nuevo

Bloged in family, life by rod Saturday April 30, 2005

Allison is at work and emailing me wondering why I haven’t blogged
tonight. Today, we took a trip to Charlotte to eat lunch at Razzoo’s
and stop in at the Apple store. We came home with full bellies and a
new toy tool.

I also discovered this new cool feature on blogger that allows you to
email your post in and automatically publish.

So here I am trying out the new feature with my new toy tool. It’s way past my bedtime and I’m fading - as a matter of fact, I’m
backdating this post so you won’t know how late I stayed up.

goodnight.

wherefor art thou?

Bloged in apprenticeship, luna see, metaphor by rod Friday April 29, 2005

Last spring, through the stress of the end of the school year, I took a lot of evening and night rides on the windhorse. Maybe you remember my incessant rambling about Venus. I’d shed the stress of the day by climbing on and riding west into the sunset or the setting crescent moon, watching the evening colors morph around the sparkling planet until all was dark on the backdrop.
I’ve really missed her in the evening sky this spring. I did some searching around to find out when she’d be back this year and was amazed that it wouldn’t be until late June. By then, the sky will have lost its spring clarity and will have accumulated its summer haze of humidity. She has the brilliance to cut through it all, but she will still be inhibited.
I’m embarrassed to say that I kind of expected her to appear every evening in the middle of March just like last year, and add an extra element to the gorgeous sunset. It occurs to me how short-sighted and insular my thinking is. Here I am, traveling around the sun at 365 days per orbit, the days here being measured by revolutions of my own planet. These are the occurrences that I use to measure time. So I figure if I travel out of sight of Venus, when I return to where I last saw her, she should still be there, right? As if all she ever does is hang around up there in the evening sky and wait for me to come orbiting back around. What really happens though is quite different. She is up there doing the same thing as I am, but going about it quite differently. I’m not even sure she uses days to measure years, because in fact, her day is longer than her year. She orbits faster than she rotates. But that’s not all, while I watch her set in west behind the sun, she watches me rise in the west because she actually spins backward from my perspective. For all I know, to her, North could be down and South, up. I don’t even want to figure out how many of our separate orbits we’d have to go through to match up the locations on March 23, where we found each other last year on March 23, for instance. Maybe we could calculate it and use that to define a common “year” between us. Like an Indian raga, we could do our measurements by the least common denominator, and thus measure time.
Well, all this rambling thought goo, just made me notice how often I do this with everything and everyone around me. It is darned inconvenient when everyone’s own life patterns, personalities, moods, and circumstances don’t remain constant so that when I get through the spectrum of my own patterns, personalities, moods and circumstances, I can return to find everything just as I left it, no worse for the wear, and everyone happy to see me back. In reality though, we are network of individuals, a soular system if you will, each orbiting and spinning at his/her own speed and direction. Any one encounter, interaction, transverse, alignment, eclipse, etc., is not a result of the effort or circumstances or location of any one of us at a given time. But it is a snapshot of the current motion of every one of us at a random moment.
This makes life incredibly difficult and rewarding and exciting. What good would it do if everyone around me were the same next time we gather? I wouldn’t be the same, and would therefore perceive my change and project it on them.
I wonder if when Venus returned to her March 23 position this year, she looked up and thought, why is he not there? Just as I did when I looked up on the same day. We were miles apart. In late June, right after supper, I’ll look up and see her again, and she will see me. But we won’t be anywhere near where we were when we saw each other last year.

