Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.

- Rabindranath Tagore

Inspirational Music

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Magic in Music

I have been through a fair bit of hellish situations. I have scars and even still open wounds from them. My heart and my body are riddled with somewhat filled-in holes. My home, my family was torn to tatters when I was a boy, just becoming a young man. I have a menagerie of scars all over my residual limbs from so many sores that some scars are right on top of others. When I was still in Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, I actually had such terrible scar banding in my left armpit that I could not raise my arm above 90 degrees for a few weeks. It wasn't budging; it was painfully obstinant in is lack of flexibility. One weekend, it just "released" and I could get my arm to close to 180 degrees. I had this thought today that music, in that it is incredibly cathartic to me, is similar to occupational stretch/massage therapy for my hearts scars. I use it to find my way to the source of the pain and to stay there a while. I feel the hurts and painful scars and try to just let them be expressed. I could look at it like I'm just opening old wounds, but I see it has keeping them open until they heal from the inside out. That's what I have to do if I have a infection under the skin on one of my legs. I have to pack it with this cotton wick-type thing that keeps it from closing and creating a void where infection can incubate. Doing this allows it to heal fron the foundation of the wound all the way to the surface of my skin. But, this cathartic experience is also like massaging old scars sometimes. I massage them with melody, knowing that whether I can see any change or not, at some point they will soften. At some point, they won't keep my heart from loving more fully and from being graciously flexible. In this way, I think there is a little magic in music.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Real Men Don't Buy Girls

I saw a random post on my Facebook news feed; well, I saw the photo and it captured my attention.

This is the photo:

The post was for an organization called StreetLight USA. The first page I went to on their website was called "The Issue." The first thing I noticed was the scripture quoted:

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" - Micah 6:8

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. It covers so much with so few words. We are not asked  simply to think or vote justly; we are required to DO JUSTICE. This scripture also says, "O man," but it certainly is not limited to only half of the human race. It is talking to each of us. I take the perspective that men and women are completely equal in their measure of humanity, and in my eyes that means that we are all equal in our responsibility to humanity. To buy a girl, is to put a price on the liberty and dignity of a human being.

I met a few people who in my estimation are doing a great deal of justice when I was in Calcutta in the summer of 2009. The first was Mother Theresa, who I did not meet literally, but who I met in her writings and in the caring homes she helped to establish. The others were this band of Americans working to rescue women, and their families, from "the trade," as it is referred to. This trade being the trade of human beings as goods or commodities. It is most usually expressed as the sex trade because most of the "buyers" demand that. So, the trade supplies it. These people worked with more than one organization and business in order to create the opportunity for freedom for women caught up in the trade. They teach women skills that they can use to make a living in a different way. They help these women create a better life for their children in many ways. They break the bonds of slavery and imprisonment in both these women's lives and in their hearts. They embody what I understand as the second highest (but a darn close second) commandment: love your neighbor.

"Jesus replied: '"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.'" - Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

They are doing justice as well. It is one thing to "not buy girls." It is a completely different thing to rescue them. We have a list of commands as to what to not do. This one is about what we must do. It requires proactive action. Mother Theresa decided to build homes for the dying just so they wouldn't die alone and unloved. 

I am challenged as to what it means for me to do justice. I think of myself as having the opportunity to become someone equipped to do justice. I am unsure of whether that means being a doctor or not right now. I do not intend to stop growing or becoming a person who is equipped to DO JUSTICE better than I can right now. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Niece, Alivia or The Most Beautiful Hug

I got a hug from my niece today today. I was at the top of the stairs in my sister's open living room. My dad and grandparents were down in the living room with Alivia (my niece) and Rani. Alivia looked up and saw me and was "saying hi" waving her little hands and smiling. Then she walked to the bottom of the staircase, crawled up the stairs to me in her toddler way, and then she threw herself into my lap and tried to wrap her arms around me and sunk her head into my chest. Then she looked at me and smiled and started crawling down the stairs. She went right back to playing with her stuff and enjoying everyone's company. I got a beautiful hug from my niece today.

My grandma said something about this to me on our way home. She said, "Kids just know who cares about them." It made me think about the relationship I have with this person who is only 14 months old. It's not like any I've ever had. I've never met someone as an adult who is so young and got to spend time with them regularly. I do care about Alivia very much. I cherish the times I get to be there when she wakes up from her nap. I love that when she sees me, a smile breaks out on her face. I now know how much she cares for me.

