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Luis Arizpe and The Truth: (Old Blog)

Blog has moved! - July 14, 2008

I've created a "real" blog here: http://luisarizpe.wordpress.com/.

This is where all future entries will be. Thanks for reading and make sure you leave your comments!

I'm waiting, that's what I'm gonna do. - May 21, 2008

"Those who wait upon the Lord will get new strength"
Isaiah 40:31

I really like this line. I'm thinking of the word "wait". It's really tough for me to do. I hate waiting. I used to tell Lynnette that I was timing her while I drove around the parking lot of the grocery store while she went in to get the milk and bread. What a jerk, right? I'd actually do it, too. No kidding. Once, I told off Shanon, one of Lynnette's friends, because she made me wait. "Do you realize how much of my life you just made me waste," I asked her. I was pissed off, boy.
As a recovering addict, I had to learn patience. I learned that one of my "triggers" is impatience. I want what I want and I want it now. I'd trained myself, over a lifetime of self-reliance, to do whatever I wanted whenever it occurred for me to do it. Patience was/is a tough thing to do.
What I've learned out of that is that waiting isn't a waste of time. It actually is productive. Waiting doesn't mean being idle; it means training, or attending to something or someone, or resting ... resting.
I like the image Isaiah conjures in my mind. I see myself waiting on the Lord, as in, I'm wearing a tuxedo and I'm serving a King -- his attendant. White towel draped over one arm, looking after the one who deserves it and following orders.
Well, that's the way I see myself in a perfect world.
Resting is another interesting concept, too. Resting isn't only a rejuvenation, it's giving something or someone space. In music, when we don't play, we call it "resting" -- silence, stillness, quiet. God rested from creating everything. I don't think it was because He was tired. I think it was more of a cessation of work in order to stand back and admire the beauty -- like an artist to a sculpture.
So, I'm waiting upon the Lord. I'm endeavoring to attend to His command. I don't always understand it. I don't always really know what it is He'd like for me to do. I'm intent upon being open enough to hear and feel Him stirring in my soul, and I pray for the courage to carry it to action.

Prince - May 19, 2008

I was talking to Shaia today about what's going on with everything. Oh, yeah ... Shaia's my 3 1/2 month old daughter. She's cute. So, I was walking the dog, Nela. Oh, yeah. Nela (NEE-lah) is our 3 1/2 month old dog.

Anyway, I was walking the dog and talking to Shaia who was in the stroller about what's going on in my life right now. There are so, so many interesting things. I have a new Gretsch guitar! This thing is really, really sweet. And my brother Leonard sprung for some kick butt, top shelf, pickups. TV Jones, if you really want to know. And I'm organizing the band in a very particular way. It's not my doing, no. I couldn't be so thorough. I've kinda been getting these ... "feelings" or "thoughts" about what, or how, we should be doing things. Part of that is that I have a back log of unfinished songs.
So, I have these songs that are pretty good, but no lyrics. I've been prompted to start writing again -- prose or poetry. It's really a matter of practice, you know. Along the way I was "nudged" to Mark, chapter 10. In it, there's a rich young ruler, a prince, who talks to Jesus about heaven and what does he need to do to get in.
So, I'm strolling along and walking the dog and talking to Shaia about this fascinating story.
It seems this young dude had it all -- money, power, and I presume fame since everyone seemed to know who he was. And he asks Jesus to tell him what he needs to do to gain eternity. Jesus, and I paraphrase here, tells him he needs to treat people right according to some of the 10 Commandments. This guy says he's done all that since he was a kid. (I don't believe it for a minute). So, he wants to know what else? What else is there? Jesus tells the guy to go sell everything he owns, give all the cash to the poor, and follow Him. The guy turns around and walks away sad.
Several things strike me as particularly interesting. See, the Bible is this thing that is very real if you read it with the intent of seeing the humanity in it. I mean, it's not a text book. It's a book of real people living real lives that aren't that different than our own.
So, you have this guy that thinks he has it all. He thinks he really has his crap in order and is the living example of righteousness. He tells Jesus that he's done all the commandments. How many times have I heard that one? How many times have I used that one?? "Yeah, you've treated everyone right since you were a kid, never once screwing up and treating them like dirt, never making a fool of yourself, never putting your own interests before other people? Yeah. Right." So, lets just say, for the sake of argument, that this guy is the only guy beside Jesus to really obey the Commandments. He's still making it about him. He wants to know, since he's got all his ducks in a row, what else is there? Sorta like a taunt; like a dare. There's a certain amount of arrogance and audacity in the question, isn't there? "What else do I have to do since I'm a perfect good guy." But that's the way it is, isn't it? "I'm not the one at fault here." It's my wife who doesn't understand me. It's my boss who can't appreciate his workforce. It's that guy on the road who won't get out of my way. It's my kids because they refuse to respect me. Jesus just lays it out: Go home and get rid of everything you have, give it away, and come with me.
Cult leaders say something similar with one crucial difference: They want you to bring THEM the money. Jesus told him to give it away, not "bring it here."
And of course the guy's sad. Here he was thinking that he had everything he needed, he had his dance card punched and was holding the golden ticket. So, this guy who's been waited on hand and foot all of his life can't give it up, can he? He can't go and set his slaves free and enrich the lives of the very peasants who keep him rich. He lives a life of comfort. It's a tough, tough thing to do. 'Smatter of fact, Jesus tells us it's humanly impossible.
But He did it. Jesus gave up heaven to come over here and slum it with us. How 'bout that?
I think Shaia enjoyed the story and my observations on it. She kept "cooing" anyway. There's a song there.

Dang ... - May 13, 2008

Has it really been that long? My goodness, people.


I guess it goes without saying that I've been remiss in my writing. But it's a symptom of something larger that's been going on here. Maybe I can explain in 15,000 words or less.

It all really started about one year ago. We were doing alright, I guess. Really, we weren't playing as often as we would've liked, but we were having a general good time doing it. We played at the King William Fair and I was on top of the world, man. I mean, I really felt connected with what we do. Only ... somehow it just didn't feel right. Want to know something? Calling people and having them always say "No" to you is a battle of attrition. It takes a certain type of will power to accept defeat over and over again and be able to sustain it. I couldn't sustain it. In this business, people want what they can get from you for as little as they can get it and their willing to make you feel as small as possible to make it happen. For an artist, that's a very tough thing to endure year after year. So, I decided a re-evaluation was in order.

