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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mary and Joe's Tears

Christmas Eve is tomorrow and it's going to rain.

If I had been one of the seven dwarfs, my name would have been Mopey.  Or maybe Phlegmmy, though they already had a Sneezy.  

Just glad i don't live south of the equator.  i don't think i could handle Christmas coming at the beginning of summer.  i keep threatening to sell the station and move the family somewhere north where they still have winter.  Not just four months of March.  The missus don't hold to such talk.

Hmm, random interlude: preheated seat cushions are an outstanding idea.

It's just that Christmas in general is sort of a letdown.  There's all this build-up, all this anticipation, all this ceremony and in one short, busy day it's all done.  Nothing's changed.  Life grinds on as if nothing ever happened.  i wonder if Joseph and Mary felt that way the day after?  Did they expect the world to come bow at Jesus' feet the day He entered the world?  Instead of a handful of smelly sheep-rats.  i wonder if that was part of the reason for the stable?  So the shepherds would feel comfortable.  Mary and Joe must have had continual reminders that their son was not average by any means but did life for them really change?  Did the world?  No.  Joe went on being a blue collar schmuck and Mary kept a home in their hometown and the world went right on ignoring them.  Or more importantly, ignoring their son.

Just as it does now.  We carry around this knowledge, this gift: the son of God came to earth as one of us, took all the punishment for our sin and now we are free to have a relationship with God again, and the world acts like we're nuts.  God has done everything necessary to repair all the damage that we did when we rebelled.  And we give him the big cosmic busysignal and grind on with our pathetic attempts to find meaning in chaos.

No wonder it rains on Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Diary

Freezing rain.  Again.  Still hacking.  Snot production still at maximum discharge.  Third day off in a row.  Still no writing done.  Had two days off last week.  No writing then either.  Natives getting restless.  May have to offer Kenny as human sacrifice.

Hope ship comes in soon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

typical day at the station

It was not supposed to be my day off.  All my tools were still at work.  i wanted to take off tomorrow when she was coming home.  By ten o'clock i was bruised, bleeding, with arms full of fiberglass, had thrown out two deceased drills, borrowed a third with which i had drilled straight through a wire, arcing the bit and forcing me to try and repair it in the dark.  i only have one way of making sure it's the right circuit breaker that i have off, see aforementioned statement about tools being at work. i haven't gotten one thing done and this was one of the easy tasks.  i'm coughing up a lung, battling the urge for arson and curling up in the fetal position sticking one thumb firmly in my mouth and balling the other into a fist that i shake at the heavens, crying to God, 

"Why?  How in the name of all that's holy and good, does this enter into the Plan???"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bullet holes along Ramble Road

i don't know if it's the white-noise jamming of life or the fractured state of my mind but i can't seem to form one coherent thought here.  My two readers can probably guess what that means...
  • Bullet list!
  • When did hunters go from the predominant species in Pennslobovia to a freakish curiosity that mothers bring their children outside to see?
  • Relatedly, is our move as a civilization towards pacifism, anti-gun, anti-hunter, anti-fisherman a step towards perfection, presuming that Adam and Eve felt no need to kill, or a step towards feminization and are we losing something vitally masculine?  
  • Speaking of emasculation, you're scared now aren't you?  Where's he going to go with this?  If i even see the word 'knife' i am out of here!  Fear not, hapless reader, i am feeling more metaphysical than that.  What i was going to say before i wandered down Ramble Road again, was that i really wish i had the gift of decisiveness.  i can never decide if my inaction is the result of a holy waiting on the Lord or a frightened staying of the course in order to avoid the consequences of stepping out.
  • i think that's why i like Post-apocalyptic stories.  In my mind, the subterfuge and lies of civilization have been stripped away and life gets boiled down to a basic level of survival again.  
  • In that vein, read the Road by Cormac McCarthy recently.  Loved it.  Man's a poet.  Disturbing, but great.
  • And that's what makes me wonder... if life really was boiled down, stripped bare, hardened, would i still think it was so great?  When daily decisions have life or death consequences, when dinner isn't a question of what box to nuke but will we find something to eat if we travel in this direction or will we end up something to eat?  Would i long for these days when my direction is decided for me?
  • Not that that makes strapping the workboots back on today for another nine or ten hours of mindless, friendless, rewardless labor any easier. 
  • The key is to remember that it's not hopeless. 
  • No really, it isn't.
  • Honest.
  • i hope.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank God for Spring

A smothered sun rises in a damp, gray sky.  Trees bare but for the moss, shiver in the cold.  A tailless cat huddles on it's perch and makes disturbing, human baby sounds for someone to feed it.  There's no fire in the stove.  His lungs are filled with sticky, yellow mucous.  He rasps, coughs, sneezes and blows into one tissue after another while sitting on an unsympathetic oak bench.  Life is grudgingly starting another day.  It has to but it doesn't have to like it.

Thanksgiving.  2oo8.

As is his custom, he composes a letter.  A letter to whomever cares to read it.  An open letter to God his father.  A letter of thanks.  This year it will be labor.  That makes it all the more important.  To thank in times of plenty, on rosy mornings when health, wealth and love greet you with a kiss is instinct, reflex.  Easy.  To find the blessings in the ashes of mourning, in the abscess of despair, in the full realization of the Curse, there, there are the times when thanskgiving is not an option but a need.  A rope to cling to.  A denial of aloneness.  A reminder that the dark, stones of the cell are not the extent of the world but that somewhere, love is desperately longing to be with you.  And walls of stone or despair while impervious to gentle touch, can do nothing to keep out love.

So while cat clings to it's hunger pains and cloud suffocates the sky, he looks beyond his mouldering, ailing prison to golden streets, crystal seas, palaces warmed and lit by pure holiness and one is never alone, not in body, not in mind, nor in spirit.  One is fully, completely, totally known.

And loved.  For though the eyes may not see, that has no bearing on it's certainty.  He cannot see Tokyo but he believes it exists.  He knows that while he shivers in Pennslobovia, another sweats in Peru, though he has no proof.  So it is with the New Jerusalem.  The new Zion.  It is as real, if not more so than the pain in his joints, the cold of his feet and the emptiness of his cup.  Autumn is upon us.  The Jack O' Lantern has trumpeted Winter's icy vanguard on the horizon.  The siege is coming.  With it: famine and pestilence.  Hard times, dark times are coming.  Persecution.  Suffering.  Death rides in that vanguard.  Men will become children.  Their bones turning to water.  Mothers will eat their young.  It will be a hard winter.  There will be days where it will be near impossible to find something to be thankful for but that will make it all the more necessary.  Thanksgiving in trial makes hope and faith into fact and truth.  In the dark, thank God for light.  In the cold, thank God for heat.  In the pain, thank God for healing.  Alone, thank God for being there.  

In Winter, of season, soul or history, thank God for Spring.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Quasimodo

Thanksgiving week.  Last year this time, i laid the tile floor in our upstairs bathroom.  Spent all weekend doing it.  Looked nice.  Was supposed to be the big push to get the bathroom done.  The last big hurdle.  

That bathroom has half-made cabinets in it with no sink, no countertop and incomplete wainscot half-way around.  Must have tripped on that hurdle.

Traditionally i try to think of things i'm thankful for this week.  Write some of them down.  Guess a patient, long-suffering wife is going to have to top that list this year.  

