Not only does Eddy Grant, singer/writer of look and act like the Jamaican version of my friend Dave Niemi, but both also have a ridiculous amount of spiritual power and leadership. All Eddy Grant does during the video is sit on the coach (much in the way my friend Dave does) and stare straight into the camera with a 30 mile stare, barking his vague observations of the world and cryptic solutions, yet—I would follow this man anywhere. And apparently everywhere because he’s taking Electric Ave everywhere. Rock it in the daytime, the nighttime, Miami, Kingston, and the playground. He just keeps barking that something is going on “out in the streets.” I’m not sure what, but he says it with such conviction that I believe him and urgently want to help. It’s just that he identifies the cause of problems in the world, out in the streets, as the multiplication tables, and I’m not sure how to even approach solving that problem. The irony. Until then, I’ll just keep laughing hysterically and trying to learn how to break dance to this strange casio keyboard noises and enjoy myself. I’m not sure what else to say about the video. There’s a motorcycle and Eddy’s drowning in his living room, so “Good God” somebody go “rock it in the streets” already.
For even my standards, this is a strange poem I wrote tonight. It came to me after some personal prayer time. It is unedited and may be a little tedious to work through, but I assure you that it will be unique experience for you. Maybe profane and offensive for some. Thoughtfully crafted and full of symbolic meaning at least. Hope you enjoy.
The humpback whale
It never flails.
It never fails its kind.
It produces a kindness in males, the hippie males and females who seek to save the whales Green peace sails its sails, “a whales vagina is sacred” and it makes sales.
Wyland sales through the roof at Natural Wonders or Rainforest Café.
It rails against the sails and sales, salient sales in the saline solution of the day.
The world’s contacts are blurry, our perspective for peace serves those in a hurry for anger and fear,
The whale, she rails against the sails and sales of the day.
The sharks rail against the whale. The whale’s self-affirming scales seem to rail against the shark on its rails to nowhere.
It sails, she who circumnavigates the globe, a global village, sees it’s sails full blown with the breath of the world system, its sales are world peace through war, forever and a day.
George Bush gets blamed, but the sails are not his, and the weapon of this warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of strongholds.
This war is not of the flesh. It is not against the flesh, but against the spiritual forces of darkness and powers and principalities.
The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of strongholds.
The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful. We wage war not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of darkness. We are the way the truth and the life. The light it shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not know light.
Shine the lamp, shine the light, take a little flashlight and watch it shine in a darkened room.
The ray of its light, a beacon shooting through the shadow, it cuts, it shines, it shoots, it rhymes with the sun.
It is the Light. The light in the darkness it shoots.
The whale in its abyss it shoots and it roots for mankind to be kind to one another.
To be the kind that we can look up to, a brother, a friend, a neighbor to the end…to the bitter, bitter end.
In the cold in the rain, even a postal service can do that. Sending out an S.O.S. sending out and S.O.S. a message in the bottle in the ocean, where the whale and it’s wail, it’s baby wail lives. Breathes. Lights on its sleeve.
The whale it lives, it sails, it never fails, it never flails, it flays it’s body upon a cross, it displays it’s body shiny and shimmering, shallow waters muck it up, shallow waters bear its dross,
the dross, it slides away as it displays and flails, the dross, that is, it flails, against the shimmering, striated belly of the whale.
It rails, but it flails. The light cannot beat the darkness if the darkness dissipates and flails, no shame in the whale, its awkward body, big and beautiful, it flays, it sails, it shoots up out of the water straight, it sails towards the sky, the clouds wavering and humming a Kumbaya African chant of initiation, joy, worship, and praise, it rails, the darkness against the sails, the striated scales of the belly of the whale.
I love its belly, I love its wail, pregnant with little whales and little wails, little baby, little whales…little wails.
Love the belly of the whale. Rub the belly of the wail. Shun the shame and love the belly of the whale. I love its belly.
I love you. I love what you do…the awkward wails, the awkward whales, and all the little, bitty, belly filled jelly filled, belly filled, dill pickle will ribbed…aw shucks, the things you do. The belly of the whale. The belly of the whale. The belly of your wail. I wail with you. I wail with you. I will wail with you. I do. I do. I do. I do.
Well, well, well, whale, what can you do? You wail. You sail. You flay yourself. Never filet yourself.
You display yourself and you, whale, wail like a sonar baby murmuring in the vast ocean, the abyss of shame, never shames or at least never succeeds to shame,
the demons they rail from Gehenna, the ghosts of Gehenna, they wail, but you,
Shales parkway say that the road to hell and heaven is wider than we think, but narrower than we fail,
we flay, we fail, we fall, we wail, we fail, we flail
and the lifeguard he sails in cheesy in his red short shorts, muscled and tan, the sun block like a modern Indian warrior finger rubbed down his nose, the bridge.
