Random thoughts and prayers on a cold and wet almost summer day...

The poet, Maya Angelou, "writes like a song" someone once told me. I think that is true. Once, when we were trying to talk about the way we do church differently from our more conservative cousins, a member of the band came up with this.

When I say ... "I am a Christian,"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say ..."I am a Christian,"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble,
And need CHRIST to be my guide.

When I say ... "I am a Christian,"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak,
And need HIS strength to carry on.

When I say ... "I am a Christian,"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed,
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say ... "I am a Christian,"
I'm not claiming to be perfect.
My flaws are far too visible,
But God believes I am worth it.

When I say ... "I am a Christian,"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches,
So I call upon His name.

When I say ... "I am a Christian,"
I'm not holier than thou.
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace somehow.


We called this being a Johnny Cash believer - someone who remembers God's grace when they are down and counted out by most everyone else - not "holier than thou, just a simple sinner who has received God's good grace somehow." I still think that is just about perfect.

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For some reason this poem took my mind to Olivier Messiaen's brilliant, troubling and powerful composition: Quartet for the End of Time. The composer writes:

Conceived and written in the course of my captivity, the Quartet for the End of Time was performed for the first time in Stalag 8-A on January 15, 1941... It is directly inspired by an excerpt from the Revelation of St. John - chapter 10. Its musical language is essentially transcendental, spiritual, catholic...

This work - as well as many of his compositions - speaks to me of how the human soul aches and searches for beauty and hope in the midst of the worst evil and pain. It is, indeed, a faith commitment to enter such a search while imprisoned in a concentration camp, walking in the aftermath of abuse, locked the despair of addiction or foundering in chronic pain. I give thanks to those ordinary and heroic saints who point the way for me... Messiaen being one of the greats.



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I found this poem in the recent New Yorker - Survivorman by Sherman Alexie - and it filled me with tears of hope and sadness at the same time.

Here's a fact: Some people want to live more
Than others do. Some can withstand any horror

While others will easily surrender
To thirst, hunger, and extremes of weather.

In Utah, one man carried another
Man on his back like a conjoined brother

And crossed twenty-five miles of desert
To safety. Can you imagine the hurt?

Do you think you could be that good and strong?
Yes, yes, you think, but you're probably wrong.

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