Mysteries.

There are many mysteries in the world, and many mysteries regarding humanity.

It must be asked, is love in the obtaining of something, or the seeking of it? Is happiness in life, in all matters of the heart found in the possession of something, or in the desire? I believe it is in the desire. A man may be an heir to the world itself, which is to say that one has the possession of the world already in their hands, yet without the desire, they do not enjoy it.

Furthermore, it is in the longing for something that I find it interesting, but never in the attaining of it. This, perhaps, is foolishness, as it leads to discontentment, not in what I don’t have, but in that which I do.

If I might possess the world, but do not delight in it, yet delight in the name, Avalon. I take more delight in that which I do not have: The name Avalon, than that which I do, in this example, the world itself. Why should that be? Now, Avalon is an example, a fictitious person and a name from my stories, and is a girls name, which is important for some of the things later in this post.

Now, there is no doubt that Avalon the person is by far, more valuable than the name, Avalon. What is in a name? She might hold the name Avalon but by no means does that name hold her. Whether she holds the name Avalon or not is irrelevant to who she is as a person. What is a person? Are they a name only? Would not Avalon remain as she is if she was to be named, for example, Alyssa or Amy? She would be as she is, would she not? So, how is it that person is to be defined? What makes a person a person?

Firstly, we are comprised as an image, a symbol, a reflection. Therefore, we are an image of something other than ourselves. A triune God. We hold the image of God. In what manner? We also are a triune being, but in the way of an image, or a symbol. We but reflect a greater reality. You might say that we are Spirit (true self), Soul (mind), and Body (the sacred vessel). In our example, Avalon is a being that is comprised of these three elements. She is a spirit being, eternal, immortal, and almost god-like in comparison with the rest of her being. (Which is not to be confused with being like God, or being a god. I don’t know how else to explain this than to say that if this part of us where to be made manifest in this world, we ourselves in our current state of comprehension, would find it to be a being so glorious and so above our current imaginings that we would be inclined to think of it as a god, not that it would be. But our view of it would incline us to describe it as being such.) She is Soul. Avalon is one who possesses a brilliant mind and a unique personality. Finally, she is Body, and even this is sacred. Altogether she is spirit/soul/body. Altogether, she is a human being, an image of God, and we call her Avalon.

I don’t quite understand it, but humanity may well be unique outside of God as Jesus in being both Spiritual and Physical beings at the same time, and the only reason, possibly, that God is with us in this attribute is because God became, and remains to this day, a human being. What is this mystery? Why would one so high become something so lowly? What is Man? Why should God descend so far, just to lift us up? The more you think about it, the more of a miracle you realize the coming of Christ was.

What is it that makes some men seem like beast, while others seem almost too wonderful to be human? What is the difference between one and another?

How can one be the same as those who would kill, steal, and destroy innocent life? Those worst of men? What is it that separates one from the other? Why is one so bright and another so dark? Are we not all like men? One race?

So how is it that one and another is so different one from another? What makes a man a man?

I do not understand how we can fall so far. What am I? Am I a monster or a sacred vessel? What am I? What are they? Why do some shine so brightly, while others fall so far? Why are not all men equal? Why are some as shining stars, while others are little more than ash and dust?

Could it be that our choices truly define us as what we are? That some shine because they choose to, while others are dark because they choose to remain dark? But are there not ten-thousand reasons why this cannot be so? So what is it about us? Why do some do good, while others seem intent on evil? What is it that makes these people different from each other? In terms of what we are, we are the same. So why, being the same creature, can we act so differently? Perhaps choice is a matter in it, but we must be careful not to blame the victim, as we might start to think that all who suffer are a result of their choices, when often times, it is because of the choices of others. Slavery is a whole system built around the suffering of one man for the choice of another. We must take great care with these thoughts, taken even a little in the wrong direction can result in blaming the wrong person for what is the fault of another.

I think I find the reality of Avalon to be a great and wonderful reality, because of how very extraordinary she is. At the end of the day she’s just a girl, just a girl, neither a goddess or a devil, just a girl.

I find in Avalon, hope, and faith, in humanity. I love them, among other reasons, for restoring to me the hope and faith in the race of men. People like Avalon restore my faith in humanity, which I confess in light of those that kill, pillage, hurt, and destroy, was beginning to be shaken. To see that there are people who exist, who are real, who delight in their own arts, gives me hope. Yet, they remain, and are expected to remain, strangers. My faith is in strangers, my hope for humanity is in people I do not know. I know, I keep referring to a fictitious person, Avalon, as real, but I have met such people as she is described to be before, but created a character to represent them, if you will. It is one of the values of imagination, to create beings as needed, to represent people that are very real indeed.

In regard to the people who actually are real, I can only pray that God will bless them exceedingly and abundantly, that he will reveal to them just how deeply they are loved. They, like so many others, are blessed creatures, I do not wish to see them lose that preciousness that they hold. But the continuous questions remain. Why are they precious? What makes them so fascinating? Is it that they are so perfectly ordinary? Yet so perfectly extraordinary? What is up with these humans? They are so, extraordinary in their ordinariness.

Why these? To be honest, I am fond of each and every one of these souls, love them, care about them, but why? Is it that I find both hope and transformation in them? Yet, I also find something of the darkness in them.

Why is it that sometimes it seems as though there are people who, for lack of better term,  it almost as if they seem like part of me. I mean, I know they are not, and that we exist as separate entities and all that, but It is like I find in each of these a part of myself. As if looking into the eyes of another, I see myself there, looking out at me. I suppose this is empathy, in a sense, but sometimes, empathy seems a great mystery to me, one that I am glad for the existence of, for a world without empathy would be dreadful, yet, I do not understand, why it would be that I would give a thought to the feelings of others, the thoughts of others, the hopes, the dreams, the aspirations of others. Why would I be this way? I do not know the answer, what is more, what would compel someone to sacrifice their own hopes, their own dreams, their own aspirations for the sake of seeing another succeed? What is this and why do we see it in people around the world, in every culture, regardless of anything that we might set up to divide us, any label we might give, we still find this in all but the worst of humanity. Ask any good parent, they’ll know what you’re talking about. I may not be a parent, but I know what a good parent looks like. One can understand by receiving if one has the heart for it.

Sometimes it seems as though we are of one mind, one spirit, one heart, one soul. Why this diverse group of friends, strangers, and enemies? There are even those who I’ve not gotten along with, in which it seems as though I can understand them, their feelings, and so forth.

Love is not love if it fails to conform to the greater reality of the fullness of love, the true love.  That which is not of love, is not love, if you will.

This too is a mystery.

A Blessing or a Curse?

This is something of a conflicted post, in that it is rather like thinking aloud, rather than attempting to provide answers. It is a reflection on the feelings that sometimes are felt about how it is that we are to treat those around us. To be honest, much of it doesn’t make sense, even to me, and I am the one who is writing it.

To be honest, when I find myself in a darker mood, I sometimes wish that in some ways that I was alone, completely isolated from all those around me, and unable to hurt them.

The reason is that one of the greatest fears in the world for me is that I would hurt those I love. It is terrifying for me to ponder the idea of it. I start asking myself questions, such as can I be something I don’t want to be? I don’t want to hurt people, but is it inevitable that somewhere, at some point, I’m going to hurt someone? My reason, says, yes, at some point I am going to hurt someone. Some of my worst memories are the times that I’m conscious of the fact that I’ve hurt someone. My deepest regrets are always when I’ve hurt someone I love, or even someone, whether I feel any particular feeling of love towards them or not.

There are so many whom I dread hurting. And the most terrifying thing can be to look in the mirror, and it’s hard not to see a monster there, even though in my heart I know it isn’t true. The question “What if?” haunts me. What if I hurt someone, and don’t mean to? What if I do mean to? What if I make someone feel uncomfortable, intimidated, and so forth. What if. It is a dangerous question to ask oneself, I suppose, one that can quickly turn to a self-imposed defeat before we even attempt to do good. Yet it is a question that continuously haunts me. “What if?” Two words, but upon them, there can hang in the balance, everything. It can be summed up in another word, a single word: Doubt.

The relationships between people can be complicated indeed. I have to ask, am I responsible for the reactions of others, or am I only responsible for my own actions? It isn’t an easy question to answer, though I suppose it depends entirely on the circumstances. If I am being kind to someone and they return evil, am I responsible for their evil because they returned evil for kindness? No. Now if I gave them evil, and they returned evil? Still, they are not responsible for my evil, nor am I responsible for their evil response, and yet, I am, because I did provoke them with my evil. This is where it gets complicated, and from what I can tell, the way to avoid being at fault, is to do good, and not evil. Seems simple enough, but it gets challenging when one suffers for doing the right thing. That can, and does, happen. Yet, it seems clear to me, that if we return good for evil, and are good and kind towards others, we cannot do wrong in doing so. But if we are evil towards others, we are not only responsible for our evil, but to an extent we are also responsible for the provoking of evil in the other, it will be more of our own fault than the other person, if we provoke them. Therefore, to do good makes sense. The question is, I suppose, whether I’m bound by fate and nature to have moments of failure and cruelty, or if I might choose to do right, in spite of both fate and nature. I find comfort in the notion of being able to choose to do the right thing, it means I do not have to be cruel because both fate and nature demands it of me. It isn’t human nature to be cruel, it is to be less than human. I cannot justly justify wrong-doing with my claim to humanity. Whether I am human or not, I am responsible for the evil that I do. But, there is also in this, the incredible freedom to make the right choice. My fears are unfounded, I do have a say in this matter. I’m not required to hurt people. Neither fate, nor nature, can rob me of the choice to do good. It doesn’t mean it’ll always be easy, in many ways, it requires a measure of constant vigilance. It becomes a matter of looking at the whole of ones character, rather than an individual theoretical incident. You have to have a character that responds, innately, with the right choice, rather than one that will be regretted. This is why it is a difficult thing, you’re not permitted to privately stew about things that you are angry or hurt about. It means you have to have a heart that responds in love, rather than bitterness. There is no room for pride, or self-centeredness, for the one who desires to respond correctly.

I suppose we must consider how we view ourself. Are we a curse or a blessing? I must stop and consider that perhaps those around me are blessed by my presence. How can this be? Who am I? I am no-one. I am the never-man, the man that never was. I cannot be a blessing to those around me, how is such a thing possible.

But then, ponder for a moment, are other people the product of your imagination? Do not these exist outside of my mind? These people were precious before I’d ever heard of them, or saw them.

Take for example, my friend, Alice, who is revealed to me in her mystery, something of a paradoxal being.  She is more invisible than I, yet the more invisible she is the more visible she becomes. Yet, even with this extraordinary person who is and is not, I cannot deny her existence. There is no doubt in my heart and mind that Alice exist. That all my friends exist, and each of them has something special or unique about them, something that surprises me.

The others are proof of my existence, and in turn I must conclude that if I exist so do all these. The reality of the existence of these others, and that in one way or another they can surprise me suggest to me that I truly exist. We prove each other to be true, by the fact that we are separate entities from each other. It is the value of surprise.

Therefore, If I truly exist, and these truly exist, I am capable of not only being blessed, but more incredibly to my mind, being a blessing. The idea of being a blessing, is to me, a very thrilling one. Much more so than being blessed in some ways, as thrilling as that is, I am thankful for all the many blessings that come my way, even those that were not quite intended, sometimes, quite the opposite, are nevertheless things that can be received as blessings. I would not have my greatest works if not for my darkest hours. For that I must be thankful, time and time again, I have the honor, the blessing, of watching ashes turn to beauty, even in places where I thought I saw beauty turn to ash.

