Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Standing in the Need of Healing

Earlier this week I saw Lydia at the library and the chance encounter filled my heart with prayer for her and for missing some students from my past. She had been such a a good friend—more than a parent. I offered some help, but I knew from her responses and that she was not ready for that and I did not press.

It was the longest I have held someone in a hug for a long, long time. When we separated she was filled with tears. I imagine she was embarrassed, but just as much tired, longing for purchase on her life. For the chance to start over, but in no way sure how to find a way to start over. In fact, I don’t think she was embarrassed.

She seemed to see an old friend, someone to trust. Someone who could love her for what she was and I tried, with very few words, almost none, to convey the hope that where she currently finds herself is fleeting and will pass.

I had not seen her in 15 months. I had only heard rumors of addiction to crack. She looked tired, but okay,, somehow a little better than how I imagine crack addiction looks. It was mid-week, mid-morning. Perhaps the setting offered a reprieve from the worst of it, but really, I don't have a clue about the look and feel of such habits.

I believe that in the friendship we shared there is saving. Her daughter is growing up motherless. What must she be feeling after 15 adolescent months without a mom? She is athletic, this child, growing up without the maternal wisdom that only Lydia possesses.

Lydia needs purchase on the world. She said, “Some of us have a hard time sleeping in the bed we have made.” How true. What’s the solution? Is there one?

I pray TROSA upon Lydia. I believe they can help her. I believe that TROSA can save her life. I felt saved by TROSA when I was there. I miss my brief time there, though not a resident, I felt like TROSA on James Street was a community of honesty, discipline, and accountability.

I told Lydia, “You know it seems like some people have it all together, but they don’t. They are struggling on the inside. Taking life one day at a time.”

Of course, on some level, I meant me. And she knew it. I know she did by the tears that welled up in her blood-shot eyes, the eyes of too many sleepless nights, too many parties that brought no real joy. Eyes that felt needed for the first time in a long time. I needed her as a friend. I made myself vulnerable to her because I knew it would do her good as well as me. When we share stories with one another, real stories of pain and joy, we can be made whole.

She can get clean. I know it.

When she came near me, I was reading, Surprised by Hope, a defense of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Because of the resurrection, Lydia can be made whole.

At least, she can struggle more successfully.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Standing at the shore

This photo depicts Rodney, Julian and I standing at the shores of the Red Sea. Julian is in the place of Moses about to part the waters. Katherine Smith had us pose for this picture as we walked back from the garden to the main part of camp at Chestnut Ridge during Duke Youth Academy, July 2009. We had been picking weeds in the garden on an abnormally cool July day. Only Julian could pick up a stick on a casual hike and feign a likeness to Charlton Heston in The 10 Commandments.

These two are hilarious. Rodney was new to DYA this year, but immediately found his way among staff and students as the great youth minister that he is. Julian and I spend the bulk of DYA laughing uncontrollably and trying to stay out of trouble. I am happy to count both of these men among my friends and I hope to work with each of them again soon.


Goats and Blackberries

berries bloom but three weeks a year
rest of the time, 49 weeks,
by my count
nothing but a nuisance
most the time

sure, everybody loves the sweet nectar
nectar from the gods
Is it worth it?

Don’t ask the eaters, the pickers, the bakers, or the tourists
What do they know?

ask the goats
they eat up vines of nuisance
‘spect they like 'em more 'an we like the berries

I’m just sayin’

*Check out NPR story, August 20, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reflections on Eagle's Nest Camp, Session IV 2009

Ah...inspiration, it comes and goes like the wind. I can barely write during the summer. My brain seems to swell and more parts than I would like sweat even in air conditioned places in the Piedmont of North Carolina. But inspiration finds me as it always did after time at Eagle's Nest.

I had not been to Eagle's Nest Camp, as a staff member, in 14 years. That's twice the time of my marriage. It's working on two decades ago. The changes were wonderfully minimal as I knew they would be. The rhododendron smelled of decaying and rotting wood, as only rhodo does, and I miss it already. It's a smell unique to certain places in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and if you never smelt it--sorry. It filled my nostrils in the dampness that was my lodging--Cabin Nine. I had lived in all of the other boys' cabins, but Cabin Nine, and now, I found myself there in the dampest of the damp as counselor and parent to my oldest child, George, age five and three quarters, as he is so quick to clarify by way of a mixed numeral.

Friday, I taught canoeing on the Headwaters of the French Broad River, Rosman, NC, as the middle of three generations of heads of the paddling program. Here I was a "Linney" situated in the middle of a "Waite-Kucera" mother and son teaching team. We had eight campers with us, but I am sure they had no sense that the combined paddling experience of their three instructors was upwards of 75 years and yet no one of these instructors was over the age of 50. All three of us were homegrown, taught first on a lake in the Little River Valley between Brevard and Hendersonville and then each of us sent from the lake to learn among moving waters at the Green, the Tuck, the Nantahala, the Chattooga, and many more rivers in the Southeast and beyond. I had not been in an open canoe in several years, yet the muscle memory was of a skill that will not be soon forgotten as I knew it would not be.

Throughout the week, on that same lake, "Love," I taught my son the first skills necessary to becoming a whitewater paddler. "Love" is the third pond as it is known in the trifecta of first "Faith" and then "Hope," as they were dug out years ago from the direction of Indian Village towards Hart and Everett Roads and the Little River. It is in the waters of the Little River where the waters of these lakes find rest until they move down toward the French Broad which flows and flows until finally the Atlantic, no, the Mississippi, because the French Broad is so old it cuts through the Continental Divide and flows West all the way to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. This is a sign of a river so old that it carved out the land before the mountains rose. My son learned a little of the Draw, and Pry, the Forward and the Reverse strokes, but will he come to know where the rivers meet? They meet in the hearts of those who love them. Those who think that water is a place where peace can overcome violence. Where dreams come true. Where skills are learned and harnessed. Where artistic motions can move bodies which move ancient shaped crafts across lakes and streams and ponds and rivers.

I love Eagle's Nest Camp. I hope I get to return their soon.

P.S. If you do not know David Whyte, and his book of poems, "Where Many Rivers Meet," try it.

*Photos by Cain Cox.