11.21.2010

On the Writer's Pen

Its a dangerous thing for a writer to pick up a pen. And dangerous to put it down, i suppose. In the first case, there is danger in what might be said. Though, dangerous things are said all the time. Its no different to write them down. It is perhaps better to write them down than to keep dangerous things inside. And that is the thought that leads me to the second case, the case of the writer who retreats her pen back into her pocket. Whether her motive be lethargy or fear, the result is similar: dangerous things stay inside. And along with them, the safety that comes from un-penning dangers with a pen.

9.14.2010

The Living Room is Not a Place to Live

This is the next poem in the "series" (only a series because its the only terrible poetry I write), after "Quiet Light."

The porch is a nice place to sit,
if you're comfortable.
It seems like we should be,
my twin
and I,
those with the same faces often are.
But the confusion keeps us from depth
of understanding.
So, come in.
The living room is an area for furthering knowledge.
Not all together comfortable,
it's more of a parlor.
Stiffer,
but a start.
We speak in pleasantries.

6.28.2010

Summer Update.

This is a really long post. Be forewarned.

Hello my dearest friends and family,

Well, this is an update on my summer. Sorry I haven't gotten one out yet, and sorry in advance that I may not get another one out before I leave here. This is a full summer, but also a restful one, a life-changing one, a living-learning one, and a heart and mind-expanding one. I wish you could all be here and meet my friends. By friends, I mean the people in the community I live in (college students here to learn about urban ministry and serving in all different kinds of internships), the people I work alongside (8 other interns and 5 staff members on Dry Bones staff), and the people I have met on the streets (hundreds of street kids...ranging from little kids to 50-year-olds). I love these people and I have fallen in love with Denver because of them. I don't know whether or not I will ultimately end up here, but it certainly has a piece of my heart.

I am not going to plunge into facts about my days. Suffice it to say, I have class on mondays (soul care, social work class, and movie discussion) and fridays (history of denver and urban centers conglomerate/urban theology) and I work all day on Tuesdays-Saturdays with Dry Bones. I build relationships with the street kids(ages 14-25ish) and help host/teach/act as a bridge for the suburban youth groups that come in weekly on what we like to call “vision trips” (some of them think they are coming on missions trips to bring Jesus to the city...they quickly discover that He is already there...and will be there when they leave...and is bigger than they ever imagined). It's really sweet. I LOVE giving what we call “turf tours,” which are tours of the not-so-oft-seen-parts of the city, a tour that talks about what the city values, gives more of the perspective of the street kids, and teaches about many of the struggles faced by those on the street, physically and mentally. I wish I could take you all on one, tomorrow. So that's that. When the youth group leaves we challenge them to get to know their city in this way. On the tour we first pray the simple prayer that the Lord will “open our eyes to see the city as He sees it.” We send them out hoping they will pray the same in their places of occupancy.

Great. Now on to my mental/heart life:

We are taking a class called “City of Joy” on Fridays with an old friend of the family, a brilliant Denver Seminary Professor, and a wonderfully kind man, named Jeff Johnson. One of the most poignant lessons thus far (though most of us confess we love every class and could listen to the man talk for hours and hours) was one he taught in a park by his house. He opened up to Judges 19 with a heavy content warning and, according to my journal from later that day, this is what was taught- “Jeff Johnson taught a beautiful and poignant class yesterday on Judges 19. The passage is about the brutal death of an unnamed woman, a sex slave, at the hands of a Levite (who claimed to love her, and was on a journey to “speak tenderly to her” to convince her to return home with him), resulting in subsequent wars for hundreds of years. This began with a call to action in the form of 12 mutilated pieces of this woman's body going out throughout the land after she had been gang raped by men in the tribe of Benjamin on their way through their land.