However,  it is not with cruelty that I wish to bless others, even if I have received things that were cruel in their intent as a blessing once I saw what it produced, I would not wish that upon another, not by my hand. Therefore, I say no to the notion of ‘helping’ with cruelty, for while a good work may be accomplished, much more damage will result than good. I am not an advocate of violence-based, or even fear-based, disciplinary methods. They may produce some good, but the damage will always be greater than the good produced, and is not worth the little good that is produced. It is much better to train with gentleness and love, leading by example, with humility and honor, but never pride. Pride kills, pride destroys, pride brings all to ruin in the end. Never pride.

The difficult part, I suppose, is correcting without hurting. Few things can torment a soul like a wounded spirit, and too often in our desire to correct, we wound, rather than heal.

But where I find the courage? I do have to ask, however, what if the inflicting of hurt was the only way to save them? Could I do it? Would I? Again, where can one find the courage to do this, and do it right? I mean, I suppose one would have to be certain that one has not a plank in their own eye before they could remove the speak from another’s eye. Where can I find the courage to face the inner darkness that is in me so that I might help another with the little thing in them? In many ways, facing oneself in this way, is perhaps one of the most frightening things we might do, but I do not know if one can justly seek to remove the speck in another’s eye, if I have a plank in my own.

It is difficult to judge at times, what it is that causes harm, and what it is that heals. We must be cautious, so cautious, and remember that people are indeed precious. They are easily crushed, easily broken, and words can cause the greatest wounds. The break us, sometimes for years, or they may build us up. Speak wisely, and gently, even if a little wound is necessary. It is better to speak gently, but wound, than to speak flattery and intend harm. Nevertheless, do not seek to wound, without first seeking to heal, or you cannot help.

Again, I do not know if I have the courage to wound, even for the sake of healing, I so dislike the idea of hurting someone, that I cannot understand how this can be beneficial. It escapes my understanding how any sort of hurting in this way may be of more benefit than gentleness and grace. Perhaps, I am ignorant, and haven’t had to face these things experientially yet, perhaps. I don’t know. I do know, that I desire to build up, and not tear down, to encourage, and not break, to heal, and not wound, those who are around me.

Neither do I wish to flatter, as this is a form of wounding as well, in that it doesn’t tell someone the truth, it is a lack of trust, and a desire to flatter my own pride more than any real desire of helping. At the same time, I don’t wish to hold back my enthusiasm in being complimentary, if I feel passionately that someone did a wonderful job with something, how can I not praise them for it? Naturally, if I honestly believe that what they did well, was well done indeed, I cannot think that it is flattering them to encourage them, even enthusiastically.

In other words, it seems to me that relationships can be a rather complicated notion, but worth the effort, but it is important to be honest, and to seek to love, and be good, to not take advantage, but to seek to serve the other, to seek to bless, to heal, to build up.

I desire to be a blessing to those around me, not a curse. Yet, sometimes, it is hard to tell where the line is drawn between them. My dream is to bless, my fear is to hurt. My hope is to choose rightly, and fear not.

Passion.

She runs to know she’s alive.

Glancing out the window earlier, I caught sight of someone running earlier, and you see by the joyful expresion, that this was what it was to live, that when they ran, this was their passion, they felt life, to run is to live. I’m not sure if what she delights in is in the act of running, or of the feel of the wind, but regardless, the sheer joy of it could be seen on their face.

I suppose we all have our passions, the difficult part can be finding it. For me, I feel most alive when I’m either creating something, when I’m thinking, or when I’m surrounded by people. I tend to think of myself as being introverted, but sometimes I question that, as I when I’m in the middle of a lot of people, I feel suddenly alive, and full of joy unlike I feel with nearly everything else, except for when I’m immersed in music, or particularly powerful words.

For the person I saw earlier, I think she finds herself to be alive when she runs. It was but a brief moment, but upon reflection, I found it to be inspiring. I’ve been a little out of sorts, if you will, this morning. It’s hard to describe, but I feel as though I’m so withdrawn inside my shell that I can’t escape, even if I wished to. Which I do. These moods strike me from time to time, usually after I feel a moment of anxiety, or panic, which for the briefest of moments early this morning, I did. Catching sight of someone who was passionate about what it was that they loved, even though it was for an instant, dragged me out of myself for a moment, and I am thankful for it.

Sometimes I think we tend to drown our passions, seeking insignificance almost over that which makes us alive.

One of my passions is to help those around me understand just how precious and wonderful and beautiful they are. It is something I’ve always loved about The Doctor in Doctor Who is how he loves people and finds those around him to be beautiful, he delights in differences rather than shunning them. It is a passion that I share.

It is this that makes me detest these moods where I withdraw into myself, and perhaps this is why to me, I can imagine no worse torment than to be left with nothing but myself, to me that is what Hell feels like. Me, apart from others.

I have a hard time communicating with people what it is I think of them, but I find that I love them, and one of the things that fills me with the deepest sorrow is when I see others hurting, nothing angers me like someone being hurt, I love seeing people living joyfully, and I love seeing them living their passion. Whether it is lunch with friends, or being with their family. Reading a book, cooking, eating, writing a blog. This is delightful to see. Passion. It exist in many forms, and I am so happy just to see people who are alive, and doing what it is that they love to do. It cannot help but to lift my spirits to go places and just observe, I see people living, and laughing. But it can be a bittersweet experience, for among the laughter and the smiles and the passion, there are tears and sorrow, pain, depression. Those who hurt. The broken hearted, the cast down. They are there too. I feel both great joy and great pity as I look around me when I’m in the midst of a crowd. but all around me there is beauty, and wonder. There are people, and they are all created in the image of God, and therefore, if for that reason alone, are precious people. I do not think there is a person alive who is not precious to God, and as such, why should they not be precious to me? I am reminded that we are to love our enemies, bless those who would persecute us, and honor those who are in authority. I consider it a joy to see people as precious. I know that there are people who walk in the darkness, who love it even. There are even those who would commit monstrosities. Even these, I must look upon with compassion and pity. They were not always this way, and as long as there is life, there is hope. I cannot give up hope, even among wolves. In my heart I wish to understand that we are all part of humanity, and though some will walk in darkness. I am a light unto the world. I have to start realizing that I am not a prisoner, but one who brings light to those who are captives. I am not a prisoner of this world, I am a liberator. I don’t come to extinguish hope, but to bring it. It is not for me to condemn the world, only God has the right to do that, and he chooses to extend mercy to the world, his heart is to see these precious souls, all of these precious souls, set free.

I understand that these are dark times, but this world is not my home, and though a place of beauty, it still is a battleground, in some ways it is a prison, a world of shadows almost. I would expect to find it dark.

I am still learning a lot about what it is that I am passionate about, but I think one of my passions is to let people know that they are precious.

It hurts to see so many of them in pain, so many of them suffering, either because of things that have happened to them, or because of things they’ve wondered into. They are still precious people, and I must remember that.

One way I like to think is to think of people as being people first, regardless of whatever else they might be, be it gender, race, nation, or creed, that they are people before they are anything else. I want to see people as being people first so that I may remember how very precious they are. It helps me to not feel so frustrated with people, if i feel so inclined. Simply because if I am viewing them as being people first, I am reminded that they are not so very different than I am. It helps me to love my neighbor as myself, as it is said. It is a simple change in my thinking, but it makes a profound difference in how it is that I see people.

I’ve discovered that once I start seeing people in this light, they become much more precious and valuable, and I love them for it. It is like awakening to find yourself in an alien world, surrounded by wonderful, beautiful, brilliant people.

In some ways, my mission, my passion if you will, is to bring Heaven to Earth. In a sense, I am an ambassador of Heaven, and in Heaven, I believe my true self dwells. It is my home, and I am with Christ there. I look forward to the day when I see it with my own eyes, but strictly speaking, I’m already there. This world is not my home, Heaven is. Yet, as an ambassador, I am a light in this world of darkness. How can I not see the inhabitants of the Earth as being something precious?

How can I not love them?

One of the ways I am a light in the darkness, is living. Is embracing the gifts and talents that God has given to me, and hopefully, using them to bless those around me.

Like the girl who ran, she blessed me, and wasn’t even aware of it, dragging me out of my shell for a brief instant, just by doing what she loved.

So, in essence, go out, be the brilliant, beautiful, and wonderful person you were created to be!

Of Knowledge, of Truth, and How to Properly Offend Someone

How can I bear the thought of living in ignorance? Yet, how often have I wished that there were things I didn’t know. Still, I almost fear the thought of being ignorance. Knowledge, I suppose is something of what they tend to call a “security blanket” for me. To know something, for me, is where I find safety. I therefore dislike the experience of being ignorant. Now, this drive for knowledge as a comfort to me, has provided a means to push me to learn, and I’m glad for that, but it does get wearying when I can leave no rock unturned, nothing unobserved. I see everything, but am too focused on learning from it to enjoy it. Things turn into obsessions, ideas get carried away, people become something to study like a mystery, or a character in a book. Yes, I learn, but at what cost? I sometimes wonder why I am not content to live in ignorance, but must seek answers to the matters that mystify me. Yet, I’m always startled, frightened even, when I find I don’t know something. I’m not sure whether my thirst for knowledge is an asset or not to me, on one hand, I enjoy most of what I learn, on the other hand, I sometimes would like to just stop, and enjoy something, without knowing what it is about. To enjoy a song without having to try and figure out what instruments are being played, what notes it is comprised of, and so forth, but to just enjoy the song as something of beauty and wonder and mystery without trying to take it apart. To see a painting, and not care whether it is oil, watercolor, or acrylic, whether it was painted on paper, canvas, or on a rock, but to enjoy it, for what it is, not what it is made of. To allow myself the element of surprise. Surprise, yes, that really, I suppose is what it is all about, surprise is something that occurs outside of my ability to predict or control it. It is a reminder that reality exist outside of my own head, and if ever I doubt my own existence, all I have to remember is that I am capable of being surprised. Sometimes surprises are pleasant, sometimes not. Surprise occurs whether I wish it to or not. Whether it is a terrible thing or a good thing, it always hits with the same sudden jolt, and my initial reaction is nearly always the same: Why didn’t I know about this?

There are things I do not know. How can I reasonably come to any other conclusion than to say that I don’t know everything. I can’t decide whether that is a relief or not. On one hand if I knew everything there ever was to know, perhaps I wouldn’t be so inclined to doubt, but on the other hand, perhaps I would, and this is actually far more likely than the first, I would doubt all the more for it. I suppose in a way, it is a gift that I don’t know everything, it makes judging from what little I do know at least a little less complicated.

I keep asking questions though, it’s almost like I’m addicted to it. For example let’s say I meet someone, I think well of them, I do not hate them, and so forth, I like them, and by a strictly technical definition of the word, it is a strictly platonic definition of the word ‘like’. However, my mind will ask me questions no matter how absurd, often ignoring the obvious in favor of the obscure, and driving me to the point of insanity in the meantime. My internal conversation might go something like: “Do you like them?” “Yes.” “Now, define the word like for me would you?” “I am fond of them, I like them, I wish them well.” “Are you sure there isn’t anything else?” “No, it’s not like that.” “I don’t believe you.” “Well it’s true.” “You’re just deceiving yourself.” “Actually, they probably don’t even remember I exist.” “All the more reason you think too much of them.” “What? It was just a person who works at the grocery store for pete’s sake! I don’t hate them, so I like them. How else is it to be explained?” Several aspects go into all that, some of them are good, some are not. It is good to examine the ideas, to ensure that they are exactly what they ought to be, but it is not good to be self-condemning, and so forth, and it is outright damaging where it isn’t needed, stirring up fear and awkwardness, and only making things much more complicated than they need to be.

Somewhere along the way, I think I’ve probably swallowed some lie about all thoughts being some ulterior motive, and that our intentions can never be ‘truly’ good. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. That we must always be out for ‘something’ and that ‘the heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it’ applies to me. My inner voice sees to it that I don’t forget it. It doesn’t mean it is true.