In (seemingly) other news, mere weeks later, I got to go to Chicago to the Willow Creek Arts Conference. It was here that I heard God, for the first time, call like the clarion that'd been missing in my life for so very long. I became aware that I'd become so very cynical. I never for once ever thought I'd become cynical -- but I did. And as I learned how to worship, to approach the lover of my very soul -- my essence -- and as I gathered around thousands of other artists and spoke with them and communed with them and prayed with them and made music with them I felt the scales of my heart begin to peel away and I was able to actually feel something again.


I cried.


There. In the middle of a small chapel in a foreign land I felt the living presence of God.


In (seemingly) other news. I declared that I'd realized that I really don't like myself too much. Well, at all. So, in an effort to be able to feel something again I joined a small band of believers in working out my spirituality in order to recover from my "hurts, habits, and hangups". It's a 12-step process. Once again I found myself admitting that my life had indeed become unmanageable and I was helpless to do anything about it.


And there I am, working my steps and trying to peel back the onion of pain and suffering that I've endured for so long. What I discovered is that even though I'd quit drinking and drugging, all I'd really done was learn how to be sober; but I hadn't recovered yet. I was still caught in the whirlpool of self destructive thoughts and desires and I needed to stop doing that.


Along the way God put it on my heart to get back to this thing called "a band" and get to doing it right. I sat down with a great friend of mine and he began mentoring me in the idea of creating a business plan. In order to really nail that down, I had to really nail down what we're doing -- what we're about. That led me right back to the beginning. Nothing fixed. I was doing it for me. I don't believe in me. I don't even like myself, much less actually believe in me. I mean, I believe I can play a tune and all, but I don't really think I'm that good at it. I don't really think that you, the reader of this blog, my FAN, likes me.


Crap.


So I gave in. The main thing that I've been after all these many years is a sense of self-worth and self-dignity and self-love. I'm none of those things because if you really want to know the truth of it all, I'm a degenerate. Of course I don't like myself. I was searching for my identity in Christ because I'm not worth it. Really, I'm not. And there it was. Plain as day and in front of my nose the entire time.


I can't go on the way I've been going. I don't like myself very much and I can't sell myself well because I believe it when the people I'm trying to sell myself to say I'm a loser; I affirm what they say. It felt like I was living a lie. You can say I'm coming out of the closet, so to speak. I'm a Christian ... and that's "Ok."


"So what," I think I hear you asking? It's incredibly significant because now it's not about me, dude. That's the deal. It's not ABOUT me. I'm nothing, but God is freaking GOD.

Take it this way: This is the very thing God created me to do. I don't do it for me. I can't do it for me because I don't even like myself. But, I love God with all my heart and all my mind and all my strength. I don't do it FOR Him. I do it because of Him. I am my Father's son. I can't help being who I am and despite whatever opinion I may have of myself the fact remains that this -- this making music stuff -- is what I've been built specifically to do in this world. The great sage Popeye put it best when he said, "I am what I am and that's all that I am." Amen.

So, that's the deal here. I've been on this arduous journey through the morass of my crap. And as it turns out, the more I think about it, the more I like myself. Who would've thunk it? I'm designed to do this and there's nothing else to be done about it but to follow it through. What that means is some changes that some of you might not like. Others of you will like it quite a bit, I guess. We're changing formats.

Oh, we're still playing the blues. The difference is that we're playing the blues from a Christian's perspective. That is, I can't help myself but to sing about my life as a Christian, my relationship with my Father, my relationship with other Christians, my relationship with people who aren't Christians, my struggle to live in a world that I don't belong to -- all because I can't help it, it's just the way God made me.

I don't know what the future holds. I don't even know if promoters will want to hire us. I don't know if you, the fan, will even want us. Where will we play? Will there be anyone to play to? Does anyone even care about what we have to say?


I don't know. Something says I should say that I don't care, but I do. I care very much. That's why I'm still in it, swinging away. Only, I want to do it right. I want to honor God. If you're a praying person, say a prayer of praise. If you're not, I hope you hang in there with us and maybe gain a better perspective of what a Christian goes through, 'cause it's not all a bed of roses like I used to think. Sometimes it can be a tough, tough life. Incredible fulfilling and gratifying, but a tough life, too.

October 5, 2007

It's like walking through the threshold of some doorway you didn't exactly know was there. Think of the misfit -- once they find their place, it's all roses.

I've been miss fit for so long . . . I just thought that's the way the world is supposed to be. But, here lately, I'm feeling pretty good about being who I really am. That's saying a lot considering I generally despise myself.

Cool, eh?

August 24, 2007

I heard the chiming "clink" just after the wrench slipped out of my fingertips -- tender from turning screws bare-handed a couple of days ago. "Drat," I thought. "Praise God" was not on the top of my list of thoughts, no.

But, I got down on my knees, then flipped over belly-up, shoulder-crawled under the front of my truck, reached with outstretched arm and grabbed that little bugger of a tool. I shimmied back out and as I raised my knee to kick myself up and off the ground, it hit me. "The tool!" No, I hadn't left it under the truck -- but, I did think it was probably the most fantastic thing since sliced bread.

I'm not a mechanic by trade, but by necessity.

Wading . . . . - August 16, 2007

I'd been thinking about this particular magnet for my guitar. See, magnets make the electric guitar work. This won't be an engineering class in guitar building -- but, follow me here.

This particular magnet is an aluminum/nickel alloy that has an interestingly strong magnetic field. This is important to us because the magnetic field vibrates in sympathy with the motion of the strings.

Some metals are affected more than others. Oddly enough, it's the purer ones that loose their magnetism the soonest.

You make a magnet by passing an electrical current aCROSS it. The atoms are "combed" into uniformed alignment. Once all the atoms are unified, the metal begins to have a pull of it's very own.

Shakespeare mentioned that all the world is a stage and we're the players. That implies a play write. Someone who has orchestrated the story in advance and already knows how the story goes.

I've always felt that there is a specific purpose for my life. I guess everyone does. Musicians mostly feel like their purpose is to be rock-stars, unfortunately. I've always known that there was something I was supposed to be doing. My life has illustrated this in that I've always been doing "this" while I was endeavoring towards "that". How 'bout you?

About 4 1/2 years a go, I lost my magnetism. All my inner self was nullified and everything I knew ceased to be. The play came to an abrupt end. Rather, the play within the play ended, the set was removed and I was left standing naked on the stage.

