Briefly… My Last 100 Words

Is this my last post? I can’t really tell, but I do know that I couldn’t leave without visiting – at least just once more – the beautiful skies of our 100 Word Song:

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M’desk is standing-height. I wanna crawl underneath it, to hide from Him.

I wanna crawl underneath, but it’s too high, providin’ no space small enough to feel safe.

I wanna crawl underneath, despite His sayin’ that everything’s finally becoming as it shoulda always been… as it never coulda been till now.

I crave to crawl underneath, as His reassurances only cause to pain me more.

My wings’re becoming unbound. Stretchin’, flexin’, impatient to be tried. Not on m’own account, but simply cuz the time is Now.

I wanna crawl underneath. But doing so’s pointless, tain’t nothing can hamper my Flight now…

•••

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All The Sad Men, revisited

His name was Daniel, but he answered to Dan. As in when his mom called out, “Just tell the man ‘no,’ Dan.” 

From my register I was asking him the same questions (those designed as blatant pleas to grab even more of your cash before you leave the store) that I ask everyone. I was doing so, both because we’re supposed to, and also because I didn’t want Dan to think that I saw him any differently than those customers that preceded him. Even though I did.

In fact, my interaction with him reminded me of a post that I wrote a little over two years ago now. A post remembered as I asked God to bless Dan and his family while they happily left my store. A post that I’d like to revisit here today…

She sat there, munching somewhat sloppily on her burger, occasionally spitting forth bits as she yelped out to no one in particular. And I sat there and stared. I felt bad that I was staring, but I wasn’t doing so out of rudeness. No, it was more like envy than superiority that I felt. It was more a case of “what if” than of “thank God not.” And here’s why.

Whenever I experience one living with severe special needs, I become somewhat immersed in what I imagine is their imprisonment. Their imprisonment in a world who wishes that they just weren’t around. Or at least, not quite so visible. But at the same time, I find myself jealous of their freedom. Freedom from this same world that ofttimes judges them in ignorance.

A world, mind you, that can be far more handicapped than they will ever be. A world filled with folk who care more about little dollar bills than they do each other. A world that places much more emphasis on the cut of the cloth than on the content of the character. In my very humble opinion, this world isn’t nearly good enough for people such as her. This world is a damned and empty shadow of what it could be, and I feel that we’ve all worked pretty hard at making it so. Or at the very least, sat back and simply allowed it happen.

So what of the poor girl-woman that suffered under my “not intentionally rude, but extremely rude nonetheless” stares? Why do I sometimes feel jealousy towards people like her? How could I be so crass as to make mention of the concept? Well, imprisoned as she appears, I would love to see the world through her eyes, just once. Just once to see if what I think to be true, actually is.

You see, I’m of the belief that her vision is much clearer than mine. I’m quite sure, in fact, that mine is muddled beyond the point of ever recognizing the Truth. A Truth that I believe she most likely sees quite naturally, and on a daily basis. A Truth that she may even long to share with the rest of us, if only we weren’t so ignorant to her language.

She sees the Truth, and I see only what I choose to see. And yet she is locked in the wheeled chair, while I roam free…

I suppose I should step back for a moment and let you know where my meanderings on the topic come from. I’ve no personal experience in my own family, but when I was young, I was forced (yes, I meant to say that – or at least did at the time) to volunteer at an institution that cared for people like my incidental lunch companion.

As my parents felt it was important to teach us about stewardship, part of their education to this end included a trip to a local long-term care center that managed the severest cases. As a young and unappreciative pisser, I recall hating the place when we first arrived. The stark white walls did nothing to conceal the smell of piss and medicine. The painted-over drop ceiling served more to rebound, than muffle the occasional non-sensical shout or yelp. The halls were clogged with wheel chairs, and in each sat an alien life form. A being so far removed from my knowledge of the world as to be almost comical, if only they didn’t frighten me so.

Being young, and being a pisser, and being there against my will, I decided that hatred would be my best response. Hatred towards these creatures. Hatred towards their needing my assistance. Hatred towards their being around at all. I did as I was told, but only just. How dare they make me? How dare they be here? How dare they exist?

