Hope…

It’s #2 sons 14th birthday today – tomorrow, early in the a.m. he & I are off to San Francisco for a one-day speed tour of the City. We’re going to AT &T Park for a tour; to Ghirardelli Square for some chocolate & na-nas; to Pier 39 for… Pier 39. And maybe the Hard Rock Cafe. And then we’re off to the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. Why a hospital?

#2 son has been asking a lot of questions about my brother Johnny – wanting to know him, reconstruct his likes/dislikes, experience the personality of the one uncle that he knows only through pictures, a few home videos, & the stories of those who knew him. A part of Johnny’s story involves his battle with cancer – & UCSF is where almost 5% of his life was lived – for treatment, recovery, & the like. And #2 son wants to know this place – & as difficult as it is for me to go there, with the painful memories, sorrow, & loss… we’re going.


Makes me feel a bit pensive – leaves me wondering, examining how I see the world, or how I view it. The lens through which I see it, a lens that I believe I am responsible for putting on/taking off. Watching the news, checking in with Drudge, hearing story after story of the dismal economy, holiday season layoffs, record high home foreclosures, equally high number of bankruptcies, & a war in the Middle East that just doesn’t seem to get any closer to resolution… a lens of ‘reality’… reminds me that I want to, I need to choose something different.

I don’t want to choose negativity, to speak words of ‘reality,’ death, nitpickiness, complaint, slander, criticism, harshness, destruction – over & about me or others. I think that I’m finding that a person will find just what it is that is looked for. And if my lens is negative, down, destructive, ‘reality based,’ I will find those things – & think on them. Talk about them. Spread the cloud of negativity like a flu-virus in the wintertime spreads.

I’m challenged to take on a new lens, one that almost feels forced, like a new pair of glasses that have never been worn, all the while knowing that the new glasses are the right prescription, & they fit like they should – but I’m so used to ill-fitting, poorly prescribed glasses that the real deal, the good ones don’t seem right. Its upside down, & I want to be right side up.

The new lens is to look to enjoy life’s relationships – rather than to pick them apart as inadequate, to place blame where its due -instead to be a radical extender of grace, esp. where it’s not ‘deserved’… as if I have deserved it ever? To look for joy instead of sorrow – to hope & to be filled with hope, even when the ‘track record’ tells me otherwise. To have faith, to believe against all odds that the One I serve really is able to move mountains. To perform what He says. To rescue. To deliverer. To transform.

Maybe this makes me an optimist. A deny-er of so-called reality… So be it. And my answer to you is:

Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia…. [W]e’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Puddleglum – The Silver Chair, from The Chronicles of Narnia

Here’s to looking for Overland.

Mickey

My brother, Johnny, was something of an artist – & the thing that we all wanted him to draw for us was his “Mickey Mouse” – just Mickey’s head. He’d sign the bottom of the picture with a flourish… we had tons of them.

Maybe it was because Disneyland is/was such a happy memory for all of us – one of our favorite places on earth to go together & spend time & build shared memories. Perhaps it was the Mickey Mouse pancakes that we ate at the River Belle Terrace… (which, by the way, my dad could make better & more of, for cheaper… :)

When Johnny got sick, drawing Mickey was a miniature vacation, I think, for him & for us. Throughout the illness & treatment, Mickey (along with baseball cards,) remained a way to escape the reality of what was going on, if just for a few minutes.


Here I am 18 years after his death, missing him. I regret that my 3 kids never got to know my brother personally… I am intentionally & purposefully trying to help them get to know Johnny & what he was like through stories, pictures, & the little things he liked & disliked.

And one of the things he liked, was Mickey. And when Mickey Mouse is around, it doesn’t seem like my brother is so far away, & it gives me hope for the time when we’ll be reunited.

Last Saturday, I got a Mickey tattoo on my left shoulder blade – because it reminds me of my brother, John Leavy Locke.

Friends #5 – More thoughts & randomness, or "et tu Brute’?"