Apparently this gross misconduct seemed, to him, to warrant an equally gross action. When the people saw it they said “such a thing has never happened or been seen since the day the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt; consider it, take counsel, and speak.” They did not do the first two. The people simply “spoke.” They declared war on Benjamin, the initial perpetrators of a crime against the woman, and killed all their men. There was not a pause to reflect on the pain and atrocity, just quick action. Suffering met with more suffering. When the Levite was cutting up the woman, it says that he (in Hebrew) chose the body, took it, broke it, and sent it. This language seems to directly parallel Christ's bodily death, as well as communion language. Also, this unnamed woman is from Bethlehem. Typology? Is Christ telling us that he is the suffering, nameless, sex slave, brutally murdered and betrayed by those who claimed to love him?

Jeff says yes. I think I say yes too. This is theology from below. This passage teaches us to pause and reflect, like the Israelites did not, on the atrocities in the world, in fact to identify with them, feel them, not perpetuate them by quick action or demean them by speedily moving past them. Sit in the pain. As Dry Bones philosophy goes, grace, like water, flows down. Grace pools up in the low places, in the bleeding and broken places. We sit there and are overwhelmed by grace flowing down....

Read Psalm 10
Read Matthew 25:45

Jesus gives us permission to put him into the story of Judges 19, into the cry of the Psalmist and into the lives of people in the low places in our daily life.”

Jeff taught us this lesson in a park, a park he later shared was the site of a murder of a 21-year-old woman, unknown by most. We sat uncomfortably in the heaviness of that event for a bit. We silently prayed for the unnamed and the faceless in our own communities, we spoke the names of those in the low places, the people the Jesus taught us to care for. Those people seemed all of a sudden so very sacred, the kind of people that Christ would identify Himself with.

I meet Jesus every day on the streets. The heroin addicts, the prostitutes, the HURTING. There are lots of stories like this in the Bible, but sometimes we don't read it like this. We read it for rules, for laws to govern our lives. We are learning this summer to read the Bible with a divine imagination, and from below. A theology of the suffering, a theology that, for me at least, takes a LOT of imagination since physical struggles are pretty far from the physically blessed life I have had.

These things are, however, transferrable to everyday life. Everyday we are so near to the privately hurting and broken, somedays we are the hurting and the broken. This summer is a summer about learning to sit in those hurting places for a little longer than may feel comfortable so that I can be an agent of grace or experience that grace myself, the grace that pools up in the low places.

May the Lord bless and keep you, make his face shine upon you, lift up his countenance upon you, be gracious to you, and give you peace.

Love you all a ton and a half,
Annie Marie Dimond

P.S. You should really check out this website. My picture is on it...if that helps:
drybonesdenver.org

6.06.2010

Dry Bones Denver

Check it out folks. Watch the video on the home page--this made many a team member cry, and we haven't even met most of these people yet.

http://drybonesdenver.org/updates/home

Still lovin' this place.

6.03.2010

It's Colorado Time.

This Denver place is cool.
These people are cool.
These ministries are cool.
The backpacking trip I just took into the mountains was cool.

Dang, folks.

Seriously. I have been here less than a week and I am blown away by the devotion of the people I have met to love the each other, the least of these, and the city of Denver in general. No imperialism. Just relationships. Not "here I have this for you, this is what you need." Just "hey, lets be friends. I'll meet the needs you ask me to meet, and you'll meet the needs I ask you to meet. That's what friends do."

I love it. Here is the mission statement of Dry Bones Denver, the place I will be interning 40-50 hours weekly: "In the context of relationships, serving and loving in the way of Jesus, we meet the spiritual and physical needs of homeless youth and young adults. We seek to equip, inspire, and deploy believers to relieve suffering, facilitate reconciliation, and free the heart to love."

Everything happens in the context of relationship, just how it should be.

5.03.2010

My Memory

I have a terrible memory. This morning my friend told me that I actually wrote that poem in college. Though I have no recollection of it, and though i found it in my high school file box, it seems that I wrote it in my interpersonal communication class.

I could've sworn I wrote it in high school. Man. My memory is that of a 95 year old woman.

