Writing as a spiritual exercise; day 4 of Ramadan

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I was able to make it to pre dawn breakfast! I had a breakfast of fresh strawberries and two poached eggs. I ate them and thank God for them, and then I went back to bed for another two hours.

I decided that morning but I wanted to go to a local church I haven’t been to before; for the experience, for life in community, and also as part of my church incognito project.

Church was very good, I went to a Church Of The Brethren, and I will be writing about that in a day or two. What struck me about the church I attended was their vocalization about the shooting at the church in Charleston, and about racially motivated violence in the USA. One of the men in the service read off a letter written by the General Secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger, the head of their denomination, and it was a beautiful letter of solidarity and support for the AME Church in Charleston (click here to read it).

I was partially inspired by this letter to take the time to be intentional in writing letters to my parents as I haven’t communicated with them for a while. So when church was over I made my way back to my apartment, and I started writing. I went over several rough drafts, ever wanted to capture everything for the most part without coming across as redundant. As I was writing by hand I realized how much I had to say and wanted to say, I wouldn’t say I was long winded, but I think I said enough this time around.
It was truly cathartic and and its own right, freeing. When I was done writing, I promptly dropped off my letters at my parents house.

So with all that being said, writing was my keyword on the 4th day of Ramadan. Thanks me to God, The Great Writer, who writes on our hearts and our minds dreams desires goals and aspirations. May we be inspired by what is written on our hearts and our minds and change the world for good!

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael

Church Incognito: In the beginning…

Because of a change in my work schedule, I now have a traditional Saturday and Sunday weekend. So I have decided that I will help out with my church’s youth group on Saturdays and visit different churches in my area on Sundays.

I am undertaking this task because I like diversity in community, that is, the more we might appear in our differences the more we are actually the same. I’ve grown up in the church and there are some traditions of faith that are unfamiliar to me, and so it is my intention to engage in said traditions of faith both in showing up, but also by interacting with those who attend if I am able to do so.
I have no guidelines as to what places I will attend, but I will allow the Holy Spirit to prompt and guide me in finding God in church (building) and Church (the people). I will be honest and sincere with others. I will listen, take notes, and BE and perhaps even DO with others. I will have fun. I will listen with open ears and an open heart. I will be dutiful in writing about my experiences here.

Onward and upward!
~Nathanael~

Thank God I am changing; reflections on looking at my older blog posts

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Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.ā€ – Apple Inc.

I have been a writer for a long time now, and time to time I look over what I’ve written, especially what I’ve written on my blogs. THIS blog is my primary one nowadays, but I know…and I won’t disclose the web pages…where my older blogs are (I’ve been writing online in some way since 2001).
I once stated I was horrified about what I wrote, both subject-wise but also grammar-wise. I think I am beyond being horrified, and if I’m to feel anything about it all I would say I am grateful to God that I am changing. I’m not going to say I’ve changed straight out, because I am still going through the process of change; where I was in life is not where I am now, and I know that in time I will change yet again.

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One thing that captures my attention time and time again with my writing is (and I partially contribute it to being raised Evangelical) my language smatters of exclusive black-and-white truthiness. I had questions and I was obsessed to finding answers to them, and I thought if I have the answers that is all I will ever need, I don’t need to learn more than what the questions and answers entail, but I was wrong for thinking that. Life is so much more than questions and answers, it is more beautiful to live in a world where gray exists instead of just perceiving things in black-and-white terms only. Michael Kimpan recently wrote on the subject of “addiction to answers” and I’ve got to say, that was me to a T.

So here I am, some 13 years into the blogging game, and I still don’t have it altogether…but you know what? I am okay with that. I am okay with changing though it can be painful and scary at times. The vast unknownness of some / a lot of things still creeps in sometimes, but I realize I am embracing community and God even more so in these times than I used to. I used to want to hide in my room, crash on my bed, and sleep the day away…but I’m out of that funk, and even when I am in that funk, I find a way out to doing things in a healthier manner.

