Monday, April 25, 2011

my path is my path

This pas weekend I spent in Oklahoma. More on that a little later, I bring that up to say that I had to do laundry for this trip. And since it was a little last minute I was rushing to get my laundry done. And whenever I am in a rush I tend to forget things, like the small notebook I keep in my back pocket. The washer didn't hurt it too much, though the dryer turned it into tinder. This notebook is where I write down my shopping list, directions, peoples names (so I don't forget), and my ideas for this blog. Because I washed and dried those ideas I had to come up with a new one. This is actually something I've been thinking for a while, and I tried to formulte and tease out the ideas a little more while I was mowing the yard. Let me know what you think after you're done reading.

My Mom and Dad are high school sweethearts. They're also the greatest parents ever. I wrote earlier that I was mowing the yard. I enjoy doing this, but it was getting dark and I really didn't want to finish the back. "I'll just do it tomorrow," I thought to myself. But fifteen minutes later I was done with it, just in time for the sun to retreat across the horizon. I blame my parents for this. Because of them I can't leave any job undone. Because of them I feel like I have to give my all to everything I do. "If you're gonna do something half-assed," Dad said once, "it's not worth doing at all." I say I blame them, but I'm really grateful for that. Because of that I have a job that I am good at, the people I work with respect me, and the people that see me work notice it. This isn't to make my self puffed up. I still have a long way to go, but I'm glad that my parents pushed me to do my best.

Mom and Dad are high school sweethearts. They both went to Oak Park High School in Kansas City. After graduation Dad went to the University of Missouri at Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) and Mom went to Warrensburg. I still remember childhood vacations going to these exotic locales. After graduating, they were married. Mom moved to Rolla with Dad while he got his Masters in Chemical Engineering (dude's super-smart). After that program, they ended up back in KC. Had a couple of kids, and now are doing their best to figure out life with the rest of us. Of course this is the brief version, if you want the longer and more accurate one you'll have to ask them.

I tell my parents story to bring up a point about myself. I always thought that I would emulate their example. Marry my high school sweetheart. That didn't work out. Then I figured I'd be married right out of college. Strike two. After two strikes I figured I was out and gave up trying to relive my parents lives. I am my own person. My path is my own, and it is going to look different that Chris and Lori Lancaster's. It's going to look different than my brother and sister-in-law's. And it's going to look different than yours. And I've only lately come to realize this. And come to realize that it is ok, and even good, for me to be seeking my own way. Because to try to go down someone else's would only make me miss out on the greatest good that I could experience by finding my own way.

When I talk about path, I mean that I believe that God has a plan for me. If he had a plan for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph then I'm sure he has a little something for me as well. By copying the plan that God has for someone else I'm essentially saying that I don't trust what He has for me. And that I am jealous of what that someone else has.

So what's the path God has for you? Are you on it, or are you more worried about following someone else.

"Unless you hate your mother and father..."


Monday, April 18, 2011

luke reviews: gilgamesh

In the summer of 2008 I decided that my brain was turning to mush (mom's words) and did a google search for the "top 100 books ever written." This is what I found:

The top 100 books of all time

You may argue there are books on this list that shouldn't be, and others that have been left out. And I'll let you do that. But as a 21 year old I didn't much care about that, I just needed something to read off of. So I started with "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austin. That summer I completed a couple more (Ovid, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, etc.) and was feeling pretty good about my progress. Then life happened. I went back to Belmont, had to do school, ended up at Brookwoods the next summer, ended/started again/ended a relationship, and began working at Harvest Hands. All this time I've been attempting to read off this list, with limited success. In the fall of 2009 my friend Claire gave me her copy of "Gilgamesh," but I never started reading it. So Sunday morning before church I decided that I was going to start it. And last night after a day of, Dose, Downtown Presbyterian Church, mowing the yard, Jazz at the Frist, Vishnu exhibit at the Frist, and the Saucer/Preds game with Rob, I finished it. I was reading the "new english version," to be fair. So it was more "The Message" than the KJV.

I don't know how many of you have read this Mesopotamian epic so I'll recount a little of it.

