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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Turn, turn, turn!

Oh God, my God, how long is it since I have written so to you?

When the ebbs and flows of life leave me churning and restless, exhausted and sleepless at night’s middle, why do I not immediately turn to you, One Singer of life’s song, One Water for my thirst, One Friend for my loneliness, One Grace for my sins, One Physician for my ills, One God and Lover who can reach into the tossing, turning depths of my soul, and heal the crying breach.

Man shall not live by bread alone, nor anything this plane may readily offer, nor anything my body and mind might beg for. For is it not so, that even gorged, we are hungry? Even sated, we want? And when we lack and desire with depths of passion but loss of direction, why do we wander this plane—even we who have known better—in hopes that something upon it will fill our soul’s gape in the dullness and the dark.

Oh God, my God, I entreat you to be once more my first answer, my first thought, for you are the first responder to my needs, if I would but look to you, see the hand in which you offer more than e’er I sought.

When I know not what I seek, let me remember that it is you. When I know not why I thirst, let me remember that it is for you. When I know not what is missing, let me remember that it is the fullness of your presence—only to be missed so long as it is turned from, for even misery is rich when you will grace it with your touch.

Pain becomes a portal to bliss; loneliness turns up the corners of my mouth when I remember my Beloved. Longing is our lot in this world, but not without comfort. And then, our souls’ very scream for you becomes a prayer of thanks for your presence. Even when I cannot sense you compassing me about, nor hear you in the silence and all creation’s groaning, I know your Love, and I know you’re Love, and I know it enough for me.

Oh God, my God, how long has it been since the fullness of my spirit bowed down before you, laid down before you all its pent-up miseries, put aside the world’s insistent distractions and the flesh’s insatiable desires, and simply begged for you?

It grows and grows, the pain and pressure, ‘stress’, it’s called, or weariness, or lack, or fun; frustration; satiation; habits; needs; amusements; callings; obligations; all of it dust worrying dust. All of it is vain distraction, idolatry and idolatry’s consequence, when it keeps my mind from you.

I’ve turned to you as a touchstone, brushing my fingers over the thought of you, knowing you deserved more, hearing my soul’s growing scream, but caught in the whirlabout land called “life” which is Death if you are not in it, my Lord, my Love, and my Salvation.

I knew I needed you, but my fingers were busied and my mind a-rush, whisking from one thing to the next, even if that thing was rest, calling it a necessity of so-called life, but when I do not take the time to deeply drink of your presence, my soul becomes ever more agitated, and nothing will settle it, not all the joviality and satisfaction and accomplishment in the world, for are you not greater than all these things? How, then, do I forget you? Forgive me, Greatest Calling and Highest Joy.

And Highest Joy you are, and Deepest Love, and Sweetest Peace, but I must tread the path of delayed pleasure to find it, and to my twisted human psyche, this often seems too great a sacrifice to make. Oh, wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of sin?

And when I so long forget to turn from these, so long forget to turn to you, I must also tread the path of the torn heart and the beaten breast, the path of tears and repentance as all the pettiness of my soul breaks against your Beauty and sees itself for the straying, pitiful wretch that it is. God! GOD! How do I do this time and again? Bless this restlessness that drives me from my bed like an iron against my soul, for without it, it seems that I would rest at an ever-emptier discontented status quo.

Drive me! Drive me quicker, drive me harder, in the future, to return to you! Let my mind, heart, and body burn as one with the horror of looking away from your Face! Let me know my want for what it is; a Want for what the seed of sin first tore from me long before my conception, a Want for the fellowship of the Cross, in its magnificence and mystery, restored.

All else I find upon this earth is a piece of your Story, all that you have created to sate the surface of my body, mind, and soul—that is the satisfaction you offer, seen through a glass darkly. And so long as I see you through it, so long as my daily bread is to me an echo of the Bread of Salvation, so long I know pleasure as an echo of Joy, art as an echo of Truth, and friendship as an echo of Communion, then these things will sate, for I will be asking no more of them than you set them here to give me.

