The Box You Put Me In

img_0908-1There is this word that keeps cycling around in my head. That happens sometimes even when you don’t have Asperger’s. My obsessive thoughts tested three standard deviations above normal for Pyschasthenia (the obsessive thought component often found in those with ASD) which is why I always have songs stuck in my head or maybe just a lyric or this line of thought that I’m just meandering through. Besides, you’re probably wondering by now what the word is I’ve been tossing over and over in my head like one would a cinnamon candy on the tongue; it has to keep moving otherwise the place it rests begins to burn. There’s also the curiosity of texture and effect on the inside of one’s mouth.

My synesthesia is salivating at the thought of it.

The word itself is not so savory. Neither is the feeling, nor the emotional wreckage it evokes in me because it just so sums up how I’ve felt lately. The word is pillory or, in the past tense, pilloried. As I am wont to do, I did some cursory research on the etymology of this particular word and found that the source of it is uncertain. It has the connotation of strong censure or criticism, often in a public setting, or abuse if that’s a word you understand or can relate to. Definitions in the English language are so fluid and words don’t always mean what we think they mean or want them to mean or even intend them to mean. Couple that with the Sociological axiom that you will be perceived as you appear—or “perception is reality” if you like brevity—and you have the cause of concern for which I, myself, feel I have been pilloried.

And it has happened more than once in two completely different contexts. It is the constant struggle of the misperception that I am trying to be the antagonist or I am the victim. I stand accused of “verbally crucifying” people and for “playing the victim”. It would seem that I should not be allowed to use the fact that my brain perceives and understands communication in a far different manner than most by someone who believes themselves to be an advocate for mental health. The irony is not lost on me. However, that person is entitled to the opinion they have developed of me though I fail to understand it. I do not understand a lot of things these days and this is instance one of two for which I feel I have been censured. With this person I feel I cannot be myself anymore because I do not want, nor do I want to learn how, to be someone else. This is who and what I am. I hate to say I am defined by it but to avoid that requires the mental gymnastics I am not even close to being able to handle.

Admittedly, I get tired of explaining to NT’s the things they find easy and are essentially instinct to them are lost on me. Today, I had to explain that I have to buy a specific kind of bread. My coworkers thought that was strange. Who is to say what is and is not?

This is where I have run into another area of life, recently, where I feel I am relegated to a minority for my inability and lack of desire to try to fit in at work. That is not to say I do not get along with my coworkers. That is actually far from the truth; I enjoy being around a lot of the people I work with but there is a difference between business cordiality and friendship. I would not hang out with most of these people outside of work which speaks more towards my attitude about it than anything.

Demographics alone would have me standing out as a minority in my team, being one of two males on a team of 10 or so. You can imagine, then, the great divide when the two males are both share similar aversions to unprofessional or more personal conversation that we are more or less forced to be exposed to. For business purposes, or at least as I understand it, we maintain an instant message group chat for our site. It has now become overwhelmingly unrelated to work and more about expressing affection towards one another: things I’m sure are supposed to be uplifting and encouraging to some people. I, however, do not pretend to understand this behaviour. When I express my displeasure I am met with feigned or even passive-aggressive hostility. This, in turn, grates what little patience I have because, not only do I not understand it, I innately burn cognitive function attempting to understand it. This quickly turns to frustration. Add on top of that, the condescension.of writing me off as a curmudgeon or a jerk and I become incensed. My ability to intellectualize and filter emotion essentially dies at this point and my patience is lost somewhere along the way.

It is at this point I have to find someplace quiet, meditate, and pray. People have pushed me to the point, lately, that I have had to put myself in a dark room and go through, guided meditation, novenas, and pray the rosary (I am not Catholic, per se, but I find the repetition and ritual calming and it’s less stress on my knees than stimming). I am tired of always having to be on the defensive because of how I am wired. It is not an excuse any more than I could say depression or anxiety is an excuse as I experience both of them myself.

Right now that is me. I feel pilloried and I am tired of it.

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Darwin Never Had A Driver’s License


The theory of evolution states
Those unfavorable traits we carry in our genes
Will be eradicated by means of selective
Extinction by a very slow process
Of making those genes unavailable
Basically,
If it doesn’t help the species flourish
It eventually dies.

I know I have a lot of unfavorable genes
Depression, anxiety, Asperger’s, and bad joints
Meds, therapists, and psychiatrists
All sort of make me feel like
My soul went shopping for its chassis and engine
And came out of the lot with a certified
Lemon.

I’ve had relationships.
I’ve come close to relationships, too.
They all end in similar fashions
With the girl doing the dashing
Whether I did grabbed the heart
And did the smashing
Like a football against the turf

(Even though you get a penalty
For unsportsmanlike conduct
When you spike the ball
If it ain’t yours, who cares?)

