Saturday, July 10, 2010

sweet 16


Humidity, like a magnet, pulling the beads of sweat from the pores of my skin. The fireflies are out in force, dancing to the rhythm of their own summer evening house party. It’s the longest evening of the year, and I’m sitting on a hard bench placed on the edge of a grassy knoll that covers the front lawn of the University, only a stone’s throw from my cottage. Summer session students stroll lazily across campus and down University Avenue, no doubt to escape the pressure of the classroom and the heat of the day. They are not as frantic and frenzied as they might be during any other semester in the year, but in a state of learning nevertheless. I ponder the history and grandeur of this institution that Thomas Jefferson birthed centuries ago. I wonder if I missed out on the experience of attending a traditional college on some historic campus, becoming part of a student body that thought they had the whole world figured out before age twenty. The elementary freedom and wisdom of youth, incurred at this pause in life: the undefined space between adolescence and, perhaps, the hum drum of a working world. But I did things differently. I exchanged my graduation cap and gown for fatigues and a helmet, responding to the call of Uncle Sam and the mystery of the Cold War’s climax. I grew up quickly. I soldiered by day and studied by night. And life rolled on by. And not too long after I had decocooned from boy to man, something else rolled on by: A baby carriage containing this beautiful bouncing little girl named Mariah. A questioningly curious Mariah: yearning for life and on a constant quest for meaning, justice, acceptance and laughter. And she changed my life forever. In an instant my identity had transformed me from who I thought I was. And that instant defines who I am today.

What a joy it was to be your father, Mariah. What an amazing God-given miracle. And now, 16 years later, I sit on this hillside, outside the Rotunda, sipping an evening espresso. I wonder what decisions you will make in the next 16 years, nay, the next year ahead of you. What university or walk of life will woo you? What calling or vocation will expose you to both the right and wrong of this consuming world outside your present bubble? What kind of woman will you become? The choice is yours, to some extent. I hope and pray you make healthy choices. Good choices. And that you learn from your mistakes…and mine. I also pray that you enjoy every amazing something that becomes your year of Sweet Sixteen: driving, working, advancing to the Junior class, and taking on so many more adult life responsibilities. I pray always that you will one day live a faith that is clear and real to you, that you will exude a heart that is golden, and possess a peace that no man can take away and that surpasses all understanding.

As 7/11 loom near, I wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARIAH!
Loving you still, Loving you always,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

BOY MEETS GIRL




Boy meets girl. 
Girl wants to run like the wind.
But she stays.
So they both stay.
And they learn to trust.
And love. Again.
And that’s a good thing.
I think.
And I hope the girl will truly stay,
Because she means the world to me.
She is fiery.
And she’s smiley.
Infusing a radiant yellow back into my deepest of mellows.
She makes me laugh.  And blush.
And feel purpose in my veins again.
She challenges me to be translucently real.
And to live for something better than myself.
She complements me, filling in for my inadequacies.
She knows just how to smooth my rough edges.
She is quite beautiful.
Stunning, in fact.
Well I don’t mean to put her on some pedestal,
I just thank God for her.
And I want to know her even more.
And I want to lift her up and hold her hand.
And be her friend in fair weather and every ferocious storm.
Mesmerized in unity,
We’ll traverse the world from one end to the other.
…Or maybe we’ll just get lost on some far-off deserted island…
Only to find in quilted paradise,
Under pitter patter of rainy roofs
that two are, indeed, better than one…
Boy meets girl.
That’s a good thing.
I think.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Batman in Winter


