Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lamentations of a Rogue Child

A child walks along a sidewalk, her bare feet warmed by the concrete that baked in the hot sun before it's retreat. Her arms swing as she keeps her eyes on the ground, making sure to step over the foreboding and frequent cracks in the sidewalk. She seems unaware of the hair that hasn't been brushed in a couple days is falling over her eyes and threatens to make her look like Cousin It's scrawny sister. Usually a song is playing in her head, and her hands reach out to conduct the air with small, klutzy swings, her fingers loosely guiding the rhythms in her head.

How different her hands look today. They are clenched into angry balls, her dirty fingernails digging into her equally dusty palms. Her arms, tense, are at her sides. She feels like swinging at something, anything, but she doesn't really want the world to know that, so her arms stay down. A well-fed cat sits on the edge of a passing lawn, and the child's gaze flicks in the feline's direction. Her eyes and tense jaw dare the unblinking creature to walk in front of her. The cat stays in his place. Her eyes return to the concrete.

The girl's pace quickens as she becomes closer to her destination. When she reaches it, she stops and stands in front of her hiding place. Hot tears blur her vision as she looks at the carefully placed branches and leaves that makes up the fort. She and her Hashem built it together, painstakingly selecting just the right sticks for it. They had laughed while sitting under the completed project, and had spent many hours passing time talking or just sitting in silence. She had sat cross legged in front of him and listened to Him tell stories with daring fishermen and women who hid spies.

Today, however, she stood in front of the small entrance to their fort, and looked at it with a betrayed anger in her face. Like every other day she's visited, He's in there. But she doesn't want to see him. Not today. Not after what he let happen happened. He's in there, so very tangible now. But where was he earlier? Why didn't he fix it? She knew he was able to. The girl, shaking, softly murmurs the words that have bounced around in her head all day.

"Where were you?"

Silence meets her. She's angered by the lack of explanation. He's in there, so why doesn't he speak? How dare he stand by and-

"Oh child, I was right there with you."

The words anger her. Her simmering anger turns to rage, and she finds herself inside, with her angry face two feet from His. Her mouth opens to demand he explain why he didn't show up when she needed him the most, and why the same Hashem that said he loved her didn't come to the rescue.

The words are about to explode out of her like an overflowing pot on the stove, and in her anger she forgets that she wasn't going to look at him, and his eyes meets hers.

His eyes meet hers.

With tears that run over onto his face and down his chin, he looks at her. Not a word leaves her mouth. She cannot look away. There's no helpless pity in his eyes. No patronizing look of shame. The child's breath catches as she sees how his eyes reflect her own. All of the anger, the hurt, and the betrayal that overwhelms her is captured in his face as he looked down into hers. And yet, with all of those emotions filling his eyes there is something else.

Love. So much love. Something in her heart shifts and she buries her small head in his chest and weeps. He holds her and pulls her up on his lap, the silence broken only by her pauses to breath in between the tears. As they subside she realizes her past anger and pulls away in shame and embarrassment. She will not look him in the eyes, so he with his big hand and gently props up her chin to look down at her.

"I'm so sorry you had to go through this, child. When you hurt my heart aches so badly it seems my ribs will crack. You felt betrayed by Me as well. Know that when your world is crashing down, I remain at your side. Do you believe me?"

The child nodded her head and sank into her Hashem's strong arms.

And she could rest.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Friday, January 7, 2011

Soul Searching and F-bombs- Thoughts on "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot"

Just like all art, theater is an interactive and responsive thing. It is meant to draw the audience into the experience and speak to them through the words, movements, and objects of the production. Yes, the actors and crew do the portraying of the piece but it is the audience that is being reached and the audience who decides what to do with the art they just experienced. I am in a group of students participating in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (let's just refer to it as it's acronym KCACTF) and we got the chance to see The Last Days of Judas Iscariot that provoked a broad spectrum of feelings and thoughts.

When I heard about the play we were going to see, I inwardly cringed. Many of the skits and plays at the festival can tend towards the riske and scandalous. Shock value is worth it's weight in gold around here and I was afraid of what that meant for a play that was portraying biblical events. However, I knew this would not be the typical "Jesus play" and I wanted to see what that looked like.

As we waited for it to start I prayed over the audience and our own hearts. "Dear God I don't know what this play is going to entail but I just ask that it brings people to questioning and searching and that You will be what they find. Protect our hearts from things that draw us away from You and use this play for Your glory." What else was there to say? I started to feel more peaceful about the play that was about to begin.