5.01.2010

Quiet Light

[I wrote this in high school. I don't do poetry. There is no rhythm. I like it.]

noiseless,
hum of the porch light.
unfortunate, for her.
not for the doppleganger,
though.
a perfect decibel.
silence exudes from her halt;
not screeching to or grinding to,
for that matter.
the self similar knocks at the door.
it is loud, louder,
when it's quiet,
but not when it's louder, loudest.
she rewishes the noise,
from the twin,
who has not such powers.
the luck.
the light was on, welcoming.
switch was broken,
would have been off,
maybe.
the luck.
come in, I guess.
never a good time for them to break.
switches, that is.
nor to meet herself,
on the porch.

4.17.2010

Straight Outta the Echo

For those unaware, the Echo is our student newspaper. I wrote this article the week before National Student Leadership Conference, which was, for lack of a more creative word: AWESOME, and also called "RE: imagine, RE: create, RE: new". But, more on that later. Here is the article:

This is the section of the paper that, in general, deals with art as we most often conceive of it—movies, music, books, television. I would like us to move behind much of what we consider good art to the place from whence it came. The creative mind.

To be fair, we should probably back up one more step and ask where our creative minds came from, but that's beyond the scope of this little piece. We will just answer the question—we were created by a more perfectly creative mind, in whose image we are also made. And because of this fact, I come to what I really want to say: it is not just the “artists,” as classically understood, who have a creative role to play in this world. We all do.

After all, what does the best art do? Bring joy, heighten awareness, make us ask difficult questions, help us contextualize, impress us with the power and capacity of the human mind, enrich our lives in a variety of ways, juxtaposition things to reveal a new perspective, et cetera. I do not want to diminish actual works of art and their role in our lives, only to say that if you find yourself in a similar place as me—with an inability to paint, draw, compose music, or write a good story—this does not diminish your responsibility to creatively act in the world.

We don't talk like this often, so it might be a bit of a challenge to discover what this actually means, and then looks like. Fortunately for us, the Creator who made us, made us in a variety of ways, with a variety of passions, gifts and backgrounds and an infinitesimal number of ways for our creativity to manifest. We should start trying some of those out. I can't really imagine what life would be like if we taught and encouraged thinking, dreaming, relating, speaking, and formulating creatively. I like to call it “life art.” Maybe that's not a very creative name. No doubt this kind of creativity already occurs, but no doubt there is a lot of room to grow into this part our true selves.

Some might say that life wouldn't change too drastically if we didn't have art. Or, that we don't need art, so we sure don't need this “life art.” I beg to differ. Surely, life would still be full of circumstances in which we encounter deep pain, confusion, darkness, and sorrow. But, I think that creative approaches to dealing with the difficult reality of what we have faced, are facing and will face in this world are life giving.

Life art (as well as art classically understood) can bring context for our pain, clarity in or confusion, light in our darkness, and redemption to our sorrow. It gets to us in ways that other things can't. It surprises us. It changes us. It is so very unnatural that it jars us out of our normal ways of being, thinking and doing, and renews us, and we need that. If we all did it, it might be a bit like creating a life-giving culture that we could draw people into, kind of like the Kingdom of God. That seems important to me.

4.13.2010

Continual Clanging of Symbols

This is an excerpt from Charles Williams' "Bors to Elayne: on the King's Coins"

"...Money is the medium of exchange.

Taliessin's look darkened; his hand shook
while he touched the dragons; he said 'We had a good thought.
Sir, if you made verse you would doubt symbols.
I am afraid of the little loosed dragons.
When the means are autonomous, they are deadly; when words
escape from verse they hurry to rape souls;
when sensation slips from intellect, expect the tyrant;
the brood of carriers levels the good they carry.
We have taught our images to be free; are we glad?
are we glad to have brought convenient heresy to Logres?'

The Archbishop answered the lords;
his worlds went up through a slope of calm air:
'Might may take symbols and folly make treasure,
and greed bid God, who hides himself for man's pleasure
by occasion, hide himself essentially: this abides--
that the everlasting house the soul discovers
is always another's; we must lose our own ends;
we must always live in the habitation of our lovers,
my friend's shelter for me, mine for him.
This is the way of this world in the day of that other's ;
make yourselves friends by means of the riches of iniquity,
for the wealth of the self is the health of the self exchanged.
What saith Heracleitus?--and what is the City's breath?--
dying each other's life, living each other's death.
Money is a medium of exchange."