Gilgamesh is the man. He's the greatest there is, "perfect." But he's also kind of a jerk. And by kind of, I mean he exercises his right to have sex with new brides to his fullest. So his people call out to their gods complaining that Gilgamesh is going too far. So they create an equal for him, someone to complete him. Thus Enkidu is formed. He runs with the animals in the forests, eats what they eat and drinks the water they drink. A trapper stumbles upon him and freaks, and eventually goes to Gilgamesh for advice. Gilgamesh tells him to get a temple prostitute to seduce Enkidu, thereby showing the animals he used to run with that he is a man and different than them. Enraged Enkidu goes to fight Gilgamesh, crediting him for this fall. Gilgamesh eventually wins, but they become friends after this fight. After a while they get bored and decide to go fight Humbaba the terrible. He was made by the gods to frighten man away from approaching their mountain. They journey to find him, do, and kill him (with a little help from the gods). After they return home victorious a goddess starts hitting on Gilgamesh and he spurns her advances. She gets pissed, and tells her dad who suggests that there may be a reason why Gilgamesh says the things he did. Not happy about that she has him send the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the city. They kill the bull showing together they are seemingly unstoppable. But Enkidu falls ill shortly after the victory and eventually dies. Gilgamesh is inconsolable and goes on another quest, this time to find the secret to immortality. He learns that death is the portion given to man, and there is nothing he can do about it.

So there it is, in 305 words. But the real question is this: "what did I think about it?"

I enjoyed the heck out of it, that's what I think about it. I enjoyed this book so much because of the message that is within. There are many different directions I could take with this report, but the one I want to drive around a bit is the idea of brotherhood. Gilgamesh isn't complete until another part of him is created, Enkidu. Enkidu is wild and untamed, Gilgamesh is civil and plays by the rules of (his) society, however bad they may be. But when these two get together they can kick some butt and take some names. They do the impossible together. On their journey to Humbaba Gilgamesh is constantly haunted by dreams, which Enkidu interprets positively for him. At the moment when he could strike the killing blow to this beast he falters, until Enkidu strengthens him. At the edge of Humbaba's lair Enkidu fears for his life, and Gilgamesh encourages him on. They work together for the betterment of each other. Yet when Enkidu falls ill and feels he will die Gilgamesh doesn't seem to care to much, telling him he'll get better. And after his death Gilgamesh is only concerned with finding a way to make his own life go on, showing us that this brotherhood isn't perfect. None ever are.

I'm thankful for the "brotherhoods" that I have been a part of. Weather they are from Antioch Bible Baptist Church, Belmont University, Brookwoods and Deer Run, or Harvest Hands they mean the world to me. So if you have been a part of any of those circles, thank you for living life with me.

I also wanted to tell a story from my own life.

Last Thursday I was at Gabby's enjoying a Mattadelphia sandwich and some fruit tea. A man, late middle aged, sat down next to me at the bar. We started chatting about whatever it is you talk to a stranger about, only being interrupted when his food is delivered and he prays for it. My first thought was "I wonder if he loves Jesus?" My second was "I should pray more." He finishes and starts on his burger, while I am just finishing my sandwich. He mentions that he used to go to Fat Mo's (another burger joint in town) until he found out that it was owned "by one of them towlheads."  I said I liked the burgers, finished my meal, and went back to work disappointed. So my question is this: how can we love Jesus but not our neighbors? How can we claim to be His, but hate those who's only difference from us is beliefs? I understand that those beliefs and values may run contrary to ours, but aren't we called to love?

I think we are, and that's what I'm gonna try to do. It's racist to assume that people are bad because of their race. That's all there is to it.

As David, one of my fifth graders at work, once said: "Labels are for cans, not people."


Thursday, April 14, 2011

wind and the unnatural order of man

This is a photo taken on Monday morning of the roasting room at Harvest Hands/Humphreys Street Coffee Company. In it you can see the roaster (left), the orange buckets holding just roasted coffee, the green buckets holding green coffee, and the youth space through the door. What you can't see is the broken AC not supplying the Harvest House with cool air and the open window doing the opposite.

