Foxes from the last several days: 

· I talked to a good friend from Nashville on Sunday night. How strange it is to know someone your whole life yet only brush the surface. Each one of us is a mystery. Each one of us is created Imago Dei—in the image of God. I’ve known her my whole life, yet “for who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” We surprise each other, we surprise ourselves. Our minds and bodies both make us human. Together they contain the galaxies of our souls. What a simple pleasure to make forays into someone else’s galaxy!

· This friend and I are both writing children’s books. Mine is entitled “Grabbling.” I drew from a story that my grandmother tells about fishing with her hands in Mulberry Creek. When I read the first draft to her, she just laughed and laughed—one of my favorite sounds. Putting the story down on paper and thinking about it brings me great pleasure. Also, the prospect of receiving Rachel’s book in the mail to read for the first time. E-mail, cell phones, Facebook, and Twitter are poor substitutes for receiving a package in the mail.

snake

· I spoke briefly with my friend John tonight. He and I haven’t talked since Christmas. When I think back over a sequence of minute events over the past two weeks that led to our conversation, I remember that I no longer believe in coincidence. We needed to talk, simple as that. Some of my stories and scars may give him hope. Thick trees and cool grass and bright flowers put down roots in the scorched places of our hearts. Ash feeds the soil. Our suffering feeds our own sanctification and can even be a catalyst for healing in other people’s lives.

· A tiny garden snake on the sidewalk in front of the house.

· A pedal falling off my bike and Lindsay coming to pick me up.

· Listening to my friends Aron Wright and Daniel Ellsworth play the WDVX’s Blue Plate Special.

· Eating the last of Justin’s candy cigarettes.

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Reconciliation

March 21, 2009

I once thought of reconciliation the same way I thought of a broken bone healing.

My eighth grade year, I played cornerback, and my job on a sweep was to “scrape the alley” to the right of the tight end, get one step ahead of the blocker, and make the tackle. During practice one day, the running back was trying to block me, and he stepped on my left leg.

Pop!

I found out later that my tibia and fibula had snapped about ten inches above my ankle. Over the next twelve weeks, casts of different sizes, colors, and materials came and went. When the last one finally came off, a knot had formed over the break. “Overcalcification,” the nurse explained. “As the bone knit itself back together, it overcompensated.” She assured me that over time my body would absorb the extra calcium, the knot would disappear, and my leg should be even stronger than before.

I thought that relationships should heal the same way—stronger than before. After both parties come together with broken hearts, take responsibility for the hurts they inflicted, and ask forgiveness of one another, trust fills the rift, and the sweetness, intimacy, and laughter return. Agility and grace return. That relationship no longer walks with a limp.

This depth of wholistic, joy-infused healing certainly does occur in some relationships. I have experienced it. I thought that it was the highest expression of faithfulness and obedience, and thus pursued it with the same fervency that I tried to muster in every aspect of my life. After all, Jesus calls us to be peacemakers. Making peace means becoming a reconciling people. Reconciliation is what we do. I expected all my injured relationships to be stronger than before.

However, what happens when the other person never apologizes? Never admits fault? Denies any wrongdoing and steamrolls one’s vulnerability?

What happens if the person shows no interest in reconciliation and multiplies the offense with more insensitivity and selfishness?

We cannot wait to forgive and move forward into the fullness of life in Christ until the people who hurt us have asked for forgiveness. Sometimes, reconciliation comes with no sweet reunion or tears of relief and gratitude mingled with the other person’s. Sometimes, reconciliation is being cordial, feeling a sincere desire for the other person’s well-being and the relinquishment of our own bitterness and resentment.

Certain relationships never return to us. They walk with a limp out of our lives. God calls us to acknowledge our part in the wounding and breaking and to confess to Him, and if possible, the other person, our sins against that person. He never says, “There’s something wrong with you and your faith if you’re not able to fix every relationship.”

What a relief that He calls me to participate in reconciliation as far as I have the power to do so. He knows I have no power to suck the venom from another person’s heart. 

Praise God for the toppling of impossible standards and the graceful letting go of broken relationships.

I am his child, not his handyman.

Dirty, white sweatshirt

February 19, 2009

I was driving down Broadway yesterday. I’d eaten lunch at home and was returning to the office. A drizzle had fallen all day, one of those days when I don’t mind working because the weather is nasty.

A man and woman were walking across the bridge where Broad arches above the railroad tracks. Each was carrying a black plastic bag in one hand. The man was closest to the road. He was black. His left cheek was swollen, and he had a purplish bruise underneath his eye. Somebody must have punched him.

She was white and pudgy with curly blond hair down to her shoulders. She was wearing a dirty white sweatshirt.

They were smiling. They were holding hands. The pair didn’t seem to notice the damp or the overcast sky or people’s pity or disgust as they drove by. 

The outcasts of our society. Chances are, they suffer from addiction, mental illness, poverty, or a combination of the three. They can carry all their belongings in one hand. Yet, they offer one another a simple token of intimacy. Love finds us all. 

I could be one of them. I was one of them, at least in the existential sense. We’re all searching for a home. We all want to find love. Their affection gives me hope for all of us.

I want to participate. Here I am. Send me.