The Lion in my House

Category: Personal

A Good Student

Much effort is put forth in Evangelical homes and churches instructing today’s youngsters to be tomorrow’s leaders.  We do our very best to inculcate them with the right doses of…

Much effort is put forth in Evangelical homes and churches instructing today’s youngsters to be tomorrow’s leaders.  We do our very best to inculcate them with the right doses of charisma and self-esteem and all that je ne sais quoi jam packed into the leaves in the leadership section of your local bookstore.

It’s not really limited to the youngsters, though.  Men’s “studies,” women’s “studies,” group “studies,” marriage “studies,” family “studies”: all packed with instructions on leadership. It leaves one with the impression that “leading people to Jesus” is pretty complex stuff.  What, then, do we make of it when Jesus tells us that He, Himself, is not a leader, but a follower?  Him to whom “all authority in Heaven and Earth” was given (Matt. 28:18), also tells us that he “…is not able to do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing…” (John 5:19)

That doesn’t sound like the kind of leadership we teach, but that’s not what’s on my heart today.

We have an all together different type of problem when it comes to being students. Perhaps we do not explicitly teach counter-intuitives the way we do with the type of “leadership” exhibited in Jesus, though I’m rather certain we aren’t guilt-free in this regard, too.  But, mores than the explicit is the implicit teaching we give about being a student.

Most well-intentioned Christians think they’re good students, if they give it any thought at all.  We tend to think it’s our default position; that since birth we’ve been taught, therefore we must have gotten good at learning.

Most of us consider our preacher to be our primary instructor, and we give him more or less 30 minutes per week to tell us a bit about the most important truths ever pondered in the hearts or heads of any creature ever made since the beginning of time.  But we’d prefer he take a lot of that 30 minutes and pepper it with some personal stories, too, because we’d like to know him a little better.  And hopefully it’s funny, so we stay engaged, of course.

But, I submit to you that there is no entitlement to an education because of the very thing described above: without your own investment, you will learn nothing and thus, cannot be a student.

Being a student requires that you:

  • Prioritize study
  • Show up
  • Exercise Self-discipline

Studying scripture demands of us a medieval thing that doesn’t get much press these days, though the words are perhaps always ringing in our ears.  Scriptural study requires “university.”  That is not to say that studying scripture requires us to go to seminary, though it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you can swing it.

No, it requires “university” in the ways the Medievals thought which formed the word as we use it today.

“University” means “the whole” of the thing.  A study of scripture means we take it in its parts, but we do not ignore the whole.  We do not limit ourselves to that most common and sickly question when left alone, “What does this mean to me?”

The study that starts and ends with the questions, “What does this mean to me?” is no study of the text at all, but a study of one’s self.  And that is useful, but its use is limited. After all, “the unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates, and he was probably right.

The text meant something to the author when he wrote it.  What it meant to the author has been revealed by history and Spirit to have been and to be true and “profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, [and] for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim 3:16)

The text meant something to the reader who originally read it.  The cultural context, the political context, the personal context: they all meant something and informed the author and his text. Study then, nearly 2000 years removed from these contexts, compels the extra work.   While yet “the Word of God is living and active” and is surely meaningful to me today within my own (strikingly similar) cultural, political, and personal contexts, I’d ask you to seriously consider two important things.

First, consider that “there is nothing new under the sun.”  We moderns have the sick fantasy that we’ve invented heresy, cruelty, and sinfulness.  Or, at least we’ve dug ourselves deeper into new depths of depravity. The truth is more revealing and draws us closer to the real Gospel: we’re a part of a long human misadventure that, since our father Adam, has been marked by self-indulgence and sinfulness.

Second, that is our community.  We belong to a community of the redeemed from the beginning of history.  That great Cloud of witnesses is not made up of übermensch; the ones that never sinned and somehow deserved it.  Salvation is truly personal, but the body of Christ is a community of the eternally saved. To know that first community is to know our own, and that has tremendous value.

“University” means something opposite of what we normally associate with it today.  The word even betrays it, if you’re attuned to that sort of thing.