And then, as happens so often in life, something happened. And that something was this. One of them began wailing. And not just a whimper or a sob, but an honest-to-Jesus moon-raising moan. One that would make you think that they were seeing Satan’s ghost himself. And for all I know, maybe they were. The wailing only made me feel uncomfortable. But to another, it provoked a different reaction. I can’t recall if it was an employee, a volunteer, a random passer-by, or maybe even an angel in disguise. But I do remember watching one soul walk deliberately up to the young wheelchair-entrapped wailer, and hugging them. Simply hugging them. The wails continued, but so did the hug. And eventually both were quietly put to rest. Both the hugger and the wailer were at peace. I stood there dumbfounded as the blinds were torn from my eyes, my little stupid pisser attitude backhanded to the floor.

I could physically feel myself growing up a little bit that day. One of the first of many times I’ve had the experience.

A little while later I was pushing along one of the more talkative residents who would speak and speak and speak, and occasionally even say something. At one point he looked me dead in the eye, and with no prompt or reason whatsoever, told me very lucidly the exact day it would start snowing and the exact amount – in quarter inches – that we would receive. I’m sure you already know by now that I’m going to tell you that he was exactly correct on both counts. EXACTLY. Dumb luck? Could’ve been. Dumb luck does seem to have a way of getting around. But I’d like to think that there’s something more to it.

In fact, I’d like to think that maybe – just maybe – there are certain people who are so spiritually in-tuned, so close to God, that they’re incapable of making themselves small enough as to deal with our little shambles of a “reality.” They’re exalted over the angels, but trapped on this mortal plain, and they simply can’t function at such a junior level. They need our help in this world, but only because we’ll need theirs in the next. We just don’t know it yet. They’re not “retarded,” we are. They are of a higher prominence, yet we sit smugly by and laugh at their superiority.

I know. It sounds a little too naive to be true. And that, in part, is why I wanted to jump into my lunch mate’s head. Just once I really would like to see if I’m right. Or if I’m an idiot. Or both. It’ll never happen of course. For one thing, we don’t live in a Disney movie, and switches of this nature just aren’t possible. But even if they were, I don’t feel that the swap would be a very fair one. For her, that is.

•••

I feel it’s important to note, I’m using this song today not in jest, but in respect.  I too, long for the day when all of us “sane men” are locked away, and we allow the “mad” ones to finally be free.

Happy Easter, kids.

 

The Whole Of The Moon

“If the moon smiled, she would resemble you. You leave the same impression of something beautiful, but annihilating.”

~ Sylvia Plath

Image courtesy of Elenacaravela

Image courtesy of Elena Caravela

As it turns out, she did have lovers other than me.

Mhmm, but what is that to you?

Well, she’s blaming me for everything, for our demise.

Again, what is that to you?

Also, she’s making people choose between us…

As those types are apt to do anyway. May I ask, what is that to you?

Oh! And she’s inventing in her head a “me” that I never was!

As is her choice. But honestly, what is that to you?

But it’s a lie!

In part, yes. But I’ve still no idea, what is that to You?

I don’t know.

I… I don’t know.

Then let go.

She has made it clear she no longer wishes you to be written into her book, but that hardly means that your story is over. Dear, it’s only now just begun.

In the past you’ve only seen the crescent, as was your choice. But I have always seen the whole of the moon. So write! Write your story with abandon! With glee! With love, and with confidence! Write it with My pen, and with your voice.

I assure you, I’ve seen the end of your tale, and I AM pleased. I am proud of you. The you that you are, and the you that you will become. The you that you already ARE becoming. I take Joy in you, and I Love you.

But what of her?

She has made herself no longer your concern.

Forgive her.

She broke her promise.

As did you. Forgive her.

But it hurts!

Exactly. Forgive her.

I will shelter and Love her as I do you, and as I do your three, and as I do your tribe. The very tribe that surrounds and comforts you. The tribe that beckons you onto your Tomorrow. Listen to them.

OK.

I will.

So, it’s truly over then?

It is.

Please, tell me… will she be OK?

Her story is now hers and Mine alone. And as such Dear, what is that to you?

•••

“Forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

~ C.S. Lewis

My thanks to the talented Ms. Elena Caravela for once again allowing me to highjack one of her beautiful works for this post. And my deepest gratitude to my tribe – especially Beth, Marla, Keri, Cyndi, Shari, Stephanie and the Memolis – all of whom daily beckon me on towards Tomorrow while (whether they realize it or not) also keeping close to my heart the promise that He intoned above.

Little Things

There has been something I’ve been struggling with about telling you. It’s a subject that those of you who have been following along for a while now, will know everything about. And those of you who have been following along since around 3/21/13, will not. I was still on the fence about discussing this subject, until The Daily Post begged us today to talk about Little Things.

