God help and forgive me, I wanna build something that’s gonna outlive me.

Hamilton.

A life-changer. Full of fun and humor, but its effect is no joke. I think it really might have changed my life. Hard to tell, after only five days. But… Non-Stop. The Cabinet Battles. Hurricane. It’s Quiet Uptown. I didn’t just hear these songs, they moved through me, and I was not the same woman when they were done.

Lord, guide the change, and keep it well in your own hand. I want no empty mark, I want no hollow legacy. There is important, and there is truly important. There is good, and there is your goodness. I would not tangle the threads in my fumblingly human fingers.

But what am I to do? I am no genius. If I held in my hand the power to shape the nations and shake the world, would I even have the vision to shape them? Would I even know which way to shake? I have no passionate vision for solving the world’s ills, or even aiding one ailing nation. What am I to do, even if I were to “write day and night like tomorrow won’t arrive, write day and night like you need it to survive”?

I feel more like:

I don’t even know what to do with those Romanian people who ring the bell and ask for money and food in broken German and if you give them anything they press for more and try to edge into the house. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do for them, what’s right to do about them, so what am I supposed to do for or about the world?

I know what I want. I know I want sex slavery to end. I know I want to crush it. I want the situations that create fields ripe for the slaver’s harvest to cease, or to be better seen to afterwards. I want people to know what sex slavery and coercion can look like in a person. I want those who purchase sex to be driven to empathy, to compassion. I want refugees from any kind of disaster to know what exploitation looks like when it confronts them. I want exploitative brothels to be busted, and the workers to be freed. I want the freed workers to be looked after, cared for, to be given healers for the body, mind, and soul, and to be granted passage to a new life—which means being situated with a new community, and/or a new career.

I want to solve war.

I laugh, you laugh, we all laugh ‘til kingdom come, because until it does, there will be war and it won’t be solved.

Screw it. We are to see your will be done and your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven, and if we only pray it and never move towards it, are we in imitation of Christ? And therefore, are we Christian at all?

I want to solve war. I want to end it. I want peace. I want to change the way the nations think about conflict. And for that–for that to be a want, not a wistful wish–I must be educated. I’ve got to understand what’s actually happening, at every level. And total comprehension is impossible, but that doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t try to understand. From the trembling underpinnings of the universe, to the crux on which human history hangs, to the blood on the ground today, to the bird’s eye view, to the street-level view, I’ll seek understanding. What is wisdom, what is knowledge, if it can’t be applied to corporeal situations? I’ve long played in the ethereal and the theoretical, but what if the catch-22 questions and the big-picture dilemmas had real lives in the balance? Can I find a way to save any? Can I find the wisdom to cheat the questioners’ cheating questions?

God. God! I want to do something. I want to learn enough to do something. I don’t want to go before I’m prepared; to create more chaos. I want to be ready to do the right thing when I go. Go where? Go for what? We’ll see, we’ll see. What will I be true to in the weary light of morning? What resolution will hold past tonight? God! Let me be true. Let me seek your face, let me seek you here, and if this is the next way you’ve given me to do it, let it not slip through my fingers when this first burst is through.

And so now, days after I wrote the first passionate, nervous burst of words that formed the meat of this journal-letter, I still wonder. But I’m pressing in. How can I help the refugees? In the grand scheme, I don’t know yet, I’m still thinking. But I’ve discovered where I can help put care packages together. Would that be enough? I’ve written thousands more words of a novel, a novel that matters. Does it matter enough? Is it big enough? It’s what I can do. I’ve edited and posted this piece, here. On a backwater blog? A piece that doesn’t even know if it’s a prayer, or a call to action, a Hamilton advert, or another buzzfeed pop culture gif set-beset list? What will that do?

I don’t know. But if I can but do all things I can do, through Christ that strengthens me–that would be enough.

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No High and Fluting Sentiment

I’d do it o’er, I’d do it o’er,
If only time could be undone
My now dragged back into the past
My words unraveled, fights unwon.

No high and fluting sentiment,
No deep and luted sorrow,
No thought or heart or wish or word
Makes yesterday tomorrow.

I’d say it better, put it right,
Not put you down like seed in ground,
Not hold my peace when called to speak
Nor speak when peace would not be found.

No high and fluting sentiment,
No deep and luted sorrow,
No thought or heart or wish or word
Makes yesterday tomorrow.