A study of scripture means that our studious intent is for a single – uni – focus: we are in pursuit of Truth.  We are not pursuing merely “more questions,” or some sort of therapeutic effort alone.  We may yet find more questions and we may yet find therapy in scripture, but we find them in our relentless pursuit of the Truth; a Truth revealed by God to His people first in Eden, through the prophets, and in these final days, in our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  “Uni” means One, and “vers” means “to turn around” and thus it is around this one thing – Truth – that our effort revolves.

Today’s Universities are perhaps best known for their relentless pursuit of “diversity” (of a sort).  But whereas “Uni” means one, “di” means more than one, and that is not our intent.

We seek the One.  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord,” and it is in this great confession that we find, through our study, that we find a great diversity of mankind brought to the bosom of the Lord Himself.

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Part 3: Behold, Celaeno

She glanced at the cage closest to her own, and suddenly felt the breath in her body turning to cold iron. There sat on an oaken perch a creature with…

She glanced at the cage closest to her own, and suddenly felt the breath in her body turning to cold iron. There sat on an oaken perch a creature with the body of a great bronze bird and a hag’s face, clenched and deadly as the talons with which she gripped the wood. She had the shaggy round ears of a bear; but down her scaly shoulders, mingling with the bright knives of her plumage, there fell hair the color of moonlight, thick and youthful around the hating human face. She glittered, but to look at her was to feel the light going out of the sky. Catching sight of the unicorn, she made a queer sound like a hiss and a chuckle together.

The unicorn said quietly, “This one is real. This is the harpy Celaeno.”

The unicorn began to walk toward the harpy’s cage. Schmendrick the Magician, tiny and pale, kept opening and closing his mouth at her, and she knew what he was shrieking, though she could not hear him. “She will kill you, she will kill you! Run, you fool, while she’s still a prisoner! She will kill you if you set her free!” But the unicorn walked on, following the light of her horn, until she stood before Celaeno, the Dark One.

For an instant the icy wings hung silent in the air, like clouds, and the harpy’s old yellow eyes sank into the unicorn’s heart and drew her close. “I will kill you if you set me free,” the eyes said. “Set me free.”

The unicorn lowered her head until her horn touched the lock of the harpy’s cage. The door did not swing open, and the iron bars did not thaw into starlight. But the harpy lifted her wings, and the four sides of the cage fell slowly away and down, like the petals of some great flower waking at night. And out of the wreckage the harpy bloomed, terrible and free, screaming, her hair swinging like a sword. The moon withered and fled.

The unicorn heard herself cry out, not in terror but in wonder, “Oh, you are like me!” She reared joyously to meet the harpy’s stoop, and her horn leaped up into the wicked wind. The harpy struck once, missed, and swung away, her wings clanging and her breath warm and stinking. She burned overhead, and the unicorn saw herself reflected on the harpy’s bronze breast and felt the monster shining from her own body. So they circled one another like a double star, and under the shrunken sky there was nothing real but the two of them. The harpy laughed with delight, and her eyes turned the color of honey. The unicorn knew that she was going to strike again.

The harpy folded her wings and fell like a star — not at the unicorn, but beyond her, passing so close that a single feather drew blood from the unicorn’s shoulder; bright claws reaching for the heart of Mommy Fortuna, who was stretching out her own sharp hands as though to welcome the harpy home. “Not alone!” the witch howled triumphantly at both of them. “You never could have freed yourselves alone! I held you!” Then the harpy reached her, and she broke like a dead stick and fell. The harpy crouched on her body, hiding it from sight, and the bronze wings turned red.

The unicorn turned away. Close by, she heard a child’s voice telling her that she must run, she must run. It was the magician. His eyes were huge and empty, and his face — always too young — was collapsing into childhood as the unicorn looked at him. “No,” she said. “Come with me.”

The harpy made a thick, happy sound that melted the magician’s knees. But the unicorn said again, “Come with me,” and together they walked away from the Midnight Carnival. The moon was gone, but to the magician’s eyes the unicorn was the moon, cold and white and very old, lighting his way to safety, or to madness. He followed her, never once looking back, even when he heard the desperate scrambling and skidding of heavy feet, the boom of bronze wings, and Rukh’s interrupted scream.

