Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Time on the Mountain

I had to take a break from writing. For the past week I have put my blog on the shelf while processing a number of personal issues that made it difficult for me to focus. I had to travel to the mountaintop to spend a little time alone with my God. It has been hard for me to come back down into the valley, but there is work to be done.

My time away has given me cause to consider the importance of balance. All of that time dedicated to processing social matters has left me drained due to the pain felt after writing about the chaos all around us. I’m reminded of the basic tenants of my faith. My love of the Quaker theologian Rufus Jones compels me to find the spark of God within every person. The throbbing of my spirit has challenged me to love beyond my own capacity.

This love that I carry is greater than anything I have previously felt. In a strange way, God has taken me to new heights of spiritual reflection. It comes out of the frustration related to contending with those who develop opinions based on their own imagination. I have been harmed by the ways others perceive me. I have allowed the aggravation of years of exertion to immobilize me. My deep sadness reminds me of the significance of the mountain. Lingering among the broken too long can shade the truth of God’s work.

My tears have dried up now. The mending of this broken heart has provided me the strength to return to the valley. It was lonely on the mountain. There I was forced to hear God’s voice after being confused by the words coming from people who say they love me. So much of what I have carried forced me to operate behind a shield of strength. Often, I listened to others while contemplating my own pain.

Those lonely nights of isolation introduced me to my true self. Paul Tillich spoke of the God beyond the God of our understanding. The God beyond the teachings of the Church. Beyond the inspiration poured into our spirits when the choir sings an old hymn. God is found beyond the gist of our claims. When none of what we’ve maintained produces the outcomes we desire-God is found there.

My sorrow is rooted within the context of both personal and communal pain. I’m fed up with reading and writing about young men and women cast into cold rooms with iron bars due to poor decisions. I’m tired of driving through neighborhoods, chock-a-block with brown and black skinned people, where death and dismay fills the air. My heart is broken by the disparity between those who have versus those who have not. The wealth of some juxtaposed against the poverty of others feeds a resentment within me that brews my tears.

There, on the mountain, I asked those hard questions. Why God? When God? How God? Where God? No answer fed my interest. No fire to point the way. No cloud to beg my praise. I shouted to my God, I’m tired of meeting with people to discuss these matters. I’m tired of hearing the same solutions while living with the same outcomes. Does anyone care that our children are suffering? Am I the only one willing to place my neck in the guillotine to take the risk for a cause?

Yes, the community I love keeps me on my knees. I pray for the broken in my midst, but there’s more. I too am broken. I too need some semblance of hope. Years of fighting and writing, preaching and teaching, praying and meeting, protesting and believing have drained me of all my strength. After being thrown out, stripped, discounted, downsized and battered-the wounds have left me in spiritual intensive care. I couldn’t find the words to write. I lacked the hope that has inspired me over the years. My passion emaciated to a pot of bleeding tears.

Faith is found in these moments. There, alone to question the work we do, God speaks. Inspiration comes in remembering the journey of our faith. I was reminded of other days like this. The reminder of the last whiff of weed sparkled will to move again. There, on the mountain, I remembered the smell of cocaine and the blood flowing from my noise after using too much. The memory of the heroin gushing trough my tender veins and loss of memory after a weekend binge dug deep into my throbbing spirit.

All is not lost. Too many challenges overcome to retreat to the land of empathy. This is the reason for my passion-a life of brokenness transformed into a vision filled with possibility. In my quest to find a way to survive, there are others, like me, in search of the road less traveled. Mine is to help them find their way.

To rise on top of the mountain while glaring at the world below presents a new perspective. It is ours to lead them to this place of refuge. This is the place of rejuvenation. Here we find presence and peace. You can’t lead them if you never visit this place. For those who toil in the valley, there is a place to restore after the bombardment of ones dreams. We can’t stay long. The work is down in the valley.

I’m back. Let’s get ready for this work together.


  1. Rev. K, as I read your blog, I became sad as I read it...I said how sad that my favorite minister has became burned out delivering his message, teachings and beliefs...I said no this can't be happening, no not now! I need someone of faith who I really believe in my life now more than ever now... I felt how could Rev. K's heart be heart broken from our Lord and our city? Easily! You see I've been where you are and am still at in my own way from losing DeCarlo from a heart attack (HCM) I've felt your pain as well being let down by God on my journey and by our city giving not the support that's needed for our youth...No I did not lose D.C. to crime or violence and I'm grateful but, I still lost him from my care and that hurts to the core of my soul each day of my life, and I still cry, why DeCarlo Lord why him!? I know he wanted to live and fulfill his dreams, Rev K you're still here and you must fulfill your dreams and desires of your heart in your blogs and ministry...Rev. K I am so glad you're feeling better now and have found a piece of peace and know that your job is not done here in Durham...Your blog is very informative in all areas of daily out looks on may not see me often but I am in your corner, you've always been in my son's and my corner during the high light of our lives and during the saddest times of my life...I extend a thank you from me and from those who may not be able to reach you right now to say thank you...Rev. K remember so many people easily forget all the good you've done for our city all they can think about is anything bad that they "THINK" they may know, my grandmother always told me people only remember the good a person does a short while but let them do something unpleasing to them and they NEVER forget it...well I am going to ALWAYS remember the good you've done for me, DeCarlo's memory, our city and your working in the LORD! Rev. K in this time of your heavy heart that is now healing please think of the old hymn "HIS IS ON THE SPARROW" I promise you that song will bring you comfort during this stormy time in your life...that one song touches so many parts of the human heart and soul that we all sometimes seem to forget where I strength comes from, you will be restored to fullest to do your job here and where ever else you are needed, you are a good man...You are one of the Chosen Ones in our far city of Durham, North Carolina...keep up the good work and your rewards be that more of the richest man in our city who does have the CORRECT FAITH...and the correct faith is having faith in everything you do from the heart with the wisdom GOD has given only to you...

    Thank you! DeCarlo's Mom

    P.S. sorry for any typo errors! :>)

  2. Amen, brother. You preaching this Sunday? I'm bringing the family :)


  3. Steal away my brother, and welcome back. Once again lead by example. Many of us, especially me, do things too long for all the 'right' reasons we(I) need someone to showme how to 'steal away'.

    Welcome back. i pray you recharged.


  4. It was rather interesting for me to read that post. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything connected to them. I would like to read more soon.

    Bella Hakkinen

  5. Dr. Kenney, I don't know if you even notice comments on nearly 5 year old blog entries. But if you do, please know I find this to be one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I've ever had the pleasure of coming across. I've now read it so many times I probably have the first few paragraphs memorized.

    At the time, you were writing about your own Spiritual journey. And yet, for the most part, every bit of it applies to the life of any Christian going through struggles of any kind.

    I emailed you about this piece a few months ago & promise to stalk no further. I just think it's that impactful.

    Thank you,

    Chris G
    Dallas, TX

    1. Chris,
      I rarely respond to comments. Yours moved me today. Thanks for reminding me of the mountain. I'm headed back into the valley - again.

    2. Brother, He already traveled that valley. For you.

      Your friend,


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