I've spent the last three months asking the writer of my play to run aCross me and unify my very being with the story of the play. I'm a player. I want my part. I need to know my part. It's a disparateness I've never know before. All my struggles with self-identity, self-esteem and self-loathing will find reconciliation. I will have a pull of my very own; I will then be moved in sympathy with the vibrations set in motion before me without choice but to perform the very thing I was scripted to do. Satisfaction. Resolution. Reconciliation.

I wade in slowly
Seeking the subtle force
Moving the the rhythm
Set to me.

Set for me.

Ahh . . . momma - May 15, 2007

This weekend was Mother's Day. The day Hallmark gave us to remember our mothers -- because without them, where would we be? Mom: No one can inspire such soaring love or such sheer terror.

Now that I'm a father, I can understand a lot of what my own parents went through -- and more than that, what they were willing to go through. The tears they shed, the wrinkles they wear in their hands today from when they wringed them from worry over me -- over us 6 kids.

I must have been around 3 or 4 -- long enough ago that the memory is vividly hazy -- when I chased after my sisters as they walked to school. They'd already been gone a little while, but I'd seen them walking down the street and I was confident I could find them. So, there I went. I walked about 6 blocks when (on the right course! See, I told you I knew I could track them!) the crossing gaurd, Tina, caught me trying to cross a major street barefoot and in my underwear. She had me wait there with her until her shift ended and then she carried me home. She was our neighbor and knew our family. I remember begging her not to tell my mother about what I'd done. I went inside and promptly hid in the king of all hiding places: under my bed. Next thing I knew, I was dodging a broom swooshing under the bed. I knew the jig was up and I crawled out to face the music; and I cursed Tina for ratting me out.

On another occasion, I can't remember why, exactly, but surely I'd done something to aggravate my mother. I just don't know why I did what I did. I ask you: What would you have done? See, she was holding a lit match to my lips, threating to burn my tongue if what I was claiming (innocence, I'm sure) was a lie. Somehow I lost my sanity, all my 6 year old powers of logic and clear thought escaped me, and for reasons that I'm not clear on to this day, I pursed my lips and blew the damned thing out.

The last thing I remember was how neat the little wisp of smoke slowly, but interstingly, meandered upward from the burned phosphorus tip -- then darkness.

To me, life was idyllic and full of adventure. I didn't have a computer or video games or anything electronic (well, maybe a radio). I had a freaking ball, dude. Red. Rubber. Hours and hours of entertainment. Oh, yeah, and a box. I had a red rubber ball and a card-board box. So, I'd go outside and play, alone, while all my brothers and sisters were at school (a relief because all they'd do is torment me anyway!). I was confined to my back yard; and while to a 5 year old kid, it was a large yard, it was too small for me. My mother would force me to siesta with her -- I hated it because we were buring good daylight! So, I'd wait until she fell asleep, and then I'd sneak out the back door, grab the plastic baseball bat, use it to undo the latch on the gate -- and later days! Well, my neighbor across the street, La Seniora Lopez, busted me and ratted me out. So, mama put a pad lock on the gate. The next siesta, I snuck out, and this time, climbed over the fence. I mean, it made sense. The wire fence was like a ladder, up and over the little metal dogs at the top, and I was a free man! This time, Tina (now my sworn mortal enemy) caught me and sent me back to the slammer. I was a prisoner in my own home. I was serving a life sentence. I was tied to a chair and placed in front of "As The World Turns". Again, I waited for her sleep, I openned the back door, jumped the fence with the metal dogs . . . freaking mailman! What's a brother got to do around here for a little freedom?!

The last time, I had it all worked out. I was going to wait until I was sure she was sawing logs, see? Then I was going over the fence, see? Yeah. This time, the back fence. It was unknown territory, but the other fences had gaurds -- the rat bastards. So, there I was, tied up to the chair again, when I heard her breathing deeply in the next room. I quietly wriggled out of the rope across my chest, got my hands loose and undid the knots at my ankles, figured out the new lock on sliding back door, crawled along the ground on my stomach towards the back fence, looked around, climbed the fence, threw my legs over and landed and looked up to see Mr. Hester with his hands on his hips and a crescent wrench in his pocket. That was it, I knew it was over. I knew the warden was going to let me have it. I was going to get the chair for sure.

When my sisters and brothers came home, they pointed and laughed at first, then they started to feel bad for me because I had to wait for my father to come home; I was tied to the chair with 3 ropes, which was then tied to the meat locker, all of which had me sitting in front of "As The World Turns."

I can't seem to recall the rest. But, I'm sure it was well before then that my mother placed the curse of all mothers upon me -- "I hope one day you have children, and I hope they're just like you!"

Know what? The curse works . . . .

That's what it's all about. - April 30, 2007

My friend Scott didn't come back home. He'd left early that morning to fly to Corpus Christi, TX to pick up his little (teenage) daughter. He was a professional pilot, which makes it all the harder to understand. Flying is what he did for a living for the past 20+ years. What happenned that morning that his years and years of training couldn't over come? We're told it was instantaneous. What I know for sure is that when he left that morning, he had every intention of coming back home.

You could tell because his office was still a mess, his shoes were still muddy and waiting to be worn again, his flight schedule had to be hurredly filled with other pilots . . . things were left with the intention of coming back to them.

I wonder.

Scott was a man of grand bravery, honesty, and integrity. I could count on him. He was one of those men that you just knew you could always count on him doing what he said he'd do. Stallwart and trustworthy, steady and solid.

So, I stress. Do the people in my life know how much I love them? It's not enough to just tell people you love them. My on-going training as a spirit-driven person continuously, positively, informs me that love is a verb. You want to know if I love you? Let show you how much I care. And I fail all the time.

I don't call my mother nearly enough, all my father ever gets is a brief hand shake, I haven't spoken with my god-daughter in ages, people I really care about don't hear from me for weeks. I've written before that unless you're my arm's length away, I'm not thinking about you. It's my fallacy. As much I try to not be selfish, the more glaringly clear it becomes that I am.

The excuse is that I'm busy getting on with getting by. I'm calling people trying to book the next show, writing a new song, scheduling students, giving concerts, training my body with physical workouts and musical training, on and on. That's what I'm busy doing. It's what's happened in our society. I want to not take it lying down. I want to care about you and love you and show you how much I care.

Unfortunately, I'm stuck on shaking my fist to the sky with tears of frustration rolling down my face and angrily asking God why my life is so freaking hard? I'm playing the same song I've been singing for years. Why don't I have hundreds of fans showing up to my shows like someone I know? Why can't I save money on a consistent basis, like a lot of people I know? Why can't I have what I want?

