Blue Light Specials

I attended a church in Philadelphia that would, mid-service, include a prayer of confession/repentance. We would read the prayer aloud, and then would bow our heads in a period of silent prayer and reflection. 

After a few moments, the person leading the time would say something to mark the end of the silence; 

“My friends, look up; these words are for you.” 

They would then speak of words of encouragement or glad tidings; a psalm perhaps.

For example:

CONFESSION/REPENTANCE

Lord God, you have shown us such love,
and stretched out your arms
to draw us into your embrace.
Yet we so often fail to show that love
within our lives,
or recognize its source.
Forgive our short-sightedness,
for the times we've failed to see your love
in the generosity of friend
or stranger,
the shoulder to cry on,
willing ear to listen,
a word of encouragement,
holding our hand that extra mile.
Forgive us for failing to notice
how much you care for us.

PRAYER/REFLECTION

“My friends look up, these words are you.”

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.

(PSALM 65:5-8)

+ TWO +

There’s ache bound up in every person — crack them open and they erupt like volcanoes. They love in furious gushes, like Texas oil wells. More grief and more dream than sand on the seashore. 

Every attempt I make to measure out a heart — yours, mine, a complete stranger’s — will be incomplete. Every attempt I make will be flawed. It will miss the mark. 

Pardon me, Lord, for my incomplete, opaque words.

Keep me loving, Father. Always, keep me seated at the table. Keep me asking questions. Keep me listening to that melodious, drunken ramble. Keep me listening to the trembling, anger-filled screed.

+ THREE +

I’m an introvert, and I don’t do well in crowds. I’m not terrible, but I’m far from a social butterfly. That said, I love a conversation with another person. I love the ebb and flow of a good, unpredictable dialogue with a friend or stranger. 

This is what breaks my heart about digital addiction — when people choose their phones over other people. When we seek communion on online walls and not with other people. 

Other people are full of their own thoughts/ideas you can’t control. They’ll act one way on Monday, and then Tuesday they’ll seem like a completely different person. If you open yourself to someone, you’re liable to be hurt or let down by them. You’re going to be disappointed and it’s going to be difficult. 

But with the devices we use nowadays, with technology and its infrastructure, we can craft relationships that’re wholly reliable, that won’t change from day to day, moment to moment. We can pull whatever we want and however much we want of it. And if we don’t like what we’re hearing, it’s not like we have to sit with it or work through anything. We don’t have to abide or endure. 

We can walk away at any moment. Unfollow, unfriend. Swipe left. 

We’d rather pour ourselves into our devices because we think we make our world bigger, better. We can create our very special echo chamber, full of our very special intimacies, full of very special Everyones who looks like us and sounds like us and loves the things we love and hates the things we hate and loves as we would love and hates as we would hate. 

Higher and higher go our walls. And we think we make our world bigger and better with every click and touch, but yet it feels like we’re nesting our hearts in bigger and better porcelain prisons, as if our hearts — fervent, burning-bush vibrant — existed at the core of all our emotional nestings — but every thing we do, every interaction is one more nesting, one more hiding, one more obscuring.   

There’s so much tenderness and face-to-face engagement we’ve lost, so much grace we’ve willingly forfeited — so much compassion we’ve forked over — so much intimacy we’ve rejected in the name of ‘connection.’ 

I believe there’s so much more to be had from a pure engagement — from time given, which — when two people do it, becomes time shared — honest time. Love-full time.

+ FOUR +

“My friends, look up; these words are for you.” 

Forgive me, Lord, I’m biting the hand that feeds me — anyone who’s reading this, you’re reading this because I posted a link on Instagram, on Twitter. I don’t know what to do.

Forgive me, Lord, I’m broken and busted. I’m aware there’s often a gap between the aspirations of my words and the works of my hands. 

Forgive me, Lord, when I seek to make intimacy and relationship out of parts that were never meant for the spirit and weight. Forgive me when I choose the thing over the person. 

“My friends, look up; these words are for you.”

I hope to see the light glow from within your eyes, not the blue glow of a screen bouncing off your face.

I hope to learn how to endure and abide with you. I hope to ebb and flow with. I hope for fast and slow with you. I hope for hurt and for the strength to lovingly slosh through the muck with you. 

I hope to be revealed with you, to de-nest hearts. Layer by layer. Grace by Grace, open space by open space. Heart given to heart. Hope giving way to hurt giving way to hope. 

“My friends, look up; these words are for you.”