“He ran,” the unicorn said. “You must never run from anything immortal. It attracts their attention.” Her voice was gentle, and without pity. “Never run,” she said. “Walk slowly, and pretend to be thinking of something else. Sing a song, say a poem, do your tricks, but walk slowly and she may not follow. Walk very slowly, magician.”

Excerpts from “The Last Unicorn,” by Peter S. Beagle

. . .

Such is evil. It seeks to kill and destroy (Romans 6:23).

Here, Celaeno reveals the strange contradiction of our souls: “I will kill you if you set me free,” yet, “Set me free.”

Why are we compelled to free within ourselves the very thing things that will seek our destruction? Why does sin nature, even on this side of the cross and on this side of baptism and on this side of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, yet insidiously persist?

I have prayed many times that I, the ego that has been so destructive and selfish and weak (Matthew 26:41) will die. I have asked that the Lord crucify my ego Himself, or at least that He would bless me by taking me captive and locking that wicked part of me in a cage of His design.

But, alas, He came to bring freedom and not captivity (John 8:36). And what is freedom if not the freedom to do with our sin nature what we choose?

Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica, argues that freedom is the manner in which intellectual beings seek goodness and, if ever there was a source of the good, the true, and the beautiful, it is found in Christ.

So why then am I so confused?

Perhaps because the evil is a thing so like me that I often can’t tell the difference. This must be why we “fix our eyes on Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and why we must “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). It is the kind of process by which God seems to be shaping us not into people who merely follow rules, but into the kind of people whose worst sins point others to Jesus.

And so, we — I — walk slowly, sing songs, say poems, do tricks, and as we are going, we teach all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

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Psychopathy

“He is pleasant and affable during his normal phases, which make up the greater part of his time. One gets an impression, however, that ordinary life is not very full…

“He is pleasant and affable during his normal phases, which make up the greater part of his time. One gets an impression, however, that ordinary life is not very full or rich, that strange gods are ever calling him, and that the call is far dearer to his heart than anything else. He is, perhaps, like a man who through necessity has given himself over to foreign ways for most of his hours and who goes on fairly patiently but without spontaneity until the time when he can throw it all aside for a while and go wholeheartedly at what he finds really to his taste.”

Excerpt From “The Mask Of Sanity”
Dr. Hervey M. Cleckley

I have always wondered about the connective tissue between the things we believe and the things we do. How does it break down so often? How can it be strengthened? Nothing is more repulsive about my life than the hypocrisy I’ve sometimes displayed, and the hurt it has caused the people I love the most. There is some strange comfort in the company I keep in this when Paul writes, “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate…For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do.”

I am nearly 12 years past the point at which I was called to faith in Christ — both in His salvation and His lordship. That is the complete picture of Him; the deified picture of Jesus; not merely the moralism of Jesus of Nazareth, but the power and authority of Jesus the Messiah. Yet, I stumble.. readily. I stumble every day and wonder where it came from. And I wonder why He hasn’t taken this from me and made me a picture of the firstling fruit of His Spirit that dwells inside me, among the weeds. Where is His pruning? Where is His power?

I feel guilt. I feel shame. I feel fear.

I wish I could tell you that I don’t; that my ‘witness for Christ’ was one of total confidence and power, but it isn’t.

That isn’t to say that my faith is thin, or that it hangs by a thread. It isn’t so dull as that. The sterile, academic seeds that were planted in me when I was a boy might never have shown proof of His work in my life, but the thing that caused the switch to flip; the strange work of Him in me and my family that made Him real and not just a moral fairytale has revealed so much more about Him than I’d ever thought possible. It’s shown me a God, a Lord, and a friend. I’ve seen His work, and not merely wished about it.

Yet, there is still this strange gulf between what I believe and what I do.

“The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”

What will you make of me on the day I call to you, “Lord, Lord?” Will you know me? Will you remember me and welcome me home? Or will you castigate me and send me away, lost?

Though I wish to be worthy, I am not. Even the power to move mountains is lost on me, the faithless. The truth is, Lord, I need you now more than ever. I need you to carry me, because I cannot go where you want me to go.. not on my own.

All this time I’ve spent wanting to have you for my own; my own Lord, my own Savior, my own friend. But, I haven’t ever had you. You are too wild and free for the likes of me, an unexceptional sinner clawing in artfully at paradise.