We will all be let down, disappointed, & hurt by friends. We will all let down, disappoint, & hurt friends. It happens, & will happen – & a lot of the time it will be unintentional, due to funky circumstances, the pace of life, bad planning &/or bad choices. If I’m expecting a friend to be perfect, to always ‘be there’ or ‘be here’ (pick your location… those two phrases drive me nuts anyway…) I’m putting unrealistic expectation on them – expectations that only Jesus could fulfill – so I have to know how to communicate through & about hurt feelings, frustrations, & disappointments… & know that friends, real friends will do this. And are worth the same love, acceptance, & forgiveness that I hope to receive when I biff it.


Julius Caesar was murdered on the ides of March, (the 15th for those people in the real world.) It was a terrible murder carried out by a mob of Roman senators… but perhaps the most brutal part of the whole thing was Caesar’s seeing his friend, his best friend, Brutus, with a knife in his hand, waiting to plunge it into Caesar’s back. And Caesar is incredulous, he can’t believe what is happening, what has happened, what Brutus has done. And that’s when he utters the famous line, “You too, Brutus?”
It’s really a great picture of what I’m talking about (esp. in Shakespeare’s version of it.)


Betrayal of friendship, real, deep, true friendship is different than being let down or disappointed – I believe it involves intentionality, pride, spitefulness, & it leaves the deepest wounds – because the wounds come from someone who with whom you’ve been transparent, open, intimate… someone that’s been trusted implicitly. And when the betrayal comes, it feels like something unreal has happened… almost like right after a car-accident, where you’re in shock, & can’t quite clear your head, like you’re dreaming & just need to roll over in order to wake up & see life restored to being “alls as it should be.” But it doesn’t happen. And the unbelief of what has happened lingers, & the sting deepens.


In my studies for the Growing Up series, I discovered that this type of act in a friendship would fall under the category of a tragic loss – & is different than a “transitional loss” where people, due to distance, changing jobs, value & priority shifts, grow apart & see the ‘level’ of friendship diminish, not based on something destructive that has happened, but based on ‘less time, energy, & resources’ expended to maintain the friendship.

The tragic loss is just what it sounds – almost like a divorce, the discovery of a terrible disease, the uncovering of infidelity – it’s not something that one just puts on the British ‘stiff upper lip” & moves on. It’s something that MUST be grieved… because otherwise, it becomes a life changing event, the kind of event where a person makes vows never to ‘trust anyone that deeply’ again. They shut down. Stop risking & stop growing. Treat everyone as ‘just another person that is going to hurt me.’


Once again, I find myself reading David’s laments in the Psalms – he has experienced this & writes:

It is not an enemy who taunts me— I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God. Let death seize my enemies by surprise; let the grave swallow them alive, for evil makes its home within them. But I will call on God, and the LORD will rescue me. Psalm 55:12-16 NLT

I don’t know what events or what friendship David was referring to – it might have been the betrayal by Ahithophel, his trusted friend & advisor (the history on that starts in 2Samuel 15,) or something else. I just know that when I read Psalm 55, it resonated.


At a time like that, all I want to do is hide in my dark closet, & never come out. What I usually do is cry out to God – with cries & sometimes some loud yells. Pain hurts, & sometimes a gut-blasting yell is just what the doctor ordered, though may not be good on the vocal cords.

Maybe its the telling Him exactly what I feel & think – the hurt & disappointment, the sting of the poison, but there is always a point of relief, or at least His peace that comes alongside at that very moment. Its not like the pain goes away, but the edge & the bitterness are gone, as is the desire to never risk again.

And usually what happens is I get really thankful for my friends. And determine to be a good friend to them.

faces…

My friend Chumley use to tell me that after spending a few days at Youth camp together, people would come up to him & because he’s my buddy, would ask him about me:
“Dude, what wrong with that guy? He looks so…………….” (Fill in the blank with your favorite ‘negative word-association’ – some that came up a lot were:

  • angry.
  • shut down.
  • frustrated.
  • anti-social.
  • scary.
  • cold.
  • intimidating.

    Chum would inevitably laugh, his big, infectious laugh, the one that makes everyone around him feel like a million bucks, & puts them immediately at ease, & he’d say something like, “He’s not ……………………, he’s just tired.”

