Friday, November 14, 2008

Speak it, Maya

In my poetic wanderings tonight, I happened upon something that really made me stop and reconsider an author I'd had little interest in prior today. Maya Angelou- a fantastic writer, as it happens, wrote some simple words that brought a light to my day.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say... "I am a Christian"

I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I was just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow!

It makes me think about talking to people here, trying to share what I believe- even when its hard for them to see why some kids that go to church and do the bit down here can live as though Christ is no part of their life. A lot of these people think christians are playing some kind of better-than-you card, or that we think we are superior. I guess if I could say something outright to anybody here, it would just be that I want them to have the chance to feel the way I have felt with God in my life. I believe there are times when things happen that I could never bear alone. And sometimes I wasn't completely alone- I had my family, sometimes a friend- but when its a dark and quiet night, and all the company a troubled mind has is the troubled thoughts that haunt them and God, I know which I will come back to.

As difficult as it is to bring up, I now look back on a very dark time in my life when people ask that hard question: why do you believe in God? I'll never forget it- two years ago this winter season, when my alienation during school was at its worst. I got sick. I wouldn't know it- honestly, I felt somewhat numb to many things at the time, let alone the physical pains that ailed me- and left my room to find my mom. It wasn't smart to go downstairs, but I went down the first flight, flicking on a light as I headed toward the basement. I thought I heard a stir at the bottom when I turned the corner to the last set of steps, and called mom's name. Then, my legs seemed to vanish beneath me, and the warm electric light disappeared.

I remember hurt, everywhere at once- shriekingly painful, but foggy and far-off, even as it ached throughout my being, even though I couldn't make sense of any limbs or the ground beneath. I could hear Mom's voice, but the words seemed just as muddled, and my own response could not be made.

But worse than anything was the blackness. That sheer darkness that blanketed my senses and my soul. Beyond all the strange sensations of unconsciousness, I wondered if I had died; if this is what it felt like, being eternally seperated from everything that mattered. Away from God.
In the reawakening that occured shortly after, I had time to contemplate my experience- and rethink the life I'd begun to consider so worthless and unimportant.

Then again, I've been on the other side of the table as well. Feeling a golden light and warmth when I was submerged in the baptismal waters of Lake Padden, lasting what felt like minutes in what was only seconds.
Knowing, when Calvin Moehn died, how that little boy was safe. Even now, he was not just flickered out of existence; a soul gone like a candle blown out by one gust of wind.
Finding my supposedly-lost necklace of the cross after a day of sharp doubt and wondering if I was ever supposed to be in Texas at all, before collapsing into tears beside my bed, thanking God for speaking to me when I needed him the very most.

I cannot truly relay to the people I have come to love here how His presence in my life has inexorably changed it. But if Maya Angelou said anything, its that we do not boast, but we live our lives with him in focus. And for that ability, I pray frequently.
So thank you, God, for another year. I know I need not wonder how I survived a fall down a flight of stairs headfirst.

10 In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye,

11 like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them on its pinions.

12 The LORD alone led him;
no foreign god was with him.

You caught me.

1 comment:

Pyro said...

I remember when your mom told me on the phone about the stair incident. That was a terrible feeling. I'm so glad you were okay!