You see, as a result of the recent life changes that have been tossing me about (again, if you’ve begun following only since late March, you’ll just have ask the person seated next to you what I’m speaking of, because you’ll no longer find any mention of it here), there was one final – and heartbreaking – decision that had to be made.

The children we were tasked with caring for, while their mother got back on her feet, were no longer best served by living in our house. We – I – had to let them go. As was the case before we initially brought them in, I once again asked my kids their opinion, and ensured that we were all first in agreement. The little ones were slated to be reunited with their mom in June anyway, but that in no way made the decision – nor the subsequent call to Child Protective Services – any easier.

I explained the current situation, and broke down slightly, apologizing while saying we were going to have to back out. The case worker was very kind in thanking us for everything we had already done (especially considering there was no kinship involved), and said that she would be happy to try to get the children relocated promptly.

As fate would have it, of all the life tossing going on just now, this solitary item may have turned out to be the one blessing in disguise; as it was determined that instead of placing them anew, the children would simply be reunited with their mom (who is doing well) earlier than anticipated.

So they are gone now, and out of my life. Most likely forever.

After we had packed their lives into the over-sized pickup truck that their mother’s friend trundled into our driveway and had seen them on their way, Ian (my youngest) and I retreated to the house where I, in an extraordinary feat of extreme manhood, fell to the bed weeping. Ian, being just about one of the most empathetic people I know, softly patted my back and in response to my moan of being sorry that I was failing everyone, said simply and calmly, “daddy, you are not failing anyone.”

I hope he’s right. And I hope that these two little things – these two precious and beautiful little things who invaded my life for almost a year, and opened my eyes to a whole different world – will never be overlooked again. Not by their mother nor the system sworn to protect them.

I still don’t know what it was all about – us taking them in, that is – or if it helped in the least that we did. And please don’t tell me blindly that it will all just be worth it in the end. There hasn’t been one soul yet who has been able to make me buy that line. I have a sort of a “Now just what were You thinking?” finger wag list that I’m compiling, and when I do meet God, “whatever became of these two little things” will be one of the questions pretty damned high up on that list.

Yamil and Delilah, I know you’ll never see this. But I want you to know that I hope you have fond memories of your time with us. I hope that God continues to bless you on your journey, and I hope – I pray – that whatever it was I was supposed to do for you, I did.

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I will miss you Little Things. You crazy, obnoxious, pains-in-the-ass and simply beautiful little things. Please, go in peace.

Every day I write the book

Sometimes I think there are experiences we need to live, for whatever reasons. Lessons to learn, to grow in life.

So says Nelle.

I agree, and that’s the thing that kills me, especially when considering the fact that I don’t believe in predestination.

So say I.

fatalism

I really don’t believe in it. Predestination, that is. And yet, I do believe that there are certain experiences in ones life, that have to occur in order for that person to fully realize themselves (or at least have the opportunity to do so).

“So, how does that work then, t?” Well, I’ve given it a bit of thought actually, and I think (believe) that it all comes down to this.

Now first, a bit of a disclaimer: I read a lot of what my kids call “Jesus books.” “There’s daddy, reading another one of his ‘Jesus books’ again” they snidely say. Stupid kids, whatta they know anyway? But that’s not the point. The point is that what I have to say below is most likely just a simplified conglomeration of other people’s – smarter people’s – thoughts. And if what I say sounds brilliant or wise in any form or fashion, it’s quite accidental that it should be coming from my hand at all, and is much more likely just the result of a having a good memory.

OK, here goes – here is how I think it works.

Say I’m a blogger, which I am. Prior to you ever receiving the “magic” that flows from my slightly abused and underused mind, I have to write it all down. But before hitting “post” I – like all good bloggers I would assume – proofread that sucker, making any corrections that are needed first. Now, that’s not how I think it works yet, though.

No, then we move on to you, You read whatever I post, and if you’re like me, you sometimes go back through thinking to yourself, “Oh, he really should have elaborated on that bit more,” or, “I wish he hadn’t made mention of that at all,” or again “What in the devil is he even talking about, and why am I reading this dribble?” (Just so you know, I always assign you all with British accents whenever I imagine you talking like this.) In short, you – internally at least – edit my work. THAT is how I think it works. We write the story, but God reads it, and once done, goes back to tweak the narrative in ways that will provide us with the best possible outcome to the tale.

