A Message Through Movement

Today I danced. While homemade peanut butter cookies baked their way to chewy goodness in my oven I stripped off my socks, rolled up my jeans and danced. I stomped loudly, moved with strange jerking movements and at times felt almost graceful. I danced for the stolen, blood soaked land we call America. I danced for those who have injustices committed against them everyday. I danced for those who cannot dance.

I know, it sounds like a strange thing, me dancing. Not really. Not to many years back on any given weekend you might have found me spinning and sweating the night away and into the early morning hours while D.J.’s pumped house beats through speakers stacked on top of speakers. Crowds of people in rhythm together, some but not all aided by drugs or stimulants.

And today although the speakers were smaller and the crowd reduced to one the music still sent out a message that resonated deep within me. One that connected me to a suffering and freedom beyond that which I could express in words or song, so I danced. I remember my mother, being the beautiful woman that she is, would stand at the back of church during worship sessions and dance. She loved to dance; I think she still does.

“We Are All Lepers Here”, that was the name of the song. This group of crazy nomadic folks that call themselves the Psalters wrote it. During the summer of 2002 a few close friends and I traveled to this mud pit in Bushnell, Illinois called Cornerstone Christian Music Festival. We happened to camp next to these people who looked liked gypsies and played every instrument known to man. I distinctly recollect one evening sitting round a fire with this troupe of musicians while they made the most passionate music from their simple instruments.

And so in remembrance of them and much of what they stood for I danced. Legs pumping, arms flailing, body twisting and feet stomping.

There is an old saying that says “the dead cant dance”, so I will dance for them.


Know Thyself

Life has been simple. My biggest frustration of the day is when the fire won’t light because of rain soaked wood. And that’s about the only complaint I can come across. Life is good.

I don’t have too much to say. No, that’s not true, I have much I would like to say but find this electronic journal to be an insufficient outlet for saying it.

There is one thing I will share with you that has been very strong with me this last week. It’s about a book I’ve been reading called “Man’s Search For Himself” by Rollo May. While I would like the title to be a bit less direct and perhaps more politically correct the contents found within are utterly profound. May speaks of the immense loneliness and anxiety that runs rampant through the lives of many Americans. He talks about how we are “hollow people” and are nothing more than “…a collection of mirrors, reflecting what everyone else expects of us.” He goes on to speculate where this loneliness and anxiety comes from. One of the major conclusions he comes to is that we have no real relationship with ourselves and as a result have dysfunctional and fractured relationships with everyone else.

In the following quote May is talking about how as a people we want to “help the world” but don’t do the real work of trying to help ourselves.

May says it like this, “Just so, one person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect among the people around him. This is what our society needs- not new ideas and inventions, important as these are, and not geniuses and supermen [or superwomen], but persons who can be, that is persons who have a center of strength within themselves.”

One of the only off putting things about this book is the fact that it was written in 1953, before the great social upheavals of the 60’s and 70’s began in America. This book is frightening because his admonishments and observations are as true today as they were 50 years ago. Did no one read this book when it was first published? Are we such a psychologically slow people that some 50 years later we have succeeded in becoming one of the most mentally unhealthy societies on the planet?

I’ll end with these words of wisdom from William James, “Those who are concerned with making the world more healthy had best start with themselves.”



I found this article from the BBC website about Anti-Americanism in the U.K. and how it has effected one woman, an American citizen, since taking up residence in London. While it is very sad to read about the ignorant comments she has supposedly had leveled at her, I find the comments in response to the article to be just as blindingly ignorant and depressing. You can read the article and view the comments that followed by clicking here: Anti-Americanism.

It’s amazing to see how governments, from Islamic ruled Pakistan to Socialist run Venezuela, are able to seemingly brainwash the inhabitants that live within the borders that said governments have established. Ideologies such as Nationalism and Patriotism were specifically designed by governments to bring the “chaotic masses” into a state of control.

The most effective way to pit any group of people against another group of people is to split them apart (usually done by drawing lines on a map around various pieces of the earth), and then give all of the people inside of the lines they drew a “national identity” to attach to themselves to (you know something like Americans, Canadians, Mexicans). Then you set up a system that tells all of the people within that country that they are now somehow different and/or better than the people who aren’t in that country.

Next, you give them theme songs about "their" country to sing together at designated national sporting events. This will give everyone who happens to be “lucky” enough to live within that man made border the feeling of “brotherhood” they share with the person next to them. But the real feeling of “brotherhood” between the citizens of any appointed country wont come until you send them to war with people who live within other man made, government appointed countries.

Some years ago a man used many elements of this theory I have just put forth to aid in the murder of millions of humans. His name was Adolf Hitler.

You do not need to travel far to realize that a human is a human (or perhaps you do depending on how tightly you hold to your preconceived notions of others). Skin color, religious creed, sexual identity, what country they happen to be born in (personally I do not believe in the notion of “divinely appointed nationalism”. Meaning that before your mother and father knew you, God knew you. And in that knowing God also knew and preordained you to be born as an American, or an Ethiopian, or a Canadian, etc.) and any other means of trying to prove inferiority or supremacy of one human to another is based solely on a life lived in ignorance and blind fear.