Or she tied every heart string
Around her finger like a she wanted a reminder
And when the tension got to be too much
She clenched her fist and rushed out
So fast, it took only that part of me with her
But left me living to survive with that pain.

Listen, I wonder sometimes if I
Was meant to die lonely while I watch
Everyone around me find out what it means
To at least be momentarily overjoyed
With the rings on their fingers and
Kids popping out every which woman

I am not, nor have I ever been built
To know what that is like in a sense
Other than one that is unique to me.
And if that means facing Darwin’s
Stoic perception of how traits die out
In this world then I will fight him to
Every last hair in his beard

Because as much as we agree
On certain things I don’t think
He’ll come out of this fight breathing
He is not the master of my destiny
And evolution was just a small picture
In this great landscape painting
Long before he described
The evolution of the species

Truth is, I don’t know what I’m doing
Don’t know where I’m going
Right now it seems prudent just to do
What is required to survive.

That’s hard enough most of the time.
Besides, if I had stopped my life
Every time I’d fallen in love
I’d feel even farther behind.
I only did that once
And it was the biggest waste
Of three years of my life

But sometimes, I ask God,
He being greater than Darwin
What it is I’m supposed to be doing
I don’t have a concrete answer yet
But like I learned driving from
Nebraska to Wyoming to Utah
To Nevada to California to Arizona (Fuck you)
To Kansas and back home

When you’re surrounded by open road
It’s way easier to go forward than back
Or to wait on the shoulder
For someone to save you

Fill up that tank,
Replace that tire and put miles behind you
And thank God Darwin can’t drive.

Rite II

Heather

[Let us Pray]

I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord.
Whoever has faith in me shall have life,
even though he die.
And everyone who has life,
and has committed himself to me in faith,
shall not die for ever.

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking, he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.
I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.

For none of us has life in himself,
and none becomes his own master when he dies.
For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord,
and if we die, we die in the Lord.
So, then, whether we live or die,
we are the Lord’s possession.

Happy from now on
are those who die in the Lord!
So it is, says the Spirit,
for they rest from their labors.

[We have come hear to celebrate the life of a friend, a mother, a wife, and one of two people I would ever call “Mom”]

The Lord be with you.
You: And also with you.
Let us pray

[SILENCE]

O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day
our sister Heather. We thank you for giving her to us, his
family and friends, to know and to love as a companion on
our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion,
console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate
of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue
our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with
those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Lamentations 3:22-26, 31-33

The steadfast love of YHWH never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “YHWH is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” YHWH is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the YHWH. (ESV)

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. (ESV)

1 John 3:1-2

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (ESV)

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
You: Glory to you, Lord Christ.

John 11:21-27

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (ESV)

John 14:1-6

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV)

The Gospel of the Lord
You: Praise to you, Lord Christ.

In the assurance of eternal life given at Baptism, let us
proclaim our faith and say,

[The Apostle’s Creed]

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant(s) with your saints,
You: where sorrow and pain are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting.

You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind;
and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we
return. For so did you ordain when you created me, saying,
“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” All of us go down
to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia,
alleluia, alleluia.

You: Give rest, O Christ, to your servant(s) with your saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting.

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your
servant Heather. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of
your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your
own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy,
into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the
glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

For our sister Heather, let us pray to our Lord Jesus
Christ who said, “I am Resurrection and I am Life.”

Lord, you consoled Martha and Mary in their distress; draw
near to us who mourn for Heather, and dry the tears of those who
weep.
You: Hear us, Lord.

You wept at the grave of Lazarus, your friend; comfort us in
our sorrow.
You: Hear us, Lord.

You raised the dead to life; give to our sister eternal
life.
You: Hear us, Lord.

You promised paradise to the thief who repented; bring our
sister to the joys of heaven.
You: Hear us, Lord.

Our sister was washed in Baptism and anointed
with the Holy Spirit; give her fellowship with all your saints.
You: Hear us, Lord.

She was nourished with your Body and Blood; grant her a
place at the table in your heavenly kingdom.
You: Hear us, Lord.

Comfort us in our sorrows at the death of our
sister; let our faith be our consolation, and eternal life our
hope.

[SILENCE]

Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to you our sister
Heather, who was reborn by water and the Spirit in Holy Baptism.
Grant that her death may recall to us your victory over death,
and be an occasion for us to renew our trust in your Father’s
love. Give us, we pray, the faith to follow where you have led
the way; and where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy
Spirit, to the ages of ages. Amen.

Everyone the Father gives to me will come to me;
I will never turn away anyone who believes in me.

He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead
will also give new life to our mortal bodies
through his indwelling Spirit.