If I cannot possess you, then I want you to possess me. Whatever good work I’ve done, let it be yours and not mine. Whatever bad I’ve done, forgive me Lord for my foolish mistake — the prideful heart of a man desperately seeking something he cannot have, and should never want to keep.

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Today

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14 Everything…

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14

Everything seems ok right now, the bottom of the sky hasn’t fallen out. But I know that when it comes, it’s gonna get ugly.

Life is sometimes trudging, sometimes swimming, sometimes floating between islands of terror and tragedy.

Hurricanes and snipers. The slow starvation of the dispossessed. Broken hearts. Broken spirits. Broken marriages. Runaways and strays and day after day filled with small failures.

Yet, in it and somehow through it, He works. How do I know? It’s not as simple as, “I have faith,” though in my best times, I do. It isn’t as seemingly trite as, “the Bible tells me so,” but that is true (and it isn’t as trite as it might seem). It isn’t as easily dismissible as, “my parents or my preacher said it is true,” though they have and I trust them. It isn’t just wishful thinking, either, but it is a wish I share with Him when I remember to pray.

In part, it is in the fingers stuffed in bullet holes. It’s strangers being human shields. It’s in the Kingdom come, glimmering in soft words, and justice. But, it is also in the blessing of pain that pulls me and shapes me to be the key to the keyhole that opens one of many doors to many rooms in many mansions.

But, it is more than that. It is the other side of a door we’re al afraid to open. It is the tightness of His grip on time and space that tugs it like taffy and transcends the mire, pulls me from brokenness, and seals my own cracks with His glory.

In the end, I know He works, because the unseen God is with me. He somehow blesses all this mess with His own presence, and it can be felt and enjoyed.

And because, without knowing a thing about tomorrow, we have today, together.

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Satellite

Lord, Give me patience, Gentleness, And wisdom. Let me pierce the darkness, Reflecting your light; Orbiting a planet that you Love; Separate, but built of the same stuff, Ejected, Pulling…

Lord,
Give me patience,
Gentleness,
And wisdom.
Let me pierce the darkness,
Reflecting your light;
Orbiting a planet that you Love;
Separate, but built of the same stuff,
Ejected,
Pulling Unicorns from the Tide.
Let me love as you have loved,
In truth, with no malice,
Inside, with no care for slanders,
In joy, with an eye to eternity,
Invested,
Showing graciousness to the broken.
You are the light and you washed away the darkness.
You are the healer and you banished the sickness.
You are the warrior and you vanquished the enemies.
You are the father and you gave me a legacy,
An inheritance,
A family,
A hope.

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The Old Hunter

It has been a few weeks since I’ve posted, but I haven’t been ignoring the site. I made some cosmetic updates over the last week, and, more importantly, I’ve been…

It has been a few weeks since I’ve posted, but I haven’t been ignoring the site. I made some cosmetic updates over the last week, and, more importantly, I’ve been reading through Ezekiel, with an eye and an ear to whatever God has to tell me through that old prophet for today.

He has shown me, thus far, that iniquity is no new phenomenon, and that He is not ignoring it Himself.

But, it was through a different sort of prophet — a truth-teller of the sort with which I am more familiar, the writer H. Rider Haggard – that God revealed something about the nature of man in this season of apparent racial disharmony. Perhaps it is ironic that Haggard and his hero Allan Quatermain have been branded as racist themselves by the more modern intelligentsia, though perhaps it is a more primitive brand of racism than the kind decried today. Maybe not.

For whatever it is worth (and I am gathering lately that my opinion on the matter is not worth much), I never found the books racist. Unseemly, perhaps, in language to the modern reader, and a tad too brash in it’s Anglophilia, but the man who wrote, “…I say that as the savage is, so is the white man, only the latter is more inventive…but in all essentials, the savage and the child of civilization are identical,” saw more to the human heart than base racism.

So, looking to the New Thing breaching the frontier of tomorrow that is here and yet coming, I’ll leave this old thing recounting the adventures of a white man challenging the frontier of a dark continent and finding kinship among the natives. Here is to the hope that we will find kinship among the sinners on this dark continent and they will come to receive the inheritance that a Heavenly civilization has wrought and is working among us through the blood of our King.

