Saturday, December 18, 2010

Live Video: Brother, Boy

The year is coming to a close, and there is still a bit to be done on the album I recorded this summer. As a Christmas gift from me to you, here's a live performance of the track "Brother, Boy" from a solo show I played a year ago in Bellingham. It's slightly different than how you'll hear it on the album; but, I hope you enjoy.

Also, be sure and check out what I like to think of as the first single from There There, "Hard Heart" at www.myspace.com/davidkwheeler. Friend me. Comment. Like. Tweet. Embed. And do whatever your social networking self likes to do, to your heart's content.

Brother, Boy (live)

David K Wheeler | Myspace Music Videos

Friday, December 3, 2010

Giving Away the Ghost

Thanks to all who participated in the Noel Ghosts Giveaway this week. And thanks especially to Jen, whose poem Annunciation won her a copy of Contingency Plans.


Annunciation

At daybreak I hear a footfall
In the cold grass,
I feel an immanence, the threat
Of an eclipse, a veil
Over the sky

I step into my living room
Where my small faux tree
Last glittered
With its tiny white lights,
Its heralding angel
Against the gladdened
White walls
Of my own home

There, on Colorado’s pale blue
Morning
An eight-foot Alpine Fir
It has taken hours to trim

There are packages everywhere.
A shining gold bicycle.
A vintage Star of Bethlehem quilt
Folded, tied with a red satin ribbon

Instantly, I reach for my clothing,
My keys, to escape
With the dog to the river,
To let the cold air wake me,
Searing my lungs
But the door
Has swollen shut

And then I see my guest:
She sits with her back to me
In the wicker rocker,
Reading,
From the immense
1870 family bible.

ii

I know this intruder;
I once slipped from her
Turning and eager
Like a dolphin
Lay in her arms
Reaching for her voice

Once she sat with me in the car
driving out to the half-empty
house on the market
Where I demanded
She sort the picture frames
Tumbling
From the walk-in closet

Later, I said to her
on the telephone
to the nursing home
“No more chocolates
The next day she collapsed
In the beauty parlor

After the funeral
At the garage sale
I sold the Limoges china,
The bird’s eye maple desk,
That which she would have
Passed to me
For thirty pieces of silver.

iii

We sip eggnog laced
with brandy
In a snowman cup;
A pine knot crackles
In the fireplace.

We muse over the packages
Hanging a chipped
Gilded angel ,
a hand-made miniature
rocking horse
on the lowest, barest branches

I surrender
to her steady, green-eyed
gaze: I anoint
her bruised feet,
I brush her dark hair.


Poem by Jenne’ Andrews.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Noel Ghosts: A Christmas Giveaway

Black Friday, I know. The Christmas season is irrefutably upon us. Advent is going to have us waiting and waiting; I thought I'd offer an early Yuletide gift. I'm giving away a copy of Contingency Plans: Poems, and to do so, it makes sense to say it with poetry, if you follow.

Two years ago, I wrote a poem about waking to find peace on earth and goodwill toward men, still haunted by my own poor spirits.


Christmas Morning

Almost, I didn't wake up,
and felt worse for wear.
I was so close to being swallowed
entirely by blankets and comforters
I never asked for but wrapped
around me anyway.

When I rose, I began
with sacred words mumbled
by unmoved lips and foggy head,
an insincere act meaning well.

To myself, I am
a person always out of breath,
quietly and leisurely being
driven out of my mind. And you
still regard me with a nod,
a smile, and a pleasant hello.


This week, I dare you to write a poem about Noel Ghosts. There's an old tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve. Charles Dickens is perhaps most famous for his: A Christmas Carol. Be they spirits of Christmases past, present, yet to come, or altogether fantasy, I love a good ghost story.

I'm happy to join with The High Calling for this Random Act of Poetry. Make sure to post a link to your poem in the comments by 6pm (PST), Thursday, December 2, for links and possible feature TS Poetry, Friday, December 3. Meanwhile, that same day the giveaway winner will be announced here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

As the Day Approaches

Watch carefully, for the advent of Contingency Plans. The final product will be upon us within the next couple weeks, first at Createspace, then Amazon retail, and eventually (my hope is) independent booksellers and live readings and events. In the meantime, you can hear more about the book at the Contingency Plans site, as well as the Facebook page.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bound Verse

And so we have ourselves a cover, thanks to photographer Kelly Langner Sauer. This fall, T.S. Poetry Press, L.L. Barkat, Marcus Goodyear, and I will be pleased to present everyone with my book, a collection of poems, Contingency Plans.

