Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Friday Night Life

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,'
declares the LORD."
-Isaiah 55:8

"I should have seen that car. I would have been in great position to see the car."

Peace and blessings,

These words kept repeating in my head after the weird series of events that took place while I was walking home last Friday night, 9/25. Although one purpose of this post is to attempt, as accurately as possible, the events that took place that evening and the cognitive and emotional state I was in after those events, this post serves another, more important purpose. Putting this recollection in typed words marks my "doing away" with the issue, confirming what friends and family have been telling me to do once I told them about what happened. After reading this, some, if not all of you may think that I'm making too big a deal about what happened. However regardless of your personal take on the matter, I urge you to keep an open mind about the matter, because to me at the time, what I am about to tell you was a big deal.

Typically when I go home, I take the 1 or 1r bus and get off on international (E. 14th st.) and 10th ave. From there, I walk up 11th ave. to E. 18th street and make a right until I reach my apartment. On average, I take this route 3-4 times a week. For the past week or two, I would see this little dog (emphasis on little, lol) strolling on 11th ave once I cross E. 17th street, so a block from my destination, which is E. 18th st. Every time I would see that dog, I would think to myself,"let me walk on the opposite side of the street of that dog, and I hope he or she bothers me." With the exception of the dog I had while growing up (RIP Rocky, miss you man!), I don't like dogs, let alone trust them.

However, on this day I approached the situation differently. I told myself that the preoccupation with this dog is all in my head, because of the times I have seen him or her in the past week or two, he or she did not give me any problems when I walked past. As a result, I decided to not trip on the dog because there was no reason to suggest that he or she would trip on me.

But it turns out I was wrong, lol. When I initially walked past the dog things seemed good, so I proceeded as usual. However as I got closer to E. 18th street, I heard some paws pattering behind me. Best believe, the dog had begun chasing after me! After I turned around and stepped toward the dog, telling him or her to back up, he or she barked, and then stopped and ceased to approach me. As I proceeded to walk towards E. 18th street, I began laughing to myself, thinking "as soon as I made up my mind that I was not going to trip on this dog, it decided to bother me." I then looked back at the dog to make sure he or she did not try to chase after me again. And then it happened...

As soon as I turned my head around to make sure the dog was not coming after me, I heard a loud crash. As I turned my head back around, I saw a car at the corner of E. 18th street and 11th ave begin to flip over, eventually falling on its side, with the driver's side door pinned to the ground, and the passenger's side door sticking up in the air. I immediately ran to the car to see if the driver and potential passenger(s) were ok. At this time I pulled out my cell phone so I could call 9-11. When I reached the driver (the only person in the car), I asked her if she was ok. Positioned towards the ground (which was where the driver's side was), she indicated that she was ok, she didn't know what happened, and she started hitting the passenger door (which because of the way the car was positioned was at the top) saying that she couldn't out. As I started trying to open the passenger door (to no avail), more neighbors came outside to help. I told someone to call 9-11 while I continue trying to open the door (still to no avail). As others started to help, one neighbor noticed that the girl may be able to get out from the back door (the type that in some SUVs or mini-SUVs serves as the trunk area. In what seemed like a few minutes (the cops must have been already nearby as it is a heavily-patrolled area), the cops came, made sure the woman was not hurt, and opened the back door so she could get out. Thank God she came out unharmed!

Now back to the words that were going through my head after I left the scene, and the words that I began this post with. I felt like because I walk up 11th ave 3-4 times a week, and because I wear glasses now, I would have got a great look at the type of car that hit the driver. The person who hit her did not stop, and the main question amongst the neighbors and the cops was "did anyone see the car?" Given that (a) I was walking in the direction of the accident , (b) how close I was to the scene, and (c) that I was the first one on the scene once the car flipped over, I concluded that I would have seen the car if I had not turned my head to check on the dog seconds before the collision took place. Me not seeing the car because I turned to look at the dog bothered me as I was running across the street to make sure the woman was ok, and I was thinking that since I "dropped the ball" and could not see the car that hit her, I could at least "redeem" myself by getting the passenger door open and helping her to safety. After I was unsuccessful on both fronts, I really started to feel like my role in the whole situation was extremely minimal at best and negligible/unhelpful at worst. Then I started thinking to myself that if she would have got hurt or God forbid if she would have died, then I would have really been down on myself for not doing more.

As evident in many of my other posts, I am a firm believer that there are countless times when God "structures" things and situations to where certain people are at certain places at certain times to serve certain purposes. Sometimes when I feel like I am in the midst of one of those "situations," I feel like I have an idea on why I was "put" in that situation at the appointed time, and what my role was. Other times I am not so sure. What took place last Friday night was definitely one of those "other times."

The main questions that kept going through my mind were:

(1) Why did that dog have to bother me that day?

(2) Why was I not able to see the car?

(3) Why was I not able to help her out the car?