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Forgotten's Lament

"Once there were two boys
one big and one quite little
Rascal were
the little cur
Plump around his middle."
from The Ballad of the Ballyhoo Gang


All Hallow's Eve has faded to unhallowed dawn. Princesses have awoke to their chores.  Traded their gowns for aprons.  Traded their dreams for yours.  The Weird and the Faerie take refuge in dream.  Goblins to their ghastly home.  Banshee and siren choke on their scream.  Ghosts retreat to chambers of loam...

All save one.

A wee spirit still haunts.  Tinkling chains in cobb-webbed halls.  A lantern, a single spark that stabs the dark.  A keening.  A child.  He calls.

Where is my brother?  Where has he gone?
Run-a-long.  Run-a-long.
Where is my mother?  What'd i do wrong?
Run-a-long.  Run-a-long.
Where is my father?  Steady and strong?
Run-a-long.  Run-a-long.
Where is my night?  Where do i belong?
Run-a-long.  Run-a-long.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Despair is muy macho.

It's getting harder and harder to stick to my principle of not writing negative posts.  In point of fact, i'd have to say i've broken it already.  Yeah, yeah i have.  i guess principles that are covered in dust aren't all that sticky.

Good thing it's a principle and not a law.

But here's the rub, a phrase i have no blinkin' clue as to the origin or meaning of, as a christian, i have the answers, i have the Way, i have the faith and the hope in a risen savior who is for me.  i am free, i am loved and gosh darn it, people like me.  Well, a few.  Does my mom count?  Never mind, she wouldn't count anyway.  The point is, all these things are true and yet... everyday is a featherweight bout with despair.  i realize it sounds better to say, "heavyweight" bout, but i don't come close to qualifying for heavyweight.  i'd be boxing the cobra-quick little latinos with all the tattoos.  And lately, losing.

And that's all i got to say about that.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Humble Pie Anyone?

They squared off as men in a killin' rage do.

i'll take a moment to say, that's not something i claim to understand.  It's not something i feel; i'm a slow wick.  The life drains out of me when the subject that's makin' me angry is human.  Like a circuit breaker trips and cuts all emotion until the moment passes.  Later, i'll be functionally psychopathic: stabbing tupperware and making death threats to Rottweilers but at The Moment, the moment of contact, during the incident, when the source of my fury is there furiously making fury, nothing, bupkiss, nobody home.  Can't explain it, but there it is.  

Duke is different.

So's the Hugh.  (Names have been nicked so that people can feel free to make stupid in their anonymity.)

The Hugh made a demand.  It doesn't matter what it was, it was something he needed.  Most people would call it a favor.  Bosses call it your job.  Nothing major, i didn't like it but i went along cause the Hugh is my boss.  That's what i do.  No big deal. 

Duke is different.  The Duke thought it was a big deal.  The Duke was no happy.  No happy a'tall.  But he held it in.  He had nothing to say to the Hugh when he showed up but for the Duke, that's progress.  i know the Duke wanted to rant and rave and defend his viewpoint.  i know the Duke thought it was unfair and would normally have told everyone within earshot.  But he was biting his tongue and going along with it.  i didn't like his 'tude but hey, he's my friend.  That's what i do.  No big deal.

The Hugh is different.  The Hugh felt betrayed.  The Hugh felt that he was the one making all the concessions and this was the thanks he got.  He needed something done and he got 'tude.

"The stage was set, the sun was sinking low down,
as they came to town to face... another show down.
The lawmen cleared the people from the streets,
"All you bloodthirsty bystanders, won't you try to find your seats..."*

When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, i was short one partner and the company's primary team, the only consistent team the Hugh has had in the three years i've worked for him, was gutted.  Cut in half.  And the Hugh was trying on rationalizations to see if any made his butthead look big.

Either man could have backed down.  Either man could have admitted he was wrong or at least took the time to see the other's side.  Either man could have been the bigger man by putting the other man's needs or wants ahead of his own.  

But the Hugh and the Duke are different.
And i wonder how proud they're feeling now?

*The Eagles, Doolin and Dalton/ Desperado Reprised


Monday, September 15, 2008

Stray bullet

Hopefully i'll get to do more with this thought later but for now this is all i got and i don't want to forget it so i'll tell you so you can remind me later....

Humble pie is not a desert,
it's a medicine.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lament of Everything explained

17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' 
       "Cursed is the ground because of you; 
       through painful toil you will eat of it 
       all the days of your life.

 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, 
       and you will eat the plants of the field.

 19 By the sweat of your brow 
       you will eat your food 
       until you return to the ground, 
       since from it you were taken; 
       for dust you are 
       and to dust you will return."


And i wonder and write laments about how hard it is to just eke out a living.  Silly fricken.

One mississippi, two mississippi...

When i was a kid, back in the Early Neolithic, we played guns.  Kids around the neighborhood, and sometimes from distant neighborhoods would line up at the arsenal, our woodshed, and we would reenact the opening of SWAT.  Handing out assault weapons as the boys and girls, alright, girl, that Somers kid was a bit of a tomboy, but call her that and she'd deck ye, filed past.  Then we would fan out across the backyards, field and courts to do battle, hits recorded in the usual fashion: 
"Bam!  Got you, Nathan!"
"Did not!"
"Liar!  I totally blew you away!"
"I was prone!"  A sure defense.
"I could see your head, your dead!"
"Fine!  One...Two...Three..."

Now my eight year old kills kids and adults from Japan, Spain, France, the UK and who knows where in spectacular detail online.  There may be some debate about whether or not you should be dead but the computer has no doubts.  One thing is still the same however...

Count five mississippi and you're back in the game.  Might be a metaphor for life in that somewhere.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Open a window

It occurs to me that the Coop has been a rather disturbingly dank and depressing place of late.  There are two possible explanations for this...

one: that the world is a disturbingly dank and depressing place

two: i tend to write when i'm in a bad mood

i lean towards two.  The sun is rising over the Coop's surrounding woods and the ragged remnants of T-storm Hannah have moved on to worry someone else's weather forecasters and few others.  The light is tinted warm.  The air is cool and clean.  The Cricket Philharmonic is performing an operetta with the Avian Dawn Choir.  Even the Tabasco Cat is at peace.  There is much to be appreciative of on a quiet Sunday morning.  i just put down a marvelously dull and amateurish novel that gives me great hope of someday being published or at least the renewed belief that there is a need for better reading material.  Though it does raise concerns for a culture and society that would publish such drivel.  My family is healthy, mostly happy and sleeping soundly.  The coffee's good.  The bills are paid and the Iggles play at one.

So what's to complain about?