More details to follow. Pertinent bulletins with be posted as news warrants. For now, watch and wait with me; this is big.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Leaks in a Paper Boat

Studio time is easing—slowly—to a close on my music project, a full-length album with the newly minted title There There. By fall, nearly upon us, Chandler and I should be done with the nuts and bolts of recording. Then, it's on to mastering and production. I have no idea how long these things take.

To keep you all interested, to keep your minds at ease, I've leaked a track onto my site. The song is called "Hard Heart" and has turned out wonderfully thanks to the hard work put into it by my producer and sound engineer, and guitarist for this track, Chandler Stone (The Gramophones), whom you can hear singing along with Christine Bron (also from the Gramophones).

Other miscellanea you might be interested to note is that cover art is being done by D.J. Morgan (another Gramophone), who also plays drums on the whole album. We've come so far but have much farther to go. Thanks for bearing with me. Hope to have more for you soon.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: Sarah Cunningham

Call me superstitious, because there are plenty of people who already do, and because I am a firm believer that there is synchronicity in just about everything I read, both between the books themselves and with my own life, even if it’s only residual. Sarah Cunningham (Dear Church) meets me in the summer of significant change—changing jobs, changing cities, changing faith—as a teacher, someone with a fair share of experience to speak of in her memoir Picking Dandelions. And, as it turns out, Cunningham has gone before me in so, so many ways.

A pastor’s kid with a precocious understanding of God, salvation, baptism, and everything, Sarah Cunningham’s story is all about change, adaptation, growth, something I have learned, am learning, will continue to learn, being a pastor’s kid myself. Coming to faith early in life maybe makes your conversion story a mite dull, but, as Cunningham suggests and I emphatically agree, salvation is merely the point of entry; there is so much story left to tell. And this is a beautiful realization for those of us who have ever considered our faith a humdrum bit of happenstance: the grit of our story becomes what we do with this holy gift.

Because God is God over change, as he is God over everything else. I once had a counselor tell me, “God loves you just the way you are; and, he wants you to be different.” You could say that sums up some of the tension in my own story, as it is the steady revelation in the pages of Picking Dandelions. Cunningham goes from polite, pettycoated church girl, to social activist, to school teacher hell-bent on personal, spiritual renovation. She is a writer traversing the spectrum of her story, honestly, and without taking herself too seriously. A good summer read, out on the porch, with a tall glass of tea, maybe a slight breeze, the mosquitoes nipping at your ankles—something along the lines of Trespassers Will Be Baptized: The Unordained Memoir of a Preacher's Daughter, by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock; mixed with the tenacity of someone like Sara Miles, whose memoir Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion asserts action as a necessary quality of faith.

Sarah Cunningham saves the best for last: the capstone to her memoir is a rich, powerful exchange with her grandmother, a British matron, a war bride with the bittersweet truth about change, like a breeze laced in menthol—she is clarity. As Cunningham traces through her formative years and on into adulthood, you get the sense, as a reader, that she is digging upward, toward good air. And then, with her grandmother, she breaks the surface; you can tell there is more work to do, but, at last, there is a certain affirmation. Not resolution, but, rather, direction. Much-coveted direction—by all of us, especially we who are faint in the throes of change.

Sarah Cunningham is a high school teacher, part-time college professor, mother, and wife. She is a popular church and conference speaker, the author of Dear Church, and a contributor to several books, including unChristian. A reader as well as a writer, she is so kind to accept my personal recommendation for summer reading: Eating the Dinosaur—pop culture analysis is at its finest when editorialist Chuck Klosterman (Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs; Downtown Owl) guides the tour, and it's now available in paperback! [More on the subject here.]

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Quick Word

Poet and author L.L. Barkat, along with Marcus Goodyear, a couple gang members over at High Calling Blogs and T.S. Poetry, are some of the moving pieces behind T.S. Poetry Press. And starting now, they are two people who will be publishing my first book, a book of poetry. I have just submitted my manuscript for their review, a process that felt exactly like sending a piecemeal hunk of my innards through the E-mail, and after a summer of editing, we expect the book sometime in fall; but, like babies and meteorology, who can really tell with these things?