How is it that He could read a story that I’m only now just working on chapter 43 of myself? Easy. I am handcuffed by time. He is not. I am trapped in the trenches of life, while He sits above it. While I can only be exactly here and now, God can skim through my story at will, jumping ahead or back as desired (yeah, I’m pretty much stealing that whole idea just now from CS Lewis. Can’t remember which book exactly, but whichever one of his you happen to pick up, will be worth a read none the less).

So, in a nutshell, that’s how I think it works. We the writer, He the editor. We, the main character in our own story and – should we be very diligent in recognizing his edits – we the ones who get to learn, to grow in life, to enjoy the “happily everafters.”

•••

PS: Yes, I’m aware that the song above has very little to do with the actual post. It’s Elvis Costello – ima gonna use it anyway.

First off, I want to thank everyone who commented on Friday.

And I’m even more grateful that none of you called me on breaking my “no more sad posts” promise from the week prior =)

Secondly I wanted to explain to you, as an anal retentive type, I’ve set up a folder for every member of my family on our computer desktop. They each contain the person’s name followed by “stuff.” Well, all but mine. My name is followed by the word “junk.” Pretty telling, don’t you think?

Anywho, I was sorting through my “junk” after Friday’s post, and I came across something I had previously forgotten about. A long way back, I used to teach Children’s Liturgy at our church (I know, right?), and at one point they decided that we should provide the actual homily (sermon) in our own fashion to the general congregation. Of all the teachers, I was chosen (I know, right?) to do so. Now, as the church is a body politic more than anything else, the tides eventually changed, and about a week before I supposed to give the homily, they canned the whole idea. The thing I came across while sorting through my junk, was the homily I had planned on giving, but never did. Until now, that is…

OK kids – we have been getting soooooooo many complaints from the parents, jealous that they don’t get to come to the Lil Church in the back with us every week, that we thought  – just this once – that we would instead bring our Lil Church up front to them! And don’t you worry; I’ll make sure that they behave as well as you do. Well, almost.

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So, are we ready to listen to the readings?

     (response)

And do we listen with our mouths?

    (response)

Do we listen with our ears?

    (response)

OK, then, let’s go!

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    (followed by the readings. After Gospel, wait a few minutes. Let the kids sit back down on the floor before doing so yourself. Deep breath, and…)

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“You are the salt of the earth.”

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Did you notice that?

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“You ARE the salt of the earth.”

“You ARE the Light of the world.”

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See, Jesus didn’t say, “you MAY BE the salt of the earth”,

Or, “being the salt of the earth happens from time to time”,

And He didn’t say, “There’s an outside chance that at some point you might possibly be a light of the world – hey – it happens.”

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No, Jesus plainly states that we ARE the salt.

We ARE the light.

Already.

Without our even knowing it.

COOL!

So… all the hard work has already been done – God already knows we have the ability to shine like His son – God has already placed His trust in us.

.

Now,

all I have to do is just sit here n’ “Shine” – right?

Just hang out n’ be all Salty – right?

Is there something more to it you think?

Well,

I’ve already got salty down (rubbing beard), but how exactly do I shine?

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I’m pretty sure you guys are too young to have heard of this, but there used to be an uber-popular thing called a “WWJD” bracelet, and these little gems basically reminded us to always think about how Jesus would handle a situation, prior to attacking it ourselves.

I kinda wish it hadn’t been so uber-popular, because once something reaches that level of coolness, then it HAS TO – by some strange cosmic law – become uber-NOT cool at some point, and then it just disappears altogether.

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I wish this hadn’t happened because these bracelets were so much easier than lugging around a copy of today’s first reading all the time.

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You see the W-W-J-D stood for “What Would Jesus Do”, and in the first reading, Isaiah reminds us that “What Would Jesus Do” is exactly What Would Jesus Did:

  • He gave bread
  • He clothed
  • He sheltered
  • He embraced
  • He Shone with the brightness of God’s Light!

And if I want to shine as He did – if I want to shine with the brightness of God’s Light – then all I have to do is follow His lead – all I have to do is

  • Give bread – either literal or intellectual (got a good book you’re done with? Pass it along to someone else to enjoy! Not playing with that toy? Give it to someone who maybe can’t afford it!)
  • Give clothing – be respectful of the clothes you have, so that when you grow out of them, someone else can wear them as well. Ask your parents to make semi-annual Amvets or Salvation Army runs.
  • Give shelter – friend having a hard time with their brothers or sisters? Invite them over for a sleepover!  See a classmate being bullied? Stand by them instead with the bullies – SHELTER them.
  • Give embraces – real ones are cool, but sharing your toys is another way to make someone feel pretty well-hugged – holding doors for people does wonders as well, and I guarantee, if you VOLUNTARILY do dishes one night – your folks are gonna give you the hug of a lifetime – after they come back to, of course.