distentus et districtus

Bloged in apprenticeship, life by rod Thursday April 28, 2005

On Tuesday night my former guitar teacher gave a concert at Columbia College. As much as I enjoy hearing him play, and as much good as it does me, I haven’t gotten to go to many of his concerts in the past couple years because I always have something conflicting. Tuesday was no different. I knew about the concert, but had a meeting I had to go to. At lunch, several of my students asked if I was going, “Hey Dr. Rod, you’re going to the concert tonight, right?”
Back in the day, it was like pulling teeth to get my students to attend concerts. They didn’t even listen to music. If this is really what you’re all about, then why aren’t you all about it? It baffled me. Now I’ve got students who devour concerts, and I’m too busy to go. It all made me think of some wisdom that this very teacher dropped on me less than a month ago.
The context is that going to concerts is not the only thing I don’t have time to do anymore. I don’t have time to give them either. A couple years ago, I was gigging a few times a week, playing on concerts at least once a semester, etc. All of a sudden, all that grinds to a halt.
I think I’ve noticed a couple results long before I noticed their cause. First, my students seem to be less focused and inspired. The least bit of life pressure and their instrument is the first thing that is neglected, despite the fact that it is their major and should be at the top of their priority list. I was talking about this with a friend when it occurred to me that this semester was the first time in several years that I didn’t perform in a formal context where they “came out” to hear me play seriously and with other performers involved. I began to remember encouraging comments my students made after those performances, and how they seemed to be inspired in new ways. I think my failure to perform outside our context has had an adverse effect on the progress of my students. This realization seemed to be affirmed in the wisdom drop I mentioned above. The wisdom was this, and I quote, “Rod, over the years, I’ve found that if I am true to myself artistically, my students always benefit.”
There is a profound irony in the knowledge that my busyness and distraction is indirectly caused by the very same people from whom I’m being distracted. I have to advise them academically, and otherwise interact in myriad official capacities as a part of my responsibilities in being in a position to be a part of their lives. But when it all comes down, my main responsibility to them is the very thing I’m distracted from and too busy to develop. So when my students were pressuring me to get to that concert, I’ll say it had some clout.
Seems I remember a couple of sisters who were visited by Jesus. One of them busied herself making sure everything was just right, the house was clean, the food was ready, and every other detail, all for the sake of her visitor. The other neglected all to spend time with her visitor. Seems he’d come to hang with them, not to do a house inspection.
It seems to be the norm that we begin with something to offer someone. In going about creating circumstances for this giving to take place, we neglect our own source for whatever it is that we’re to give. We’re just brokers. Middlemen. We don’t manufacture this stuff. If I don’t have a supplier, I’ve got nothing to give. Soon we’re so busy minding the store that we’ve got nothing to offer the customer.
That wisdom/encouragement/challenge was very important for me to hear right now. I am easily depleted. I must constantly refuel. I can’t give what I don’t have or teach what I don’t know. Of course, this is true of the very essence of my make-up, my wiring, my intense introversion. Unless I’m refueled, I’ve got absolutely nothing for you. I can’t refuel myself, so my intense need for solitude drives me to fellowship with the one who can refuel me. I am never alone in solitude, nor do I wish to be. Solitude is a temporary escape from giving and a move toward welcomed receiving.

in the fifth year of king W’s reign…

Bloged in apprenticeship, church by rod Wednesday April 27, 2005

the easiest way to avoid the prophet is to deny that he exists.

to a friend

Bloged in community, friends, life, poems by rod Tuesday April 26, 2005

a gasp of grief
a sigh of relief
the fear of vulnerability
the peace of surrender
conflicting simultaneous emotions
a prayer for healing answered with loss
supernatural strength imbued
emotional strength sapped
rest - both of you

confidential

Bloged in apprenticeship, community by rod Monday April 25, 2005

Have you ever been told something in confidence? Someone shares something with you from the very depths of their being. Heart is laid out for you to know, and you are sworn to secrecy. A breech of this trust would ruin a relationship and damage a soul.
I believe that God reveals of Himself to us in confidence. No, I don’t think it is stuff that he wants no one else to know, but it is stuff that can’t be learned from another human being.
He has shared things about himself to me in this way. He didn’t actually ask me not to tell anyone, but he told me in a language that can’t be translated to speech or writing. I’ve tried, it can’t be done. Others have tried, many, they too, failed.
Our attempts have fallen so short that we’ve created a God that behaves just the way we want Him to. When we describe this God to someone who wants Him to behave differently, they toss the whole idea aside. We feel they’ve rejected Him when really, they’ve just rejected the god that we’ve created and are pushed a little further from ever knowing Him themselves.
We have long since forgotten how to invite someone to get to know God. Instead, we box Him up, define Him, and try to sell Him like an infomercial.
I think God already gave us everything that could be translated into speech and writing. It’s the deeper understanding, the focused bigger picture that he gives those in relationship with him. That is the nature of what is whispered into our souls when we speak to him. When we look up and groan in the vernacular, he whispers back in some wind-language that can’t be spoken or written. It’s a warm breath that carries meaning to where none could be found, a gentle breeze that finds the cracks in the walls we’ve constructed, and creates a draft that gently opens doors that have long closed off parts of us we’ve forgotten existed - the parts of us that understand language that can’t be spoken or written.