    Thanks for that, David. Wish I had you around to give a primer on what the look (or absence thereof) means…


    Sigh.

  • Friday musings…

    It’s Friday… I’m Home Alone for my day off. Meaning, my family is all gone, at school, at work, or at Trista’s… there is a guy here wearing booties (how considerate!) & a big tool belt, taking lots of pictures of the structure & the ground. See, we’ve got a ‘warranty inspection’ for the 1 year anniversary of the house going on as i speak, so the whole, ‘stranger in my house’ vibe is happening & I’m pretending that its not. He’s nice, personable, & most importantly, is working on working, not on talking to me. :)


    Wasser mit Kohlensäure is the best for quenching one’s thirst. I love it. Don’t like bubbles in your water? Give it to me.


    Cleaned out my closet this a.m. All my clothes that don’t fit anymore… turns out I’ve been stockpiling old (& big) jeans, as well as worn out tshirts. I think the jeans are going on eBay (they’re new-ish… just about 4 sizes too big now, post diet). The tshirts are in the trash, with their holes & crusty stuff intact. Goodbye tshirts.


    Cleaning out the ‘German Room” closet… for Julia. Countdown 4 days.


    BBQ’d Tri-tip last night. 7 out of 10. Know what I’d do different to take it up a notch. Lower temperature on the BBQ, which requires a new BBQ. Or maybe a return to charcoal. At least it’s been confirmed that the gas beast we’ve got has officially given up the ghost. GRHS…


    Life hurts. Sometimes more than others. I’ve been pondering Westley’s statement:

    Life IS pain, highness. Anyone who says different is selling something.

    I can empathize with Westley, (after serving on the Pirate ship “Revenge” under the dread pirate, Roberts, separated from his true love for 5 years… yeah, that would lead to such an outlook. But I don’t want to live carrying pain, as though the pain happened just yesterday, never working through, never getting past. Living in hurt. Woundedness. I think what I’ve found over the last year is that a key (THE key?) component of moving through & past pain, hurt, etc. is the grieving process. I have intentionally (& in some cases melodramatically) embraced the grieving process, staying in it, without apology, almost without regard for what others might think (have thought? & felt free to discuss amongst themselves…) Grieving. Feeling the fullness of the pain, the hurt, the sadness, the loss. And coming back to God’s truth about me, my life, my family, my relationships, my identity, my hope.

    And the wounds haven’t festered. And I’m not minimized by my grief, my weakness, my own frailty. I feel as though I have perspective that I didn’t a year ago. I’m comfy in my own skin, & ok with the imperfect brokenness all around, & in me. Sigh.


    A first for the clan: all 3 kids have games tomorrow, in 3 different sports. Pasty has football, Joey has fall ball (baseball,) & the Weez has Proper Football (known in the US of A as Soccer…) Yay.

    A wise man once told me…

    …nobody owes me anything.

    The cause of a lot of offense, frustration, disappointment, & unmet expectations is an underlying belief that I might not have even identified, let alone articulated… someone owes me an explanation. Some thoughtfulness. Time. Respect.

    Nobody owes me anything.

    It’s easier to say, “I don’t owe anyone anything,” but I believe that might have to do with the selfishness of the statement, which speaks to the ability to live life with a reckless abandon in regards towards the feelings & perceptions of others.

    Nobody owes me anything.

    I don’t have a claim on being treated appropriately by anyone else – & clinging to my claim, however well founded in my own mind, (& in public opinion) doesn’t change that fact. The more I cling to my ‘rights’ the more I am hamstrung by my own woundedness, & I limit where God can work in & through me…

    Nobody owes me anything.


    Philippians 2:3-11
    3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

    4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

    5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

    6 Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.

    7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b];
    he took the humble position of a slave[c]
    and was born as a human being.
    When he appeared in human form,[d]

    8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

    9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,

    10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

    11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

    A psalm of David – Psalm 28
    O LORD, You are my rock of safety.
    Please help me; don’t refuse to answer me.
    For if You are silent,
    I might as well give up and die.

    Listen to my prayer for mercy
    as I cry out to You for help,
    as I lift my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.