Yeah.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lament of Everything (apologies for the profanities)

Spiders!
Spiders in my head
Cobwebs catch on everything
Cling to everything
Griming everything

Run to the North!
Animals bore into the North
Claws that tear, tear at everything
teeth gnaw on everything
shit on everything

Run to the South!
Teeth rattle loose in the skull
Wind bleeds through everything
Water soaks into everything
molding, rotting everything

Run to the East!
Rot, ruin, claws and teeth
Everything in the East
Bitter tears in the East
Let the weeds have the East

Run to the West!
Out the door and into the West
Run far from everything
hide from everything
leave everything

People!
People bore into my head
People cling to everything
tear into everything
shit on everything

Run to the West!
To where the sun sets
Let night fall on everything
hide everything
shit on everything

My God!
My God what have you done?
You took everything
You bore everything
Bitter tears for everything

Rain!
Your tears fall like rain
Like a flood on everything
wash away everything
fall on everything

O Heart!
Heart full of filth
Give up, give up everything
wash away everything
Let go of everything

Run to the Cross!
Cling to the cross, O heart
It paid for everything
renewed everything
makes sense of everything

Everything!
Everything is new
Everything is clean
In the heart
heart of my God 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

simpler to be cynical

i wanted to have ideals,
everyone cries about global warming
but they tore down three hundred acres of forest next door
 and put up a housing development
and the temperature along our street went up five degrees.
so how is my planting one tree gonna help?

i don't actually give a Gore's hairpiece about the environment,
it's gonna do just fine, we may all get wiped out
but the environment will keep on truckin' in one form or another.
i wanted to love people for who they are...
but they're so darn stupid!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Let it be

Got blindsided by a memory last night.  Just came out of nowhere and cold cocked me whilst i was exiting the shower.  i have no idea if there is some significance to my condition at the time, frankly, i don't want to know.  My curiosity only runs so deep and it tends to hit a wall where nekkidity is concerned.  
The memory was this: i was a teenager, roughly seventeen.  We were going to the mall, a friend, his girlfriend and i.  We didn't particularly want to go to the mall but we were bored and that was one of the places we tended to go.  For some unknown reason, i got the idea in my head to go in clown make-up.  Not the full goofy suit with big shoes or anything, more of a Red Skelton kind of thing, hobo get up.  i probably just wanted to liven up what was otherwise going to be a really dull night.
Now, as you may well imagine, i was not allowed past the kitchen in this get up.  My father particularly was very adamant about me getting changed.  We still went to the mall, i just went as an angry youth who hated the world instead of a hobo clown.
My boy, the pretty one, has recently bought himself a screaming pink shirt.  It's not quite Neon, but they hang out at the same bar in New Hope.  Crap, i'm even ridiculing the lad in print!  Here's the thing.  The pretty one is a fairly confident individual.  He does what he thinks is cool and the rest of the world be darned.  But he can be influenced.  My mirth over this shirt, which he likes and my mockery have shaken his willingness to wear it in public.  i've seen it.  He had to build up to it's debut.
Why?  Why do i care what color shirt he wears?  Why should he care that it was social suicide for a guy to wear pink back in the bronze age?  i dunno but i have a guess.
Selfishness.
Father's think that their families are indicators or at least will be viewed by the unwashed masses as such, of their own character and its implicit failings.  A father who let's his son wear pink is raising an alternative lifestyle preferential child, i suppose would be the fear.  A father who let his son go to the mall in clown make-up would be picking him up from the police station later that night or have to answer uncomfortable questions at work tomorrow or at church on Sunday.  
i'm not saying that we have to let our kids do whatever fool thing enters their head.  This is wisdom, it requires discernment.  Knowing what's important and what isn't.  This all seems darkly ironic given some of my father's recent decisions but that's a story for another day.
i like to perform.  i didn't really know this about myself as a kid.  i've had to learn it since.  If, and that's a dangerously self-pitying word that gateways into a dark, self-pitying world if you live in it, if i'd been allowed to be myself a kid, what would i be doing now?  How would i be different?  Don't know, doesn't matter cause it didn't go down that way.  
But i think i'm going to stop giving my son a hard time about his shirt.

The plaid pants on the other hand...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Loons to Gulls

Two vacations in less than a month.  A week in Canuckada fishing with the Ballyhoo Gang, reinforced by Papa Panda and Unca Bubba and a long weekend at the beach with the Fricken Familia.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  We must be stronger cause we didn't die.  Despite storms, our own cooking, restaurant cooking, an outbreak of the Frumps, chubikinis, plywood tables passed off as 'beds,' killer moss-kweetos, touching fish, Jersey drivers, Canadian drivers, New Yorkers, and Deleware road systems (which i believe are just run-off from New Jersey--Traffic Circles fercryinowtlowd!), toll roads,
 toll roads, 
toll roads (you have to say it three times because that's how many booths you hit in a ten mile stretch!  They're designed that way though.  The plot is to get us to buy EZ pass so that we're used to the idea of being charged money without noticing just for driving over arbitrary, invisible lines.  Pretty soon they'll bang your wallet for fifty cents every time you leave your driveway.  And another dime for crossing your own threshold.)  Yes, we survived.  And hopefully we're wiser too.  A few things we may or may not have learned...
  • the Ballyhoo gang don't like to touch fish
  • if the nice young man at the front desk shows you a menu BEFORE showing you the dining room, he is probably trying to find a polite way of saying you walked into the wrong, damn restaurant.  They're not being snooty, they're being kind, you won't enjoy the atmosphere any more than the regular patrons will downwind of your fishy hide.
  • seventies architecture is poop.  Block and poured concrete may be 'modern' and 'functional' but as soon as the paint starts to peel those spiffy hotels just start looking like government sponsored low-income tenements.
  • Russians seem amused and pleasantly surprised when you thank them in their native language, Latinos less so and Canuckleheads just give you a pained expression of long suffering.  They've dealt with Yanks before, eh.
  • i don't know why everyone's so concerned with self-esteem, just go to the beach and look at the swim suits, there isn't much of a self-esteem problem near as i can tell.  i'd have to say we need to start ridiculing people a little more.
  • that if the Ballyhoo gang don't have a television or a video game they go into this eerie state of hibernation.  They must do this in order to survive the drought of mindless entertainment.  Their bodies seem to relax and they read a lot.  In one instance, i saw one of them drawing!  Must do more research.
  • that i'd actually forgot how many stars there are
  • night fishing, while profitable, is a whole nother endeavor entirely.
  • it's also creepy
  • that i don't love people the way God loves people.  i'm actually suffering from a nightmare where i get to heaven and its a lot like the line at an amusement park with noise and lights and humanity in all its inhuman variations, dropping litter on the floor and not caring and screaming, spoiled kids and noise and lights and cigarette smoke and stomach aches and so on ad nauseum.  And God says something to me like, "if you can't love these, then you don't love Me."
  • that i really wish the kingdom of God was the beautiful scenery He made for us and not so much the people he put in it.  i find that a little easier to enjoy.  No offense, humanity.
  • that i have a great family!
  • that apparently my enchilladas beat Dos Locos' enchilladas.  Still a great place to eat though.
  • that i will never go to the beach again without packing a sweatsuit.
  • and a coat.
  • and maybe wool socks.
  • fish like to have their bellies rubbed
  • a lot!
  • it's gross
  • i don't recommend it
  • that i need more sleep
Good night.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

(shrug)

My issue with God is this: that while i have clear evidence that He's speaking to me, orchestrating events, nudging me to action, taking a truncheon to me train o' thought as it were, while i am without doubt upon this, it is fact, it is bedrock far from a fault line, it is something really solidish, and my faith tells me that these speaks, orchestral movements, nudges and truncheon lumps are for my good and are born out of a magnificent, mysterious, merciful and unmitigated love for me...

i'm never quite sure what it is He wants me to do.