The bridge to Tarabithia, the bridge to heaven and hell, a narrow bridge, a wide bridge.
Ahab he wailed against his wail. Ahab he railed, his ship, his sails, against the ocean. Ahab he shot his harpoon against the whale, against Moby Dick, against his anger, against his hope, against his rage, enraged he shot and routed the whale. His route, he set sailed a long time ago. His rage he made the sale, he made it known.
It was the anger unleashed against a thousand men. A fearful boy, his fearful rage, his set-up mockery stage against the world.
He railed. He sailed. He found his destiny, all the anger of mankind against the whale. Christ on the cross. He unleashed the anger and wrath of all mankind stored up since Adam and the fall, Eve too, she also calls.
His pregnant wife. She dances. The belly of the whale. I love the belly of the whale. Babe. Love. Baby love. Baby love. Shalom. Chalet. Shalom Chalet.
My baby he flails sometimes. But today, sometimes, he flays, he lays his arms wide out spread, he lays back, laid back, he lays in my arms, just my hands, comfortable-free listening to his blessing and the classical music. he lays at peace, restful, flying backwards, a back wide armed back flip ready made full layout no twist necessary he lays.
The humpback whale lays out, outstretched, back arched, awkward stream of water spraying, spilling, splattering pilfering the light, pilfering the darkness, what it stole, it lay out full lays out back arched, display out, water from its spout, flays out itself, the arc, the ark, the ark, it arches its back flayed, flipped, and flayed.
Mutual insurance, mutual submission, fidelity investments. Fidelity, its mission. Flayed for you. Displayed for you. broken, its back, communion for you. Joy for him. Joy for you. Fully human, fully man. He came, he displayed, he failed and he flayed all for you. All for you. I love you He say. I love, declares, saith, the Lord from his lair.
A whale’s vagina and an awkward stare. An awkward stare and an awkward set of stairs to heaven away from here.
Miles continues to be an overwhelming blessing. Life continues to overwhelm me with blessings—Life with Bridget, suburban comforts, 6 uninterrupted hours of sleep, an intelligent, focused, and kind boss, a daily dose of teenagers and positive co-workers, a stable paycheck, my health, and the weekend. I’m ashamed to even say it, but it is hard to receive blessing with joy. I’m used to just being a warrior. I’m used to working hard and earning everything. In some ways, on a human level, I have earned great life. But all these blessings, these people, Miles, love and kindness, go beyond me. My blessings are bigger than me. It is crushing to my ego and my sense of identity to believe that I haven’t earned and cannot earn blessings. To see life, God, people—-my beautiful Miles—as a pure, heaven-sent gift free of my works, is crushing to my sense of worth. This perspective leaves room only for unconditional love and forgiveness—supernatural abilities that I cannot manufacture with my hands or human effort. So today, I had some strong Christian brothers lay hands on me and pray for me to learn the grace, joy, blessing, and strength of God—the forgiveness of God. With many tears and sighs, I experienced joy and blessing. Worshipping and singing to God as I hold Miles also helps me to experience joy and blessing. How do you experience God’s blessing? How do you receive it? How do you receive blessing in general? From people? Within yourself? Miles is sleeping right now listening to instrumental worship music. What a blessing!
Mayday. Mayday! Maday would do absolutely anything rather than go back to jail—even wrestle police in a car, take their guns, and jack a car. He did so last week in our nice, pristine suburbs! Prison was a limit he just was unwilling to accept. Generally, my teenage friends and my creative friends look at laws, rules, and limits as a prison, oppression, and killjoys. Sure. Like them, I sometimes feel there is more I should be doing with my life. I feel the need for speed. Ok. Limits are killjoys. And limits also can provide space and protection for abundant life. I’ve heard that lack of structure breeds creativity. I suggest that structure also breeds creativity. Limits force creativity and more.
Miles, my beautiful baby, has been a limit. I feel quite tied to the home. Though it’s not impossible to leave the house and schedule appointments, it is much more difficult than B.C. (before cute, cute baby boy). I just want to be around in case Bridget or Miles need me. So I’ve adjusted my workout to be quick and simple body weight exercises. I eat what’s in the fridge or I make decisive runs to Pita Paradise or Jewel. I work every single minute at school so I don’t have to stay after unnecessary hours. When I do have time at home, I make sure that I’m calling friends, spending time with Bridget, or chatting with neighbors—connecting with whoever, wherever, whenever. Limits have forced me to be more accepting, more decisive, and more creative—forced realism, forced contentment. Psalm 23 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” I experience creativity, strength, joy, contentment, and safety when I know my limits—green pastures. In Psalm 119, David says he loves God’s laws.
