September 12th, 2009

Something is beginning to change. Something significant. A “big” move:

Glaciers calving

Volcanoes erupting

Comets passing by

Not just seasonal changes.

I’m different than I used to be. It has something to do with being older, yes, but it has more to do with having lost and still being left here. I was supposed to die earlier. The story is over, the cast and crew have left, but I’m still here ready to hit my mark and play my role.

I turn around and I realize I am the grown-up. I’m not playing the roles I was made to play anymore. I now choose my own roles.

There are still expectations though.

Chronology has some value: There’s some shit you just can’t know until you’ve been around for 45 years and people who have only been around 20 or 30 depend on you for that knowledge.

But it’s more than that.  There is an entire generation of absent men in front of me. Fathers, husbands, teachers and leaders who have abandoned their posts. They have failed those who were put in their charge. 2 or 3 generations of progress, affluence, plenty and self-focus have robbed people my age and younger of those who would teach us, serve us and show us the way.

There are a handful of men (all at least a little younger than me) who are explicitly expressing a father- need, and are asking me to fill it somehow. Perhaps it’s as simple as sharing the gift of MY father, the things he gave me, with those who didn’t get it. Perhaps it’s about being old enough to be seen as a father-figure and perhaps it’s about having some scars that indicate you have some experience worth sharing.

The old Native American tale of a man’s maturing charts the change from whirling, passionate but in-effective white horse in one’s third decade, to busy, effective but selfish red horse in the fourth decade, to powerful, slower moving and wise black horse in the fifth decade.

Qualities of a Black Horse (largely as taught by Alick):

The quality of the BLACK horse life is not based on what we acquire (expectations) but what we let go of.

The BLACK horse knows the living reality of the beatitudes: BLACK horses are living their purity, they have come to terms with sin (Prov. 28:13) they have moved beyond a simple, sin-based economy and so are capable of being  non-judgmental.

BLACK horses have done their forsaking.

I am forsaking my citizenship in the Modern World with it’s formulae and empty promises of peace and joy through achievement and “progress”. I’m also forsaking the Post-Modern World with it’s contempt for truth, and  it’s self-indulgence dressed up to look like “tolerance”.

I’m choosing to live in the margins. In a liminal space where there is MUCH to be forsaken.

One of the things I am increasingly willing to forsake: doctrine. Not “Capital D” doctrine meaning the things I know to be true, but small “d” doctrine meaning the IDEA that God can be placed inside a box that I can fully hold in my head.  So much effort, in so many religious and even non-religious contexts is spent on trying to get God surrounded and tamed; quantified and measured.

Some of that motive is noble, like a man truly in love who wants to study his woman, wants to KNOW her. But most of it is about control, about the need to be RIGHT instead the desire for truth.

I admire people who are willing to be wrong, and I’m learning that they can be trusted. I am less willing to place my trust and give my heart to those who always seem to find a way to come out on the winning side. Something important had to die to make that many “wins” possible. I’m beginning to suspect that “success” in our post-modern context is simply about being good at hiding the bodies.

…which leads me back to a BLACK horse forsakeable I mentioned earlier: Progress. Achievement. Bigness.  I haven’t found one word that describes exactly what I am willing to forsake here…but those words surround it. I’ve actually been walking down this road of forsaking for some time, but only recently recognized it as a road constructed by God. More on that later.

2 thoughts on “September 12th, 2009

  1. It seems to me that any practice begs for doctrine to under-gird it. It also seems that any doctrine which cannot be clearly translated into practice will eventually lead to confusion then despair, whether true or false.
    I abandoned the idea that I would reach perfection on this side but somewhere I still have this doctrine of achieving or becoming the “ideal”. This belief that I should be something other than I am… but I have run out of ways to practice this in my forties. What now?

    1. I see “D”octrines (“love your neighbor as yourself” as an example) as a scaffolding in which the house of life, identity and love are built within. But “d”octrine is the practice of trying to live inside the scaffolding without ever building the house it was meant to support. If one has truly constructed a life that reflects a useful Doctrine, the scaffolding should be painlessly dismantled, leaving behind a soild structure that bears the shape the scaffolding refelcted. If I find there is pain in the dismantling…then the scaffolding should remain. There’s more work to do. But I must never lose sight of the goal: build the home.

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