conlegium ecclesium regnum

Bloged in church by rod Sunday April 24, 2005

It is like unto a fellowship of several men and women who dwelt together in a single house. The house, over time, had gone neglected by its landlord, and the roof had become all but gone. It allowed the hot sun to pour in at mid-day and in the evening, the rains were barely impeded from soaking all inside. As the roof had begun to leak, each of the men inside had begun to build himself a smaller sub-house to protect himself from the heat and the rain. Over time, the smaller, interior houses had become their sole shelters, and others who had moved into the larger house, had begun to shelter themselves in the smaller houses. The larger, original house, soon did nothing more than mark the boundaries of the dwelling.
Because all inside were protected by the shelters of their own construction, the landlord didn’t even notice his house was in disrepair. Many of those who had sought shelter in the smaller interior houses, and thus were kept dry and safe, found it amazing that in spite of the decrepit larger house, it still protected them. It was as if they didn’t even notice what was actually keeping them dry. And thus the community of dwellers continued in a somewhat prosperous manner thanks to the interior shelters.
One day, the landlord decided to take inventory of his investments and came by for a visit. He was pleased that all the tenants were dry and healthy, but he was appalled at all the clutter that had been caused by the construction of all the smaller houses within the larger house. One by one, he had them razed until all that was left was the larger, leaky, unsafe house. Then the rains came.

clarity

Bloged in apprenticeship, luna see, metaphor by rod Saturday April 23, 2005

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. Originally, there were scattered T-storms forecast for most of the day. Then, Thursday night, the forecast changed to “isolated T-storms” and only for the evening. I would finish teaching at 5:00p and the morning was so beautiful, I decided to gamble and ride my bike to work for the fifth day in a row.
It was still beautiful at noon, so I decided to ride to lunch at the Village Idiot for a slice of New York style with a friend and some students.
When I finished teaching at 5, the sky was still sunny overhead, but there was a dark cloud rolling in across the river. I knew I’d better hurry or get caught in the storm. When I got down to I-20, the traffic was sitting still trying to make its way through the 3 shifted lanes at Broad River road and to malfunction junction. The wind was blowing so bad that mist from the river was blowing up across the bridge, but it hadn’t started raining yet. When I finally got to malfunction junction, someone opened the valve. All the sky poured out, and the wind tried to blow me toward the center divider. It was clear that I would sit on the exit ramp for 15 minutes or more waiting to get onto I-26, so I kept going in the driving rain to the next exit to seek shelter.
The rain wouldn’t let up, so I called Allison who came to pick up my backpack and bring my old shoes so that all wouldn’t be ruined on the ride home. We went across the street for an omelet and a waffle while I waited for the rain to slow.
Now none of this is all that big a deal. I get caught in the rain all the time. Last summer I rode 60 miles to check in on an intern, and got caught in a storm on the way home in the dark, out in the country, and rode it 50 miles home. Even my pancreas was waterlogged and frozen. But that was in the middle of the summer. This storm brought with it a front and a cool, breezy next day that cleared the air and intensified the visual of everything.
Last week I took pictures of the waxing fish moon, but couldn’t get a clear, crisp picture. I was doing everything the same as the crisp pics I took a couple months ago, but every one turned out soft and fuzzy. I know, no big deal, how many pics can one take of a round disk or crescent that looks the same from month to month? But that’s not true. Sure we see her same face all the time because she spins at the same speed that she orbits, but not exactly at the same speed, and she wiggles her head just a bit. So the features on her face move around and you can see parts of her forehead or neck at some times that you can see at others. But to see this, you’ve got to be willing to look more closely than the average person, and to pay attention to details. Do you notice when someone gets her hair trimmed or highlighted? So I’m obsessed with taking the same old, nothing but round disk, moon shots month after month. Remember, she’s fickle.
But none of that is what I’m writing about tonight. It’s just that the clarity of the sky tonight as opposed to my fuzzy pictures last week, made me think. Tonight we got a late, leftover, early spring cold front. It will still be around tomorrow – high of 60 and down to 37 tomorrow night. The crisp sky will soon be gone for the summer. In the heat of the lush summer months, a haze settles in with the 80 degree temps at midnight. The moist air sits unstirring and obscures the night sky. Yes, the long, lazy summer can be a glorious time of stress relief and relaxation, but in our lethargy, we can grow unaware of the accumulating haze. It can be stifling if one hasn’t taken advantage of the crisp, naked, clarity of the stark, cold, barren winter.
It took a storm to clear today’s sky and it takes cold and lonely clarity to survive the heated, hazy times. Growth still occurs in the cold lonely winter, maybe the most important growth, when all is exposed, the verdant façade is stripped away and all are made to deal with their lonely, naked selves. This is the clarity that teaches eyes to pierce the haze and see beyond. Eyes that see beyond the heat to comfort and beyond the cold loneliness to warmth and community.
Last week, the hazy moon shared the sky with a dim obscured big dipper. Tonight, there are a million stars shining brightly although the brilliant full fish moon is lighting up the night. The air is nippy, and though the wind has calmed, the Spirit is still swaying the trees and whispering around the corners of the house and occasionally gusts against my neck and tangles my hair.
There is Popayan, Sumatra, Sperl, Fuentes, and extra chairs on the deck.

