Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday

Some Monday’s are Monday (-ier) than others. For me that means just a deeper state of melancholy. It’s a point where I‘d rather just disengage and let my headphones and random thoughts lead the way through to a deeper place. With a laptop literally in my lap, Hotel California in my ears, and a far off look on my face, I could sit here in this cushy chair by the window for hours. People come and go, singles, groups, mostly on a mission. I wonder if it’s Monday for them?
I’m realizing that most of the Monday-ness comes not from the day but from the days previous or possibly the days to come. What I think I mean is that this Monday melancholy usually comes from the strain of the days before or from the uneasy anticipation of what’s still to come. For me, I think that it is a defense mechanism. It is my body and soul recalibrating either from something or for something. Being naturally the introvert, it usually involves an adjustment from or in anticipation of people vacuum. People vacuum, I believe, is the process by which people suck the life out of introverts like myself. I don’t think that extroverts have any idea that this is a real phenomenon. In fact, I’d be willing to guess that this is where some of their excess energy comes from.
To be fair, most of this exchange of energy, at least in my life, happens willingly. Being in the public position that God has oddly placed me, it is unavoidable. Like I said, I’m not sure that it really happens much to extroverts in my role. They seem to be energized by those they are called to lead. Sometimes I despise them. I mean really, I have to expend twice as much energy to accomplish similar tasks and I don’t even get to have the body to show for it. I’m hung over and I wasn’t even invited to the party. At the end of the day, they’re still smiling, Joel Osteen like, and I just want to slap them.
But God has granted Monday’s to souls like mine so that we can realign ourselves with the planets and plow into one more week. It is totally the reason why my weekly sojourn down to the beach, to drink coffee, type aimlessly, and daydream, happens on a Monday morning. In my tenure as pastoral artist here in the Northwest, I may have the opportunity to communicate great insights from the Book of Books. I may be able to bring comfort to broken lives. I may be able to lead through great changes. Whatever the week brings or has brought, none of it happens without a Monday, and for that I’m grateful.

Monday, April 21, 2008

chance

Sitting here in observational mode on another Monday morning brings me to the realization that it is quite possible that anyone who still clings desperately to the theory of evolution as an answer to all that surrounds them has, in all probability, never sat long enough to appreciate their surroundings. That was a long sentence. What I think I mean is that this couldn’t possibly just all happen accidental like. I’m not saying that we don’t evolve. Certainly we do, except for our fashion sense. That seems to be hopelessly stuck in a 50’s through 90’s circle of doom.
Take, for example, the idea of diversity. It’s interesting that the more we advocate the acknowledgement and value of the diversity of humanity, we also want to dispute the origin of said diversity. In my humble opinion, diversity is the biggest argument in favor of intelligent design, or as I would put it; God. Think about it, in a place such as Seattle, where there are as many languages and cultures as there are coffee selections, diversity still holds one common strand called humanity. If this were all chance, as some would argue, then the caffeinated establishment that I inhabit this morning would look more like Star Wars than Starbucks. I’d be blogging from the Cantina.
Even in diversity and chance, we want order. Wearing glasses and being called “four eyes” is one thing for the playground. Literally having four eyes, however, would be quite unacceptable. But if we advocate a chance existence, wouldn’t and shouldn’t everything be on the table? The scene I’m looking out on this morning took a long time to come to be. It used to be glaciers. They melted and people came. More people came and moved some of the original people. A city was built, a city burned, and a city was built again. More people came, then airplanes, then music, then coffee, then computers, then Californians. This all evolved to be sure, but not without order, unless you count city government.
Here’s the point, finally. All of this progress and evolution and change did not merely happen by chance. It had something to do with the watchful eye of an original intelligent designer. Whether through natural occurrence or technology pushed by the brains and ambition of its inhabitants, we have evolved. And we do fairly well until we get too far ahead of ourselves and try to fashion ourselves as better designers than the one who designed us. I’ve been to New Orleans. I’ve seen “flood plain” towns. I remember the “Challenger”. I live in a city built on a fault and I’ve visited the memorial at Mount St. Helens. We have our limits. Thankfully we’re not limited by chance.

