I went away alone for a four day writing weekend to make progress on finishing my book, the first one that I’m writing. 60,000 words or so all dripping with life, mine. A view fixed from my eyes at life all around and life all within. Memories resurface bringing great comfort and pain and irreplaceable joy and sadness still. These words piece together only fragments of my life still unfolding like tiny picture scenes positioned carefully to make a bigger picture standing at a distance. And what you begin to notice more than anything else is God. In everything.
My brother died at age eight. Me being five, I didn’t really get it. God. Finding God through fear in high school. My hero dad leaving my mom in the slowest, clumsiest way, God. Off to college lost and drifting, God. Meeting the one who would become the one and the joy and finding involved, God. Defying my odds and yet somehow landing where I always thought I would in ministry as a pastor. God. Family. God. The birth and acceptance of the three greatest treasures in my life. God. Learning to be a father. God. Leaving all to pursue the thinnest of dreams together as a family. God. The death of my wife. God. Life collapsing. God. Holding my daughters breaking in the dust settling. God. Awakening to a new day. God. Finding new life. God. Writing. God. Epilogue to Prologue, ending to (re)beginning, in the most precise redemptive strokes and causing all to meaningfully making sense. God.
Below is an excerpt from a chapter that I am writing. It is not finished. Maybe it never truly will be. As of now, the chapter is tentatively entitled, “A Crumbling Wall”. In writing this chapter, I have a specific vision and imagery guiding the words and their piece together. A wall battered down, eroded by life and circumstance, especially loss and grief, and how these served to rebuild and reform faith and trust stronger and more solid than before.
There was a street performer that I would see most times I visited the French Quarter as a kid. For some reason, he made me think about God. He was a mime in the character of a robot. His movements were odd, mechanical, precise and a bit predictable. Even in the sweltering heat and heavy summer air, he dressed in a full suit painted silver from head to toe. As both natives and tourists passed him by, he never broke character. It may have been his commitment to character or his quirky, precise gestures that caused me to think of God. Then again, it could have been his silence and distance from people moving closely all about him and the way in which his actions and movements were cause for attention, but not direct interaction. And of course, maybe it was the brilliance of his silver skin, suit and hat, that glowed and stood out in the unbelievable heat and humidity of the New Orleans day and how it never affected him that reminded me of God and what I perceived him to be.
Many people are enchanted by God and the thought that He is out there somewhere, somehow holding it all together and keeping the world from tilting too far out of control. Comfortable with the distance yet calling to somewhere in the sky when in need. Some are disillusioned by him and his perceived and felt inactivity in broken and horrific parts of their lives. God exists exactly within the context of your life. It is in the awakening to God as you are, just where you are, that you find him. Or more precisely put, God finds you.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own,t and his own peoplet did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13)