condition in which some children from his church were living. But on the whole, in the midst of the dirt and the sweat, the absence of soap and daily-showered people, there is a laid back, friendly mood which permeates the area. The children laugh and play without care. The adults sit around and chat. And no one is ever in a hurry. And while an industrious skeptic might look and say, "this is why they're still in the third world." I would say "perhaps, but they also have something very valuable that we've lost."

Finally, when I came down the second time to film, I stayed in the house of Paster Earl. He lived right next to the orphanage which was right next to the church. His property consisted of the main house and several small cottages. Some were for long term missionaries and others, like the one I stayed in, for short term stays. The kitchen was the central point of the house with several tables and always at least a few people sitting in there talking. This house was a true Christian Community. People and families living there. Visitors welcomed. Community meal times. Two refrigerators full of bottled water for the taking. Laundry hanging, blowing in the wind. Parrots and dogs running about. And people always coming in and out. This place felt really Christian: Folks living together for the common purpose of serving Christ and each other and the orphans and the church and the rest of the community.

Pastor Earl was a man through whom Christ shone. He moved to Puerto Cabezas from Managua (literally across the country) with his wife and one month old baby. The previous pastor had committed adultery and it took 3 years and some public apologies on radio and TV to the community on behalf of the church before people started trusting Earl and attending his church. Before that, for 2 1/2 to 3 years "If 8 people came, the church was full." What incredible faith! Earl said, "Sometimes I would ask God if He really wanted me here. He would say 'Yes!' and I would say alright!"
I asked him if he was sure that God was calling him and if he was sure - at the time - that God was telling him to stay inspite of years without fruit. He hardly understood the question. Of course he knew God was telling him that. Oh to know with that certainty all the time what God wants you to be doing! He now has a few hundred people in his congregation and a Christian school and orphanage attached.

Earl has a few private rooms upstairs for his wife and kids while the rest of the house is open. There is a gate with a man usually there to let people in, but "Sometimes people are here (come in) and I don't know who they are, and I'm like OK!" I really loved that place. It was bursting with a real, practical, godly love. Earl said I was always welcome back and that he wanted his house to really feel like home for everyone who was there. It did. It was inspiring.

See the video I made of the medical mission team I went down with:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Philippians 4

No poems, essays, or stories this time. Just two verses. These, more than anywhere else in Scripture have given me so much comfort, encouragement, and joy for so few words. Every prepositional phrase, every word has meant something to me at some point in time... thanksgiving... minds... all understanding... Do you have verses like this? Read them. Then read them again.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." NKJ

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." NIV

Take the time to read it really slowly. And thank God for loving you and me more than we can begin to understand.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." NASB

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The imagines

The male flew back to the female, they had made an egg. They were curious indeed but confident: “It shall be as an eagle or a turtle, who start off sealed, “she thought. They guarded the leaf that held their young, not for fear, but from anticipation. The father waited to see new wings, the mother ready to see life begin.

A wiggle and a move, the creature emerged.

Their wings slowed and their thoughts starting beating.

“Where are his wings?” “It looks like a slug.”

It wriggled. They jumped.

“I don’t understand.”

It started eating the leaf.

They had given meaning to flutter as they brandished their colors; the first butterflies danced and played in the breeze. They’d seen flowers spreading in the garden and otters adding to their romps, bears playing with cubs and seals with their pups. As the Father had made them, creatures were creating, each after their own kind.

But now what was this?

“Where is our young?” “This isn’t the way.”

“I will ask.”

Flutter slide and rise, flip and soar and dive, anxious climb and flitter faster, he flew.

“What should be done?”

“Wait,” He said.

“For what?”

“Wait, and see.”

Flutter dip and sputter, glide and sail beyond and under, stop and start and cause to wonder, he returned.



“Ok, well, we’re going to need some more leaves.”

They may have been the prettiest, but no one was comparing. Shimmering blue fading darker towards the edges with light playing shades around their brown bodies. She had gleams of green. They knew nothing except trust. Despair had never graced their insatiable curiosity. The first butterflies watched their very strange young.

“Is it…?”

(There was no thought for dead.)

“Why another egg, must it be born again?”

A wiggle and a move.

Anticipation renewed. Hope un-subdued.

“Can you see?”“What is happening?”

It wriggled. Again.