As I sat roasting I could feel the breeze come through the roasting room, clearing out the stuffiness. Sitting there it, literally, was a breath of fresh air. But the wind also had another effect. The papers on the cork board to the right of the door started blowing, the roast profiles in the orange buckets went everywhere, and the order of the roasting room was put in jeopardy. I closed, almost all the way, the window. It was still cracked so I had the benefit of fresh air, but shut enough to not cause the papers of my life to be blown about.

After shutting out the unbridled wind of that Monday morning I started thinking about what I had actually done. In "That Hideous Strength," the third book of the Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis, one of the characters remarks that we are taught to dislike weather. "Just look at dogs and children," he says. When the rain comes down and the snow falls they are out in it. But adults only think that the precipitation is ruining their plans, their life. This same thing was happening with this wind. My life was being tossed in the natural order of things, and couldn't stand up to it. But isn't there a passage in the Bible that says "think of the lilies of the field, how they toil not. Yet even in all of his glory not even Solomon was not arrayed as one of these" (Sorry for the King James-ish translation, that's how I memorized it for AWANA). When the wind is taken in its natural habitat it is a wonderful thing. Even given when that wind is more dangerous, like the tornadoes that came through Nashville later that day, they don't cause the same heartache when they get in the way of our lives.

I don't say all of this to suggest we live a simple life in the Rocky Mountains, though if anyone is interested in trying I'm there. I say it to suggest that we try to get out in the world that God created more, with the people God put in it. There is a natural order to things and it would be a shame if we never had the opportunity to see it unspoiled. But it would also be a shame if we didn't get to see it next to the very image of God.

Get outside and get yourself a breath of fresh air.

Or just open a window.

But don't expect your papers stay in the same place, and don't expect your life to be the same.

As Bilbo said, "it's a dangerous business going out your door."


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

mr. luke and the receding hairline

I have a receding hairline. Now it's not receding too quickly, but it is going away nonetheless. I would blame my Dad but someone somewhere told me that it's a maternal trait. Just another thing my Mom's Dad didn't do well. I'm ok with the fact that my hair is falling out and that I will soon have a thinner mane than I did in high schooler, and even thinner than it is now. But when I think about my, now, distinct v-shaped hairline I can't help but think one thing: I need to get into a relationship before this gets any worse.

I like to bake pies and roast coffee. Roasting coffee is my job, and baking pies is my hobby. Every Sunday night I prepare the crust for the pie that will be assembled the following week. Weather it be apple, hazelnut, mini-apple, or chocolate creme I enjoy baking them. I don't especially like eating them since I'm more of a protein/carbohydrate guy than a sugar/sweetness guy, but I love making other people happy. And most people get happy when the eat a warm slice of pie. Roasting coffee, on the other hand, is a different beast entirely. I have to do it, the process takes more attention for longer, and more people are exposed to the end product. But there is one thing that I don't like about either of these activites: the first seconds when someone is trying them and I have no clue what they are thinking. You can't tell from their face and their mouth is full so they can't say anything. So you sit there and watch, like a goober. I hate those moments. I have such a desire to make people happy. If they aren't happy I feel as if I have failed.

But there's another aspect of them not liking my coffee or my pie that I have just started thinking about. These things are my creation. I have put my heart and soul into them; these things are as much a reflection of who I am as anything else. They say you can tell alot about a person in the first five minutes of meeting them. I think you can tell alot about a person by taking a look at their creation. In The Weight of Glory C.S. Lewis states that “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” We are God's creation, and the people we see everyday are His creation as well. Christian theology holds that we are made in the image of God. I can honestly say that I have never tried to make anything in my image: a pie shaped like me would be both hard to eat and creepy.

I opened this post up with my desire to be in a relationship before my hair falls out. And this is a real thought that I have, but the underlying thought is "no one will love me if I'm balding." Which is silly, and I wouldn't want to be with anyone who is that shallow in the first place. But so often we take a look at ourselves, at other people around us, and make judgments based solely upon what we see. I know this is nothing new, but assuming that I am any less of a person simply because more of my head is showing is downright silly. Someone's gonna love me and "prefer me to all others" no matter the state of my head. So I'm going to continue to roast great coffee, to make sweet pies, and to let my hair fall where it may. And I hope you do the same.