“I Cry Aloud.” by Kaze
“I cry aloud to God that he may hear me.”
Somedays I look at the misery before me and find it hard to stay. Ellen sits beside me and talks about wanting to be something else. “My skin itches for me to be bigger.”
We sit in silence as I ponder her ability to speak meaning through metaphors.
When I was a child, metaphors seemed so real that my image of God was a very large man with big ears. Angels were fluffy with large wings.
In college I was determined to not believe anything without which I could not live. So I threw out almost everything that didn’t seem important, like the trinity and Jesus dying for my sins. As most college students I was only beginning to develop what was important.
When I threw out everything that didn’t have meaning at the time I was left with only a few metaphors that did convey meaning. I liked the idea that God listened to me. But as I threw out the metaphors of things like ears and hands and rise up as eagles, I was left with very few things that could reach me when I needed something that spoke layers rather than a single meaning.
Plain words can articulate simple meaning. Only poetry, symbols and metaphors as well as art express complex and profound meanings. That is why we can go back to the same poem or picture many times and find deeper meaning e Death occupies my mind recently. To say that I am sad when someone dies seems trivial. It is more like my body breaks down. I suffer from a deep well, my face is frozen in an eternal ice sculpture—these metaphors hint at my devastation. “Sad” says nothing.
So when I want to convey the relief that I am heard when I cry out, that I am not isolated from being itself, that I am someone worthy to be noticed, I go to the Psalms for metaphors.
I cry aloud to God that he may hear me. Yeah, it’s a metaphor. I cannot talk about the God who is God who sustains me in being any other way. It is not about speaking aloud, or a male god having ears to hear. It’s about my response to something that enlarges me inside and out.
Not so magic words by Kaze
A man in the park twists her arms. She cries out and runs down the street. He looks at me and says “I’m sorry. I always let my anger get to me.” He walks away.
How many times have I heard this phrase? It could be the doorway to change but often it is a childlike belief that these words can erase wounds by the magic of the words. After all, they worked in childhood.
Harley just out of jail tells me this story. “I was minding my business, trying to get my head around maybe it is all my doing when this dude comes up with a knife and dares me to fight. A lot of things went through my head. I am a scrapper but something stopped me. I’m tired of posturing, trying to look good. I told him that I don’t want anything to stop me from getting out of here. He left me alone with a sneer and I didn’t care. I want to change.”
A biblical metaphor tells us that “He restores my soul.” This” is about turning around. It’s about looking honestly at your own deceptions and choosing the good. Not an easy choice but it is the way to wedge an opening into your depths that allows wholeness to enter.
“He restores my soul” is a promise that requires a promise of your own.
“I want to change.”
From Whom No Secrets Are Hid by Kaze
“That’s frightening,” says one of the youth after we read the morning collect. “Secrets are meant to be secret.”
One of the other youth laughs and says “Wait until you have a girlfriend. You will tell her everything about you before you know it.”
“Yeah,” says another. “And then she will betray you.”
Bitterness spilled out of the group. Many have had this experience.
Honesty is hard for those who have grown up with those who take advantage of any vulnerability. These youth have learned to shield themselves with a hard core of defense.
Prayer has been the spiritual tool for allowing us to be honest. Some of our prayers in the group and prayers I have heard about in silence are heartbreaking. If I were to summarize what I have heard over the years it would be “God, please love me even when I mess up so much and I don’t deserve it and God, don’t let my family suffer any more.”
“Before you no secrets are hid,” is a powerful reality that catches me off guard every time I hear or recite it.
It is an awesome promis
Go Beyond by Kaze
“Somedays I can’t stand it.” The man has a pony tail and grizzled hair. “There’s nothing left for me to try. I’ve done it all.” His laugh sounds strangled like he can’t breathe well.
We talk a little about this or that. His mood drags me down and I search for something to say. “What do you do when you have to go beyond what used to work?”
He tilts his head and looks at me. “I don’t know. I guess I sleep it off and then the next morning I force myself to put one foot in front of the other and try something else.”
“Did it work?” I ask.
“Yeah, it did. But never on a cold or rainy day. The sun had to shine.” He throws his head back and laughs.
“Maybe you have to create a new sun yourself?” I say.
He looks at me for a long time. “I never thought about that. Maybe I can.”
I walk away. Maybe he can.
“Lead Us Not Into Temptation.” By Kaze
We sat down on a park bench to talk.
Carlos started talking about the Lord’s Prayer. “I don’t get the line about “lead us not into temptation. Does that mean that God sets traps for us to fail?” he asks.
“No,” I explode. .”I don’t buy that at all.”
“It is more of a warning sign that we hear that says ‘Don’t go there,” especially when we are in a dark place and start imagining all the bad things that could happen to us.”
“Yeah, I know that,” he replies. “I’ve almost punched someone out because I made it up in my head what he was thinking.”
After talking over this, he adds “The more I think of what God wants me to learn from something that has happened to me that I don’t like, the easier it is to turn away from the dark place. I feel like I hear everyone who has ever talked to me speaking in my head and saying ‘it’s all good,’ or ‘you can change,’ .” I especially hear my grandmother say ‘Keep walking in beauty.’”
So, that’s it. “Don’t Go There—stay in the light.”
Validation by Kaze
I greet him as I get out of the car. “How’s it going?”
He has been dumpster diving. “Look at this.” He shows me one item after another from his cart. He is so delighted.
“These are treasures,” I say. “Look what people throw away as useless.”
“Yeah,” he says. “That’s what people call me. Someone yelled ‘loser’ at me from their car this morning. So many assume that we are losers and will always be losers.”
I piped up, “They certainly don’t endorse you, do they? Who does validate you, gives you your stamp of approval?”
He chuckles low in his throat. “You do. And my friends at my camp. They like the stuff I collect. They are good friends. They don’t steal from me. What does ‘validate’ mean again?”
“Something like support or maybe approval of who you are and not just what you do,” I say.
“Oh, that’s different. Not many really approve of me. Maybe my daughter in Ohio. She says she loves me for my cheerfulness. I don’t know. I never really thought about approval.”
He pushes his cart down the sidewalk.
I think a lot about this conversation. So many on the streets get some kindness but with a dose of disapproval. I have been fortunate in learning late in life that it is possible to relate to people on a deeper level than approving or disapproving their behavior.
Because I have been loved in spite of my behavior (dark or light), I can also approve of those who seem to have nothing going for them but their unique humanity. It has taken me a long time to get to this stage in my journey.
It Could Have Been Me
I met them first at a soup kitchen. Later, I talk to them at the park. While we are there, the police walk over to a man sleeping in the park. They kick him awake and drag him off. The other homeless carefully and slowly walk in different directions until the park is empty. A child hides behind someone.
I wait until the police leave, knowing that I don’t have to run off. I sit at a bench. The child and his mother come over, keeping an eye to the street.
“It could have been me” the child says, shivering. “I’m always scared.”
I don’t know how many times a child has to see violence or be threatened before it is traumatic enough for PTSD to kick in. But I know that he is scarred. I know that a child’s emotional reserves dissolve quickly.
Sometimes I wish I had a lot of extra money to deal with emergencies, like to buy a bus pass, or a pair of shoes or even a large back pack. Thank all of you who have sent gift cards for us to do this. I tell everyone that people who care have sent us money to do these things. I know it is a stop gap but sometimes defenseless people need “things” to know that someone cares, especially a child.