The creature emerged, morphed into iridescence brilliance. The father stared in joy. The mother in bliss, relieved of her resilience. Their young had grown wings, the light accenting the perfect aberrations. His many feet he had traded for flying. Male and female filled with pride. Imago led the way as the first fluttering family took flight.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I saw a phoenix standing in the rain.
I looked for flames, Where are your (glorious) ashes?
He looked serene as he stared at the ground.
I watched his feathers expectantly. What is he doing?
I waited for an honor that was not mine to see.
500 years doesn't come very often. Are you content?
He took a few steps. I sighed.
He is only looking for food.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

You're a great doctor (a parable)

The man limped into the Doctor's office, knowing he didn't need an appointment. The Doctor came in immediately and looked at him with a mixed expression of warm recognition and familiar sadness. The man's open wounds and oozing sores seemed to pain the Doctor more than the patient. He knelt down and examined the wounds.

"You've been pulling out your stitches, picking your scabs, and burning yourself again. Why do you keep doing this?"
"I don't know. Maybe I'm just used to it. But at least I came to the doctor's office again. That counts for something, right? Thanks for seeing me, you're a great doctor."
"I am. But the last time you came I began to teach you how to live a-"
"Yes, yes I know. I will, someday. And you are awesome, but, I'm kind of in a hurry."

The Doctor started to carefully clean the wounds.

"Yikes! That hurts!"
"Yes, that's what happens when you won't follow My advice. It will hurt a lot more if I don't-"
"Yikes! Ow! Stop it! Don't touch me!"
"You need to trust Me."
"Trust you? Um, sure! I can do that. I do trust you. But I'll be fine, really. I'm feeling better already. You're such a great doctor."
"You have to let Me treat you if you want to be heal-"
"No really I'm fine. You are a great doctor though, I want you to know that."
"I know. Now sit down and-"
"Thank you for being such a great doctor. I'm going to refer all my friends to you."
"Please, you need Me to treat you. You're not living a full, healthy life and-"
"You care about me a lot huh? That's so cool. Well, thanks for being here and for being so awesome."
"You're killing yourself!"
"No, I'm doing real good. Thanks. You are great. I mean really, really great."

With that, the man limped out of the office, grabbed a stack of the Doctor's business cards, and was on his way.

The Doctor sighed. He still loves that man.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Another rambling sentence without a period… if it ends in a question again – which I am beginning to think it might – I’ll have to raise my voice…

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

An august night

Flags forget to flutter, hours before morning
The calm before, nothing more than just a warning
First forks and spears, then spires and bolts
Wind rushes, brushes, wavers and jolts
Trees dance their jig as twig and leaf fly
Rocks shine out bright, given life by the sky
Storm is enraged and rain falls from its bed
Splatter splat drops splash’n dash on ahead
White caps cap waves, crashes and swirls
Leaves litter lawns in whistles and twirls
Lakes look like oceans, frothy with fright
Cabins keep creaking while winds feud’n fight
At last the squall passes, surpassed by the sun
The furious gale ailed by the scent of the dawn

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the cocoon pt.2

He returned to the cocoon, beauty is denied
The warm addictive walls capture the could-be butterfly
Secure he feels afraid, alone he still needs cover
Blind he makes himself, darkness his foe and brother

Spread your wings you fool! Shred your dark fate!
Let hesitance die and for piety’s sake refuse to wait!

At once he broke from his trap, the succulent cell
Upward he flew finally fleeing the chains of hell
Drenched in sunshine wind freshness and life
The hands that pulled him free push him -Oh the light!

Soaring amongst the skies leaving darkness far below
His wings now brandish colors never visible before
Shrouded no more by shadows, self pity left behind
Those hands that freed him have a face, the triumph divine

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bleepin' baseball

Oriole Park at Camden Yards:

Usher: Sir, some other fans have complained about the language you are using. There are kids here, could you please clean it up? Otherwise, I'll have to ask you to leave.

Frank (to Usher): Whatever man.

Frank (to his friend): This is ridiculous. What a stupid rule. I paid to be here. I shouldn’t be told what to say and what not to say. Especially when we’re down by 4 already in the third inning! Come on, what happened to free speech? All speech should be free speech.

Bernard: What?

Frank: Oh come on, you know what I mean. All speech is free speech, ya know, protected under the First Amendment. People wanna censor stuff. Who ever said they could decide what I can say and what I can’t? What gives them the right? Speech is my right!