holistic knowledge

Bloged in church, worship by rod Friday April 22, 2005

It surprises me that lots of people are terrified of multi-sensory worship experiences. (sorry, did I just use the word experience? We’re even afraid to engage the spirit and so prefer the intellect. We prefer to learn rather than to know. We can’t trust our senses, our emotions, our feelings. It seems, at times, that even our own motto at work, “to know Him and to make Him known,” would be more appropriately stated, “to learn about Him and to teach others about Him.” When God uses the word know he is talking about the kind of knowledge that Adam had of Eve when children resulted. He is not referring to Adam’s knowledge that Eve likes tulips, drinks cream in her coffee, and enjoys warm bubble baths with soothing adagios played by string ensembles.
We’re too easily confused. Ironic that the bible is so chock-full of multi-sensory worship, the smell of a burning sacrifice, or smoke rising as prayers. Sensory metaphors are used to implant the understanding into the whole person. Taste and see that the Lord is good. The teaching of God is like honey on my lips. You can feel the effects of the wind, but you can’t see where it comes from or where it goes…”
In our fear of trusting anything but our intellect to approach God, we miss out on knowing Him as we could. We actually fall short of loving Him with our heart, soul and strength – our emotions, spirit and bodies.
God has even asked us to read the bible in a multi-sensory way. We are asked to connect with God’s jealousy and pain in His people’s wayward hearts, by using marriage and romantic metaphors. Our responses to these metaphors allow us to identify with God on some tiny level by calling upon our emotional, even physical responses.
Ezekiel, lay on his side with a pile of cow manure in front of his nose, staring at a model of Jerusalem for a VERY long period of time. It’s as if God is saying, “Get the picture? Now do you understand what I experience?” In the revelation, John describes what he saw, heard, smelled, and yes, that he had a complete emotional breakdown and wept uncontrollably when the search in all of heaven and earth for one to open the scroll seemed to produce no result. Isaiah describes the sounds in the temple, thunder, fluttering wings, smell of smoke; and he even has his lips burned by a hot coal from the altar. Jesus didn’t say, “I am the living water” while standing at a lectern speaking to sleepy parishioners, he was standing beside a river where a priest was wading with a pitcher and pouring out water. He was teaching an object lesson.
We have allowed ourselves to use language that refers to a more holistic God experience, but we have narrowed or co-opted their meanings. Though Jesus spoke of the Spirit as something that could be felt but not defined or understood, we don’t trust things that we feel and therefore try to understand Spirit intellectually. He said, “that which is flesh is flesh, but that which is Spirit is spirit.” In other words, “go ahead and try to explain the natural, but you don’t stand a chance with the Spirit.” The Spirit can only be understood with the spirit, a Jesus Himself said, can only be felt. I fear, that as a result, we don’t trust the Spirit. Too often, I feel that sola scriptura stifles our ability to hear and feel the Spirit.
In our frustration, we’ve changed the meaning of spiritual to refer to religious subject matter, morality, behavior, and theology – all things that can be outlined, codified, bulleted, and measured.
The problem with the spiritual is that it is too easily confused with the emotional. Neither seems as trustworthy as the intellect. But to know someone is very different from learning about him. We are told to memorize and learn and meditate on scripture. No doubt this approach will cause ownership and even knowledge of God. But Jesus also told us that there is more that He will later reveal to us through the Spirit. Sorry, but to acquire this revelation, one is going to have to deal with feelings and a greater amount of faith and discernment than is required of an umbrella trust in the validity of the written scripture. It is one thing to say, “God said it, and I believe it,” it is quite another to feel that your relationship with God is strong enough that you say, “though it was spoken inside me, I recognize that as the voice of God, and I believe it.”
Perhaps we will have to trust in the midst of confusion and access the spiritual through the emotional. Go ahead and check it out against the written revelation, but don’t close your heart to a living, breathing, speaking relationship in favor of an intellectual knowledge of someone who never speaks to you.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Smell the fragrance of Christ on His people. Feel the Spirit as it blows through the recesses of your soul. Hear the gentle, quiet whisper in a world of a earthquakes and fire.

