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Kinda moving on, join me?
Serpent's Egg - Prologue
Soluble Words
A Ghost Between Us
Jane Meyers One
50 Things I've Done
The Real One (Part 5) The Real Story of Santa Clau...
The Real One (Part 4) The Real Story of Santa Clau...
The Real One (Part 3) The Real Story of Santa Clau...
The Real One (Part 2) The Real Story of Santa Clau...

Click to go to the most current Cliff Between the Lines
Life, viewed sideways. Emotions, amplified. Answers, questioned. Me, between the lines.




- A Wounded Heart, Who Can Bear?
- Drowning Under a Tidal Wave
- Clawing My Way to the Sunlight
- Yes, Santa Claus, There Is a Virginia
- Fugu
- Touching the Spirit
- A Hole in the Universe
- Riding on the Dreams of Others
- Turning Into a Shark
 - A Heart, Ripped Asunder
- Surrendering to the Roller Coaster
- Hunting in the Jade Forest
- Dodging the Shark
- Dancing With Invisible Partners
- The Captain and the Harliquin
- Courting the Devils
- The Captain Makes His Mark
- Mad Dog to the Rescue
- Innocent in the Big City
- Dropping the Ball Briefcase
- Scrambling Brains
- Cheating the Reaper, Again
- What If the Man Behind the Curtain Is No Wizard After All?
- All of Us Have a Soundtrack
- Working With Broken Machines
- Happy Anniversary, Baby
- Standing on Stars
- Running the Film Backwards
- Identity Crisis ("Who am I?")
- Can We Ever Really Admit the Desires of Our Heart?
- Forgiveness is a Rare Thing
- Having Your Heart Caressed By the Creator
- Working With Broken Machines
- A New Leg to Stand On
- The Real Spirit of Christmas
- Chatting With Infinity
- Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
- We All Have a Great Capacity for Loss
- Brushed Lightly By Might Have Beens
- We See the World Through Our Own Looking Glass
- Every Storm Passes Eventually
- Accidents Can Introduce Destiny Into Our Lives
- Freedom Depends on the Walls Around Us
- Pulling Aside the Velvet Curtain
- Riding the Razor's Edge
- Dying With Strangers
- In Your Face
- Between the Lines
- The Bobcat
- Angel With a Coffeecup
- Innocent in the Big City
- Chains of Gossamer
- Playing With Knives
- Stumbling Through Memories (Ooops)
- Picture This
- Running the Film Backwards
- Playing the Score, Tasting the Music
- Coins and Corals and Carved Coconuts
- My God, I Confess
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 1, Speechless)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 2, Taxi)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 3, The Pan American)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 4, Guano)
- Exotic in Thin Air (Part 5, The Andes Express)



 
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"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."

Walt Whitman (1819-92)




"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."

Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)











And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:

The WeatherPixie








Saturday, April 24, 2004
 

Ten Degrees Off Center

mis-di-rect
Function: transitive verb
1 : to give a wrong direction to
2 : to direct wrongly
3 : what the enemy wants Christian leaders to do

The dart bounces off of the little plastic part around the bullseye, falls flailing to the floor, and the game is lost.

I'm standing in my kitchen tossing darts into the laundry room. The boss (aka "dear lovely wife") declared long ago that my dart board could not find a home in any room she had decorated. That left the inside surface of the door to the laundry room bathroom, which works if you open that door just right and you stand one foot to the right of the refrigerator between it and the spice rack and throw the dart down the hall past the pantry.

But hey, darts are all about accuracy. It does make it a bit awkward for company though.

I go pick up the dart, and I am thinking that if the dart had been only the barest fraction of an inch to one side, it would have been a clean bullseye. As it was, it had tumbled to the floor and the shot was less than worthless.

Just a nudge, and it made all of the difference.

I was active in the church when the "charismatic" movement started sweeping through it. I was young and eager and fresh from the 60's Jesus movement, and the display of spiritual gifts was very enticing to me. I would go to services and see the most amazing things. I remember the first time I ever heard someone speak in tongues. I remember the first time I ever heard that done in an assembly setting, and hearing it followed by an interpretation. I remember the first time I ever heard a prophetic word uttered in church.

Problem was, that sort of thing is addictive. And I can certainly understand that.