F'rinstance, that's a word where i come from, does the constant eating away of my traditional writing time and the lack of any energy to stay awake after work mean i am:

A-- supposed to flip the laptop out of my car window on the expressway, burn all the blank paper in the house, break all my pencil points, hammer my sharpener to wee pieces, dip all the pens in wax and give up writing as an idea, hobby, institution or possible career choice?

or...

B--get serious.  Knuckle down, carve out some real, designated, do-not-disturb time to commit to my art and who knows, let's go willy-over-teacups and maybe send something in to a magazine, editor, agent and see what happens?

or...

C--go to work.  i'm almost late already.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

God's talking, is anybody listening?

Fell asleep in front of the Phillies game last night.  

This is not a new, nor particularly uncommon experience.  The Phillies seem to be a powerful barbiturate.  But that's not the point i'm trying to make.  

i don't have a teevee in our bedroom.  i have always resisted this.  i feel it is actually detrimental to a marriage.  The bedroom is the last refuge of the couple.  Where they are alone, naked, together before their God and each other.  Why would i invite Jay Leno into that.  But that's not the point i'm trying to make either.

So last night when i finally turned over the remote to the missus and stumbled off to the last refuge of the couple (yes, i appreciate the irony), i was surprised at how hard it was to fall asleep.  Here i had been unable to pay attention to a dramatic contest between athletes just moments before without my eyes closing of their own volition and now, when it was silent, dark and perfect conditions for catatonia, i was unable to still the voices in my head.  It was as if my mind had woken up.  And i realized something simple and obvious that i had never really thought about before, which is kind of the only realizations and epiphanies i have, but that's not the point either.

Y'see, i don't have a teevee in the bedroom, nor do i really like it on unless i'm engaged in watching it.  And here's not only why, but my point.  My really obvious and simple point, prepare to be underwhelmed.

Teevees silence the voices.  

When i was napping in front of another pathetic offering by the Phillies (not the point but still an aside i'd like to make; the Phillies suck) my mind was off.  Nothing.  Niente.  Incommunicado.  But, as soon as the sensory overload ended and my mind could get my attention again, the voices came back.  Thoughts, imaginations, prayers, they all crowded round again, each with its own agenda.  And like old friends i laid there and listened to their stories, points, petitions and anecdotes.  Much more entertaining than the tying run popping out to end the ballgame.  Somewhere in that Babel i'm sure the Spirit was whispering as He is wont to do as well and that's one voice i really want to hear.

Now i know people for whom the teevee is ALWAYS on, they even have to sleep to it.  i don't think that's wrong, it seems to work for them but i have never understood that before and now i wonder...

...is that so they don't have to hear?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Your grace is enough

Just a quick thought that i found really cool...

No sin, nothing i've done, no matter how heinous, how disgusting, how embarrassing, how demeaning, mean, spiteful, uncaring, selfish, bastardly, dastardly, mother blushing ignorant it was...

is greater in its depravity than Jesus' act of grace is in its ability to cover, forgive and redeem said sin.  

For me to even think so would be a sin of arrogance, like saying God isn't good enough.

Fortunately, His grace covers that too.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Are you kidding me??

Went to see WALL-E last night.  So what follows is a review of the human race.

We suck.

The entire premise of WALL-E is that man, in his rampant consumerism, has made the earth completely inhospitable.  We killed it with trash.  So, we take off for the sky in giant arks and leave behind an army of robots to clean it up so we can return.  Well, after seven hundred years, there is only one little robot left functional and he's not quite done yet.  Meanwhile, off in space, the human race just rides around in automated chairs, being waited on by robots and only interfacing with each other through heads up displays.  Everyone on the ship is about three hundred and fifty pounds and i'll be really surprised if the movie isn't declared "anti-overweightist" by easily bruised egos later today.

So, the robot falls in love, the human race wakes up, earth is resettled and the credits roll.

Now this is where it gets disgusting.  

You see, movies, especially pixar movies, have a tendency to put funny stuff at the end of the credits, so i'm more or less trained to wait until their over now.  Before they ended however, the house lights came up and an army of teens came in to do their job.  For in the theater, the very same theater where families, parents and children they are supposed to be training up, where they all just saw the same morality play about the dangers of laziness and vulgar consumption...

THERE SAT A FREAKIN' ARK LOAD OF TRASH!!!!!

Not accidentally spilled stuff, not the lost jujube on the floor, but half eaten buckets of popcorn still on the chairs, sodas in the cupholders and candyboxes everwhere!!!  Purposely left behind for the platoon of teens to clean up.

Now, i ain't an environmentalist, i happen to know there are much more important issues facing us all today.  But if we can't even figure out the message of WALL-E, then i seriously doubt the gospel has much of a chance.

Jeremiah 6:10
To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sorry, more poetry


Forgotten how to live
Father forgive me
For i know not what to do
This unopened gift
That you gave me
Just gives me the blues

Can't sieze the day
paralyzed by doubt
Please tell me what to do
Gotta find a way
To figure this out
Before this day is through

One thing i know
Is no one knows
What my life is for
i know where to go
When the wind blows
But what to do with this oar?





Twas blind but now i see...


The funny thing about going blind is you have no idea how bad you've gotten until someone puts glasses on you.

Now, if i could just get corrective lenses for my point of view...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Approaching your exit


So why is that?  

(Readers alert: The author frequently begins posts with the inborn assumption that the reader has just finished reading the chronologically previous post.  There is no cause for alarm.  You have not failed some test or missed half of this post.  There is however no need to alert the author to the outcome of assumptions, he is already an a** and the reader is whatever the reader chooses to be.  No assumptions of the author can actually have any effect on the reader's intelligence or social standing.  Unless one of the reader's friends finds the reader reading this blog, in which case they may point and laugh.)

Why do i not do the things i want to do?

When i was younger, i remember trying occasionally.  With some moderate successes.  i equate those with baby steps.  Baby steps of a wandering scrivener.  But then something happened...

i became my mother.

Now, given some recent family developments, this is a loaded statement which i will not delve too deep into here but suffice it to say that by "became my mother," i only mean in a metaphorical sense.  You see, my mother is a wonderful, miserable person who has allowed her responsibilities to dictate her life.  Her life was all about what she could not do.  She is very intelligent and that keen intellect was finely tuned to the negative scale, she could always clearly see the reasons why something would not work.  No matter what lovely idea she had or dream or hope, there was always a reason why she couldn't do it or at least could not do it now.  As i became a teenager, i used to call her on this often.  i chided her pretty hard.  i know, i can hear the echoes of my voice mocking me through the ether of years right now.

i do not regret the decisions i have made, at least, not all of them.  i feel led to this spot.  i'm just starting to feel like Tom Hanks at the end of Cast Away, standing in the middle of the crossroads.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A bag, a bike and a bedroll

i am reading "A Pirate Looks at Fifty" by Jimmy Buffett.  It is a thoroughly horrible book and i don't recommend it.  In fact, what i recommend is that if you ever see a copy, you burn it.  Right there, where ever you came upon the filthy piece of excrement.  Just whip out the handiest form of fire starting apparati you have, lighter, matches, two sticks, oil soaked rags, magnifying glass, whatever and torch the puppy.  Then burn down whatever building it was that housed it.  The curse must be eradicated.  Then, find the owner and, if you haven't already, burn their house down.  

Don't come visit me however because as soon as i return my copy to the li-barry, i'll be going out to buy my own.  Though i may blowtorch the bookstore on my way out.  i'd better get it at Borders.