Meanwhile, this week I broke ground on my first full-length album. My friend Chandler and I have been logging some significant hours in his studio, and are sure to log plenty more with friends and musicians. The project has been on the back-burner of my mind for quite some time, and I’m thrilled to be laying the groundwork. July will be a busy month; but, between recording an LP and writing a book of poetry, I’d say I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Indeed, I wish every day could be July.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Simile

When I read, I hope to learn things, if not directly, then by a mysterious osmosis anyone who has claimed to be a writer—you know who you are—is, at least, vaguely aware of. We hope to better ourselves vicariously, so we read good books, or books by authors we admire, which are not always good books, no matter what we might say in their defence. We hope to gain wisdom, ideas, new words, new turns of phrase, or just some respite from our own hapless word processer scribbles, written like scripture one moment and tormenting us like imps the next.

Dead into winter, I kindled a bromance with Michael Chabon, whom I am nearly certain is also Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips (incidentally, both having significant ties to Pittsburgh), over orange chicken and fried rice, while he elaborated on his childhood, adolescence, and essential experiences as a man, Jew, writer, and divorced and remarried father of four. Aptly, Manhood for Amateurs. Not unusual that I would be blazing through personal essays. Rare that they would be essays by a straight, white, middle-class man who doesn’t bother me with a lot of politics or religion. Instead, Legos and comic books.

Chabon is the man I aspire to be, or maybe just the writer; and, now, I am backtracking his novels to see what I can glean. I am not far; I am one-third through The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. That is all. But in those 140 pages, I have discovered what in four years (sort of) of English studies and the twenty or so years since I picked up—oh, let’s say—I Am a Puppy has failed to sink in: the power of the simile. There is memorable and lively cadence to the language Chabon uses in his story about a midlife detective in the Jewish district of Sitka, Alaska. And it took me this long to get the hint.

I think it’s because I’ve read (and written) so many bad similes, I’ve just become afraid of them, fearing like and as as if one were the reaper and the other fear itself. The more I think, the more I think similes are the vague mystery as to why some writing is just good and some writing is just not, rather the quality of the similes, like coffee beans to a decent americano. (And now you’re all going back through and counting my similes. Don’t worry, I have, too, and there are four.) If I’ve ever written a compelling simile before now, it was a fluke, an anomaly, because I have never put them into practice, preferring the ubiquity of the metaphor and a litany of adjectives to develop a scene. Recognizing the error of my ways, this is repentance. This is reformation.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Backwoods

Stay out of the woods.
There the spring is soft
as fiddleheads reach
upward. Air ambles
in fog and pollen and
imprints left around
the roots of giant pines.
The backwoods, they’re
called; and they call
back, if you’re listening:
moans, grunts, or wails,
like something roams
between the trees and
leaves tufts of hair for us
to find and follow back,
further into the forest.
The stories go far back,
but unless you believe
in fiends, in ghosts, I
will leave the matter
alone.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Pacific Northwest Reader Giveaway


My contributor copies of The Pacific Northwest Reader came in the mail yesterday, and I'm giving three of them away. I've seen copies of the essay collection on the shelves at Village Books, and I know stores like Elliott Bay Book Co., Powell's Books, Auntie's Bookstore, Eagle Harbor Book Co., and any of the numerous IndieBound stores in the Northwest have them too.

Booksellers, librarians, and former booksellers and librarians have compiled personal stories about their lives in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washinton to produce a collection about which New York Times bestselling author Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain) says, "These personal tales are fantastic, fun, and delightful on their own; they're a wonderful patchwork quilt of the region when taken as a whole. I loved this collection!"

Leave a comment here about how you're a Pacific Northwest reader--or reader of any kind for that matter--for your chance to win a free copy of the Reader. Or tweet: @daviewheeler I'm a #PacificNorthwestReader. [Contest ends 5pm (PST) on Monday, April 19, 2010.]

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Long Saturday

Today, I remember that you died.
Not how or for how long, just
your momentary brush with mortality,
a dull epoch emerging with your exhale.

