Pillars of Fire

10/12/11 – 11:02pm

I’ve been thinking about this page for a while. Truthfully, I wanted to set it up differently, and have been struggling with the mechanics of it. I should have known that that struggle was metaphoric (if that is a word… this is the cry of my heart, so I’ll just make it up) for the state of my soul.

I just flashed back to when my daughter was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-2 years old. I was watching her position a book on the coffee table. Obviously, because of her age, she was not as skilled at the logistics of space and movement, so she was having problems getting  the corners of the book to neatly match the corners of the coffee table. She got visibly upset that she couldn’t complete her quest in the way she wanted. My response was not to fix it for her, but a somewhat horrific realization, that “she gets that honestly”.

This year, or longer, has been somewhat of a quest for me. Years ago, I told myself and others close to me that there was this guy named Kenneth that I used to know, but I didn’t know where he was anymore. He was fun, always smiling, and adventurous. Now, people would tell me that I was that guy, but if they knew the Kenneth that I knew… I had to find him again. I’ve seen him from time to time, show up in a coffee shop, or dash around the corner, but in the more recent years, he was harder to find.

Anyway, I’ve been getting close, and this year has been pretty pivotal in starting to see him again. Writing has helped, for Kenneth is a writer (someone I was talking with was surprised that I started writing when I was 6… truth be told, I really started when I was probably 4 or 5, but the first real stories I remember being tied to the time my parents split. Another story in itself…). The other thing that has presented itself again this year is the potential for missions. Now, before some of you turn me off as a right wing conservative, doing missions to westernize the pagan world, look me square in the face and ask yourself “can I really imagine Kenneth being that kind of person?” That’s not the focus of this particular post, but it is one of the keys to my journey. Missions is something that Kenneth (that one I am trying to find) would definitely do, as he was always doing ministry outside of the norm: praying at track meets, watching God work in movie theatres, feeling more at home in the world than in the cathedral hallways…

Over the last couple of days, the group I hang with and I have been sitting before God, much like Israel did in the wilderness. In the middle of their camp would appear a pillar of fire, which was God basically saying “I’m here, and I got this”. It had to be an awesome sight, especially knowing that it was more supernatural than natural. We’ve had a couple days like that as well. Part of what this has done for me is made me not only seek God in a new way, but also start looking for Kenneth again. I think I’m getting closer…

So, this page… outside of the normal Life, Love and Wisdom that is shown on the home page, Pillars of Fire is going to be more intimate. It’s the “thoughts in my quiet place” (or my place of rage that no one knows about), my journey, my quest, to search the world, literally, for what God is doing, and for what He is doing in my world.

I don’t expect it always to make sense, and sometimes it may come across as totally churchy. It’s not the intent, but I don’t offer excuse for it either, for that is who I am (well, I’m not churchy, but I am a crazy Christian, so…). I do invite you into my journey, as journeys are better with friends and loved ones. I have learned that from many of you, especially this year.  I don’t really know what I expect from this. Maybe that Kenneth and I will never really meet, but I will understand more of who this Kenneth really is, and who I am supposed to be.

Crossroads are never easy, unless you have a nice neat map or GPS that can tell you when you have missed your turnoff and how to get to your destination after recalculating. On this quest, there is no map, and GPS cant get through the brush… All I have are markers that tell me I can go left or right, but they don’t give a destination… only a heading. Good thing, cuz the goal is not about arriving, but rather about becoming.

So this will be more “journal-ish”. I’m sure there will be some Life, Love and Wisdom that is sprinkled in it all, a lesson or two here and there. Mainly, it will be my heart, that you can laugh with, rejoice with, cry with, and walk with, as we experience the wonder of this thing called Life.

My bags are packed… here we go… 🙂

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10/13

Pillars of Fire – 10/13/11

I’m reading this book called Chasing Francis. I got it from a friend, who read it and went through a serious life transformation. I don’t know if I’m going through that same level of change, which first has me thinking “What’s wrong with me?” I’m not unaffected by the book though. Sometimes I feel, as a story teller, it’s hard to be affected by others stories… I want to start telling their story in my own way. So, I’m resisting the urge to rewrite the written, and just take in the story for what it is

I was explaining to Imani that it is one of those stories that uses all the right elements to grip you, where you can feel one with the main character, and little kids dying early is always one to grip your heart. Again with the flashbacks… this one from 15 years ago. My son Jon and I were in a play together. By all rights, I was one of the main cast, but from the reviews, you would never know it, cuz in the story, Jon’s character drowned… didn’t matter what anyone else did or said, everyone remembered this cute 8 year old, and the last scene of him dancing on stage. The reviews totally forgot me. It was ok, cuz I wasn’t doing it for the reviews. I did it cuz I like acting, and being able to play opposite my son was a blast. (yet, in thinking about this, there is something “still there” I need to be able to address…)