This book, this evil tome, aside from keeping me up right now vilifying it and looking up 'vilify' to make sure i used it correctly, yes, yes i did.  This book, more importantly, this author, this verschlugginah meatpie, is living my life!

No, i didn't write margaritaville.  i don't actually think i could string three chords together in such a way that would make people tap their feet much less throw money at me for a recording of it.  No, i'm not likely to become a flyingboat pilot and live on islands from Martha's Vineyard to the Carribees.  No, i'm not a saloon singer, a flyfisherman or writing a musical.  i'm not even sure i would want to do those things.  

But the things i do want to do, i don't do.  And that, me friends, cohorts and unlucky acquaintances, (as if there were more than one of you reading this...) is the rub.  Mr. Buffett, i am in no ways worthy of referring to him by his given name, does and apparently always has, done more or less, exactly what came into his balding little peanut to do.  It hasn't always been successful, it hasn't always been pretty but he did it and he learned what worked and what doesn't.

AND ...he has nearly a whole chapter on the essential gear of his expeditions and being prepared and his search for the holy grail of backpacks to carry it all in and anyone who knows me knows that pretty well sums up the chewy, darkmeat core of this fricken.  

What bugs me, what really shoves the shiv in me shins, what has me calling for arson on a Detroit Devil's night scale is this: that while Mr. Buffett's boyscout backpack is transporting snickers bars, bottled water, navigation gear, swag, and a big, fat wallet around the world...

My backpack doesn't leave my closet.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wow! Two posts in one day!

This is something i wrote for a story i'm working on but it amused me so i thought i'd share...


When Resperignis grew old, he set his sons, Deorex and Matt, up as viceroys.  But they did not follow the path he had set for them.  Their favor was for sale.

So the clan fathers came to Resperignis and said, “You’re as good as dead and your sons suck.  Give us a king like all the Barbarians have.”

But when they said, “Give us a king,” Resperignis knew this was not wise.  He took flight to speak with the Royal Family.  And the Fire said, “It’s okay, Resperignis.  It is not you they have turned their backs on, but Me.  They no longer want Me for their Father, not that they ever have.  No matter what I do for them, they would rather be orphans.  So give them what they want but warn them what earthly fathers are like.”

So Resperignis told the Royal children everything that their Father had said.  He said, “If I appoint a king for you from among you he will lord it over you.  He will forget you are brothers and treat you like slaves, not as his children.  He will use you for his own purposes.  He will not love you; he will not take care of you.  And when he takes all you have worked for, including your sons and daughters, you will beg the Royal Family to save you but He will not.”

But the Royal children said, “Ah, Baloney!  When we have a king it’ll be great!  He’ll do everything for us.”

So Resperignis sighed and went back before the true King and told Him all that the morons had said and the Fire told him, “Don’t sweat it, go and do what they ask.”

So Resperignis said to the Royal children, “fine, whatever.”

dirt

i think about hard ground.  

i'm not talking ground WITH rocks.  i'm talking ground that IS rock.  i'm talking soil so dense, so resistant to being broken that nothing, but nothing will grow in it.

i think about comfort.

Climate controlled, cable modem'd, dorito munching comfort.  Little sanctuaries, little fortresses of control that we set up to escape what we cannot control.  Little schedules we maintain to bring order, so we know what's coming next.  Landscaped, widescreened, surround sound, havens where we only have to contact those we choose, those we like, those who do not disturb the comfort.  Put up a book and a latte', plug in the ipod and observe without interacting.  Do not touch, do not be touched.  Do not disturb.

Islands without need.

But wants.  Where there is no Need, Want thrives.  Want becomes Need.  Want becomes the goal.  All ambition is thrown into the Want.  Want disturbs the comfort, it disrupts the order.  The lacking must be filled so as to restore the comfort, fulfill the Want.  Want becomes god.  Or is comfort the god and Want the sacrifice he demands?  The commandment he gives?

I am Comfort, that brought you out of land of Need.
Pursue me with all your mind, body, soul and money.
Thou shall Want.

(long pause)

i think about suffering.

Suffering dispels want.  Suffering disrupts comfort.  Suffering exposes need.  Suffering is the plow.

The desert is comfortable.  Farmer's fields need.

One is lifeless.  The other sustains all life.

 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Got Pablo?

"I..." he paused for dramatic effect, "am Pablo!"
"You are, are yah?" she said.
"Si," he said and ran off an elaborate little mexican hat dance involving an imaginary rose in his teeth and a lot of abuse to her hardwood floor from his worn out, mismatched, cowboy boots and drew to its conclusion with a great deal of flourish and latino panache.  She didn't know the spanish for panache.
"And just what does a Pablo do?"
"I jest tole you, I am ...Pablo!" he reiterated as if that said everything.
"Let's assume I just moved here from some Pabloless backwater city."
"Oh, senorita, that would be a truly sad place to be."
"Undoubtedly, but, I wouldn't know what a Pablo was, would I?"
"No, senorita, you would no.  And that is why your face would be always frowning, like it is now."
"I am not frowning," she said.
"Si, you are, your face is like dis," and he showed her.
"That's not a frown, that's my usual expression," she explained.
"That is the expression of worldly pain, I know it well, it comes from too little Pablo."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Little Ditty Bout Jake and Dionne



Why?  She asks, not wanting an answer.
Cause, he says, cause he don't understand her.
Angry she gets, cause he don't understand her.
Why? he asks, but she will not answer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jumping the tracks.

Twenty-five minutes before work won't leave much time for a connected train of thought.  So we'll just derail the puppy and sift the wreckage...
  • Eating out is getting to be a bad habit.  Time to pull out the crockpot.
  • Planning meals, now that i think about it, was a very time consuming process.  One that ate even more into my writing time.  Lessee, eat well as constipated writer or write well with triple bypass, these are my choices.
  • Hey, lookit that!  Two cars that were connected.
  • Recently, i tried to reopen lines of communication with some folk.  Worked for as long as i wrote them.  When i stopped, they stopped.  Draw your own conclusions.
  • i bleeding hate stink bugs!  Chitinous little nightmares sent to cloud my mind.
  • Had four days off: Day one: Prepare for Party, Day two: Prepare for Party, Day three: Party, Day four: sleep off effects of days one through three.  
  • We're getting old, almost said odd, not sure that wouldn't have been correct too.  Anyway, today's signpost of time's inevitability:  our parties consistently end before ten o'clock now and everyone's able to drive home.
  • It's raining.  Again.  I have nothing but outside work.  Again.
  • My eldest is apparently unable to self motivate at school.  Dangling carrots, breaking the rod over his back, looks like i have to do something.  But and this is a problem i seem to be facing all over the place these days, how do you help someone change their own character flaws?  Shield them from the consequences, yeah, i've seen that done.  Not usually to the subject's moral improvement.  But actually change them?
  • Mynk's birthday was this weekend.  i'm pretty darn sure that everything else going on stomped that.  i'm also pretty darn sure that was my fault.
  • My family has a history of not doing birthdays well.
  • Not doing birthday's well...
  • Freaking stink bugs are flipping scourge!!!!
  • ...is indicative of a larger, more serious problem, i think.
  • Time's up.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The downtime between victories

Losing sucks.
The system is corrupt.
It's a good thing we get Jesus' win/loss record.