The church I regularly attended was a pretty formal Presbyterian church, but even there the charismatics were making inroads. I remember the outrage some expressed when someone raised their hands in a church service one Sunday. I also remember the impact when some person delivered a "prophetic word" during a Presbyterian retreat at Montreat college. I use quotes because later I went back and checked that "word" and it had specified a time and place that something was supposed to happen. It didn't.

(Note: Some prophetic words are indeed from God. I have hosted a site dedicated to that for about eight years now, you can find it at Joel's Final Outpouring.)

Eventually, the charismatics and non charismatics split that church down the middle. Sorry, but you just can't convince me that this result was God's result. Why did this happen, why did so many good Christian men and women on both sides of the issue break their fellowship?

I could name fifty or a hundred instances just like that one. Probably so can you.

Did you know, if you took off in a plane in New York City to fly to Los Angeles, and its compass was only ten degrees off center, you would land in San Francisco?

A miss is a miss.

I look at the dart in my hand.

I saw something happen here in a church once that was excited and growing and reaching out to help the community. The pastor began teaching what he said was going to be a three Sunday series on "discipleship." But, in the first Sunday, he read the passage from Joshua book 7 where Achan hides treasure in his tent and God curses Israel, and concluded that the meaning of this passage was that all members of his congregation had to swear an oath to support his church.

My wife and I discussed it on the way home, and we both had grave reservations about doing so. We both felt that it would be a very misdirected pledge, but we would go back the next week to hear the second sermon, and make our minds up then.

In the second sermon, the pastor simply declared the same thing in stronger terms. He said the church would not grow and would be cursed if it was not "as one," still relying on his admittedly off-track interpretation of that passage.

Imagine our chagrin when he cut the "three part" series short at the end of the second sermon, and asked everyone who was willing to make this oath of following this church and his leadership to stand and affirm it, right then.

The entire room leapt to its feet. My wife and I were the only ones who remained seated.

It was a very uncomfortable moment. Fortunately we were in the back.

"You know what this means, don't you?" my wife said to me in the car on the way home. "We can never go back to that church. If we do, and something does not go right, they will blame us for that."

I agreed with her.

Ten degrees off center. Focusing on the church and not the Lord.

Several years ago I was in Niagara Falls Canada, and passed a street preacher on the sidewalk in front of one of the larger hotels. I usually take some time with folks like that, so I stopped and we talked.

It became very clear very quickly that his focus was not on Christianity, but on a specific doctrine taught by a specific person. In his view, every single other church on the entire planet was sending all of its members to hell.

What an incredibly fortunate thing for me to end up in his city, huh?

Well, it rather surprised him when I pulled my own Bible out of my back pocket and began to try to show him verses about love, and how it was such a vital part of our faith. He would have none of it, and began backing away from me on the street shouting something like "Abomination! Demon!"

Well, all I can do is try. Sadly, his little nine or ten year old daughter witnessed this. He has chosen this path, hopefully she will one day be rescued from it.

Because if you go just ten degrees off center, you'll miss the target altogether.

OK, so where am I going with all of this?

Here, for me, are the tests to make sure I am not gliding off to one side or the other.

1. To whom does something point? Is what I am doing giving credit to God, or only to me? This is key, because sometimes we can be tricked into thinking that our own efforts to make ourselves better are giving glory to God. If its your effort, pointing at you, it gives no glory to God at all.

2. This one is the key one. Is what I am doing an act of love? Now, by love I do not mean weepy yielding love that allows whatever doesn't hurt ("Oh, poor thing! It's OK, God and Allah are the same!"), and I also don't mean the "tough love" that is really just unadorned arrogance ("They said we would be hated and reviled, so if you hate me I am doing it right.") No, I mean the mature unself-centered love that is willing to silently sacrifice itself for others, the Love that Christ showed to us.

If what we do does not pass those two tests, the enemy has nudged us ten degrees off center, and we will miss the mark.

By these things examine thyself. By whose rules am I acting; in whose name; in whose strength; in whose glory? What faith, humility, self-denial, and love of God and to man have there been in all my actions?
Jackie Mason (1934 - )

Permalink: 4/24/2004 06:24:00 PM |
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Friday, April 23, 2004
 

On Antelopes

wit
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German wizzi knowledge, Old English witan to know
1 a : astuteness of perception or judgment : ACUMEN b : the ability to relate seemingly disparate things so as to illuminate or amuse c (1) : a talent for banter or persiflage (2) : a witty utterance or exchange d : clever or apt humor
2 : my grandson

Sometimes things just jump out at you from nowhere.