Anyway, back to the book. Yes, there are things in the book that have me gripped, but I think if this was another period of my life, I might not be affected in the same way. That’s how it was when I read The Shack. Two things were working against me: first, I was seriously depressed when I read it, and had been for awhile. Because of this, I had no expectation that a book, any book,  was going to break the state I was in; second, everyone raved about the book in unhealthy ways. “you gotta read The Shack! It’s the best book out!” You would have thought it descended from heaven in gold leaf and was delivered by cherubs with the sound of an angelic choir in the background. I so wasn’t having it. It was just a story, and a fictional one at that. People were so taken with the book that I ended up, through no fault of my own, having theological discussions about this work of fiction. I had a hard time taking it as seriously as others did.  I refuse to look at books like that in the same way I look at Scripture. Sure I can learn from them, or simply enjoy them, but I’ll not stake my faith on them.

Strange… you would think that a preacher that is bent on storytelling, and using stories as his primary method of delivering God’s word would be more sensitive to the power of stories to communicate God’s truth… it’s not that I’m insensitive… it’s just that “it” is not the golden egg. It’s a mechanism. Something God can use to show His truth – I realize that… Guess I’m just trying to keep balance. Chasing Francis, just like The Shack is fiction that has truth in it, so I can’t just disregard the whole thing (nor do I want to). Just keeping perspective, and trying to hear what I’m supposed to hear in the process.

I am looking forward to finishing the book, cuz it’s a good story, and it mirrors where I am in my life: quest to find oneself in ways and areas you never thought possible. Who knows what truth will stand out from there. I found it in Tron Legacy… I should be able to find it in this book

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10/13Pillars of Fire – 10/16/11 4:52pm

I have been thinking about this since it happened, and I’m still pertubed about it. Not that it was a big deal, but I think it touched a sore spot in me, in my quest for being.

I got a text the other day. Clearly it was a mistake, as I wasn’t the person named in the text. That happens, no big deal. Sometimes I let it go and just delete them, other times, I let the person know they have the wrong number, so there are no misunderstandings (and so I don’t continue to get them). Anyway, the text was a prayer for this person, who apparently is going through something pretty deep. I applaud the sender for reaching out to this person, trying to get him on the right track. I responded “who is this?”, just in case it was someone I knew (but deep inside knowing it was not), and thus commenced a sickening pseudo spiritual conversation that makes me wonder what Christians are thinking half the time.

When I told the sender I was not the intended recipient, the reply was “well I thought it was for this person, but God meant it for you”…

Ugggghhhh!!!!

First, I didn’t identify with the prayer at all, but regardless, why couldn’t you just say “I’m sorry, I thought this was his number”. If there was something I needed to get from all of this, we could have initiated a dialogue and God could have done what He wanted through it. Instead, I was put off by the bait & switch tactic, the lack of spiritual sensitivity, and the false spirituality presented in the text…

Harsh? Maybe… I guess this really touched a sore spot… maybe because I can easily drop into that person, acting the part, being churchy, saying all the right things regardless of what’s really going on in me. The more I connect with people outside the church, the more I see how out of touch we church people can be, all the while we are inviting the world into a “better life”… Is it really better, or is it rhetoric? Or, do we (or do I) focus on the simple expressions of faith (like that text conversation), instead of really pressing into what this life is supposed to be? People should know I am a Christian, not because I can spew christian rhetoric, but because my life reflects the life. The real life…

I would have been more blessed, appreciative, and open to God if the person had asked me if there was anything I needed prayer for. Even if I wasn’t a Christian, I might have felt special that someone was willing to take the time to do it.

I know that the message of Christianity can be offensive, but I don’t want to add to it by being insensitive. I want to be real. I want to really connect with people, and not just superficially. I want people to know God in the way I do, not because I said the right “salesy-type” stuph, but because they can see God in me.

Ghandi said “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today”. Tall indictment or tall order? Maybe both… time to dig in deeper…

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10/13Pillars of Fire – 01/23/12 8:27 pm

I have had the hardest  time writing lately. I sat down today with the intention of writing. I could have even cheated, and posted some pics of my latest trip to the beach. Thinking about it, I’ve been cheating a lot more lately. Taking a lot of pictures and sharing that part of me… but it’s really not me. It’s something outside to get the focus off of me. There’s a good reason for this – life has been hard lately, and it has shut me down emotionally.

I do have to say, I have some great friends, who both allow me the room to work stuff out, as well as give me the permission to open up to them. I am careful to not abuse the privilege, because some of this I just need to go through. But knowing that I can make a phone call, and be with some great people, and I don’t even need to talk about the mess? Just sit around, watch a movie, have a drink, or do something that will make us both laugh… That is a true friend.

Kid Stuph, Twitter and Facebook  have been quiet lately, and may be quiet for a little while longer while I work through the mess. My hope is that there will be a bunch of lessons in all of this, and so much that I can give back after it is all over.

