Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Genesis 23

Today I have the joy to have my first full day of a two-week vacation. Jude and I are currently at her brother Peter’s house near Santa Barbara. The hospitality here is incredible because, Thea, Peter’s wife is so fond and gifted at hosting.

Tube… They have cable and by choice Jude and I do not… Last night I watched some of the history channel about the history of the Ottoman Empire, Some Japanese Animation, and the military channel on some of the history of tanks… plus the tail end of the godfather III…
This morning…
I Watched the US women’s soccer team play China… left off from that when they were winning 4 to 1… and watched Farscape flicking back and forth from these two programs. (This habit of channel flicking drives Jude crazy). Farscape left some very good questions about addictions. The best of fiction and the best of theology – as I see it -- raises the questions that matter about life and really living. Questions, not just to float with… but rather to press into the gift of life for what it is…

My Old Testament scripture for this day… Genesis 23 is sobering for me literally… having been intoxicated for a short time by the tube. Genesis 23 is about the death of Sarah and the work of honoring her life through burial… including purchasing a field with a cave for that purpose…

The existentialists are right a this point. Death forces us to consider the meaning of our life and the ways in which we spend it… Reading this encourages me to move away from the tube and to sit and enjoy the patio of my brother-in-laws house with Jude… To again appreciate her in life rather than staying self absorbed.

I could stay self absorbed and morbid. Since 2000 I know 26 people who have all gone to their grave. Visiting Gravesites of those whom I have loved has really begun to inform my soul not to take the times and days I have for granted. The gift of this space for reflection and prayer has also been more fruitful than I like to admit.

So much of our current culture ends in dissipation and various forms of “drunkenness”. Pain buried and sensitivity to joy diminished for the sake of ???

As a Christian, poet, and artist… I want to remain awake and alive… yet swim in the current culture.

I have started a myspace… / jawpoetry I find it quite a flesh market. It will take real accountability not to get sucked in. I have started this space at the request of various friends. If I have a burial site will it feed the souls of others the way visiting the burial site of Dr. James Loder has fed my soul? The unexamined life is not worth living or remembering… Maybe that is why those who are disconnected from hope and vision are so given over to addictions and dissipation?

Jude sits here reading The Chamber, by Grisham… good story plots she says… good vacation reading… Brueggemann says we live in a multi-storied universe. The existentialists say that it is the personal story that ultimately matters. I have come to believe it is what God would say about our story that really matters. Some lives deserve to be memorialized. Sarah has a sacred life and a sacred tomb. The scriptures choose a very different slice of humanity than what typical historians would choose… both to praise and to vilify. Don’t try to make Abraham and Sarah into super human people. Abraham questioned the promises of God at times and Sarah laughed… They schemed, lied, tried to figure things out their own way, and loved each other in their lifetime. What set them apart literally and figuratively is that when God asked them to go on an undefined journey they were willing to go…

So Sarah was buried in a foreign land away from much of her family and at a very high price… (Compare 400 shekels with 17 in Jeremiah 32:9…) Having Inter-generational hopes, visions, or dreams will mean that when we die some… if not many / or most of our hopes and dream may remain unfulfilled. Like MLK Jr’s, “I have a dream”. Tombs are meaningful when the hopes, visions, and dreams of those we visit have the power to continue to inspire us. Relevance comes from the choice of those who reference the past intermingled with the divine that anchors the past with sacred meaning.

LA is filled with a culture that works at forgetting and starting over. HipHop thrives on the triumph of the present moment. In contrast, Judeo Christian roots and the Scriptures as well as our history continues to give us a lot to reflect on and remember. This invites us to our own journey with God where ever it will lead.

I hope that either the core visions, hope, and dreams that I have will be lived out in my lifetime… or what is more likely the case… that it will be worth while for some living souls for me to have a tomb, gravesite or grave marker. Yes I crave significance… and the existentialists are partially right, “nothingness haunts being”. Yet the stories of the scripture are not a tease where only others get to have a relationship with God and we get to watch and read about it… In the midst of life we get to go on our own journey of faith, doubt, and laughter… until we too are gripped by dreams and visions that have intergenerational vision.

Jude reminds me that true meaning comes from our being part of God’s story and that gives us meaning in life… and that I like most of us forget that and get sucked into a more ego-centered perspectives.