Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Poetry in (e)motion

Today it occurred to me that I haven't written a song or a poem in a long, long time.

Aside from an occasional silly haiku or limerick — which doesn't really count — it's been well over a decade since I've written anything other than prose.

The last several years have been taken up with lots of academic writing (and a little blogging). Currently I have some other writing projects percolating — but all prose, no poetry.

I seem to have relegated poetry to my past, like well-loved jeans that no longer fit.

Some of that is good and right. As a teenager, I poured every hope and dream and fear onto paper, writing poems and song lyrics that were filled with teen drama and angst.

If I came across them today, I would blush with shame and embarrassment at their raw display of hormone-driven emotion... not to mention the wild imagination that had me picturing myself as a singer/songwriter with Something To Say.

I'm glad I went through that time. I think it gives me compassion and understanding for the young adults in my life. But I'm really glad I've grown less emotionally volatile, and have moved on from needing to express myself in that way.

At the same time, I wonder if I've lost something.

David wrote psalms throughout his life. If ever there was a singer/songwriter who exposed his heart, David was it. And he truly had something to say.

Maybe I just need a new subject.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The man in the middle

The other day, my son and I were driving together.

Or, I should say, he was driving, and I was in the passenger seat. Which is almost like driving, when you're the driver's parent and you have control issues. (There. I said it.)

As often happens when the two of us are in the car, we were discussing something he had been thinking about. These are always great times of conversation for us, and have been ever since he was two or three years old. (Back then, I was the one driving.)

And, as often happens when he's involved in a story, his focus was more on the story and less on his driving. As we motored through our subdivision, I noticed his choice of lanes was somewhat... approximate. So I interrupted him to pose a question:

"Matt, why are you in the middle?"

Without missing a beat, he replied:

"Well, there are issues on both sides that I sympathize with."


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Two pink lines and the heroes in our midst

The second pink line changes everything.

I volunteer as a counselor at Pregnancy Resource Center. Every week, I talk to women who may be facing an unexpected pregnancy.

These women come from every background, age group, marital status, family type, belief system, and ethnicity. They have two things in common: they are female, and they are sexually active.

We offer free pregnancy tests. As counselors, we use this interaction with a woman to explore other areas of her life (such as relationship violence), to offer assistance and referrals when needed, and to introduce her to the notion of God's love for her and His interest in her life.

Pretty intimate topics to tackle over a cup of urine.

Sometimes women come to us hoping the test is positive, and are disappointed when it is not. Often, they are fearful of the results, and burst into tears when the second pink line makes its appearance.

One young client was in the second category. She and her boyfriend already knew she was pregnant when they came to our office. In fact, they had an appointment at an abortion clinic, but cancelled it at the last minute and came to our office for counsel instead.

As the couple sat in the counseling room with me, he kept his arm around her protectively as she spoke through tears of the reaction she expected from her parents: "They're very conservative Christians... they would throw me out... I don't know what I'd do."

As I listened, I had to fight back my own tears — not tears of fear like my client's, but tears of mourning that the message she'd received from her parents' Christianity was one of harsh judgment rather than one of grace. And this message was louder than the pro-life message they also preached. (I'm not saying that's what her parents taught her; I'm only saying that's what she learned.)

Several years ago, a family we know was in the same situation. The parents had raised their kids in the church, and had taught them about God's love and His provision of Jesus for their sin.

And then one of their teenaged daughters got pregnant.

When the girl fearfully told her mother, the mom knew her own reaction at that moment would determine the tone of their relationship for the rest of their lives. So she opened her arms and wrapped her daughter in a hug that said, "You're still my child."

Exactly as God does when we bring Him our sin.

Both mother and daughter knew things would be different, that this new life would require both of them to change their plans. But that mom followed up her hug of acceptance by sticking by her daughter and helping her in every way possible.

Sometimes, people look at me like I'm some kind of a hero for volunteering a few hours a week with a pro-life organization.

If you ask me, my friend who demonstrated grace to her daughter, and her daughter who demonstrated courage by owning up to her mistake — these women who are living out their beliefs every minute — they are the real heroes.


Monday, August 03, 2009

Haiku contest WINNER!

After an arduous selection process,
we have a winner of

Canine Crusade Hymn:
"Just as I am, without one
I see that paw.

Congratulations, Gerald Longjohn!

+ animal awareness
= pure awesome!

I'll drop your Coldstone Creamery gift card in the mail this week!

Other terrific entries came from...

Julie Weston:

Creedence Clearwater:
“There’s a bathroom on the right!”
Not like a bad moon...

(Thanks, Julie — CCR was one of my favorite bands when I was a kid!)

Matthew Westerholm:

Strength will rise? "You're the
Defender of the week" — um . . .
A football award?

(Football and worship choruses — what could be more American?)

...and one "Anonymous" [cough Pete Muir cough]:

Tomlin likes to golf
We raise up holy hands to...
praise the hole in one?

(What? Don't you raise your hands when you get a hole-in-one?)

You can read these and the other submissions in the comments of the original post.

Thanks for playing, everyone — you were great!

Next haiku contest: regional expressions!