Left and Right—the whole crowd is at fault.
(Parallelism to St. Paul in the Castle barracks in Jerusalem in Acts 22)
Even when the left has you by the scruff of your neck and the right has the gun at your temple, there is no more joyous place to be than directly in the center of God’s will.
Those who mourn and repent will be saved. Those who don’t will be destroyed.
Those who mourn and repent for all the detestable things going on inside the temple will be saved.
The one out of seven—the writer—the marker—will mark the foreheads of those who mourn. And they will be spared. The rest of the seven are warriors who will pursue and destroy everyone else.
Similar to Cain’s mark, in a way. Tied to Seven and Multiples of seven.
It also connects to Paul’s Road to Damascus/ lightening bolt experience. A question lurks within: Is it a curse or a blessing to be spared? To see. To see your blindness. To be blind. To live knowing of your murderous heart. It is to be Cain. “Why did I live?” It is to be Paul and suddenly know, as if struck in the head with one of Stephen’s stones, of the detestable practices in your own temple.
It is to be marked in the head with a lightening scar. To be the boy who lived. To be this thing that cannot be killed from the outside. The mark brings with it seven-fold mayhem and seven hoarcruxes of death. The blood soaking in the earth moans and screams in your ears.
What is this mark then?
Is it a mark for life or a mark for death?
Both, in a way. The ego, my divine mark, as such, can not be killed from the outside. Yet my strange invincibility also chains me to Death; brings death to the world; both the Death I cause and the Death I escape. What to do with this marked thing? This monstrosity of consciousness. Touched by hate, and love and choice. Marked in a place visible to myself in a mirror only. What now? This mark! What to do about it? What now?!
There is only one solution: Death.
Death to the ego.
But since the almighty God himself has protected the bearer of this mark, like Job, from outside asphyxiation by Satan, the only possible death left to me is a voluntary one.
Only by laying down, only in letting go, only by a Way hidden in the pattern of flaming blades swirling over Eden, may the marked one become finally and forever accessible to his Savior—Breaking the chains of death. Bringing Life in the Savior. Bringing life to the world.
What is the mark?
It is a mark for redemption.
That is how forgiveness works.
Like life, the past is something you can choose to give away instead of keep.
To forgive is to give away a closely held past in the present moment. In a real sense, it is to walk into the past and release the poisonous link from the chain of your existence before it ever happened. And miraculously when you look down at the infected wound on your flank, it is healed. Just an old scar with the echo of something forgotten. The negative meaning, the pain, somehow unobtainable because you have finally chosen to let it go in the swift river. The injury and the wound set free to be spoken aloud with the tongues of angels in the mouths of man.
When you’re in the zone...
which is the proper mode of being...
which is the mode of Christ’s being...
...the target is huge. The bullseye enlarges to encompass all of you. You suddenly stand at the center of the magical fire. You can’t miss. Shoot.
I hate these bars.
I hate these chains.
I hate history.
Ok, but why hate? Why hate the thing you stand in the middle of?
Why not love? Or at least accept, which is the same thing since by any standard a good definition of love must include acceptance of a thing despite its limitations?
Bars, chains, and history just are. Limitations simply exist as a reality.
When Paul said—“I am exactly where I am supposed to be. How could I be anywhere else?”--
prison doors opened and chains fell off. This is the way to freedom.
When you hate your history you become the most hateful history.
Just ask the Bolsheviks.
The past is a cloud. A memory. A collection of thoughts and ideas as immaterially vast as it is materially insubstantial. An eternal memorial whose sole purpose is to help me live in the present. It is NOT a place I should live or even can live. For who can live in the sky?
My past permeates the heavens, looking down to inform my present; but it is not my present. In the same way my reflection on my experience, is not my experience: it is a reflection.
The “great cloud of witnesses” in the Book of Hebrews is a list of great and awful acts of faith from the past. It is both my personal and collective cloud. An "I" cloud. A storehouse. Not a dead and dusty one. No, it is a living storehouse on whose contents I may gaze and to whose clamor I may listen. But only if I lift my eyes and listen honestly, with the proper attitude--with my feet firmly on the ground of today--does this great cloud of yesterday look down and proclaim: judging each act of my faith. It floats above my ever-present life: praising and condemning. This cloud is a thriving witness of my life—not the other way around. I am not to drift upwards and away, bearing witness to yesterday's artifacts while turning my back on today. Otherwise my vast and light cloud condenses and ossifies. Then I become trapped in my cloud-turned-sarcophagus; and together we plunge into the sea.