Since the dark, early morning I've known
your absence and your promise
to return, devoid of faith enough to decide
which is easier to accept completely.

Each hour elapses, and nothing
resolves except the quickness of unbelief.
You wither in my mind just as your body
before you, and my hope before that.

Suppose night remained, weeks passing
only in shadows and snow; and, days
hesitate, and clouds sustain today's grief.
And here, fearful and fitful, I rest.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Borrowing

Part 2

Bernhard Riemann was a mathematician unparalleled in the field, who kept cryptic notes in the pages of tomes of number theory, teasing future math historians to no end. He suggested he had a secret formula for predicting prime numbers—something mathematicians have been reaming their skulls over for quite some time—but left little evidence for his peers and successors beyond a trail of bread crumbs resonating with the familiar juvenile taunt of nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah. The rest was burned by his housekeeper.

Mathematics peaked for me round about college-level algebra, starting a steep, steady decline shortly thereafter. It was while taking a course at the community college concerning itself with the business applications of calculus when I determined two things:
  1. math is an incredible study in the hands of other people
  2. I should never, ever own a business.
Amidst the graphs, the Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and my TI-86, I was well aware that I was on numerical frontiers unimaginable to myself even two years before, coinciding with the increasingly bizarre plot turns on the WB’s Superman saga Smallville—in both cases, I knew my time with the subject was running short.

Ironically, this also happened to be the point I developed a profound respect for the subject of numbers. I was reading a treatise by Oxford mathematics professor Marcus du Sautoy on the historical and modern quest to find reason in prime numbering, Music of the Primes. Here was a mathematician who tried hard to make high concept number theory accessible to the lay public. In 2006, du Sautoy published an article in Seed, a New York science periodical, describing the relationship between Douglas Adams’s meaning of life, 42, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the prime number holy grail known as the Riemann zeta function. However, halfway through Music of the Primes, du Sautoy enters—by way of German prime number pioneer, Bernhard Riemann—the fourth dimension, in order to better explain the seemingly random distribution of prime numbers, a series of numbers only divisible by one and the number itself. Three dimensions might be the only reason anyone enjoyed the film Avatar, but graphing in four asks too much.

I picture mathematics as a revolving globe, with my head at its center. Calculus resides on the farthest exterior surface of my skull, just barely making contact with the scalp. The Riemann zeta function exists much further out into the middle space; but, it fascinates me. I am enchanted to think that there might be reason to the seemingly random, and to see it is a matter or shifted perspective, experience, and dimension. My (limited) understanding is that I—as all human beings, animals, and other life teeming on this earth—exist in four dimensions, that of height, width, depth, and duration, but I am certain my mind only fathoms three—the three I can adequately graph, on paper, in two dimensions. Here we have Bernhard Riemann who, of his own accord, managed to tear himself away from traditional boundaries to explore number theory in four whole dimensions, to attempt to map the true extent of human experience, in order to solve one of the greatest mysteries in mathematics.

Riemann died before proving any of his theories. You might say that he is a martyr, a pioneer who refused to return before he explored everything he had set out to.

Somewhat less high-concept was the premiere of the CBS crime drama, Numb3rs, which I watched with fervor for the entirety of its first season. This program had its lead characters—brothers, one of whom was an FBI agent, the other a mathematics professor at a fictional science institute in California—together managing to solve murders through probability and other applied mathematics. This was probably where I first heard the name Bernhard Riemann, and also probably when I decided that being a university professor might be fun. Incidentally, the younger, mentally tortured, mathematics professor brother vaguely resembled my own calculus instructor, so the already blurry line between TV and reality, for me, grew dimmer, and I carried on through the rest of the calculus course actually believing I might go further in math studies. The spell was broken later that spring, after graduating high school and realizing my general mathematics requirements for college would be waived.

