Sunday, November 16, 2014

On the Injury and Healing of Innocence

So much has been said of the loss of innocence and how it cannot be regained. It is narrated as though a death happened and a new and darker way of being has begun with the prior, lighter and better way gone permanently.

It is our of exposure to the dark, the dirty, or the sinful murder innocence and puts it in the grace forever.

In such a narrative the one who lost the innocence has lost it completely and cannot make claims of innocence any longer. It is as though they are themselves lost forever, permanently stained, and have gone beyond the reach of anything that could redeem them.

I do not believe this narrative. It is a lie.

Innocence is not an all or nothing reality. Exposure to some dark stuff or even experience in the darkness is not some instant death of innocence. Innocence, in my understanding of it, is not easily killed off.

In fact, so long as a person lives, there is innocence. Innocence does not die while the person lives, but instead it can be injured. And anything injured can be healed, attended to, or adjusted to.

We do not walk this earth with or without innocence; we walk this earth with an amount of injury to our innocence.

Is it true that someone cannot unsee what has been seen? Undo what has been done? Unfeel what has been felt? Yes, all of these are true. But that does not equate to a loss of innocence, but rather a relative injury to innocence.

If I believe innocence is lost, there is nothing that can be done. However, if I believe innocence is injured, then the question of healing and way to heal begins to take on significance.

Healing innocence come at believing that innocence is injured, not dead. What comes next is believing in the state of being made in God’s image – an inherent reality.

Spiritual genetics dictates that we have one and only one father. Therefore all are by definition created in God’s image and therefore inherently innocent. It is the injury to innocence that must be addressed, not whether there is any innocence left living.

The next step is to know the injury. I saw this. I did that. I felt this, this and this. Whatever it is must become part of awareness.

The next step to love God and to love others as God would have us love ourselves. Sometimes injuries to innocence stifle loving other people, loving God and loving self.

Another next step is reclaiming healthy innocence. Seeking to be reminded and refreshed as to what innocence is. This can be pursued in so many ways – prayer, reading scripture, simplicity, hospitality and more.

Another thing to do while healing innocence is to heal with others who are healing. Healing our individual innocence with others helps heal our collective innocence.

Innocence is not lost. You are not lost. It is time to heal.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I am not a person by myself

I take my paint
            And my make-up
            And my brains
            And my muscles
            And my avatars
            And my Twitter handle
And I keep telling the world who I am
            Who I want them to know I am
            Who I wish they would believe I am
            Who I hope someone might get fooled and think I am
                        Someone I don’t even believe exists
                                    But seems better than…

Better than that one in the mirror
Because the mirror can get so lonely
            When there is a stranger looking back

I need your love
            I need it directly from you
            I need it indirectly, flowing through people around me

How in Hell am I supposed to know who I am
            In the Hell of isolation?
            In the Hell of apartness?
            In the Hell of all by myselfness?
            In the Hell of secrecy and hiddenness and loneliness

I am not safer by myself;
I am not even a person by myself.

Help me build me in you and in those you put around me 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014



456 pounds of flesh
            In the ICU
            Mounded up on the bed
There was a man hidden in all that flesh
            Covered in hair and scars and moles and skin grafts
Machined up
Tubed up
Wired up
            Like a failed Borg
            Like an experiment
            Like Frankenstein giving it another go
                        Praying for Lightning

Sedated flesh

Organs lining up
One by one
For their chance to check out

A mountain of chest
            In rhythm with machine sighs

Death paced the hall
            More impatient than ever
            Its foul stench oozing in
            Toward Kelly’s desk.
Where she measured life
            In beeps, blinks, and blips
Without grimace or contempt or judgment
            Of the fat man in the ICU
Half naked, squeezed into an oversized bed
            Everything in the world
            Too damn small for him

Kelly rummaged around in her bag of compassion
            Dignity looked like clippers
            Honor looked like a file
            A quick pedicure before Death barges in