I've wondered once or twice about her future. I wonder what her voice will sound like when she can say "Mom" or "Dad" or even "Uncle Caleb." I wonder how her talents and gifts will be expressed and in what way. I wonder what kind of things she will find difficult and frustrating. And, I wonder what kind of pain and valleys she will experience. I think of my own. I pray that God does not take her down the same paths. I beg God not to take her down any of those roads. But, if He does, she will have a family that is not unfamiliar with those places, and she will not be alone.

This is Alivia's one year picture:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Waiting Place

One of my favorite authors is Dr. Seuss. His book Oh! The Places You Will Go is an inspiring read. It's a genuine read as well. He doesn't pretend that life is one constant success , but, in fact, is an ebb and flow between success and failure. The title of my blog "you have feet in your shoes" is taken from this simple little gem.

At the Contemplative Prayer session today at Gravity the word that I focused on is "wait." I had the chance to share the beginning of my story with Phileena, and got to share the profound effect of Psalm 27:13-14 to me. It repeats "wait patiently on the Lord." It was from this point that I began and ended my meditation. What happened in between and afterward is what makes it interesting. While thinking and listening for insight and the voice of the Lord, it occurred to me that waiting is not unlike standing. Taking a stand. Standing your ground. Things of that sort. I thought about Gandhi's ideas of non-violent resistance and it is both a waiting and standing, but it is also being. In standing your ground and affirming that as a human one deserves dignity as inherent to his or her being, he or she is using "soul force." I came back to the word "wait."

On my way home, I began thinking more about it and it occurred to me that that amazing book talked about the "waiting place." I reread that little bit and what stuck out to me was that he called it "a most useless place."

The whole thing can be read here: http://homepages.ius.edu/harrisla/places.htm

I disagree. In waiting, whether it be on the Lord, or for the things Dr. Seuss talked about, we reflect. Sometimes we don't, but in general, it forces reflection. What are we waiting for, why are we waiting for it. In waiting and reflecting, we find purpose. It primes us to do what we should when the waiting is over.

I'm in my own sort of waiting place. I cannot wear my left prosthesis and cannot do much of anything as to work. It is very hard for me. I am hardwired to work hard. I think it's in my DNA. My dad works at a steel mill and put in multiple 80+ hour work weeks last year. Nevertheless, I have found goodness in this waiting place. I have begun to write my story with more purpose. I have found more time to read the books on my nightstand. And, I have realized once again how miraculous it is that I can walk at all. Crawling around the house on my knees humbles me. My niece visited yesterday. She is barely a year old, but she can walk, and outrun me. A child has more mobility than I do without my prosthesis. So, what do I do when I get them back? I am excited to once again stand on my feet. To work hard. To live more fully. But, I am making great efforts to make thankful humility more a part of my life when I'm not "down."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Down but not out

I continue to struggle with consistency in my blogging. I was working a large number of hours last week until Friday morning. I woke up to my favorite visitor--a sore too deep for me to handle. I knew immediately that I was going to be "down," and needed to go to the wound clinic, but was hopeful it would be able to be resolved over the weekend. I was wrong. I won't be back on both feet until next week. In any case, busyness and being down are very hard to overcome. Both have separate but equally large obstacles to me writing.

Until today all of the time I've spent down has been one long time pass. That's all I could do: pass the time. I couldn't focus on reading or anything productive; it was like I developed ADHD instantaneously. So I watched television shows on Netflix or films, slept sporadically, and was generally frustrated. My new home has made a huge difference. And, by new home I mean having one of my closest "bru"s living with me. 

Last night, as I was heading back to the couch from the kitchen, I heard the melodic sounds of a guitar from upstairs (any of you who've heard this guy play know exactly what I mean). Zach was practicing/tinkering. I crawled up the stairs and fell exhausted on his floor. It was just like the many times in high school that I found myself at his house being renewed by the sounds from his expert fingers. I went from laying flat, to sitting upright, to singing hymns, to asking hard questions with my friend that we both knew there are no answers for in this life. I slept well through the night and, in fact, slept in this morning. I woke up, made some tea, and started to read. I've since unpacked a great deal of my stuff and organized a little. I intend to get more reading done and some writing, perhaps. This might all sound mundane, but to me its revolutionary. I will get back on my feet next week stronger than when I went down last week. This is a new, unexpected, and joyful blessing.