Jaundice

I’m tired of you, pretty baby, being tied up on a string.
Oh get up, little baby, off that light machine.
Please change your color, baby: Go back to white from yellow gold.
‘Cause till you pale up, baby, you’re awfully hard to hold.

Little David Ebenezer is six days old today. Tomorrow will make a week. And for three of those days, so far, our son has been tied to a light bulb. He has jaundice, an affliction he shares with apparently half of all newborns. Jaundice is officially defined simply as unnaturally sallow skin, which today makes me envious of all Asian, Pacific Islander, Indian and African babies, who by the dictionary can’t get jaundice. Continue reading “Jaundice”

Assimilation

I have a paper due in a few days in my class on worship. The task is simple: say *something* about worship in about 5 pages. Interact with three books. And I’ve been hitting a brick wall. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say about worship. Oh golly. It’s that I’ve got too much. So for the next few days, I’m going to be inflicting you, my dear readers, with some of the things I’ve had to work through in order to get on to writing the paper. It’s hopelessly biographical I’m afraid, so I do hope you’ll forgive me. It’s also incredibly long, so I’m going to be breaking it up over a few days. By the time you get to the part that pertains to my paper, the paper (God willing) will already have been turned in.

Worship has been at the center of how I defined myself for the better part of my life. Worship was who I was. I was the worship guy. Worship is what I was all about. At that time, I understood worship to be a kind of mystical experience. When God meets with man, and man sees God for even a piece of who he is, man is both lifted up and demolished, and this… experience… is what I called worship. I have something of a philosopher’s nature in me, so I parsed theories about how worship worked. Worship could be had in private or in groups of various sizes. Worship could be expressed, as God used people to reveal God’s Spirit, character, and nature to other people. This expression came out in the form of spiritual gifts and various arts which could be used to communicate in worship. However, the soul of worship was ultimately in the experience itself, somewhere between catharsis and illumination. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The process of being transformed, as I understood it, consisted of worship.

But in about 1999, my life came to a crashing halt. Everything I thought I had built my life upon turned out not to have enough substance to get me anywhere. It’s very difficult for me to describe this time, because there’s nothing I can point to particularly that was *wrong*. It was just that nothing was particularly *right*. I was training for ministry at a church that had no particular use for my contribution – but why is it exactly that I needed them to need me? I was lonely – though I had never before cared if I had friends. I was going through one of those classic spiritual dry times, and I should have been content to recognize it as such and ride it out. But things just didn’t add up. All around me everything was as ideal as I had ever imagined it, and yet I was discontent – crying, agonizing, discontent. Something in my worldview – my theology – was incomplete. And I didn’t have the first clue what it was.

So I started everything from scratch. Continue reading “Assimilation”

Christian Music

To write Christian music, particularly worship music, requires two things: A good musician and a good knowledge of scripture. The best Christian music will have the highest levels of both. The trouble, of course, is getting them both together. A good theologian, but a poor musician, will create good theological texts, set to bald, tepid, irritating music. Just as bad, a great musician who hasn’t taken the time to thoroughly inform himself of who God is and what he wants, will produce great music that is, by varying degrees, less than Christian.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Continue reading “Christian Music”

It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow

The front page of your paper is bound to make you sad
Especially if you’re the worrying sort
So turn the front page over where the news is not so bad
There’s consolation in the weather report

It’s a lovely day tomorrow
Tomorrow is a lovely day
Come and feast your tear dimmed eyes
On tomorrow’s clear blue skies

If today your heart is weary
If ev’ry little thing looks gray
Just forget your troubles and learn to say
[Tomorrow is a lovely day](http://www.weather.com/activities/other/other/weather/tenday-details.html?locid=28209&dayNum=1&from=weekend).

(Iriving Berlin)

Two poems

Valerie and I were working on wedding invitations tonight. She found the stationary that she’s been wanting at bargain prices, but we had to order them immediately. This meant that, in order to get our own wording on the cards (instead of stock phrasing), we had to write them up tonight.

