Saturday, March 26, 2005
Kronkles of Freedom
"Yeah, whaddya want?" Might as well start out feisty. I'm in a fey mood.
I sink into the seat. Nate is somehow in the back seat; with this one all the way back, how does he fit? Deb puts the car in gear and we're on our way. She makes the first turn without trouble and I turn off navigation mode.
"I hope you don't mind. I'm very tired, so may not make much sense tonight."
"Why?" Deb asks. "What's been happening?"
"I don't know how to say it. Has to do with that story I sent."
"The 'Junkyard Dog' one?"
"Yah. It started a while back, with relationships. I really don't know what human relationships are for, and a few weeks ago I just gave up on trying to make things go as I thought they should. I decided that if I were going to get into any of that God would have to teach me how. Concentrating on God instead led to that confrontation with the Junkyard Dog, and now he's, well, just gone."
"What is that?" Nate asks.
"Junkyard Dog is... a part of me... or an aspect of my personality. Judgment. I think it's there to keep me out of trouble, but the problem is that he has a hair trigger and I never really know where the boundary is. Cross the boundary and he comes out. If I get too free, he pulls me back. That's why last Sunday was so interesting; I've never really seen him in action the way I did that night, when he got very upset, went for God, couldn't reach him and turned on me. Then the Holy Spirit stopped everything and the Junkyard Dog has been powerless ever since. I'm sort of stunned, still, and not sure what to do. How do I live without him?"
"What does that do?"
"Keeps me out of trouble." But the limits are set way to close. "I think God doesn't like that. I never know when I'm going to be attacked, so I have to keep to a small place. I just can't take those attacks any more. Do I really believe that God has this under control? I hardly dare to. Nothing has worked in the past, so I take tiny steps over where I think the boundary is and wait for attack."
By this time our food has arrived. Killer Shrimp is busy tonight. I let Debbie order the wine because she knows more about it than I do, and it turns out to be good. A strong red. She has her usual pinot grigio, which I've recently learned is a variety of wine, not a trade name as I'd
"Can you help me buy a bike?"
Oh, Nate, are you sure you want my help? My bike cost more than my car.
"OK. But you have to bribe me."
"Meet me on the beach and do a sculpture."
"OK, man, we can do that. What time?"
"That won't work, Babe. We're having breakfast with Carl."
"Oh, that's right. Maybe we can go earlier."
"The Email you sent out. 'Zeality.' Ummm..." Debbie turns a bit red, and looks down. I think I'm in trouble. "Has anyone called you about it?"
"No. As usual, I've heard nothing from anyone."
"We got a call from Eric. He's concerned about our life group."
Nate adds, "He also called Carl, and then other leaders called him. They think the group is having problems. So we're going out tomorrow to talk about that, where the group is going."
"As I wrote that I wondered what might happen. I didn't mention Carl's name, did I?"
"It wouldn't have been hard to figure out, though." I pause. "I wonder why they got upset with this one. They've gotten the other stories about this group. Eric's the only Mosaic leader who's on the Weird Email list." Later on I remember that we have an agreement: I gave him permission to distribute stories as he saw fit. "I thought about whether to write that, but, truth be told, I'm really tired of all of that. What happened to freedom?"
Wine is different from beer. Perhaps some people drink to muzzle their own Junkyard Dogs. With mine out of action the wine is even more effective. I'm on a roll. "In vino veritas."
"In vino veritas. Latin. 'In wine is truth.' Normal censorship is washed away."
"Wine. Vino. Vineyard. The same word!" Nate says.
"Yes. The same root. The Latin W is pronounced as our V."
"I understand what churches are trying to do. They want to make disciples. But don't they trust the Holy Spirit? People get saved, go to church, and it's like stepping from one cage to another. If Jesus died to make the prisoners free, then were the hell's the freedom?"
"They're in a hurry," Deb says. "They feel urgency, and that's a good thing. I guess. The Lord could come back in the next five minutes."
Nate, napkinless because we used them all as we ate, has nothing to do with his hands but fiddle around with the car key as he watches us talk. "Yes... but people can only do so much. God seems to be quite willing to spend any amount of time working on people. And only he can change people. I'm simply amazed that he took on the Junkyard Dog. If all he wants is service, he could have just issued the orders and stood back. I wonder why no one said anything to me about that story. I think they may be scared of me, or perhaps they're afraid that criticism will make me turn away. Or maybe I'm just too weird."
"I could have sworn Erwin gave me a dirty look last Sunday, but it might have been imagination."
"We're all weird," Nate says.
"Yes. That's why we're together."
"Did you hear that," Deb asks. "I'm weird!"
Debbie has a very mobile face, expression coming and going quickly, like Nate's fingers as he talks. She's sitting in the cone of light from an overhead fixture that illuminates every feature.
"My mother said I had wrinkles on my forehead when I was born. Nate calls them 'kronkles.'" She smiles, producing kronkles.
"Oh, why are you giving away all our secret words?"
I know a man at work who is so vain that he gets regular Botox injections in his forehead to take out the wrinkles. The result is smoothness, yes, but it's a dead smoothness. No expression. I much prefer Debbie's expressiveness, even if it isn't fashionable. It's human, as God made her, as are Nate's quick hands.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father." (John 8:31-38 NIV)
The problem is that none of us knows what real freedom is. The church is modelled after society because that's what's familiar. Take that structure away and you're left out there on the weird edge of life, wondering what comes next and also wondering just who is going to come howling in from the wilderness, or from some dark hole inside, for the sole purpose and ugly fun of grabbing you by the throat and throwing you back into jail.
I am not going back. I don't care what it takes or who I have to fight to stay free. God muzzled the Junkyard Dog-god that ruled my life for 40-odd years, but it will take time to get rid of the habits he brought about. I know where the boundaries are. I've walked the edge often enough, looking out, wanting freedom. The bars are now removed. No teeth will come after me in the night. Am I brave enough to really believe this and act on it? Probably not. Bravery comes from the Holy Spirit, not me. So does freedom and individuality. May our kronkles live forever in an expression of God's lively love.
2005 March 26 (Midnight Missive)
Posted to Blog after much indecisiveness April 5