Bernard: Your ‘right’?

Frank: Yeah. duh.

Bernard: Where are you getting this ‘right’?

Frank: Oh come on, it’s in the Constitution. Everyone knows that.

Bernard: So it’s only your right if you live in the United States?

Frank: You wanna talk about immigration now?

Bernard: No, haha, not tonight. What I meant to ask is whether this ‘right’ comes from the United States government. What about people living before our country was created? Or people living elsewhere in the world?

Frank: I don’t know, I guess so. Yeah. I guess it's everybody's right. And the U.S. especially shouldn’t be censoring people from other countries! That’s even worse!

Bernard: Hm, so you are saying that governments should make sure that their citizens are able to express whatever they want; they should enforce the idea that anything can be expressed?

Frank: Yeah.

Bernard: People that are censoring other people should be censored?

Frank: Um, I guess so.

Bernard: Who has the right to decide to censor people who are censoring other people?

Frank: Huh?

Bernard: Nevermind. Could you hand me your phone?

Frank: Sure, why?

Bernard: I’m going to call the stadium and tell them that a dark blue – wait, what year is your car - Acura Legend is parked outside full of explosives.

Frank: Ha Ha, very funny.

Bernard: Your phone?

Frank: You are so lame.

Bernard: Are you censoring me?

Frank: Oh shut up.

Bernard: Ok, now you are definitely trying to censor me.

Frank: Obviously terrorist threats are a different matter.

Bernard: Ok, well I’d still like to at least call the police.

Frank: And why’s that Bernie?

Bernard: To tell them that you have threatened my life, lit my house on fire, killed my dog, and that you are hiding kilos of marijuana in your attic.

Frank: Outright lies are different, moron.

Bernard: Different than…?

Frank: Well, you just can’t do that. It’s illegal.

Bernard: I thought that was the problem: the government keeping us from saying whatever we want to say.

Frank: Well you shouldn’t say stuff that affects other people.

Bernard: That affects other people?

Frank: I mean you shouldn’t say stuff that affects other people badly.

Bernard: So I shouldn’t be allowed to say anything that hurts people? Like lying to get other people in trouble with the law?

Frank: Yeah exactly. Give me my phone back.

Bernard: Or to ruin their reputation?

Frank: Of course.

Bernard: Or yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater?

Frank: Where do you come up with this stuff? No.

Bernard: Or using racial slurs?

Frank: Uh-huh.

Bernard: Or insults?

Frank: Yeah…

Bernard: Or anything that offends anyone in anyway?

Frank: Well…

Bernard: I’m kind of offended by your response, Frank.

Frank: Oh come on, think about all the offensive religious stuff. Like when those nuts are always trying to tell you how to live your life and how it can really offend people of different beliefs. Now, that shouldn't be allowed. They shouldn’t be able to push that stuff in public places at least. You think the government should pay for stuff like that?

Bernard: You mean like having a Nativity scene on public property or like teaching the Bible as a credible source in public schools or like all those public places that have “God” written on them like monuments and currency? That kind of offensive stuff?

Frank: They’re using everyone’s money to push their beliefs. That ain't right.

Bernard: I see. So, no matter how many people believe something, or just don’t mind it for that matter, it should be abolished from the public square if it offends a single person?

Frank: Religious stuff offends more than just a single person, Bernard.

Bernard: Granted. However, who gets to decide when something should be removed or decide how many offended people it takes to censor something?

Frank: Oh I don’t know.

Bernard: And besides, since every belief probably offends someone, somewhere, should we strip the public of anything that has meaning? Should we abolish all art, all entertainment, all symbols, all speech, all ideas because they just may offend someone?

Frank: Of course not, that's absurd! There's got to be a place to draw the line!

Bernard: Hm, now that's an interesting idea, some kind of standard. Now what could we possibly use as a standard for what's morally acceptable... Just what seems naturally right or wrong? In other words, people's consciences?

Frank: Sounds reasonable.

Bernard: Well, I guess we could start with your Yankees hat.

Frank: Why? Cause you’re a Birds fan?

Bernard: I guarantee that your Yankees hat is offending more people here than when they asked the entire stadium to sing God Bless America.

