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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 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.



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.