Sojourner


I have always been interested in the unique word sojourner. To understand what the word, not necessarily the historical name, actually means takes a bit of research and some creativity. Even in the Bible. a few translations make reference to being a sojourner throughout the land. Slowly but surely I’m beginning to have a better understanding of what this word means, and how it applies to me.

Perhaps, I should begin by offering a heart-felt apology to so many people. I feel guilt. Shame. Abandonment even. It may not necessarily make sense at the moment, but please believe me when I state my aim is not to create hate, but instead confess my own confusion.

I do not understand this world.

I do not understand this society.

I do not understand the people.

While not impossible, I do firmly question how hard it is to be a Christian within the society that I currently dwell in. Maybe that is too broad of a statement and/or question. Perhaps I have not tried hard enough to emphasize my thoughts, God’s will, or Biblical interpretations in relation to last weeks election.

I feel…nothing.

*crowd throws tomatoes*

I am sorry. This is where my heart hurts. I see one side of people thrilled about an elected leader who is going to ‘change the status quo in Washington’. I see another side that is full of fear, sadness, and anger. I’m stuck in the middle because I feel sadness for both sides. I cannot look at any person, any group of people, and suddenly feel threatened by their power. God is a lot bigger then what we measly humans can conjure up. That realization, that fact, that truth is what I hold onto on a daily basis. In fact, literally this is something I carry on me in the form of in on my left shoulder:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I did not get a tattoo just because I wanted one. I received one because I wanted that reminder with me. Originally, I thought it would serve as a reminder of what God has done to protect me coming out of a horrific divorce. However, five years past those tragic days I see that God’s message holds true in many uncertain events.

Reality is understanding that bad things will always plague this world. We have done this to ourselves. History demonstrates that to us on a daily basis. We will always have leaders that strike fear throughout the masses, and there will always be groups of people trying to rewrite the laws of society. This is not a situation within just the United States, this is a situation that resides within the global community.

I have watched friends, colleagues, people of faith, and people without, tear at each other for the past seven days. I tiptoe around every conversation I can, barely giving recognition to the results of the previous week. Why? Because I’m not spiritually swayed one way or another, there is no line for me. I follow the government as instructed, and I follow the God that created all of it. I try to keep my regulations and rules to a minimum, and simplify thoughts so that I do not become lost within ‘red tape’.

However, the problem with the information stated above is that it does not sit well with anyone within society anymore. I can say the things above because I am “a middle class, white, male who owns personal property”. I’m ‘entitled’ to live life risk free because of elements that I cannot control within my own identity. With that said, if I do choose to take a side, most likely either viewpoint will immediately conflict within the Biblical principles that I am to hold myself accountable to. I can gain the whole world, but in turn I can also lose my soul.

I feel like a wanderer, a person without a home. I feel the urge to apologize to every person I come across since last week because there is not a camp that I fall into. I don’t understand how Christian’s can take such polarizing stances on any specific political topic inside our society. So much of everything conflicts with the governing nature of God, Himself. I know what Christ said about government, I know what God warned about in relation to government, and I know that the direction is at all times to trust God, love like Christ, and endure the world that I currently live in.

Currently, I am not mad, angry, or frustrated with any group of people within the United States. Extremists, political groups, advocates, social media stalkers, etc…I’m sad because inside my soul; I can tell I do not belong. I feel isolated and alone because I did not take a side*, pick a camp, or reside with specific people that have the same political views. I chose none of it because none of it made sense compared to the teachings that I have immersed myself in. I do not need Church leaders to tell me who to vote for, who to be afraid of, or when to panic. I need a body that is willing to focus on what and who is important and recognize that the kingdoms of this world with come and go. Only one will forever remain.

In conclusion; I am sorry that you do not find me with a  safety pin, and I apologize that I do not join you in jokes about protestors, immigration, and racial charged groups of people. I apologize that I have very little share on social media, and my ‘political education’ appears to be turning up nothing of value for fuel of those looking.

I am sorry that this one time I will agree with former teachers, leaders, parents, and everyone else; I cannot resist but to go against the grain and not follow the standard norm. I am a sojourner; this is a land where I realize I will never belonged.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19

-D-

*Note: As a citizen within this society, I would like to go on record of stating that I did vote within the election. Should be stated just as an act of clarification.

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XXXI: Be Our Guest


It isn’t that I forgot about writing a blog entry, it is the fact that humorously since school has ended for the summer; I haven’t had time!

School let out for the summer nearly two and half weeks ago. I kid you not; I have been doing something nearly every day since that moment.

I apologize in advance because there is so much to catch up on; I’ll easily divide this entry into a subsections with the beloved “***” type. With that random intro out of the way and a glass full of fresh pressed black cherry juice on the nightstand, let’s get started!

***

How to survive teaching:
A. Enjoy the eight months and three weeks of absolute delight with your students. Create ideas and innovations, open doors for creativity, and dare your pupils to dive into the unknown.
B. Hang on for dear life on the last week of school.

I had no idea. I almost say this rocking in a corner in my bedroom. I had no idea. The final week of school is a delight, and at the same time it is absolutely, easily one of the most stressful times of a young teacher’s career. Students are ready for summer…teachers are ready for summer…administrators are ready for summer…the community is ready for summer. The last week of school was truly a blur in which I believe I lost both ten pounds and nearly ten years off my life. Kids were hyper are they said their goodbyes; there were movies, field trips, field days, and more selfies than I could have possibly thought would be feasible.

