Monday, June 29, 2015

If I Could Tell You I Love You

If my heart could sing,
what would be the song?
Would it whisper like the flutter
of a nightingale’s wing;
soft and adoring
with hushed kindness?
Or would it roar like a lion,
with uncontrolled passion?
Both sung with heart enthralled
and soul aflame.
If I could tell you a story,
what would be the tale?
Adventurous and bold,
of brave deeds and chivalry?
Or a romance which tells
of sweet gentle caress?
Both told with damp brow
and trembling lips.
If I could write you a poem,
what would be the prose?
Would I write you a limerick,
to make you smile and laugh with joy?
Or would it be filled with passion
and sweet words of adoration;
to enhance,
a sigh from your lips,
and a tear to float down
your cheek?
If I could tell you my feelings,
what could I say?
I have yet to unravel
the many emotions
which weigh my heart
in troubled uncertainty.
For though I love you sincerely,
from deep in my breast,
I know not your feelings in return.
If I sang you a song,
or told you a story,
or even proclaimed my love in verse,
would you not love me in return?
Or would you scorn me for my
presumptuous ways,
and bade me farewell
for all eternity?
I am so afraid
to tell you I love you.
For if spoken or written,
the dream might soon perish.
Yet my heart holds too much.
So to you I must proclaim
that “I love you”;
and pause to consider
the boldness of my deed.
May it not be that told
to a fleeting shadow,
but a warm hand
and loving heart.
J.P. Wiegand
© Emittravel 1987

This one can be described as pouring out your heart to the woman you love, telling her your dreams and ambitions ... then replacing the picture upon the mantle.

The attempt here is to conjure up as poetic an image possible, without being bogged-down by the sappiness of the moment.

The photo was taken of a perfect stranger sitting along a river's edge. The contrasts captivated me. The breathlessness of the moment pulled me in. What is she thinking? Who is she thinking of?

For the reader: Is there someone who holds your heart, but they don't know it? Maybe it is time to tell them! -j.p.

© Emittravel 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

If the Stiletto Fits . . .

A few weeks prior to this writing, Bruce Jenner "came out" publicly as Caitlyn Jenner.

First off, I think it interesting that we still use the expression "came out", as it is directly reminiscent of when those outside the socially-accepted "norm" were IN the so-called closet, and, when going public with the truth concerning themselves, would come OUT of said closet.

Secondly, I think it interesting that the term "closet" is used to describe both the place for those outside of the socially-accepted "norm", AND as the place Christians are encouraged to enter when praying (Matthew 6:6 - KJV). Curious. Ever think that for some people, the very "closet" one spends time in prayer becomes the very place they discover their true selves?

(Yeah, that last thing may upset a few folks . . . )

As I mentioned in my last blog post, one of the difficulties I have with the Christian church is the focus on the depravity of the world, and how those in the church have "overcome" and are separate from, even superior to, it. I was part of that belief structure for many years, and I know how entrenched that attitude can be in one's life. And it is sometimes given from the pulpit with sly humor, all the while reinforcing an intolerance for the very people the church is supposed to be reaching out to.

If you, as a person with such an attitude, find that you have difficulty with folks like Caitlyn Jenner, I want to know something: Is God the author of birth defects?

Think about that for a minute. And no, I'm not calling Caitlyn Jenner someone with a birth defect. Though, in a sense, maybe I am.

We Christians like to say that God doesn't make junk. For example, using the (re)creation account in Genesis chapter one, everything God made was "good". The bible also says that sickness and disease are from the Devil. So, where do birth defects come from? I've already argued that children aren't born with them because of their sins or the sins of their parents (see "Hey Babe: Take a Walk on the Quiet Side"), so where do they come from?

(One way I understand it is, the longer we have been here, reproducing and reproducing, errors in our genetic make-up keep getting passed down, and even transfigured, from one generation to the next. I was born, for instance, without a sense of smell. For me each breath is the same. My mom's sense of smell is normal. My dad's is beyond normal: he's smelled an underground gas leak that the technician couldn't detect with his meter until he had dug two-feet below ground! Yet, MY shnoz is basically useless. With sinus issues, it is sometimes beyond useless! Radiation is known to be a source of some cancers, because of the way it affects cells. I believe that in some cases, cancer can be a genetic disorder.)

Now, if someone is born with a birth defect, and science has come to the point where they can "fix" it, should the person with the defect take advantage of that technology? Or, since God made them that way, should they embrace the way they are and not seek "wholeness"? If one is born without arms or legs, prosthetics today have come a long way to providing someone a higher level of independence than they would have ever experienced otherwise. Would it be wrong to embrace such technology? What about corrective lenses (glasses or contacts), or even LASIC surgery? Would those be abominations because they go to "fix" what God had deemed "good"? Of course not.

Okay, let's not limit birth defects. Since sex is only determined by a couple of X's and Y's (and no, I'm not getting into the whole sex vs. gender argument), what if what one is born with is NOT what they, inside, determine themselves to be? Isn't that a form of birth defect too? And since science has come to the point where they can "fix" that as well, is it wrong for a person to embrace that either?

You have to think, if all wisdom and inventiveness ultimately comes from God, is it so wrong for medical technology to give people a way to live a more "normal" life?

As the title says, "If the stiletto fits . . . "

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fish or Cut Bait?