With wisdom earned of time now lived,
Another chance, a blotted page–
Turn back the cost, but leave the wage;
I’d walk to circumstance a sage,

No high and fluting sentiment,
No deep and luted sorrow,
No thought or heart or wish or word
Makes yesterday tomorrow.

What little insight I have gained
Cannot be spent on past poor takes,
Nor can the scene be shot again
Nor what’s spoke now be what I spake.

No high and fluting sentiment,
No deep and luted sorrow,
No thought or heart or wish or word
Makes yesterday tomorrow.

These bits and mites of priceless coin
So pinched from moments lived a-wrong
Can but be spent on moments met
Once one has walked from thence along.

No high and fluting sentiment,
No deep and luted sorrow,
No thought or heart or wish or word
Makes yesterday tomorrow.

And then—and then!—I cry my woe,
So small indeed is knowledge known,
When held to wisdom yet unwon
To thoughts unthought, unreaped, unsown.

No high and fluting sentiment,
No deep and luted sorrow,
No thought or heart or wish or word
Makes perfect now and morrow.

So day by day, I earn my way
The stumbler seeking feet like hind’s,
The fool by wise-ish foolishness
Seeks understanding, nearly blind.

No high and fluting sentiment,
Can halt past rents from tearing
No deep and luted sorrow now
Buys morrow’s faultless bearing.

And much is hurt and healed and made,
Is broken, beaten, lost, and found,
But though the road dips humbly low,
I move through time to higher ground.

Though thought and heart and wish and word
Cannot make perfect now or then,
I’ll think, and feel, and speak, and hope,
And hold my peace, and step again.

Seriously Engaged

I became affianced last week. There are many fantastic things about this, oh yes, precious. People know that, and they keep saying things like this:

“Congratulations!”

“Oh, you must be walking on air!”

“Oh, you must be over the moon!”

“Oh, you must be just ecstatic!”

Well, to the first, thank you, thank you very much; I am rather to be congratulated, as it happens. The others, though, do cause me to feel somewhat awkward. I usually respond with a nod and a giddy giggle or grin, looking down at my truly lovely ring.

But while I am very pleased, I am not, by my own standards, “walking on air,” “over the moon,” “ecstatic,” or even as giddy as the giggle I give people because they’re expecting it. The reason I’m uncomfortable with this is… well, it really feels like I ought to be. Right? I thought, shouldn’t I be all of those things? I know I’m capable of it. But excepting the day on which the question was popped, I really haven’t been.

“Walking on air” is every time I remember The Day of the Doctor. “Over the Moon” is when I think of what an awesome and hysterical pair BBC’s John and Sherlock make. “Ecstatic” is when the phone rings and it sounds like the TARDIS engine whooshing.

Those–those feelings are for my obsessions. I’m not planning on marrying my obsessions. If David Tennant… no, let’s make it even crazier. If the Tenth Doctor had showed up out of the blue last Friday, cut in line, and for whatever reason, dropped to a knee and asked me to marry him, my mind would have been blown and I would have felt shockingly honored and I would have given him an enormous hug and said no! No! Of course not!
(But can my lad and I be your companions even so? You take affianced couples sometimes, right?)

To be perfectly honest, I might secretly spend some time kicking myself for making the wise choice, but in the end, it would be just that: the only wise choice. Because the thing about obsessions is, they fade. They morph. They’re replaced, in time, by something seemingly bigger and brighter that eclipses them–even if you can’t imagine it before the fact. Holmes and Watson are already beginning to edge in on my adoration for the Doctor, and I would have sworn that would be impossible. In five years, I wince to admit, Doctor Who and Sherlock will be things I still geek out about every now and again, sure, but they probably won’t occupy the same space in my mind, heart, and life.

I would never believe it, except that I’ve seen it happen. Because it was Redwall, then it was Artemis Fowl and especially Butler, then it was A Series of Unfortunate Events, then it was everything by Tamora Pierce, then it was Harry Potter and especially Snape, then it was fencing, then it was Sword of Truth, then it was the works and characters of Danielle E. Shipley, and then, and then, and so on. Now when I think of these things, they still bring a smile to my face, and I’m still happy to talk about them, even maybe wear their paraphernalia sometimes. But they are not what they were to me, once. As Pippin says at the end of his heart wrenching song, “All shall fade… all shall… fade…”

But there’s a ring on my finger that calls for a faith to be kept, a faith not fading. It doesn’t call for me to be walking on air over the moon in a cloud of ecstasy–though it would be fine if I were, it is also, I think, well that I am not. The ring means many things; Bambi-like twitterpatedness is not one of the things that it means.

