8th & Wyandot: Your Gift to the World

20150120_180242

I had no idea that she was a poet. Writing was something she only did behind closed doors and she felt too shy to share it with any of us. Over the course of two or three years she had written dozens of poems—some for school, but most of them because it was her way to process the experiences of her life.

One day, perhaps by accident, one of our staff members caught a glimpse of her talent with words. Pretty soon everyone was reading the piece she had decided she was willing to share. You could tell that she was excited to finally have someone else read her work, and maybe a little nervous because of what we might have to say about it.

After repeating this a few times, one of our staff members decided we needed to ask her, and one of our boys, to create and perform a poem at an upcoming event. They were informed that it would give them a chance to perform, but even more than that, it would be an act of service that would benefit Joshua Station. They both jumped on board and prepared rigorously for the event. Something had come alive in them. Her secret hobby had become her gift to the world around her, and she felt the deep significance of that reality.

We all have gifts, skills, passions. In some circles these things get treated like nothing more than a personal experience, something that can serve to inflate our egos, and if we are really lucky, make us lots of money. But this misses the deeper invitation of life.

Our work, our art, our music, our writing, it all has the potential to be a gift to the world. The girl who wrote poetry in secret had no idea how much her words would touch the spirit of our staff, or tug on the hearts of the donors in attendance at the event where she performed. The great irony is that when we recognize the invitation to become a gift to the world, our work becomes overwhelmingly more fulfilling than if we ignore it. So what is your gift? How can you share it with the world around you?

 

This post is the most recent 8th & Wyandot reflection. To find it, as well as the entire 8th & Wyandot archive, Click Here.
Advertisements

And Now For Something a Little Different: Seeing What Is…


boarded

I heard them outside.
They sounded angry. They were out to get me.
I couldn’t quite see out the window.
But, I didn’t have to see.
I was in danger.
So, I boarded up the windows.
If they can’t see me then I’m safe.

A still soft voice spoke to me in my dream.
“Walk Outside” it said.
I would listen, but I am sure that they are still out there.
As long as they are out there I am only safe in here.
So, I put a layer of cloth behind the boards.
Now they surely won’t see me.

A moth ate a piece of my cloth.
I had no choice but to kill him.
This cloth. These boards. They are all that protects me from them.
I worked all day to repair the holes.

Again the voice spoke to me in my dream.
“Walk Outside” it said. But this time it said more.
“Ben, I love you too much to let this be it. Walk Outside!”
I wish I could listen, but I am not safe from them out there.

That was when it happened.
The fire came out of nowhere.
I had seconds to decide what to do.
I ripped the cloth and pulled down the board.
Before I knew it, I was outside.

Suddenly I remembered that they were outside.
Only, they were one man. He was angry about my door decorations. He spoke his mind and then left.
I admit, though, that I was hardly listening. The landscape behind him was so captivating.

Suddenly I remembered that I was outside.
For a moment I considered going back inside.
But then I realized that inside was a lie.
Instead I ran toward the horizon and never looked back.

Freedom was beckoning. I was finally seeing what is.

horizon

Unfamiliar Satisfaction

20141212_110748

As of yet I have not been able to leave Joshua Station. I have not been able to leave Denver. I have not been able to leave a slightly less than Middle Class income bracket. I don’t mean that someone is keeping me from leaving those things or even that I want to leave those things. What I mean is that I have experienced a sort of satisfaction that can’t fully be described with words. This satisfaction surpasses a quick fix and somehow keeps me coming back for more.

In John’s Gospel Jesus feeds an asinine number of people with an all too modest amount of food. The story gets a lot of press in our Christian tradition, but the Lectionary text I just read picks up some time after that miraculous event. The crowd that was miraculously fed tried to find Jesus, who had done a bit of water walking and joined His disciples on the other side of the lake. When they tracked Him down they asked when He had arrived. To this Jesus replies rather peculiarly—not uncommon of Him. “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”

I had to read that line a few times. It felt like it was trying to point to something profound in my own experience. He goes on to distinguish the difference between normal food and the food He is referring to—something much deeper. The crowd was pursuing Jesus, but it seems that they might have been confused as to the reason for that pursuit. Jesus tries to help them understand. They had experienced an encounter with the Son of Man. That encounter had fulfilled them in a deep and profound way, and they wanted more!

