Playing in the Dark

There are a number of quarries in and around Knoxville where lanky, dusty men used to blast marble out of the hills before the Depression. In fact, if you read the odd town-centric indie publication here or there, you’ll eventually dig your way into a vein of prose in which some loafered, office-bound journalist will wax poetic about the geological intricacies of East Tennessee’s pink marble. We should all dream so big. In earnest, marble from Mead’s Quarry has made it all the way to New York and the District of Columbia. These old holes in the ground, however, have become the stuff of dreams nowadays. They tend to attract college students and hometown creatures alike to their emerald green waters, beckoning the sweltering and the summer-skinned to the coolness of placid depths. As for myself, though, I go in the deep dark of winter.

Read More

Lamentations for Today

This is a collection of laments I wrote for a worship service I led with a friend in my church. Modern worship is a bit too positive sometimes, but biblical worship makes room for disappointment, frustration, and mourning. Modern worship usually praises the singer as much as the Sung To, while these laments—written topically for those things that get us down —remind us that He’s God, we’re not, and that’s okay. Really, it’s okay. Even when it totally is not okay, it’s still okay. Or it’s going to be. The ship may totally go down with all of us on it, but it will still be okay. Okay?

ABUSE OF POWER
When those enthroned usurp
Sanctity from those in their care
And when the lowly seek status
In yet more enthroning –
Lord, have mercy on us.

THE AGE OF DISTRACTION
When deep-rooted wisdom is pruned by short-cutted data,
When the senses are dulled by the sensual,
When Creation is blurred by the created
And the created grow bored with Creation –
Lord, have mercy on us.

UNRESOLVED HOPE / UNANSWERED PRAYER
When we listen in chambers of silence,
When we search through tunnels that grow,
When we hope against nature, believe against science,
And stand firm in the face of a daunting approach –
Lord, have mercy on us.

BREVITY OF LIFE
When we count our days like apples
Dropping from the brittle branches of drought,
When a child goes with more unrealized tomorrows
Than remembered yesterdays,
When our bodies no longer carry or recall
Or agree to nourish our weight –
Lord, have mercy on us.

LACK OF PROVISION
When the cupboards we maintenance
Are as bare as brand new,
When the fields we tend
Yield nothing or less,
When a paycheck is the substance
Of things hoped and unheld –
Lord, have mercy on us.

APATHY
When I simply cannot be asked,
When tragedy holds harmony with gossip,
When I prefer screens to windows, sleek skin to whole hearts,
Pabst Blue Ribbon and pumpkin spice
To pouring out spirit or providing sanctuary,
When the nation, the state, the city, my people
Can all go blank-verb themselves –
Lord, have mercy on us.

IN ANXIETY / DESPAIR / DEPRESSION
When sleep beyond rest,
When obscurity be my bed,
When the locust devours my ties to the truth
And when I open the window for his return –
Lord, have mercy on us.

Read More

The Other Endgame

First things first: spoiler alert. This is going to get messy, because I got messy.

I got the last good seat at the 9:30 showing of Avengers: Endgame—the only seat left from which I wouldn’t have to crane my neck at an obtuse angle. I shuffled in to the row, which was mostly empty at that point, except for the dating couple next to my seat. I apologized before plopping down beside the lady, which made the moment more awkward than it would have been anyway. A little while later, a large man and his young son scooted past us and sat next to me. These were to be my companions for the journey. We had come for entertainment, yes, but also for closure. After twenty-one films of waiting for post-credits questions, we demanded answers.

Read More

Thoughts on Finishing the Work

On Good Friday, Bill Wolf and a gigantic cadre of musicians brought Wolf’s Easter: Stories & Songs show back home to Knoxville. It was the show’s first return to the city in five years and its first time at the historic Bijou Theatre. It was also the culmination of many months of effort for the players and the production team.

It ended with me driving home in the rain. Of course, even then, it was never really over.

Read More

Easter Stories and Songs

This week leading up to Easter is referred to as Holy Week, or Passion Week, in many of our Christian traditions. We set aside this week to read through the Gospel accounts and remember the final days and sufferings of Christ. Good Friday is when we generally mark the crucifixion, where Jesus sacrificed himself for our atonement.

Friday night at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. Bill Wolf, theologian and singer-songwriter – and Foundling House contributer, will be presenting Easter Stories and Songs alongside a collection of talented musicians. The evening will be a mixture of narrative storytelling interspersed with music and scripture of the final days of Christ leading up to His death on the cross and His resurrection.

Read More

When I think of Heaven: What It Means to Have a Favorite Band

I met my then-future wife in college. Our first date was on December 17, 1996, and just a few days afterward, we each went home for Christmas, her to Hot Springs, AR and me to Orlando. We were a time zone away from each other, and cell phones were yet to be a thing. I knew I’d be talking to her sparingly, and I also knew I was deeply smitten. It’s a hard place to be—young, in new love, and a thousand miles apart.

Read More