While I, from what I understand about it, think positive thinking, as in that our thoughts have the ability to change physical reality around us, is absolute rubbish, and more harmful than good; I also realize that how we think of things does make a difference in our perception of that which is real, including physical reality. For my part I desire to hold as complete a realistic view as I can. Yet still finding wonder in the world, and keeping room for my imagination to create something of its own story of a better world, a dream of something being better than it currently is, if you will. It is why I can accept that horrible things do happen, yes, but also that truly wonderful things also happen.

Back to my inner conversations. Much of what torments me, is the result of something I am believing wrongly. This is why truth is desperately needed to confront these lies, because lies are damaging, even those we tell ourselves.

Of lies and of honesty, an interesting observation has been occurring to me as I’ve been attempting to be more honest and open with people: It is very freeing to be candor, to be honest, to be upfront.

This doesn’t mean being offensive. A lot of times people tend to just use the truth as an excuse to be offensive about something. There is in the human heart a vindictive streak, and we, whether we wish to admit it or not, enjoy offending people, and if we can do it by using something that happens to be true, we feel as though we are perfectly justified in offending people. No, no, no, and again, no. We are not justified, just because it’s true. In most cases it is perfectly possible to convey the same information in a manner that is not offensive, it just means we don’t get to be prideful about it. Ah, ah, this I think is the heart of the issue here, we are actually more concerned about our pride than about the truth. We want our pride validated, we don’t actually care about the truth at all.

There is a difference between being honest, being candor, being true, and being offensive. For example, it is possible to convey the information by accusation, but it is also equally possible to convey the exact same information by acknowledgement.

We are to be cunning, absolutely, but also gentle. We are not supposed to be cruel, but neither are we to be gullible, and we are not doormats either.

For my part, if I offend, I want it to be because someone dashed themselves against me, not me launching myself upon them. If I were a rock, and you were to jump on it and get hurt, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that the rock hurt you, but that you hurt yourself on the rock. If I’m offending because I’m launching myself upon them, I’m doing it wrong. By not offending, I do not mean that we tone down our message so that it doesn’t offend. I only mean that we don’t crush people with the message, because while it might be true, if used like a bowling ball, it still hurts like nobody’s business, and will not be accepted, but despised. There will always be those who launch themselves upon the rock, and if they find that it hurts, it isn’t the rocks doing. That is kind of what I mean by all this. Instead of toning down messages, we stay strong about it, but we don’t use it like an arrow against people, but like a fortress. It might be stormed, and those who storm it may find that it offends them, they can’t get through it, and what not. But all the fortress is doing is standing there. Unlike the arrow, it didn’t set out to damage, but to stand. It’s an imperfect picture and a complicated subject, but I am convinced that using truth as an excuse to needlessly wound millions of hearts is wrong.

Standing requires courage, once again, fear is an enemy here. It also requires humility, as sometimes we find we are mistaken in what it is we are standing for. We need to value the truth more than we value being right for the sake of our pride. It requires love. Our desire, and goal, in truth, should always be to hold heart of love. It requires a measure of selflessness. We can hardly love in truth, if we are more concerned about our reputation than we are concerned about the people around us, again, our pride is an enemy here. Love, however is a great antidote to pride, it is hard to be prideful if you truly love those around you. You start wanting for them to succeed more than you care about your own success in endeavors and such. Not that you want to fail, but you are more interested in seeing those around you be blessed than yourself.

For myself, I find a sense of freedom with being candor, with saying what is to be said, without holding back. Though, to be honest, I’m still learning about not holding back, and I still find I hold a lot back, nevertheless, I am hopeful to find that in the few little places I’ve tried being more open and honest, I feel an amazing freedom as a result of it. This was in itself a surprise to me, but a pleasant one.

Of Love, Trust, and Fear.

I do not trust people easily, and it has nearly always been a hindrance to me. For example, my writing, my art, and so forth, it isn’t written for me, not really, it’s written, as a gift, for humanity, for those around me, and though I pour out my heart and my soul, I do not do the one thing that actually is required of me, which is the sharing of it. What are fine words if I do not share them? Why? It is because I do not trust, and the sharing of these works of my hands and heart, is to be baring my soul. It is to stand before all, unmasked, and revealed to be as I truly am. No more, no less. What stands in my way is my lack of trust. This really is quite inexcusable, and part of the purpose of my doing this experiment with this blog is to open my heart, not only to those in my immediate vicinity, but to all. Only in so doing, will I find the freedom to express my work to those around me, though I confess, it is a bit unnerving to even attempt to reveal the thoughts of my mind and heart, especially, in a public setting, such as a blog that anyone may read.

Another thing I’ve noticed, and in many ways it goes hand in hand with my ‘trust issues’ is that I have a very difficult time getting around the fact that I do care what it is that people think of me, I want to be liked. And the fear of rejection is the ‘root fear’ if you will, of so many of my other fears that branch off of that particular shrub. I am always afraid to express what it is that I really think, because, if I do, in my mind, I will be rejected. This isn’t right, but it is present. There is a difference between something being present within me and it being something I want to be in me. I am tired of the fear of rejection, and the things I do to avoid it. In many ways I wear mask, one could even say, a different mask, for every person that I encounter. Nobody sees the real me, only the mask. This is not right either.

I’m not condemning myself, but I am acknowledging the fact that I am wearing a mask. I wonder what a world without masks would be like? I am sure I am not the only one who wears a mask to hide who it is that I truly am. I do it, everywhere I go, perhaps for fear of judgement, out of insecurity, or maybe because I simply want to be liked, and I know people are used to seeing the mask. If I was to take off the mask would they still like the man behind the mask? And this is the question that brings me back to the issue of trust.

I do not trust that they will. Even though I’d like to think that if those around me were to lay down their mask, I would love them all the more for their courage, their bravery, their confidence in accepting their own identity, their strength, their trust of me enough to let me see them as they are, I would love them all the more for it. Yet, I do not extend that toward others, I do not trust that deeply. I am convinced, wrongly, that I am a monster that lurks behind a mask of beauty, and when the mask is removed, people will flee in horror, and I will stand, desolate, alone, and afraid. It is a lack of trust, and it extends even unto God himself. I do not doubt his greatness. My greatest struggle in my faith is the goodness of God. I do not doubt his love, his justice, his greatness, or even his beauty. It is his goodness that I struggle with.

I know, I know, not everyone is trustworthy. But at what point does caution become a poison? Is it even my business to be concerned about what it is that people think of me? I don’t know

Fear, in my country, America, we live in a culture of it, at the present time, almost everything that takes place, takes place from a heart of fear. I’ve been watching my thoughts, and those around me, and I am astonished by how much we let fear dictate our lives, our decisions, everything. It is a cruel master, and we want it, we believe that our fear is our safety, when actually it is our fear that is destroying us. Safety, something of an illusion in itself, we seek it, to the point of madness. We won’t do anything we deem to be unsafe, even if we would be better off for it. We refuse to acknowledge the possibility that God is not safe, and in so doing, must have him in our box of what we deem to be a safe god. If he works outside the box, we do everything we can to try and put our idea of him back inside the box again. We’ve created a whole culture in our attempt to put God in our safety box.

This culture of fear works itself out in surprising ways, some of it almost amusing except that it is really quite tragic in how it works itself out. The number of men, for example, who are surprisingly threatened, by the cat. I mean, seriously. Thousands of men are so insecure and so terrified, that a creature full of confidence and grace, the cat, is considered to be a serious threat to them. Unfortunately, the fears that are the root of these insecurities are the same found in those who would abuse those around them. It may seem amusing that men fear cats, but it is this fear that also is at the root of men fearing anyone whom they perceive to be beneath them, or above them. At its root it isn’t about the cat, but about the ego, the perceived threat to the self, the worth of oneself. This fear of not being the center, always leads to the abuse of somebody. It is fear that fuels violence. Fear breeds more fear, and fear breeds violence, violence in turn breeds more fear, and the vicious cycle continues. It is safety that is being sought. The safety of the ego in this case. Our safety obsessed culture has made us anything but safe, and safety in itself really is more of an illusion than an actual reality. The solution of course, is not safety, but courage.

Courage, is in many ways, something that is manifested in the outworking of the virtuous, and it isn’t so different than acting from a heart of love. Perhaps this is why fear is cast out by perfect love, because love is the well from which courage is drawn, and from courage we act in virtuous ways. Fear, however binds us, and safety is but a fantasy, not something real. Courage however, transforms us, and those around us.

My fear, is the fear of others, what it is that they think of me. I must not fear what others think, but operate from a heart of love. In the learning of the loving of others, I should then find my heart is one filled with courage, and not one governed by fear, but a heart governed by love. It is so much better to be governed by love than by fear. Fear tells me to wear the mask, love says to not wear the mask.

My problem isn’t so much that I do not trust, it is that I am afraid. And why is it that I’m afraid, because I do not love. How do I love? By being loved. This is why it is so important to know that God loves us, and loves us with a perfect love. Because, in knowing that I am God’s beloved, I know what it is to be loved, and in knowing what it is to be loved, I cannot help but to love, and love will cast out the fears that bind me.

I need not fear, after all, it is true that I am loved by God, is it not? I need not fear anything.

Knowing that fear robs not only me, but those around me, it is part of why I consider fear to be one of my chief enemies. How can it be anything except an enemy? It is because of holding a heart full of fear that I distrust both God and humanity. It is because of a heart of fear that I refuse to be as I am, my lack of trust is born out of fear, and fear will destroy every good thing. It is not good that I am afraid.

It is a process, I think. But I am glad that I am becoming aware of the fact that I even have fears, and that it is these fears that are at the root of so many of the evils and corruptions I might see, in a strange way, knowing what the reason is, is a bit of a comfort to me. Not that I desire to be rid of these things any less for the understanding of them, in some ways, learning of them, increases my desire to see them removed.

I pray that I can see not fear, but love, courage, and a soundness of mind be the ruler of my decisions in the future.

The Smallness of the Universe.

“The Universe is but a small and passing thing. It is, perhaps, bigger on the inside, on the outside it is but a scroll, rolled up, as a book, it is little more than a word. It is a shadow of a thought. I’d like to know the mind of the thinker.”

-Me

I suppose it is a little strange to quote oneself, but what if we were to look at the Universe slightly differently than we might be accustomed to? We tend to think of it as this big thing, this great big thing, too vast to comprehend even. I suggest it is perfectly comprehensible, and not as big as it appears. In fact, I like the consideration that the Universe is only bigger on the inside, on the outside, one could hold it in one’s hand, no problem. If one dared to hold such a sacred object as the whole of all creation. I do not dare. For one thing, if I dropped it, I don’t think an ‘oops’ would suffice. But I find the idea of the smallness of the Universe to be a comforting one. The whole of creation is small, and it is passing, even if billions of years were to pass by within it, it still is but a little while in light of the whole of reality, a little wisp of vapor that comes, and then is gone before its time. Billions of years passes like an instant in the greater view of things.

But at its root what is the Universe? It must be something, that much is obvious, but the only thing it can be is something comprised of information. How can it be anything except information? When you get down to the most essential fundamental essence of the Universe it is either present or it is not present. It is or it isn’t. I suspect that before anything else, the Universe operates on a sort of binary code, but instead of 1’s and 0’s it is something more like ‘on’ and ‘off’ or ‘present’ and ‘not present’ or even if you will: ‘real’ and ‘not real’. But it seems very clear to me that at it’s most fundamental level the base-code of the Universe, if you will, is a binary code. What the code is, I do not know. To be or not to be, that is the question, and in many ways it sums up well, the essential reality of reality itself. It either is or it isn’t. It is to be, or not to be. From this binary code comes the building blocks for more complex information, such as words perhaps. Lets say that each of the building blocks was made up of a complex string of information, and while I’m not good at math, I’m fairly sure you can have quite an extensive library of information at your disposal if you strung sequences of a binary code together, lets say for example that a single character could be made up of a sequence of either the ‘to be’ or ‘not to be’ and that the string of ‘to be’ or ‘not to be’ could be of infinite length. That’s just one character, but of infinite complexity. Now, that character is itself a small part of a code, which in turn forms an exceedingly complex word, that word in turn is part of a complex sentence. And these are the foundations of what we call reality. This is how something can be spoken into being. Because it is a digital universe, all things will eventually break down into a sequence of information, you have the right information, in the right order, you can turn that into things. Like sub-atomic particles, and yes, when things get much bigger, atoms, and much bigger than that, matter, and then things like stars, galaxies, peanut butter, and so forth. But it is all at its most fundamental essence, information. We must live in a digital universe. The Universe isn’t as a scroll, it is a scroll. It’s a book, it’s a story. It’s information, it is words. it is an idea. What we call reality is an idea. How else can all things consist in someone, except as an idea? The scriptures tell us that in Christ all things consist. It’s quite simple really. All things exist at their most fundamental level, as information. It is the idea and Christ is the one who is thinking it.

