Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I think about you. A lot of what I write here is just for you. There's a way, in fact, that it's about you. Does that disturb you? No, of course it doesn't. You are too steady for that. Calm. But I know something about you that you don't even know about yourself.

We're the same in so many ways. No, not the details. You're not as tall as I am, but that's nothing. We don't look alike, that's for sure. We're quiet, mostly, and careful. They'd never know what's going on inside your head, if you didn't say it. You watch, you listen. You remember. You know you're judgmental but you keep it to yourself. You're sensitive but not sloppy about it. You have a lot of pride that you keep in check. A bit too self-indulgent in the things that tempt you. You like having skills that nobody knows about. Yeah, we have a lot in common. Surprising we're not better friends. Or friends at all.

But people have to know each other, to be friends. We've talked about that before, haven't we.

I don't scare you. The violence that I'm afraid of in myself -- you don't really believe in it. You're wrong about that, but I'm sure I'm wrong about you too, in some things. I don't think you're as introspective as you should be. I know, coming from me that's ridiculous. I don't mean brooding. I just think you have blind spots that should be looked at. Don't we all. But I could be wrong. It's not really something you talk about.

I'm surprised at how intelligent you are. Frankly -- and you must know this about me -- I always think I'm the smartest one in the room. And I am, unless there are 120,000 people in the room. That's one way we're not alike -- my ego shows more often. At least, it seems to. Cuz I'm always joking. Even when what I say is true. Especially then. So maybe I'm never joking. But I'm harmless. Mostly. My point was that you keep it to yourself, but you're really bright. I like that.

What do you like about me? I don't know. I'm honest. You should like that. I have a sense of humor. Maybe too much, but without it I'd hardly have a personality at all. I don't know. There must be something about me that's likeable. I'm gentle. You haven't really seen that. No cause for it. You've heard some of my stories, but they haven't really focused on gentleness. I suppose it's more a fear of being harsh, than it is gentleness. Maybe that's the same thing. Do no harm. There's been too much harm already.

There are people I would kill on sight. Did you know that about me? I should say, I would kill them on sight, in certain circumstances. I haven't hid my rage. You've heard me allude to it. But my self-control is pretty tight. More than that. It's iron. Needs to be. I've learned to walk away. Is there anything like that in you? You've never let me know. So maybe I'm more intense than you are. Yeah. Maybe. Have you seen my passion? I remember so many tears, so many crying boys, so many lost sons.

We get depressed.

But it's that violence thing. I'm a peaceful man. You've heard me say it. You've heard me say that anger hasn't ever gotten me anything I've wanted. So I control it. Sublimate. Transfer. Those stinking islamists. Grr. Right? Well, no. But caring about distant or abstract outrages is a kind of, uh, exercise. And I've made it abundantly clear about why I exercise. So I'm keeping my body and my mind, um, active. I won't rehearse it again. We've been over this. Maybe you don't remember.

So here's the thing. You're much more normal than I am. Sometimes I think you don't really know how odd I am. You'll never know. There are stories I will never tell. But for all that there are people around you, you go home and spend so much time alone. I don't know how you spend your time. You've never told me. But you feel that you waste it. And you're just at the place where time is starting to matter. What have you done with your life? What difference have you made? -- but that's not it. No, I'm not getting it. I have the sense of it, but it's too vague. Do you know? Or rather, can you put it into words? It has to do with intimacy. Did you know that? I don't think you do.

Well. That's it then. All I have is words, here. With them, I try to make a connection across these hours and miles. And you will read them, and smile at my jokes, my quirks and absurdities, and you will be moved sometimes by my nakedness. But all we have is words. Words are steam on glass. They only seem to be something. You will not cross the distance and touch me.



Anonymous said...

I think your wrong about words. Apparently Father thought enough about them that He sent His living Word. He wanted to connect so much that without His Word, we would have never seen His heart. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Jack H said...

When words are all there are, they have to be enough. But it is surprising, how little is enough.

It is true the God sent the Word. But that's not all he sent. He sent his Son. He sent a Good Shepard and a Lamb. He sent Living Water and the Bread of Life. Is it the Word that shows us God's heart. I'm sure it is. But no more than any of these other titles. In fact, the Word is just the speaker only -- the Lamb is the doer. There's being told, and there's being shown. Prophecy never saved anyone. The Man on the cross did. We live or die by the tongue, only insofar as the tongue reveals the heart.

Of course words stir us. Do we live that we might be stirred by words?


Anonymous said...

I posted a thought on my site, largely in part, of some of your comments here. Rather than repeating, take a look if you want.

Jack H said...

Must be this:

Take the trip -- it's good.


brent said...

I think it is significance. Do I matter? More particularly, Do I matter to anyone? This is the intimacy piece. I have programming that says I don't matter regardless of what the appearences may be. It's more of feeling I don't than actually not mattering. I think this is something that Father plants in us - a result of the Fall. We try to gain our significance in what we do but that really doesn't satisfy. If you could look at my life you'd think I have arrived at the American dream. But that dream is very shallow and unfulfilling. I'm growing into significance through relationship with Jesus but there is still that old programming that says I don't measure up. I don't think this quite articulates it. It is a vague glob that I'm trying to get my hands around. The one thing I know is that the answers are contained in relationships. And all relationships are only a shadow of the real. They only give us a picture of what we lost in the garden and can gain in Christ.

So, what about you, oh wierd one, are you ready for connections? This obviously is your training ground and you do a very good job at connecting. You have such a good heart inspite of the darkness.

Jack H said...

Adam was made, incomplete. I've said it before -- it's right there in the text: God was not enough. In order to become complete externally, he was made to be incomplete internally -- the loss of a rib, the hardest part closest to the strength and softness of his heart -- a physical loss, that he might have another sort of fulfillment.

Who are we to argue with God. Such a trade must have been necessary.

I was reminded the other day of an observation I'd made as a young father. Small children stare at each other. We search after our own kind. Peer groups as teens, mates as adults -- it is of a piece.

When I was an unformed youth, inventing my own religion as is the wont of such an age, I imagined that union with God would mean the extinction of one's personality. Rather Buddhist, I know. It would be a kind of death. That is no longer my imagining, of course, but I still do believe that life is perpetually out of balance, and must be. There must always be a seeking, a dissatisfaction. Why else did God create the universe, unless he needed it? The universe is God's rib, removed from himself that he might be observed by something other than himself. Even he is a trinity. He needs to be.

God needs not only himself, as he needed himself on the cross, and was for a time forsaken. God needs us, that he might reveal himself.

In this we are like God. We need him, and we need each other.

Measuring up is the flip side of being needed. I don't feel that I want to be needed. I want to matter, I want to make a difference. But "need", emotional need, should only be for a time. Then we outgrow it. Hopefully. Relationships are, after all, mutual.

Ready? No, I'm not. If you could look at my life you'd think I have arrived at the American nightmare.

I have pictured Adam, broken with grief and regret outside the gates of Eden, weeping alone in a heap in the dust as Eve finds her own place for a time. And a dog comes up and licks his hand. And he laughs and pets its head.

That image is where I get my hands around it.