We searched for poetry already written that said what we wanted to say, but found none. So I tried my own hand at writing Hallmark poetry.

The first attempt wasn’t so… appropriate:

They called it love when we held our hands together
And called us fools when we allowed not love to take its course
But greater love has none of us than charity
Which lays down its life and takes up another by its choice

It’s a bad omen to mention fornication in the wedding invitation, right?

The second attempt seemed much better, so we’re going with it:

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves
It is He who has brought us together
His is the tie that shall bind us as one
And His mercies that guard us forever

I would like to point out that it’s been just under a year since I wrote poetry last, and now I’ve written four in as many days. When it rains…

And now it’s late. I’m going to bed.

You Never Leave Me Alone

I see you’re into me
Like a Mozart’s into music
Like a Rembrandt’s into painting
Like a baby’s into being
Being alive

I see you’re into me
Like I should be into you
But I just can’t seem to get my heart around
…Turn my heart around

I see you’re chasing me
Like an comet chasing starlight
Like a clock that’s chasing moments
Like a cloud that’s chasing rain
On a sunny day.

You paste me up like sunshine
Like a cloud that’s chasing rain
You just don’t seem to ever let me down
…Don’t let me down

How many broken bones have you found this way?
How many undertones have you brushed away?
Is there anything left in me that you haven’t changed?
It doesn’t matter, anyway—
You never leave me alone.

I see you’ve got me now
Like a ring around my finger
Like a rope around my neck
Like a chain around my arms
As you lead me home

You’ve captured me for good
I can see it in your eyes
“I’ve finally got you where I want you now”
…I want you now.

How many broken bones have you found this way?
How many undertones have you brushed away?
Is there anything left in me that you haven’t changed?
It doesn’t matter, anyway—
You never leave me alone.

Redemption

I know I have a home in Zion
A land where milk and honey flow
A place where all my dreams and desires
Will fade before the One I know

His glory shines above the highest mountaintops
His patience bears me far beyond my schemes
His love resounds when I am lost and wandering
His grace is far too much for me

And yet somehow, when all the past is gone
When all my brokenness is burned away
When all the crimes of humanness have flown
He still retains the core of me.

I have a home where flowers never fall away
Where birds have yet to fail to sing
Where peace and rest are never far away
And where the One who knows me best returns
To put to rest my best attempts to be.

UPDATE: You know how really good music can do amazing things with mediocre lyrics? Yeah. When I wrote this song, I had the most amazing jazz melody going on with it. It was great. So great, in fact, I didn’t really notice that the lyrics were only so-so. Now, a couple hours later, I’ve completely forgotten the melody and all I have left is the lyrics. What’s more, every time I try to reconstruct the melody from what I remember, it comes out really hick/country sounding.

This song is now totally ruined for me. I hope somebody else gets something out of it.

UPDATE AGAIN: I rememberd my cool melody. Song is better now. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from my disillusionment, though.

It isn’t quite

It isn’t quite your holiness,
And it isn’t quite your love
That consumes me when I first get up
On a well-rested morning.

It’s a little bit of both, I guess.
Like the dew of your tenderness,
It covers me so thoroughly,
And makes me want to run, laughing,
And also to sit still.

I don’t know how to explain
What I don’t quite yet understand—
The dreams I have that peel me open
Like a not quite blooming flower
Revealing every earthed and unearthed desire.

So painful to be ripped so gently open
And so grateful when it’s over
So broken, and so at peace;
So unsure of what I’ve just gone through
And so much wishing that it could have gone on forever.

A Little Lack

It is a peculiar quality of my religion
That it holds the broken reed above the straight one
(as no musician would).
The smoking flax is greater than the bright one
Because it cannot help but to announce
That something in its life is lacking.

As something in my life is always lacking.

So it comes as no great shock to me
To find that I am reaching for perfection
And yet to find that I am never quite achieving it.
This little lack is all I have, sometimes,
That draws me back to Him
Who makes my heart to breathe.