It began with Judas' mother lamenting her son's demise. She grieved as she remembered having to bury her son alone after he hung himself. Why had I never thought of the fact that Judas had a mother? After her heartfelt monologue a man in a humble white shirt and carrying a bucket of water walked out to her and kissed her on the cheek. Jesus had arrived.

After this the play began with a boom. It was set in Purgatory courtroom where a female lawyer was trying to release Judas from his fate in Hell. Different witnesses were called, from Judas' mother, Freud, Pilot, and Satan himself. Each was a modern day portrayal of each character. Some of their accounts had deep biblical truths and some had blatant false portrayal of the gospel.

The thing that people found most risky was the plethora of language and innuendos throughout the play. F-bombs were dropped often and references to the human reproductive system were not rare.

Ok, here's where my review of the play stops and my opinion starts. As the director's notes stated (and much more importantly, the Bible), Jesus did not hang around with a bunch of Sunday school graduates who got their mouths washed with soap if they mentioned a crude word. No. His company was prostitutes, fishermen, tax collectors, and the unwanted. We can water down reality as much as we want but the truth is they weren't going to present themselves like little Billy Grahams in turbans and leather sandals. There was one particular part that would not have gripped my heart as much were it not for the language. Judas sat on the floor of his place in Hell, desolate, bereaved, hopeless, and very aware of his transgression. Sadness seemed to grip his very being. He is not speaking, has no desire to say anything out of his paralyzing despair. Jesus enters and approaches him, kneeling down to him and placing his hand on the broken man's shoulder:

Jesus: Judas, I'm here

Judas wrenches his shoulder away from Christ and he begins to weep.

Judas: Fuck off! Get away from me! Just fuck off!

I winced at the language being thrown at Christ. It made my stomach twist. But a thought crossed my mind that I later discussed with my roommate: Isn't that what we do all the time? Whether it be as a nation or a person our actions and perhaps words tell our Savior to F-off and not to interfere with our despair. As a character from the play put it: "Despair is the ultimate development of pride so great and stiff-necked that it selects the absolute misery of damnation rather than select happiness from the hands of God and thereby acknowledge that He is above us". No we may not literally scream curses at our Savior but when tragedy hits or we are caught up in our own mess of sin do we acknowledge that God has the grace and ability to pull us out of it or do we wrench ourselves away from his hands and tell him to leave us be with our mess?

This was just many of the moments in the play that brought thought and an examination of my own life and treatment of my God. Were there moments that were not less than offensive? Yes. I will not pretend that there weren't. I can't say that I would choose to see this play again yet I am so very glad I was able to watch it.

As a Christian, it's okay to be righteously angry at the mistreatment of Truth. However, the play was up there and performed, whether I like it or not. It is what it is, and that is life. The only thing I can control is how I react to it. If I walk out of the theater in a pissed off fast-walk then what does that accomplish? If anything I am grateful this play may have provoked thought and questioning in the minds of those who may not have given God a thought before! If I am busy playing martyr I am not available to guide their thoughts and questions towards Christ. Do you see what I'm saying? I don't feel like I should think God so little that He can't use this play to bring people closer to Him. And when He works in their hearts, which he will, I want to be available to glorify Him through the discussions that happen afterward. Yes, there were parts that made me sick to my stomach and times when I completely disagreed with their portrayal of certain events or facts, but there were times that challenged me in my faith and my understanding of how I treat God.

My prayer is that God would use that conundrum of a play to provoke thought and help people remember that there is indeed a Christ and that He loves them dearly. As for me, I continue to search for what it means to follow Christ in a world that does not always agree, and how to draw near Him whether I am hearing praise songs in chapel or curses in an auditorium seat.

Peace in Christ

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


There is a lens that I look through to see the world.
What tints or blurs it?
How often do I switch lenses to take another look; a moral check up test just like the eye doctor?

"Here's option one"

click. click.

"And option two"

Last weekend I was looking through pictures I have taken over the past year. I spent extra time on the photos from the Dominican Republic, Camp Selah, and Italy. Memories. Much like the snapshots I have frozen in my brain.

--------------------------------- Faces
------------------------- Moments
--------------------------------- People

They flip like paper in my mind. The world goes on around me. oblivious. loud. But in my head plays a circus of images.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ A child begging for food ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . . . . . . . . [I'm helpless to change his future. Subtle tears gather in my eyes.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~Broad shouldered Haitians crossing the trash strewn river to reach jobs ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[I will never complain about working again. The tiredness is thick in the air.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ A chapel full of worshiping students~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . .[Chills come over my body. God is here.]