My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.

You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

The Lord be with you.
You: And also with you.
Let us pray.

Together:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen

Merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the
Resurrection and the Life: Raise us, we humbly pray, from
the death of sin to the life of righteousness; that when we
depart this life we may rest in him, and at the resurrection
receive that blessing which your well-beloved Son shall then
pronounce: “Come, you blessed of my Father, receive the
kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.”
Grant this, O merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, our
Mediator and Redeemer. Amen.

Ministration to the Sick [BCP]

  


Part I.  Ministry of the Word


Peace be to this place, and to all who dwell in it.


Psalm 91 English Standard Version (ESV)

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.


Penitence


Hebrews 12:1-2English Standard Version (ESV)

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.


Most merciful God,

we confess that we have sinned against you

in thought, word, and deed,

by what we have done,

and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.  We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.


454    Ministration to the Sick

For the sake of you Son Jesus Christ,

have mercy on us and forgive us;

that we may delight in your will,

and walk in your ways,

to the glory of your Name.  Amen.

 

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins 

through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, 

and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life.  

Amen.

Strengthen your servant , O God, to do what she has to do 

and bear what she has to bear; that, accepting your healing 

gifts through the skill of surgeons and nurses, she may be 

restored to usefulness in your world with a thankful heart; through 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Prayer book Blues

20140410-231758.jpg

Prayers are like smoke and
dissipate into the heavens
There’s always someone
listening
Though it doesn’t always feel
or seem that way.
I light candles behind my eyes
and breathe smoke to the sky
And hope it’s a pleasing
Aroma
Though it feels like it falls
on deaf ears lately.
It hurts to doubt
But easy to do when the
followers wear happy, plastic
faces

Church. Family.

I don’t know how long this post is going to be but I thought I would share this moment because it was probably one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had in my church aside from watching friends get baptized.

I love my church, first of all. It is one of the only churches I have attended (and I’ve been to a few) where I feel like I have a family there. I feel like I belong. Since I came back from my hiatus caused by my health issues I’ve had hugs, pats on the back and all sorts of other stuff. People have expressed their sentiments about how happy they are to see me back. Most of them were aware of some of the problems but that was enough and it was like being welcomed back home.

There are a lot of people I’ve become friends with over the last few years. We don’t have a lot of what you would dub “Normal” people in our church which is entirely fine with me. I’ve made friends with a lot of the people that were like me when they were younger but due to jobs or just growing up they decided to shed their garb for more normal clothing, families, children and such.

Today we prayed for a family that have become good friends since they started attending. They’re an Air Force family and the husband is still active. He’s being deployed for a few months which I could already tell was going to be hard on his wife and I’m sure his young daughter was going to miss her father.

So, our pastor called them up and asked every one to gather around them. And the entire congregation got up and surrounded them as we prayed for them. I was able to take a spot right behind both of them. Being their friends that seemed important to me for some reason. But it was just wonderful to see our entire congregation, though small, rally around a family as they approach this difficult time.

There were so many hands on my back and on my shoulders as not everyone could lay hands on them it was incredible. When it was all over, I looked up to see my pastor and best friend and all he could say was:

“That is how you do church”

Reflections of a Church Planting Intern: Week 6

Truth be told, I didn’t want to write this blog. Not because of some sort of rebellious attitude or because I’m sick of this blog. Well, there is a small part of me that lacks discipline and so both cold be partially true. But I struggled to find stuff I wanted to write about. But I forced myself to go and here’s what I’ve got for you…

As you can tell from previous posts I encounter a lot of stuff during the week or I think about a lot of stuff. This week was a lot of stress and it stemmed mostly from the fact that I had been tasked to manage getting everything ready for the Gretna Days parade that is coming up in a few weeks. I hadn’t endured stress like that since the least school year. I know it doesn’t sound like something that would cause a lot of stress but it was killing me for a while. I didn’t think I could handle getting the float together because I’m really not that great at creating things that are visually appealing. I also freaked out because I didn’t, and still don’t, know if I will have enough people to pull off what I want to during the parade. I was really freaking out at one point to where I said I didn’t really want to be in charge of it anymore.

But I feel better now.

I talked to my parents who were in charge of doing this last year and they gave me some really good ideas. I’ve since had these ideas implemented and the float will be done in the next few days or so. As far as the people, well… I guess I’ve heard it enough times this week from enough people that I really just trust God will provide enough people if this is what he wants to have happen. And who knows? Maybe something crazy and unexpected will happen. I apologize now for being vague but this particular idea must be kept quiet lest the surprise be ruined. You’ll just have to be there if you don’t intend on being a part of it.

