Thursday, December 28, 2006

Far As The Curse Is Found

Last night I had a dream that I was fighting for freedom. My freedom. The theme was unequivocal, but the form in which it took was somewhat strange. I was preparing to go to battle (more like a street fight a la Gangs of New York) with a few friends in the middle of a church sanctuary, which, when we finally marched down the center aisle toward the front right pews, our faces grim and our white knuckles clenched, I discovered to be some strange blend of the First Baptist Church of Buda sanctuary of my childhood as well as the sanctuary of my current home, River Oaks Baptist here in Houston. Standing against us was another motley crew, and despite worshippers scattered throughout the sanctuary, it was obvious that this was our hour, our time to fight, our one chance to determine supremacy.

I awoke just before my cohorts and I came to blows with our adversaries ... My alarm was buzzing incessantly.

We are three days removed from one of the greatest feasts of the year (yes, it is actually a Feast Day, and not simply because our families cook ridiculously-sized meals for us to gorge ourselves upon): the feast of Christmas. It is a time of celebration, a joyous triumph in newness and hope. Though the Christian year officially begins anew at the beginning of Advent, Christmas Day seems the best day to point to as a day to start over. The world has its revelry on New Year's Eve and its hopeful resolutions established on New Year's Day, but is there a better day for a new beginning than the day we celebrate the Incarnation, hope defined with ethereal clarity by the presence of a tiny, newborn child placed in a feeding trough?

It is in this moment, and not on January 1st, when the hope of redemption, the desire to try-yet-again, the desperation to be made new, the anticipation to live right where we have lived so wrong, is found. The reverberations of the Incarnation fall upon us like silent waves, washing us clean without us even knowing it. It is there for us. It gives us courage to begin again... and again... and again. It instills in us a Truth that no matter how lowly are our lives, the Incarnation comes to the lowest of places. As the carol proclaims, "far as the curse is found," the Incarnation reaches that depth.

Inside me is the desire to battle myself, to muster my courage and my passion to a strong enough level that I might do away with my own shortcomings, my own gullibility, my own rebellions, my own dark, dark sins. And it is a losing fight. Had the alarm clock not saved me and had I come to blows in my dream, I believe it would have turned into a nightmare, and I would have found myself weary, bloodied, with nothing solved, no resolution made.

Blessed Incarnate One, come and make me whole. Forgive my waywardness, my craving for deception, and my appetite for darkness. Cleanse me throughout, as far as the curse is found.

Merry Christmas to all my readers...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Voice in the Wilderness

They will come when they realize it. They will come because they need release from it. They will come for this, but it is not release I offer so much as the hard gift of preparation, of expectancy. I stand on the outskirts, the natural wilderness just beyond the concrete one. My feet are ankle-deep in the brown water, my throat is sore from the shouting, and my skin is pricked by the midnight cold. Though I am accustomed to all of this, I do not relish the feelings, but I relinquished my feelings and my comforts and my pride and my shame and my misguided "better" ideas some time ago. It is the only way I can do what I do.

Perhaps they will come tomorrow. Perhaps tomorrow they will realize who they are and where they are - what they are - and they will hear my commotion or hear of it, and they will wander down to this dirty water, to the hoarse shouting man standing in it, and they will listen and ponder and suspect their need for release, and they will gently and timidly touch a toe into the water as if it were white fire, and then step in and wade out, and stand next to me ... and then I tell them I cannot give them release, but only the hard gift of preparation, of expectancy.

But this is what they need. If it is release they seek, they must first step into this water for preparation. They must first understand their need for expectancy. They will desire release - yearn for it - but too many comfortable, prideful others are hocking release in their faces everyday, and such sales pitches are wearing thin. Those vendors have no tremble in their voice, no hoarseness, no bare feet in brown water, nothing but better ideas, and if I know anything, I know there is no better idea than the Idea itself.

Perhaps they will come tomorrow. When they realize it, they will come. And until then, I will continue to cry out, for as much as I am the preparer, I must also be prepared. I also wait with expectancy, for it is this same release I, too, am seeking.