Friday, December 25, 2009

::Cantique de Noël

There is so very much I could attempt to articulate; so many abstract concepts I could try squeezing into awkward molds of eloquence.

I believe John Sullivan Dwight has taken a phenomenal stab at this already.
Truly He taught us To love one another;
His law is love And His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother;
And in His name, all oppression shall cease.
Those words, sweetly blessing my ears this evening, gave me such hope and solace.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

::wise words

The very first Sunday that I attended Trinity Church - July 25, 2004 - I fell in love with its liturgy.

Many Sunday mornings find me feeling inspired and often confounded by the assemblage of words we read responsively.

My spirit is often probed by this phrase:

Before God, with the people of God, we confess to our brokenness: to the ways we wound our lives, the lives of others, and the life of the world.

The Confession of Sin is purposely humbling, and often so beautifully articulate.
I found this morning's Confession particularly provocative.

Confession of Sin for the Fourth Sunday in Advent:

Almighty God, our Father, the days grow darker and colder, and yet somehow we grow accustomed to the gloom around us. We have become all too familiar with death, war, tragedy, sorrow and worry in the world.

Lord, have mercy on us.

The world around us is full of violence and injustice; whole nations are in the grip of darkness as they seek power instead of peace, choosing greed over generosity, loving self above sacrifice.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Our very lives are filled with dysfunction and sin. We neglect and abuse every good thing You have given to us. We are left brooding over our troubled lives, even as we remain indifferent to the suffering of others.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Loving God, break the grip of darkness in our lives, so that Your peace will dawn in our hearts.

Look with favor upon Your people, Lord.
Grant us Your blessing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

::what up, doc?

MTV broadcasts a show called Teen Mom.
It chronicles the lives of girls who were formerly featured on the series 16 and Pregnant.
As all of MTV's documentary series tend to do, it captivates me.

Something that has always bothered me is this: if a girl becomes pregnant and finds herself in very difficult straits, there are many who will dismiss her obvious struggle with statements like,

"Well, she brought it on herself!"

"She should've thought of that before she decided to have sex!"

While I understand the tendency to make such statements, I'm also slightly appalled by their hypocrisy.
It seems to me that the human condition is a near-constant stream of our own poor decisions placing us in painful places, so what right do we ever have to degrade someone else for their decisions?
Even if it's something simple as oversleeping and missing a test or a meeting at work, or willfully disobeying the speed limit and getting a ticket, who among us has not been in a difficult situation that we "brought on ourselves?"
The very notion that a person somehow deserves less compassion or concern - and not only that, but ridicule instead - because they were the architect of their own pain? That just seems utterly ludicrous.
I actually have a theory that when you're struggling with something you've "brought on yourself," it hurts more than something that just happens to you, because there is the added factor of guilt in the equation.

It would clearly behoove us all to gaze upon our fellow humans with the humility expressed in
There but for the grace of God, go I.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

::mon frère

This is my "little brother," Joel.

Today is his birthday.

I need no special reason to celebrate his existence, but I will seize today's occasion as an opportunity to honor him.

Ever since we were very young, he has been my trusted, cherished confidant.

He read my (bad) poetry, listened to my angsty confessions, and tolerated my atrocious adolescent musical obsessions (NKOTB, anyone?).

A self-described "music geek," Joel is incredibly generous with his knowledge, always eager to share new albums, artists, and genres.

When Joel loves you, he will stop at nothing to ensure that you are safe, protected, and happy.
The most abundant evidence I have seen thus far of his enormous heart, has been his adoration of our niece, Emma.

In her presence, he gushes unbridled kindness, compassion, and sheer delight.
The mere timbre of his voice when he addresses her is heartwarming.

Whether we are laughing together at a particularly amusing moment of Family Guy, discussing our daily drudgery, or even embracing one another to soothe our sorrow at our grandparents' funerals, I am always thankful for and proud of this fact: Joel is my brother.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

::civilian reflections

Last night I saw Brothers with Heather, and walked away feeling deeply, abysmally affected by its powerful performances.
Capt. Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a Marine called to complete his fourth tour in Afghanistan, preparing to leave his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and two daughters. Before he departs, he retrieves his brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), from a stint in jail for armed robbery.
After he goes missing in Afghanistan, the atrocities he endures are portrayed with horrifying realism.
Maguire's performance is utterly raw, reaching depths I'd never known possible.
This film, though I would not necessarily equate it with Saving Private Ryan, had very similar effects on my psyche. It ushered me into an entirely new dimension of empathy for modern veterans of our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I witnessed the profound isolation that undoubtedly occurs upon homecoming; how a soldier can be surrounded by their nearest and dearest at a homecoming celebration, yet feel completely and utterly alone.
I've seen and read a great deal about post-traumatic stress disorder in recently-returned soldiers, who behave strangely (by our standards) because they have been absent from "civilized life" for so long that daily interactions are often overwhelming.
While they are loved more deeply than they'll ever understand, they cannot help but feel as though no one will ever completely understand what they've experienced. And sadly, they are technically correct.
But films like Brothers can at least teach us civilians to be more sensitive, to be better listeners, to try harder at that most paramount of virtues, empathy.


Related Posts with Thumbnails