“It seems to me very desirable that we should sometimes try to understand the limitations of our nature, so that we may not be carried away by the pride of knowledge. Man’s cleverness is almost infinite, and stretches like an elastic band, but human nature is like an iron ring. You can go round and round it, you can polish it highly, you can even flatten it a little on one side, whereby you will make it bulge out on the other, but you will never, while the world endures and man is man, increase its total circumference. It is the one fixed, unchangeable thing — fixed as the stars, more enduring than the mountains, as unalterable as the way of the Eternal. Human nature is God’s kaleidoscope, and the little bits of coloured glass which represent our passions, hopes, fears, joys, aspirations towards good and evil and what not, are turned in His mighty hand as surely and certainly as it turns the stars, and continually fallk into new patters and combinations. But the composing elements remain the same, nor will there be one more bit of coloured glass nor one less forever and ever.”

“Allan Quatermain,” H. Riger Haggard

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Fathers

(Meditation Scriptures: Psalm 78, Joshua 24, Matt 10:34-36, Romans 8:14) It doesn’t escape me that your dad probably wasn’t what you wanted. Maybe he wasn’t always there for you. Maybe…

(Meditation Scriptures: Psalm 78, Joshua 24, Matt 10:34-36, Romans 8:14)

It doesn’t escape me that your dad probably wasn’t what you wanted. Maybe he wasn’t always there for you. Maybe he was dangerous. Maybe he is just missing.

Dads leave strange scars on their children. We can make odd memories when we’re not trying to make good ones.

My dad gets a special pass in my heart. He’s not perfect. I guess none of us is. But, I am a lot like him in some good and in some bad ways, and I suppose the same passes I give myself also apply to the old man.

My dad had his own world when I was a boy; his own place where he was master and commander. His store was nestled in a fascinating art deco castle, in the middle of the bustling city center. Veined white marble and cherry wood opened up heavenward to a sky view. I can still recall that strange, nameless scent with hints of polish, leather, and fountain spray.

Inside the store was my dad’s kingdom. It was his decoration and his craftsmanship. It was his initiative and hard work on display. He must have learned so much about record-keeping and management and sales. I never really had an appreciation for my dad’s work until much later, when the store was no longer there and he’d gone to work for someone else. Like all things, I did not miss it until it was long gone.

When I think back on those days as a boy when I would romp and play in those long, storied hallways of the big marble castle and smuggle quarters from the cash drawer and beg him to “melt something” under his torch, it makes me miss my daddy.

He is still with us. In fact, I spent Sunday afternoon with him and my mom and my grandpa. But when I think back on those old days at his store, I think of the younger man with his black beard and his grey suit and his patterned neckties. I think of the giant, who created beauty with his black hands, and who ruled his own world.

I miss my daddy. That’s what has happened as I’ve gotten a bit older and had children of my own. That is the way of things.

“He established a testimony in Jacob
and set up a law in Israel,
which He commanded our fathers
to teach to their children
so that a future generation —
children yet to be born — might know.
They were to rise and tell their children
so that they might put their confidence in God
and not forget God’s works,
but keep His commands.”

My father is not arrogant. He is not aggressive. He is kind and gentle. He is patient. He can be petulent when he is angry, but it never seems to last too long. He is sad and contemplative, but he smiles for me. He is tired, because he works hard hours. When he sings, he shows what’s on the inside. He knows about scripture and he teaches what he studies. He laid a foundation of faith in me that has been reset over time; a few blocks changed and new lines drawn and extended. But the root remains.

“Then they would not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not loyal
and whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

Stubborn. Rebellious. What is old is new again.

My daddy did not stamp out my rebellion. I suppose he could have. The fight would have been costly for both of us.

Instead, he watched me, patiently. And rather than make an enemy by inflating my pride, he fueled a spirit that would, ultimately, find its way home to a loving Father.

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I am not.

Maybe the biggest lesson of my adult life has been a lesson about my own identity. I got tired of pretending; lying and ducking and puffing and faking. To be…

Maybe the biggest lesson of my adult life has been a lesson about my own identity.

I got tired of pretending; lying and ducking and puffing and faking. To be sure, I still do those things. I’m just tired of them now.

But, when the great God of Heaven’s Armies declares, “I AM,” all I have left to offer him is that, “I am not.”