A couple of years ago, my grandson was staying the weekend with us. He would have been six years old at the time. We had gone to the dollar store and bought a few toys so he would have something to do while he stayed with us.

One of the toys we bought was a whoopie cushion.

You can imagine how much a six year old boy would love this. He ran all over the house, blowing it up and plopping down on it with a "spuplupluplupluppppppptthhh!" Then he ran into the living room where I was, demonstrated his newfound skill, and announced to the world:

"I love farts!"

I gotcha now, kid. Just wait till you introduce us to your first girlfriend, boy do *I* have a story to tell!

Anyways, now he's eight, and is starting to come into his own as far as his mind and sense of humor goes. Somehow he seems to have routed right around his silly phase, and into his "actually make a good joke phase."

This weekend, we took him to a park where they had antelopes. There were a bunch of them in an enclosure, and all of them were digging in the dirt and had their heads up to their shoulders in the holes.

So he says, "What are they doing? Digging for Chinese food?"

For a moment I was baffled, then the joke hit me. From an eight year old, that's pretty awesome. (Think about it, you'll get it...)

But I'm not gonna forget the whoopie cushion thing...


Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain.
Edward De Bono

Permalink: 4/23/2004 11:50:00 AM |
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Scars


I want to credit the "Correction: Metanoia for the Masses" blog for the idea that inspired this entry.




slash
Function: verb
Etymology: origin unknown
intransitive senses : to lash out, cut, or thrash about with or as if with an edged blade
transitive senses
1 : to cut with or as if with rough sweeping strokes
2 : CANE, LASH
3 : to cut slits in (as a garment) so as to reveal a color beneath
4 : what life does to us as we pass through


My body, decorated by intention and accident.

My navel, with the two scars from a surgery not long past, all healed now, above and below making a strange triad where instruments were sent inside to patch parts of me that were broken.

My leg, with a hardly noticeable scar where they did heart surgery on me. I expect that I will have more of these before all is said and done.

And one more, where a surgery was done when I was only a small child, not healed as cleanly as the rest after over 35 years.

Then I look at other places on my body, first of which is the back of my hand as I type. There, raggedly spanning my first knuckle, is a jagged scar that happened all of a sudden almost a year ago. I was installing a sump pump under my house, and it fell. When I tried to break its fall, it took a piece out of my hand.

Oddly, I hardly bled at all. I just had this place with slashed flesh about a quarter of an inch wide. I kept working, and put a bandage on it later. Now it has healed into a jagged scar almost an inch long, a forever reminder of a minor event.

But the physical scars that really affect me are in my left eye.

When I was in college, my left eye was crushed. I was in a fraternity and we were doing something that involved throwing eggs. I'll tell that story here later, it deserves its own entry, but suffice it to say that one of the eggs hit me square in my left eye.

I reached up, and where my left eye had been, there was only a hole. That experience alone is enough to scar, but there was plenty more to come.

When I finally was examined in the hospital, they determined that the rear of my eyeball had burst. I had a huge blazing tear across my field of vision, right through the middle. It sparkled and glittered all day and all night, keeping me up and never letting me forget that I had been maimed.

That was scar number one.

Shortly after that, the darkness began rising on my vision in that eye. My opthamologist immediately did laser surgery across that area, because my retina was becoming detached. Now I had yet another sparkling line, but it was smooth, not jagged.

That was scar number two.

Three weeks later, the detachment busted through the laser surgery, and I had to have a wonderful surgery called a "scleral buckle. " This surgery, which was developed in the early '60's, was still not widely performed at that time. Without going into a lot of detail, it involved removing my eye, working on it, putting an elastic band around it, then putting it back.

Fortunately, I got to sleep through it. Some things you REALLY don't want to be there for.

That was scar number three on the eye. So, my left eye now has both kinds of scars, accidental and intentional. It will never see the same as my other eye, and will continue to hurt for the rest of my life (note: this is not a typical result of this surgery, just my own.) Each time I look at the world, I see it through this warped lens.

Aside from a rather gruesome tour of my body, what am I getting at with all of this?