All in all; I made it through my first year of teaching. It wasn’t perfect, I made countless errors, and at the same time…man…I had a lot of fun. I did receive a nice surprise for perfect attendance; Darco and I were issued tickets for the local Major League Baseball team for July due to myself not missing school this year (truly, a blessing). Make no mistake, I absolutely LOVE teaching. It is one of the coolest adventures that I have ever been on. With that said, a three month summer break is so desired, just so I can refresh and restart for next year.

***

Upon the completion of school, the attention inside our house immediately turned to the first weekend of June. If you’ll recall past adventures; Darco and I have found ourselves exploring Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on more than one occasion The journey always revolved around a couple that I had known since the fall of 2005; truly some of the oldest friends that I have (especially from college). This summer though, the tables turned and for the first time ever…ever! Darco and I were about to be hosts for people staying with us for an extended weekend. Needless to say; plenty had to be done around the house in order to prepared…

I praise God that I grew up in a house with parents who compulsively spent time outside. Gardens, construction, fishing, hunting, etc…MC and Jim always (to this day) can be found outside. Some of this rubbed off when Darco and I started working on some of the repairs needed for our house.

Make no mistake; where we live is amazing! It’s a blessing that I’ll go into detail some other time when I’m not already pushing 3000 words. However, there were a few bumps that came with the property. Mainly, a collapsing retaining wall and front garden area that needed some serious landscaping. With Darco working, the world discovered if indeed I was capable of replicating anything that my parents had done without struggle for year.

First, repairing the retaining wall (with huge assistance from Jim…ok…mainly Jim with my assistance).

Second, pulling up an insane amount of tarps that were ‘preventing weeds’ and replacing them with mulch, transplanting a few plants, and utilizing a pretty sweet ‘Welcome’ sign that MC had hand painted.

The images also do not show the fact that Darco and I constructed a guest bedroom downstairs, she cleaned the house like a feigned, and at least vacuumed up cat hair on the carpet twelve times. While this isn’t necessarily listed as “Favorite Things To Do This Summer”; I’m glad we did it. Several times Darco and I were working on the yard that it came across my mind, “Two…three years ago I would have never imagined that I’d be in this position.” The work was a nice reminder of the blessings that God continues to provide for us.

***

Honestly, the work in the yard and in the house truly took a solid week at least. Factor in track practice, Darco’s work schedule, and just doing laundry like normal people and time flew all the way up to June 2, 2016. This was the evening that our friends were arriving from Pittsburgh. I’m not sure if I’m speaking on behalf of Darco or not, but I was absolutely terrified of hosting people in our home*. Recall, Darco and I both are only children and neither of us are from households that were frequented by house guests

The whole experience over the following four days was pure, exhaustive bliss. Unlike Pittsburgh, where we live, we’re not locked in geographically by mountains or rivers. Meaning, to drive thirty miles to get to a restaurant is not completely unheard of. Seriously, that’s what Darco and I grew up. We dragged (I’m still apologizing) this couple for over 300 miles throughout the urban and rural areas of our lives. We’re talking it ranged from tractor pulls on Friday night to the new streetcar on Saturday to BBQ near the lake on Sunday, and sushi on Monday. Yes, we scheduled our events and adventures around where we were going to eat. We witnessed massive museums, really cool food markets, and even an old psych ward in the mentally insane from the 1900’s. I’m typing like a tourist because I wasn’t even aware of all of these things throughout the region that I call home.

There was local fudge that was found, organic, handmade soap that was purchased, and ice cream was enjoy not once…but twice in these four days. An art museum that we walked logged us at two miles, just to see all the exhibits. Ty, one of the folks with us, nearly died from satisfaction eating burnt ends at one of our restaurants. Amy, the other half of the couple, could have made off easily with half an antique store (and did drive home with antique fencing, hummingbird feeders, and an old window frame for their home).

One thing that was amazing through this entire experience was having a four day weekend packed with events, without a single local sports team having a home game. Yes, no soccer or baseball in the entire region. I’m rather certain that has never happened before.

True story though; one of the coolest things that i’ve done in my life definitely occured this weekend when we road the new 2.2 mile electric streetcar in our downtown.

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Circa Summer 2016

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Circa Fall 2015

Sadly, even like the streetcar line, all events have to come to an end. At 5:30 this morning we said our goodbyes and they embarked on their journey back home (which they safely arrived early this evening). I’m grateful for these friends. Even though they have a few ‘new’ things going on in their marriage compared to ours; they’re very similar. We’re all near the same age, all still finding our dream jobs or we just found them as of late. We’re paying bills, learning budgets, keeping with the faith, and exploring new adventures. I can be honest in saying that my marriage, even with just four days worth of activities, is stronger with Darco just by being around another couple in our generation that fights the same battles we do every day.

***

I suppose, in conclusion through these random events, there is something that can be taken away from these experiences. The takeaway is simply that we’re adults living ‘adult lives’. We talk about taxes, we work on our houses, stain our decks, and imagine larger families in the future. I’m still not a huge advocate for the ‘American dream’ when it comes to family size, house, job, etc…but two weeks into this summer I can see a few glimpses of what a peaceful life is worth dreaming about**.

-D-

*Spotted! I found Darco watching YouTube videos on how to fold towels into the shape of swans for guests staying at your house!

**Darco and I have four days to clean our house, do the laundry, etc…and then we’re leaving town for another eight days!