I got the big V on Friday. Today I’m strung out on Percocet, bag of frozen peas where no frozen peas have gone before, lap top next to me and I’m making final outlines and plans for tomorrow’s big trip. I’m going on a sabbatical – me, my drugs, my peas and two suitcases of books.
I taught the beatitudes to the folks at IKON a year and a half ago and became obsessed with these eight diminutive hand grenade blessings Jesus lobbed into the souls of curiosity seekers and followers gathered on a hillside two thousand years. “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, those who mourn, the meek…” Deceptively simple. Counterintuitive and peculiar. Only God could write such blasphemy. “Blessed are those who make peace, who are persecuted…”
I was so undone and inspired that I wrote eleven songs and recorded one more for WHITE FLAG, an album reflecting on these axioms from the Sermon on the Mount. Teaching and singing them didn’t shake the obsession for understanding and communicating them though. I’ve continued to read and wrestle and now have screens of notes and a head full of stories and observations too large for verses and chorus or thirty minute discourses.
So I’m heading to a cabin in the woods for a week to download all that I’ve learned about the beatitudes into book form. The hope is that this material will be enjoyable and challenging to read, as comforting and controversial as the day they were spoken. I hope this book is used to provoke more study and conversation by those who read it and that disciples are forged from mere believers.
But that seems a bit lofty for me right now. Right now, waddling about the house like a half-retarded penguin, with pillow hair and scraggly beard, bad breath and melting produce between my legs, I feel incredibly ordinary – or even less. And while that once discouraged me from picking up a guitar or singing for strangers, I’ve now learned that the ordinary – the less than ordinary even – when infused with Divine direction and passion and power, can accomplish the lofty: the limping can leap. And so I have this tingle in me tonight that is either a side effect of heavy medication or anticipation of and confidence in what God can and might just say through me this week. This is the final full brain dump of hours of study, prayer, inspiration and questioning surrounding the beatitudes.
No matter how good or not good this book ends up being, it just feels good to tingle again like I did years ago sitting scared on my garage floor working out the chorus of Should I Tell Them. It feels good to feel too small for the occasion – to feel the weight of the opportunity before me, to be fearful, to try anyway, to be alone pondering and carefully joyfully painting God with a new kind of brush.
See you when I return in about a week – hopefully with a finished book and a thawed…you know.