Well, our bodies are not the only things that scar, are they? Our souls and our spirits scar too.

Yeah, as soon as you read that you knew just what I was talking about, didn't you? First to mind are always the accidental scars, the ones we never expected and never wanted. The gashes left by relationships that crashed and burned when they were so important to us. The hurt left by being rejected by friends, lovers, family. The hopelessness of failure, when we thought we wouldn't.

My soul and spirit, decorated by accident, riddled with cuts and slashes, big and little.

The worst ones being not necessarily those that are inflicted by others, but the ones we give to ourselves, on purpose.

Slash.

No one likes you.

Slash.

You are too fat/skinny/tall/short/light/dark/hairy/bald.

Slash.

You bother people.

Slash.

You are an embarrassment.

And on and on. We take a mental hook knife and jerk it into our spirit, and tear out ragged junks of our soul like it was so much insulation on an old house.

And we want to bleed, we really do, because in doing so we might find some strange sort of justice, some sort of redemption. But we just stand there, all gashed, looking at our bare, shredded spirits.

We look at the world through these scars, forever reliving our worst and most destructive moments. Our past births our future.

We become who we think we are.

And that is the tragedy of it all. God has a specific plan for each of us, and we just cling to our warped versions of ourselves and won't let him take control. Because when we do, He comes in as the Master Surgeon and starts trimming away all the parts that are not supposed to be there.

And it hurts.

And it scars.

But that's OK, because those are intentional scars, and when we heal we are truly healed.

My soul, decorated by accident, healed by intention.

A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,
We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;
But were we burdened with like weight of pain,
As much or more we should ourselves complain.
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)


Permalink: 4/23/2004 11:29:00 AM |
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Thursday, April 22, 2004
 

Blogger Idol Week 14 Top Picks

blogger_idol-1.gif
Grab your rosaries and halos, its time for this blog's Blogger Idol Week 14 Top Picks!

This weeks topic was "Spirituality" and we saw some really nice and heartfelt entries. These are the ones that spoke to this blog's heartstrings:

Kay - Communing with creation Kay writes her prose as beautiful as poetry, with every word loaded with meaning and purpose. Not to mention she uses the word "cliff" which gets extra credit on this blog.

HR LADY - My spirituality brought to you in my haiku; a labor of love. Again, an intense and personal entry. Well done!

BytchInNY - My take on religion. I really do not agree with this young lady's views, but she presents her feelings in an unguarded and well spoken manner that shows she has real class. Definitely one to watch.

jess - Two Slant Trees: can I be more scatterbrained? I just love this girl's writing. The twinkle in her eye just leaps from the page, even when she writes about serious stuff. What a diamond.

Bridgier - A thought or two (okay, just one) on spirituality A very honest and candid entry. I liked the intimacy.

Well, that's it for this week, seeya next time!



Permalink: 4/22/2004 11:01:00 AM |
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004
 

This is Your Wife. This is Your Wife on Drugs.

chem-is-try
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -tries
1 : a science that deals with the composition, structure, and properties of substances and with the transformations that they undergo
2 : sometimes, a way to better living

Friday was, all in all, a trying day.

We had some really bad news that morning. Our 14 year old cat, Pookie, has terminal chronic kidney failure. The years have finally caught up to him, and he's fought them hard, but they are getting the best of him at last. I'll write more about him later, he deserves it.

My wife took this very hard. After all of the stress the past few weeks, the cat was the camel breaking straw.

When I got to work Friday morning, she called me as I drove into the parking lot. The vet had called her and told her that we would have to give our cat subcutaneous fluids at home three times a week and we needed to go and get trained on how to do it.

My poor wife was losing it. I came straight home.

I found her in a state that was, to say the least, very agitated. She was darting from one task to another, frantically trying to busy her way out of all of this, and failing miserably. I talked her into going to see a doctor about it, and we got an appointment that afternoon with a doctor in the same practice I go to, including getting a referral from our primary care physician on short notice.

By the way, the extremely nice lady that handled that referral is diabetic, and I brought her a bag of sugar free Jelly Bellies as a thank you. I think it really surprised her and made her day.

So we get to the docs, and he shows us into his office. This guy is incredible. He looks like a human ping pong ball, all white and round, but he's sharp as a tack at the same time. He goes through the basic question and answer thing, but does it in such a way as to keep my wife off balance. He is listening not only to the answers, but how she is answering it.