Frank: Hey man, I’m from Jersey. They’re gonna have to deal. It ain’t coming off.

Bernard: So, even if I'm offended-

Frank: Here you go trying to censor me again. See what I’m talking about?

Bernard: -I still have to be reasonable about it.

Frank: Uh, Yeah, exactly, and you better have a darn good reason for it to mean anything.

Bernard: Ok, so what we're saying here is that we can take that standard for what's morally acceptable that we were talking about earlier and apply it to things in the public square; people should tell the truth and generally try not to offend people, but it's also just as important not to be silenced by those who are unreasonably offended?

Frank: You wanna just watch the game?

Bernard: Sure, how much are we beating your team by now?

Frank: Oh shut up.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Villagers of Le Chambon

From a sign in the Holocaust Museum:

"Between 1941 and 1944, the inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a Protestant village in southern France, helped some 5,000 refugees - including several thousand Jews - escape Nazi persecution.

The pastor of Le Chambon, Andre Trocme, and his wife, Magda Trocme, led the rescue effort. Refugees were hidden in private homes, farms, and boardinghouses. Many Jewish youngsters were hidden in the Maison des Roches, a boardinghouse operated by Andre Trocme's cousin Daniel. Nearby Roman Catholic convents and monasteries also provided shelter.

Beginning in 1943, the villagers helped smuggle refugees to safety across the Swiss border. That same year, German police arrested Daniel Trocme, who died later at the Majdanek concentration camp, in April 1944. Though their actions placed them in grave danger, the rescuers of Le Chambon were resolute, inspired by religious conviction and a sense of moral duty.

Years later, the villagers of Le Chambon refused praise for their deeds. One villager asked: 'How can you call us "good"? We did what had to be done.'"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The problem with Facebook

The biggest danger with Facebook is not in aiding stalkers, but the way in which it affects relationships. There is an incredible amount of personal information available for people to read. I’m not talking about addresses, class schedules, etc, but personal information like a person’s favorite music, their dream vacation, their religious beliefs, their relationship “status,” their goals and aspirations, and whatever else one chooses to share.

This kind of special information, until very recently, was only available by actually getting to know someone. It is the treat, the reward, for spending time with people; starting to understand them, knowing what they want in life, learning what kind of things they like and dislike. This knowledge develops naturally within a relationship with a real context surrounding it.

Your friend doesn’t just like “The Phantom of the Opera” as another item in a list of favorite music. Rather, you know the way they sing along with the songs, how they saw the show on Broadway with crummy seats but loved it anyways, how they got the autographs of some cast members, how you both still laugh and can’t believe that they actually told the actor that they didn’t like “music of the night,” and how you still argue playfully back and forth about whether the movie version or the play version is better.

This is where relationships, where friendships, exist: in context. Having a database of information about a person gives a false sense of familiarity; it gives one aspect of a special relationship without any of the other foundations.

While I don’t think Facebook necessarily hurts solid friendships that already exist, I do think it adds a strange element to acquaintances and friendships that are just getting off the ground. Instead of asking the girl, or even her family, what her favorite color or flowers are, I might be able to just look at her profile.

To be balanced, Facebook has some positive uses as well. Most will point out how it helps people keep in touch. I agree, but I do have to wonder if it diminishes the quality in how people keep in touch. While there are some people I can contact that I may never have heard from again otherwise, there are others who instead of sitting down and actually writing a letter to, I can just click over to their wall and say, “Hey you! Sup?”

Facebook is great for quickly giving and getting information, updating people, and especially for sharing pictures. It is a platform to present ideas, write notes, and advertise your favorite candidates, political views, and opinions. It can save your car bumper and tell the world how you feel about abortion or Bush or Dave Matthews.

However, I have to wonder if the benefits outweigh the costs. Are people becoming more comfortable “friending” someone on Facebook, rather than meeting and getting to know them in real life?

Maybe I’m blowing this way out of proportion, and being a hypocrite at that, but I do think that this is something that should at least be considered. Perhaps there are parts of ourselves we should be more careful with, parts we should save for those actually close to us.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

A June night

Hearing the thunder and the rain
I run outside.
It’s the crazy things that keep us sane

Scrambling inside religiously staying dry
Crazy people.
They’re missing the perfect night for a bike ride

Lightning breaks the clouds cracks the sky
No one watches.
By myself the whole sky is mine

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