Oh, let me cling first and ever to you! Let me set aside all to pursue you! Let me sacrifice all to seek your face! Let me remember the joy of your Kingdom before all! Let me turn from shadows and mirrors unto the Real, and by so doing, see Reality winking from the shadows and the mirrors.

The Wisdom of Loki

KNEEL!

Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state?

It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation.

The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity.

You were made to be ruled.

In the end, you will always kneel.”

So much truth, Loki. One might almost think you wise. But like all Tricksters, you twist the truth. And for your purposes, you twist it foolishly.

Something is missing. Something you seem ignorant of. One vital element of our makeup.

Yes, we were made to be ruled. But we were made to choose whom we will serve.

You see this throughout history. Yes, many followed Robert the Bruce that they might be free of England’s rule. But in that very act, they submitted themselves, they subjugated themselves, to Robert the Bruce. And they did so gladly! It was almost as if… as if it was their natural state.

FREEDOM is the constantly recurring cry. Yes, but freedom to do what? Freedom to choose our masters. We don’t always choose wisely, but we’ll be damned if you don’t let us choose! (Heck, we even get to choose if we’ll be damned.) Few and far between are the true anarchists–and even if all governments broke down, people would naturally find and huddle together under masters of one sort or another.

But a master whose subjects hate him is a master whose power is in grave jeopardy. A master whose subjects choose and love him is a greater master.

Because it is given to us to think and feel, and to will, and to choose according to our will.

We want who we want. We want someone who listens to us. Someone who understands us. Someone who knows the difficulties of our life and will be fair with us–or perhaps less fair and more merciful. We’d like Someone to defend us against our enemies. It would also be nice if this Someone gave us things. We’d like to be able to look up to this Someone, to call them a Hero, to hail their flag proudly, and proudly name ourselves their subject.

(Not that I’m talking about Anyone in particular, of course not, whyever would you think such a thing.)

The Marvel universe has a god who kills a man in front of a crowd, rounds them up like frightened cattle, like frightened chattel, then shouts them into submission. Of course a man stands against him, and of course this man is a hero. As it should be! Loki would have stomped upon and stripped away their God-given wills.

We have a God who allows himself to be killed in front of crowds of men, just to save a bunch of frightened sheep, just to be a good shepherd, then asks for their submission–because they’re going to run headlong off a cliff if they don’t turn around.

“Kneel.

Is not this sweeter? Is this not your natural state?

It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave to pour yourselves out to someone, even as I pour Myself out to you.

You think you see the bright lure of freedom in all the darkest corners, and you diminish your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity.

I am the only One with freedom and power and identity, and I give it freely to all to look to Me .

You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel:

To your empty selves, to your empty sins, to your empty oppressors, or to Me.

Choose you this day whom you will serve.”

And those men who stand, those who defy him, he allows to walk away. To walk away into Hell. To walk away into nothing. To run  away from God into everything that is the opposite of God. To break his heart. To hurt themselves.

But our God did not make us automatons, he made us beings with free wills to choose our rulers, and that means allowing us to choose rulers to our detriment.

Just think of it; what if Loki had known even a little piece of that wisdom?

What if Loki had come to earth and said, “Hey babes, Loki from Asgard here, just a lonely little trickster god looking to rock–and rule–your world. Who’s with me?”

I’d bet that much of the world’s female population, at least, would have waved signs and guns on his behalf from the outset.

…Did I mention we don’t always choose wisely?

Unfair Rendezvous

So I was thinking one evening near a year ago, I was considering how best to go about asking God out. (I’ve got a hero-crush on him, see.) So I grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled, “Hey God. You bring the moon and the rain in the air. I’ll bring everything that’s wrong with me. Meet at Starbucks in ten. Call it a date.”

