Ok -

Been told that my blog is getting a little emo as of late so here's an attempt to fix that. I'll tell you about my drive home Sunday night.

Sunday night, Nicole and I left Portland lateish, after having a blast with Alex & Angela. Drove from Portland to Seattle, I should napped the whole way - I needed it, seeing how I was going to be driving from Seattle to Pullman as soon as we got to Nicole's. I should have napped, but I wanted to drive - why did I want to drive - because I did not want to nap - why did I not want to nap - because I wanted to not waste precious hours sleeping when I could be talking with Nicole.

Finally with a half an hour or so left in the drive I pull over, and let Nicole drive. I get a little sleep, we get to Nicoles place and one of my tires is very flat - twenty minutes and a can of fix-a-flat later I'm on the road - it's late now around 12:30 on a Monday morning. I get a text - I miss my exit, I'm trying to get off the freeway and get turned around - I notice a sound.

I pull over at the nearest gas station.

The nearest gas station is in a very sketch part of town - very sketch.

I get out and belrigerant drunks start being beligerant.

I'm tired - they are in my bubble - I'm trying to look as big and as "let this sleeping dog lie" as possible. They don't get it. I get back in my car - not even going to try to change this tire here. Tell one guy that I will slam the car door on him if he does not move. (Total lie - the handle on that door is held on with one small screw, could not do it even if I wanted to) He tries to scare me - I scare him. Close the door and drive off.

On my very flat tire.

Pull over some distance away and start working on this tire.

Two more gentlemen approach me, only this time they are the cool bums that you want to be friends with and share your sandwhich with and talk about life and their tavels with. They give me some advice, and wish me luck.

Finally around 1:30 I've got the spare on, and head towards Pullman, arriving in town half an hour before work.

Some weekends are longer than others - totally worth every bit - and tireing too!

I might toss some captions on these later but for now. . .


Not knowing what to say . . .

Twice this past week I've seen into the pain of others. Twice I've peered into depths that I have never sounded. Twice I've seen a glimpse - a sobering, fleeting glimpse.

I tried to look pain in the eyes, tried to hold it's gaze. Tried to understand, wanting desperately to understand.

I attended a funeral last Saturday, the funeral of a man who had died suddenly, unexpectedly. He was the father of my mothers sisters husband, my uncles father. My cousins Grandfather.

He was Harold.

I knew him slightly - that is before the funeral.

Arriving by myself and a few minuets late I slipped into the back. No one knew I was coming I was not even sure myself the morning I had arrived. I was in town to visit my best friend for the weekend. Nicole was working so I had the day to myself, and I as I planned my morning I decided to attend the funeral of a man that was loved dearly by people I love dearly.

I sat in the back, listening to my Uncle speak, and as he spoke I was able to begin to know his father. There were about 400 people there by my count, as the service continued I began to cry. In the back, by myself, about a man that I knew but a little.

I am sad that I can not know this man.

Just hearing about his life, and all that he had quietly done, those that he had taken care of and loved as his own. Hearing about his faith, hearing the gospel presented - thur what he did and how he lived.

I would like to be able to be buried like that.

I sat in the back, the last row and watched all 400 people exit, some with moist eyes and smiles, some with stony far off stares, bored small children, and weary friends.

I knew many many people there, people I had known before I had left for college, I talked little and listened much.

And as I listened I got to know Harold better.

I had been there for an hour or so when I got in line to pay my respects to Joy, Harold's wife.

I know Joy a little better than Harold, but not much better.

Pay my respects . . . I don't even know what that means.

I stood in line, making small take with those around me, wondering all the while what I was going to say.

What could I say?

This women a few days ago lost her husband of something like 60 years.

What . . . . do I say?

The gap closes, soon it will be my turn.

Thinking about her past week, trying to imagine what it has been for her, trying to imagine what today has been like, the line of people, of faces that has been going by for the past hour, my throat started to swell, and my chest tightened, rubbing away tears that I felt I had no right to shed I gave Joy a big hug.

I swallowed hard - nothing to say.

She looked at me and said how she had always enjoyed my hugs, I could hear the practiced controlled, detached tone of her voice. I looked this woman in the eyes, tried to say something - looked in her eyes and hugged her again. Immediately she looked down at her feet, looking back at me she asked if I had known what a good man her husband was. The controlled detached tone was gone. She looked my in the eyes, and asked if I knew. Saying nothing I gave her another hug.

She looked at me again, tears in both our eyes now - and she said - yes . . . yes, you know.

I gave her one more hug, and then I left.

I cried in my parked car, I am crying now.

I had not spoken at all during the encounter, and yet somehow she knew what I now know.

What a good man her husband was.

That was Saturday - then came Tuesday.

Tuesday was typical till about 6:30 when Tony walked into my life.

Do you - have you ever had that evening you did not expect?

That evening that you will not forget for a long time?
That evening which leaves you shaken?
That evening where you find yourself examining much?
That evening where you really did not know how it was going to end?

Tony was my Tuesday evening.

He wandered into the church 6'5" and a big solid thick 6'5" at that. There were not may people about - we made eye contact, and that's where everything started. He wanted to pray with me.