Activities that encompassed my latest 3.5 day off-shift cycle include the following: Sleeping 12 hours, then remerging from vampire bat-like coma into the land of living daylight hours; driving 324 miles roundtrip to see a sparkly someone and achieving nourishment from the 2-for-one fresh Rockfish dinner special at iL Giardino down by the Beach; nearly accomplishing the so called “beast list”, exchanging a bad Epson inkcartridge at Cartridgepros without a receipt no questions asked, watching The Hurtlocker, and being thoroughly disappointed, finessing a recipe of Alaskan salmon with couscous and broccoli for the one I love (she made the deliciously cheesy sauce) and being thoroughly “Appointed”; terrain walk and reconnaissance along the beach at First Landing (yes, the place where They first landed), sitting in a Starbucks with my dear friend, Grande Cappuccino, and reading The Perfect Storm, while I watched the gale blow in over the bay {I may have once been a member of the Gloucester Fishermen (yes, I lettered on the Rifle Team), but there’s a reason I didn’t remain in that town and become a sailor or a fisherman. Me and the high seas don’t mix- which reminds of me of when my brother was taking sailing lessons in Hong Kong and I refused to leave the bay with him, so I jumped overboard and swam back to the beach). I do wish, however comma, that I could acquire the long line or netting skills to become a proper fisher of men}...back to our list…test driving many plush topped minimum 782+ coiled queen-sized mattresses to replace the lifeless futon upon which I’ve been resting my weary head and aching spine every night for the past 3 years {thanks, Matthew, for the replacement futon (yes the one that never left your side during your entire college career), but its finally got to go!); watching three episodes of The Office: Season 5; And on this unseasonably lion winter March day in Virginia: Yoghurt, blueberries, goat-cheese & mushroom omelet, really well-brewed (by me) coffee, snow, sleet, DRUDGEREPORTThe Alyssa Reeves Super Awesome Blog , laughing at the photo of Miles the cat enjoying his first yoghurt; laundry, lists, excel spreadsheets, calendars, and planning my return to the next cycle of Vampire Bat-life and sleepless nights.

Hearing the Seagulls



There is a seagull outside in the parking lot yelling in my ear.   Have you ever had your ears irrigated?  Last week Melissa irrigated my right ear canal which had become clogged and quite painful.  I had been trying to clean it out on my own using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, but, I forgot to warm the liquid.  The extreme shock of sudden introduction of a cold substance to the inside of your skull messes with your equilibrium in a major way.  I finally bought a baby ear dropper and told Melissa I needed her to come over and play nurse (no innuendo intended).  She was quite reluctant at first, but when she started to see progress, in perhaps a grotesque sort of way, she became eager to continue to irrigate, to the point of drowning.  The peroxide solution was running out of my ear and into my nose and mouth.    I sort of wish we had recorded this for Youtube posterity.  It would have been rated up there along with the Toothpaste For Dinner guy:

Toothpaste For Dinner guy...

Pressed


If life is like coffee, I, by no means, am a to-go-mug of filtered auto drip, set the night before and timed for a precise wake up call. There is no arousing aroma here. Neither do I find myself to be a carefully prepared sweetened double espresso macchiato is there anything else I can get for you, Sir, asks the Barrista from the drive-thru window java man. I am more of a French Pressed, tout le chemin bébé!, cobble-stoned sidewalk café on a Sunday afternoon individual. I sit in boiling water for four minutes with all my freshly ground junk circulating around me in a whirlpool of oily disaster. Then, I’m finally pressed down, releasing all those flavonoids and essential oils, and finally poured, leaving all the residual grinds behind.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Future Reminiscing


FUTURE REMINISCING








Such sweet memories we invoke
Counting countless walks
So oft’ walked alone
Now enter splashing tango in drizzling midnight
And small talk sentiment for hours on the phone…

Iris to iris
Cheek to cheek, dancing rhythm
Begins to exfoliate intricately woven designs
And extinguishes the addiction
Of once-fashionable tattoos of caustic shame

And on flaky white chill winter night
Dull images flash across my flickering screen
And I’m reminiscing about things that have not yet made the scene   
Like wet clothing hung on a line to dry in the scented summer sun
Toes dipped delicately in ice cold Atlantic waves
Even on sweltering east coast early August days
         
Wandering hearts now drawn together
Undeservedly recompensed in unified debut
Glory reveals only glimpses of this mystery
If not rescued for each other
Then forever for the hope of you

-RbR OCT 09

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Spinnverderber


<*))))><<

“Spinnverderber”

(German for Party-pooper)

I know this much is TRUE: For the most part, TV will suck the life out of you.