A generous and unanxious pause
             Between the violence of life

            And the violence of death

Decorating a Christmas Tree

Decorating a Christmas Trees

Between blatantly intentional
            And helplessly random;
Between concrete fact
            And magically inventive;
            Between true recollections
            And recollections understood as truth,
I hand pick life events
            From the stores of life events
Stacked up in closets
Stuffed under beds
Buried in the backyard
Junk left here by friends
Some events large
Some small
Some just made up
I string them along
Like popcorn and cranberries
Hanging on Grandma’s Christmas tree
And that’s my story

I hang it up on the tree
For all to see
Right next to Aunt Judy’s wooden elf
            A story of her own
And Great Grandma’s handmade tinsel
            A story no one really believes
And this weird glass snowman
            That appears each year,
            But no one knows whose it is

I hang it on the tree
For all to see
            With reruns of War of the Worlds
                        Playing on the radio
            With wall to wall news of wars
Playing on the television
With culture wars songs
                        Playing on an ipod

This is my story
This is my song

Inside of your story

Inside of your song

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We are the flesh

This is a prayer for professors and instructors of MFTs, counselors, psychologists, and anyone involved in the work of teaching and training healers. 
We Are The Flesh

What we find in our hands
Is the tender beginnings
Of the careers of our students
Multiplied by the aches and fears of their clients

And now hundreds, no thousands of lives
Are touched by us
For the touch of our hands goes with them
For the words of our mouths goes with them
For the tone of our voices goes with them
Yes, our voice goes with them
Everything we do becomes context for everything they do

What have you done?
Did you not know we are just humans?
Mere men; mere women; mere flesh
Our flaws can ripple
Just as our successes
Our pathology can be multiplied
Just as our health
Our ugly can be seen
Just as our beauty

And yet it is only flesh that can do this
And for whatever reason
We are the flesh chosen to do this
We are the flesh privileged to do this
We are the flesh that must do this

Humble this flesh
So that humility flows through our students
Strengthen this flesh
So that strength flows through our students
Make courageous this flesh
So that courage flows through our students
Heal this flesh
So that healing flows through our students

Monday, October 20, 2014

Little is the Beginning of Big

You give us little things
Itty bitty things
Seeds, handfuls of seeds,
Sometimes nothing but seeds

When we stand in forests and fields
With hands full of seeds
We will not weep for the smallness of the seeds
We will not despair that everything else is so grown
We will not run away for some better place to be

We are here
We have these
We can do this
We are alive
And ready to be planted
To be aliver

We are not masters
We are untrained
All we ever have to do
Is let go
Of the seeds
Whatever seeds you gave us
And let them go
To the ground
And in little things
You do big things
Little is the beginning of big
We can’t do big all alone
All on our own
All at once
But little is the beginning of big

You give us little things
Itty bitty things
Seeds, handfuls of seeds,
Sometimes nothing but seeds

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jesus Interrupted

Jesus Interrupted

Met a man
Who didn’t believe
In anything at all;
He tried so hard
To get me to join;
Tried to make me feel small;

Met a man
Who surely believed
That he knew it all;
He tried so hard
To get me to join;
Tried to make me feel small;

Winter souls
Summer souls
Freezing and burning souls
Souls like you
Souls like me
Somebody has to set us free.

Met a man
Down on his luck
With a bruise on his soul;
He tried so hard
To soothe his ache
But the world had let him go

Met a man
Who loved his mirror
Didn’t know his own name;
He tried so hard
To be someone
But got swallowed whole by Fame

Winter souls
Summer souls
Freezing and burning souls
Souls like you
Souls like me
Somebody has to set us free.

