Collection at a middle point
As our flights of fancy converge,
Vagaries homing in,
Ruffled feathers of distraction,
Flocks of unruly birds
Beating their wings around the bush.
Now gather into one…
A rallied psyche
Nestles down. Zeroing in.
Density of thought.
Statio Benedict once named
The pause between two tasks;
A habit to break a habit,
An action brought to mind ,
The moment we collect ourselves
In from the blurred edges.
Patience of filter and focus.
Screening out. Zooming in.
Bird perched and ready.
Concentrated and gathered.
Our utmost presence.
“The human story does not always unfold like a mathematical calculation on the principle that two and two make four. Sometimes in life they make five or minus three; and sometimes the blackboard topples down in the middle of the sum and leaves the class in disorder and the pedagogue with a black eye.” #watercolor - Winston Churchill
I had to see and sit in the dust at the edge of the sea . It was a must to be still to begin.
I paced slow. I took one step - one breath - another bellow. Slowed my heart. Seeing every imprint of these new shoes . Burgundy turned brown in dust and sunlight.
And I sat at the edge of the sea. The quintessence of dust. Around waves crashed a melody
But my heart was full - my heart impatient - A blazing bullet past - but nearer than I knew to eroding sands.
There was yellow. There was a line cast on the horizon. A voice in the waves.
And there I was divided mind. Exhausted body. I thought I had no end.
In borrowed bed I slept as the rain began to pour down. Words on page. Washed, clean and warm in windowed nave.
Clearing mist and cloud. Walk into memory. Old men gone grey. Outsider joining the gang again.
But there he was still a lonely Eskimo on the walls of the place we met.
Back to an empty house.
Awoken by another time. Mist and morning - green and sharp. Coffee strong and smooth.
Escape and away. Yellow again. Among the morning hues.
Up to the top of the peak with old friends. Muscles forgot how to ascend.
And they rushed on down. I lingered behind. Conversations illuminate where we all are and have been.
Meet me at the fire. There were more old friends. But the adventure had only to begin.
Blazing grey bullet. Burgundy and yellow in cheese. Winding roads. patient hills. More wine please!
Silent return. Rest on the way. Dinner in the cold. How much did we pay?!
Late morning start. Down to the sand. Throwing with buddies. Being a man.
And we began the goodbyes. How long will it be til I see you again.
Sunday coffee. Downtown. Meeting up again.
Dinner with the jacked up men. Music and lyrics in sweet evening light. Listening to the Greek God fall through the night.
Back to the coffee shop. Avoidance of past. Off to inn and out.
Coffee beans. Campus ground . Back down to the bar downtown.
Off to dinner at that chinese place. With R’s new lady friend. That was great!
Out to breakfast. Encountering his and my own abyss. Off to ice cream and coffee in the new cool hip downtown almond croissant jam waz the shit!
Saying good bye all over again. A house getting new foundation. house on stilts still so thin.
Lunch and a little bit of shit throwing. Off to the sky they say. We all seem to be learning.
I think its going to be okay!
Inhabitants of this city talk a lot about this place - it can often consume the conversations. It can seem at moments VERY self involved. And for someone who is inclined to judgement I have viewed the talk as such for a while now - growing sick and disgusted by the world within a world mentality and the conversation’s particular bends.
But the truth is to make it here you have to be fully invested here - which is its own unique challenge to do. And the simple truth is we’re all still figuring that out - we are all gathering our bearings and trying to remain in the game and we all need to talk about it. And that’s healthy and that’s okay.
I have said in my heart lately that we are all fools - trying to do what we are doing here - trying to make it here. Defeated if I am honest. Wondering how on earth can one establish something sustainable in a city that is not sustainable for living long term and at the growing price point!
But personally - and honestly the decision to stay or to come here was never up to me - it was a calling - just like to do what I am doing in architecture here. And although I am momentarily defeated and often can’t feel it - there’s still a fight within me to remain even though every inclination of my mind and the logic and knowledge I have become so intimately acquainted with tells me its foolish to do so.
And perhaps in this there is a moment that we are all called to - to surrender our wills agendas and plans and ways of seeing things and simply say that what we do is only empowered by the Spirit of God who comforts and sustains. Who broods over the dark waters of this city waiting to give creation and light to it and meet it where its at with the message of Jesus.
I guess as so It’s fitting then that at first light I often talk with my friend about such things- early morning half awake conversations about lifestyle / standards of living and what exactly it looks like for our futures under God’s will and way in this place. Because there He meets us trying to give strength to the feeble in combat with a brother combat to the american ideals and idols that have inserted themselves into this place but do not belong in its context - saying that we should have whatever we want with the insane capitalist notions that we have brought in with us to this city.