As I sit here, mentally preparing to write, I find I'm stuck between two different topics. One was an opinion piece on the Bruce-to-Caitlyn Jenner announcement, and the other was a reflection on my first "full" service at my "home church" (today) since the start of the sabbatical. While having a late breakfast with my  lovely wife this afternoon, I found both topics intertwining. The church experience stepped into the Jenner topic, providing almost further support of the opinion piece yet to be written. With both topics being fenced in by the timeliness of their occurrences, I think I will focus on this morning's experience, and refer to it in a later blog when I go back to the Jenner story.
As I wrote in "B.I.B.L.E.", now that I'm at the end of my sabbatical, "Where do I go from here?" I decided to make this Sunday the day I would not exit after the praise and worship portion, and stay until the end of the service. My wife went to the church she has been attending during this period, so if I really felt I couldn't stay, walking out in the middle wouldn't be something that would embarrass her (I, for one, am difficult to embarrass.)
The pastor of the church preached the sermon. This is nothing new. It is actually a rare thing for him to not be preaching.
Let me add right here, that this is not the first time I've sat through a sermon since the start of my sabbatical. It's just the first time in my "home" church. I've had the pleasure of going to a friend's church, playing with him in the band, and listening to his pastor preach. That experience held little-to-no anxiety for me. I was hoping for a similar experience at my "home" church.
(Note: I was thinking of going into a detailed description of the sermon, but I think that it does not fit the purpose of this particular post.)
I found myself, not necessarily bored, but more mentally disengaged. This is not a reflection on the pastor's preaching ability: he is a hermeneutically excellent preacher/teacher. It was me.
I felt very disconnected. Not just while listening to the sermon, but the whole morning. The long and short of it is, I find I don't believe in what the church preaches anymore. It's more than the "worship" of the bible. It's how the church looks at the rest of the world outside of its stained-glass walls. There is this air of perfection required for God to accept you. That is not what is spoken, but that is the attitude. There is a focus on the depravity of the world outside of the church, and that focus helps to solidify the "we have overcome" persona the church claims. Unfortunately, it is THIS attitude that keeps many outside of the church from wanting anything to do WITH the church.
As my wife and I chatted (over some awesome chocolate-meringue pie), I realized that I had changed a lot. She used to shut down during conversations, because she was afraid that what she would say would seriously conflict with my belief structure. Now she says that has changed. I've become more tolerant. I've become more accepting. I've become less . . . religious.
In a sense, I would like to think I've become MORE Christ like. Jesus would not hesitate to eat with sinners. He would even occasionally invite Himself over to a sinner's house for lunch. He was tolerant. He was accepting of those "outside". He never made it seem one had to clean up their act BEFORE He would accept them. He was not religious.
The pastor mentioned that the pronouns in the passage he referred to (in Genesis) were plural ("Us" and "Our"), showing that the godhead was relational. As I've written a few times previously, if you look at the overall story of the bible, God is a relational god. Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship. We have gone and made it into a religion. What is religion? Religion, at its root form, means "to strangle".
So, "Where do I go from here?" Do I give my "home" church one more shot? Do I, instead, continue to attend the way I did in the sabbatical (making a graceful exit at the "meet and greet")? Or do I make the decision to "cut bait"? Is it the whole idea of church, or the idea of this PARTICULAR church?
I told my wife that I had this fear, that if I left my "home" church, without having another place to go, I would find that I would stop believing all together. She doesn't think that would happen. My beliefs have transitioned over this period, not waned. Like REM, maybe I'm just "Losing My Religion".
There is the chance, that if I walk away from my "home" church, that I will never again find myself in a worship (music) team. And would I be okay with that?
You know what? I think I am.
© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, June 7, 2015


I recently had a visit to a local hospital for some "lab work". That's a nice way to say that I had to go and get some blood drawn. I'm an absolute freak when it comes to needles. When I was a kid (pre-teen, early teen), I needed to have some surgeries, and one of the things they would do is give two shots in either the hip or upper thigh as part of the anesthesia. It would take FIVE nurses to hold me down for the shots. As an adult I say that only two were necessary (WINK!!) I even have trouble watching one of my all-time favorite TV shows: M*A*S*H. Whenever they show a needle I have to turn my head. Pretty phobic!

While at the lab, the staff had to update some of my records in their system, and one of the questions I was asked was what was my religion.

When I joined the Navy at seventeen years old, one of the many questions asked, in the multitude of paperwork, was the same thing: what was my religion. I grew up Roman Catholic, so that is what I put down. Later, when I turned eighteen, I announced to my parents that I was no longer considering myself a Catholic and was no longer going to church. They didn't like it too much, but since I was eighteen, they accepted my decision. That meant that I wanted/needed to contact the Navy to correct my "religion" on the paperwork, which is what I did.

When you arrive in boot camp, one of the things you receive are your dog tags. Dog tags are flat metal plates strung on ceiling fan pool chains that you wear around your neck. There are two tags. One on the main chain, and one on a much smaller chain that is hanging on the big chain. This smaller one is known as a "toe tag". Anyone familiar with shows like CSI should be familiar with the term. On the tags are your name, ID number, branch of service, blood type, and religion. Where it said "religion" it said "NO REL PREF": No Religious Preference.

Here, as I find myself at the end of a sabbatical, I find myself faced with defining the religion I ascribe to. This sabbatical has brought many things to light of where my head/heart/belief structure is, as you can read in past blog posts. I find that labeling my beliefs is much more difficult than it once was. I no longer consider myself Catholic. I've been going (for many years) to a church that jokingly/lovingly calls itself "Bapticostal" (the diligence in study of the bible as the Baptists, with the embrace of the movement and involvement of the Holy Spirit as the Pentecostals). They have been called Charismatic and Non-Denominational. And I have called myself the same.

I could have said "Christian", but the question was concerning my religion. "Christian" literally means "Christ follower", a disciple of Jesus. A relational word that describes a child to their parent. There is a big difference between calling yourself a Christian and calling yourself a Catholic (or Methodist, or Lutheran, or even Bapticostal). And, due to my journey during this sabbatical, I am having a lot of difficulty ascribing myself to one of them.

I turned to the lady and told her NO REL PREF: No Religious Preference.