I never looked back. Consequently, I now have my mother balancing my checkbook against my monthly bank statements. This might seem a juvenile request for someone in his twenties, but, my mother being an accountant, I think it as reasonable as a dentist’s son asking to have his teeth cleaned. That, and my check register rages like the sea. Asking my mother to plumb its depths is more akin to asking a veteran mariner to sail the waters of the Bermuda Triangle. In this triangle, figures change at their own whims and receipts come and go as they please. Anyone daring to navigate her way through it would seem morbid, but, for better or worse, my mother is about as seasoned as they come.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Up & Coming / Has-Been

Over the last few months I have been receiving email updates from one of the editors at HarperCollins Publishers concerning the forthcoming Pacific Northwest Reader, in which my essay "My Washington ID" will be featured. Mid-April marks its latest proposed release date, when it will sit on shelves at independent bookstores around the Oregon, Washington, and Idaho region. To tease you a bit, here's a sample paragraph from that particular essay:

Between Leavenworth and Wenatchee are stretches of road populated by apple trees with white skin and gnarled branches, the heart of Washington’s apple country. Washington has been leading the country in apple production since the 1920s. Once, while rafting the Wenatchee River, our guide pointed to some irrigation ducts just visible near the peaks of the surrounding hills. “We call that the apple juice pipeline," he said. “You know Tree Top?” The six of us in the raft nodded. I’m sure he meant it was for irrigating the apple orchards, but I couldn’t help but imagine gallons and gallons of apple juice being pumped around the state. Now, every time I pass through the sprawling Wenatchee valley, I think of that—that, and the unassuming chic of agri-tourism.

Again, look for The Pacific Northwest Reader in the middle of April. Village Books and Powell's Books will most definitely be carrying it. In fact, Powell's bookseller Gigi Little will be running snippets from essays featured in the book on her own blog to promote the release. And you can bet if places like Auntie's Bookstore and Elliott Bay Book Company don't have it on hand by the end of April, they can order it for you. Don't expect to find it in the big box bookstores or online book traders.

And if you haven't seen my latest work, check out The Outlet blog, Burnside Writers Collective, and order the inaugural issue of Seattle's newest literary magazine, The Wanderlust Review. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that more of the like is in store.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Borrowing

Part 1

There was a time I didn’t understand subtraction. Oh, the theory made sense: things were being taken away from me all the time—television privileges and allowance by my parents, and my brother took just about everything else: Hot Wheels, the TV remote, pogs. What didn’t make sense was pencil-to-paper arithmetic. Addition I got. Hannah had three apples and John gave her two more; I knew Hannah, then, had five apples and a pushover. Subtraction was a trickier business.

First you had the minuend, a big number, on top. Then, you took away the subtrahend, the smaller number below it. Finally, you had the difference. I tested well in theory; but, the first few goes alone at it left my second grade teacher, Mrs. Reed, puzzled.

The words didn’t bother me so much. In fact, I loved names, the weirder the better. The words let me understand what the numbers were failing to show me. There’s a story taking place on the page of the math lesson of which, I’m sure, neither Hannah nor John could make heads or tails. You had the minuend—just feel it as you say it—almost royal, like the minuet of the French ballroom. There was the subtrahend, the wily hunchback living below the castle, greedily waiting to take what he wants and leave the minuend wanting. In the end, the kingdom was a different, smaller place: the subtrahend had had his way, the minuend suffered.

Mrs. Reed seemed to appreciate the drama in the same way my parents appreciated my tirades concerning the G.I. Joe caper of ’95, which is to say, not at all. Instead, she called my parents in for a conference. “I’m concerned about David’s math skills,” she began. “We’ve been learning about subtraction, and he doesn’t seem to be catching on quite like we would hope. Lately, he just bends over his desk and cries.”

This was not entirely false, but not entirely causal either. Mrs. Reed would not have noticed me crying that day if not for that stupid know-it-all Junie Wilde, whose pretentions as the teacher’s pet were only hindered by the shocking ignorance she broadcast every chance she had to open her mouth. It was she who heard me sniffling at my desk, my head not half an inch from its surface.

“What’s wrong?” Junie asked, leaning in close so I could smell the deep-fried frizz she called hair. “Do you need help with your math?”

“N-no,” I managed amidst a torrent of snot and saliva. I wiped the excess on the sleeve of my blue turtleneck and turned the other way.

Junie’s hand shot up, and Mrs. Reed walked over to our desks. “What is it, Junie?” As a teacher, she tried to mask her reactions to Junie’s constant irritation, but you could tell Mrs. Reed would just as soon chew insulation as carry a conversation with this girl. “You know this is silent time for everyone to work on their math.”

“Mrs. Reed, David’s crying because he needs help with subtraction.”

That wily hunchback.