"What is the biggest stressor in your life?" he asks.

She points straight at me.

I grin and nod, because, well, thats true. Chronic illnesses and job stress can do that. I'm a stressor for her, but its all stress I bring in from outside. I never give her any stress intentionally, but I engender a lot of worry in her just as I would worry about her were our situations reversed.

He prescribes her two meds and hands over a lot of the control to her on when to take them. She is pleased, which surprises me.

She tells me later that she hates the fact that she needs to take something like these, but she will try it. So she takes her first dose.

Within 45 minutes, she has relaxed and has become the wife I remember.

And she has stayed that way since.

Better living through chemistry, huh? When it works, it works.


The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.
Voltaire (1694 - 1778)


Permalink: 4/21/2004 12:20:00 AM |
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004
 

(The following is the "meat" of an email I sent to an online friend, and I really liked the way it came out so I wanted to post it here as well.)

Facepaint

mime
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin mimus, from Greek mimos
1 : an ancient dramatic entertainment representing scenes from life usually in a ridiculous manner
2 : Isn't "ridiculous manner" how most of us live, after all?

It seems to me that a lot of us are in the same spot. We have incredible low self esteem, which logically we know is undeserved, but emotionally we feel it is very, very much deserved.

We look like diamonds and on the inside we feel like cubic zirconia. At least that's how it is here.

We feed that horribly wrong self image every single day, by glances in the mirror, double entendres, wrong assumptions. At the end of the race we are beaten to a pulp and feel that this is justified.

There is a saying that if an archeologist digs for a city, he will always find that specific city.

Not because archeologists are incredibly lucky, but rather because they are making a wrong conclusion based on a wrong assumption to begin with. ANYTHING becomes evidence of the city. Broken pottery is broken pottery from Troy. Stones are bricks from Troy. Ceramics are ceramics from Troy. Gee, I guess we really DID find Troy, even though we're in Oregon!

You can see how wrong it can get, and I am at least as guilty of this as anyone else, if not WAY more so.

There is a movie I fell in love with a couple of years ago called Allegria. This film is a love story/fable based around a circus troope. in the film, the main character, Frac (who is in sort of the Romeo role) is a mime.

But not just any mime.

His facepaint is tattooed on.

He can never stop being a mime, not even when he talks and does "normal" things. The facepaint defines him.

As the film progresses you notice that with only one exception, not a single one of the performers in the circus ever appears out of costume, not even when the circus breaks up and they scatter to the streets.

There is one scene that I will never forget. The ringmaster of the circus gathers the performers together, then he takes a stick and draws a line in the sand. He asks one girl to step across the line and come to him. She does.

"Do you know what you just did?"

"No," she replies.

"You just stepped from the darkness into the light. And what do we do when we step from the darkness into the light?"

"We do the show."

Life is that way, too, for most of us. Our face to the world is not our true face.

But really, what IS our true face? Is it the beast that we feel inside us, that we want to hang our names on? Or is it rather the mime's paint tattooed on our face?

Something inside me screams that it is the beast. But I am starting to see that it might really be the facepaint.

A former therapist told me once that I had "performance orientation." In actual English, this meant that she thought I was fixated on my performances in front of other people, and not on who I really was. She was 100% correct, too.

As a matter of fact, she was so right that when I sat back and looked at myself, I had been dancing on the stage so long that I had forgotten who I was offstage. I immediately began to search for that offstage person, the elusive "real" me.

And, you know what? I'm starting to come to the conclusion that perhaps that "real" me is pretty close to the one on the stage after all.

The tagline for Allegria is short and powerful: "If you have no voice: Scream. If you have no legs: Run. If you have no hope: Invent."

Invent. I like that approach.

All of the time I fall into the trap of thinking that my thoughts actually define reality in some way. I think that God is distant, so He is. I think that I am repulsive, so I am. I think that something is hopeless, so it is.

But you know what? Whether God stands right next to me is NOT dependent on what *I* feel about it! Whether I am pleasant to be around is NOT determined by my personal self worth! And things are not hopeless just because I don't see the outcome I want.

Granting myself the power to define the reality around me is the most despicable form of self pride I know of, and I do it all the time.

Things are what they are. My task is to simply see, and see truly, what they are.