It’s a brilliantly lovely claddagh ring, very traditional and very Irish. A crown for loyalty, a heart for love, and hands for friendship. That’s what my lad meant he was giving me, when he slid it on my finger, and that’s what I mean to give back.

Loyalty, love, and friendship. Am I wrong to be less than over-the-moon over this? Should I feel guilty that my man is not my obsession? No. Because I am stepping out onto a greater thing than a cloud of happiness. I am making a commitment to a far truer connection than obsession.

This ring is a vow to avow–is, to my mind, the backwards echo in time of an oath to be taken in future. To me, the very weight of such intent tinges the very idea with a sort of sacred solemnity. And I have no quarrel with solemnity! It is certainly no lesser of a sense than is giddiness, and can even be greater. And if it’s an echo of a sacrament; well! So much more to the good. Seriousness and solemnity does not preclude joy; rather it enriches it. But it does lend a certain quietude to the matter.

But people do not want to hear, “Oh, I am so solemnly pleased,” so I play up the “pleased” lest they think something wrong, and simply grin and laugh. And thinking on that, it does not seem to me to be right. So henceforth, I will be honest with people: I am not giddy. I am deeply, truly glad. But I’m not going to react as I react to my every passing obsession, for this is not a passing obsession.

My emotions, probably to the disappointment of some, will not shine as sparkly and bright as the gold and emerald on my hand. But as it is written in the great tomes of Lord of the Rings, all that is gold does not glitter. And with that sudden inspiration, I conclude:

All that is glad does not giggle.
True love doesn’t always wear gloss.
A heart seeming of stone stands a riddle;
Plainly graven but sloughing all moss.

‘Tis an alter where fire may be woken;
A cistern God’s touch turns to spring;
With a love so much more than emotion,
It is crowned and held fast by the King.

Son of God – the movie

Oh. Wow, actually.

I began watching this trailer with cynicism, (these attempts so often pale and fail in so cringe-worthy a fashion, you know,) but that quickly crumbled into some hope that a movie can begin to do the life of Christ some small degree of cinematic justice.
At least from the trailer, this one looks like… well, an actual gospel account, believe it or not! And an actually awesome gospel account at that.

(Though I would like to see a lead who was less whitewashed. But, eh, at least he’s not unbelievably so.  )

A breakdown…

The miracle shown in the first thirty seconds–not one hundred percent according to the gospel account, but the spirit of the event was captured. Including (and I like this) the fact that it wasn’t really about the fish at all.

The next miracle. Spot on–and well acted. I like the way they’re shaping up this character–a man of shocking words and shocking deeds.

I like the frequent cutting to the pharisee’s worried discussion of this young prophet from Nazareth. He was a man to worry about. And again, we get an audacious statement: “Your hunger for righteousness will be fulfilled through me.”

But then, to the political side of things, and one of my favorite bits of all… the triumphal entry, ending at the temple, and the subtle but potent reaction to the man’s cry of “Save us from the Romans, lord!” Boom. That stark rejecting hand, knocking back the very idea. That’s not why I’m here.

“There’s something unusual about him.”
Yeah. There kind of is.

The music comes in with the waves, followed by the statement of betrayal. And then, at 1:43, we get the traitorous kiss. Another subtle but potent reaction: the heartbroken look on his face, and the way his hand rises to Judas’s head.

The cuts back to the turning over of the tables and the working of miracles as the Sanhedrin charges him… artful.

“Tell us… are you the Son of God?”

“I am.”

Son of God, Son of Man, Lamb that was slain… I have hope that this movie intends to declare as much, and declare it well.

Will you see it? What are your hopes for its impact?

Great Physician and Lord of Time

Okay, I promised I’d keep my Doctor Who posts to a minimum. I’m doing that, I swear, but I had to post this one. If you don’t watch the show, you might not understand what I’m going on about. Sorry.

Why do I love the Doctor? Why am I absolutely obsessed with the Doctor? I’ve been trying to figure it out as I’ve found my love of Doctor Who creeping into every area of my life. What is it about that madman and his bigger-on-the-inside blue box? Why do I wish so hard for him to show up in his TARDIS and show me the universe—and to help him save it?

Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but speaking for myself, it’s for the same reason that I love most of the incredibly powerful hero types I love. They stand as human (or humanly relatable) icons of that great and wonderful God of mine, for whom the universe is awash with the grandest of titles, but whose true name none know nor can speak.

Sometimes, he’s so very human, in his errors, in his failings, in his never knowing quite where he’s going or what his plan is.

And all that is very endearing and sweet and relatable, and without those things he would be too perfect to build a television show around.

But then, there is that in him that is beyond humanity, there is that enormity, that awe-inspiring size and age and depth and breadth of his being.

“He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the center of time and can see the turn of the universe. And… he’s wonderful.”

Time Lord

Why do I love him so? It’s in the mercy and the justice.

It’s in the love so very big, and the mountains of pain to match.

It’s in how he finds a way to do the impossible when it seemed all was lost. (Even, wouldn’t you know it, when Roman soldiers are dragging him to his doom and the seeming doom of the universe.)

Pandorica Opens

It’s in that he saves people, great masses of people all the time, and still the individual tiny little persons that mean so much to him.

It’s in that you never know everything he’s seen and fought and won and done, and you can never understand what goes on inside his mind.

It’s in how he invites you to abandon life as you know it and run with him into the wildest rollickings of the universe, and makes so much more of you just by being there.

NineTenElevenDoctorsInvitation

It’s in how very much he wants his people at his side.

He’s not God, no, not by half, and his worst moments are those when he seems to suppose that maybe he is. But he’s nearer to God’s heart than many of us little humans, and there is so much in him that reflects so much of God so very dazzlingly, and that is what I would follow through the twistings and turnings of the time vortex, into danger and out of it until my very death.

And that’s when I thought, oh, my, God. This is so exciting. You have no idea, how excited I was when I realized this, how excited I am now.

I’ve already got a Time Lord. I know a Great Doctor who has invited me into his time vortex, and maybe I’m only traveling mostly forward for the most part, but so what? I am the companion of a Time Lord, THE Time Lord!

Do you know what I see when I look out of the window of this coffee shop he’s brought me to, full of people I’ve never seen before? I see dusky blue skies and curling whitish clouds gone pink with the last fading whispers of the sun’s jubilee, the humming purples that promise a beautiful night ahead. In front of these I see trees, great spreading trees with leaves gone lovely brown or orange-over-green, all of it swaying and trembling in the excitement of the autumn breeze. I see the gleam of light on the metallic curves of cars, row on row in parking lots or whizzing past in the street, I see their lights and the lights of signs glowing everywhere, evidence of man’s seemingly impossible harnessing of fire’s rage, and now the light of that same fire in the form that roils at the center of our galaxy brightens on one cloud, a breathtaking hurrah, then the sky goes soft shades of red as everything begins to darken into evening…

My Time Lord is showing me the wonders of the universe every day. He shows me marvelous creatures and plants and scenes that will take my breath away and bring tears to my eyes if I’ll only let them. I’m going to spend my whole life seeing things I’ve never seen before!

I’ll see all kinds of faces, their inner workings so familiar and yet so alien to me, every one important, and he cares about every one and he would have me to care about every one, to touch their lives with him and to add to their pile of good things as we explore this universe, to turn their faces to its wonders and to see them become what he sees that they can become!

And I’ll see him, and his marvelousness, I’ll see him laughing at the hilarious things that spring up around us, I’ll see his love so marvelous, find his words, so profound, everywhere I go.

I’ll watch that  pain, as deep as his love, cross his face when suffering and death and all evils rack the universe, when humanity is less than what he dreams it can be, knows it can be, when people say goodbye, and he knows he’ll never see them again. And when I see it, I will cry with him.

I’ll do things he tells me to do that don’t seem to make any sense, but I’ll trust him to work things out for the impossible good, even when all seems lost again and again. Because I’m his companion, and I’ve seen his fingerprints throughout history, and I know he pulls it off.

There’s a Time and Relative Dimension In Space.

It stood before the foundations of the earth and it can touch everywhere and everywhen.

It’s old and new and beautiful and the truest true ever.

It’s small and simple and made of wood, but it’s bigger on the inside.

Inside, it’s more complex and impossible an powerful than anything else in our reality, and it belongs to the Time Lord.

It brings hope wherever it goes, and it is the nightmare of every nightmare.

And I will go anywhere with my Great Physician and his Cross.