marking time

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December 27th. The day after the day after. For me, it carries some significance, however. On this day ten years ago I wrote my first blog post here at Don’t Eat Alone. I was four years into coming to terms with my depression, which was still kicking my butt at that point. I was working as a restaurant chef and finding relief, hope, and challenge in the kitchen. And I was still trying to figure out how to be a writer. Thanks to Gordon Atkinson, who had a blog called Real Live Preacher at that time, I learned both what blogging was and how to get started. I found the name of the blog from a Christmas gift from my friend Cherry—a cookbook that had the quote from the Buddha: “There is no joy in eating alone.” I had planned for weeks to write and couldn’t get through whatever was blocking me. Thanks to Ginger, whose tenacious and indefatigable love has made all sorts of things possible in my life, I started writing.

This morning before church I read this editorial from the New York Times and was struck by this paragraph in particular:

One other effect of the incarnation: It helps those of us of the Christian faith to avoid turning God into an abstract set of principles. Accounts of how Jesus interacted in this messy, complicated, broken world, through actions that stunned the people of his time, allow us to learn compassion in ways that being handed a moral rule book never could.

I jotted down, “Love has a face.”

This morning in Sarah preached from Luke 2 and humanized the shepherds—fleshed them out if you will—reminding us they were people who stepped from their messy lives into the manger scene. The were scared and desperate and then joyful and amazed, and maybe even all those things at once. I was reminded again that the central story of my faith is about relationships, about people, about how God poured God’s self into human skin to remind us we are all worthy to be loved.

One of the reasons this blog has been crucial to my life is it gave me connections. As an extrovert and one who lives with depression, holing up in a room by myself to write (as I thought writers were supposed to do) was suffocating. I couldn’t do it. I mostly took naps. Posting to Don’t Eat Alone was creating a conversation, looking for a response; I was writing to someone, even though I didn’t know who. Because of one of those connections—Nancy Bryan, my awesome editor—I have been able to publish two books and feel like a writer in a more conventional sense.

As I have mentioned several times that one song in particular helped me at the depths of the darkness: Patty Griffin’s “When It Don’t Come Easy.” The chorus of the song says,

if you break down, I’ll drive out and find you
if you forget my love, I’m here to remind you
and stand by you when it don’t come easy . . .

Love has a face. And hands and feet. The love that matters most wears skin. I could spend the rest of the night telling stories about and naming the names of those who have incarnated love to me.

Oh, wait—that’s what I’ve been doing for the last ten years.

Thanks for reading, for writing back, for being. Yes, just for being, and helping me to remember we are wonderfully and uniquely created in the image of God and worthy to be loved.

Peace,
Milton

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I wish I was there for you, but you know I’m here for you. Happy 10 Year Anniversary, Milton. That’s an accomplishment any way you write it.

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  2. And the world is a better place because of your blog, which has influenced thousands. Keep writing my friend. Grateful that we don’t have to eat alone, and certainly that we don’t have to be alone. Love you.

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  3. I have felt at home since I started reading your blog, but I did begin to wonder how it found me. At least I realize God gives me things I need at the right time. Today I saw name of Gordon Atkinson, whose words I used to read also. His father was pastor for my parents after my father retired and he preached their funerals with such a memorable message that children and grandchildren have never forgotten it. All that just to say that this 78 year-old, 56 years married, Baylor graduate, extrovert/introvert, depression bothered, song for every thought, Bible- study teaching, mother, grandmother, preacher’s kid delights in looking to see what you have to say to me each day. Thank you.

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