Then, sometimes it all comes crashing on top of me and all I can do is lay down and be still at the awesome granduer, immensity, and intensity of God's personal attention and love of me. It's so big and deep and wide and strong that all I can do is fall on my knees at His majesty.

There's this popular book out there that starts with the words, "It's not about you."

It really isn't about me.

I can't help but want to make it about me.

Lemming - April 3, 2007

a compelling need to communicate.
my tongue bankrupt;
Over-extended
on its credit of words. my spirit
sores.
(overly wrested and too severly taxed)
In the middle of the night I
toss
in the meating of my thoughts.

Compelling.

Wild frontier:
Say "Yes" to God.
Anyone can say "No" to God.
Believe
(not in) Me.
It'll make you all knew again.

Compelling.

Thoreau yourself over the cliff.

Thank You, baby-cakes. - March 5, 2007

I've been in bed for four days. I became ill from a couple of different things; a dose of stress, a touch of a flu bug, and a heap of exhaustion.

Gotta tell ya, laying in bed for that long ain't all it's cracked up to be. I kept thinking, "Man, I'd LOVE to lay in bed all day." Then, I get the chance, and it sssuuuucccckkkkkssss. I watched all the Oprah I could handle, Dr. Phil, and Ellen. I've had plenty of commercials, PBS broadcasting, and Dog the Bounty Hunter for a good long time.

In other news, the cement in my face is diminishing. The cold chills are abating . . . and the chripping morning birds aren't pissing me off so much.

All this just when I've come to a "new" perspective on my life. It's not so much "new" as revisited (again)(and again)(and again). Thing is, I just want to do what I'm doing the best I can do it. For so long, for so many of us, we make plans for that "eventuality" we hope for and dream and plan for. So, I've decided that this is it -- no more waiting. All that's left is to be the best at it I can be. Why wait for the rush hour traffic? Let's just all get on with "it" as if all our plans are in the present. No more of this, "One day, when I grow up" crap. It's on, baby. Carpe diem and all that.

But I've got to watch it, 'cause like I just said, I got sick from exhaustion. There are days when I'm on the go for about 18 hours straight moving from one thing to the next and watching the world out of the driver's side window of my truck. Sometimes a whole week will pass before I see my son. It's not uncommon to have about an hour's worth of relationship per week with my wife.

Want to know something? There's nothing more that I'd rather be doing than living this life. I hope everything I just wrote doesn't come off as if I'm complaining. I'm not. Just the opposite is true. I don't think I can ever fully express the appreciation I feel for having the opportunity to live the life that I do. I mean, I can play the freaking guitar, man. And people pay me to teach them to play the way that I play, and people pay me to come play at their club or restaurant, or people pay me for the chance to own my CD and hear me whenever they want. I can compose songs and lyrics and people tell me how pleased they are with my art. I mean, get real, dude! This life freakin' rocks!

This is the reason I say that if it weren't for you, I wouldn't do what I do. That's true for any of us. If you weren't there to let me, and people like me, hold a mirror up to the world we live in and tell stories about it, there would be no jobby-job.

Ok. I'm tired. I need to get back to resting. Mainly, I wanted to tell you, "Thank You."

Oh . . . . and that I love you.

Beach Front Property - February 26, 2007

We'd gone down to Mexico to help some family members build a church in their neighborhood. The church already existed, all they needed was a building to go with it. Actually, they had the building, too, but, they wanted a better one not made of wood and thatch roof, and maybe one with bathrooms.

It's funny that when I think of Mexico, I don't think of a third world country even though it is. In this one particular town, right on the edge of the Rio Grande, a small community of squatters arose. It's a community that's been around for a long enough time that the city that it borders has dained to officially ignore it. It came up as a result of people trying to get across the river. It was founded on a former trash heap, a land fill, and the people are actually the children, or grandchildren, of those that didn't get across; or, haven't gotten across. It seems the families would camp out and wait for those that were caught trying to cross the river to come back home. Further, it seems that they made it their job to get across, and the families were there to support that endeavor. You can imagine that there were no permanent dwellings to begin with, and that the goverment reluctantly added infrastructure. That infrastructure isn't much, though. I think they get something like one power line per 10 blocks, and the houses are all "rigged" off that one line. Therefore, power shortages are the norm. The "streets" are actually broad and pretty straight paths, unpaved, and unkept. I know they have sewage and water, but I'm not too sure where the water comes from, and I'd hate to know, if you want to know the truth. It's peopled with "foreigners" from Central and South America; the locals, I'm told, resent them and look down on them. So, we went to build them a church -- one that has a bathroom (for men AND women), and some walls and roof.

The stories from those days are endless. But on this one day, we went to look for scaffolding. We were going to put the finish on the cieling of this one-room church. I can't be sure, but I think it's standard that they use cement on everything. There's no sheet rock. So, once the roof (ie, ceiling) was poured, it was time to smooth it out by adding cement to the underside (the cieling, that is). Picture those guys smoothing out a cement side walk with those trowles. Now picture that upside down. Gravity becomes a real . . . menace.

Luckily, we had a foreman who knows the ropes -- his name is Maestro. The task at hand was to grab hammers and ding the crap out of the cieling and chip away at any smooth spots. The idea being that when we splatted trowels of wet cement on it, it would stick better. So, some of us spent the day shoveling yards of sand and cement piles from spot to spot. Some of us spent the day sifting the cement and making the right consistency. Some took breaks and played soccer with the neighborhood kids in the "street" outside. The heat was oppressive, the breeze was hot and the smell of human waste riding on it was daunting. Still, we worked hard and generally kept up our spirits.

In order to get the cieling done, though, we need the scaffolding.

One of the skilled workers (all of them lived in that "colonia") said he had some piping at his house. So, my friend TJ jumped in the back of the truck and I with him as his interpretor along with some people and off we went. Along the way there was talk of where they lived and how "nice" it was; they named this particular section of the colonia "Beach Front Vistas". I was thinking how thankful I was that we were leaving, even for just a little bit, the deplorable conditions of the neighborhood we were working in. What we actually drove up on (while holding on with a death grip because the pot holes were so big it was more like off-roading) was breath taking -- literally.

It was getting harder and harder to take a breath because the air was so dusty, so hot, so freaking foul, dude. So foul. The neighborhood started to have a definite change. The houses became shacks, then became adobe shacks, then finally just adobe huts with thatched roofs; a spotted dog all skin and ribs looking at us as we bounced by. We pulled into an encirclement of homes, and on my left there, just over the wall of the first house, was the beach they were refering to.

Now I knew where that sewage was going.