(4) What was the purpose for me being there? What role was I supposed to/did I fill?

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, friends and family has helped me better make sense of the situation, and have helped me view the events and my role in them from different perspectives. In addition, I have been reminded of the above passage from Isaiah, which reiterates the fact that in life there are some things that happen and things we experience that, although we may have questions about, we will not gain the answer to (at least not in this lifetime). In those situations, the only thing we can do is learn from them, move one, and know that whatever God had planned out for that situation, is in the best interests of all those involved.

Until next time, stay blessed and speekonit...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Holding it Down: Earnest Graham

Peace and blessings,

As someone who is an avid comic book reader, I'm always looking for new, creating stories to read. In particular, I have been looking for more Christian comic book artists and Graphic novelists to read. Among the ones I've found (which I will include more information about in another e-mail), I came across Earnest Graham, a graphic artist and a Priest, whose current work involves translating biblical stories into graphic novel form. I've included his graphical depiction of the parable of the sower, so you can get a sense of his approach. More info on his work can be found on his
  • blog.
  • Furthermore, you can see his graphical depictions of
  • Jesus' parables and the book of James here.

  • I think using the comic book and graphic novel formats to illuminate the truth of God's word is a fantastic idea, as it has the potential to speak to a wide variety of people. It also provides the opportunity to illuminate these truths in a way that is relevant to the interests, issues, and concerns people have today. I recommend everyone check them out and if interested, he has pdfs of his work available to use for ministry purposes (just make sure to give him credit).

    What do you think? Is the comic book/graphic novel format a good way to reach people who may not be keen to the more traditional methods of delving into the bible? Why or why not? Until next time, take care, stay blessed, and speekonit...

    Verse of the Moment: Sho Baraka

    Peace and blessings,

    I came across this line while listening to a Mix Tape by a Sho Baraka, and thought I'd share it because it's sick! The free mixtape that this track came from, as well more info on him and his lyrical comrades the 116 Click, can be found at their record label,
  • Reach Records.

  • Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit..

    "Other brothers call themselves(?) God they just fake/Jesus come back all white Bronco like OJ/To smash all defendants/you guilty not acquitted/no lies/he did it/and the glove/he fits it/all for good purpose/He do it for redemption/and to prove His power over those who dismiss Him/"

    - Sho Baraka
    Freestyle to Ambassador's "Get You Open"
    Off the Barakology Mixtape

    Genuine Connection of Just a Coincidence?

    Peace and blessings,

    August 28th, around 9am: I park in downtown Berkeley to attend a staff meeting at a nearby cafe. I put a certain amount of money into the meter, thinking that I would be done with the meter and back to my car by the time the time expired. I was wrong, lol. I received a parking ticket.

    Same day, around noon: I park near the building that I work in (I normally would park in the building's parking lot, but at the time it was full. I put a certain amount of money into the meter, thinking that I would be done with what I needed to do in the building and be back at my car before the time expired. Determined to not have what happened this morning happen again, I left the building with what I believed was enough time to get to the car before the time expired. Again, I was wrong, lol. As I'm walking to my car, I noticed the meter officer leaving my car. I stop him to tell him that I'm here so I can move the car. He told me that there's nothing he could do once the ticket has been processed. Thus I received another parking ticket.

    The question posed in the title of this post has less to do with whether or not the two tickets are connected or a coincidence, and more to do with whether or not the two tickets are connected to what I read before leaving the house that morning, or if the whole thing is just a coincidence. That morning, the devotional reading was the book of Job. Today marked the first day of a series of devotionals around the life of Job.

    What was going through my mind that morning was not only the extent of Job's suffering and trust in God in the midst of his suffering, but how important Job's story was at the time (and now) to people's understanding of the nature of God and of our relationship with him. Basically, there was a prevailing idea at the time that if you're living good it's because you are "good" in God's sight, and thus He was blessing you. If you are not living good, then God is punishing or passing judgment on you. The book of Job changed that, as it focused on the suffering of a righteous man whose life was pleasing in God's sight. The book of Job showed that both the righteous and unrighteous experiences trials in world, and that people's relationship with God (and Jesus) is not based on how good one's life is at the moment, but on our appreciation of and reverence for how good God is ALL the time.

    With regards to the question posed in the title, my position is clear. I believe that there is a connection between me beginning to read the story of Job and receiving two parking tickets on the same day (for one, I rarely drive to work and two, the last time I received multiple tickets in the same day It was due to me taking the GRE in 2005). Although I know there is no way my frustration with getting two parking tickets could hold a candle to a tenth of what Job went through, I think that the moral of the story is the same: no matter what the day may throw at us, we must always praise God and be thankful for His love for us.

    What do you think? Have you recently had day or series of days when nothing seemed to go right, or something went wrong and really frustrated you? How did you respond? Take care, God bless, and speekonit...