The truth was that I was crying because subtraction reminded me that I was actually in school now (albeit a private Christian school whose rural whereabouts in an already small town rendered it the equivalent of homeschooling for a very large family, but a family nonetheless) instead of home with my parents. After two years being homeschooled, I’d joined the ranks of the classroom, and it was all still very new to me. Adaptation is another challenging concept to me. Subtraction itself didn’t reveal this to me; my struggle with it was actually a metaphor for the trouble I had adjusting to my new institutional circumstance. But I couldn’t expect Junie to comprehend that as she seemed to understand very little at all.

I very much wanted to learn subtraction, and, after my teacher’s conference with my parents, I paid close attention during lessons, making time to sort out the ones, tens, and hundreds place in their respective order. We used M&Ms and pennies to make the process as comprehensible as possible.

As it turned out, taking single digits numbers from numbers with more digits I didn’t have a problem with. What tripped me up was the concept of borrowing digits from one column to use in the next column over. For instance:

2 3 4
- 1 5 6

One must borrow from the 3 in the tens column to take 6 from 4. This makes 4 into 14, and 3 into 2. Remember, this is supposed to make sense to a seven-year-old. Only, at age seven, I was taught that a person who borrows must return the thing borrowed. So, in my mind, 3 helped 4 become 14; in turn, the polite thing for 4 to do would be to return 1 to 3. In effect, the transaction is a two way street, and instead of yielding a difference of 78, I would suggest 188 is the proper answer, as 3 would “pay it forward,” so to speak, when borrowing from 2.

Clearly what I did not take into account was this world’s penchant for selfishness, and common sense. Were 6 to be taken from 14, 4 would have nothing to give back to 3—now 2—because the loan had been given away—to 6. This taught me a valuable lesson about debt collection; and, later, this lesson would be reinforced by crime dramas like Law & Order, where high society addicts were reduced by the debts they kept with their dealers. Had Mrs. Reed introduced me to NBC primetime television, I might have gotten on board with borrowing sooner.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A House of Many Mansions

Let's start saying sacred like it means something again. Holiness, blessedness—hallowed, really. Somewhere along the line these became synonyms for don't touch that. I suppose there might be an or else attached, but I'll leave it at touch for now.

I love to be loaned books. It's the voyeur in me, but I consider it a privilege on par with being a guest in someone's home—a guest prone to snooping through the medicine cabinet. The book itself is telling enough to suggest what a friend thinks of you; any markings are like notes taken in a diary. A lent book is granted passage into the mind of another; or, so I tend to think. After a telling enough conversation with a friend, he handed me a copy of David Dark's new book The Sacredness of Questioning Everything. Inasmuch as book recommendations are my crack cocaine, I balk at an oversell; but, what the heck, right? I'd been looking for a little tea and sympathy, and received permission to flirt with a sort of nihilism—or, perhaps more aptly, get into some heavy-petting with deconstruction.

Dark, I am now certain, is of the Klosterman school of thought. That is, the school of thought that suggests all human experience can be translated into and related using the wealth of pop culture piling up around us. I like a man who suggests Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are modern prophets, while a song titled "(Antichrist Television Blues)" can actually serve to calibrate toward The Christ. In the midst of the hipster namedropping and oblique cultural references, Dark resounds with an impressive hurrah for an inquisitive spirit.

Questions of about God, religion, faith, the supernatural. Questions about the government and the media. Questions about our future. Questions are how we grow to better understand whatever surrounds us. Remember Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matt. 7:7)? I don't think Jesus was talking about super-sizing or twenty bucks for the mall. Jesus tore open the Holy of Holies for everyone to commune with God. With that, I'm sure, he understood there would be a bit of curiosity on our part, snooping, like all good houseguests. And what could earnest seeking yield but more of him and less of us?

I'm not suggesting a cavalier approach to communion with the Most High. He is God, after all, not your homeboy. But an invitation is an invitation. I'm not sure I'd keep to the entryway until beckoned into the living room, then wait to be coaxed into the kitchen; just like I'm not prone to tear through the master bedroom, turning out the drawers as I go. The sacred is a posture of intimacy rather than pretense; a home with coffee brewing as opposed to a museum with velvet rope. The sacred is a lent Book. (Yeah, that last one made me a bit queasy too.)