Friday, June 18, 2010


I have been in a heavy place lately. A few weeks ago some dear friends of mine lost their baby girl just 20 weeks into the pregnancy. I have dealt with the loss of friends and the loss of family but this is something you can never be even slightly prepared for.

I am having a hard time with thoughts of their agony. I will never forget my friend's facial expression as he carried the little casket across the cemetery. I will never forget the outstretched hand of a mom in the deepest of sorrows caressing the edge of that casket. I will never forget the two little girls that adorned that casket with rose pedals and sisterly care.

It halted my ever so busy life to the point where I felt light-headed in trying to reattach myself to reality of having to deal with unthinkable aspects. I never imagined myself having to make a phone call to check on pricing and details for a infant sized casket. That really messed me up. I feel frozen with questions and feel helpless to come to the aid of friends that grieve by the minute.

I feel a sense of gratitude for what I have and for what I don't have to go through. I am almost feeling guilty for the 5 beautiful children I have. That sounds weird but I guess hurt formulates all kinds of things within the thoughts that gather to try to make sense of something that is truly senseless.

I don't want to talk to God about it. Not for a while. Because it makes me confused and angry. I wonder where He is at when babies don't see the light of day and parents are crushed and wounded indefinitely.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rollins - spokeN worD

april 1, 2010

Memories of good days and killer music came around me like a blanket last night. I sat inside the Kent Stage Theater listening to Henry Rollins rampage through the years at his Spoken Word venue. The evening started with a nice sit down meal at Ray’s Place with sweet and dear friends. Taking a walk from the bar to the theater in 74 degree weather during the first week of April in Northeast Ohio sits pretty well with me.

A sea of tattooed freaks of every age flowed intently into the theater and we all found our places and evidently the place found us. Henry came out pronto at 8pm in fifth gear. Impressive for a punk rock icon and 49 year old man who kept confessing his need for his audience to need him.

It was wild for me thinking that I saw this guy at the first Lollapalooza ever and had seen the Henry Rollins Band twice outside of that 20 some years ago. I’ll tell you that his shows as a front man were incredibly intense. You didn’t just hear Mr. Rollins, you felt him. Those were some good days and obviously great experiences.

Back to the Spoken Word venue. He touched on areas that I pretty much expected him too. But something in particular stuck out to me when he talked. He spent a lot of time dispelling things that create hate. He tackled issues that cause division. But he spoke of teenagers and how important it is for us that go before them to believe in them. To give them hope. To give them opportunity.

Henry had brought up stories of high school kids taking their lives(suicide) simply because they did not fit in. We’ve all heard the stories or perhaps have found ourselves in those stories. I know for myself that high school was the worst 4 years of my life. That’s another story filled with subtle non-violent forms of revenge that has much to do with Rock and Roll.

I was impressed to hear Henry talk about the importance of looking out for teen agers. I’d like to be able to take that seriously myself. I’d like to be able to be an inspiration to young folks in whatever ways become the tools to do just that.

It’s true that these kids are our future and I certainly am not going to sit by and tell them they’re screwed because after high school they are heading into a world full of economic hardships and evil people and give them no sense of hope. They and we are the agents of change. Hardships will always exist for they are mere elements in the mortar that builds walls of serenity and confidence.

I’m a dreamer. I’m a visionary and hands on kind of guy which is where my connect happens with that Rollins guy. Henry’s words and demeanor were prophetic to me last evening in a way that encouraged me and made me reconsider how I handle certain aspects of my life. You can’t go wrong with stopping and questioning yourself and why you do what you do every once in a while.

Good things.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mary's Mansion

The snow is replenishing the landscape of the outdoors today after a week of rain and semi-warm weather had taken it almost all away. I do not care to see the ground without snow in the winter. Somehow the snow gives me a peace of mind as we stride through this long stretch of a season that can easily make one feel restricted by the indoors.

The sweet sound of Death Cab For Cutie's "What Sarah Said" fills my ears this morning and gently comforts my eight month old son to sleep. The repeating line, "who's gonna watch you die?", takes me back 2 summers ago to a funeral for a friend of mine that passed away at 35 years of age. Her physical health deteriorated rapidly due to a combination of diabetes and years of unfortunate drug abuse.

What reminds me of her today? What makes a line in a song bring back visions of a truly heart-wrenching memory?

I read headlines in newspapers where "evangelical Christians" that hold positions of political influence have quite astoundingly made lifeless comments on the crisis in Haiti and about people on welfare in America. These comments have ranged from Haiti getting what they deserve for "making a pact with Satan" and that people on welfare are "breeding animals as long as they have ample food supplies".

I'd love to be able to rant and rave and tear apart such individuals that hide behind expensive desks and job titles but I ascertain that their cowardice is suffering enough. I am also reminded of the broken state of being that we are all in so I dare not judge the condition of one's soul but I most certainly have a responsibility to confront the evils that lurk covertly in the name of Jesus only so that a name can be engraved upon a plaque in an office that is purposefully oblivious to the realities of poverty.

As of late, I have been embracing the instruction of such great experienced teachers such as William Wilberforce. This is a man who knew opposition as if it were a most intimate being in his life. The scripture that connects me with such a compassionate and determined man is found in 1 Peter 3:15. It says this: "Be ready to give to every one a reason for the hope that is in you." It is a scripture that Wilberforce obviously clung to and even elaborated upon it in both his writing and in action.