This whole poem gives various perspectives on money as the/a medium of exchange. This beautiful excerpt, though, discusses money as "a" medium of exchange. Render (exchange) to Caesar what is Caesar's, and God what is God's. And what is God's exchange medium? Love? Acts of love? Symbols of love? Money is one of those, but oh, there are so many more. "My friend's shelter for me, mine for him," and "dying each other's life, living each other's death." This is beautiful exchange. This is symbolic love. This is a love that points to something important, something outside of ourselves.

4.03.2010

Play the Cymbals for Symbols.

I never know what to name my blog posts. So, I end up with stupid titles like this one, and think of all the cheesiest ways to relate it back to the intended blog message. I am not going to do that to you.

Before I begin talking about Symbols, and why they have been a recurring theme this week, please take a minute to stare at "symbol" and "cymbal." What an odd conjunction of letters. It only takes four seconds before I think they are misspelled. Weird words.

Really though, Symbols.

Monday night my Marion Spring Break team went to the Community School of the Arts and met with the director. He was a dynamic, talkative guy who somehow got on the subject of not feeling comfortable in churches. He doesn't like the raising of hands or "making a show" in church. I understand that. I started thinking about how potentially a lot of artists might not feel very comfortable in church settings. Most churches have cultural symbols that they get attached to and stick to. They are inherited symbols, and because they come from the Church, we don't question their purpose. We can tell that this is true when we go into churches in which we know that the regular order of worship hasn't changed at all since the Grandmothers were toddlers in the very same church. This isn't bad, maybe. This is just an observation. Unless we create them, or discover something detrimental about the old ones, symbols in churches rarely change--even our language doesn't change.

I can see why this would be a problem for the artistic crowd (and thus should potentially be a problem the church must address). Artists create symbols all the time. It is their mind's work to find new ways to represent truth and beauty and goodness in some powerful manifestation. It is the refreshing and readjusting of these symbols that keeps our minds renewed. After all, a symbol is not an end in itself, it always represents something. If we are creating symbols that are true to what they represent, then we should not be worried that a symbol change will skew the true of the message. When we worry about symbol renewal, we worry about breaking out of tradition, we worry about "not doing something the way its always been done." And, in my personal opinion, this often leads us to worship the symbol instead of that which it represents.

This is a difficult task in a church. After all, many powerful symbols have already been created, and are GOOD. Communion, baptism, songs of worship, etc., are all good, and quite important, really. But, not as important as what they represent. If we do not need to renew these symbols, then we do need to renew the way we see them, lest they become dead practices of a dead people.

I do not know how all of this works, but I think that the people of American Christianity (for that is the only culture of Christianity I know), hold on to many a symbol, in many a denomination, and have become partial to and partisan about their symbols. This does not mean that we should go out and start new churches in cities where there are already hundreds, but it does mean that we should come into who we are a creative beings and breathe new, God-given life into the symbols and traditions in the buildings we meet in every Sunday, of every week.

After all, would it be too terrible if a Methodist Church recited a liturgy, or if we learned to powerfully use everyday language instead of "Christianese" when we talked with people? Sounds crazy, I know. Sometimes, though, I think we need crazy to wake us up from complacent rhythms of everyday life.

(This thought process was spurred on by a visit to an Episcopal Church in Marion during this Holy Week. Each service was VERY powerful to me. I had never really experienced liturgy before, and was VERY impressed by the power of the new symbols I was witness too).

2.24.2010

The Picture.

In George MacDonald's book, The Wise Woman, there is a scene in which a girl stands in front of a picture. The picture is what she wishes for. A girl, much like her, standing on a stream, unassuming, good. She wants to be that little girl, and as soon as she wants it, she is allowed into the picture. She steps in, and realizes that the idealization of the situation of the little girl was a misstep, for the other little girl's life was not at all free of problem or pain.

