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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Guatemalan Highland Wanderings

Though I haven't mentioned much at all regarding Mexico. I will soon. Right now, I will write of my recent travels in Guatemala.

I met a student of Spanish in the same house I was staying at in Mexico. He is young, a christian, and from Texas. His name is Jeremy and the week before he had off from his language school. I says to him, "What are you doing next week?" He replies, "Nothing that I know of." I says, "What say you and I pack our bags for Guatemala?" After which he says,"OK." and the rest was history.

We hopped on a bus one early morning and rode and rode until the sun passed across the sky for who knows how long and how many times. Some time, on some obscure date, we came to the southern most town of Mexico and there crossed the border into Guatemala. We walked across a bridge that was erected above a river or marsh. I could barely tell the difference. Whereas, in the American mindset, the US has the Rio Grande separating it from Mexico and the traces of a less priveleged life; Mexico has this river separating it from Guatemala and the traces of a less priveleged life. I was amazed that there could be such a contrast from the Mexican side to the Guatemalan side. The first person we saw on the Guatemalan side was in his underwear and was stooping to either pluck feathers from a chicken or to remove a splinter from his foot. I really couldn't tell the difference on this one either. But regardless he was in what I guess he would call his backyard. We could see him plainly. He had no real fence. Just a stream of garbage around his living quarters. -That's what I mean by a less priveleged life than Mexico. But what Jeremy and I found within Guatemala was so much more than a destitute country. We witnessed a very interesting mixture of people from the most progressive-minded western tourist to the most backwoods Mayan Indian. And I shall really, really strive to detail these accounts...almost every day in this blog so bare with me.
The mountains grew high and misty. The scenery succumbed to the jungle. And the mists still tried to wrap and hide the people and land that we so eagerly sought to see with our eyes as we journeyed further. To be continued...

Friday, April 21, 2006

South of the Border

As I write this, I lie on a park bench in a little courtyard in front of a small cathedral. The doors are open in this small cathedral where a few people are inside praying. Outside, I sit in the shade to hide my skin from the sun. Streamers line the sky and this sleepy neighborhood carries on with dogs barking, roosters crowing, and parrots whistling. Yes, folks, I made it down to Mexico...Old Mexico. I'm in some obscure region in the vast city of Guadalajara. A city of 7 to 8 million people but a city that has a small town feel to it.

I arrived over 2 weeks ago. And even my journey across the border was tinged with grace if not an altogether gift. The morning I was to hop on the Greyhound that would take me this long way southwards...I awoke to the phone ringing and my friend Adolph telling me that I would be going to Mexico in a very different way. A friend of his, Diana, who was originally from Mexico, was undergoing a family crisis, so she and her brother were driving down all the way to Central Mexico to be with their family. They heard about me and out of sheer kindness offered me a ride down. This was very interesting for me for Diana is a christian and an art therapist. She uses her own artistic abilities and understanding to help others grow. We had many intriguing conversations on the ride down. I even drew cartoons for her...something which I used to do alot when a boy but ever since I ¨grew up¨ I stopped. And she deciphered intrinsic values, themes, and even problems that I was going through just from my random doodling. Very Interesting. We crossed the border at Laredo, Texas. On the Mexican side, there were many crosses attached to the fence that stretched all over the Rio Grande. These were the folks that probably didn´t swim so well and drowned. Across the Mexican highway we rode on while the desert mountains seemed to come tumbling towards us. The night settled on the entire scene and the last dim features of cacti waned in the calming blanket of dusk.

They dropped me off at a bus station in Matehaula and I was take the bus the rest of the leg of my journey to Guadalajara. I got maybe an hour or two of sleep that night on the bus and then we made it to Mexico´s richest city, Guadalajara where the blazing morning sun dashed in through the buses windows waking the sleeping passengers with obstrusive light and raging heat. I got the bus station in the city and saw the what I thought was the neighborhood of my residence, Zapopan, but was actually a whole town in itself. So I took another city bus for an hour thinking what a challenge it was going to be knock on my old friends door without me stooping to call them and pick me up. Not me. Not Brian Harrison the world traveler. -But how stupid I was. It wasn't long before I gave up and gave in calling the Reyes, to come and pick me up. I was at some plaza of some Basilica, put I was in Zapopan, so I thought surely they've heard of it. Wrong again. I took a taxi to a place that they knew. And it wasn't long before I met up with Erik Reyes.

Like I've written before, Guadalajara is a city of 7 to 8 million. -That's about the size of New York City. And for the next couple weeks this is to be my home.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I wanted to know that God cared individually for me. For along while now I was dead to such a concept. I wanted to know that He provides in all cases. I wanted to wring from the religion that was given me every truth and brand it upon my heart. I wanted to know that if I let God, he would use me. I wanted to know this Christ, His presence, His power, and His healing. -And furthermore, in all selfish manner, I wanted to do a little traveling and experience a little adventure and definitely escape the pollen season that was contaminating my beloved southland.