I read acts 17 this week. I read of paul’s heart stirred in Athens with no one beside him - I see my own heart. I read his address - his bold address. And then I see him leave sooner than other places. I wonder how intoxicating - how blinding are these things our city does just like Athens. I wonder how few will come and be brought into the house of God. The city of light.
I reflect on my own heart. My own notions of success and failure in a place this this. My own lack of ability to speak to those inside and outside that light and I feel it in my heart just like Paul. But instead of the bold address I stand speechless with more hurt and confusion because unlike Paul God says stay.
I read recently of the white man’s bend toward colonization. I see it in movies. I see it in those whom I grew up with and stand alongside. I see it within myself. And I’m trying to be very careful that that colonization mindset does not insert itself into God’s saving redeeming power and is not corrupted somehow by my own sin. But I see it is- and I wonder about my ambition about my giftings and what that means about how I fit in and how I am still gathering my bearings and I question is it my own sin nature and delusions of grandeur and I get stuck.
And If I am truthful I tell you that my heart has never been more unsure about any of the many questions I’m asking and what exactly I am supposed to do with them besides remain and be faithful to what is put before me. And although at moments the conversations are word vomit and the conversation may bend toward what Elise calls “the two year itch” - concerned I may be a little more self destructive than most know - its not.This is different - a different type of undoing because of these bends the Father crafted into my mind. More subtle and more magnificent than just a move - like when I change the floor plan to give the client a new way of looking at their space. A better way.
Many say that journaling helps. It has. I’ve written more than I have in a long long time this winter- giving voice to ones thoughts is therapeutic and healing. Because somehow although I feel alone in my awareness of reality - defeated at moments when I journal I feel I am not alone - because God is in them. I see Him. He’s there.
There are particular bends to my personality that need dark rooms and time in quiet and by myself to understand the twists and turns. Often God is there. The not often when I don’t choose to see Him.
When it’s hard to get your bearings you begin to hate the questions that gave you the context to answer the questions in the first place - When I’m alone and catch that breath which is fewer and far between as I grow older it helps - coming to this page now filled with words it helps. Because there is space for me to speak - time for the moments and thoughts in between - because at many moments I really don’t know how I am. And that’s the truth for a long while now- but its okay cause it means I have a longer plan in “The Man” in motion.
And in all this I realize I am young still developing my bearings and still have many years to go and growth in discerning the Spirits promptings and views. I am not in a bad place. I am actively choosing not to belive lies and give into self consumed pits of pity and despair - the direction is upwards in what i put my mind heart and will to.
And I don’t think my life is solely about the money. Which may come off as a strange insertion here but I worry about that in a place like this. In a city of many idols. And I don’t think its about a lot of the other things that would give reason for concern.
This city can wear on you. Especially with the forces at work upon it. God is still faithful. That much will never change. But we still feel - whether that be the hurt or whether we still feel the pain and we watch helplessly from the sidelines because we don’t know how to engage it. At least I do. But we are stepping into His power and where the Spirit is and in that there is still much reason to hope…we will find our bearings and our contexts.
In not developing a career and real life anywhere else besides NYC I sometimes forget that the difficulties that come with this city and that are inherent in developing your career and life in this particular place are in many ways unique.
I can be prone to play the victim listing my many grievances as if my lot be any different from others who grapple with such things here or perhaps elsewhere- but to simply list the difficulties and give them names and faces is no longer satisfying my need nor have I found it recently to be beneficial but for relating to others on some small dissatisfying level.
The truth is - if I am called to this place and God Is shaping in storms that are in some ways awe inspiring and induce my wonder rather than the calm seas- providence for me in a place where it would seem impossible to be who I know myself to be or think I am - logically why would I linger - but He keeps saying stay.
I could certainly end the sentiment there but the truth is I have begun to entertain thoughts feeling and words that are still forming. That I find are helping the introvert relate help besides simply the shit throwing and the listing. That are showing me His provision continued . His goodness and his gospel in the chaotic places I dwell and make my home.
I sometimes forgot about the importance of understanding the culture you are a part of and how crucial that is to understanding and impacting. I forget in my ideals and romantic musings you have to be inside or present to shape something.
I have failed to be inquisitive about many things lately especially that culture I live in being many . Most grieving others as of late. I guess this is my public confession as best as an introvert can do. I have stopped offering excuses. It is as it is. I am defeating in my dissatisfaction. Rather than seeing his provision and my duty.
