Not another love story: Thoughts on Twilight, 1 John and Relient K

I fought You for so long
I should have let You in
–Relient K Be my Escape

My friend did not confess to being a Twilight fan. I found the evidence in his car: Part Two Breaking Dawn. I thought it had to be a joke, but he was clearly not laughing.

“I guess I’m just jealous,” he confessed, “Jealous of those guys. I’ve never been loved like that. Not that sort of love. The I-would-die-for-you sort of love.”

I stopped laughing. Cleared my throat. “It’s definitely an escape,” I said. I read three out of the four books when I was in High School.

“Yes an escape,” he nodded.

Only hours later, as I wrote about my day in my Moleskin notebook, did I realize that my friend is wrong. He has been loved like that. I have, too. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about 1 John. Not sure why I decided to read this epistle. But God decided to use it a lot to work in my heart. One of the verse that stands out and summarizes the entire letter is 3:16.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

If you ask me, this blows Twilight out of the water. If we’re going to use any text as an example of perfect love, this verse would be it. It’s been a while since I picked up one of Stephenie Meyer’s books, but I don’t think Bella and Edward’s love is much of a comparison to what Jesus offers us. Yet how many times have I mistaken fantasy for gospel? I’ll be the first to admit that I often forget that the good news satisfies more than the sort of love we crave. How silly. Like choosing cotton candy when what you really need is a full-course meal. All this to say that I have my doubts I’ll ever find a love that compares to Christ’s. He not only said “I would die for you”, but he lived up to his word. Died. Came back three days later.  

So there you have it.  Not your average love story.  More indestructible.  Eternal. Something more extraordinary (minus the sparkly vampires).

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Brand-New: Three years, A Birthday of Sorts

Your hat flew off your head in one of the curves of the concrete, cracked with grass peeking out. I pressed my hand breaks and tip toed forward a little to pick up your hat. You were at the bottom of the hill by then with the longboard in your hands. I zoomed by on my bicycle. Turned around, waved the hat, a dare. When I looked back again I saw you chasing after me over the board walk. But I didn’t stop until we got to a bench near the waterfront.
We stared at the water. It didn’t move.
“Three years ago,” I said, “It’s like a birthday.”
“It’s not your birthday today,” you argued.
“It’s the day I was reborn.”
There were logs in the water. Dead logs sticking up over the surface.
“Would you like to reenact it?”
Over the surface, the water was blue and white like the sky overhead. Underneath, the water didn’t move at all.
“No thanks.”
“You don’t want to reenact it?”
“Nah,” I say, “I don’t need to reenact it.” Once is enough.
It’s strange to know that my old self is dead as those logs in the water. Everything. All my sins, in thoughts and actions, in that water. With the blue sky reflected over the surface and death sticking out of it. Everything forgotten in those waters. He is doing a new thing in me. Despite my wandering. Despite my weakness. I don’t need to reenact it. No. Once is enough.
All I heard in my heart (did I speak it? did He?) that day, three years ago, “Pick up your cross and follow.” Was it He who spoke to me? I won’t say I wasn’t afraid. I shivered in my wet jeans and t-shirt; the water was still cold. My friend pushed my face back under the water when I came up for air. He said later, “I just wanted you to be fully immersed.”
I thought I was going to die.
I suppose, in some way, I did die three years ago.
The water had been cleaner. The sun had just set and I wasn’t even sure that it was time. There was so much I didn’t know about Jesus. So much I still don’t understand. At times my sins still haunt me in my dreams. Often I make mistakes. Sometimes I wonder if I need another dip in the lake.
No. Once is enough.
Dead. Yes. Dead as a log. But alive, reborn in Christ.

Con Cristo estoy juntamente crucificada, y ya no vivo yo, mas vive Cristo en mí; y lo que ahora vivo en la carne, lo vivo en la fe del Hijo de Dios, el cual me amó y se entregó a sí mismo por mí.
Galatians 2:20

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White Lake (on the Patio of a Friend)

an imitation of Billy Collins In a Room of a Thousand Miles

I like to write about where I am
where I am sitting: the wooden patio
across from an empty pool,
an the old man next door chopping wood,
a pine tree, the yellow tulips bent in the wind,
and when I drink water from a bottle
or a metal can of Dew
I will write a line about
the CRUNCH–the metal in between
my fingers and my thumb.

My friend’s dog Leo thinks I ought to open
the screen door and let him in.
He sticks out his tongue. Pants. Perhaps
he thinks I ought to write the desert
the in-between Douglas and Agua Prieta
the world of pointy cactus and motion
sensors in the mountains.

“I’ll try again,” I say, and travel back
to the chair beside the stool.
Wiggle my toes beside God’s word
and God Bless You,
Mr. Rosewater. The chair faces
the chain-linked fence.
I think about the future of US.
I consider planting a garden between US
and Mexico perennials come back every year.
I visualize mint, tomatoes, forget-me-
nots under an unforgiving desert

sun, and then–just between the two
of US–I take a swig of water and in imitation
of Gipson, Steinbeck, London
I pick up my host’s pen
and write the dog on this side
of the links
the one that barks
pauses
barks again.