Friday, November 30, 2007
“Now Mr. Taylor,” said Roland Anthony with cool conviction, “I do believe you’ll understand me when I say that your friend on the front porch must go. I appreciate your heart in the matter, son, but I believe you’ll agree that there are more proper establishments for such men.”
The sweet southern drawl of the imperious man’s voice almost made the request seem hospitable. But there was no mistaking the intent. David Taylor had secretly lived in fear of this moment for the past two months like an anxious kid who’d been slowly siphoning off the ole’ man’s liquor.
Roland Anthony made his point abundantly clear, just as clear as he had been making his arguments to the courts of Savannah and the rest of Georgia for thirty five years.
David Wayne Taylor IV, fresh out of Yale Law, a husband with a newborn, being paid handsomely to study for the bar, and trying to carry the storied family name, was sobered by Roland Anthony’s unspoken reminder of his proud southern heritage. Charity certainly had its place for a southern gentleman, but that place was not the front porch of the magnificent Victorian housing the acclaimed law office of Anthony, Sloan, & Hicks.
David had been at the firm for a mere two and a half months. Eager to impress, he was always first at the office. It was during one of these early mornings that he stumbled upon the “friend” to whom Roland Anthony had politely referred.
David knew him simply as “Hollywood,” a homeless African-American Vet in his late fifties. Their first encounter was abrupt, and the unsuspecting David was unsettled. But Hollywood had a mysterious presence, a lighthearted and relaxed command of the awkwardness of the situation that enthralled David and made him feel truly welcomed. Having lived his life in the long shadow of southern social propriety, David was both fascinated and undone by the unaffected grace and dignity of Hollywood. “How can he still feel so good about life?” David mused.
They began visiting for a few minutes each morning. They sat on the porch talking freely in the cool early morning breezes of late fall in Savannah. Soon they began getting coffee and it wasn’t long before David was the last one to the office. It didn’t seem to matter anymore. There was contentment to be found in life apart from career success and family pedigrees. It was the contentment of simply knowing and being known, and apart from his wife, David wondered if he’d ever really known it before he met Hollywood.
The trouble came the morning that Roland Anthony discovered the improbable pair meeting on the porch.
Hollywood knew the score.
The next morning he took the gut-wrenching words right out of David’s mouth.
“No worry Cap’n,” he said. “You gotcha’yer family to keep. Don worry about me. No sir, I been workin’ these streets a long time.”
Hollywood smiled brightly, hugged David, grabbed his pack, and walked off into the bright Savannah morning.
David kept a low profile over the next several weeks, nursing along the first true bout of depression that he’d ever known.
He resumed his early morning routine, and every morning he thought about Hollywood.
Late one night David was working alone at the office. Exhausted, he’d turned off the light to take a nap. He was awakened by a loud commotion coming from the porch. He heard a familiar voice say, “Hey, you,” followed by several gunshots.
David jumped to his feet, raced downstairs, and unlocked the front door.
Lying in a pull of blood on the front porch was Hollywood.
His breathing was shallow, but he smiled as a speechless David cradled him.
It was a cold windy night and he’d come back to the porch. He’d been awakened by a man trying to break into the house who he confronted.
“Well Cap’n,” said Hollywood, still smiling, “Tell de boss I finally paid de rent!”
David yelled for help as his friend breathed his last and slumped, lifeless, in David’s arms.
David sobbed uncontrollably as he held Hollywood’s limp body.
Several police cruisers soon arrived as David continued to hold his friend. He was quiet now, mysteriously content as the officers approached.
Only now had the truth become clear to David. He was also unwelcome on this porch. It was not the “proper establishment” for a man like him. But no one would ask him to leave this place. He alone had to make that decision.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Wake up! Rub away the comfort of drowsy eyes and take a look around. We live in a world of injustice and pain... Can you see it? Can you hear it? It echos from the groaning of the earth consumed by greed, to the cry of the refugee torn from her country, to the silence of the man sitting cold and alone on the park bench downtown.
Advent calls us to become aware of the need for healing, for hope, and for help. Advent calls us to be awakened to the need for Messiah.
As the faithful waited for the advent of the Messiah many years ago, their longing was filled with the desperation of those on the margins. During this Advent, let's participate in that desperate expectancy by remembering and confronting the brokenness and struggle around and within us.... so awaking ourselves both to the need for and hope of God's life-renewal.