Rambler's alert: i pretty much go off on a tangent for the rest of the post.  Those were the only real points i make as near as i can tell.  So unless you wanna see how deep the rabbit trail goes, you may wanna take those three and walk away a winner.  Otherwise...

There are degrees of losing.  

  1. First degree losing is to just be beaten.  You didn't really have a chance to win, you were out matched, out played and not really fit to tie the other guy's gloves but you stood in there and took your drubbing and there's pride in that.  Perverse pride but a gap toothed grin over a beer is still a good beer.
  2. Second degree losing is harder to take.  Second degree losing is what good rivalries are made of.  Two equal opponents slugging it out and never really gaining ground.  It's anybody's guess who will win each time these two come together and they can't come together often enough and they can't wish any harder to never meet again.  Second degree losing is the sharpening stone for a good team, they test their mettle and found it not quite up to Ginsu standard.  But there's next time.  Slightly more whiskey and bitter but still a good beer.
  3. Third degree losing, is not losing at all.  It is when a victory that was rightfully yours is taken from you and given to an undeserving foe.  Third degree losing is a betrayal.  You are made to feel the anguish and responsibility of someone else's hideously poor or immoral decision making.  This is not a good beer.  This is not beer at all.  This is oxycodone and murderous thoughts of revenge.
Now some folk take it too far.  For some folk, and living in Philly one has a grotesquely fattening smorgasbord of good examples of bad losers, all losing is third degree.  There is always a reason why they were betrayed and there is always a scapegoat to pin it on.  Sometimes, in the case of Andy Reid, their right.  The rest of the time, they're just unwilling to see the facts. 

Fact is, sometimes you lose.  Ain't nothing wrong with that, the best teams still lose and most are better for it.  Losing reminds us that we aren't gods.  We are in fact losers who are raised to a better standard at times.   Losing sends us back home, it's introspective and hopefully we find ourselves and our true motivation again.  The christian comes home to the ever present embrace of the Father who loves us and gave us the greatest victory of all which frees us to truly play.  Everyone else goes home to ..whatever it is you wacko's cling to.  Losing prepares us for life, if you can't lose well, you will be tragically underdressed for ninety-five percent of what goes on in a day in the real world.  Losing sucks, but it ain't the end of the world.  It's just a good starting point for a beer with your friends.

So what do we teach kids when we try to protect them from all loss?  When we don't keep score in their little leagues?  When we give trophies just for being able to put one leg in each hole of their gym shorts?  i dunno, but i'm pretty sure i'm not going to want to live in a country run by them.  Those who have never lost can't appreciate winning.  They have no idea what it takes to achieve real victory.  They have no endurance when the race gets hard, when the enemy is bigger, stronger, smarter.  They have no way of facing impossible odds.  They have no cunning to find and exploit weakness.  Those who have never lost cannot win well either.  They cannot have empathy so they cannot have grace.  Those who have never lost cannot see themselves as losers justly deserving loss and yet being handed grace and victory by someone else.  When they win, they assume it was their birthright for they are gods and cannot lose, when they lose, they assume they were betrayed for they are gods and cannot lose.  They cannot stand to have the illusion burst so winning becomes everything.  For those who have a more realistic view of themselves, losing is just the down time between wins.

But third degree losers.  The truly betrayed.  What do they learn?  They learn that there is no point in trying because someone else has rigged the game.  They are at best, made to feel like losers; responsible for actions that were not their own, at worst, like victims of an unjust system.  

As a father, what do i tell my boys?  As a child of God, what is my Father telling me?

Can't wait till i can have a pint with Jesus in Jeremiah's Bar and Grill and laugh about lovable losers.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Eli's first cloud

Nihil.

Nothing.

Nothing says a lot to me.  Sometimes nothing says more than Nothing.  Nothing is what i stare at, what stares back at me, what considers me with it's cold, blank eyes.  Eyes alive and dead at the same time.  Eyes that say, this, this is your legacy.  This is what you have become.  This stark, whiteness, this pale desert.  This is the sum of your thoughts and since thought is the proof of being then i am by definition nothing.  For while worlds crash within and galaxies are formed in the tohu vevohu of my inner chaos and matter spirals outward to rebound off a cage of bone and groups around unseen forces with violence incarnate to brood.  While loathing and lament find common enemy in self and war is raged against hope and wisdom and the heart is torn asunder with trenching shovel and sanguine bayonet.  While roaring is my lullaby and shrieks are my sonnets and the shriveling coward in the corner bears suspicious resemblance to the cursing hiss going about his daily mining of salt without!  While fingers froth and mind seethes to reach out and finally, finally, finally ram home, prime and with the barest twitch of a twitching prisoner released from the torturous pit send all into that cruel, white desert a Rachmaninov eruption of all within to all without!

While all that rages within, nothing, nothing, nothing moves without.  Words smatter across the screen and are deleted by the next wave of doubt.  Conscience knows the need, Passion urges action, Lord of Lords, even Desperation knows that this drought must, must, MUST be broke before mind and screen crack with the dryness!

And yet, the words fell, feel, flee...
and still there is the blankness, the pale desert and a short stormburst of madness that the desert drinks in one gulp without softening.  And turns.  And waits, wears, watches the horizon for a promising cloud.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A silly li'l sonnet


She's sleeping when i leave
i'm a'bed when she crashes home
lying together, we live alone
Thus like one bereaved
A widower i grieve
as each day has flown
and we toil on our own
to her memory i cleave

To Hope, to Hope i'll cling
And throw off this hapless rider
May tomorrow's sunrise bring
An end to all our wrang-a-ling
And i'll wake up right beside her
and till it set to her i'll cling

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Through clenched teeth

Weeping and gnashing of teeth.

That is, to this rather scruffy fricken, one of the most viscerally descriptive phrases in the English lexicon.  Gnashing is just such a guttural word that one can almost not say it without actually gnashing one's canine's together.  Not Spot and Rover, if you say 'gnashing' while smacking your dogs heads together, you should gently place the pups down on the carpet again and seek help immediately.  Much as i hate dogs, that's just weird.  Unless the dogs in question have been barking at nothing and everything since eleven last night, then it's not only perfectly justified, it's healthy and cathartic.  Carry on.

No, i'm not referring to battered family pets.  i am once again coming back to that same vomit heap i have been choking down and regurgitating for the last fifteen years.  Sheesh, i'm even beginning to bore myself!  Lessee if i can make this about something other than me.  
umm.  Nope.  Can't do it.  Lessee if the Spirit can make this festering flop of fertilizer into a flourishing flower.

Weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Or as my comrade-in-amity, Mauser Bob translates it, Wailing and gnashing of teeth.  It's a phrase that usually describes the 'Outer Darkness.'  Sort of the antithesis of wherever God is.  If you ain't in the Light, you'se in de dark.  And believe you me, de dark, ain't no place to be.  So if one is going through a hard time and the natural flow out one's heart at that time is wailing, weeping and gnashed teeth, is one cast off?  Have we been placed in Outer Darkness for a time?

Nay!  Laughably Nay, i say!  We have entered the New Covenant in the blood.  There is no separation now or forever.  There can be none, God does not break promises.  Period.  End of story.  Close the book, get a new one and fuh-geddabowtit.  Not going to happen.  No way.  No how.  That's a big Negatory.  Couldn't do it if He wanted to.  Am i getting through?  Yeah, you're feeling me.  You got it.  You love it.

