Thursday, April 19, 2012


I obsessed with the Civil Wars. Obsessed. When I come home at night I turn on grooveshark and type in "civil wars" almost subconsciously. Sometimes I don't even realize I do it until I'm singing along to Joy's voice and smile at her simple words and beautiful harmonies.  I listen to the words and the music as it fills my head and my room and I become full of emotion; contemplative.  Two things I try to actively avoid at all cost.   Last Sunday I attended church in West Philadelphia at a wonderful church called Antioch. I came home and sat on my back porch and basked in the sunlight of an unseasonably warm mid-April afternoon. I sat and listened to Joy and John Paul's harmonies.

Haven't you seen me sleep walking?
'Cause I've been holding your hand
Haven't you noticed me drifting?
Oh, let me tell you, I am
Tell me it's nothing
Try to convince me
That I'm not drowning
Oh let me tell you, I am
Please, please tell me you know
I've got to let you go
I can't help falling
Tell me it's nothing
Try to convince me
That I'm not drowning
Oh let me tell you, I am

Over the past 2 months I have felt the suffocating weight of drowning in this thing called life, and I didn't even know it. I have felt like I am 'sleepwalking'. I have listened to the repetitive and comforting words of song lyrics and words from those who love me and like water on a wet seal I have let them slide right off my back. 

The sermon this morning was about letting sin suffocate Jesus and the Holy Spirit out of you. Becoming complacent and selfish enough to test the Holy Spirit. Thinking you are better than someone else because you know the right verses to say and you are doing 16 different ministries. You know the motions, you know the words - you can fool the masses. I can fool many.

We sang songs about the Holy Spirit and we were told to pray, pray, pray. By the end of the sermon the pastor rebuked those guilty of spiritual pride and going through the motions of faith. Having an "us-them" mentality. He talked about stagnation because of too much religion. You get caught up in the motions, in the mindless obligations of the American Church.  With a pause and slight tilt in his head, one hand in his pocket the other outstretched; the words spurt out of his mouth like hot coals on my broken heart "God doesn't call the church to cuteness, he calls them to get down on their faces and repent."

I went home and prayed, prayers of humility and begging for grace. More words from the sermon came into focus. "For every one look you take at your own heart, you should look at the cross 10 times" Grace, mercy, forgiveness. 

"Too many believers are living in too much compromise" conviction.

Later on, I went to our monthly prison ministry at CFCF. The topic was the Holy Spirit. Joseph and Wayne talked at length about who the Holy Spirit is and I felt lead to speak about what the Holy Spirit can do. Fight. The Holy Spirit fights for you, you need only be still.

I feel exhausted and like I'm losing the battle. As the words of Joy Williams fills my room, "haven't you seen me sleepwalking?" The feeling of sleeping through life fills my heart. I have been doing all the work. The Holy Spirit intercedes and gives us life and peace. Be still, you need only be still, and the Holy Spirit will fight for you. Wake up and be still. Be. Still.

wake up. its time to wake up.

Friday, April 6, 2012

the waiting room

There is something jarring about a hospital waiting room. People sit in the waiting rooms with expectation. Whether its good news or bad news - they want news. Everyone wants to hear something. We are impatient people...

As we sat in the waiting room, anyone who walked by in scrubs got an expectant look. We had been up since 5am and the carbs from the bagels has long worn off. We were getting grumpy. They told us the operation would take 5 hours. So we waited 5 hours. And then we got nervous.

Others came in and out of the room. They sat, read, looked around trying to avoid eye contact mostly. Except one man, who apologized repeatedly for bothering us - he was just so nervous. He had no one to wait with him, his expectant looks went unnoticed by anyone but him. He felt alone. He was scared. It was his wife, and he was scared.

I was scared and I knew my mom was too. She spoke a lot, more than normal when the 5 hour mark had come and gone. "We should have heard something by now"...."do you think we should ask someone"...."surely they have to be done by now".

My response was a smile and a deep breath reassuring her that her expectant looks and questions were heard but they would have to remain unanswered. There are so many questions I can't answer for her, so I look around for someone to notice my stare. Not a single sign of recognition. I could only sit with the unanswered questions for so long.

I got up to stretch my legs. Took a walk down the hall. I noticed I swing my arms a lot when I walk and maybe I have gained a couple pounds because my ankles felt heavy. Should I be thinking about more serious things? Should I be praying? Why wasn't I praying? I started to worry - it was hour number 7.

I couldn't help but think everyone walking around today looked too normal. Didn't they know my Dad was going in for a major operation? Shouldn't they have perceived that today was a hard day on me? I am in a hospital, afterall. This was not a normal day for me. Shouldn't their looks and gentle smiles be more sympathetic?  Someone get me flowers, buy my coffee. Nothing.

I started to think perhaps this is how I walk around the streets of Philadelphia everyday. Head directed inward to my own thoughts, not thinking about how the woman walking towards me is feeling. And to be honest, most of the time I don't care. Because I am busy. And I probably can't help. And because she wouldn't care enough to tell me or talk to me about her private issue. No one talks anymore.

 The looks of expectation and worry in a hospital room are so much more obvious in their context.  Would I notice them if I were walking around Rittenhouse Square on a beautiful mid 70's Sunday afternoon while drinking my delicious iced vanilla chai? Maybe somewhere along the line I stopped looking around.

I sit back down. My mother looks at me and smiles, she rubs my arm and asks how my walk was. I nod, "fine".  When in reality, my level of anxiety about life and death and all of the heartbreak that happens in between has been heightened from a 4 to a 28 in the matter of ten minutes. Silence. I hear foot steps behind me. I spin my head more dramatically than I would have liked and startle my Mom. A doctor. My breath stops as if it's a reflex to seeing a man in a white coat.

"Everything's fine...he's going to be fine"......