183. a prodigious wave…millionaire (part 3)
Okay, so it’s 10:55pm and I want to be in bed by 11:30. My blogs usually take about two hours to write, edit (yes, I do edit them, despite what typos and errors remain), and post (I still use dial-up). So I should just forget about posting and go to bed. But I have TONS on my mind and if I don’t get to some of it, I’ll never get to any of it (I have the memory of a cheese grater).
So I’ll share a little something I wrote this past Monday. See, Pastor Imiel Abadir (yeah, the same guy I kind of blasted in blog 182) was going to be speaking at the Monday night healing service at Moanalua Gardens Missionary Church. And I probably wouldn’t have gone but for the fact that a bunch of people from my home church (see blog 175) were going.
So I went.
And it turns out that I actually enjoyed…no, really enjoyed what Pastor Imiel had to share. But that will have to wait for another blog, another day. I want to talk about the worship that preceded the message. It was from the same couple that led worship for the conference (see blog 182). And here’s what I wrote while people were worshiping all around me.
I’m sitting/standing here in the middle of a worship service – a prelude to the work of the same speaker who spoke at the conference over the weekend.
And I want to describe the sound and the sway, how the room is alive with joy and love – a passion I don’t think I’ve ever known. It’s thick. Notes resound and melodies soar, unchained. There is the most mysterious, beautiful, haunting undertone to the sound that mists between the aisles like a strange, holy fog.
And I want their passion, their abandon.
Instead, woe is me for I am a dead, useless stump of ignorance. The limbs and branches that once stretched heavenward lie about in broken, hollow, termite-riddled scratches of kindling. They no longer wait for rain, it’s too late for that now. It waits for fire to consume, to burn away, to start anew and to bring life again, even if only for a single, fiery instant.
And there exists a conflict between my heart that wants to burst and to burn, and my mind that lays like a field riddled with land-mines set to detonate at the slightest untoward movement, the smallest deviation from my rickety, patchwork understanding of orthodoxy.
And I still remember how I felt when I was writing that. And I think of a dance floor.
See, I used to like going to clubs that played good house music. I loved it because once I got out on the dance floor, I didn’t care what I looked like or who was watching. I just let myself get lost in the beat, the four-on-the-floor, and the disco samples. It was intoxicating, even while sober. And to me, the genius of dancing to house music was how individual limbs would get caught up in the different elements of the house beat. The feet and the booty would get caught up in the four-on-the-floor, while the torso hooked up with the up-beat of the hi-hats, and the arms would kind of swing along with whatever melody or sample was playing on top of it all.
Anyway, before I could get my groove on, there was always that moment before stepping out onto the dance floor where I would hesitate. I’d look at the other dancers already out there and think about how smooth they were and how cool they looked and who was I to go out there with my drunky chicken, cole slaw cabbage patch nonsense. And I knew once I got out there that the music would take control and I wouldn’t care, but that first step of just getting out there was always so hard.
And that’s kind of how I felt during the worship time. But this was different because there was no dance floor to step out onto, and even if I wanted to surrender to “the sound and the sway,” I didn’t really know how. I mean I don’t mind raising my hands during worship, but it was like I wanted to jump into something more, to take a bigger bite out of the worship, to immerse myself in the experience and the moment just a little bit more. But I didn’t know how.
And let me be clear here. I’m not just talking about getting lost in some kind of mystical experience or just abandoning myself to the music. I mean, there was that, but it was a means to an end. What I really wanted to get at was more of an encounter with the Living God of the universe.
So instead, I sat down and wrote about what I was feeling. And I really did feel like a dead stump of a tree.
Funny thing though. I get done writing that bit I shared above and then I looked up from my journal and what do I see? On the backs of the folding chairs are what must be the church’s logo. A tree, whole, intact, thriving.
And I think, now, of the quote from G.K. Chesterton:
Religion has for centuries been trying to make men exult in the ‘wonders’ of creation, but it has forgotten that a thing cannot be completely wonderful so long as it remains sensible. So long as we regard a tree as an obvious thing, naturally and reasonably created for a giraffe to eat, we cannot properly wonder at it. It is when we consider it as a prodigious wave of the living soil sprawling up to the skies for no reason in particular that we take off our hats, to the astonishment of the park-keeper.