I keep coming back to the notion that reality itself is but an idea in the mind of Christ, and that is how it is that all things that were made by Christ, which is to say all that we call reality, including time itself, is sustained by Christ, who is the thinker that keeps reality, real. We are a story.

I mean, it makes sense to me, that if all things consist in someone, then all things consist, in someone the only way they can, if they are a thought, or an idea, before they are anything else. But it isn’t like our minds, which are easily sidetracked and such, for example, while writing this post, I got sidetracked writing about how wonderful it is to try to see how everyone is beautiful, and when I do everyone becomes beautiful to me, transforming how I see just about everyone I meet into someone precious. But, that is just me getting sidetracked from writing one thing. God’s not like me, in that sense, he can think about things, and continue to think about things, and keep on thinking about it. He has a focus I’m entirely without, and I imagine it isn’t difficult for him to keep his focus. It’s not like Angel Bob comes along, drops the proverbial pin, and God gets sidetracked by the pin with the angels on it and everything just ends. (Thanks a lot, Bob! I was busy writing something, and I haven’t published it yet. Humph!)

I could be wrong, but I am firmly convinced that the laying out of ideas, no matter how strange or even absurd they might seem, is more beneficial to the discovering of truth than to shoot them down because they don’t happen to fit what we think the things ought to look like. So I know all this might seem a bit strange, but it makes perfect sense to me, in five years I might find sufficient reason to think otherwise. But I pursue truth, even at the risk of absurdity. I want to know, not believe, but know, why it is that all things consist in Christ. So I start with the idea that all truth is God’s truth, and examine the Universe for clues to what it is that it is made of. All I can come up with, time and time again, even if I don’t quite understand how it is that I got there, is that it is first and foremost, an idea, a thought.

That doesn’t mean it’s not real. Quite the contrary. It doesn’t alter the reality of things to find the nature of reality itself is different than we expected it to be, but looking at something within it, is different than looking at something without it, and if it is something different than we’re accustomed to, of course it’s true that we can only ever have an imperfect understanding of it.

I am curious to see what I will find as I ponder the world around me. It is a beautiful world, and complicated. But my imagination brings about comprehension of that which I don’t quite understand, and helps me to understand it in a way that provides insight into what might actually be. You tell me the Universe is a word, and it makes perfect sense, but I can’t quite explain why it makes perfect sense, except that as an author myself, I instinctively know what it is to make universes out of words, I do it all the time. So, it doesn’t seem odd to me to consider the possibility that I happen to live in such a universe.

Something More.

There is in me sometimes a bit of longing, something I really can’t easily explain, it is almost as though I long for something more, a state of discontent with what I am, an inexplicable restlessness, this sense that what I see isn’t quite all there is, but that there is something greater just out of reach. You could almost say that I desire to be a man who walks in the realm of the supernatural, so much so that it seems unnatural to dwell in the realm of the natural. There is in me a restless desire to be more, to do more, than what I am actually able to do. Nothing qualms this restless spirit within me, nothing calms these waters, they only ever return, and return stronger than before. It is like a unconsuming fire that burns within me, nothing can quench it, but neither can I find the means to satisfy it. It is a longing to do what is beyond human ability to do, but why? Why does this longing even exist, and why does it exist so strongly within me as it does?

For example I sometimes wish I had supernatural abilities such as flight and to walk across the water, and so forth. But all of that is really rather superficial compared to what it is that I really desire to see, which is transformation, healing, and hope.

Above all I wish I could heal those around me, and myself when need be, of their hurts, their pains, their illnesses  I wish I could see the eyes of the blind open, the ears of the deaf, the tongues of the mute, the hands and the feet of the lame move.

I wish I could see hope in the eyes of the brokenhearted. Oh how I wish I could see the wounds of the inner person healed, these are the deepest wounds, so much more than blindness, than deafness, than lameness, than disease, and hurt. These wounds run deep, beyond the body, and into the soul. They hurt us, and continue to hurt, often growing, rather than fading with the passing of time.

What is it that I’m missing? I’ve seen these qualities in others, but how come I never seem to see them take place in my own ‘world’. Would that my hands could be the hands of a healer, to heal and not to wound. I feel too much like a soldier, and not enough like a healer.

I feel so powerless, so inadequate  I suppose, when I say that I wish I had the ability to heal, I don’t necessarily mean, that I had the ability to heal, in and of myself, what I mean is that I wish that whether it was me, or someone working through me, or what have you, makes no difference, I only wish that those around me would be healed at my hand, I’m tired of wounding those who I touch, I want to help them, heal them, restore them.

Oh, I don’t know, it is a confusing thing to me, why must people suffer? Why do we not see the miraculous take place in our daily lives in my part of the world? I hear stories about other places in which these sort of things do take place, so I have to ask, why not here? What is it that is blinding me? Where is it that I’m misunderstanding some fundamental truth about what I believe? Wrong belief is the only reasonable explanation for it, but what is the lie that I’ve bought into? I need so desperately for the truth to shine through all the fog of my presumptions, blindnesses, assumptions, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, fears, outright perversions, and so forth of what it is that I ought to be believing, but am missing. There is something broken about what it is that I say I believe. I have the belief, but I see no evidence of it working out in my life, not like what I read about, and hear about. What is it that I’m missing?

It has occured to me that my faith isn’t so much about me, yes it is true that Jesus saved Me, he died for me, and so forth… But it’s not about me. There is something about a lot of teaching I hear, from all sorts of preachers, and I can’t quite ever identify what it is, but it doesn’t settle with me, there is something about it that just isn’t right, though I usually do not have a clue what it might be. It has occurred to me recently that maybe it is that so much of it is focused on the personal, you hear people talk about having a personal relationship, and so forth. A lot of teaching is directed on what it is that we can do or be personally. Or, what it is that we can receive  personally. Whether it is giving or receiving, which is to say teachings on repentance (as understood as my turning away and my turning towards) and prosperity (as understood as my receiving any sort of thing), I think I’m troubled about the focus being on: Me. I am not God, why are we talking about me? It is a thing that has infiltrated my own thinking as well. I mean, even this very blog is an attempt to help me face my fears so that I might get outside myself a bit. But it is still a blog that is fundamentally about me. How do I become truly others focused, and even above that, high a calling as it is, Christ focused? It is a self-centric faith, and that is why it isn’t settling well with me. But how do I break this poison? Where can I find a renewal of my mind so that I no longer think about me first, but Christ, and about others before I think about myself. First, I desire to think about Christ, as the central focus around which all other thoughts revolve, second, about others. I do not know where I come in in all this, but I’m pretty sure that being the center, or even the secondary focus of things isn’t quite right. In the center I am my own god, and in the place where I ought to be thinking of others, I’m putting myself before others, or in other words, I’m being selfish. It would be a beautiful life to hold up Christ as my God, and live truly selflessly, forgetting myself as much as possible.

True, the self exist, I cannot deny my own existence, but just because something exist, it doesn’t mean I must give heed to it. I believe that the more selfless I am, the more the self is forgotten, the more fulfilled I will find my life to be. It is a desire I hold, to hold as my view, this Christ as central, others centered, for lack of better term, consciousness, rather than my current self-centered, self-consciousness. That is what I desire to possess. And I can’t help but wonder if the key to my not seeing the world around me being healed of its hurts is because I myself am standing in the way of it.

But how do I think about these things? How can I move out of the way without thinking about it? I suppose the only way one can, by absolute surrender to that which is greater than self, that which is central, and that which is the Lord over myself. To forsake all self-interest is my desire, but even in desiring it, I have an interest in myself. Therefore, I must realize that it cannot be by any merit of my own, but that all is accomplished at the hand of another. My part in the matter is to acknowledge the truth of what is accomplished, or in other words, to surrender to the truth that transcends even myself. It is the total surrendering of a soul to the one. And curiously, isn’t something I can accomplish in my own strength, but I can only surrender to the power of one who gives the power to surrender to the power that you need the power to surrender to.

It is supernatural, yet perfectly logical and reasonable.

The Christian faith isn’t about me, it isn’t about my role in it. Yes, I am part of the story, but I am not the center of it. The story isn’t about me. It is the story of the love and grace and greatness of God, but God is always the focus of the story, never me. I’m not needed for the story, I’m chosen to play a role in it, but I’m not needed for the story to continue to be a good story.

The Christian faith is the faith that shouldn’t exist. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying it’s wrong, quite the opposite, it is a miracle that it exist, that’s what I’m saying. Think about it:

A God who created something he did not need to create, but created because he wanted to, then came into the creation himself. But when the artist stepped into the painting, he didn’t take up the authority he held? He did what? He was born where? He was raised in what town? He did what? Then he suffered? What? God with us? Who are we that God should come and dwell among us like that? What?It gets even more unbelievable. God, the very same person, comes and indwells what? Go back to the beginning, God didn’t need to create the world, he wanted to. God didn’t need to enter into the world, and even if he did, he could have chosen any way, he could have arrived with splendor, such splender as to shake the foundations of the earth from top to bottom, there would be no mistaking him, no misunderstanding him, all the greatness, and the terror, and the power of God laid out before us, who could stand? But no, he comes, as a human child, a little baby, and it gets even more bizarre. He emptied himself of his divine rights, and it gets even more bizarre. God himself, became a human being. Think about it. God, the author, the creator, the one above all other things, nothing, nothing at all can even begin to compare with the splender, the glory, the unimaginable beauty of God, and all poets and artist have been at work at trying to describe beauty, which is but a reflection, and a very poor one at that, since the day we arrived on this planet, and all that we know of the arts is beautiful even though it falls so very short of the reality of beauty as it truly is. But he became a what? A human? Have you seen these people? Now, I love people, I think they are beautiful creatures, and so forth, yet we are also nothing much to speak of in many ways as well. Little more than the dust we are made of. A being so unimaginably glorious and beautiful, taking upon himself humanity? How can this be? This is the sort of thing we might find in mythology, but in reality? It is as though this is the great myth, the great story,  and it is a myth that is still being told, even unto this day. That doesn’t mean it’s not true. A story can be the best story in the world, but it doesn’t make it any less true for being a story. Yet, God remains the central character to the story he writes about himself. He is, because he is. It is okay for God to be self-focused. It won’t hurt him like it hurts us. He can deal with the focus being upon himself, we can’t.

This is the story of God, and it is an honor that he has allowed us to play a part in it, but it is still the story of God. It isn’t and never will be, the story of me. Nor should it be.

So while I desire to see those around me healed of their hurts, and so forth, I must ask again, how much do I desire to be forgotten by myself?

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I desire to be emptied of myself, to be a tool for the benefit of others, but not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of others and more importantly for the benefit of the one who uses the tool. Would that it could be true that I would be so emptied of myself, that self, as I think of it, would no longer exist, but I would by nature be Christ-focused and others centered. That is the desire in my heart, it burns within me, I desire it more than anything, but I fear the falling short of it, and yet, I must be careful not to let condemnation into my heart, for that too is a focus upon myself. I desire to cease from thinking about myself at all, if that is at all possible. Even if it is not, I desire it. You can desire things even though they are impossible, the desire will still be of benefit.