~ ~A two year old Italian smile beaming up at me~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . [I could stay here forever. I love this girl.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ My 3 year old Dominican student running barefoot down the dirt path, ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ her mother screaming curses at her from behind. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[I would take her back with me if I could. God, save her.]

~ ~ ~ ~ The entire Adriatic Sea at sundown before my eyes. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . . . . . [How does such beauty exist? I can only smile and breath the sea air]

They do not plague me like a stubborn sickness. They fall like torn pieces of paper, occasionally swept up by a slight breeze. A word. A conversation. A similar image.

They shape me and how I see the world. They help me understand things, and make me question things. My views shift.

"Here's option one"

click. click.

"And option two"

Saturday, November 13, 2010


One of my jobs is to clean the house of a family in South Bend. They are Orthodox Jewish and it's a normalcy for me to be picking up little yamakas and paper with Hebrew scribbled on it. I come to know this family fairly well throughout the last year and a half I've known them. The mom and dad, Devorah and Fareh, have four children under the age of 4. Yoel Aryeh, Shoobey (it's a nick name), Riva, and Yehudah keep me and their mom very busy, and they are joys to be around. I often see and hear things that make me thank God that I get to work for them. A few days ago was one of those times. As I was sweeping the playroom last Thursday I heard a conversation that has stayed with me throughout the week.

The kids had gone to bed, but Yoel Aryeh, the oldest at 4, needed to use the restroom, so after he was done his father was helping him back to his room. He spoke to his son as he led him back to the door:

"Yoel Aryeh I love you so so so so much. How much does Tati love you?"

His little boy responded with sweet childlike confidence:

"You love me so so so so much."

"That's right. I love you so much"

"Mhm. But Tati, HaShem loves me the most."

The beauty of what this small child had just said made me stop and look up. The father was looking at his boy with pride in his eyes and a smile on his face. His son was completely confident that he had his earthly father's love, but he knew that there is One that loves him the most.

the Name

He loves us the most.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Glass Wall

I sit in my room, cross legged on my bed. My heart is heavy. I look at the patterns on my quilt, yet don't see any of their beauty. My mind is everywhere. I'm tired. And I'm alone.

"I should talk to God about all of this..."

I glance up briefly but my eyes quickly go to the floor when I realize I don't have the words right now. My God that was so close to my heart yesterday seems miles away right now. Or is it just me believing that? I can't feel Him today. And today, of all days, is when I just want Him to hold me or at least feel His hope invading my heart.

"Maybe I should just try."

I hold back my words. What if He doesn't show up? I could be left high and dry. Isn't that what happens when you trust or expect something? I don't even attempt to look up now. I decide to risk one word. What harm could that do? I open my mouth as soon as I decide.


It's more of a question than anything. Are you there? Do you hear me? Can you see me? Do you still love me? Why aren't you here right now?


As soon as it leaves my lips I feel the glass wall I put up between me and Him shatter. The glass wall I didn't even realize was there. The glass wall that was broken down with a small hesitant call of His name. It is like the tense sad air I have breathed in all day is pervaded with a rush of relief that is let in by the shattered glass. I don't need the things crashing around me to go away. I just need to know someone is here.

He is here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010



An understood moment. A split second in time where your mind stops sailing alone and meets with another. When you feel yourself drift towards another being for unknown, or known, reasons.


A moment where you become aware of another creature. Where a head on a shoulder, a connection of eyes, a voice, a note, an existence, reminds you that there is so much more in the world than you.

And that life is a beautiful thing.

a word

a song

a sigh

a hand slipped in yours
a cry
a tear
a lullaby
a heart opening it's doors

a look
a glance
a breath
a heaviness carried in stride
a laugh

a sparkle
a presence
a shared joy and pride


Sunday, September 19, 2010

To Defend and Protect

My roommate and I are currently thrashing out what it means for a man to defend and protect. She had posted a blog that explored what a real man is. She is the writer of the room, and so usually this would be her posting a blog in her thought out, passionate, and eloquent words. However, this time it seems that this topic hit a string in me and as words poured out of my mouth about what I thought, so we decided that I should write a blog about it.