I am not the husband I should be. I am not the father I should be. I am not the brother or son that I should be. I am not the friend or neighbor I should be. I am not the employee or the coworker that I should be.

I am not.

It is a discouraging thought. But, looking back over the many seasons of life where I’ve failed and, frankly, looking around me now, realizing that I’ve left a wake of damage and knowing a good deal of what is ‘right’ to be done, I see my flaws. I know where I’m going to fail.

If you’ve been to a good church enough times, you know what comes next: this is the purpose of God’s amazing grace. We are not enough, but He is.

That is true. That is beautiful.

Yet, I regret it. I know it is something that I cannot be, but it hurts to know that it is something I haven’t been. Damage has been done.

I am not enough. I have proven time and time again that I cannot be the change I want to see in the world. I make the same excuses for myself that everyone else does. “You tried; that counts for something!” “At least you aren’t as bad as him.” “You’ll do better next time.”

But isn’t that here the Gospel starts to make sense?

Isn’t that when the truth begins to set us free? Not from remorse; not from sadness (..not yet).

The bad news always comes before the good news. I haven’t been enough. I am not.

He is.

Now, may the Spirit of the living God that casts new light on old sins take root in you and in me. Let him work his good work. Let him paint you with new, living colors.

Let him roar. Let us tremble.

Let me bury my face in his mane and wrap my body in his paws and lay my head on his soft belly as it rises and falls with his heavy breaths. I can feel his claws behind the rough pads of his big feet, and I know I deserve them. But, he doesn’t seem to have my blood in mind. I feel safe with him, even though he is no tame lion. He smells like grass and dirt and rose petals and his long, slow blinks tell me about love.

I am not. He is.

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The Land of Wandering

All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost….

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

I am attracted to the idea of adventure, even if I’m turned off by the idea of bug bites and exhaustion.

The truth is that there are days I’d like to see my life as an adventure, and there are many nights where I’m happy that it is not much of one.

The hook sinks for me that “not all those who wander are lost.” I’ve done a fair bit of wandering, and I wanted to believe that I was not lost because I was following something — my heart, a few authors, some friends.

I was lost.

I wouldn’t have ever known it if I’d not been found. But there I was: lost. And, unlike Cain, I was glad for it.

Cain’s expulsion from the garden for the murder of his brother meant hiding himself from the Lord’s presence. Isn’t that all of wandering from Him? Isn’t that where I was?

Somehow, through a few side paths later redeemed, he brought me home. Those deep roots sown so long ago sprouted something new.

But, if I’m being honest, many days still feel the same. I still ingest the ‘news’ and wonder what in the world to do about it. Clear answers don’t come so easily.

All that is gold does not glitter;
all that is long does not last;
All that is old does not wither;
not all that is over is past.

“Oh wanderer, come home.”

It is better than the land of Nod; the land of wandering.

It is inestimably better.

(Quotes in italics are from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring,” and Christopher Tolkien’s “The Treason of Isengard.”)

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No Man’s Land

  I feel like a man without a country; like the “no-man” of “no-man’s land.” While all the people around me are moving forward, my heart is retreating backward. I…

 

I feel like a man without a country; like the “no-man” of “no-man’s land.” While all the people around me are moving forward, my heart is retreating backward. I am not running away, I’m running in reverse; compelled toward the light on a different horizon. My sails have caught a prevailing wind, while all other ships seem to lurch forward with the tide.

Jesus spoke of the sower and seed, a path and birds, rocky ground and scorching sun, and choking thorns.

In my belly, I can feel the tiller. I can feel the sharp metal grinding; the hands of the gardener pulling; digging, changing.

In the silence of my heart, he speaks. What can I tell him? How do I respond?

This is not gentle sculpting; not caressing. This is cutting. Pruning. Heat. Drowning.

What is coming?

“For this people’s heart has grown callous;
their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
otherwise they might see with their eyes
and hear with their ears,
understand with their hears and turn back —“

Tilling the soil. It’s more than I want. It’s maybe more than I know how to handle. It’s like a burning ember in my stomach; a star pain, a constant throb. Burning flesh. It smells.

What is next?

“And I would cure them.”

 

 

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