After all, what do you call a person who dances on stage? A dancer. And it doesn't matter if they think they can dance, does it? It only matters that they do.

If we act tenacious, then we ARE tenacious. How we feel does not matter.

If others think we have a good sense of humor, then we DO have one. It does not matter if we think we are boring or not, THEY are entertained.

If others think of us as gifted and talented, does it matter if we think of ourselves as defective and damaged goods? We are not damaged and defective to them! Instead, we are valuable!

See how it works?

Of course, if you do, I should admit here that I haven't quite figured it out that clearly myself either [insert big grin here!]


God give me strength to face a fact though it slay me.
Thomas H. Huxley (1825 - 1895)




Permalink: 4/20/2004 12:54:00 PM |
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blogger_idol-1.gif
This week's topic in Blogger Idol is "Spirituality." I considered several approaches to it, some of which I may in fact do at a later time. However, I think this is the time to address a major event in my life that I have been silent about until now here in this venue. BTW, clicking on the button above will show the rest of this week's entries.

Murder is Not Enough

grace
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Latin gratia favor, charm, thanks, from gratus pleasing, grateful; akin to Sanskrit grnAti he praises
1 a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b : a virtue coming from God c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
2 : what God has given to me, in so vast a measure I can't begin to comprehend it.

When I was young, I heard many people "give their testimony." Some of these people did this in church, some did it in club or informal gathering settings, and some just did it in their everyday life. A lot of the time, they seemed to be trying to make what they had done and lived through sound worse than it actually was so that the grace they had received would sound more all encompassing.

I had no idea that I would eventually lead a life that would make that sort of imagination unnecessary.

In fact, I would break every single one of the commandments, and do so willingly and gleefully in most cases.

Lying and coveting? Sure. Stealing? Yeah, on occasion. Taking the Lord's name in vain? Check. Not keeping the Sabbath holy? Check again. Honoring my father and mother? Yeah, did that one too.

But in the grand scheme of things, these always felt like "minor" sins.

Then there was one that was bigger. Adultery.

Been there, done that. But only once that I know of, and not once since I met my wife.

Then there is the monster of all sins.

Murder.

By the time I got into college, I had a good dose of spirituality but at the same time was disillusioned with the organized church and anything that smelled like it. That included organizations like Campus Crusade and its like. I was just too offended at heart by the hypocrisy I saw there, and it drove me out the door.

It seemed to me that if Jesus was who He said He was, and I believed He was, people would not use Him as a social gimmick.

Actually, I still feel that way, but that's another blog entry.

I started dating a girl in my sophomore year whom I will call "M." She was actually the third or fourth girl I dated in college, and was a real looker. Dark hair cut in a really avant-guarde style, cute figure, beautiful eyes, and unfortunately, easily swayed. Those years I was a predator, and I am gravely ashamed to say that she was easy pickings.

I quickly tired of her, but the relationship just had a life of its own and dragged on and on, year stretched into year, and spring term of my senior year we were still dating.

In the meantime, I had been cruel to her more often than not. The poor thing really, truly loved me and I didn't deserve an instant of it. I loved her in return, but never intended for the relationship to last. I guess by saying I loved her I am really saying that I cared about her. I was just incapable of caring enough, for her or anyone else for that matter.

My spirituality had taken on a very narcissistic flavor.

I had been introduced to Taoism by one of my college classes, and it struck a chord in my heart. I devoured several translations of the Tao Te Ching, and in its pages found a man who seemed similar to my own view of myself. Then a friend introduced me to the I Ching, a quite accurate method of divination based on the principles underlying the Tao Te Ching.

I was hooked, just as surely as Solomon must have been in his time. The enemy had conquered me not by making me lose my faith, but by tempting me to dilute it. And I walked into the trap with a smile and a handshake.

Until the day when M told me she had missed her monthly cycle.

We waited a couple of weeks, and nothing happened. So I took her to the doctor and she had a test done.

Positive.

There was no doubt that it was mine. She knew it and so did I.

But the only thoughts in my head were for me. I began to twist and warp my belief to fit what I wanted to hear.

"It's not really alive yet!"

"It's just a lump of tissue!"

"It's her body, she should be able to do what she wants with it!" (Which meant "What I want with it," not her.)

