Who is on the witness stand testifying against you?
He rebuts your facts and figures, your words, your photo documentation, your lengthy explanations and reasons, your graphs and diagrams and methodologies. He rebuts all these and more; every polished, intellectual testament you present to defend your life.
And guess whose testimony is more persuasive in the long, arduous trial of existence that, in fact, you learned nothing about being human--a soul unfit to walk in the cool of paradise?
What is the enjoyment of life? Where is it? Is it possible to see it and find it? Is it possible to find it today—suddenly—like suddenly finding you're in the middle of your own surprise birthday party? Is it possible joy is hiding right at this very moment, around the corner, breathlessly waiting for you—the guest of honor— to walk in and turn on the lights?
Shannon saw life in a different way. And this is key. All who came into contact with her looked and listened because a different way of seeing life is a different way of seeing God. And people may think they are busy little bees doing and thinking and seeing many things, but they are ONLY trying to see God. She understood something about joy and life. She understood what Abel was feeling as he presented himself before the alter of God: Life was funny. And funny things could be laughed at. Even God. And God and his cosmos laughed back at her and with her. To Shannon, life was something more like a song or a dance. So she sang along. Enjoying the harmonies. The high parts and the lows. And she danced. But not to get to the end, or get it over with, or get anywhere; she danced just to dance. Because it was fun. Life was a dance; a thing to be enjoyed for the thing itself. Which is love. She held God and He held her and they danced.
But the rest of us—the poor, blind rest of us— sit on the side. Waiting for something. Waiting in the wings of Elah. Waiting in the mouth of the cave for God to pass by. Always looking for him in the hurricanes, those rare and terrible things, but never in the gentle breezes; the daily, quiet voices. We see the mundane where Shannon saw everyday eternities. We walk outside occasionally reminded the grass needs mowing. Shannon walked outside constantly amazed that grass is green. She loved life. She loved the existence God gave her. She loved the bluebird that dropped briefly into her backyard as profoundly as she loved the grocer that briefly dropped groceries into her bag. These were not random events. They were anything but random. They were a rhythm and a melody to be enjoyed for themselves. They were the ever surprising spins and twirls of the dance.
I thought I wrote something especially fine last week. But it was, and is, nothing compared to my brother’s most marginal note at the farthest edge of his roughest draft. It is only now—so late and so old—reading the writing on the wall through spectacles and impatiently scrawling on my own, I see he sharpened himself in the spirit world, a world filled with angels and demons, saviors and satans, since youth. He trained against Leviathans and behemoths, wielding his sword over the tallest heavens and under the deepest hells; his words honed breaking chains, his wit a thing drenched in fire and blood, both edges of his truth gleaming in the sun. Whereas I walked away from this world at the same age into a world of dollars and cents and molecules and atoms; believing in the smallest things because I believed they could not be split. But they could be split. And it was exactly this splitting of the smallest and falsest truths where all the energy was released; enough to destroy everything or enough, when harnessed, to power chariots of fire.
When does something (a thought, an idea, a message, a hope, a prophecy, a god) come true?
When what one thinks might happen finally happens? No, that is mistaking truth as a thing one thinks about, a thing sitting on a road up ahead somewhere beyond the horizon. One day it passes by one’s life, finally realized, but only as something that happened; something a little too little and a little too late. But whatever is beyond tomorrow’s horizon doesn’t one day arrive, it is always arriving; always passing directly beneath one’s feet. If one searches the horizon by always looking back, he completely misses it. The truth is now. Truth comes alive right in front of a person, not when the truth gets there one day but when the person does.
The sun will rise again. This is not a truth to think about and so ignore every morning. It is a truth to believe and so live among horizons and bathe in endless suns.
Truth only becomes true when it is believed.
Is mirror that doesn’t look like a mirror.
It reflects but not all at once it slowly turns slowly focuses
The best symbol annihilates itself. Annihilates the self.
Sometimes people are too close for you to see. They have become trapped in the sticky, frustrating glob that is you and your world. Easily hiding under your nose so high in the air, always getting under your over-sized feet, never free of your goo, unable to walk far enough away to be seen. It is a great and terrible thing that a savior comes with a sword to cleave, separating brother from brother, wielding the only weapon magical enough to slice the unsliceable so you can finally hate enough to love.
The desire for proof is not the same as the desire for truth. The desire for proof is actually the opposite of truth.
One’s desire for proof stems from knowing it pleases his intellect without the trouble of needing to believe. But belief is knowing the pleasure of God without needing intellectual proof. Strange as it seems, proof is actually cheating. In demanding truth prove itself true, one willfully cheats on the troublesome test of faith. Intellectually, one would happily prefer knowing the ruby slippers on his feet take him home right at the start rather than go through the trouble of the Wizard of Oz. But that’s a cheat because intellectually knowing how to go home isn’t the same as going home. There is only one way to go home. And the only way to prove it is to believe.
If what most informs (proves/justifies/solidifies) one’s faith in life is what happened or might happen rather than what is happening, then one has buried their head in the sand or is chasing the wind. Never is one’s sail filled with the wind. Never is one with the wind, at once resting and moving.
Outside of choice is acceptance.
Because to choose anything is also to reject everything else. And the love of God is not rejection.
The love of God is acceptance; as the love of life is acceptance. And the gift of acceptance is pleasure. But to get there, this place of outside of choice, requires one—and only one. There is exactly one choice to make for the Christian. EVER. But the Christian's singleness of choice does not diminish his freedom or power, rather it releases, reveals, and explodes it. This one solitary choice places him exactly at the fulcrum, changing the course of the universe. The solitary door, the singular choice of mankind is this: whether to obey or not. And that is no small feat because it is death. Death to one’s own will in order to live in another’s. But not in a hateful, spiteful way, pitted always in enmity of the other; rather in fealty to the other. A friendly obeisance and one freely given. An obedience in love and trust.
The sailor’s hand is at the rudder and every moment the force and lover of the wind, he whom abides and is the wind speaks as captain of the vessel: talking, asking, whispering, shouting, commanding, guiding the sailor. And the sailor makes a choice: He loves. He trusts. He obeys the will of the wind over his own. And together they go; the sailor and the wind.
The fourth beast is technological. He has unnatural teeth of iron. He is massive. He doesn’t simply consume to get his fill like the second beast, the bear, with three ribs sticking out of his teeth. The fourth beast consumes to destroy; a maniacal appetite without end.
The fourth beast is the last beast. Daniel learns it is the last kingdom; and his dream and what it means disturbs him greatly. The last kingdom is a creature reminiscent of many last kingdoms, maybe all of them when followed to their logical end (certainly this was the case even of the last kingdom within myself before I finally fell apart). It is the kingdom of reason and enlightenment; which sounds gentle as a lamb and wise as an owl. Yet as this kingdom ages, it grows horns , and its teeth turn to iron; and it is a beast so stuffed with reason it goes mad and the glow of its enlightenment becomes radioactive.