I do not wish to be focused upon myself, nor upon the failings of others, which tends to do little more than exalt myself at any rate, be it in a twisted and something of a sick sort of way, it is rather like exposing the nakedness of others so that we can consider ourselves to be clothed. It’s twisted, it’s perverse, it’s sick. But we do it when we feel the need to expose the failings of others, when we have no business doing so any more than we have the business of stealing their garments from them. I cannot believe it is in the better interest of people to steal their garments from them. whether we speak of doing it physically, in which case we’d rightly find indignation and disgust, not only from the person, but hopefully from those around us as well. Or we speak of doing so in a figurative sense. That is, going around talking about people’s shortcomings, their sins, their failures, and so forth. We don’t have the business of doing that. It isn’t for us to expose them that way, not even if it is under the excuse of ‘well it’s for your own good’. Yet even though most of us would never dream of going around exposing people in a physical sense, we seem to think it’s alright to expose them when it comes to their moral shortcomings. I do it too, I hate it when I catch myself doing it, and I don’t want to try to justify my behavior in doing it, I am dead wrong to do this. How do I talk of this problem without doing it? I’m not exactly sure, but I suppose what I am trying to say is, don’t expose what you do not have the business of exposing, any more than you would in a physical sense when it comes to protecting the basic human dignity of your fellow people, what is more, these are your brothers and sisters, your heart is to be a heart of love, and love covers, it doesn’t expose, when it finds even a multitude of sins, it covers, yes, sometimes that means we have to give up our own cloak, so to speak, but what pretenses do we really have anyways? All that we have is what has been given to us as a gift anyways, we hold no claim to our own bodies, not to mention the cloaks we wear. We fight for our brothers and sisters, not against them. Our war is not a war against flesh and blood. We must not confuse our enemy with our brothers and sisters, even if he disguises himself to look like one. I have to have compassion on humanity. How can I help it, we as a whole, as a race if you will, are enslaved. Humanity is in need of compassion and love, and while I don’t know what to do about those who harm, hurt, destroy, steal, and so forth. (For example few people on earth disgust me that those who are trafficking their fellow human beings for a profit. Worse yet, this is such an underlying network for the world economy, that there is almost nothing about our modern lives that are not in some way supportive of the practice. Even in America this sort of activity takes place.) How do I hold a compassion for humanity as a whole, and yet fight injustice? I don’t know, I really don’t know how it is that these issues may be dealt with, yet I am convinced that I must both love my neighbor, and stand against evil. But how does one do so in a manner that seeks not only the redemption of the slaves, but the slavers? Again, my fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, these horrors are but the visible outcomes of a something darker. It is these powers that are ultimately responsible for the matter, and it is them that we are fighting against. How do I remain compassionate towards humanity though, when I see men abusing other men in ways too horrible to think about. How can I see the beauty in humanity, when sometimes it seems such an ugly thing?

Perhaps seeing the beauty in people is what is needed to save them. When we fight against humanity, we can’t see the beauty in them, however small it might be. We can only ever start to see them as something less than human. How can we fight against the bonds that hold even the worst of men, if possible, seeking ever to see the redemption of even the darkest, most horrible, side of humanity. It is hard for me to reconcile the ugliness of the dark aspect of humankind with the call to love them. But I am also convinced that we must operate in love, even though that might mean loving those who are really quite unloveable, and will probably hate you in return. It’s not our task to return an eye for an eye, but to love. That is our mission, to love, even the most hardest to love.

We need to walk in the supernatural for this to be, the natural man is incapable of loving in this capacity, I’m convinced of it.

It is the miraculous of the everyday, and why sometimes the least visible things are the most miraculous of all. Again, I keep coming back to this, but it is the littlest things around which the world changes.

Coming back to the question in the beginning, is the desire for something more, is it the call of my heart to forsake myself, or is something else? I am sorry, I sometimes feel a discontent with being merely human. There is in me this longing for something more. To be more than what I am now. You could even say it’s not so much my humanity I despise, it’s my weakness, my powerlessness that I despise. But where does this desire, this restlessness, come from? Is it the eternity written in my heart or is it the perverted desire to be gods?

Why must I remain so weak, so powerless? So common? So like other men? Why must I be so human? And yet to be human is to be of the same kind as those who I have seen that have astonished me, those people whom I’ve found to be so very wonderful, I have not the words to even describe them, they are amazing people. Does that not count for something? They are human, does that not count for something? Yet, it is also true that these monsters of humankind, those who hurt, those who harm, those who place profits over people, and those who enslave their brothers, their sisters, these too are also human.

I am a human being, it is both to my glory, and to my shame. But, at the end of the day, what does it mean? I struggle with my identity as one, on one hand I’m honored to be a human being, I’m thankful for it, on the other hand, I’m ashamed of it, seeing the darkness of humanity, I feel ashamed of my own, knowing that it is also in me to be this way. How does one accept their humanity, with thankfulness, yet acknowledge the truth of the darkness? I don’t know. But again, I do know that I am to love those around me, and to seek the redemption of those lost.

Of Tea and the Greater Good.

One of the things I am most afraid of in life is speaking aloud, I just freeze, and then when I do speak, it is a high-pitched, unnatural sort of voice, even though I do not have such a voice if I were to just talk normally.

Probably the thing I fear the most, is myself. I fear myself the most, I fear hurting others, or even making them feel awkward. I fear placing expectations on others, but most of all, I am afraid of myself.

Every time I hear about some horrible crime against humanity, I feel it, this sudden and inexplicable fear that if the circumstances were right, and I lost my character, and allowed my emotions to overtake reason, and so forth, what is it that separates the one who did this horrible thing, and myself. I find myself applying labels to myself that are not true, only because fear makes them more than they are. Even though all people capable of being horrific monsters, that doesn’t mean all people will be horrific monsters, but I cannot ignore that not all people are saints, even if all people are capable of being saints.

I subject myself to endless self-examination, and it is never just a
cup of tea, that I’m enjoying as a good and perfect gift given to me, as an object of beauty and wonder, a miracle in itself, that a leaf, a humble leaf, placed in heated water would blossom into this elixir of deliciousness, and would provide me with more medicinal benefits than we can imagine. A simple drink which around countless tables traditions have been formed, families and friends brought together, and has ceremonies passed down from generation to generation, all centered around this beautiful thing we call tea.

Yet, even tea has a dark side, and we live in a world where people are considered less important than profits, worse yet, sometimes people are seen as being nothing but a source of profit. Slavery’s not dead, and I think it would be foolish to assume that all tea, worldwide is entirely ethical everywhere. There must be some injustices somewhere in the tea production process. The world is brutal to the widows, the orphans, the wandering strangers, it is brutal to the disadvantaged, the hurting, the poor, the needy, it is brutal to all, but especially towards those who are already at a disadvantage in some way. Why do you think it is nearly always minorities that are picked on, blamed, bullied, and so forth? Even in America people are excluded because of what it is that they are, not who they are. I am a human being, I happen to be male, I am a human being I happen to be ‘white’ as they say, which really is a bad term to use for people, in its self-contained racism, I am a human being, not a child or an adult. I am a human being. Human beings, wherever they are, and whatever it is they might look like, they diserve dignity. I look within myself, and I see prejudices of my own, I see places where I support rather than fight against injustices against my brothers and my sisters of the human race. We are of one blood, we are one family. These are my brothers, these are my sisters. All of them. Do not harm my brothers or my sisters if you do not wish to stir up my anger, my wrath even. Don’t even think about it. Yet, here I am, harming them myself. How? My tea.

Because of how it is that the process of growing, harvesting, processing, distributing, and so forth work, I am convinced that there is bound to be ethically questionable practices somewhere in that process. From the field to the store, it is a long chain to not contain any suffering, I do not believe it, not even in fair trade teas. Which of the four brands of tea I have immediately in front of me in the form of tea bags, only one of them says anything about being fair trade certified.

I’m not blaming the tea companies, or the workers, or the grocery stores. But I do blame the systems of the worlds economies that place profits over people. We need to fight for human dignity above our own rights.

Then I look at myself, and I am struck with how much that is nothing but meaningless sentiment. If I truly believed in the inherent dignity and worth of my brothers and sisters I wouldn’t just sit here spouting off words about it, but would actually be doing whatever I could, wherever I could, even to the point of giving myself away if you will, becoming physically spent, emptying myself, so that perhaps a little suffering of these people might be relieved as a result of it. I hate that humanity suffers, and that both by doing something, and by doing nothing, in the end humanity still suffers. Yes, it is good that I feel that injustice, in whatever form that might take, is something to fight. But, to be honest, I feel powerless to actually do anything meaningful about it.

What can I do? I am no one. I hold neither power, nor authority. Only words, and a vision of a better world. But my frustration is that I feel like there is nothing I can do that will make a difference, an actual difference, and a positive one at that. How am I to judge whether or not something is going to cause more suffering later if I became involved in trying to stop a little suffering at the present time? That can happen too. In the fighting of a little suffering, a much greater suffering is brought about later. Would it not have been better for us to not relieve the little suffering in the moment? Or, is it true that whatever the consequences may be, we have a moral obligation to do what we can to help others in the moment, trusting that some good will come out of it, even though more evil is produced in the end? Is or is that not, our responsibility?

Yes, it is tempting to go out there and fight for people’s rights. But, hold on a second, the questions must be asked: Will this bring about more suffering? And what of those we fight? Do we fight against people who deserve our pity, or do we fight against the ideas that they hold? At what point does a person become so responsible for the ideas that they hold that they are no longer worthy of holding human dignity? I am distressed at how quickly blame is thrown about and basic human dignity is thrown aside, we are quick to tear down, slow to build up. I am distressed to find that I myself am one who does this. Give me any political leader, for example, that I do not like, and I would be to my horror, inclined not to give them the respect that, whether we agree with them or not, they deserve, first as human beings themselves, and because all authority is given by God, and whatever purpose he might have for placing these particular people in authority, well who am I to question the judgement of God in regard to his choices of authority. These men, no matter what they are, even if they are the most immoral, worst sort of men, are still the Lord’s chosen ones. I might not always know why, but I firmly believe that the disrespecting of authority is by no means a just way to fight suffering and evil. Evil works never produce good. Never. Nothing good can ever come out of my disrespect for those who have been placed in a position of authority over me.

But here’s the thing, respect doesn’t mean agreement with the ideas that they hold. It is the ideas, and not the man, that we are at war with. It is always the idea, and never the man. All humanity is created in the image of God, and as such, everyone is beautiful, everyone is deserving of dignity, of respect, as human beings. There has never been a human being alive that was not meant to be beautiful, not meant to hold dignity, and honor.

Yet, I ask myself. Why do I continue to drink tea? Even though I hold the knowledge that almost every cup is tainted by the tears, and the blood of my brothers and sisters, I still persist in drinking it? Why is that?

Tea is just a small example, there are thousands upon thousands of like examples, that we do every, single, day. It feels rather like attempting to fight a monster that grows two new heads for every head you manage to lop off. (Sorry for the gruesome imagery, but it does the trick.) I feel truly powerless when I stand and observe the suffering of humanity. It feels pointless to resist it.

Yet there can be no greater crime than to flee. It isn’t pointless to resist it, and even though it feels like a fight that we cannot win, we must try. It is our duty, and it is how we may honor those who we love, which is our fellow human beings. Our brothers, our sisters. These are the people we love, and these are the people we are fighting for. We must be careful in our fighting of the monster of suffering, that we do not harm these precious ones. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between the cause of suffering, and the one who is suffering. The monster of suffering is a master of disguise, and he will imitate those whom we ought to be fighting for, not against, so well that we far too often, attack not the monster, but the man. We must take great care in our fight against injustice, not to hurt unjustly.