It's a scene that I will forever vividly recall. I just sat there and kinda stared at that. TJ jumped out and started grabbing pipes -- I was shaken back to the task at hand.

Getting back to the church, I was so glad to be back in the lap of luxury. Someone asked on that trip if the people truly knew the conditions in which they were living. I think so -- I know so.

What to know something? The people were so proud of that church, man. My apartment is bigger, and more comfortable (with indoor plumbing and carpet and air conditioning and heat, and a fridge with FOOD) than that church. But it doesn't have half the value. And when we met for service that night, the people came -- clean, pressed, tidy, hair combed, shaved, with humility, with honor, wearing their best clothes and entering with a sense of reverance.

Today, the editors of CNN.com thought I should know Anna Nicole's baby's birth certificate might be a fraud.

Flow. - February 22, 2007

Do what you're passionate about doing. Faith is knowing that it will be ok. I think about what people would have to give up in order to do what they're passionate about doing; it's tough.

The tougher question comes when you're not too sure what you're passionate about.

Did you just say something? - February 5, 2007

I heard the glass clink when it gently smacked another one on it's way down to the table. I was momentarily focused on that hand releasing it's possesion and retreating to it's master. " . . . are you listening to what I'm saying to you?" The two answers obvious: a) Lie and maybe have to contend with the challenge by repeating what I was just now not listening to, or b) Be honest and widen the gap between us . . . .

What would you have done?

It's not like I mean it. I don't. Sometimes, though, I just get caught up in my thoughts. It's like a speeding train, sometimes a train wreck. Something happens and I'm lost in thought, or someone says something and before I know it, I'm about 100 miles away from the germ that started it off.

It can even happen while I'm the one doing the talking. " . . . and then I grabbed my guitar and . . . . Wait. What was I saying?" The only reason we talk is so we can be heard; and not hearing someone, especially when their screaming the softest, can be a tragedy.

Maybe people want to say something, but don't know that they can. Maybe people are trying to say something, but don't know how. Maybe people don't realize how broken they are because they haven't been fixed enough to know the differece. Listen to yourself today and see what you're saying to people. What's the message?

Crossing the same river twice . . . . - January 29, 2007

I've been donig some research and developement. It's becoming apparant that the world doesn't share my passion (read: obsession) for my craft. That's ok. Sometimes, it's a little annoying to know that I have this "tick". I'm not suprised that the general population doesn't share this illness, I'm suprised that I didn't come to see this earlier (resting my chin on my fist, elbow on crossed-legged knee).

I remember, vividly, the first time my 6th grade school band played together. What a joy. I don't lie to say that my head literally swam with the resonance of the sound -- surrounded by the music, and being a part of it . . . boy did we suck! I didn't care. I was making music. Real music.

Since that day to now (sitting back and looking at the cieling, nostalgia), I've been chasing that sensation again. Gosh, it's such a wonder. I don't know how to explain it. It's like downing a bottle (750ml) of black label Jack in one sitting, it's like the first downhill of the Rattler at 6 Flags, it's like an ice cream cone at the ball park on July 4th, it's like a warm shower when you're stoned, it's like going over a waterfall, it's like standing on the rooftop of a car going 50mph, it's just . . . a special kind of exquisit.

Really, it's a spiritual thing. The more I know, the more I know what I don't know (grimicing at my arm-chair philosophy). It's like that with my spiritual walk, too. The more I know, sense and feel, the more I realize how insignificant I really am. And in that insignificance, I'm elevated by grace and mercy.

Those first days of sitting in Mr. Luderos' 6th grade band at Whittier Middle School created in me a sense of "oneness" with something bigger and larger and better and far older than me. Music has been around since the day the heavens were created and the angels sang their praise. And I get to be a part of that.

Fix Up Chuck - January 26, 2007

It's just something you can't put your finger on. It's a mist of a thought, a whisp of insight, a glimpse of clarity in your periphery . . . .

The world is a progressively smaller place and the concentric circles of people sometimes intertwine. Last night, I walked into a place of love and spirit. After the days I've been having, I needed something like that. It's not very common (sadly) to see people giving of themselves for the good of another -- maybe someone they don't even know. People were glad of heart to know that the time and money they were spending were for the good of a very sick friend.

Maybe the person in need will be able to pay some bills; maybe be able to pay for an hour's worth of medication or therapy. But that's not the point. The point is that a community of people gathered together to show their love and support and help prop up the spirits of a family tired from the strain of battling a dibilitating illness. Someone asked me, "How much money did they raise?" I don't think that matters as much as what was raised was the will to continue the fight knowing that there are many, many people in Chuck and Jan's corner; many people who genuinely want to see them through.

It's also a testament to Chuck and Jan who inspire all of us to continue our little petty up-hill battles because, by comparison, we've got it pretty light.

Please visit www.fixupchuck.com. If you want to join the cause, great. At least go by and see what this is all about.

Pot Holes - January 20, 2007

You can say we survived the "Winter Storm of '07" here in our end of life. Personally, I didn't think it was such a big deal. Diego thought it was a REALLY big deal and wouldn't stop calling everything snow. "Look daddy, SNOW!" "That's ice, mijo." "Look daddy, SNOW!" "Put that dead cat down, son. It's frozen." Stuff like that. He also went stir crazy. I found him one morning running circles on his bed and laughing a goofy laugh. "Honey, grab your purse! We gotta run the boy out!" So we went to that bastion that so definitively marks us as being "civilized" -- the mall. Did the trick, though. A couple of hours later and he was wishing he could go home again. Ahh . . . nothing like miles and miles of pavement.

Along the route, I discovered some of the old familiar roads we travel were worn for the wear. Seems mother nature had taken her toll on the older portions of the roads, worn by busses and the sun . . . certainly the recent water and freeze didn't help matters much.

Up the road from our parking lot, there are two particular spots that, after every good soaking, open up all over again -- perpetual pot holes, it seems.

Oh, people come by and fill them in after a couple of weeks. At first, I was a little suprised that they would re-appear after a rain . . . not so suprised anymore. In fact, it's so predictable, I just instinctively swerve to avoid hitting the holes. They appear in the sames spots, every single time; I know exactly how far to the left I should go, then to the right, then back left again . . . straight, quick left, slow float to the right (middle of the road), slow float back the left and I'm turning left into my parking lot. Kinda like a combination lock. Speaking of those. I hate combination locks. And why are we required to spin twice before executing the combination? And more importantly, why do I do it? I mean it, I'm an idiot. Even if no one's looking, there I am, spinning the thing twice before I attempt the combination. . . but I digress.