holistic hearing

Bloged in apprenticeship, metaphor, music by rod Thursday April 21, 2005

One of my students is working on “Fragile Forest” by Phil Keaggy. Now I enjoy and respect Keaggy and his music, but I probably am aware of more guitarists than the average person, and therefore, am aware of a lot more music, talent, etc. All that is to say, he occupies a proper place in my respected guitarist list and I enjoy his music for what it is. Now all that is to set up my next remarks so that maybe you can see how meaningful they might be in this context.
Fragile Forest is Keaggy’s finest creative moment. There is a phrase in the piece that is one of my favorite phrases from any composer in any style for any instrument. It is one measure long, and sandwiched so perfectly into the context, that I’m not sure it could survive apart from the piece. Keaggy is a very programmatic, imagistic player, but most of his works simply “fit” the image he is dreaming. This one actually paints the image. One actually takes a deep woods walk and experiences all the activity of the forest, full frontal and peripheral, obvious and subtle.
Now that I’ve so completely exposed my goofy response to this piece, I have to admit, that maybe it isn’t as wonderful if it is only in your ears as it is when it is in your hands and your ears. Perhaps that explains why I think I can play it better than he can. Perhaps that is why most of us players, once we’ve played a piece, always think we play it better than someone else. It is not that we think we are better players, but we enjoy hearing ourselves play because we also hear with our fingertips. We feel the music being made. To a degree, this could also explain a phenomenon that has always been explained in a different way. Maybe it is why we don’t enjoy listening to recordings of ourselves. Playback affects only our ears. Our fingertips only remember, they don’t feel in the same way. When one plays, he also feels the guitar responding against his chest and legs – different pitches vibrate more strongly in different parts of the instrument, thereby causing the player to experience a constantly shifting physical response to the music in addition to what his ears are hearing.
Perhaps it takes more than a single sense to experience the truly magnificent things in life. Of course when all the senses store their information about an experience, any of the other senses can access that information when the rest are absent. A photograph of a picturesque scene from last summer’s vacation, though only visual, will call up smell, sounds, a breeze, etc. Your friends will only see the photograph. Though my wife is beautiful, unless I’d held her face in my hands and felt the curve of her lips with my fingertips, a photograph could not tell the whole story. But even with all that stored, accessed knowledge and memory, it makes the one sense rudely inadequate.
So I’m able to listen to Keaggy play his phrase and actually feel it on my fingertips. I’m not talking about the feeling of fingerboard and frets and strings. I’m talking about the feeling of music. I’m talking about the feeling of a musical phrase. Just as I can enjoy hearing Keaggy play his phrase, I could enjoy playing it with earplugs inserted. One sense accesses the beauty that was stored by the others. Simply having heard it would not do it justice.
Most of us listen or don’t listen to music simply with our ears, or as with much pop music, only with our bodies. But in our everyday, not even our ears or bodies experience music. We hear it on the surface of our eardrums, we hear it in the back of the din of the day. We feel it in our feet, but we don’t feel it in our fingertips, or in our guts.

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