When we stand beneath the banner of Nationalism or Patriotism we draw a feeble line in the sand that, if we allow for it, can easily be washed away with the first waves of real cross-cultural interaction.

Humans shared their humanity in common long before the lines between this country and that were drawn. If humans drew those lines, than humans can erase them.


Two Years In June (Part One)

The Spring

It will be two years in June. My journey from Cornelia to Seattle, from pizza delivery guy to full time missionary, and from sold out follower of Jesus Christ to follower of nothing but good questions and great conversations had begun.

I find it interesting how quickly you can forget what you came from. At times I forget that my initial purpose in coming to Seattle was to “share the love of Christ” with people in the city. And for the most part that meant addicts and recovering alcoholics. It seemed as though they were the only ones who saw the immediacy of needing something (or someone) to free them beyond themselves. Basically they had lost hope in themselves.

At the time it was my belief that the story, the life, and the power of a man named Jesus could free anyone, anywhere at anytime from anything. And so I went into the city to share this gospel not through words but through actions. I sat with men at shelters and heard story after story of how drugs, alcohol, and pride had reduced these once powerful men to nothing but beggars at the doorstep of a downtown soup kitchen.

I listened and they cried. I listened and they asked for prayer. I listened and what I heard time after time was someone asking for hope. Someone who had come to believe that they had lost their way and were now asking me if I knew of a path that led to a better place than the one they were on. My motivation for wanting to share the story of Christ with these men was varied. I grew up in a home were my mom and dad told the story of Jesus like it had happened yesterday. In my childhood home he was one of the family. He shared breakfast, lunch, and dinner with us. On Christmas morning my mom would take a loaf of freshly baked banana bread, stick a candle in it and gather the entire family round to sing a rousing happy birthday to Jesus (my family still engages in this timeless ritual).

The magnetic pull of addiction was something I understood. I had seen its effects first hand in my own life and the lives of friends and loved ones. Uncles would come to stay with my parents to get clean, get sober, and try to get on with their lives.

And so it made sense that I would sit with the addict and hear his story, it was something I had seen my mother and father do plenty of times. I found myself in the “seedier” parts of Kuala Lumpur watching hollowed out men roll cigarettes made of newspaper advertisements, staring blankly out of windows while waiting for a meal to be served or a shower to be freed up. The memory also comes to mind of below freezing mornings in Bishkek crouching next to a fire on the side of the road sharing bread with men who smelled of alcohol well before the sun was up.

Aside from the bread, all I had to share with them was a story. I’ve found that no matter what condition a human might be in they will more than willingly listen to a story. We love stories. Southern author Harry Crews said it best, “truth of the matter was, stories was everything and everything was stories. Everybody told stories. It was a way of saying who they were in the world, it was their understanding of themselves.”

I came back to Seattle from Bishkek with many questions in my mind. They weren’t new questions; they were old questions that I had buried beneath fervor and involvement, expectation and dedication. By the summer of 2006 I was more than ready to move out from under the protective safety net of the missions organization I was working with. I had many questions and I needed a forum that would give me the freedom to honestly ask those questions without the fear of christian social retribution hanging over me.


The First Week

Spring rain lashes about on roof and deck as I sit inside next to a fire that is growing ever warmer by the minute. I listen to the raindrops being hurled by the wind onto the metal roof and am ever grateful for the gift of a shelter over my head. I think back on the week and try to decide what to share with you the few, the faithful, the blog readers. For the most part my week can be summed up in just one word: simplicity.

I’ve spent most of my days reading, hiking, cooking meals for myself, and making fast friends with the next-door neighbors. I wake between 7 and 8, make coffee, make breakfast, and sit down to read for the next few hours. And while I have thoroughly enjoyed most of my time here there have been times of loneliness, sadness, and despair. But I think I need those times. I have come to have a much greater appreciation and understanding of the low times, the middle times, and the high times. A good mix of all three is needed to keep a healthy outlook on life. Its only once we’ve been emptied out that we can really appreciate and accept the goodness of being filled back up.

I’ll close on that note. I have a movie and a bag of Easter candy that urgently need my attention. For the next couple of months you can expect to see a post only once or twice a week. Until next time, peace.


Haro Strait

In 1791 the Spanish captain Lopez Gonzales de Haro boarded his ship and "discovered" an island, which in turn was promptly named after him.

This morning I woke up on that island and took a picture of the waterway he traveled on his way to glory.

Haro Strait; 7:00 a.m.


Shooting Stars

Our vessel slid across the surface of the water propelling us onward to our destination. I stood on the deck and shot the brightest star in the sky. Its light was seen and felt by everyone who stood on that deck.

On the same day but many hours later after our little planet had rotated itself away from the glow of that dying star I found myself being warmed by the embers of an open fire. Pat cooked fish on aluminum foil and told stories while Venus spun itself into view. At one point a star shot across the night sky leaving a trail of brilliant white light in its wake.

After the stories and the shooting stars I found my way inside the house and beneath the covers of the bed that would hold me nightly for the next two months.