Being a writer of things, I could not leave it at that, and so when I was seated in that coffee shop as suggested, I drew out my laptop and went on fleshing out the very unfair picture of a rendezvous with the possessor of all power and glory in existence. Like so:

I’ll stand at the corner, dressed all in my best;
The rags of a leper and bruises of life.
Come wearing righteousness, come bearing rest,
And switch with the sinner You’re taking to wife.

You bring an ocean of infinite love,
I’ll bring the wounds for which You are the salve,
I’ll bring the hunger if You’ll bring the feast,
I’ll bring the sins if you’ll sweep them West-East.

Don’t forget power o’er nature and time,
Remember the worlds that rest in Your hands,
I’ll probably forget you, my Lover sublime,
I may not remember the gulf Your life spans.

You bring the moon and the rain in the air,
I’ll bring humanity, pain and despair.
I’ll bring my finitude, I’ll bring my shame,
You bring eternity, take all the blame.

You’ll be the Master and I’ll be the slave,
Dressed all in purple and wearing Your crown.
You be the sacrificed, I’ll be the saved,
Wearing your light as you lay your life down.

Friends May Fail Me

I’ve been thinking about Gethsemane. Specifically, the part where Jesus’ disciples were kind of worthless. I’ve heard this passage spoken on before:

36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Usually, the focus is on the willingness of Jesus to do the Father’s will in the face of the greatest suffering possible. Quite right, too; I do  believe that to be the central point of the passage. The secondary focus, it seems, is the failure of the disciples. At first blush, the point of bringing up their role in the garden at all seems to be to highlight human weakness.

The strength of God, juxtaposed against the weakness of man. And I think it is about that, but not necessarily in a “disappointed Master sighs over the inability of his followers to keep a simple directive” sort of way.

Indeed, I’m not even sure this is about the disciples doing anything wrong, or at least, rather, nothing sinful. I think they failed, but in the same way that tripping on a curb, or dribbling food out of your mouth, or dropping someone’s valuable ceramic vase they told you not to break is failing: not good, not without consequence, certainly a sign of the ineptitude of the body, and at the very least embarrassing, but not a sin.

And also, I think, a minor point in the passage. The real point of bringing it up, I think, is to show how Jesus handles it.

Imagine you know you’re going to be killed. You know that someone who has called himself your friend is going to betray you to your foes. You know you’re going to be mocked, humiliated, and tortured–before going to the death on which the word excruciating will come to be based. You know you’re going to take upon yourself every shard of suffering and guilt that human kind has ever suffered and ever will suffer. And you’re going to let this all happen.

You’re a little stressed.

In fact, since you’re facing the most pain possible in existence, you can’t really sleep. Fortunately, at least, you’ve got your best friends with you.

So you tell them, “I’m feeling weighed down right now. In fact, it feels like the pressure itself is going to kill me early. Can you guys just, you know, sit up with me?” Because you’re facing so much darkness, and you could really use the little candle flame of your friends having your back. You’re facing all the loneliness in the world–quite literally. You’d like some company.

Is that so much to ask?

Apparently, your friends think so. You know, they try to stay up and pray with you and all, but on this wretched night –while you cannot sleep for the ever-haunting knowledge of impending horrors, while your sweat pours thick and your breath comes quick and your heart beats loud in your ears, while the eyes of Lucifer himself gleam as bright as thirty pieces of silver changing hands– they just can’t keep their eyes open. It’s been a long day, man.

You wake them. You ask if it was so much to ask. Chagrined, they shake their heads and pinch themselves and give it another go. You fall on your face before Father God once again, to beg some easier means to your mutual end– I mean, you know of the joy that is set before you and all, but you’re really not feeling it right now, are you?

And then you turn around, and your so-called best friends have dozed off on you again. The ones you’re going to be suffering for, among others. So not feeling it, right?

Never mind Judas, you’re probably feeling pretty betrayed by the exasperating layabouts at your side. All you asked of them was that they be there for you. What worthless friends are these, to fail you when you ask so little, when you need them most?

Is not this where you would sob and scream? Is not this where you would call down angels to prod these worthless worms with flaming swords to keep them awake? Is this not where you decry them as no true friends of yours, for they evidence clearly that they are not?