In other words – before you do anything – just remember that God has ALREADY placed His trust in you.

And His Son has already shown us the Way – go do it like He did it – and don’t worry about what results. Trust him like he trusts you. Then, not only will you be the Salt of the earth,

you will also be salty  =)

not only will you be a Light to the world,

but you will also SHINE!

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Will it be easy?

No!

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Can you do it?

Yes!

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Jesus believes in you, your loved ones believe in you, I believe in you – and I pray that you believe in you too =)

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Now get outta here – be good through the rest of mass, and have a great week kids – thanks!

•••

I guess I’m sharing this with you today, because when I re-read it, I found myself thinking two things. First off, my punctuation skills suck. And secondly, I really should learn to take my own advice more often.

Forever and ever…?

Coming far too late, the rain splashed effortlessly against the long-dead stalks of grass. The grass that, while dead, will return next season. But it won’t. No, the dead grass before me truly is dead, and those particular blades will never again raise their chipper little stalkish faces to the sun. Only their offspring will. The grass never “comes back.” The grass only continues on. Each blade lives and dies, never to return. And each blade that follows after that, does very much the same.

Am I in a similar boat? Will I one day be gone never to return? Why yes, yes I will of course. But what of God? Does God see me much like I see the grass? Does He feel that “I’ll come back,” but only because He sees one of my kind, continuing on in my place? Am I replaceable like that?

Stop t. Before you go on, you had better check your facts, as I’m thinking grass DOES, in fact, come back. I’m thinking that the “long-dead stalks” you spoke of were only dormant, and will rise again next year. You know, life eternal and all that rot, ya douche.

Thanks for catching that. And while I don’t appreciate the insulting tone, nor the language used, you’re absolutely correct. Turns out that while most grass does appear to be dead, in fact it is simply dormant. But not always. No, sometimes, with some types, and in some instances, the blade that dies does so permanently. So there. Now, back to my derailed train of thought…

Am I of that variety? Am I the type that will dry out, shrivel up, and never be seen again? Or am I the type that will sprout anew, when the next Spring dawns? Scarier still, are the answers to those questions in God’s hands, or mine? I suppose, based on the whole “free will” concept, I already know the answer to the last question. A fact that scares me shitless. And, based on the answer to the last, I would then assume that it is up to me to decide as to what the answer to the first two questions would be as well. Again, imagine me standing here, shitless.

Is that what free will is? Is it really, honestly and truly that, well, free? Do I actually have the choice as to whether I will some day be reborn or not? Whether I will Move On or simply become worm food? DAMN, if I do.

Sorry kids, more questions than answers today – the plus side to that is that the posts of this nature usually end up being shorter. The down side is that you’re left with that “why in the hell am I reading this guy again?” feeling. At any rate, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that the choice actually is mine. I’ve often told my kids (and anyone else foolish enough to ask and/or listen) that I feel that hell is simply the place where God is not. And it was created solely because there were folk along the way who decided that they didn’t want to be with Him (Her, It, whatever). Having the free will to make this determination, it resulted in God being forced into providing them with a joint to hang out, after their days here were done. That place is hell. And hell is only “hellish” in nature, because God’s not allowed in. Life, is not allowed in. Even God can’t go where He’s not welcome. Well, with the exception of that one time of course…

All fine and dandy, but that’s hell t. What about the whole “worm food” concept? Do you think that you can actually decide to just die – end it all here? Now and forever? Is that call left up to your “free will” as well?

I’m no scholar, but I’m thinking “no.” See, free will was built into us – hard-wired, so to speak – and I’m thinking life eternal was as well. I mean, we’re built to last, and why not? God seems like he’s all about duration, if nothing else. Lord knows if I were Him, I would’ve called us all in for an eternal time-out by now. But we needn’t bother any longer with that particular digression, as it could be a whole post unto itself. So, forever and ever (Amen) we are “forced” to live, but where we do so is our call. I know, it’s not fair. But whoever said life was supposed to be fair?

Who indeed? Well, God I suppose. The same cat that may see me as a blade that dies, or as a blade that rises again – and I think he’s waiting for me to tell him which.

A note about today’s tune: To those of you who find yourself a novice on the subject, no, this is not The Clash’s usual sound. But then again, with The Clash, there was no such thing as “usual.”