So, I finally finished reading The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggeman. I say “finally” because you have no idea how many times I started and stopped reading that book in lieu of something else. Old Walt can be difficult to read because of his writing style and voice. Sometimes he chooses to use words that I find unnecessary or difficult and I’d get frustrated at the fact that I couldn’t tear through the book like I can when I’m reading a lot of other books. But, after getting into the book again, I really was entranced by his thoughts about many facets of the prophetic ministry. So much so that I presented the information to Ben and we had a pretty long discussion (with the assistance of a marker board) on Brueggeman’s ideas and how we could apply them in our current issues in approaching the culture of Gretna.

There’s no way I can take the time or space to explain the content of this conversation. You can ask me about it sometime if you’re really interested. Or you could go read the book.

What else happened this week…?

I spent a fair amount of time not being home this week. There have just been way too many people and lately it’s felt like I can’t relax when there are 10-15 people in my house taking up the couch, the floor, the basement and wherever else they can stash themselves to hang out here. On one hand I am really thankful that we can be a house where people feel comfortable to come hang out in. But for me the difficulty becomes that, selfishly, I do not like to be around people all day or even most of the day sometimes. And I guess I can’t say that just about my house. I’m around people all day when I work and I have to be around people for this internship. So, there are some days where I am around people for 12-13 hours straight. And, as we’ve learned from past blogs, I do not deal with that well. My mind and body start to tense up and are on edge. To paraphrase Donald Miller I’m like that battery powered drill that needs to be charged for about 24 hours to work for about 10 minutes.

Ok, so I’m exaggerating.

But I sometimes feel like I’m limited by this facet of my personality.

This whole week has been pretty much a blur. Work has been increasingly lame because of how I feel I’m being treated which may or may not reflect how things are actually working. I sometimes wonder if my perception of the environment around me and how things happen are not some how marred by my tendency to see the negative side of my realist (and sometimes more pessimist) bent toward life. And sometimes I have to tell myself it’s just my pride getting in the way. Basically, what has been happening lately is, or at least it feels like, I cannot get anything done right. That, somehow, my knowledge, skill and experience have not been serving me well lately and I’ve been struggling to do my job well. The reality of the situation is that I’m doing about as well as I have ever done but I’m feeling isolated because I get excluded from everything my team does as a whole because of my schedule. It feels like I’m working out in the middle of the ocean on a raft sometimes. Which sounds like something I’d do well at but in my job if I don’t have some sort of affirmation that I belong it’s really hard to see the vision of what the team tries to accomplish. I only get to see the bad side of things which doesn’t do well with my personality and disposition. And I don’t know how to get past that.

Is there anything else?

Ah, yes. I will be going back to York E-Free Church sooner than I had expected. Initially, Jon had told me that it would be about 6 months before he would bring me back. Well, thanks to the providence of God and his use of some communication issues I will be going up there with no support but God to step in front of that congregation along with a visiting group of bikers from the Christian Motorcycle Association. So, I was hoping to do something that was pretty basic and gospel-centered. That sounds pretty easy to throw together isn’t it? I’d been stressing about it since it was confirmed that I’d be going but I then just started praying and really focusing on what I felt would be a good (and hopefully easy) text to bring to these people. I am a little relieved that I have found a text to work from. I’m a little gunshy about the fact that text though.

Habakkuk?

Granted I wrote a 10-15 page paper on this for a class but there’s a lot of content that I can’t or don’t have time to present if I’m going to rip through the entire book in about 30 minutes. I’ve been thinking about it constantly as has proven to be the best way for me to start assembling ideas before, during and even after I’ve finished fleshing out the sermon. So, I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to tackle this yet but I intend on holing up in my office tomorrow for most of the day to get that all straightened out. Your prayers will be much appreciated this week going into the weekend.

Until next time, faithful believers…

Music
P.O.S. – “Never Better”
City & Colour – “Little Hell”
Poison the Well – “Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”
Poison the Well – “Opposite of December… A Season of Separation”
Poison the Well – “Tear from the Red”
Poison the Well – “You Come Before You”
Poison the Well – “Versions”
Poison the Well – “The Tropical Rot”
Dead of Dawn – “The Ultimate Shakespearian Betrayal”
B. Dolan – “Fallen House, Sunken City”
Derek Webb – “Stockholm Syndrome”
Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken – “TN EP”
Arch Enemy – “Doomsday Machine”
Astronautalis – “The Mighty Ocean & Nine Dark Theaters”
Grieves – “Together/Apart”

Movies
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Blade Trinity
Blazing Saddles

Books
The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann
Jim & Casper Go to Church by Jim Henderson

Bible
Habakkuk
Job

Verse
YHWH, I have heard the report of you, and your work, YHWH, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2 ESV)