We talked, sitting in my brand new sportscar that my dad had bought for me, listening to the birds as spring was quickly giving place to summer. Whatever we did had to happen now. It could not wait until fall, because she would be in her third trimester by then.

I was convinced that I did not want this baby born, not on your life.

To me, it was a huge threat. If it was born, it would mean a tie, a commitment, and I did not want that.

I slammed my soul shut on my spirit, and talked M into an abortion.

We scheduled it for the next day. I took her there and waited in the waiting room while the "procedure" was performed. I saw some other people there that I knew, but none of us spoke or even looked at each other. We all knew why we were there.

It's not a person.

It's just a lump of flesh.

This is not a sin.

I repeated the mantra in my head, and closed the door to God for what would be years. You see, spirituality is not enough. Spirituality is like a robin's egg. The outside can look perfect, the insides well formed, but unless it has that spark of life in it, it is just so much omelet.

So, I sat there in the waiting room and murdered my child without so much as a tear.

M came out, weak and so pale, and she staggered to the car with the last of her strength. Now I can see, she knew. She knew what I had made her do. At the time, I gave her my supreme effort to convince her that this was a good thing, that there was no price to pay, that God did not look with disfavor on us.

And at that moment, my spiritual growth stopped.

Fast forward to 15 years ago. Florida. New Years dinner.

My wife's son comes in and wants to talk to me in private. We walk out into the driveway, leaving dinner on the table.

His girlfriend is pregnant. What should he do, he asks?

I find myself spending the next hour and a half telling him things that I didn't even know. I told him how life was precious, how this life was especially precious, how he needed to now take responsibility for it and she needed to have this baby.

He agreed, and they were engaged in just a few days, and married soon after. Their beautiful baby girl is now my granddaughter.

I, however, was more bewildered than convinced. God had used me like Balaam's ass, I had spoken what He wanted spoken, but I did not really believe it myself.

Until a few years later, when in a church service it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Murder.

That's what I had done.

Murdered my only child.


I was stunned, tears ran down my cheeks. Now I knew. The door inside me was opened again.

And I was desolate. How great a crime was this? Was there a greater, more despicable, more vile thing ever done by a man?

And in the midst of the darkness, a light.

Grace.

There was Grace.

Sufficient even for this.


Then, and only then, my wounded soul began its healing.


Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty.
Simone Weil (1909 - 1943), Gravity and Grace, 1947


Permalink: 4/20/2004 11:03:00 AM |
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Monday, April 19, 2004
 

There is Fair, and Then There is God

I don't often place work from other people on this blog, but this one spoke to me so strongly that I thought it might speak to others as well. The author makes a very, very powerful point. I might want to note here that my only experience with the site this comes from is this one article, so although I have linked to it don't take that as an automatic endorsement.



"There is Fair, and There is God!"
Undrai & Bridget Fizer
undraifizer.com

God does not move in the realm of 'fair.' He moves in the dimensions of Purpose. There are so many things in life that happens to us as sons that are not fair, but they are purposed. We, as sons, are told to walk by faith, by what is from God, and not by sight, feelings, emotional perceptions of what is right, wrong, or fair.

It takes a Significant maturity from the Lord to walk wholly in the dimensions of what is purposed, and not what is fair. The things that happened to Joseph was not fair, but it was purposed. It was not fair for him to be thrown into a pit and sold as a slave. It was not fair for his brothers to lie to their father and say 'Joseph was killed by a wild animal.' It was not fair for Potiphar's wife to lie on him and for him to be arrested and thrown in prison. It was not fair to 'answer his fellow prisoner's dream and be forgotten. It was not fair, BUT IT WAS PURPOSED!!!

The Spirit desires to give us the discernment to tell the difference. At times, while we are in the midst of 'purposed being fulfilled,' His plans are hidden from us. Only when we stand in the Day of fulfillment, 'will the strategic plans of His Power reveal the real activity that set it in motion.'

It is not impossible for us to gain this Maturity and Discernment from the Lord. Some of us may be impatient or undisciplined to receive it, but it's not impossible to receive it. There is a Discernment of God that is set within us, to 'see what is going on,' even before it is finished. We must be able to realize the fact also, that most of the 'unfair circumstances in our lives' will happen 'in the midst of a purpose that has yet to be fulfilled.'