Monday, April 14, 2008

leaks

I jumped off of another cliff this weekend. I finished the details and mailed the application to a new chapter in higher education. I’ve been contemplating this for years and wrestling with the actual paperwork for months. Friday morning I took a deep breath and let it slide from my fingers into the waiting hands of the US Postal service. So now it begins……maybe. After all, I haven’t been accepted yet. It’s actually a risk for me to even mention it. How will I answer if, in the Fall, a well meaning friend asks, “whatever happened with….”?
The other risk that I’m taking is fulfilling my own law of “decreased brain function”. I have this theory that states that there is a tendency in individuals who are pursuing ever increasing levels of higher education to have ever decreasing brain function. It’s not a law, but I have proposed it as a tendency. I don’t have comprehensive statistical analysis. I do have plenty of personal observation. I had always sworn off returning to school for this very reason. I can’t afford any more of a decrease. However, I have discovered that my brain just naturally leaks. What I once thought was adequate learning for my calling no longer feels the case.
I don’t feel that I have any choice in the matter. It was inevitable for my own longevity. It seems as if the longer I participate in my community o’ faith, the more I write, the more I teach, the more I counsel and marry and bury, the lower the storehouse goes. Over the years I have tried to combat this through conferences, seminars, and books. I read everything that comes in print form. One reason I inhabit Starbucks is for the “the way I see it” writings on the sides of the cups. I read grocery store signs, and toilet paper wrappers trying to stem the tide and build a better base for my brain activity. I read road side signs from businesses. One of my favorites is a sign for a radiator repair shop claiming that they are “the best place in town to take a leak.” That’s a comforting thought after so much coffee.
My hopes for this new chapter are fairly simple. First of all, I’d like to get in…to the school I mean. It’s kind of an ego thing I know. It’s also monetary. I just wrote them a check for $40 to apply. I’d hate to lose that. Secondly, and more simply, I want to take more in so I can give more out. It’s not really any more complicated than that. Unless of course you consider the amount of course work upcoming. I’ll deal with that when it gets here.

Monday, April 07, 2008

bought

I’ve got a new view this morning. I’m a bit farther down the beach at a new caffeine port. It’s a good choice. I may have a new home. I normally wouldn’t necessarily disclose the exact location at the risk of being accused of selling out to the man (or woman). However, this seems to be a place worth mentioning. My new Monday morning spot seems like it might be hereafter known as Pioneer Coffee Roasting Company. It seems to “have it all” at the moment. It’s got a view totally unobstructed by Metro. It has carefully pulled shots in my test choice of a caramel latte. It has a baby fireplace and the benefit of free wi-fi. It really doesn’t get much better than this. Howard was promising me some free wi-fi time in his recent Starbucks shakeup, but promising and delivering are two different concepts in my book. I’m not very patient, so the home has changed and so have the loyalties. Try as I might to resist this thought, I have come to the realization that I can be bought.
I’m in this for me after all. It’s a sobering check on reality, but in all honesty, when it comes to the coffee thing, it’s all about me. I think that the reason that I am attracted to places like this, as are others, is that in this environment, it is all about me…and others like me. I can tell just from a short interchange that my drink is important. There is pride here and a desire to establish connections that go beyond profit and bottom line. Now I’m not that na├»ve to think that these things don’t matter. They obviously do, but the focus is the person and the experience, which in turn leads to profit and bottom line. The order hasn’t yet been reversed. I don’t get the idea that they need a universal 3 hour closure and retraining to rediscover that. It is still fresh here. I imagine that this was once the case in just about every good idea gone to franchise.
Those closest to me can tell you about the disillusionment that has come with the dilution of the dreams of some of my most respected pioneers. Dave Thomas at Wendy’s comes to mind immediately. For years, Wendy’s was my stop o’ choice along the fast food freeway. Any reference to the “Golden Arches” brought to mind images of damnation and eternal torment. BK was only one plane up, residing as a sort of fast food purgatory. Each Wendy’s trip was close to a worshipful experience. But today, I can’t even remember my last time there. I do know that I put up with a few years of betrayal before finally separating myself from this destructive relationship. These places all began with a dream and an idea that was so much bigger than the individual. In the beginning of these dreams it was all about me and others like me. Then, over time, each of these lost their first love. Success can do that to us any of us if we’re not careful, if we lose sight of the dream.
Try as I might, I can’t shade the parallel of this progression in the corporate world to my role in my community o’ faith. One can, and often times has made the comparison between business and the franchising of the Church. In some aspects, I cannot dispute this. It began as a plan far bigger than any one individual could contain. Over time, in many areas it has lost it’s first love. For those of us who know what’s contained in the book of books, this comes as no surprise. After all, its founder predicted that this would happen in some measure. However, I also know that in many areas, its love is fresh. Its focus is razor sharp. Its people still care about me and others just like me. I am reminded everyday of the cosmic brilliance of this plan which has enabled it to endure 2000 years of influence, despite all human efforts from inside and outside to dilute it and exploit it. Despite its flaws, there are still many who remember the first love of its founder.
So on this day as I begin a new relationship, in a new place, I wish them much success, tempered with a bit of caution. Too much success can be a dangerous thing. In the pursuit of the dream, don’t forget about me and others like me. I can be bought. I have been bought.