Being removed lately I have grieved over what I see within myself and within others - the love of wealth, the love of self, and the unwillingness to be extended or extend help. Not knowing the words to say that draw out the depths that are inside each one of us.
I have said I must know myself better. Must take more time to be still. Take the rest I think is required for sanity of my mind and health of body.
But where others might build upon their Christian upbringing of works based righteousness and require a pull back I push back and say no and yes removing context and call. My God says go to your end. Enter the mess. Live In the chaos. Yet I say I am unwilling to do. Yet it is an end to my grief and a point of rebellion of that which I am called to.
This city - at it’s very nature has pushed me near 8 million bright lights gravitational forces all located within one small island. At moments I am redirected by their force their power and their brilliance. And in it I forget the true light the true power and the true gravity and direction I am to chart my craft toward. That being Jesus.
I lose sight of the simple truth we are not the hero- we are merely dust and a small part of his workings. We are not Jesus. We are his sons and daughters. I forget this in the self satisfying city I love and am choosing to make my home in. The city that works me to my ends and draws out every last ounce of effort that I can muster. A city that has made me mentally ill at moments. But I must ask this - why would I need a savior need Jesus if I wasn’t choosing to be in a place that made me need him that drew every thing I had out of me until their was nothing left but Jesus.
In honest word it feels wrong at moments to be pursuing what is worldly that is business career making a name for oneself but this career this architectural profession has always been a refining tool. A creative force and tool for use by my God.
When I seek out His face which is brought about by this city’s desperation and my silence and is much more frequent lately than at other simpler times. His voice says stay. He says see what I have at the end of yourself.
The true Christian life is always worked out in strange fashions in a very chaotic complex and strange world that God loves and desires desperately to enter. This has always been the case.
I cannot say which way the world will turn- but I know enough about history to see its patterns and enough about my own to understand the foolishness of this man. But what I know is that I am here still and am scared to death at the prospects this city holds for someone as foolish as me. I shall not run until he says go and I will linger and I shall grapple with my end. My shadow. His reflection.
I write often about the difficulty of writing - those first words , the effort to pen against laws of the universe and friction . About the difficulty to soar and attempt to be blameless in this medium. To not write so abstractly that it is of no profit - and yet not be so specific that is enough to betray the people and names who have taught the lessons that find themselves penned here.
In the past, I have erred and offended in both ways : The difficulty of our interconnected world - where one cannot be careful enough to know where these things will go or what they will grow into.
I can so often sulk in those realities and the reality of our world when I come to write. Especially lately. Trying to trace every outline and every thought - getting so easily overwhelmed by complexity and subtlety that I can no longer convey , no longer gather thoughts and put into action. Hopeless in my hyperbole.
Too careful in my dictation.
And in my self induced writer’s block it becomes as if this mysterious “IT” is that which I seek. But “IT” will probably take longer to find than I would imagine. Laid on a foundation of my time spent in the word, meditation upon it, mind soaked in it. Life lived in the world and all it’s realities not running from it.
But one thing I have found peace and assurance in is that I know I am not alone - just perhaps more articulate than most in spelling out what we are after - those like me - we have not come into “it” yet and the words will come when they are ready - when we can speak from what we know not what we assume or hardly understand.
And so it is with prayer, considering the needs of others, mind soaked in the drum circle of the Father’s heart beat. Navigating the complexity, subtlety and listening to the Spirit. Time and patience given to Love to see what is to be beheld.
Paid and gifted to be aware of the micro and macro - I am all too aware of the mere subtleties - and that with “IT” comes a overwhelming territory of sight. Where people are at, where they are going. It leaves me feeling overwhelmed at those things I have been given - to be stewarded well over.
We and I ignore this and we numb it - we distract ourselves from it. Because when we sit in it - it simply is too much to bare too much to fight against. In this many things are put into perspective.
Being logical in all my premises and with the territory of seeing subtlety better than most one would find it surprising that I have a judgmental side that is at bay knowing the commonality of our realities yet knowing all to much about distinction- I often in my mind and sobriety come to the truth that to be where we are at is okay.
A great force I find myself up against lately this sobriety that realizes one is incapable of doing completely and we need something other to be in our midst. One selah of my life as psalm.
Yet even still- the difficulty and struggle is worth the effort - to understand better our world and its way . And in this there is simple truth that I have come to realize lately that all things good and true and worth the effort take great force to do in life, in relationship, in conversation, in word - in every facet of being and they do not come but as a gift.
And to seek after “IT” whatever “IT” is will pave a path and will be worth the lonely endeavor and the grappling with words as I do today.