For some years now I have operated under the suspicion that people are lonely most of the time. I may be incorrect, and it would be a pleasant surprise to find the opposite is true. But I tend to hold my supposed rightness about things pretty close, so in any case it will take some convincing. When I sift through the moments in my life where I felt most supported, connected, known or loved by others, or when I participated in such nearness with someone else so they might feel such love, and when I realize the vast number of those moments despite their paradoxical inability to be usefully quantified, it’s unclear to me whether God is nourishing my belief that loneliness is dangerously prevalent and togetherness its cure, or whether He has been thwarting my understanding of reality from the start—or my start, anyway.
I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina. My childhood was surrounded by winding creeks, endless tobacco fields, and those mystical mountains always on the horizon. I could see it all from the car window on my way to school and from the back deck of my parents’ yard. I could see that the world was big and beautiful; it was wide and deep, full of mystery and wonder. But I could see it—from the car, from the deck, from books and movies and photos—only as others went on ahead of me. Read More ›
If you wander through downtown Knoxville on a Wednesday or Saturday morning from May to November, you will likely chance upon the Market Square Farmers’ Market, and what a happy accident it will be. Your eye will feast upon a kaleidoscope of homegrown vegetables. Heirloom tomatoes bejewel the boxes and crates, their variegated skins like the cloud-cover of exotic planets. Peppers of all sizes and colors spill out from baskets, drawing the brave and foolhardy with mythic names like Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Scorpion. Greens of every shade festoon the tables.
I have found through the years, as I am sure many have, that some of my favorite albums are those connected to a live performance. The album itself tells a story, but the subconscious narrative underneath is the memory of what I shared in a room with the artist that first time.
In the spring of 2004, Maroon 5 had just made their somewhat lyrically scandalous splash among college students around the country. When a few friends and I heard they were playing in the gym of a small nearby campus (…the band’s hard work in that era seems to have paid off), we made the trek to see the show.
“What does it mean to be home? Sarah Jane sat on the edge of a cliff asking herself this question as she listened to the wind carry whispers of new places through Juniper Vale. She knew the answer lay beyond the boundaries of her village, so for the last time she said farewell and hopped atop the shell of Senalala, her turtle companion, her place of rest. Together they venture through a world overgrown, searching for a sense of home.”
– from The Traveler’s Tales Through Juniper Vale
At my church, a small processional begins each service. The acolytes walk in holding a processional cross, the Gospel, and some candles. And as the cross passes in procession, it is appropriate to bow. I am relatively new to this, so most of the time, I have taken a tiny bow, almost non-existent. I’m not usually one to make commotion out of my ignorance. I tried to keep the bowing as calm and unnoticeable as possible.
Have you ever tried to cook ten pounds of pasta all at the same time? Add a guest list of thirty people plus two bands of hungry musicians, then imagine trying to cook ten pounds of pasta in water that refuses to boil without experiencing even a pulse of anxiety. Miraculously, the water boils (after you frantically separate the unyielding noodles into three separate pots) and there’s more than enough penne for everyone attending the event, plus extra penne which you later find has melted together at the bottom of the cookware.
I found a dead baby mouse on the bricks of our driveway. I picked it up and looked it over. It was so perfect, as if it were only sleeping. Tens of thousands of soft, little downy hairs lined its body, its muzzle covered in minute whiskers. Delicate little ears and fingers and toes. One of the sweetest little innocent babies of this world, and a true work of art. I contemplated how God could put such care and thought, even tenderness into his creations, only to allow them to fail.
To be truthful, I haven’t learned anything new. It’s been six months on the road so far, and when I take stock of what I’ve become, how I’ve changed, I find myself quite the same.
That’s probably not what you want to hear. It’s not where I thought I would be. We prefer stories of bravery and redemption, intrigue, salvation. And believe me, I would love to tell you about the time I rescued a baby from the jaws of a rabid honey badger while traversing the everglades upon Rusty, my faithful flying unicorn. But I haven’t, and I didn’t, and even after all this time, I find myself largely . . . unchanged.
A very special show is coming to Brentwood, Tennessee on April 11th, called Living Letters. Featuring Broadway actors Juliette and Stephen Trafton, Living Letters presents dynamic, interactive performances that enable audiences to enter imaginatively into the drama of Scripture. This particular show will center around Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
Tomorrow night’s Local Show will be a special one indeed. Instead of the usual songwriters-in-the-round, we will have a Storyteller Night comprised of some of the best storytellers we know. There are still a few tickets left here at the store!
We don’t know exactly how it all went down, but we do know this: Jesus was dead, and then he wasn’t. A battered corpse was stretched out on a slab, and then the heart in the ribcage started beating again. Jesus inhaled and at once the heavy air in the tomb became more than air; it became breath.