In a moment of insomnia driven weakness, recently, I caught the last half of the 80’s brat pack film 16 Candles starring Molly Ringwold. Films like these bring back hauntingly embarrassing memories of my pubescence, by the way. The only decent scene in the film takes place when Miss Pretty-in-Pink’s parents forget her birthday and then her Dad can’t sleep and he comes downstairs and apologizes and they have this real family values father-daughter moment. The rest of the movie is CRAP! Did we really live this way back then? I suppose so. After all, there was a time when I frequently applied layers of aquanet in an attempt to adequately feather my long hair.

If my life was on film I guarantee it would not be suitable for all ages.

I sometimes feel like the stubborn old man rowing furiously for days after his great fish in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea:

"It is not TOO bad," he said. "And PAIN does not matter to a man."

The future Sundance favorite might be titled something like this:

"...I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But, one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…"

If I had any license in its production I would hope to ensure era-driven songs from bands like Spandau Ballet and Air Supply would remain absent from the soundtrack.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Firefly Tango



Sitting on my porch yesterday evening…at dusk:


Ninja fireflies
Stealthy tango on humid nights

Dazzling, midsummer, bright
Materialize from shimmering shadowless stratosphere
From nothing
Now dazzling festive atmosphere

Watching and wondering
Do they still fly by light of day?
With just as much verve to illuminate…

Do they rest and pray or continuously careen
Fervently through this void
Before their light dies and finally fades


Whereas the question also begs:
Am I too a ninja firefly?

So generous with my own spark of light?
Do I tirelessly generate flint and steel…
Giving all for all in the darkest of nights?


-RBR June 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

notHing Heroic Here




If only I knew the answer. If only I could hear the whispered response.

Do you ever hide yourself away so that in solitude you can simply cry?

I would wipe away your tears if only I could hear the rhythmic pattern of your warm drops on cold floor.

Do you ever burst out laughing?

I would giggle and roll on the floor in awkward and relentless animation if that would even splinter your expression into a smile.

Do you ever gaze hopelessly at the stars in the dark of night?

I would stare, from here, into that same timeless void and hold on for you your hope in wonder and awe.

Do you ever feel anger and rage?

My blood would boil and heart would break to change every wrong to right.

Do you ever brace yourself against the howling and biting wind and wonder when it will end?

I would rise up and block that invisible antagonist and form myself into a hearth a comfort and warmth.

If only I knew. If only my senses could perceive.

If only I could catch a slight glimpse.

I would rise up like some kind of superhero in the nick of time.

I would bag the villains and stop the hurtling train in its tracks.

For you I would take a stand.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Essay for Fuller Application


Fuller Theological Seminary

Instructions: Communicate clearly in written English.


A. Reflect on your past Christian experience, including the most significant spiritual event/influence in your life, the role of Christ in your religious experience, the effect your faith has on your worldview, your involvement in Christian service, your perceived gifts/calling for ministry, and your reason(s) for attending your church. (minimum 250 words; maximum 500 words)

ESSAY 1 with Melissa and Matt’s edits FINAL:


I first met God in a Hong Kong Sunday school when I was seven. My brothers and I were the only English speaking kids in the class, and the teacher attempted to explain creation using nude pictures of Adam and Eve. In junior high, my youth pastor explained that I was separated from God and in need of salvation. I readily asked Jesus into my heart. Since that moment, I have been a seeker of “good” with a passionate servant-heart for others.

My first exposure to the destructive power of pornography occurred in my neighbor’s basement during that same summer. The spark of curiosity, the power of porneuo warned against in 1 Corinthians 6, had an insidious and eventually destructive impact on my introverted adolescence.