To be honest, my experience in Denver has not always felt very fulfilling. There have been many times when I have asked myself if it is worth it. Then I will have an experience that satisfies a deep hunger inside myself—a hunger that I might not have even been aware of. You might ask me what it is about the experience that makes me feel so profoundly fulfilled, but I wouldn’t be able to point to anything tangible, or even anything particularly happy. There was just something about the experience that left me feeling like I had just intersected with Christ, and I want more!

I had one of those experiences a few months ago when one of our teenagers reluctantly allowed me to read the poem she had written in school. I tried to find time to read the poem between Kids Club and cleaning up. I figured, I better read it to affirm her desire to write poetry. I picked up the poem she handed me. I started to read it with a smile. My smile began to fade as I was swept away by vivid images of pain so beautifully and powerfully written that I almost felt it myself. I left Joshua Station that day knowing that I had just encountered Christ through a 15 year old poet. Struggling to fight back tears I told Kimberly about how profound her poem was. I tried to communicate to her how it satisfied a hunger within my soul for true, raw, sometimes painful beauty. Then I encouraged her to keep writing, because I wanted more.

I hope that her poem helps you to encounter Christ in a new way as it did me. 

Kimberly’s Poem

This post is the most recent 8th & Wyandot update. To find it, as well as the entire 8th & Wyandot archive, Click Here.

I am…

20150201_162409

I am the dance

You can’t control me

because I am movement itself

I am the dance

Those looking in can’t understand me

Those participating don’t need to understand me

I am the dance

Those trying to learn my steps get left behind

Those who surrender get swept away

I am the dance

Offending some

Transforming all

I am the dance

The only way to see me

Is to feel me

I am the dance

No name defines me

No dancer escapes me

I am the dance

I am unstoppable

Just ask the song

I am the song

Spoken Word by Joshua Station Youth

Tonight we had our annual Spring Theater Event–a fundraiser for Joshua Station and the Justice And Mercy Legal Aid Clinic. Before the play, Shadowlands, we threw a wine and desert mixer complete with an incredible Surf band and some amazing Spoken Word by a friend of Mile High Ministries and two teenagers living at Joshua Station. I was so impressed by the work of our teens that I insisted they allow me to share their words with you. I hope these words hit you as hard as they did me. Today, I am so proud to be doing what I am doing.

Robert’s Poem

Joshua Station
Is a big apple tree,
With families hanging on its branches.
Sometimes apples fall from the branches
Sometimes they are picked
Sometimes families move on.

Me and my family
Flew like butterflies to this tree
While the fading light of the sweet sun reflected off our wings.
We were ready for a good night’s rest
After a long test with my dad.

His long addiction was ruining the love and affection
My family had towards each other.

I once heard
“Everyone has their fight.”
This was my Mom’s fight,
A metaphor for the choice she made.

She taught me
Never to leave something undone.
For everything has its consequences
even doing nothing.

Sometimes you have to stand and help somebody you care about.
Be as the great lion,
The king of the beasts,
Standing tall and proud fighting to protect his pride from outside threats.
We are a family.
A lion pride.
And we watch each other’s backs while we continue our long journey.

Fight not only for yourself,
But for the people you care about.
You have control over the outcome of your life
And you can make a difference
With what happens to the people that you love.
Whether you’re going to be successful or not…it’s your choice.
It’s a choice to surrender or not to bad things.

I choose to never surrender,
To never give in.
I am thankful for all my family and friends.
I am grateful at the end of every day God has let me live
And the beginning of every beautiful night.
Live life to the fullest because God has given you a chance to live.
For what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Kimberly’s Poem

Whether people are moving out,
Or new people moving in,
Here we are a family.

Listen carefully.

Listen to our peace.

Listen to the sound of our waterfall.

We are rose petals opening up like arms for the future.
Each petal a new adventure waiting for us to explore.
Each flower spreading across the earth’s crust making it amazingly beautiful.

Our spirits start like small seeds
That grow into the biggest trees
As our faith gets stronger.

The Joshua Station protects you from those who harm you.
Like a palm tree
Blocking the suns raging rays.
There’s so much to be grateful for in the shade.

Pay attention ’cause you can miss it…something that no one else can see.

This is what I’m becoming…something unstoppable, inevitable, something remarkable. This is what I know.

What about you? Your life? Your thoughts? Your personality? What are you becoming?

Don’t miss it.

The beauty of reality.

Where nothing is impossible, let your imagination take over.