    Don’t drag me away with the wicked—
    with those who do evil—
    those who speak friendly words to their neighbors
    while planning evil in their hearts.

    Give them the punishment they so richly deserve!
    Measure it out in proportion to their wickedness.
    Pay them back for all their evil deeds!
    Give them a taste of what they have done to others.

    They care nothing for what the LORD has done
    or for what His hands have made.
    So He will tear them down like old buildings,
    and they will never be rebuilt!

    Praise the LORD!
    For He has heard my cry for mercy.

    The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger.
    I trust in Him with all my heart.
    He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

    The LORD protects his people
    and gives victory to his anointed king.

    Save Your people!
    Bless Israel, Your special possession!
    Lead them like a shepherd,
    and carry them forever in Your arms.

    peace to you

    had a friend in town for the last few days, Morris Chapman; his visit had been on the books for a while. I invited him to come & spend time with our church family in extended worship. God knew what would be happening the week prior to his visit – I was physically, emotionally, & every other -ally you can think of – spent. Done. Finito. You get the idea.

    When Morris started playing, “I Will Restore” (it’s on his mySpace page at the link aboveI felt my insides melting – not a pleasant feeling – I knew that I had to lay down on the floor. The weight of my soul felt like it was pulling me to the ground. I told the Bean that I was going to lay down – don’t know if she understood what I meant,… or where I meant. I just remember hitting the floor & weeping from the bottom of my soles. I thought I had cried my tears already this week; I’d run out a couple of times & had the “dry cry” not to be confused with the “dry heave.” Hurts about the same though.

    I sobbed.


    After an indefinite period of time, I felt peace. And the raw, exposed nerve of my soul was no longer raw, exposed, & angry to the touch. I was still tired. Bone-weary. But the soul despair, the pain faded & I had peace. The circumstances of the week hadn’t changed, but I had peace. We are still grieving, but I have peace. I could sleep the clock, but I have peace.

    Thank you Jesus – to any/all that may be reading this: Peace to you. The peace of Christ to you.

    Why Do Bad Things Happen…? #1

    For the last couple of months, I have been planning on teaching on the topic above at our Sunday, 3/30 – 9:15 Learning Community. I had no idea that we’d be experiencing tragedy, crushing loss, & this kind of pain so up close & personal within our church family.

    “Why do bad things happen?” is a tough question – one that usually gets answered with one of the trite statements or religious cliches that are so infuriating to the people that they get bequeathed to. Things like:

  • Well, the Lord moves in mysterious ways…
  • God took (fill in the blank with a loved ones name) because He must have needed (loved one’s name) more than we did..
  • God is trying to teach us to depend on Him in hard times…

    My personal favorite, which was passed on to me by several well meaning people after my 17 year-old brother had died from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer that starts out in the lymph system.

  • God must have known that your brother was going to fall into some terrible sin in the future, so He decided to take him now…

    Huh? What the fat? Are you serious?


    These & other statements have caused me to spend a lot of time pondering – to me, here’s what some of the above statements are saying:
  • Mysterious ways? What does this mean? That God is unpredictable & just might SNAP when we least expect it, killing loved ones in the process. “Sorry. My bad.”
  • God kills our loved ones because He “needed” them more than we do? Hmm. I read in the Bible that 2 people were ‘translated’ into heaven by God: Enoch & Elijah – He wanted them with Him, & He didn’t kill them to get them.
  • God is trying to teach us something by killing our loved ones? The lesson today will be “you need me.” I’m going to illustrate this by killing your brother.
  • God killed my brother in a preemptive strike to prevent his future falling into sin? Hmm. I had always thought that God dealt with our sin through the cross…

    God is good – & is predictably good – everything that we need to know about the person & nature of God is wrapped up in Christ Jesus – not just the “good” stuff. All of it. (Check out Colossians 1:19,20 & Colossians 2:9,10 He thinks good thoughts towards us, likes us (not only loves us,) & is dependably the same yesterday, today, & forever. We can rest assured that He is & will be our ever-present help in time of trouble, & is not the one capriciously causing our pain to drive us to Him.

    Next time – we’ll examine the cause of all things bad…