Some suggestions for action:
· Fast this week... skip lunch, or simply eat rice and beans for supper. Remember those for whom choosing what or whether to eat is not an option.
· Sit outside for an hour... on your porch, in the park, where ever. Experience the cold and remember those with whom you share this hour.
· Donate a pair of gloves and a winter hat to Kentucky Refugee Ministries as they welcome folks relocating to Lexington who are not used to the cold of winter.
· Read Scripture:
1. Mark 14: 32-42 - your eyes are very heavy…keep awake!
2. Matthew 24:37-44 - be awake and ready
3. Romans 13:8-14 – now is the moment for you to wake from sleep.
Monday, November 26, 2007
We begin a serious of Advent reflections. here is one from Will Samson that was first posted last year.
Advent is here. The arrival of the Christ is upon us. We wait. And I'm really bad at waiting. If there was one negative description that would best be applied to me it would be "impatient". It's the story of my life. It defines a struggle I have dealt with from my earliest memory. I'm 41.
Yet Advent comes to us again, as it does every year. And, as always, we are reminded that we anticipate more. The first Advent of the Christ got us to this point. It brought us a living Jesus and gave us a life to imitate. The first Advent gave us the cross of Jesus to which we are called. It made resurrection a possibility, which, in turn, gives us hope for the next Advent.
And so, now, again, we wait. We hover in liminal space, always conscious that we are on the brink of something greater. We celebrate the first coming of Jesus. But I admit my inability to grasp the second.
At various points in my life I thought I had that question answered. But I'm coming to realize that it is the waiting, and the mystery, to which I have been called. Where I once thought the second Advent of the Christ could be reduced to a formula, I now find myself living in accord with those who wandered and waited for the first coming. Like the people of God before that amazing night in Bethlehem, I have no choice but to seek to be faithful to the call of God, and to live in expectancy.
"Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation."
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
As I read the scriptures this week I have caught myself savoring the Colossians passage. I feel like Paul is bringing me behind the curtain with this stuff about Jesus. How does Jesus hold all these things together? How does his blood make peace? Paul doesn’t say how. He doesn’t begin to answer my why questions. But he weaves this heady tapestry, and I long to worship this Jesus in the ether before time began.
I also feel myself read quickly through the account of Jesus on the cross, mocked even by another man on another cross. How low is that? My eyes scan quickly so that I miss the dialogue and the heat and the blood and the flies and the suffocation and those nails and the joints and all the bones intact—I don’t want to be bothered with all of that. I don’t even want to hear him welcome some murderer into paradise.
I’d rather sing that Christ hymn in Colossians. But a wise man has taught me that it is not sufficient to worship this first-born Son; we are called to follow this homeless Palestinian (the same person) through the cross somehow. Lord, let me read the hard parts closely.
Monday, November 19, 2007
"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home (John 19:25-27).
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
this comes from the book i love so much - the beautiful life by simon parke - it is a long, slow, dense read. in this chapter, he argues that truth can never be acquired but is experienced as we are transformed from the inside, changing our attitudes and shedding our opinions...
"anyone can pass on knowledge
no one, however, can pass on understanding.
for unlike knowledge, understanding is not just a sequence of words.
understanding must come from our own work and experience.
it is the gradual disentanglement of twisted textures within us.
understanding is the slow creation of space for all things.
the house inside was a peeling wreck of dirt and squalor, but the householder was offered some beautiful gold curtains, made of the finest silk, and took them. he put them up in the front room for all to see. they were most striking curtains - and the word on the street, as everyone saw them in the big window, was that everything else inside had changed as well. the householder had changed everything!
this was not so, however. nothing else had changed. the house was still damp, still dirty and still overrun with vermin. the householder had not lifted a finger to sort things out and, with his marvellous new curtains, there seemed even less need than before to do so. the gold curtains on public show were surely change enough.
but because the house didn't change, the curtains did. the house did not get better, so the curtains got worse. the damp wrinkled and rotted the fabric, the dust settled layer by layer, dimming the shine, whilst the vermin treated it as a brand-new toy, running up and down, snagging thread with their claws. it was not long before the once-glorious curtains had been reduced to the level of the rest of the house. and in time, the householder came to resent the gold curtains. he had had such high hopes of them, but really they had made very little difference at all."