So, we're inseperab, inseperata, insepra, you know, i'm frequently amazed by the holes in my vocabulary.  We are inseparable from the Father.  We sometimes feel lost and alone and we weep and gnash.  Are we being punished?  Are we being tested?  Are we being refined?

Maybe.  Are we sinning when we cry out like puppies in a car carrier on our way to the vets?  Oooh.  There's the rub, ain't it?  And as with all things spiritual, there's no single answer.  To not cry to God with our true, heartfelt emotions would be dishonest.  Trying to choke it down and work on it ourselves would be works.  My eldest, Happ, is an open book, his heart is out there for all to see.  You know what he's thinking whether you want to or not.  Rascal, my second son, is a clam.  You couldn't force his jaws open with a sugarcoated crowbar.  This has caused a breach at times in our relationship.  i have found myself trying to earn his trust in order to know my own son.  In order to Love my own son.  For how can we love someone we don't know?  This is what a relationship with God would look like if we weren't honest in our dealings with Him.  If all our prayers were the rote kind.  If we censored our emotions with Him.  

Now, He doesn't actually need us to tell Him.  He can see inside.  But why would we want to try and keep Him out?  So we lament when we feel locked in the car carrier.  We cry out.  But not as one who has no hope!  That is the difference.  We know where our hope lies.  We know it is a faithful and good hope.  This may hurt, this may downright suck, but it is meant for our good.

Just like a shot at the vets.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Temple of Me

i have a new name for my career.  i, henceforth, shall no longer be a carpenter or a remodeler.  I will not, as it says on my business card, which is without question nor rival, one of the biggest wastes of wood pulp there is: a project manager.  i am not a hammer-swinger, hammer head or a hammer-for-hire.  All that is done.  Misnomers of a bygone era.  For i have come to a rather bleak epiphany.  Which would make a good name for a song.  But that is not my bleak epiphany.  My bleak epiphany is this...

i ..am a temple builder.

i say this is a bleak epiphany because the temples i build are not for the One True God.  They are for idols.  Occasionally, i may have even built the idol itself.  i choose not to think about that too hard.  i find it unsettling.  Like finding your toothpaste in the drawer of the vanity and wondering what that tube in the medicine cabinet that you have been brushing your teeth with for the last fifteen years really was.

Now idols are seldom carved images as they used to be.  Folks don't bow down to golden calves half as much as they used to.  But though Baal, Ashteroth and Ashdod, Dagon, Zeus, Aphrodite and the gang may be as popular as Cheryl Tiegs and Farrah Faucett, Work, Wealth, Status and the Perfect Children seem to have picked up the slack.  And every day, i am commissioned to build a temple to one or more of these.

i had this black brainstorm on the way to Home Despot as Jimi sang Manic Depression.  Coincidence, i think not.  i was pondering my latest shrine, this one in particular to the gods Perfect Children, Success and Status.  A pretty common blend for the post-modern pagan.  And i was wondering why i hated my job so much today.  Don't get me wrong, i generally speaking, make it a religious observance to abhor my work every day, but today was worse than usual.  This customer, to be honest, made it worse than usual.  They are not my worst customer, by a rather sad longshot, but they fit a type that my worst customers have filled out.  So i was wondering, what about that archetypal customer made me feel so low?  Why did i feel so used?  Worthless even while working?  

And then it hit me.  Just like the ancient silversmith commissioned to carve an image for the local, rich guy who wanted a god he could control and manipulate, one that would give him what he wanted, instead of demanding something by right from him, one that would stay conveniently mute when and if the man checked his conscience.  I had been commissioned to build a temple, a monument to what my customer thought would complete them, what my customer pursued with all of their resources and energy.  What my customer was drawing their identity and glory from.

Now don't get me wrong, not everyone who finishes a basement with an eye for creating a cool space for their kids is inherently an idol worshiper.  It's all about motives.  Now, not being God, i can't see hearts in order to judge motives.  i am stupendously NOT without sin.  i'm not chucking rocks at them.  But it's not just the idealistic and the naive who wear their hearts on their sleeves and when those hearts are selfish, self-absorbed and casually arrogant, they aren't all that much of a joy to work for.

But i didn't come here to talk about idol worshipers.  Okay, yes i did, but only indirectly.  As i said, i didn't come to chuck rocks at them.  i want to chuck rocks at me!  What it comes down to is this realization, this bleak epiphany, which i still think would make a great name for a band or a song or something in some way related to something that sorta had to do with music, is that every day brings a new reason why i don't want to go to my job anymore.  i don't know what to do with that... it's not like i have another option, or at least not one obvious to my myopia.  So as i felt the bitterness rise like chronic acid reflux i prayed and went to another Home Despot cause the first one didn't sell primed, finger-jointed one-by's.  

There i bumped into a guy who thanked me for telling the kids a story at the Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday.

i want more customers like that!


Monday, March 10, 2008

What to say? What to say?

What would I like to tell every kid?

That there is a reason, a purpose to your being here.  That you are necessary to the story.  That you have a reason and a father that loves you so incredibly much that He died to save you.  That there is so much more to life than what the world tells you is important and so much less than what it says you have to do to be happy and fulfilled.

Great.

 

How to say that without sounding like a high school guidance counselor?  That it doesn’t sound like oatmeal with too much sugar on it to make up for the irrepressible fact that it’s oatmeal.  When everyone is special then nobody is.  How to believe that you are essential when life seems to be saying the opposite?  How to forgo the fake pleasures of this life and not pursue the empty treasures when the real ones are so much easier to obtain?

That’s not something you say, so much, as hug.


the Opportune Moment

I can't write so i might as well bug y'all.

That makes 'bout as much sense as anything i say so strap in junior space cadets, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!  Y'see, i'm supposed to be writing a story for all the whelps and whippersnappers at the community Easter Egg hunt this weekend.  Believe you me, there is no audience tougher than a half-a-hundred ADDelightful little bundles of joy looking for a sugar high with nothing between them and their quarry but a scruffy little story teller who's supposed to point 'em to the redemption story without ever actually mentioning the redemption story.  i have one hundred and fifty hours or so left to write it in, minus the forty-plus hours i'm supposed to be at work, (and if my boss had his way the plus would be more than the forty) the ten hours i'll spend commuting, the eight and a half hours i'll spend sleeping this week, (trying to get a little more than last week.)  Can't really count dinner times, so there goes another five hours.  The vast majority of the day after work is wasted because i am.  So all told it comes to about an ... hour and twenty-five minutes in which to write and commit to fairly faulty memory the entire enchillito.  And those eighty-five minutes are scattered here and there over the next quickly sliding by five days, but who's counting?

i'd really be worried about all that if i thought that the story actually came from me.  But my stories, my really good ones anyway, yes, i do sometimes have really good ones, even a blind nut finds a squirrel now and again, feel more like they are 'revealed' to me.  i'm more or less a pen in the Spirit's hand.  Now, i don't think the Holy Ghostwriter has writer's block so i can only assume that He's holding out on me for some reason or another.  That's the problem with being partnered up with the divine.  The divine has panache.  Me, i have panic.  i'm playing Will to His Captain Jack and He's waiting for the "Opportune Moment, mate."