In my C.S. Lewis and friends class, my professor asked us to write a description of our picture--the ideal situation--the one that we convince ourselves to believe would be better, our "if only" picture. We read them to each other after ten minutes of writing. Here is what I wrote. It is not very well written, after all, it was more of a stream of consciousness, 10-minute endeavor. But, there is a beauty in the rawness of an admittance of our ideals as they come to us.

The little girl was quite puzzled by the first picture that she came upon. It was much like an infinite regress of pictures. A picture, of a picture, of a picture, of a picture, of a picture, of a picture of a, well, picture. And she supposed it would go on forever. When she finally got past the confusing nature of the picture itself, her eyes rested on the "initial picture," the first layer, and she realized that it was a girl, much like herself, at least in station, staring at a picture, eerily like herself, and then, of course, she realized that just as she (the onlooker) was looking at a picture of a picture of a picture of a picture, etc, so was the little girl in the picture. There was one primary difference, however, and that was that the girl in the picture was not half as confused by the picture as the little girl outside of the picture. She was, it seemed, quite a bit more satisfied with her understanding of the picture. The little girl was immediately envious of the girl once removed. Upon further reflection, the little girl was almost angry at the little girl for her wise and simple looking face and posture in the midst of what seemed to be such an overwhelmingly complex visual conundrum. Her anger at once turned to conceit. I deserve such wisdom and understanding, thought the little girl. That should be me. Things would be infinitely better if I could understand things like infinity, as this girl in the picture seems to. And suddenly, she found herself in the picture. It looked different, but the same...

2.16.2010

The Power of Contrary Choice.

Do we have it?

This is the question that has pitted the Arminians and the Calvinists/Libertarians and the Determinists against each other for far too long. This blog post will not erase that divide. This blog post is my way to process the opinions of two devout groups represented in great number (for both "sides") that happen to be personal friends of mine.

So, we have the Calvinists. They want to "protect" (in a sense) the sovereignty of God. He is all powerful, knowing, good, et cetera. Thus, nothing happens unless it has been directly ordained and predestined by Him. Those who are Christians are chosen, they have to be, because they cannot, in their fallen state, ever really choose God. His grace is irresistible to them because He has opened their hearts and minds to receive Him.

Also, we have the Arminians. They want to "protect" (in a sense) free will. After all, they say, worship means nothing if it is compelled, if the world is just a mechanism and we are puppets on a string. Those who are Christians have seen the light and are living with the mission to help others find the Lord, because that is their job. No one is chosen, or denied salvation, they just need to be told. And, when they are, they have the ability to choose whether or not this is something they will believe.

[these may not be entirely accurate representations of what some adherents of these views believe. That is ok, the point is that I don't end solidly in their camp anyway.]

There are many, myself included, who just find the situation to be a little more intricate, mysterious, nuanced, et cetera than either of these views afford. Now, it will remain those things, even if I choose to formulate my beliefs in a different way. We have to put our beliefs into some sort of system in order to think of them. So, I will use John Donne's Holy Sonnet #14 (which has undoubtedly been cited before on my blog) to elucidate this problem, this pull that we feel between choice and compulsion, and then proceed to analytically process an "answer" to such a problem.

Here is is:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captivated, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.



This poem, it seems, is a choice. The key moment is when Donne says, "Take me to you, imprison me." He wrestles with his inability to participate in the good, while, in fact, participating in the good decision to give over his reason, his morality, his life, to this "three person'd God." It is as if that is the only good choice he can make. He can make the opposite choice, it seems, but this is the only one that is truly life-giving. This decision, however, insinuates that he desire is to be compelled in a sort of "irresistible grace" sort of way. He is asking to be compelled to the point of imprisonment for the good, to God.