Maybe dodging pot holes is in my genes. Boy, do I wish that were true! Metaphorically speaking, of course. True story: About 12 years ago I took a bus trip down to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico to try to bring my grandfather back to San Antonio for a visit. He was about 80 years old and my father didn't want him taking the road trip on his own. So, my father thinks up the brilliant idea to have me go down there, and "trick" my grandfather into letting me drive him back to Texas. Stupid idea. My grandfather knew what was up the second I called from the bus station. "Papa Arturo? Si. Here I am, out of the blue, in Mexico. Yes. Yes. . . yes. I came just to see you. Yes. No, I'm not drunk this time. Yes. No, for real, I'm not drinking . . . yet. I'm coming over." The first thing he tells me when I get out of the taxi in front of his house is, "You can tell your father I'm not letting you drive me to SA." I thought, "Crap! What the heck did I just ride 5 hours with a chicken and a goat for??" Oh, well. We proceeded to have a couple of beers and shoot the bull. The next day, I drove us over to visit one of his daughters (my aunt, you see).

Let me explain something to you. In Mexico, an engineer's idea of city planning is a lot like . . . how should I put this . . . a musician's idea of city planning. They just kinda go with the flow. If they need a street, they build a street. Never mind that in about 10 years, people may need to connect another street to it, without thinking that they should erect street signs, without thinking that a straight street is important, or that maybe the thing should be even driveable. I'm not saying it's a bad system, it's just a system I'm vastly unprepared to drive in. But my grandfather, this was his jungle, boy.

So, after a nice visit and fabulous dinner at my aunt's house, it's time to go home. The sun is setting and I want to get my drink on before it's too late. There we go, driving along. My grandfather couldn't much see in the day, at twilight even less. I couldn't, for the life of me, remember how to get home. "Papa Arturo? You think you could set me hip to some directions back to your pad?" "Oh, si, mijo! Just take Guadalupe to San Fernando, hang a left at Santa Clara, do a dog-leg at the corn vendor's stand, hang a "U"-ey at the spotted goat, turn left at Revolucion, a right at Simon Bolivar, and there you are." "Um. . . right." "Oh, don't worry, mijo. I'll tell you as we go." This really instilled confidence -- a nearly-blind man leading me, throught the dark, home. Right.

Sure enough, though. There he was, sitting shot gun and telling me exactly where to turn, how far to go straight, to watch out for that traffic light because it never stays green long enough (as if it really matters in Mexico!), to slowly start getting into the middle lane ("There are lanes??), and even -- yes, no lie -- "in about 5 meters there will be a HUGE pot hole. You'll want to avoid that."

Let me tell you something. That summer night, so long ago, I'll never forget it. Here was this man, nearly blind but with the tallest vision of anyone I knew, so grand in my eyes, leading me -- a young upstart who thought he had the world by the testicles -- through the night, in a foreign world, down foreign roads into the darkness of unfamiliarity, this truly had an impact in my life. I will never forget it.

I wondered how many times did he smack those pot holes that he knew where they were; and could tell me about them? How many times? How many people had he seen cream those holes only to be left without an axle on their road? How many times had those holes been covered up only to be drilled and carved out again by the rain that always comes? And it always comes.

Seems these holes up my road have been there at least a couple of times before. I should go wake up Diego and tell him where they are.

Ain't nothing going on but the rent. - January 8, 2007

This past holiday season went pretty good. Except for a few (very) minor things, we had a pretty nice time. New Year's Eve was nice and cozy and loads of fun. Then, here comes life again and we're back at it.

This past week I wrote a check for my rent. Yes, it's that time of the month where we have to pay for our abode, our lodging, so to speak.

I don't know why, but somehow small things like this send my mind a-spinning. I wrote a check, a payment, an installment for another month dwelling. Yes, it's nice. But it's nothing to make back flips over. And anyway. We all have to pay, brother. Some people pay more than others, but we all pay.

It's narrow to think that while I'm here (earth), this is all there is. I mean, there's more than meets the eye. But, it's so hard to get out of the box because I'm encombered by this "meat sack"; I'm stuck in my own centricity. I can't think about much else expect that which is around me at the time. Someone once said, and until recently did I begin to understand, "Whereever you find yourself, there you are." Look at it this way, "Out of sight, out of mind." If you're not an arm's length away, I'm not thinking about you. It's a sad thing to concede.

This dude once put it like this. He told a story about how this guy built a vineyard with all the constituent parts -- wine press, vines, bottles . . . . He left the thing to some of his workers to watch and keep and work it while he went away. Well, after some time had passed, the workers began to think the vineyard belonged to them. They were dividing the profits of their labor amonst themselves, they took liberties with the product, and basically mismanaged the place. One day, the owner sent his peeps to say he was coming home. But, they didn't like that and killed the messenger. So, he had to send his own son. The farmers killed him, too. You can only imagine how they reacted when the owner himself finally came home.

I don't own anything. I feels like I do, but I don't own one thing. Not my guitar, not my car, my wife, my son, my apartment, not my career, not even this "meat sack". There's scientific confirmation for this hypothesis; I don't own it because I can't take any of it with me when I die. And one day, the owner's gonna come home.

I'm not buying, just renting.

Decon! - December 1, 2006

You'll be happy to know the in-line skating is coming along quite well. I was pretty cautious, as you might expect. I was holding on to the walls in the hall-way of my apartments. First things first: I learned how to slow down and stop! Then I learned how to fall -- well, that actually came from on the job training. Know what, though? All the working out I've been doing really came in handy! I was able to stretch and control my fall (too bad not spiritually). Subsequently, it was a gentle landing. I was just skating around here in my apartments parking lot. Even learned how to hop; I'm not quite up to jumping, yet. But, I will be. Oh, yes. I will!

There are plenty of TV shows that feature fixing up old and/or broken down homes. Surely you've seen them. Sometimes it's about sending the family out on a well deserved vacation so they can return to their dream home. (Hurray!) Others, it's about fixing up the home just enough to sell that thing. That's the one where people come in and talk smack about the house you live in, then some pretty girls and boys come in . . . and "presto", badda-bing, you've got a sellable house. There's one in particular that's caught my attention. They call the show "Flip This House" or something like that.

The last one I saw, the dude said that before every construction, you have to deconstruct.

Wow.

That speaks volumes.