Something tells me that i got more to learn than the gaggle of gigglehoppers waiting for me on the other side of this week.  Just a hunch.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Spit in the Eye

If you own a tv you've seen it.  I don't even watch mine and i've somehow managed to catch it a few times... a commercial for the Spiderwick Chronicles.  In it a nameless hog-something, that's the official name of him, i asked my son Rascal who, since he saw the movie, is as close to an Expert that we have here at the Coop, this nameless hog-something spits a coffee can's worth of mucous into some lad's eyes and and says something to the effect of, "I have given you the Sight!"  After this the lad can see all kinds of little goblinny and trollish critters that have been running around his world all the time without his knowledge.  It opens his eyes up to a world that has always been and yet he lived in total ignorance of due to his "blindness."  

i have met up with one of these nameless hog-somethings.  

The one i met had a name though.  His name is Don Miller.  And you need to meet him too.  Though after reading this you may chose not to.  And that's fine.  The Sight ain't for everybody and it brings it's own troubles.  

For the germophobes out there, fear not, his spit is metaphorical.  He spits in the same way that the Apostle Paul did...in letters.  It started with a collection of letters to America called Blue Like Jazz.  This book pulled the scales from my eyes.

You see, i am a christian.  Though i was not living like one.   Oh, i went to church, even led worship.  i guess you could say that my eyes were only partially open.  i was like another blind man.

Christ hisself came across this one.  So i guess, Jesus is a nameless hog-something too.  Cause he was moved to help this poor beggar who was blind.  Not metaphorically, but really.  Jusus is not a germaphobe.  Jesus, knelt down, took up some dirt, spit on it and made mud.  He then rubbed this on the eyes of the beggar.  The funny thing is that the guy's eyes were opened but only a little.  When Jesus asks him how now, the beggar says, "I can see men, but they walk around like trees."  The guy's vision was still imperfect.  

Now Jesus is perfect and so we must assume that He meant to do this.  This partial healing.  He then rubs a little more saliva pie on the guy and sho nuff, sight.  Full and clear and in fabulous Smell-o-vision.  

So, i was a christian but my sight was like stage one, there.  i could see but i couldn't see clearly.  i was still dragging around a lot of baggage that had nothing to do with Christ or the life He has for His children.  i was still doing things and doing them in ways that did not honor Christ or the God I serve.  i was fighting all sorts of goblinny and trollish critters that i could barely see but sense their pricks and pokes just fine.  i prayed all the time for the Spirit to live and work in me and yet i was the biggest impediment to Him.

The really weird thing was, i was miserable.  i had all the signs in front of me, banging against my shins, that i was living wrong and yet i couldn't stop trudging onward.  i was a victim of my own dogma.  That all i needed to do was persevere.  And since perseverance wasn't working and making my life better i assumed that life sucked.  If you haven't met a christian who has determined that he has proof that life is a big sham designed to burden the living then thank God right now, cuz they are a plague worse than locusts and blood for water combined.  They consume all the joy in a room and spew nothing nourishing in return.  

But Hallelujah, i was blind but now i see!  Nothing looks the same anymore.  Not relationships, not work, not my home or my kids.  i have no idea where this is all going and that's fine, cuz finally, i feel like the Spirit is able to work without my interference.  Instead of blindly marching onward with my bloody shins and my gritted teeth and my sledgehammer of joyless faith, i am skipping along holding the hand of the Father and waiting to see what's next?

Here's spit in your eye!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the Revelation

I’ve been thinking a lot about occupations.  Occupations occupy a big chunk of our time and energy.  They are often how we define ourselves.  What are you?  I’m a carpenter.  You’re a printer.  A tax preparer.  A plumber.  A salesman.  An engineer.  Whatever.  And since the majority of us work in secular fields, I kind of operated under the notion that occupations were evil, that they were a way of Satan keeping us down, keeping us from what we should be doing, keeping us occupied.  And for me that was true.  I don’t like my job.  Loathe it in fact, it’s not what I want to be doing with my time.  I spend a lot of time hating my job.  I think, man, how much writing could I be getting done, how much work on the house, how much time does this take from my family?  Hating my occupation occupied a big chunk of my time and energy.  Hating my occupation had become my occupation.

In my mind, losing my job was a lot like winning the lottery.  Lord, if I only had a million dollars, what amazing stuff I could do.  I know so many people I could help with that kind of money.  I could give to the church.  I’d be free, so I could volunteer more. Think of all the good I could do.  Have you ever thought these thoughts?  When you put “lottery” in there, I understand the reasons that these are all wrong-headed thoughts.  God has all the money He needs, it’s us He wants.  He wants us to help the poor with the resources he has already given us.  He wants us to give to the church what we already have.  He wants us to volunteer the time we already have.  He wants us to do good now.

But when it came to my occupation I couldn’t see that.  Not until this week.  I had been complaining to God that I didn’t have the right occupation.  That I was misplaced, overworked, underused for the kingdom.  When in fact I was missing a very alarming point. 

 

A long time ago, there was a comic strip called Arlo and Janis.  Arlo is shown working at his computer in his little office when all of a sudden he gets this revelation.  He jumps up, runs out into the main floor and yells at his coworkers, “They lied to us!  These aren’t careers!  They’re jobs!”

 

Arlo is right!  You’re occupation is not what it says on your tax forms, apologies to my wife, the tax pro.  You are Christians!  You are disciples of Christ, the Son of God.  You are His representatives to a fallen world.  You are here to show everyone you meet how much God loves them!  God has given us jobs to do while we’re here, yeah, but that’s not our career, that’s not the path of success we follow.  Serve your coworkers, wash feet, pray for everyone you meet and demonstrate how much Christ loves them by loving them.  No matter how unlovable, no matter where God puts you to do that, that is your occupation.  I know, it's not much of a revelation but it was exactly what i've needed to know.

Spiritual Weirdness

So i done something last week that i never done afore.  i fasted.  

i'd always thought fasting sounded weird.  What did not eating have to do with anything?  It sounded kind of shamanish.  Like going on a visionquest or something.  Or at best, smacked of works.  Look God, look how pious i am, i'm fasting!  Aaaaabaloney.  

But i'd read a book by Don Miller that got me thinking.  Not about fasting but about how i was living my life.  i needed time to pray, i needed time to go up on the mountain and consider this God i claim to love and serve.  Unfortunately i've never been able to make time stop and/or my boss spontaneously give me time off for spiritual renewal.  So i had to somehow take the time i had and use it well.  Also, not a speciality of mine.

Enter fasting.  I was skeptical but it really helped me focus.  Whenever i thought about feeding my fat, MnM eating arse, i would pray instead.  It was so simple that it was almost elegant.  i stopped thinking about me so much and more about prayer.

i did that for two days when i took a gift of an oatmeal cookie as a sign that it was time to end the fast.  i guess at that time i was kind of getting superstitious about this, cause i started kind of looking for some kind of revelation.  Some kind of nut to take away from all of this.  Some kind of change of scenery or kind of a metamorphosis in some kind of me.  

i kind of didn't get one.  So i kinda got a little grumpy.  

Yeah, very Jonah of me.  Didn't get the answer i wanted so i pouted and kicked stuff and went to bed all down and depressed.  Felt bad about that, prayed about it the next morning, which led me to pray for all sorts of people and that led me to ....ta dah!  A revelation!