Like I've said before the person of Christ is hard to grasp. However anyone with any eyes if seeing can witness God. Nature scribes its own vibrant testimony. The trees signify His presence. Every blade of grass brandishes His dominion. And the sky in all its grandeur prostrates itself before some barely glimpsed glory. One can understand the magnificance of God, but His unswerving love, if easy to intellectually assume,I found this world-turning news difficult to be thoughtful of. And perhaps, it is because I had not struggled enough within. Most of what I write now was entirely embedded in my subconscious. If asked if Christ died for my sins, I would immediately reply, "Of course". But the secret, undetected ways our minds work, and by what dug-in ruts that our thinking goes...there is much to be said that isn't said. And there is much thinking that we are unaware of. What I mean to say is that we all have processes in our thinking at which we relate to ourselves, others, and the entire world. For most of us, these processes are way off base towards plain and simple truth. Our churches have a way of emphasizing the end results of Christ in our lives, or what that's supposed to look like that the actual renovation is rarely mentioned -And I'm not just talking about the "biggies" like how an alcoholic never tastes a swig in his life again, but I'm talking about the way that our faithless, however seriously-doctrinated, minds can one day stand admist rough waters and have hope beyond compare. I'm talking about the despised person, whose self-loathing, is eating at him and can turn around and love others unconditionally. -Things unseen but how powerfully felt. My prayer was that God revealed more of His son to me and that I could be used in whatever way. For it is only through a final deduction that this Christ, whom we worship, is the only turning point that all individuals, however low, however assumed mature, how from whatever dim cave we catch a glimpse of light out of, or from whatever pinnacle we stand and look down at creation that through Him all of us can truly and magnificently grow. -And I wanted to grow.

Let me cut to the chase and say this...that if a person asks to see Christ in his or her life, beyond a doubt, such an appearance will come to that person. It will not necessarily come in the form of a yell, cry, or even a whisper. But in my experience He will come clearly shown in the form of other people.

I was worried about money...before my trip, a christian gave me money and I didn't have to worry about money any longer.
I needed a friend to talk to...when I went through Harding, I was overwhelmed at how many friends I had to talk to.
I needed laughter...God let me visit my old friends to rehash some old times and I even camped out on the University Gym for old times sake.
I needed a coach and mentor....God made me welcome in a home upon passing through Oklahoma for a couple of nights.
I wanted to be used in any capacity...God led me to people where my story could get them to open up their stories...and God allowed me to help out at a homeless shelter while in Tulsa...and God allowed me (coincidence, I think not) to talk to some young people who were about to embark on the same missionary program that I was in years before.
I wanted to be among Christians...everywhere I looked from Harding (obviously) to Tulsa to a campground around Houston, Texas, I was in the midst of godly people.
I needed a place to leave my car in order to travel without it...An elder at a church in Houston without hesitation told me that it would be at his house while I was gone.
I wanted to see Jesus......I did. I saw Him in my friend Chris Campbell who spontaneously prayed, laying his hand on me, in his college dorm room. I saw Him in the Thornton's in Tulsa who had taught their kids to give mysterious guests hugs before they went to bed each night. I saw Him in a group of young minorities down in Texas town. But my story doesn't end here; there's plenty more to go.

So let the moral of this long-to-compose account be that just how important Others are in our christian walk, that if our eyes itch to see this man, Jesus, watch...and you'll see people whom you thought ordinary begin to glow with an ethereal light.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Outside the Picket Fence

Where shall I begin? Where shall my long, long story take off that is to be an epic in its own right? The beginning goes way back to when I was searching for that which I always deemed myself to have. Throughout the last couple of months of my life I have noticed how foreign and vague the person and character of Christ was both to my life and in my life.

I've prayed to this person, I've sang about this person, I've worn T-shirts about this person, and I've even baptized in the name of this person. But how strange is this figure, and how awkward does the whole world and all of history look upon this character who has indisputably, to both the believer and the unbeliever, forever changed the world.

I have been blessed in my life to have friends and family who have placed this figure as the centerpiece of their values and lives. And I've been remarkably blessed in my life to undergo experiences that would further propel any honest believer into an earnest faith. -And its not as though the faith I walked in the past was not faith at all, as though I am coming to a 'real' belief of my own. It is just that of all the blessings that I have had, I truthfully believe that this character of Christ should be less of an enigma and more of a lifestyle with me.
I am one of those whose itching mind races to catch up to his heart. For if there was the slightest tinge of belief in my heart, why was there such inconsistencies in my life? My actions, my thinking, my desires, my behavior, my fears, my tongue, and even my joys were all tangled in a heap of disjoint to that small, twinkling faith of my heart.

If there was such a man that I followed who gave waters that one should never thirst again, but their lives should spring into a well of water surging up to eternal life, then why is it that I thirst so much? What is this other water on my lips that I've drunk and drunk and still remain insatiate.

My life has been lived as a sponge, me soaking up water into a discontent mouth. I of all people...thirst. I bear the trophy of a parched throat. The chalice that I've been holding must have cracks in it. Or its chalked full of rocks. What do I keep searching for?

Books...My eyes ache from going through them.
Girls...My heart and lips ache from going through them.
Experiences...My speech is a fairy tale in the making.
Travels...My heels have slapped the dust of many nations.
Nature...I've called myself her child but my allergies tell me otherwise.
Wisdom...I've bruised my head on this pillar, not seeing it but feeling it.
Love...My heart strikes to this poignant music, but I sing the note way off key.
Life...I bathe and flow down this stream waiting for it to pour into the ocean.
My soul's vaulting testimony rings loud through the day and on through the night,
"I thirst. I thirst. I thirst." I have called upon the high season of adventure; I've clapped the bell for exalted hopes and moonshot dreams. I've ridden on winged inspiration up towards the sun in all its glory and I've come down; only to find that my eyes hunger for the horizon and my heart thirsts.

-And yet some old documents tell me that there was a man that walked 2,000 years ago who said all those who believe in Him will never thirst again. Now more than ever, I ask the question, "Who was or is this man?" that nearly all my life has been an attempt to follow? Or at least give some sort of respect towards. This one man who long ago taught, who healed, who died, and who still lives...and all of creation is surrounded by and created through this person...who is He? The mystery is intriguing, this message engaging, and bottomline, though however selfish or melodramatic it may be....my soul is thirsting.

So I prayed and prayed and read and read, hoping to see more of this person.-And then I ended up leaving Tennessee and what I began to realize and see as I went westwards...well, I guess you'll have to wait...for that will be a long blog in itself.