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Sick on Sunday

March 12, 2006

My sinuses are killing me. Both kids are sick with ear infections; not much sleep to be had for the past several days. It’s hard to swallow and hard to breathe, much less think, much less put a coherent thought together.

Even on the best of days though, writing has always been hard for me. Whenever I take something from inside me and put it before me for reflection, I have been amazed at how much there is to despise, to nitpick, to cringe before, to hide in shame. What begins as a search for life so often becomes a reflection of death, of despair and hopelessness. What a bore.

The only form of writing that held out any hope for my was songwriting, where my OCD tendencies and intense self-criticism could be put to good use. In songwriting you play the same lines over and over again but within a structure of a song there begins to be a rhythm that has a purpose. All the sputtering about with verse/chorus/bridge arrangements results in a song, which is meant to be played over and over again. A song only truly exists while it is being played, in time. Then it’s gone, waiting to be realized again.

What a relief, finally, some years after I became a Christian, to realize that this crying out could be considered prayer, that this repetition in song could be worship. What a relief to find that I do have a story to tell, even if no one else but God wants to hear it. What a privilege, a few years after that, to find that I had a place in the world, if only for a while, at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. There at Hollywood Pres, I was blessed to be able to use my gifts/neuroses for the good of others as a worship leader. Those were great times, my most fertile creative period, and the fact that I was later crushed by the wheels of progress there can not take away the fact that I have a taste of how things are supposed to work.

Now my days are very different with two young children and a mortgage to take care of; very little time to reflect in the way I used to do. Yet other opportunities for God to speak to me have presented themselves in the playfulness and innocence of my children. It’s an amazing transformation. My concerns are now more external, more practical than before. Some days, that’s enough to keep me going.

But now I look inside, and there is something in there that has not been in there before;  a political concern, I guess you would call it. I’m not sure what to make of it. It sometimes troubles me that I have this concern; it sometimes troubles me that I should wish it away. I’m sure it would not be there were it not for the events of 9/11. For somewhere after that day, it became clear to me that there are choices in life, choices that have consequences. Even more, it became all the more clear – and I had known this all along – that the choices available, and the consequences resulting from them, were awful to behold, and beyond controlling.

What I did not anticipate, and what grieves me most, is the alienation that I have experienced from almost all of my friends, Rob Asghar in particular. He probably feels the same way. It’s as if we spent more than a decade speaking in some kind of religious-speak code, only to find we have different keys. I’m at a loss at how to even begin the diaogue that must happen. For today, I lament the fact that cracks seem to have turned into chasms and our culture seems to be fragmenting and collapsing before my eyes.

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