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10 Replies to “Pillars of Fire”

  1. Ken, I love this post! I can so relate because I have been feeling much the same way this past year. I do this song and dance in my relationship with the Universe/Creator/God; sometimes I want to lead when I should be following and other times I follow because I am afraid to take the lead.

    On this section of my journey, the path has become more covered in stones as it winds its way upward. I have had to pay more attention to where I am stepping and step lightly. I know from past experiences that when I reach the top, the view will be awe inspiring – I just have to keep going and allow myself to rest when I am weary.

    Thank you for inviting us to join you on your journey. I agree that they are much better with friends and loved ones :^) I will try to keep up but know that even if you end up a little way ahead, do not be concerned about me for being in the rear means only that I have your back!

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    1. Hi Christie,

      Thanks so much. It’s great that you are on your own journey. I know what you mean about figuring out the lead and follow. Working through those fears brings so many benefits along the path.

      Looks like we’ll be sharing the journey with each other. I like that 🙂

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  2. Journeys, journals. Realizations, realities. Insights, inner sight. These are the pursuits that make life what it is: embracing every part of ourselves and accepting those past and present things that make us who we are in the here-and-now. Using our experiences as well as our gifts and talents will enable us to bring an enjoyable feast to today’s table as we celebrate growth, progress, wholeness.

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  3. Much to say about this one too, brother mine, but some will be said later as I’m still absorbing this…pondering it. For now, only two thoughts:
    (1) Being a storyteller is the very reason why you accept that others’ stories are just that. All of us tell stories with our lives, whether by the printed word or photography, dance or jewelry design, even architecture or feeding others. Those of us who know and follow Love can’t help but tell little bits of The Story, yet we know there is only one Storyteller. Only one.
    (2) Knowing and following Love, we can’t help but recognize elements of The Story in others’ works and lives.
    More later, brother mine, maybe a few days later, but more will come. Until then and ever after, all my love and all of Heaven’s best to you and yours.

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  4. As I read your intro and your new intentions for this page I couldn’t help smiling and wanting to reach out and hug you…for your courage. Because, recently, I, too, have been reconnecting with “that Gina”…but for me, “that Gina” has been a stifled and unacknowledged Gina who wants to unfurl her wings, or chicken legs, or whatever, and the courage part comes where some aspects of this new unfurling Gina are a little sceery…and demanding and fearless and fearful, and well…being authentic isn’t always pretty. But I do feel it is worthwhile. And really, the only way.
    Anyway, I send you preemptive hugs for those moments where “that Kenneth” confronts you with uncomfy truths and questions and challenges. But then, we all have different journeys and you may not have those moments. But you can still have the *huugs* 😉
    L O V E, Gina

    P.S. I love the “churchy” adjective

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    1. Gina, I so identify with you in this quest. It is scary, but the only way to be. And the timeliness (and content) of your response is so wonderful, as I was beginning to wonder if I should continue (the new K vs the old K battle). The challenge is definitely there, but there is joy in the journey.

      And I’ll take all the *huugs* you are willing to give 🙂

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  5. Brother mine, before I say anything else please hear that I long for your “new K vs the old K battle: to continue. Actually, I want to say, “Yes! You must pursue this path!” but I can’t. That would be the height of arrogance, insisting I know what you need and what you must do.

    Instead, honesty reduces me to begging. “Please; don’t stop.” You’ve chosen to show us all what it’s like to wield the machete that clears the path to who we really are, not to make things easier for others — we each must clear our own path, and it’s equally difficult for every one of us — but so others can see what they too must do.

    In the context of your “Ugggghhhh!!!!” story, a couple of weeks back I was in the living room, looking for something to watch while I folded towels and dealt with other laundry issues. (Our cable package recently changed, I’m still acclimating to what stations are left to us, and discovering others that s’posedly aren’t on the list.) I chanced upon a Christian program that absolutely turned me off. I don’t recall the show only that I was repulsed by all the Christianese. It’s the same feeling I get when I read some of those church billboards. You really said that? Are you completely unaware of how that comes across to someone who hasn’t stepped through a church door in a long time, if ever?

    Granted, the more time a person spends in the Book (or any book for that matter) the more he/she will reflect the language. That said, since when did ours become a “members only” culture with secret code language only we understand? If we hope to have the smallest prayer (no pun intended) of reaching seekers with the message of God’s gift, of Jesus’ tremendous love, we must cease being exclusive and be more inclusive. And by all that is holy, we *must*, absolutely *must*, stop the friendly fire. Or those seekers will never want to say “yes” to that tremendous offer of Life.

    Stepping down from my soapbox now, I send my love and all of Heaven’s best….

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  6. Ken, just read your latest post but I can’t comment directly under it so I am commenting here. Again I can totally relate as I have been in a very weird space lately, trying hard to hold on even though I feel like running away or hiding or sleeping my way through it. I want you to know that I am here if you need anything and will be here when you get back. Know that I will hold you in my thoughts and send you lots of love!

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