And so he lives in this tension, as I think we all do. We, on my view, by the grace of God, are free to choose Him (and we have this choice to bring Him glory), but when we are choosing Him, we are asking that he take away this freedom of contrary choice so that we no longer have freedom from external compulsion, but instead, are free to do his will. (Though this power of contrary choice hasn't really left us...but maybe it will in Heaven?!) But, all the while, this is a choice we have made to give over this power, but its also a choice he has given us. So, its not really up to us, but it is because He let it be so that our worship might be genuine, but then we give it back to Him because we, tainted by sin cannot genuinely worship, in which case, by His guidance, we must act.


Oh my. Enough for today.

1.14.2010

Stop. Motion. Sledding.

video
Mark, Gracie, Nathan, and I had a grand old time on New Year's Eve day. We went sledding on the only one (man-made) hill in Rochester, IN. Love it.

1.11.2010

It's Complicated.

No, this is not a post intended to review Meryl Streep's new blockbuster hit (joke).
Its not too complicated, even based on the commercials, to know that that one isn't really worth my time.

But, there are some things that are really complicated. Such as:

1. When you are walking outside in the freezing cold, and have forgotten your gloves, where do you put your hands? You could leave them in the cold, or you could put them in your pocket. It may seem like an easy choice, but consider, also, the ice on the ground. If you fall you need your hands--and they are not easily accessible when they are hidden in your pockets.

2. (And the real reason for this post, inspired by today's post-spanish class events) Who you are, versus who other people think you are. It, at first glance, doesn't seem like a complicated problem. I, after all, am the only one with access to my mind, and thus, a full analysis of it. How much of who I am is what resides in my mind, though? It can't be all of it. Though I may be the only with access to the inside of me, I am also the only one without access to visual or aural perception of myself from without. While motivations and desires (which exist somewhere outside the physical) are key in comprising who we are, it must also be said that many of these thoughts/beliefs/motivations, are not really that real unless incarnated. Once they become incarnate, we are no longer their only perceiver, others can perceive and interact with them. While others might be able to perceive these actions/manifestations/incarnations, this is not directly correlated to a correct appraisal of motivations/thoughts/desires that gave birth to said actions/manifestations/incarnations. [Such causes become more clear, however, in people whose actions seem to follow a discernible pattern, coherently interacting with other motivations, causing correlated action, in different areas of their life. So, it seems that we are the only ones that can understand, with certainty why it is that we do things--or can we? To some extent, probably, and yes, probably better than those around us, however, this may take a higher view of human mental life than I would like to assume. Often (and i think this is biblical) if we aren't aware of the warring passions in our minds, and even if we are, it can become overwhelmingly confusing to discern specific motivations and correlate them to specific actions. It takes work, like most complicated things.

So.

Today we tried to work to a better understanding of ourselves. And by "we" I refer to Mark, Jordan, and Steve. We went through the Strengths Finder 2.0 book (using it more for our own purposes than testing purposes), looking through the list of 30-some adjectives or "strengths" in order to help further identify the gaps in our own lives between perceived motivation from within and perceived motivation from without. There were some discrepancies, not many, but instead of discouraging me by showing how much people, even people around me, don't understand me, it served to be a cool time of encouragement--like a "hey annie, you might not think that this is you, and even if it is not natural to you, you do this, which means this, and it is helpful in this way," or a "hey, annie, you may lack any (or "annie" if that joke is thrown out) empathy, but you are working on it, and we appreciate you for the strengths you do have, and we aren't gonna throw you out because you suck at identifying with peoples hurts."

That is cool. I'm pretty sure that it's part of being the body of Christ--reflecting back to one another the characteristics we have been gifted with, helping one another see where each excels, and where each falls short(of the glory of God), and loving each in either case. This also might be a part of loving God with our mind--the pursuit of understanding Him, through understanding who He created us to be.

Its complicated, but good.

1.02.2010

{compulsory}

Its the new year....I have to write a blog post. Everyone else is.
{Maybe I should make a new year's resolution to be less of a conformist}

-a half hour later-
I literally thought forever(a half hour) about what I could write.

I just can't think meaningfully about my life in years, or months, or weeks, or days.
So I won't.
{New Year's resolution: fulfilled}