Thursday, July 30, 2009

Faces imprinted only in my mind

As I look over pictures both on facebook and in my camera tonight, I realize how much of an injustice that generic pictures do to life as a whole. While they certainly portray the exciting and fun-filled times full of laughter and sillines, they seem to negate the pain and struggles which exist simply as a result of being a living, breathing human.

That has certainly proven to be the case this summer. As I look at the great many faces of those in pictures from the past couple months, alot of the faces which have impacted me most deeply are missing. And it's an interesting thing. Even when looking through the pages of my journal there are an endless amount of names which are never even mentioned yet have left a lasting imprint.

And I wonder why it is that humans so readily bury the reality of what lies beneath the surface.

There is beauty in homelessness and physical illness and all that cannot be hidden; at least their struggles are obvious.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Captured Expression

One can see much about the character of a person by looking intently into the eyes and facial expression of another.

This has been demonstrated today by Joe, a man here with a group from Little Rock, Arkansas. A gifted artist, he has been drawing portraits of a plethora of people. Shortly after arriving at the Boys and Girls Club this morning, he had an endless amount of kids anticipating the opportunity to be drawn.

It was obvious that some were slightly uncomfortable with the intensive attention to each and every detail of their faces. And I found myself wondering if ANYONE had ever looked that closely at some of them. Perhaps for the first time, these kids were given complete and undivided attention.

As they sat discussions were sparked and the kids began to speak of aspirations for the future. I saw glistens of hope in the midst of a community that destines them to an endless cycle of poverty.

But it doesn't end there. Later on in the day, the group went downtown to hand out care bags in addition to engaging in conversation. Yet again, Joe began to draw those he encountered. One man, in specific, stood out to the group. And there he sat in a wheelchair lacking one leg. After approaching the man, they all quickly found there was much to talk about.

With a blend of laughter and melancholy, their vulnerablility with each other spurred the conversation on to a deeper level. Thoughts of suicide ran rampant in Glen's mind as he felt there was nothing worth living for. The immense amount of suffering he had faced became more and more obvious as conversation continued. But in the midst of it all, Glen acknowledged God at work in his life. And that's when you know that faith is genuine.

Though they could not change the past, at least they provided laughter and a listening ear for today. His friend later came over with a guitar and taught the group some basic chords. Genuine community took place right there on the street corner as they bore the burdens of one another.

A picture is undoubtedly worth a thousand words.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Joyful Giggles

It is intriguing to me that laughter can be both beautiful and tragic; yet another paradox of life.

On the one hand it can be a very cruel and pointed thing ending only in a false sense of happiness by those laughing and a sense of inadequacy in the life of the one being laughed at. But on the contrasting side, it has been scientifically proven to improve health in many regards: physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally; the benefits are endless.

As for myself, I have experienced firsthand the healing power of laughter over the past couple of days. The group that's here from Charlotte, NC this week has shown me what it really looks like to have a good time.

It is easy to get discouraged by the endless amount of suffering in the world. And while assessing situations and promoting change are beautiful and very necessary things, the action which accomplishes those tasks may be much simpler than we realize. Laughter bridges gaps and brings people together in ways words cannot.

...Sometimes, all you need to do is laugh.

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy" (Job 8:21).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Tears began to stream down my face as Jody and Austin's group shared of how they ran into Tom on Tuesday morning at the Salvation Army bus.

He's doing well. With a smile, he shared his story with some of the students and every last one of them were affected by it. I found out that one of the guys from my church talked to him on the street corner the other day as well and the fact they saw him in the place he swore he wouldn't return says a lot.

Though not fully well, he's out and about. And I am encouraged once again.

I doubt that Tom knows the extent of how many young people he has influenced. But still, he never fails to tell of the ways in which God is at work in his life.

I SAW JESUS TODAY. He walked into the Co-op Misison on the east side of Nashville. The moment I saw Him, I knew it was He. As He left the building with hands full of clothes and lunch for the day His smile said, "For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was naked and you clothed me." I will never forget His face and the amazing smile that spoke to my heart.

I wish I could say I wrote that. But I can't. However, it is testimony to the fact that people are catching glimpses of God in the city.