Wilberforce makes a far too often true observation about Christian living in his book, A Practical View of Christianity. Written a few hundred years ago it is so very quite fitting for  an American Christendom today that approaches the unfulfilled hunger of success and recognition like a lion ready to pounce on it's prey.  His observation being this: "Yet, is it not undeniable that with the Bible in our houses, we are ignorant of its contents; and that hence, in a great measure, it arises, that the bulk of the Christian world know so little, and mistake so greatly, in what regards the religion which they profess?"

This isn't a reference made toward how much one spends in the Bible in a legalistic sense but it is in regard to the application and digestion of what Jesus says we need  as the ultimate source of "food". That is to be cleared up or perhaps the implication being made would cease to make an impact upon the purpose of our existence. Are we to but make religion into a repeated pattern that gives and prepares no way of life? I say no with great confidence and with a freedom that bellows from deep within my eternally grateful soul. Wilberforce exclaims the profound truth that we are to not be significant because of what we believe but that others may see what we practice and that the sincerity of that practice is all in all.

Mary was raised in an extremely impoverished home. It was here in this home where certain family members relieved their sexual frustrations on her because they enforced that that was what she was supposed to do for the family. By the time she was a teenager her brother began to solicit her sexuality to those that were willing to pay. She was a heroine user and addict before she hit twenty. Was the narcotic use of her fault or was it perhaps the choice of self medication that can be obtained when a therapist cannot? Mary's worldly home was supposed to be a place that she was to be able to put her trust in. Family members chose to abuse her instead of cherish her. Yet the current opinions of people of christian virtue imply that she gets what she deserves.

What do we deserve? Does Haiti deserve an earthquake that kills 150,000 men, women, children, babies, sons, daughters, moms and dads? Do people in poverty deserve to be ridiculed by these public officials that rally around a religion that ironically claims a King to be intimate and near to the poor as these officials willingly distance themselves from those in need?

I wonder of Mary and how she represents this population of the impoverished and how government officials who seek to be elevated in their positions send their distinctive grappling hooks into the Church at large with a hope to retrieve followers that choose to voluntarily embrace ignorance by impaling them with rigorous deeds that numb and blind so many from seeing the true hurt in this world. I wonder of christian men and women who talk of making the poor take drug tests before they can receive welfare or assistance when in the very Bible itself it shows Jesus feeding the multitudes and separating no one because of social standing and/or religious beliefs. I wonder of the behavior of christian leaders who mock our president as he seeks to help bring about health care for all when, again, Jesus healed lepers even when they did not know how to say thank you for the healing. Scripture implores us to give a reason for our hope and it does not give anyone the okay to dehumanize God's ultimate creation as Christ is a respecter of no man.

I remember going to the hospital to say goodbye to Mary. She had slipped into a coma and her organs began to shut down and her time with us dwindled down to just minutes. That's where that Death Cab For Cutie song takes me. We gathered around her to watch her die. To be the love around her as she died. Her friends became her only family and we wept over her with such intense hurt but all the while clinging on to the hope we all shared.

Mary knew something very significant. She knew Who truly owned her. She was the one who stood on the street corner begging for forgiveness and mercy because she knew she needed it and that she could be granted that out of pure Love. She never put herself above anyone else. She didn't live up to a bunch of rules and legalistic expectations. She suffered a great deal and more than I could ever share in this forum at the hands of her own. Yet, she knew above all else that her Father in Heaven had adopted her not just as daughter but adopted every square inch of her stained soul.

I do not pretend to know what awaits for us in heaven but I do know that perhaps I will shed indescribable tears of joy when I come upon the address of Mary's new home. I picture in thought that I am suddenly stopped by the beauty and magnificence of a house on a grassy hill where the wind blows gently across the knee high grass laden with daisies. A tire swing hangs from a mammoth oak tree whose branches spread out like arms opening up to gain a hug from any visitor that strolls within the perimeter of it's shadow. It is then I see the girl that the world tried to claim as it's own but she now radiates with the purest of joy because our King defied the worlds claims on us.

I have found Mary's Mansion. It was built for her. Just her. By the hands of the One that can simply speak it into existence. And here in this place she is repeatedly told that she deserves this simply because she is the daughter of a Great King.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

With All These Moments

In the beginning of December I had gone to a seminar on caring for soldier's who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD). As I walked into the foyer of the auditorium I noticed some art work that was on display at the event. As I got closer to it I realized that it was a combination of poetry and graphic design work. Then it really blew me away when I noticed my daughter's poem was one of the pieces on display.

This would be the second year in a row that the Traveling Stanzas would select one of Campbell's poems to be put on display. It is was selected to be a part of their Peace Stanzas series. So needless to say I wept a little and was just so so so proud of her ability and gift. (These links here will show you the combined work of KSU graphic design students and local poets.)

It didn't end there. As the day progressed, the author(War and the Soul) and speaker at the seminar on PTSD, Edward Tick, requested that Campbell come to his private banquet dinner that evening and read her poem to his honored guests. What a treat that was. She read to Kent State University staff, artists, veterans, social workers, and Kent city politicians.

I am so very proud of our daughter! Here's her work that has been given for those who gave and give of themseleves:

With All These Moments
With all these moments
which grew, then
picked, and all those
who shot, snapped, raced, across
this time of floral grace
and those
             left behind
             a level of heart.

And thee, who ripened my moments
then sweetened and baked
as tender enough to eat
and those who greatened our moments
and kneaded our bread
             and made such a
             such a…