I am not the past. I am alive.
The most damnable condemnation handed down to me by this immense shouting, screaming, bloody, struggling, joyously cheering cloud of witnesses from the past was this:
That I failed to recognize my present.
I was the brood of vipers to whom Jesus proclaimed: “The Ninevites will condemn this generation!" Jesus stood directly in front of me; but I could not see him.
To live in the past, to be defined by the past, was to become stuck and stagnant—to become memorialized. It is to become incased in stone, instead of contemplating the terrible and marvelous monuments of the past while shouldering the cross in the present.
But miraculously I, paralyzed in the past, was able to shoulder my mat and walk home. A miracle of strength only made possible by the Forgiveness of Jesus. The man-child fish who swam to the bottom of my soul and set me free.
Seeing your eyes limits your vision. Listening to your ears limits your hearing.
Being self-conscious limits your existence.
The gradual development of self-consciousness is almost by definition enculturation. Enculturation is one’s gradual ingestion of the surrounding culture until they become like it. It requires willing participation in the game. A child does not start out self-conscious but becomes so. It is when one begins to know that he knows, thinks, and judges that one forgets how it is he knows, thinks, and judges. He forgets from where his golden gift came. He breaks Samson’s rule and “lays a hand on his head.”
It is when you think you know truth—that you don’t.
It is when you know that you are the judge that you lose the ability.
It is the difference between feeling enslaved by your responsibilities in the world and feeling free to keep the temple and everything in it.
Are you weak? Are you enslaved? Are you pushing the millstone round and round?
Then…you are also blind.
"Christianity" is not a Life 360 app (in the same way a parent is not an "all-seeing eye"). It is not an “application”—an external thing that applies only when you open it up. If so, then it is just one more technically complex hieroglyph to interpret incorrectly, view sporadically, and then use tyrannically. If so, it only increases anxiety and mistrust.
Christianity IS life; in the same way "to parent" is to bring forth life--rather than inspect, or suspect it. It courses through every fiber. To fully utilize this marvel; you can not simply turn it on and check on other’s locations compared to your own—and then call that true, and right, and safe, and good—THAT’S WRONG! Believing that WHERE someone is, has ANYTHING to do with WHO someone is: that is a lie; and one everybody begins to believe. That my position relative to you, tells me who I am and where I am relative to God? That’s the exact trap Moses laid for himself: a stranger herding sheep that weren’t his own. You must go. You must journey to Egypt and do battle. You must uncover the Rosetta Stone engraved upon the heart! The secret stone which interprets all hieroglyphs, all complexities. That stone—that key— is what you give your children. It goes inside and turns locks. It works inside out—not outside in. It fills every crevasse of their world; reaching into places you can never go; telling them who they are no matter where they are.
I began to see spiritual truths in the old book where I had not seen them before; finding them not in scriptures scrubbed of all grime and paradox, but in dusty tales of donkeys and dragons. How did I not see them before—these glints of gold in the dirt? It’s terrible enough NOT to see. But one sure way to make it worse is to think you can. NOT to find is awful as well. But, again, the only way never to find is thinking you already have. I was a self-deluded arborist stupidly smacking my face on the one tree, it so happens, for which I no longer looked. And it was this about myself—this dilution of myself—and these constant bloody noses: because I believed I possessed truth; because I believed I possessed sight; I was like a man with a fatal illness he did not yet know he had; who somehow, unbeknownst even to himself, wound up at the doctor’s office. My brazen ego alone confident of health, but all else below that proud little scrim, everything deeper within and further without the cosmos was unsure: “Oh, it’s nothing doctor. Just a vagueness here in the pit of my stomach. Just an achiness there in sunsets and starlight.”
Maybe I was sick.
There is a part of blindness that is sheer. A part that is utter. But there is another, sicker part that is volitional: not that can’t look, but won’t. And that kind of blindness is a lie. It is a willful blindness. No sane person would choose to blind themselves. But it is precisely what the rational person chooses all the time. They rationalize. As long as there is a good reason to see, they will see anything. As long as there is a good reason NOT to see, they will see nothing. Like the emperor who refuses to see the empty spinning wheel, because to see AT ALL is to admit he was wrong. This kind of blindness is the first step in drying out a heart of flesh. The pharaonic lie: to look down from tyranny and call it ease. It hardens the heart into a stone that gazes upon freedom and calls it betrayal.
How do you accept suffering and death at the end of your life?
You accept it at the beginning. Says Jesus as he walks out of the wilderness.