Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I found this in a folder called "August" while I was de-cluttering my computer's desktop. That must mean I wrote it in August. I don't know how I forget these things. Actually I do kind of remember writing this ... kind of.

  Ah, but you make it so small, he said. You say that the sycamore is only a leaf, when it means the whole tree, and the root system, too. Is language only these words we babble? Do we surpass the apes only in sophistication? God forbid that our minds should cling to these barren crags, when the heavens are open to our exploration!
  I make no jest and I expose no lunacy when I tell you that we all speak the same language. It is only our speech patterns that are dissimilar. What a curious thing, wasn’t it, when God reached down at Babel and stirred up the syllables of communication, forming canyons between man and man, scattering the nations across the planet. To this day we spit out the sounds of our expression in different orders, and conjure up myriad ink lines to express on paper the vibrations we make in the air. But do you notice something? We’re all telling each other the same things. 
  Every man knows in his heart the sensations of love and hatred, obedience and rebellion, of fear and curiosity and rejoicing; and every man is compelled to attempt some description of these invisibilities to his neighbors, to form some mutual understanding of their natures. We give names to the things we find around us in the world – tree, candlestick, antelope, electron – and special names to one another. We tell stories and ask questions. We reach our groping hands out into the darkness and try to remember why we are here.
  “When is breakfast?” “I think it’s going to rain.” “Get out of my house!” “I love you.” Forming different sounds in the air across the globe, we’re all saying the same things.
  We are the image of God, walking immortal through time, living or perishing beyond the fate of this world. This is the scope of language; this the expression of divinity.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I might be starving to death...

...just in case anyone feels like being concerned about something.

All I've eaten today was an English muffin with melted cheese on it at nine this morning, and a few handfuls of corn chips shortly after lunchtime.

Why? I wasn't hungry before, I guess.

But now I AM.

I've been working on canning chicken and making tomorrow's dinner for-almost-ever, but it all has raw meat in it, so I can't even munch while I work.

I can hear Mom making popcorn downstairs. So there's hope ... a little bit of hope ... shining in the darkness...

But it's going to take a lot of popcorn to fill this girl up.

Since when did popcorn constitute a meal, anyway?

Ohhhh well.

I might live ... and if I don't, you know what they say-

"Ohhhh well."

Friday, November 19, 2010

my pet dragon

"It's so fun!" they told me. "I love it! You'll love it!"
An alarming number of them offered to come on over and teach me themselves.
Thanks, guys, I love you, but, you know.
My mom taught me instead, and I ... was not good at it.
I think Mom might have been scared for her life.
I know I was.
Then my dad taught me, and I was a little better, but not very much.
It was a beast, a wild animal. It had a mind of its own.
Could I control it? That was always the question, teetering on the edge of a knife.
And if I couldn't - death and destruction loomed.
So I left it at home, safe. I was safe, it was safe. Everyone was happy.
Except the people who saw me without it all the time.
"Are you still afraid of that thing?" they asked, and they laughed, and they poked me.
Maybe they didn't really poke me.
But they poked me with their eyes.
Anyway, they said, "Just do it! It's not nearly as bad as you think."
I know, I know. I will. Sometime. You know. When I'm ready.
I almost did it once. I walked up alone and looked at it. I almost did it.
But it glared at me and bristled, and I drew back my hand.
I remembered how long it had been, how much I'd probably forgotten.
Another time, maybe.
I knew I had to do it. It was starting to feel weird. Ridiculous.
Then people started threatening me, and I really knew I had to do it.
I asked Dad for one more lesson.
It went a little better.
I thought, maybe, maybe, maybe I can do this.
I'll do it tomorrow.
Sweaty-palmed, tomorrow I did it.
Nobody was watching. That was good.
Slowly at first, then gaining speed until we flew - together, and not dead.
That was good, too.
All the way there, and around to this place and that place, and safely back home again.
I alighted, a full foot taller than when I left.
I was Master.
The beast was conquered.
Wild and ravenous, but under my gentle iron fist it became a lamb.
It is sleek and black, quivering with power.
I will call it Toothless, and it will be mine. Really mine.
For I am Master.
Master of the manual transmission - the Saturn Vue.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


And we all hurt each other, she said,
and we didn't mean to.
We didn't see,
didn't know,
didn't understand.
We're all stumbling down
this same winding road
and not one of us really knows
what we're doing.

We've got the light,
but we keep it under baskets.
We've got the guide book,
but our eyes find its characters strange.
We've got everything we need
to walk a straight line,
but the glass is still dark looking through.
And yesterday's clarity
takes on a shape unforeseen,
and our dance steps are cluttered.
Red ink on manuscripts
screams of misjudgments,
but too late:
the presses are already running.

The story we're telling
isn't the one we wrote
in our heads
in our youth
in the shadows.
It was neat and clean.
It had a happy ending.
We weren't always tripping on our feet,
looking back aghast
at priceless, shattered vases
and hearts.
But here we are;
and where are we?

