Friday, January 13, 2012

Here's To Today

Here's to today...
          a day lived on too little sleep and even less motivation to put x's in the blanks next to my
          to-do list

Here's to today...
          a day with expectations looming overhead like dark rain clouds yet only the desire to
          read, write,  hear, and speak poetry

Here's to today...
          one lived in the knowledge of grace; not from the ever-widening and rising volume of
          theology, but rather from having fallen face first and trying to get up again

Here's to today...
          the good, the bad; the monotony, the excitement; and everything in between

Here's to today...
          because it is today and
          it is all we'll ever have

Monday, January 2, 2012

Staying In The Fight

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything substantial enough to post. 

When I think about why this is, I give myself (and others who ask) excuses.  I’ve been busy with school and work, it’s been hunting season and then the holidays, I’ve been tired, and so on and so on.  If I’m honest I have to say that I’ve been avoiding my keyboard. Avoiding the emotional landslide that will inevitably come when I sit down and try to articulate how I feel about what’s been going on in my life recently.

I try to convince myself that I’m fine, or at least I’m doing the best that I can given the circumstances.  But a dwindling supply of pipe tobacco and a recycling bin full of empty beer and whisky bottles tell a different story.

The past few months have been a roller coaster of experiences and emotions.  First off, I started being a full-time student again, back at UW-Eau Claire taking the classes I need to in order to apply to Medical School.  This act alone has brought me an excess of new but oddly familiar experiences.  While I still go to the same campus and do homework at the same coffee shop that I have been for 6 years almost everything else is different.  I’ve switched the focus of my study from the humanities to hard science, I’ve had to learn to pick out a whole new set of faces from the crowds in the student union, and I have to constantly explain that I’m 24, already have a degree, and am hoping to get into medical school by 2013, graduate when I'm 30, and be employable a decade from now.

In the personal arena, the recent months have brought just as much excitement and hardship.  I’ve discovered and cultivated a new community here in Eau Claire, I’ve organized a cigar and steak fundraiser to help Healing Hands Global in Honduras, camped out for Bon Iver tickets (not to mention actually going to that amazing concert), gone on random adventures, and had countless meaningful conversations with close friends and relative strangers.

By far the hardest thing that has happened to me recently is the illness and death of my Grandpa.  He was hospitalized in October with pneumonia 5 days before what was supposed to be one last trip to what we call “The Duck Farm”.  Instead of spending 4 days together with him, my dad, and my brother eating pancake breakfasts, hunting, playing cards, and listening to Grandpa’s stories we spent our time there packing up the cabin and preparing it to be sold.  The Duck Farm simply wasn’t the same without Grandpa there.   

Grandpa died on December 9th after 3 bouts with pneumonia, a blood infection, and other complications that simply come with being 86 years old.  His funeral was an amazing time of closure for me.  For the first time I can remember, I saw pictures of him in the Navy during WWII, the one thing he never talked about.  Other pictures were from times I did hear about: his childhood, his career as an industrial arts teacher, and even him smoking his pipe.  The funeral was also a clarifying moment.  I didn’t cry until I saw my friend Renee Wurzer (who I often call my adopted church mother) at the back of the church.  She drove from Chippewa Falls to the Twin Cities with my friends Carl and Curt to come and support me through my time of need.  Even now, 3 weeks later, the memory of their support is bringing me to tears.

I’ve been avoiding writing because I’ve been avoiding my emotions, stuffing them down by whatever means necessary (social events, drinks, and television are the main tools).  Truly feeling, truly giving my emotions free reign to be would cause me to fall apart.  In my mind I simply cannot do that right now, or ever really.

Sunday morning, Perry challenged our church as a whole to commit to truly believing that God is good for the entirety of 2012.  That challenge is haunting in light of what I’ve just written about.  God is asking me to come alive and be an active collaborator with Him in the world that surrounds me.  Facing my emotions and what lies underneath them is the starting point to coming alive.  Falling apart under the weight of what has happened recently will force me to trust His goodness, something I haven’t done fully ever before in my life.

I’ve also being reading through the end of Luke’s account of Jesus’ life.  The most recent passages have been talking about what will happen before “the Kingdom comes”, things like wars, turmoil, plagues, natural disasters, and famines.  What God’s been teaching me through these Scriptures  has nothing to do with the Apocalypse or His second coming, but rather the coming of His Kingdom into my life for the first time in a meaningful way.

And it’s not going to be an easy process, full of puppies, in-flight movies, and tasty treats.  It has already a knock-down-drag-out, no-holds-barred, brawl and it has just begun.  This fight will either end in my spiritual death or my spiritual freedom, either way I’m going to end up bloodied and exhausted.

I’m a weakling, in no way capable of putting up a fight against the evil that I must face.  Luckily, I’m not the only one fighting on my side.  The Great Enabler is in my corner and He’s promised He will give me the strength and the wisdom necessary to continue on. I just need to stay in the fight.