One of the qualities my roommate pondered upon was the idea that a man should protect and defend that which he values and loves. She put both "bucking up and taking on a challenge" and defending others in the same category. A wise mutual friend of ours responded and asked her to clarify what the difference is between the two. Is taking on a challenge really in the same category as protecting those around you? What does a man that fights for others look like?

Please feel free to challenge, probe, and poke at my thoughts here. I do not claim to be an expert on this. In addition I feel a bit presumptuous writing a blog about men as I sit here, very much a woman. Yet at the same time, I have watched and been a part of circumstances where men either took on that role as a defender, or sat back and either caused damage or did nothing to stop it.

Let me start off by exploring what defending someone or something looks like. Let's be honest, the picture that often comes to mind is an Aragorn-like image, a man with a gleaming sword swinging, violent and precise. His eyes show no fear, only focus, as he successfully obliterates his enemy, all the while keeping the image of his beautiful maiden in the back of his mind as his source of passion and strength. Let me also be honest and say that it is foolish and immature to think that this is the only type of protection a man can offer.

Protection can be a steadying hand when you encounter something or someone that unnerves you. It can be someone telling you bluntly that where you are going is going to hurt you, or will not honor God. Protection can be walking on the outside of the sidewalk so the girl is more shielded from the cars in the street. It can be setting up boundaries and sticking to them so you do not lead a friend on. There is a sweet relief that floods through you when you find that someone is there to defend you, and when you see that you are not left high and dry to fight whatever monster it is you are facing. Perhaps this is the best definition: When a man truly defends a woman, he offers her his strength.

Did you catch that? Defense is not forced. We live in a world where some men offer a bit of strength and then expect something immediately in return, or get annoyed if they have to expel their precious energies on someone. That leaves women cautious, fearful, cynical, and afraid of accepting the strength offered. It can be hard to know whether it is safe to accept a man's help. "Does he want something if I accept?" "If I accept this he'll get tired of me and stop being kind." "I don't want to be a burden on him" "He doesn't know what he's getting himself into. I'm too much." These are all thoughts that at times plague the minds of many women. For this reason, strength should be offered, never forced. If a girl honestly does not want help climbing down from a tall ledge, never try to grab at her and prove that you are capable. The purpose of protection is not to prove you are capable, but to offer strength to your sister in Christ as He offers it to you.

I will speak to the ladies now and say this: Yes, I understand. Wanting to be protected is the desire of many women, yet at the same time it's hard to let go of the thoughts and hang-ups that keep you from accepting genuine help when offered. It goes against so much about what the world teaches and perhaps even your very nature. ALSO: We are not to complain about men if we are the ones not allowing them to protect when appropriate. You want men to rise up? Fantastic. Let them rise up. You have baggage that makes this hard? Take it to Christ. I would also like to add that you very well know the difference between accepting strength and taking advantage of it. Let's not get ridiculous here and depend so much on a man's strength that it drains him unhealthily. We have ways of offering strength as well, and we are just as capable of pouring into them. If we want guys to treat us like sisters in Christ then we should behave like sisters in Christ. This is a two way street. It's important to know how to function as an independent person, completely fulfilled in Christ and His love. A man should feel welcomed, not obligated, to offer strength.

So now I go back to our friend's question. What is the difference between rising to a challenge and being a protector? Is there a difference? I think it can be put somewhat simply: From my point of view, protecting someone is rising to a challenge. It is standing up, offering the steadying hand, or putting another first. When a husband defends his wife he is rising to the challenge of leading her and loving her as Christ loves the Church. Do all challenges have to do with protecting and defending? Of course not. Some challenges are completely internal. Perhaps God wants you to allow Him to refine your heart, or He challenges you on a specific area in your life. Submitting to Him and working on what he has convicted you with is rising up and taking that challenge head-on.

Defending someone is more than swinging a sword at a dragon. It is offering strength where needed and expecting no payment in return. It's holding her steady when she needs it most. It's setting boundaries. It's God-honoring, and God-inspired. I challenge you to rise up to the challenge and examine where you may need to step it up in the defending department, or look at your motives for defending. Are you one of the men that makes women wary of taking help? Or can you confidently say that you are reflecting Christ in your actions and how you protect your sisters in Christ? And women, are you allowing your brothers in Christ to step up? Are you encouraging, and do you also offer strength where it is needed? Or do you suck in strength like a sponge, leaving a guy empty?

To defend someone is a noble thing. Offering and accepting strength is a thing of beauty. It is going beyond yourself while offering a bit of you to encourage and protect another.

Peace in Christ