And their souls cry out
At the fleeting light
Do you want to get lonely
With me tonight?
Take a drink
Tell a lie
Making believe
We’re all alright

Winter souls
Summer souls
Freezing and burning souls
Souls like you
Souls like me
Somebody has to set us free.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

In all humility, I am Superior

You took my breath away,
Far away,
So far away;

Into the wind,
Over the water,
To the horizon,
Plunged down deep -
We are one;

I am in you;
You are in me;

No matter where I've been:
Malibu with a crashing cold surf,
Destin with soft white sand,
Accra with African Palm,
You've always had part of me
They can never hold;

The ships come in
From everywhere
Pushing white foam,
Buoyed impossibly full,
Laden with hope,
And at the Gate,
You let them all in
To tell me another secret,

And I look to you
Like a child looks to giants for wisdom,
A speck on the shore,
Surrounded by the relentless
Wave after wave of wisdom;
So deep;
So vast;
Such mysterious and violent wisdom,

But I am not afraid of you;
Your spray over the rocks
Cools my temper in the hot sun,
Your rhythm on pebbled shore
Teaches my heart how to pound and ease,
Your million water colors
Tell me to feel all my feelings,
Your winter fog wall
Is a shield about me,
Your infinity
Proves there is Infinity;

I want to see you!

But I can wait to see you again,
For you have taught me Temperance,
You have taught me Baptism;
The River will eventually flow to you,
I can wait,
Because it is inevitable,
I will see you again

I am in you;
You are in me.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Maybe it's all prayer

There are times when I cannot pray. I mean really pray. I mean talk with God like I mean it. In those times I do a lot of other things. Sometimes I don't even attempt a prayer. Other times I fall into some rote prayer expression that feels every bit as meaningless as it probably is. There are times when I read Walter Brueggemann's prayers. Sometimes I just get busy doing something that can register as productive or meaningful. Still other times I just sit there like a writer with an extreme case of writer's block. Nope, got nothing. 

I have seen couples at a restuarant unable to utter a word to each other. I watch and wonder what is the depth of their intimacy. I wonder whether they are angry with each other or whether the life has drained from their relationship. I wonder a lot of things and none of them are good. And sometimes my prayer life looks like that couple who can't find a single word to say to each other.

Prayer, what can be a simple conversation, a desperate wail, a deep confiding, an intimate connection, an expression of gratitude, an attentive listening, can also sometimes be a sort of awkward moment, an uncomfortable social situation - it can feel like a blind date mismatch.

I wish for prayer to be easier, more in the flow of my life. I wish for the mere experience of something to fling me automatically into prayer, like the thing that happened that I cannot wait to share and then I do share and turn MY experience into OUR experience. And sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't. I wish the very angst I feel, the joy the bursts within me, the laughter that explodes, the hurt, the hope, the uncertainty, the anxiety, the fear, the optimism, the dreaming, the...I wish everything I think and feel was prayer.

And maybe it is, in some sense. Maybe it's all prayer. Maybe having an intermittent prayer disability is not some new thing or the dashboard light indicating low faith.  Perhaps I am not alone to shoulder the responsibility of prayer. Perhaps...

"...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." - Romans 8:26

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Profound Sadness

A friend's tear brought me back
To innocence,
A boy,
When I believed everything,
Everyone ever said,
Because everyone was every bit good;

One honest tear
Cut like a diamond blade
Through the granite shelf;
Sunlight pierced through
Exposing a
Quivering, formerly safe boysoul,
Confused in a manbody - a broken manworld

So bruised; so scarred;
So beaten up by theology thugs,
Charlatans, Minions, and Monsters,
The Biblically conflicted and confused,
And legions of misguided innocents,
All filling their roles
For perpetuation of abomination,
Dominion accumulation,

One tear bleeding toxins
Of profound sadness;
When someone could have told a boy the truth
But hid it under a bushel instead -
Instead, a tear:
Too honest to abandon truth;
Too broken to risk seeking it;
Too angry to see straight;
Too tired to shake off sadness;
So overwhelmed by the massive soulgaps
Exposed when illusions wore off
Holes so deep they can't be filled for me,

But what about my son?