Here lately I've been passing through some turbulent times. Sometimes I think I'm experiencing an early mid-life crises. Sometimes I feel like I dispair. Can't quite put my finger on it, really. I was reading this book written eons ago by this man named Isaiah, and in it, he speaks of being purified my fire. So, my mind started connecting dots.

It's not too far fetched to say I don't believe in coincendences, and that things that catch my attention have specific meanings. I was having coffee with a friend of mine over an intersting life conversation the other day. We were talking about how our world view, when sufficiently challenged, causes a change in ourselves. Picture the little me in my mind pointing his finger in the air and proclaiming, "EUREKA!"

And so it was. I understand, I think, what God's been trying to say to me here. It's a pretty common theme, too. Pruning is a cutting into the flesh. It's not meant to harm, but to cut away the impedance to growth. But it hurts like a mother, nonetheless! You have to tear down the house if you want to make it better than it was, man. And that ain't no walk in the park. You know, I've made some pretty significant changes here these past five years or so. And everytime, I think I'm getting the hang of it. Know something? The more you walk this walk, the more that's on the line. It's almost like everytime I go through this pruning, this deconstruction of my world view, my faith in my Creator gets put on the line in a bigger way. Almost like He's challenging me to stay in the game because it's so easy to just bail and have it "my" way. Have it, life, the way I want it to be; pleasing and glorifing to ME. What's so much more incredible is that I'm given the freaking choice, man! I can leave anytime I want. I can go back to controlling my life and doing all the things that please me; no sweat and there's no one to tell me "no". But I've done that. Look where that got me. Nothing.

I'm shown faith that I will trust my life in God's hands. Like, your parents give you the keys to the house and go away for the weekend, trusting you to behave in a way that honors them. I'm being deconstructed and renovated; made new again in His eyes and in the eyes of the world. I'm trusted to keep on keeping on with Him even if it hurts to do it, because in the end, I will be better for it, and He will be shown to have known better than me -- glorified.

I'm compelled to honor God's faith in me by being faithful to Him while he fixes up this old and broken me.

Ain't nothing but the truth, baby.

Pie and inline skating - November 28, 2006

I wish I could explain my love of pie.

Sometimes, it's not normal. I guess I should know this about myself by now . . . but NO, it still suprises me.

Last week, I had the gracious opportunity to enjoy two Thanksgiving dinners! And they were both really good. Day one: friends came over, I stressed, I ate, I felt better. We talked about stuff, and talked some more . . . it wasn't so much about the dinner, but the dinner was excellent. I ate more of it the next day!

Then the "real" deal came and that was about the end of it all.

I can't say I know why, but I ate about 4 slices of pie that day. Hmmm . . . . That amounts to about 5 pounds of expansion.

Thing is, I've been working so hard to "shape up" lately. Weeks and weeks of sweat and hard work down the pipe and onto the belly. Yes. ONTO the belly in the form of jiggles.

In other news. I just last night pulled out my inline skates from when I was in college. I think I'll try riding them again. Should be less impacting on my knees and hips. Whatever. It's just another way for me to enjoy my workouts. I have to learn how to skate again, though. The last time I tried was . . . well, in college. I remember very clearly.

I remember it was a cold morning. And cold mornings in Denton, TX are magnificent. Just glorious! So, I thought, "I'm going to ride my skates today!" I'd just gotten them. I'd only been on them something like, twice. Once in the grass, once holding on to a parked car. Yeah, I was a novice. So, I'm out in my parking lot, just kinda pushing myself off of cars, coasting for a few feet, and then pushing off again under my own power. So, after about 10 or 15 minutes, I start to get the "feel" for it under my feet. I mean, it wasn't too hard. I'd been ice skating, and it felt very much the same. And it was cold. And the ground was cold. And the air was crisp. And the sky was a particularly brilliant blue that morning. I was feeling good, man. I was feeling alright! So, I'm putting the rest of my gear on, wrist guards, elbow and knee pads, helmet . . . I'm feeling confident that I'm no longer a novice and I can venture out into the real world and enjoy my day. So, I push off and head down towards the rear of my building. There was a hill back there, probably about 45 degree slope downward. I figured I should try a hill just to make sure I know what I'm doing -- before going out into traffic and all. As I approached the slope, I think, "You know, I should probably bend over like a downhill skier and really hook that forced left turn at the bottom." Mistake. A whoaful mistake.

First, I learned an important lesson in physics: The less friction (say, wheels), the faster the moving moving body (say, me) moves down an incline (45 degrees of gravity-pulling asphalt hill). Second, I learned that the "wake and bake" philosophy of a college student tends to impare judgement, and make one feel more confident than one should. Third, I learned that it's tough to remain over your wheels while you're bending at the waist to crouch like an experienced downhill skier while going down and asphalt hill. You can imagine the result. Yes.

It was all going pretty good until I attempted the left hand hook turn. I remember watching my feet rise and continue in an arc over my head. I remember the peaceful feeling of weightlessness as I experienced flying on my back for the first time. I remember how serene the crisp north Texas sky looked from that particular angle. . . .

When I came to, the dust was settling, I was thinking how unpleasant it would be taking the asphalt out of my butt. The frat guys that lived in the frat house next door were pointing and laughing. The wrist guards and helmet did their jobs, as did the elbow and knee pads -- I sustained no injuries there. My pride was wounded, so was my butt and my back. As I sat there and took off my blades, searching for any flesh I may have deposited on that hill, I decided that was that. I never put those skates on again until last night.

I'm going to try again. I'm going to do good this time. I'll let you know how it goes.

Who took the melody? - November 16, 2006

Lately I've been on a quest to rediscover melody.

It's that sublime aspet of music you can't really put your finger on. It's nebulous, ethereal, surreal, but a good one smacks you like a ton on bricks and sinks your heart . . . maybe even makes you cry.

Ok. Confession time. I like to listen to the "Sound Of Music" soundtrack. Stop laughing long enough to let me tell you why. You know that "Do Re Mi" song? "Do -- a deer, a female deer . . . ." Well, it makes me teary; I'm secure enough in my manhood to admit that. It happens for several reasons.

This was a song my sister, Blanca, and I used to sing together when I was in the 2nd and she in the 5th grade. So, it brings back some tender memories of a life not yet tarnished and ravaged. Also, the composers (Hammerstein and Smith, I believe) had an impecible sense of melody. Thirdly, the counterpoint there at the end is too much for my little brain to take in all at once -- the voices, the strings, the brass, the snare drum driving it all. It takes it over the edge. And out of sheer joy of the graduer of it, my heart does sommer-saults and I get teary. (Ok. Now you can laugh.)

Melody.