I joined the Army with its hazing and coming of age, yet still sought after “good". I married a young woman with two daughters and we raised two more. I was promoted, grew in experience, and assumed roles of husband and father. We led Bible studies and youth groups and, as I watched the unfolding drama of society’s ills and pernicious lies, my passion for reaching new generations for Christ exploded.

But I was living two lives. The façade - a man recognized for his work ethic, leadership, and love of family. The truth - a struggling man who kept pain, sin, compromise, and addiction wrapped in an unbreakable cocoon. Eventually, lack of trust and monstrous selfishness formed a destructive cycle that spun out of control.

My world imploded and my family left. I endured dark and searching solitude, and realized my personal incapacity to fix anything. This illuminated the mystery of the Gospel. The essence of the resurrection became a freeing and healing fission that multiplied hope within my hopelessness. Grace became real. And, as Bonhoeffer writes, it cost something. It cost God his only Son. At first that grieved me. But when the cloud of condemnation and lies dissipated, I saw that God loved me so much that he would do anything for me, even if it meant following me into the blackest depths. God’s plans embraced and encompassed my own, and I became new.

Suddenly, serving others became a delight rather than an obligation. Community became my new identity. The Lord established the most intimate friendships I have ever had. We became a band of brothers who encouraged and challenged each other through the junk of broken life. Serving with Navigators and Cadence International we adventured, laughed, prayed, cried, and became alive in our vulnerability. I became part of The WELL, a community of believers that exists to continue the redemptive work of the Son. God wants to heal all people, and he wants to do it through us! Along with the writer of Psalm 91, I found rest in the shadow of something much larger than myself. I want to be within the center of the Father’s will and become the hands and feet of Jesus. That is why I exist.

B. Reflect on how attending Fuller Theological Seminary would complement your present Christian experience and/or help you to achieve your future professional and vocational goals. (minimum 250 words; maximum 500 words)


And Moses said to God, “who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you.”

My military career has culminated and will come to a close shortly as I retire this uniform after 20 years of service. In the same way as God will use my hurt, pain, and transformation to help others, I believe the experiences I had in the military were not in vain. God will use my training, travel, relationships, leadership, and vast amount of lessons learned for his glory in the kingdom. I have dealt with crisis after crisis in the past two decades and God has brought me through each of them.. Only through His grace has he given me a resiliency and blessing to overcome and endure. Like Daniel, though I don’t purport to have an ounce of the strength of character of this hero, God has brought me through the crucible and released the jaws of the lion. I’ve learned to rest in the shadow. God has given me a burning desire to work for social justice, help transform lives, engage in urban development and eradicate poverty. It is in my blood to respond to the many crises of my fellow humans, and especially unreached people groups who need Jesus and their own cluster of flourishing culturally relevant churches.

I’m at a crossroads in life. I have a corporate resume that could lead me to a well paying career in Washington’s belt-way or in a federal building with no windows making plans for war or other governmental operations. But I know this is not the direction I am to go.

It is no accident that in January of this year I felt led to enroll in the Perspectives course through Manhattan Christian College and simultaneously lead a small group study of the Truth Project at my home.

I believe Fuller is the stepping stone I am to use to cross into life’s next chapter. It will be a time for growth and transition, and more importantly a time to put my faith into action and be grounded with greater knowledge to be an effective Kingdom worker. The MA in Cross Cultural Studies ties into my BA in International Relations and my calling to serve in overseas or domestic urban ministry. I think I will come away from the Fuller experience with a more technical understanding of things like micro-enterprise development and sustainable agriculture. I believe Perspectives adjusted my lens to see God’s focus on justice and human rights, human and social transformation, globalization, public policy, and humanity’s gifts in the arts and culture. Studying at Fuller will equip me with tools to execute programs that support God’s purpose. Dedicated and unhindered time with faculty and fellow students in Pasadena will be an opportunity for me to be in an encouraging place where we can motivate each other to act justly, love mercy and walk more humbly before our God.