Deo gratias for change and changing, not only for myself but all of humanity!

~Nathanael~

Chicago Cubs; a lesson in perseverance – 4/28

Oh Chicago Cubs, how much you disappoint a lifelong fan, but in your losing streaks and close calls you teach me quite a bit about perseverance.

I am a lifelong Cubbie fan, I bleed red and blue because of the team and not some ancestral royalty. Yet the Cubs aren’t a good team, and some are certain they’ll win another World Series when hell freezes over, but I don’t need them to be that good to appreciate lessons learned from their hardships.
You see, there’s a phrase that gets tossed out when they get into a bigger slump as the season progresses; “there’s always next season” is the rhetoric of those who haven’t given up on the Cubs, but rather the predicament of a season that’s progressively getting worse. “Next season” is a hope, a dream deferred, for games yet to be played and quite possibly a better season. It’s something that is scoffed at. But still, I will take hope in any shape or size, including having a bit of hope in a team that in 2013 had 66 wins and 96 losses.

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Hope is a strange and wonderful thing; it holds you down in the midst of life’s tragedies and turmoils, it sustains even when there isn’t a speck of sustainability, it can keep you going even when you don’t feel like continuing. As a follower of Christ, my hope is found in what God is doing and positive things done in God’s name. Sadly I am a realist with too much of a pessimist bent, and yet I realize that when life’s shit hits the fan, hope keeps me afloat, hope keeps me sane. Sure there are some things I wish and hope for that would be great “next season” but there is no “next season” for me, just one life and that’s it…and I am okay with that, but I admit, with having so many passions and goals I have started the process of clearing a very full plate and going after 2-3 of my dreams, my what-I-want-to-do-when-I-grow-up kinda things. It’s needed, otherwise I’ll be putting half-assed energy in a lot of things, when it would be better of me to give my all to a few things.

Mea culpa if I have strayed a bit from the theme, but I recognize the importance of having hope even when things seem awfully hopeless. Here’s to the Cubs, the hope of “next season”, and preferably winning a World Series preferably before hell freezes over šŸ˜‰

~Nathanael~

A brief and partial defense of my use of using “bad words” in my blogs

I was recently talking to someone who noticed that occasionally I use “bad words” in my speech as well as in my writing. I will say this much, when it comes to so-called bad words it wasn’t my peers or the television that taught me these words, but rather my parents, not in a good context; I usually heard these words when they were fighting amongst each other. Still, I have to have some ownership in this, as I am the one saying/writing them, so here it goes.

I don’t believe there are bad words. Words are words, and they carry weight for better or worse, and that is how a word is valued and used or not used. Now one thing you should know about my usage of these words, they’re never uttered among impressionable young children who don’t get the weight of the words I am saying as a whole let alone a well-placed fuck or shit. Now my methodology is not full proof, there are times I say such words for the reaction, but I think a better portion of my times of using these words are in context and applicable.
Now because sometimes my circles are amongst followers of Christ who get offended by my use of these words I am willing to venture this; do you not say crud/crap, dang instead of damn, heck instead of hell, et al? Because here’s my thing, you might not put as much weight on these words but we all know what you’re saying with your lack of saying it.

Another thing I have thought about with the weight of words is that sometimes people focus on the words instead of a problem. I addressed people starving to death, people dying of unclean water sources…THAT is the bigger problem than how I put my sentences together with some words thrown in that leave some with a bad taste in their mouths. If you’re hung up by my use of these words instead of people dying, you may want to self-examine yourself. Profanity, if anything, is when we know of a problem that needs addressing and we don’t give a damn or don’t give a shit to address it and make the world a better place.

So please, if you haveĀ  a problem with the words I use, let me know but also know I will return the favor in addressing your complacency in letting people starve to death. If you are willing to sit back and not be a part of the solution you’re part of the problem, this is an issue I am constantly faced with as I know but don’t act šŸ˜¦ This is one of my shortcomings in life, my language however is not.

~Nathanael~