I've spent hundreds of hours studying, emmulating, then writing in the compositional styles of Bach, Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Brahams and others. Know what all these guys had? They had melody. But, you look it up, and nobody can give you a good definiton. It goes something like, "A group of tones organized and arranged in both pitch and rhythm so as to cause a pleasant sound." Blah-blah-blah. But when you hear it, you know it.

I read somewhere once that Mozart sounds like a effervesence. Brahms sounds like a blooming flower in slow-motion to me. Hayden sounds like nylons on royal legs; grand and stuffy. Beethoven sounds wild and pissed off, yet soulful and delicate as a whispy cloud. Bach sounds like those old TV test patterns to me, mathematical and highly, highly organized; perfect.

But where did all that go? I miss that. I'm after it; chasing it down. But it's a spiritual thing, too. Like, the harder you push, the more it evades. You just have to let it come as it comes. Where's your melody? And can anyone hear it? Are you broadcasting your sweetness to the world?

Life after death. - November 15, 2006

I never expected to be alive this long. My youthful endeavors were to cease this planet after my 25 years. I never planned for this. Kinda like having guests drop by at dinner time. Well, kinda not.

Last night I was sitting with a group of wonderful friends - brothers and sisters, really - when I started to feel the sensation of a ghostly life. As I sat there, I could see myself, feel myself, actually taste what it would be like to just have one beer again. Just one. I wonder if you know what it's like to wake up everyday and know that you can't do what you love to do - ever again?

The thing is, I love to drink. I mean, I love it like no other thing in this world; at one time even more than God. It's true. No. I'm not kidding. Even more that God. I love it so much I've actually changed my molecular structure to crave it; depend upon it. That's how much I love it. And I can never do it again.

But I took it back down to my coping mechanisms. I took it back down to, "I don't know about later on tonight, or tomorrow, but for now - just right now - I'm not going to do it. Just then, the woman's voice coming to me over the Public Address - God's voice - like a hand reaching through the darkness reached out. She mentioned something about Abraham. And my mind went spinning to the vision of Abraham climbing that mountain.

Abraham got up and climbed his mountian. He didn't want to, I'm positive. But he did it because he trusted God. He went up there to sacrifice the one thing he loved more than anything else in this world, his only son. God wanted to know just how much he loved him, and Abraham's hand was raised gripping the knife with white knuckles. But God didn't let him do it. Instead, God did it for him. He brought his own son up that mountain and sacrificed Jesus instead.

It's not that I feel like I have to sacrifice what I love to do so much as a resurrection. All of that life that went on before, I can never do again - it's true. But in return I have been given a true life. One with love and peace in my heart and light in my world. This is better than being dead; which is what I'm coming from. This is truly life.

I know it sounds funny, but . . . - October 10, 2006

The world is spinning. I know it. I feel it beneath my feet.

Days pass before I even remember to breathe. Does this ever happen to you? My world is a swirl of activity that mesmorizes me into hypnosis - I'm awake while sleeping.

Sometimes, whole weeks pass.

I want to stay connected. We were talking, and I was saying how it feels like a mast is shooting straight out of my head, upwards, from the depth of my spine, connected and the base - attached to my hips; and I have these huge sails available to be blown full by the breath of the Spirit. Sometimes, the sails are furled.

So, I drift.

Slackin' . . . - October 2, 2006

It's just crazy how much time passes by and I still haven't updated this blog. I'm sorry. I've heard from the faithful readers that they're just waiting and waiting. . . . Sorry.

This will be really short. First, I'm way supprised at the amount of work companies are expecting from employees. Two friends of mine are really struggling with the strain. Not too long ago I heard on AM Radio this guy talking about how in the "good old days" people could make a decent living. You could be a butcher, or a serviceman, or a milkman and you'd earn enough to feed and support the whole family. But, thanks to illegal immigaration, we're now in the situation we find ourselves; they will take the same jobs for pennies on the dollar.

Ok. I don't buy that. You're looking in the wrong direction here - or at the very least, only half way down the road.

The truth is that companies will get away with anything they can get away with - namely, they'll get anyone to do however much they can get them to do it, and for as little as possible. Meaning, they'll want you to do more and more and more and more and pay you the least amount. Sure, the argument is that if you put up a fight, they'll just find someone else to do it, and for even less!

I don't know where I'm going with this; but I do know that people that I care about and love are feeling terrible because they can't succeed in a work place that is demanding more and more. That's not right. It's just not right.

We should prosper and bloom, not wither and suffer. Suffering is a natural part of this life, and a certain amount is expected. But, we shouldn't have to suffer to the point where suffering is our only existence.

Ain't talking 'bout love. . . . - September 8, 2006

Here's the thing.

The more I look around, the more alone I feel. Know what I mean? The world is so isolated. It's so hard to not be, though. What with the mortgage and car payment, and the kid's karate, and that son of a gun boss who just doesn't understand that you haven't seen your wife/husband all week. . . . The irony is that it doesn't have to be. I can see a place where people care about people. I think of Dante's image. People in one room (level) of hell are trying to feed themselves with these really long spoons. They can dip the ladles in the pot, but they can't bring the ladle to their mouths because the handle is too long. OR, contrasting image - same scenario - but this time people are using the long handles to feed the people across the room, everyone gets fed.

I was talking with some friends about something similar the other night. I was commenting on this passage I just read in this book written by a doctor on the life and ministry of Jesus - his name is Luke. Anyway, in it, Jesus is saying how we need to love our enemies, and not just those we love. And at first, I just dismissed it. "Oh, yeah. I'm supposed to love my enemies, right. Can you pass the corn?"

The facinating thing about Jesus' life is that he walked the talk, dude. To the end, he walked the talk.

Imagine this: You're walking along, enjoying life, listening to your iPod with the 300,000 songs . . . then WHAM, you're being attacked and murdered. And not a single person comes to help. Not one. And the people doing the attacking are pretty much enjoying themselves; they're torturing you and placing dibs on who gets what of yours, generally disregarding your pain and agony. And you just go with it - not resisting, not fighting back. Instead you're loving them all the way through. You even ask God to forgive them!!

Dang. By that I mean, "Dang. . . . "

I couldn't do it. I'm too busy looking out for number one. I can't help you, I've got to make this phone call because I don't know if I'll have a drummer for my next gig. No, I won't give you a dollar, you might spend it on a brewski and I really need to buy some gas. No, I can't help you jump-start your car, I've got groceries to get home - the milk might spoil.

And I wonder why I feel so alone sometimes.

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