Ironically, death is the ultimate limit, the ultimate deadline—and the ultimate life-giver. A little over a week ago, a 2008 Hoffman Estates graduate died. He reminded me of how fragile and fleeting life is. He reminded me of my own mortality. He helped to focus me on the things, and really the people, that really matter. He helped to make small things bigger and big things smaller. Thank you. Indeed, there is wisdom in the house of mourning. On my worst days, it’s all confusing, dark, a transient blur of angst. On my best, I’m teaching, learning, parenting, and living the dream. One track minded these days, my baby boy and wife got me chained to the couch watching the 2-hour season premiere of Heroes and there is no place I’d rather be (cue the ethereal Heroes theme music).
What limits you?
How do look at your limits and limitations?
How do your limitations create abundant life for you?
What does your life say in the face of death?
I found myself in tears this morning, completely unraveled thinking about what 1 Peter says about human potential. Imperishable. Speaking to other Christ followers, Peter says that God has an inheritance reserved for believers that is imperishable. I’ve been avoiding 1 Peter. Peter says that I am imperishable. He says that my spirit is imperishable. He says that my inheritance is imperishable. He says that I have an imperishable relationship with heaven in heaven with God.
Living on a few hours asleep a night, caring for our baby, doing all the chores, teaching emotional disturbed humans (teenagers), and not getting any younger, I don’t feel imperishable. I feel anything but imperishable. Living in Suburbia where disconnection is the norm, the tyranny of achievement and the urgent rule, and shiny, happy cars disguise the darkness, I feel anything, but eternal security. Knowing my own shadows and imperfections while seeing my baby boy’s joy and innocence, I feel anything but close to heaven—close to God. Peter calls us aliens and strangers scattered about in a strange land. Indeed. Ironically, I revel in the midst of my greatest accomplishment, my baby boy, and I feel everything but great and accomplished. Ironically, my greatest accomplishment required the smallest of effort by me.
Calling is Irresistible and Effortless
What if our glory doesn’t come from our own efforts? What if glory is more of an attitude, a choice of the will? What if glory requires nothing but acceptance—as in the acceptance of an inheritance, a birthright? What if your greatest dreams are right before your eyes, right now, today, always available? “You are the first one of your kind. And you feel like no one before and you steal from under my door…everywhere you go you shout it, you don’t have to be scared about it. No.” sings Bono in Original of the Species. I believe Bono sings about Adam and Eve and alludes to the uniqueness of every and each human being. He reminds me of the perfection of the Garden, the goodness of man. Adam and Eve had the choice between contentment with things as they are and knowledge of things as they could be. Unfortunately, they could only be worse, darker. The only way to change perfection is to make it imperfect.
How do I know if I am called?
What if you pursued dreams according to your true self and not according to the American Ego? What if you chased successes according to your birthright, your imperishable inheritance? Fellow blogger, Scotthyoung advises, “If the path you are on currently is giving you the greatest growth, passion and fulfillment it doesn’t matter whether you ever reach your destination.” He suggests that the process is more important than the goal. Success for success’s sake leaves us empty. He suggests that we choose the experience we want rather than the goal. My friend Kit says that the true measure of a warrior is the size of his adversary. The challenge and consequent growth is what’s important in life not the end goal. And an imperishable inheritance implies security and strength to face any adversity. True callings and true strengths don’t disappear even in the darkest, hardest times, and nor in the loneliest places. True characters persevere. Callings persist. Strengths grow. And with time, passion increases as challenge increases.
Put aside the American Ego, The Suburban Delusion, the need for approval from others, the lies of media and celebrity royalty. Wrestle through and put aside the emotion. Put aside the weighing of pros and cons, the endless strategies and options, the confusion of the limited mind. What is left? What does your true self desire? Put aside the lie that life is supposed to be easy and fun. What do you do when life gets hard? Who are you when the darkness hits? What would you do if you had a limited amount of money, time, and energy? Cause you do. What would you do even if it is expensive, costly, and hard? What would you do even if no one else would do it? What would you do despite the sacrifice? For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross…When I’m at a true rest, I want secure, trusting relationships. I want unconditional love and acceptance. I want reality. I want heaven and perfection. I want to love and help people. I want safety for all people. When I’m at true rest, I listen and challenge. I fulfill all these desires through teaching, writing, and family. Calling easy. Following is not. It’s sacrificing. And it’s satisfying, refining—purifying. What is worth the sacrifices to you? I don’t think it’s vision that holds you back. It’s courage—courage to be who you truly are, courage to claim your birthright—courage to be singularly imperishable in a world that perishes. Who are you?