There is an Ultimate Promise that has been set in motion for us, and we are in the midst of it being accomplished. This is why our hearts and vision must be established into the Significant destiny of our lives, and not on the 'temporary dimensions of the flesh and it's emotional perspectives.' We must remember as sons of God, that Significant Destiny has nothing to do with 'being fair!'

It is easy to be 'thrown about' when our full concentration is not on the Significance from which we are alive. There are times where 'we can allow ourselves to lapse' into a realm where we view things 'from the justifiable realities of the flesh' instead of the Significant reality of Faith.' We are constantly being 'processed from the mentality of the temporal, and challenged to walk and think from an Eternal Perspective of the Father.' Constantly!

When we allow ourselves to become 'comfortable in the Life, it will also show our confidence in the Life.' When we reveal confidence, then Trust in the Life will come forth. We will 'see Life from the Father's Ways and our bodies will adjust to the Pace of the Spirit.' When this happens, we will be able to embrace the 'true Law of Love, Justice, Peace, and Purpose, and not merely the 'law of justifiable flesh and it's rituals.'

Fulfilled purpose 'will reveal the Significance of injustices, unfair treatment, and controversial seasons of life.' *see Genesis 45:4-8; 9-16

The Father's Life and Spirit gives us the power to 'flow until then...'



Undrai & Bridget Fizer, publishers
DOMINION

"Some pains are simply the result of God perfecting a thing that we thought was right already."

Visit us online at undraifizer.com



Permalink: 4/19/2004 12:20:00 PM |
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The Bobcat

cage
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Latin cavea cavity, cage, from cavus hollow -- more at CAVE
1 : a box or enclosure having some openwork for confining or carrying animals (as birds)
2 a : a barred cell for confining prisoners b : a fenced area for prisoners of war
3 : where I live right now


I went to the park today for the first time in a year and a half, to visit an old friend, the fox I wrote about here almost a year ago.

When last I saw him, the fox had gone pretty much insane from being caged in a space that was far too small. He would walk back and forth thousands of times, retracing the same route, hoping that maybe this time he would escape.

And of course, he wouldn't.

I felt a tremendous kinship with that fox. Many days I would sit and watch him walk his circuit to and fro, and he would be oblivious to me looking down on him from above.

Today, I went to pay my respects to him. My wife and my grandson and I went to the park, and it was a lovely Spring day. We walked down the path that led through the farm animals and let my grandson feed the goats. He was amazed by the size of the bulls and liked looking at the hawks.

Then, I saw the cage, set against the side of a hill, tower shaped, where the fox lived. Nothing else, other than the birds, was caged. They were enclosed in fences, but they had habitats. No such luck for the fox. For some reason he had been locked away from the rest all alone on his lonely hillside in a tall cage where he could only walk twenty feet from side to side.

It used to break my heart seeing him in there.

I walked up to the cage, and looked down to see my old friend.

And he was gone.


Instead, a bobcat looked back at me, with an intelligent gleam in his eye. He was not walking in circles. He was determined and waiting.

Sooner or later, he seemed to be thinking, somebody would make a mistake. When that moment came, he would be there alert and ready like a coiled spring.

This was a very different animal indeed than the fox had been. Here was an animal defiantly refusing to surrender anything. Sure, we might be bigger than him, more powerful than him, and able to build strong cages. But just you wait, the day will come.

I felt sorrow for the loss of my friend, but at the same time I began to wonder at the source of the strength in the bobcat. What was it? Why was he so confident and undefeated?

Why was it that here was an animal in the same cage and circumstances, yet able to accept it and even thrive?

This puzzles me. So, its not the cage that traps us. For my mind, this is new territory, a road I will have to build as I go.

I want to be a bobcat, not a fox, I think.


Then we walk further down the path, and to my astonishment, there is the fox! He is now in a small enclosure (at least thirty times the size of the cage) with an electric fence and carefully trimmed trees. He is sunning himself on a tree trunk, oblivious to the passersby.

To most foxes, this would be misery. But to this one, it was paradise compared to what had been.

I have mixed feelings about this. He is still trapped, yet does not feel trapped. But unlike the bobcat, he is resigned, accepting of his enslavement.

Is the fox or the bobcat happier? I would say the fox.

But I'd still want to be the bobcat.



Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.
Charles Lindbergh (1902 - 1974)


Permalink: 4/19/2004 01:37:00 AM |
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