We must not join the monster. We must resist, even though suffering is cunning, seductive, persuasive, and powerful, and seemingly invincible. We must resist him. We must always resist him.

First and foremost, we need to acknowledge the monster within. We have no hope of fighting the monster without, if we are being deceived  and are bound by the monster within.

This is the part of me I am so afraid of. I tend to refer to it as my inner Voldemort. He is utterly ruthless, and self-seeking. Where I might, in truth, desire to show compassion and genuine interest in the lives of others, seeking to invest my time, my resources, even my life for their benefit. Here is the thing, the inner Voldemort comes along and starts screaming things like: “Stalker, pervert, selfish little idiot! Give them some privacy, keep your distance! You’ll make them uncomfortable. You’ll offend them! What if you do something wrong and end up hurting them? What if you become like that guy you heard about on the news and… You’ll mess up, you’ll do more harm than good, you’ll hinder them. you’ll stumble them, you’ll only enable them, you’ll only make things worse, for them, and for yourself. Don’t do that, they are a threat to your safety. Be afraid of that guy. Don’t have anything to do with that girl. Don’t be seen with that man. Don’t let that person touch you. Don’t let that woman be seen in the same room as you. Be afraid of saying anything to him. Be cautious when speaking to her. You’ll come across as some sort of (morally) sick person, don’t talk to them. They’ll only think you’re flirting. They’ll be afraid of you. They’ll be intimidated by you. They’ll feel like you’re judging them. Don’t listen to them. Don’t believe what that person says. Don’t trust that guy. Don’t give the benefit of the doubt. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t don’t don’t.” He’ll even point at me and start telling me things like: “You’re worthless, you have nothing, you are nothing, you have no worth, you have no dignity, you are an evil man, you have absolutely no business helping people, you must have bad intentions, you must be acting selfishly. You must hate them, you must not love them, you are acting, you are a hypocrite  you are a sinner, there is nothing good about you. You have nothing to offer, you will do more harm than good. You will deliberately hurt people. You are a liar, you are a perverted and sad excuse of a human being.” And I probably don’t need to go on, I’m sure whoever reads this will know that inner Voldemort’s voice all too well. I’ve yet to meet a human being that hasn’t suffered the torture of having his voice constantly nagging at you, telling you that everything is completely, absolutely, and utterly, without hope, so why even try to do good. It is a voice of condemnation, and I do not know if there is anything more damaging to humanity than condemnation.

Here is the thing, how do I get around the nagging little voice that not only tells me all those things, but also whispers in my ears, that there must be at least ‘a little truth’ in the accusing words.

People talk about the devil. In the scriptures he is referred to as “The Accuser of the brethren ” But for all intents and purposes, we can refer to him as “The Accuser.” here. I’m not sure evil looks like what we picture in our heads, so much as the one who speaks these utterings to us. That is what evil looks like. The words of the accuser, wielding the weapon of condemnation. I cannot deny that my soul is thus tormented, so therefore, whatever else might be or not be, I have to believe in the existence of my enemy. How can I ignore the wounded soul, not only of myself, but the wounds I see in my brothers and sisters. In all of humanity, we all suffer this common suffering, this voice that tortures us day and night, haunting us, killing us, destroying us. But above all, tormenting us into madness, if it can.

Part of the problem is that there is a part of me that joins the accuser’s army. A sort of betrayal of myself towards myself. Some call it the flesh, I tend to refer to it as either ‘the unman’ a term I borrowed from C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy, or in my own private musings as ‘my old zombie self’. It is also rather like a Dementor out of the Harry Potter universe, it has a natural allegiance to that which is evil. So, upon encountering the accuser, it doesn’t resist him, but joins with him and starts screaming at me too, and like the Dementor, it desires to consume my soul. It is my anti-self.

And, those who have not Christ, this is what they are left with, just themselves and their anti-self. No wonder it is spoken of as being dead. If we have any hope of victory over the unman, over the inner Voldemort  over the old zombie, over all this evil within us. We have to rely on life, and life devine, being breathed into our souls, giving us a living spirit to live, so that we do not have to be all that we have left to us without it. Hense, why we need Christ in order to overcome the unman. As the self, we have not in ourself, the ability to defeat our anti-self, so we must have the power of another to do so. That is one of the things that Christ accomplishes for us, is the defeat of the anti-self.

I do not need to heed the voice of the accuser, anything he might have to say, even if it is true, has already been dealt with, nor do I need to pay any attention to my old zombie self. He is dead, and dead he ought to remain, heeding him only gives him undue attention, and attention is what he thrives on, it is his lifeblood, without it, he remains where he ought, dead.

The voices in my head, they speak lies. That is all they are, the words of liars. I need not heed them.

So, the question remains. How can I drink tea, and do so in good conscience?

First, I acknowledge that though this world is a world of suffering, the tea I drink is going to inevitably cause part of that, but it also will accomplish a great number of good things along the way. I already mentioned a little of how tea is good for society as a whole, by bringing people together. If we let it, tea could save the world, truly, I am convinced that there is a great difference between that which can’t be solved by talking about things, tolerance even if that doesn’t mean acceptance  understanding even if that doesn’t mean agreement, and remaining calm, and finding something to unite us, and tea is something that has the ability to unite us, and that which won’t be solved, even if we are tolerant, understanding, calm, and enjoying the unity of the tea table. Can’t or won’t? There is a huge difference between that which can’t be done and that which won’t be done. A small change of perspective, but it makes all the difference.

Second, tea, like all good things, is a gift. And I ought to receive it with thanksgiving. It is a beautiful and wonderful gift, a good gift. It is for me to have a thankful heart for the gift of tea.

Third, abstaining from drinking tea will cause suffering as well. Does this mean I shouldn’t try to select the most ethically sourced teas? Of course not, no matter how small a difference, every little difference still does make a difference. It is the little things in life that make all the difference in the end. It is fighting suffering, in little ways, that help bring about the end of suffering in much bigger ways.

Perhaps being a good steward is more about paying attention to what brings about suffering amongst our fellow men, and I’ll throw in the environment and creatures and so forth, than it is about our finances, and acting according to what is the most, at least that we can judge, ethical option available to us. Perhaps it isn’t about that which is cheaper, but about that which is the more ethical of things. It is a stewardship of ethics, not finances, perhaps finance is a part of that, but it’s not the point of it.

It might mean having to say no to something we enjoy, instead of having our demands met at the price of blood, whether in human suffering, or in suffering in animals. (For example, the egg, there is a terrible price to be paid for cheaper eggs. A lot of cheaper eggs are because the chickens are not kept ethically, they suffer cruelty, such as confined spaces, overcrowding, having to be kept on so many medicines just to fight the diseases caused by this kind of farming’s methods, and so forth.) A lot of times, not always, surely, but a lot of times, products that might be cheaper financially, have the price of blood and suffering attached to it as well. Now, price is not an indicator of ethics, by no means, even the more ethical of technology companies employ components at least, in their products, that at some point in the production are either harmful to humans or to the environment.  (Yes, call me an environmentalist if you’d like, I call it being a responsible steward of your living quarters, in this case, the planet.)

Now, please, please, please, don’t misunderstand me, I do not wish to condemn or place guilt trips on people, that is the last thing I’m attempting to do, what I do wish, however, is to create an awareness of the possibility of, and sometimes outright existence of, suffering in our everyday lives, even if it is in things that we cannot see, because the person who suffers for our choices is a thousand miles away, in a different country, or different city, or even our neighbor, we just don’t see it. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I’m just not convinced that blindness and ignorance is the answer to these problems, so while I don’t want to make people feel guilty, I do want to implore them to learn about these things, and to do what little they can, even if it is something really, really, little, to help.

If we as a whole, do our littlest part, then change can happen, I’m sure of it. And small changes lead to bigger changes. Perhaps in fifty years we’ll have an ethics-centered economy rather than a profit-centered economy.

I dream of it, and even if remains a dream, I think we should still dare to dream it rather than to just say that things will never change, and there is nothing we can do to change it. It might not seem like much, but the little things really do make all the difference in the end.

And I still have not solved the tea dilema, but even in writing this I’ve started asking myself questions about just what is involved in my cup of tea here? Even the asking of questions is a good place to start, it is much better to ask questions, even if you do not presently see a solution to it, than to mindlessly consume I suppose.

And while I must acknowledge that I need not heed the voice of the accuser, that does not excuse me from behaving in a responsible manner. Responsibility is still an important thing to hold, and it is to my shame that I lack it in several places. Including, I feel, not seeking work as diligently as I ought, for no other reason than to be supportive of my parents. I wish with everything, that I could provide, for example, a new iPod touch for my mom, and a faster computer, she gets stressed out about both, and I don’t like seeing her stressed out about something that if I had work, I could very easily solve for her in a matter of a month or two of diligent saving. This is but a small example of the burden I have on me about not working at the moment, I really do want to work, so that I can give back to those who have given me so much, and while I like being with my family, if I did move into my own place, it would relieve my part of the financial burden of the family. My biggest problem? Ideas, and lack of knowledge. I have no idea, at all, what it is I’d like to do, and even when something comes along, I have no idea at all, about how to get started, or even how to attempt it. That is part of why i started this blog, so that I could directly combat the fears that are keeping me from seeking work, and the single biggest motivation I have for desire to work is to help relieve the burden I see upon my parents. If I happen to obtain a few funds for my own benefit, great, but what I really want is to help improve things for those around me with it. Again, a small thing perhaps, but for me, this is an area where I am not currently working in a manner that is beneficial to those around me, and to the world as a whole. Fear is the culprit behind my hesitancy, listening to the inner Voldemort telling me of my inadequacy  and just simply being ignorant. These are factors, and perhaps I’ve turned them into excuses. That is wrong, and I hope that I can soon find something. Even if all it is something small. Forgive me, my pride is also a huge factor, if I truly cared, I wouldn’t care so much about what it is that I do, but I do care, what it is that I do. I can hear in conversations and such the subtle disapprovals of some jobs over others. Lets face it, CEO’s are often more esteemed than janitors. But, neither can function well without the other. All jobs are important jobs, I, however, have bought the lie that I am defined by what it is that I do, not what it is that I am. This is one area where I need to see a reformation of my thinking in, how it is that I approach the idea of working. So while fear is a factor, my pride and ego, are really at the heart of the problem of why it is that I am not content with doing whatever it is that is required of me to accomplish the greater good of bringing relief to those around me, in my case, that is my parents.

There is a mini-series/movie that deals with a lot of these questions, called North & South, it is a 2004 BBC drama that ask questions about suffering, present suffering and relief or what is the suffering caused by the overall picture, the idea of standing up in small ways for matters of the conscience, and the responsibility we have in helping those around us. It might seem a bit ‘old fashioned’ to some, but it deals with some very fundamental questions that still apply to the world we know today, and humanity is still humanity, regardless of when they live.

The Adventure of Surprise.

The gift of transformation takes place, often, without you even being aware of it. What do I mean? The list of people who have had some sort of transforming, positive, impact on me, not by preaching at me, directly interacting with me, or otherwise attempting to purposely alter me, but just did whatever it was that they loved to do has gotten quite long indeed, and it reveals some interesting things about life, about people, and about myself:

I desire to know why it is that when I’m around certain people, We’ll call them Winter, Iris, and Autumn, Jordan, Mark, and Peter, or even see them in videos and what not, that it seems as though I have encountered something so wonderful, and so beautiful, I wonder how it can be true that they are a part of this world. There is such a radiance and inner light shining from them, that it feels as though there is someone who is not of this world before me. A sense of greatness, there is something I see in these people, I cannot deny it. There is something special about them, and I cannot quite name what it is, it something that is more felt than thought I think. These are those whom Heaven has given wings, and with them, they fly, they live, and live passionately, their very being is a testament to the goodness of their God, and their hands create works of wonder, and power, that transform the souls of all who they encounter.