First of all, this was number 1 on VH1’s 100 greatest pranks for good reason. Second, we can learn a lot about fear through the young temp. Did you see how the poor temp responded to the devil child? She screamed. She ran. She declared her faith in God, and she declared her identity. How does one deal with fear? How does society say people, especially men, should respond to fear? I have enough trouble just acknowledging that I’m afraid. I feel fear before starting the school year. I feel fear after hard conversations with people I love. I feel fear in unknown places and sometimes in the dark. Miles, like money, has magnified all my feelings, problems, and blessings. Life just seems bigger. Seeing Miles, my baby, reminds me of my own vulnerability as well as his everyday. If he hurts, I probably hurt more. Nerves and fear have been unavoidable.
Sometimes, I respond to fear with action. I do something to disprove my fears. I was afraid to ride the bull in Utah so I rode it. I’m afraid to speak up so I do. I get afraid of homelessness so I work. Sometimes fear serves us; sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes fear paralyzes me and leads me to more fear. I’ll even fear fear (the last thing that President Roosevelt wanted). My legs shake. My arms feel weak. I have trouble breathing. I feel small. I think this is the fear that fellow blogger, Nate Heldman talks about on Tin Spoon. He mentions how fear immobilizes. He emphasizes how God doesn’t want us to live in fear especially of men—that God want us to live with courage. Yet fear is real and human. How do we respond? Should I cry, shriek, and whimper like a baby? I don’t find this acceptable for full grown men. St. Peter’s letter says, “Perfect love casts out fear?” How can I respond with love to fear? For me, just saying I’m afraid is a step towards perfect love and grace. Sitting in my fear and praying helps. Sometimes talking helps. The struggle for me is to not cover up my fear with anger or to power through my fear, but rather to process my fear, and to somehow cast it out with perfect love. If I would have processed my fear of the bull before I rode it, I’m sure I would have stayed on longer. Instead, when I started to fall off, I just saw myself living out my fears. I was supposed to fall off just as I imagined. Fear kept me from setting higher, realistic goals, and it caught me on my backside. If I would have accepted my very reasonable fear first, I could have performed better.
Is it right and healthy? What does it do?
How do you process fear in yourself? In others?
Do you cry, scream, freeze, hide, run, power through, get angry and tough, use ineffective self-talk?
How do you accept it and express it? How do you cast it out with perfect love?
Where in life are you living out of fear and playing small? How does it work and not work for you?
Hey life coaches, I’ve seen anger, grief, and blessing work. What if you created some type of fear process?
No surprise, Optimus Prime was an expert at transforming and shifting gears—even in face of unexpected adversity. He transformed himself to fit the need of the moment. Monday, I went back to school in order to prepare for my classes. I thought it was Teacher Institute day. It wasn’t. There were no other English teachers in the department office. So at 7:30am, I had a critical choice of whether to go home to my newborn and wife or to stay and prepare for classes. I stayed to work, but what started as a couple of hours became a whole day. I got home 7hours later. I met with a fellow blogger and life coach, Jeff Caliguire, for lunch, but the day still included 5 hours of work that I didn’t plan for. I’m sure my lunch with Jeff could have been more efficient too (no offense, Jeff). When I finally got home, I felt some anger and sadness around losing a whole day of spontaneous life with Miles and Bridget. I also found myself with a lot of work energy, drive to achieve more. Bridget and Miles were both napping, the Spa channel was on, and all was calm in our suburban abode. I couldn’t seem to slow down to just be with my family. The life of my baby seems much different than the life of a working man. Not a smooth transition.
So here I am writing this blog. Writing helps me to slow down. In the end, I probably made the right decision to work today. Institute day should be less stressful. This whole week has been a transition week away from Miles, Bridget, and a sunny, summer vacation. Transition from weeks of spontaneous family time to teaching writing to hundreds of developmentally challenge human beings is a huge shift. Since the arrival of our boy, shifting gears efficiently and smoothly have become more and more important.
How can I make transitions smoother? Music helps me to slow down and speed up. Changing clothes helps me shift. Conversations with some people help me shift. Meditation and exercise help me to slow down and speed up.
What helps you to slow down and speed up smoothly?
How do you shift gears throughout the day? Between seasons of life?
How do you make clean, efficient, effective decisions?