Tony is a bum, he's got a nice pack, keeps himself clean, he's really big, and due to his size rather intimidating. We talk - we pray - I spend about an two hours with Tony that night. If you listen you can learn much about someone in two hours.

And I did. I learned much about Tony, and I learned much about myself.

We talked about God, and about good dark beer - about parents, and backpacks, and people.
We talked about life in New Orleans after Katrina. About being raised an orphan. College life. Dead dreams. Dead people. and when I say we talked I mean I listened, that is except for the part about good dark beers, we both got excited and talked about that.

But what started out shallow, went deep fast when I shut up and listened.

There are times when I don't know what to say. . .


I had missed the Gospel

Things bounce around in my head. Ideas that are chewed on, processed for many days, they ramble about in the dimly lit corridors of my mind. I'll be focused at work, I can hold a conversation, but in the quiet moments, on my lunch breaks, or during my walks these ideas are there grinding themselves out.

Let me start at the beginning - a few nights ago, my roommate Karl and I were talking. If you've had roommates and close friends than you've probably had talks like this - at least I hope you have been blessed in this way. It was late, around 1 or so in the morning, so I don't really remember how we got around to listening to Matt Chandler sermons, and I don't really remember what the focus of this particular sermon was about - we listened to several parts of several sermons that night - but one part of this sermon really stood out.

Matt was telling a story about single mom that he knew when he was at college, and how he and some friends had been babysitting for her - they invited her to some church thing, I forget - what it was is not important, the message and his response are what stuck with me. This woman had been having an affair with a married man, at the time this story takes place. It must have been some sort of regular college youth group, cause he said that he did not know what that weeks sermon was going to be about. It was a sex/relationship sermon. Chandler describes it as one of the worst sermons he has ever heard. The preacher started by taking out a rose

~I'll stop here and let you all do what I did when I heard this - go ahead - guess what he's going to do with that rose ~

He praises it's beauty, talks about it, he is speaking to a crowd of about 1000, tosses it into the crowd telling people to pass it around, to smell it, touch it, and look at it.

Now right now, if you've grown up in the church - you know how this sermon will end. You know. You've probably seen it. You may have delivered a very similar sermon yourself. Hearing this story I knew how it would end, how it had to end.

So I sit there, listening to Chandler tell his story, about how the preacher yelled about syphilis, bellowed about clap, and when he was done - asked for his rose back, then holding up this broken, beaten flower, with the petals crushed and falling off. Holding up this rose, yell's at them - "Who would want a rose like this? WHO!?!?"

And up until this point -I had guessed right and was rather proud of myself for being so smart.

But the story, was not, is not over, there is more, and now Chandler is sounding a little passionate, and soon kinda ticked - you can hear that this story still gets under his skin - "It was all I could do" he says, "to stop myself from yelling "JESUS!!! JESUS WANTS THE ROSE!""

Jesus wants the rose.

I had missed the Gospel.

Jesus wants the rose, that has been trampled, Jesus loves the rose, not because of what it had been, not of what because of what it could be. He loves the rose as it is.

As it is.


So all that has been in my head.

Then tonight I had a run in with a young man that I know. You may know the type. Yellow teeth, smells like he has not showered in weeks - trust me I've worked at a Bible Camp for two summers - I know that smell. Rude, loud, abrasive, socially backward - shunned by his peers, angry. A few years ago, I saw this kid, this smelly kid with bad teeth, and a chip on his shoulder, and I thought - he needs a big brother. We played chess, he'd be all cocky, talking smack, and then manfully try really hard not to cry when his mistakes would cost him the game. I'd start with half the pieces, let him win a good portion of the games. He'd make a bad move, and we would talk about it, work the game out in reverse. At 17 he was rash, rude, and needed a lot of healthy attention, and hang out time. I realized just how much, when he got me to come over and work on a bike that he had obliviously broken just to get me to fix it. The more time I spent with him the more I realized that he needed it, and the more time and attention he wanted. I never saw his folks, but I could see that he needed love and tough love at that. The kid was rude. Just rude, in your face rude. I mean close rude talker with his bad BO and fuzzy teeth. It was weird, just weird - how he would want to hang out, act like he hated me, then call me again to hang out. It started to get old. He'd call - I'd be "to busy" - slowly he stopped calling.

Tonight I bumped into him at Starbucks. Quick talk - did not let him know my sister works there - did not want him bothering her. And as I got into my car and drove home - I'm thinking . . .

Jesus wants the rose.

Jesus wants the rose. He wants the broken roses I see. The yellow teeth, the rude, selfish, and smelly kid. Then as I drove down Main Street, I thought of all the people that loved a young, rude, selfish, smelly kid some 20 years ago, all those people that loved me, and it went one step further - it went from me seeing certain people around me as broken roses, broken roses that I need to love as Christ loves. It went further - I saw myself.

I saw and see my pride, my fear, my lack of trust. My self pity, envy, lust and greed. This broken rose has learned to hide his scars well - but there is One that sees all. He knows my heart, knows it far better than I.

and still - Jesus wants the rose.