One friend I’ve long sensed all this about, I’ll call her Alice, she holds this quality. I noticed it some years ago, but never knew quite what to make of it. One afternoon, I happened to overhear a conversation, and the topic was my friend, Alice, their words? Exactly what I had written in my heart as a description of her, but didn’t quite have the words for in my head, yet. But in essence, it was exactly the same. I know now I do not imagine these qualities in her out of desire, or imaging a better version of her than she really is. In a mental world of my own where I try to take into consideration as many possibilities and so forth as I possibly can, I believed myself to be mistaken, I was truly puzzled that my friend could be what it was that she appeared to be, that there must be something I was missing. I knew not whether it was good or bad, but surely, there was something I was missing. How could I not be missing something? So it was far more astonishing to hear the words of someone who didn’t know her, talking with someone who has long knew her, and having their words match my observations to perfection. The stranger and the one who knew her well. These are the words of witnesses, unclouded by my own internal ramblings, possible misunderstandings, and again taking as much as I can into consideration, perhaps unconscious desires or imaginations. To hear spoken externally, by a third party, all that was in my heart about my friend was a surprise, but a good surprise, I think.

There are witnesses to the greatness of others, many of which match my own observations. Words spoken of them, even lines written in books of their nature, and therefore, I do not doubt their specialness. The words of those outside myself are extremely valuable, especially when they reveal my internal musings and observations to be something of the truth, and not just some invention of my own imagination. I have to admit I am, and always have been, a person highly susceptible to thinking well of people, even to the point of seeing them as being something more than what they truly are, imagining them as better than they are, and I’ve had my share of disappointments accordingly, yes, and yet, I still persist in trying to see the best in people, or thinking well of them, even if I can’t find a reason to think anything other than ill of them, I tend to think well of them, in spite of themselves. But, this tendency has often led me to question whether what I see in a person is real, or imaginary. I never know, and it is only when I start hearing other people speak of these character traits being present or not, that I begin to be able the facts from the imaginations of my mind about those around me.

This is good only in that I have an exceedingly hard time disliking people. It is bad, however, in numerous ways. It causes me to hope, to see people as being something better than what they are, and once I’ve seen that, I hope to see them be that. This is problematic in that I grow disappointed in people when they fail to meet my expectations of what it is that I have seen them become. I know their potential, and I have seen them as they could be, but it messes with my view of how they are now. This breaks tolerance of faults, and gives me a very skewed perspective on what it is that they are. This is wrong of me. My crime is to hope, but it is wrong, because it causes my love for them, as they are now, to be cold, and furthermore, enslaves them to the notion of fitting my expectations or facing my disapproval and rejection. It is not the heart of love for me to hope. Yet, how can I not see people and know that they have within them the ability to be so much more. So much more. To see the creatures they could be, glorious and beautiful, and to see them as they are, fallen, so far, and not wish upon them, improvement from the creeping thing the have become, to the glorious being they could be? What does the heart of love do? Accept people as they are, or does it seek that which we deem to be the greater good?

I do not know the answer to that. Yet, nevertheless, persist in seeing people as beautiful, hoping for them to be so. It is my perception of them to see them as being people who are beautiful, wonderful, brilliant, and glorious creatures. But how do I know if what I am seeing is true or my imagining a better version of them up than that which is true? Or is all that we see in people a matter of perception? Are people what they are to us because that is how we see them to be? Or are their actual, real, characteristics of people, that no amount of perception on behalf of others can alter? There must be, or how could we have first impressions, except that we move with such preconceived notions and prejudices that we bring those, even to those we are just meeting for the first time.

That is why to hear words of others speaking of the truth of my observations is incredibly freeing, it is learning that there is something real, where you were uncertain of it. People do hold qualities, and they hold those qualities in truth, they are not entirely the product of your own imaginations, but actually exist, outside of your own mind and heart, they really do exist.

Like I say, I tend to take into consideration every possible thing I can think of. I can lose certainty whether or not people actually exist as I see them, or if they are the product of my imagination, and not be able to tell the difference between these dreams and that which is real.

Sometimes you know a person for years, you’ve watched them grow up even, from a wee little child to an amazing young woman or man, and they can still surprise you. Like Hobbits. You can study their ways for a hundred years, and they can still surprise you.

There is one such Hobbit-like soul, I’ll call her Aisling, who is the daughter of a friend of mine, who I’ve seen grow up over the years from a little child to what she is now, a young woman. And I found that she is just such a person. She holds an astonishing insight in one so young, an unearthly wisdom and perception. In times it seems as though when she speaks it is worth heeding her word, that it is not her but God speaking through her. She speaks forth with a hidden power, and holds the insight, of the strength, the precision of someone far beyond her own abilities. It is sharp, it is like a sword, it is cunning and powerful, and precise, like she has a sight that sees beyond the mortal eye to the heart of the matter. Believe me, I was absolutely astonished to discover that she was like this, despite having seen her grow up from a child to an adult, she still surprised me. If I had to name what she is, I’d almost want to use the term Prophetess. But, I don’t know, all I know was my complete astonishment when I heard her speak. I remember her from when she was a child, and I hear her now. She has grown greatly in wisdom, in insight, and holds within her a sort of hidden power, I pray she never loses it but remains as precious as she seems to be forever.

As it is to be so it shall be. My hope is that I will not look on with blinded eye, but see with vision clear, all that lies before me. My fear is that people are not as wonderful as they appear to be, that the darkness within is merely waiting, watching, hiding beneath the surface of their souls, lurking wraithlike within them. Waiting to strike, to seize the opportunity of evil. I do have the zombie within, who watches and waits, seeking to strike and seize the opportunity for all kinds of evil. If I have the zombie within, does it not follow that my sisters and brothers of the human race also have their inner zombie?

This troubles me, that even the righteous still contend with their zombies. Perhaps the thing that unites all these people is their standing as the righteous. But there is the problem of one who is not of the faith, not of those who hold the name, yet exhibit many of the same qualities about them that these others do. But how can this be so? How can one who is not of the faith exhibit the nature thereof, yet those who are, I believe, part of the faith, exhibit such behavior that is so contrary to the faith? How can it be that the prophets of lies can exhibit more truly the nature than those who hold the name? Should not the dead be as the dead, and the living as the living? What does it mean when the dead act alive and the living act dead? Are things as they seem? Are the dead truly dead if they are living and are the living truly alive if they are dead?

Am I do call into question one’s unregeneracy, but,if so I must also question if the other is of the living, there have been so many who walk one way or the other in the shadows, and are they alive or are they dead? I can’t always tell. So it is with some who I see, these creatures that are difficult to name what it is that they are. Which is why I fear when it comes to the aforementioned people: The Winters, the Aislings, the Peters, the Alices and so forth, that I referred to. What if they are not as they seem?

What if they are like one I will call Jenna, who appeared to be alive, once, and in her voice prior it is evident she held life, a more troubling thought than if she was never alive, is that she held it, than why does she lack it now? How can this be? How can one go from a light that shines to a creature of darkness in the passing of a year? Which brings up an even more frightening prospect, did I create the monster that she has become? Was it I that served as the catalyst for the darkening of Jenna’s soul? Look at her now, is it not so that she is a small and pitiful thing, a gollum of sorts? But did I do something to transform her from one on whose wings even the light of the sun would dance, to the small, wretched, creature she is now? She has become self-centered like I’ve seen few become. A dark and pitiful creature, the only feelings I have left for her are neither love nor hate, but compassion and sorrow. I knew her when the sun danced off her wings, I remember what she was. I se her now, and I pity her.

This is a sadness. That one so glorious should fall so far.

I am troubled in the consideration of the question: Did she become this because of me? Was it I that came, like a fire, and did the fire burn her and in the consuming of her, transform her from what she was to what she is? And if she once was a creature glorious? What of these other glorious ones? Can they too become pitiful Gollums? This troubles me. I cannot bear to see my brothers and sisters fall.

But we saw it once before, would it not be foolish to think it will not happen again? Sometimes I feel as if I am a burning flame, and I that see people in the light thereof, but some burn away and some endure. Would that all would endure my touch. I do question my responsibility, my role in the lives of others. I am not an entity separate from the rest of humanity, but part of humanity, and my choices, and my actions do have consequences both on myself, and on those around me. I must consider the possibility that I can serve as the catalyst for the falling of some, if they fall. I would be wrong not to examine whether without meaning to even, it was I who pushed them there. What blindness  and prejudices, might I possess, what words might I have spoken that might have gnawed at their souls, and so forth? Our prejudices and blindnesses, even if we do not realize we have them can still hurt those around us, so it must be considered. These questions, however painful to myself, must be asked when I see those whom I love stumble, fall, or lose their way.

I wonder in light of Jenna what to make of others who look like she once looked. Will they too fall from creatures glorious to creatures pitiful?

Can I bear to see Alice as a Gollum-creature? Can I bear to see the inner light darken, and to see her become not a glowing jewel who is so glorious as to possess a measure of invisibility even, to a pitiful, self-centered creature? Can I watch Winter, Iris, Autumn,  Jordan, Mark, or Peter lose the unspeakable preciousness they possess which remains elusive in trying to describe the wonder thereof. And Aisling is more special than she knows, yet will she also fall?

What is this? How do we take these things and not be troubled in our heart about what may happen? Does it now rob me of my peace and joy in the present when I worry about future events that may never be? All these may very well stand strong forever, never falling from the wonder of what they are. Jenna, however, is one of many who where once glorious and have fallen from a glorious creature, for whom the sun herself took delight in shining off their wings, to become a Gollum-like creature, lost, wretched, and deserving of compassion and pity, even though they fall so far. It is not unreasonable to consider that those who are precious now could fall also.

But, I must hope that the lost ones may come back.

I must also ask, is the consideration of the glorious falling worth losing myself over? Would it not be better to pour our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams, our energies, and so forth, into hope? Instead of fretting about them, we hope. We pray for them, that they will remain forever strong, yes, but we hope.

My motto for myself is: “I am fire. I am dauntless. I need not fear anything.” A little phrase I tell myself when I am frightened, or feeling inadequate  to remind myself that I have nothing truly to fear, and I have courage, and dauntlessness with which to act. I am not without hope. Even that I identify with fire is in itself a highly symbolic reference to the overcoming of fears of my own past. The dauntless is a reference to the book that alerted me to the fact that I had fears to face, and I need not fear anything, is a reminder that fear is my enemy.

We can hope, can’t we? We can remember that I found hope, even in the most unlikely places, I can hope for others right?

Back to the original topic of discussion, the impact people can have on me, just by being themselves.

There are those whose channels on YouTube for example, I had discovered, and the result of learning of them has led me to more than one fascinating new study, not to mention the most extraordinary insights. And I keep finding people. I’m not astonished at how many, to put it in as polite a term as I can, idiots, there are out there, but what astonishes me is how many brilliant, wonderful, lovely, and beautiful people there are out there. It almost seems that there are far more of these, even if the first group, the idiots, tend to be the louder group. These precious creatures, these jewels among the ashes, they are everywhere once you start seeing them.

Sometimes, it is like they have begun to haunt me. But who are they? As though the people do indeed proceed to haunt you day and night with their brilliant work, and transform you. I do not even have to know them. Yet everywhere I look, there they are. They haunt me in a sense, and I cannot seem to forget them. It is a complicated thing, I suppose, but the best term I can use for how the works of those who just do what it is that they do, and do it well do to me as an observer of their work. Haunting.

It’s what beauty does. It haunts, it transforms. It’s what art does. It is almost a supernatural thing, and impossible to put into a bottle or a formula, it never happens the same way twice, and impossible to see repeated.

But why? What is it about these brilliant people that is so different than all these other people I meet out and about? It is almost as though they are precious to me but I have no idea why.

That is what artist do, but even knowing that, I still routinely find myself shaken, moved, transformed, and even fundamentally altered from who I was before by the work of the hands of the artist, and despite happening over and over and over again, it still surprises me, every time.