We never meant to hurt each other.
We wielded swords without wisdom,
too much asleep,
clinging blind to selfish folly,
not understanding,
shedding blood

Oh, forgive each other-
forgive, and be healed.
Lay quiet before the mercy that raised us,
and tremble to do otherwise.
Be still and remember
what we are,
and why.

We shed His blood,
but He gave it to free us from darkness,
And we stand speechless,

by love unmasked.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Beauty finds us in strange places. And sometimes truth is almost too horrible to bear understanding. Through the eyes of a child caught between two views of the same awful world, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas", with strokes of paradoxically gentle incomprehension, paints a picture of such stark horrors that, were it not true, we would condemn the imagination that dreamed it.

I don't know that I'll be able to watch it again. Like the unimaginable history the film portrays, there seems to be more reverence in remembering than in re-living. But fallen man is prone to forgetfulness - so if you need, as I did, to be reminded of the brutality and the blackness of sin, of the depth to which each of us would fall without God's restraining mercy, and then (indirectly, but ultimately) of the unfathomable magnitude and glory of His grace - then I think I could recommend a thoughtful viewing of "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas."

The only thing I felt it really lacked was a touch of hope at the end. Not a 'happy ending.' Just a reminder, however subtle, that evil did not, will not, and can never triumph. It rages and gnashes its horrific teeth, but it is a foe vanquished. Any story that ends on a note of unqualified darkness fails to bear witness to the whole truth, however honest and powerful it may be up to that point. Still, if gut-wrenching remorse is seen as the hopeful first step toward repentance and life, perhaps "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" doesn't fail entirely even here. 

It is against the deepest blackness of night that the stars shine brightest, even though we are still too far away to see more than pin-pricks of their real brilliance. It's all we can handle for now. 

Too deep, she thought. And her mind boggled.

That man should fall so far ... so far. So far. 

That the seed of this monster lurks snarling in every beating heart. 

That it is only love holding me back, love from without, and not from within. Love that breathed life into my long-cold lungs. Love that slays the monster. 

Do we even know what we are, what we would be, unleashed? We recoil when we see it; we don't recognize it. We call it inhumanity - we can scarce believe that such things could be - but it is exactly humanity. Nothing good. Unrestrained. Godless.

It happened not long ago; we know the story well. We know the red flag and its barbed black spider; we know the horrors behind the cold walls; the shaved heads and the filthy striped pajamas.

Children of men, eternal souls walking in time, stamped with the image of their Creator - herded like cattle by their earth-formed peers, shattered and beaten and starved, murdered each day by the thousands. For what? For being born.

Who did worst: the one that commanded it done? The one that carried it out stone-hearted? Or the one that felt remorse, and did it anyway?

It's happening now. We know the story; but do we?

Children of men, eternal souls beginning their voyage through time, new-formed in the image of their Creator - carried helpless by their earth-formed guardians, broken and stabbed and torn to pieces, murdered each day by the thousands. For what? For not yet being born.

Who does worst: the one that makes it law? The one that does the deed? Or the one that turns away, overwhelmed ... and does nothing?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

it's not too late

Psalm 24 is beautiful. Verses three and four, for instance:

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? 
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, 
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, 
Nor sworn deceitfully.

Oops. Wait. Stop. That's not me.

I'm sunk.

I just did a cursory online concordance search, looking especially at Proverbs, for words like fool, wise, righteous. Scanning these verses, beautiful and true as I know them to be, the same refrain still echoes in my mind every time I read them. This is what I see on the page:

The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, 
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverse... (Prov. 10:32)
The desire of the righteous is only good, 
But the expectation of the wicked is wrath... (Prov. 11:23)
The thoughts of the righteous are right, 
But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful... (Prov. 12:5)
The wicked flee when no one pursues, 
But the righteous are bold as a lion... (Prov. 28:1)

And I know I'm on the wrong side of all these equations. Do I know what is acceptable? Do I desire only good? Are my thoughts right? Am I bold as a lion? Not even close.

In my sin and faithlessness, it's so easy for me to stop right there. So easy. Look at this mess I've made. Just look at it. And look at it. And look at it.

But is it too late? Am I beyond grace? Will God finally throw His hands up in frustration and kick me out?

Not even close.

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

My grace is sufficient for you. 


That exemplified man, described in Proverbs as "righteous," wasn't born with that label, and he didn't work his way into it. He didn't deserve it. It belonged to his Savior, like it does to mine.

This past Sunday I stood and marveled at the call to worship, so familiar, so seldom really heard. 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I just looked it up to find a reference, and was amazed at how often this astonishing greeting is repeated. I counted 17 occurrences in the New Testament, including a few slight variations on the theme in letters not attributed to Paul. 

Seventeen times God holds this promise out to us: Grace to you and peace. You deserve forever death, but I've given you life without end, bought with My own life. You were dead when you received this gift, and now you live only because of My Spirit within you. Stop trying to earn it.

Seventeen times: Grace to you and peace. No matter what you've done, no matter how often you've spit in My face, no matter how often you deny Me hereafter. The blood of My Son is sufficient to cover it all. Repent, and still believe.

Seventeen times: Grace to you and peace. The price has been paid. Be free.