What am I to make of all this? I mean already I’m a different person for having encountered them. Nevertheless, in many cases the artist themselves remain strangers to me, I only ever know their art.

Sometimes, it’s like I can see things that are quite invisible to the waking eyes. I really can’t quite say that I can’t see these things despite that they are not things that are seen. It is like I see these things, even if I don’t quite comprehend them. It’s like I have this sense that all of us are part of something more, that what we do see, is but a small part of a much bigger story than all that I comprehend at the moment, like I can feel that to be true, but I can’t see it.

And where do I come in with all this?

A lot of times with these things, it is like one day they just dropped into my world in all their splendor. What am I to make of it? It is like awaking one morning to find kings and queens are on your doorstep asking for some tea. What is to be made of that?

I am surprised indeed, and it doesn’t make any sense, at all. Most of the time these precious people, they are strangers for goodness sake! In theory, they shouldn’t mean much of anything in particular to me at all. Yet they do. Why? I don’t know them, they just seem precious to me for some reason I can’t explain. This happens over and over and over again. I’m surprised by wonderful people suddenly appearing out of nowhere, with an unforeseen splendor.

I wish I could comprehend the matter, I seek to understand things, it is my nature to try to comprehend even the most remarkable things, but every time it is an unexpected adventure, and it crashes into my world with all the suddenness of and intensity of a party of Dwarves and a wizard named Gandalf in Bilbo Baggin’s Hobbit-Hole.

These people just drop in, crashing through everything, every wall, every defense, every distrust, every reservation, and enter into my world. It’s happened before, lots of times.

I honestly don’t know what this riddle means. It will make sense perhaps in time, but right now it is a great mystery, one that, try though I might to understand it, it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes I feel almost as though a community of people is being formed for some great purpose, but not one of them quite realizes it yet. Or I feel as though some great hand is moving and bringing together some of the most precious people I’ve ever encountered. But even so, what does that have to do with me?

Perhaps God does have some purpose for this odd group of odd people in mind. But what does that have to do with me? Or perhaps it is just an odd group of odd people with no particular purpose in mind. I really cannot say.

But one thing is clear, life is an unexpected adventure, even if you do not set out for it to be one. The adventure sometimes comes crashing into your world before you set out on it.

One thing must be asked, and forgive my humor but: “Odd too I am? People. We are. That much, know I.”

The Burden of the Hour.

I hesitate to post this as so much of it is spent examining some of the darkest parts of the world we live in, and I do not believe I have mentioned this, but most of these blog post are written using my private journal musings as a starting point for what it is that I’m writing that particular day.

On this day, when the original entry was written, it was just after the Connecticut school shooting this past December when I wrote the entries that I’m drawing from, and also, now as I rewrite them for posting here, I have to report that it happened this week that I saw an irate customer at the mobile phone provider, and this will perhaps put the thoughts in a little perspective and understanding of what it is that I am speaking of as I sort out my thoughts about these events:

I confess, the shooting shook my faith in humanity, as a whole, and I wondered if there really was anything worth hoping for or if all of us are doomed to be wholly evil, even if we do not all have the opportunity to commit such acts of horror as happened here. I still feel a heaviness in my heart when I consider the lives that will never be now as a result of the selfish acts of one person, and yet, and yet, I know that pain would drive a person to do things so inhuman, that madness comes in many forms, and sometimes even the worst of humanity is more in need of pity then we are apt to give towards them. There is no escape from the truth, the coldness of reality, there is no bringing back of the dead, and no redemption of the lost. It is an entirely hopeless matter that even though I am an outsider in terms of physical locality, and lack of personal acquaintance with anyone involved, I find fills me with despair. Perhaps that I see the same mindset played out every day, as would be found in the mind of the inhuman soul who would do these things, even though the result isn’t so visible, there is in so many such anger and hatred, the same selfishness that, apart from opportunity, remains unseen, but not unfelt. It is but the opportunity to be a destroyer that separates these people from being killers, destroyers, and so forth. It is the same blatant disregard for the life of others, it may not manifest itself in such a tragic way, but it is of the same mind. I feel it in the thoughts of the irate customer at the mobile phone provider, in line at the grocery store, in the impatient driver, and most horrifyingly, in myself when the right combination of buttons happen to be pushed.

We must look first to the heart of the matter if we are to answer why it is that these tragedies occur. All thoughts begin first in the heart and soul of a man, a heart that is pure would not hold human life in such a state of disregard. It would not hold as its standard some twisted sort of justice, where the law of self-promotion, self-centeredness, and hatred provides sufficient reason to take the lives of children. Almost all hatred begins as a perversion of justice, usually some perceived hurt against oneself. Murder begins with hatred, it is a child of hate, never does one hate because they murder, they always murder because they hate. Hatred begins in the thoughts, and the thoughts that give birth to hatred? Perverse justice. What is evil? Evil can only ever be perversity, because evil cannot be created, only good can be created. Therefore, evil must always be a twisting and perversion of something good. In this case, justice.

Evil is what takes place when good is perverted, but I do not think there is such a thing as inherent evil. How can there be if all there was at the beginning was good, there can be no evil that is evil in and of itself, inherently. Therefore, all must evil must have something good from which it is but a perversion from.

These questions have to be asked. And while we should be seeking every possible practical solution to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again, we cannot ignore the reality of the heart of the matter, which is the heart of man. If we fail to take that into consideration, we will see tragedies occur again, and again, and again. The conversation begins, and ends, with the human heart.

It is central to the matter, and without taking it into consideration, we can do nothing to prevent these events from happening again.

It feels so hopeless, so discouraging, and rather frightening. For twenty years the soul of a monster walked the Earth, lived among us, breathed among us, laughed with us, and at us. He was part of us. He was us. Which of us will do things in the future, things we ourselves cannot even imagine? What great evils will take place because we underestimate the evil within?

It is a bleak picture of the human condition. I want so badly to think well of mankind, to see them as something beautiful, wonderful, and brilliant, but then something happens that shakes my faith in that, and I see the monster, not only in the heart of those who would destroy, kill, and wound the innocent, but I see the monster within as well. All men are mirrors of our own souls, and we share in the disgrace of the darkest of humanity when these tragedies occur, because we are human. We need to acknowledge that there isn’t this great wall of separation between the best of men and the worst of men, but that every one of us has within us the potential to be one or the other.

Because we are what we choose to be. We can choose to be a good man or a evil man, we do not become one or the other without having chosen it. It begins with our hearts.

Which is why, we must tame our anger over the little things, the problems at the mobile phone provider, the slow traffic, or the errors that might take place in the checkout at the grocery store. It is the same heart of darkness, and left unchecked will, not might, but will lead to greater evils then just getting annoyed with the person we are around at the moment.

We become the product of our daily choices. Every day we make choices, to do the right thing, or the wrong thing. These are the choices that matter. These are the ones that form our character  and it is our character that defines us. Destroyers and monsters do not just happen, they are made as a result of thousands of little choices that defined their character. It is the choices of the moment that leads to the defining of our character.

These things happen because we do not tame the little monsters of our heart, but let them grow into bigger monsters, until they consume us, turning us, ourselves, into monsters. And when that happens, it isn’t just shouting at the people who might have made a mistake, usually a pretty minor and correctable one in the grand scheme of things, but we see such acts of violence, such disregard for the lives of others. This and all such events are preventable tragedies, and it is the responsibility of all men to acknowledge the truth of what it is that is in our hearts, and the problems of the daily little evils that turn us into monsters.

Thus, when these sort of event occur I lose faith in humanity, not only because I see the darkness in the one who destroyed the lives of so many, but because I know it is but a reflection of the darkness within. I too have the capability, because I am a human being as well. What is it that separates us? It can only be our choices.

We should first look at ourselves for repentance, before we heap condemnation on the monsters, we should check our own hearts, and see if we too are monsters.

The hurt is that we are. All of us. We are desperately hopeless creatures. And this is why we lose hope in our kind because of the actions of one.

We hate ourselves for it. And the cycle repeats itself, over and over again. We’ve not seen the end to the evils of the human heart being played out. These sorts of events will occur again, it might not be at an elementary school, but it will happen.

What question are we going to ask ourselves, and are we willing to acknowledge our responsibility in the matter? Are we willing to acknowledge the shameful state of what it is that we are? To see that the darkest actions of the worst of humanity is only a reflection of the hearts of all men? To know that we all have the capability to become this sort of man, and to take the opportunity to ask ourselves what it is that we can choose to do to enact change in ourselves?

To see a glimpse of the heart of darkness, it forces me to examine my own heart, and to my horror, see that it is the same heart that I hold within my own chest. Because we are humanity, and this is our shame.

However, it is also the same heart of the same race that throws herself before others for the sake of saving the innocent. It is the heart of those who lay aside even their very lives for the protection and benefit of others. To give some the chance to live, where others had that stolen from them, laying aside their own lives to ensure it. It is the same heart of the hero. It is the same heart as the best of humanity. Those who chose the light over the darkness. She who would give her everything, this is a good heart. These are those who have not chosen the darkness in the little things, but let their character become one that when tested, shined all the brighter for it. We cannot help but admire them for their courage, because this is the outworking of their character. These are those who give us hope, that tell us that the world is not so utterly hopeless, and evil. That there are people who, do the most courageous thing there is to do. They live. They try with all their hearts to tame the monster within, to make the right choices, and they make the right choices. They believe in doing good, and it is this that defines their character, even though all of us have the monster within, these choose not to feed it. And we see in these beautiful creatures, the outworking of their daily choices. These are those we love, and they give us hope in humanity, and rightly so. And there are so many of these people out there. Ordinary heros, who upon taking a closer look at, turn out to not be so ordinary after all, but true gems, who you cannot help but admire.

I love them for it.

These are those who make the right choices. Who do the right thing. Who live their lives, doing the little things, making the little choices to do the right thing. Whether it is choosing to be patient with the, perhaps truly incompetent sales representative at the mobile provider, or looking upon the fact that perhaps the reason the person in the checkout isn’t with it is because maybe it took everything they had within them to just get up that morning, whether it is chronic illness, or a broken heart, they still got up, and while they can’t smile and pretend everything is great, they did get up. This too is good. More people are deserving of our pity, our compassion, then our condemnation, but we are quick to condemn and slow to pity.

Like Frodo and Gollum, before and after Frodo saw Gollum, it was as though two different versions of Frodo was seen. Frodo, before, was quick to heap condemnation upon Gollum, even to the point of hoping for Gollum’s death. After he had seen him, he pitied him, and hoped for Gollum’s nearly impossible, but nearly is a such big and beautiful word for the hopeful soul, redemption. We have the choice in how we view our fellow man, will we be quick to condemn, or to pity, and to hope?

It is not just those who lay down their lives for the sake of others that are heros, they are, and they rightly should be praised for it, and honored, but it is also those who make the right choices in the little things, these too are heroes. We should praise goodness wherever we find it, and acknowledge that even though it is a little thing, perhaps, these are the actions of a human being. And there is nothing more heroic then having the courage to be a human being. But to choose to do good, however small it might be, this is something to be praised.

I am becoming more and more convinced that it is our choices, especially perhaps, our choices in the little things, that define us for what we truly are.

So choose good. This is my plea for humanity, that they would embrace the light over the darkness, in the little things so that when they come to the fullness of the thought, it is something beautiful that occurs, and not something so horrible that it is unthinkable. Make the right choices in the little things, and be precious people, or turn into a monster, it is your choice, and it is the little things that matter so much more then the bigger, more obvious things, these are the things that define us for what we truly are. I plead with you to make the right choices in the little things, for the sake of humanity, and for yourself.

I plead with myself to make the right choices too, and I pray that I do not forget, my choices matter, and I do not want to be a monster, but it is the choices I make today that determine that. Such is the burden of the hour.