But this man is not you. This is Jesus the Christ of Nazareth. This is the Lamb of God. This is perfection. This is his reaction:

That he looks upon his sleeping followers, and sighs, “Ah, sleep.” That he looks on his friends, whose company he craves in this dark hour, and knows that he does not need them.

Whatever his feelings may say to the contrary, he does not need anyone but the Father. And that’s a good thing, because if he did need them, he wouldn’t get what he needed. Yes, it would be nicer, if he could have their company through this long and painful night. But they’re too weak to give him that much. And he’s disappointed. But he knows it’s okay. He probably feels no such thing, but he knows the truth, that it’s okay.

And so forgiving them for failing him as friends, he says, “Sleep; you’re going to have to get up and face sadness and confusion all too soon. Get some rest.”

And he returns alone, to the only One he needs in truth. And prays for his friends souls in the coming days.

Jesus, what a friend for sinners,
Jesus, lover of my soul.
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my savior, makes me whole.

What a friend indeed, that is a friend to friends who fail him, is a friend to his very foes. What an example is he, the man who does not lean on those who are too small to hold him up. What strength, to forgive men for not being enough. He leaned instead into the Trinity, and whatever he did or did not feel, he found all he needed. None other was capable of completing him. None other is capable of completing us.

Who wants to know?

I feel like I should write an introductory blog post before I just start slinging all kinds of piles of words about like so many word piles. As a hello to my yet-nonexistent following, perhaps? As a way to tell people why they should become one? Or as a sort of “Caution: the following thoughts are under construction!” sign?

I suppose I just want everything that follows to feel less out-of-the-blue. Maybe this compunction is based on an illusion–does a sign on a door reading, “Warning: paint-splashed willy-nilly on the floors ahead,” really make much difference to the person walking into the besplattered room?

It’s probably an attempt to explain why I’m doing this; my excuses to the blogging world in general (and the spiritual blogging world in particular) for why I should contribute to cluttering it up. More likely, I’m just trying to explain as much to myself.

God, me, and loquacity. The loquacity bit is no joke. I talk a lot, to the air if no one is there, or to the blank page if one is handy. Time to start making those thoughts googlable, I guess, in the hope (shared with most every blogger, I’m sure,) that someone will find value in them.

The truth is, it seems to me that I should have this blog. Why has it taken me so long to make it, then? Because I have another blog, a blog about writing and fantasy and so on, that I hardly ever take care of. Why should I have two of a thing when I can’t take care of one? It’s a legitimate question.

The answer, I think, lies in the fact that the subject of this blog (God and what have you,) has become more central to me than the subject of my other blog (fiction and its creation,) and I’m quite glad of that, but it has drawn some energy away from The Ink Caster.

My other blog feels clogged with all these posts I wanted to post, but didn’t want to post there. There, I tried to keep a balance between how often I chattered about spiritual things and how often I wrote about book and writing and words and the like. Otherwise, I felt like I irritated the readers who hadn’t signed up for double portions of God-talk.

Maybe I shouldn’t care, eh? Sure, I’d likely have lost a few followers who grew weary of it, but I shouldn’t care about that, right? But it felt wrong, somehow. Different posts for different folks. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” but there’s a difference in the way I’d talk to someone who doesn’t care about God, and the way I’d talk to someone who does.

It’s like this–imagine you really love a TV show. Say, for instance, Doctor Who. You’re really excited about it, and you want to talk about it all the time. So you find someone who watches the show as well, and you gabble in Whovian with them for many happy hours. Then you go to a friend of yours who’s never watched the show, and you’re so excited you can’t help but do the same thing. You want them to watch the show with you, after all!

No matter how much they love you and try to care, you’re probably not going to help the Whovian cause. Trust me on this one. I’ve done it. And that’s with people who already love you and try to care.

If I had it to do over again, I’d have bitten my tongue a good nine times out of ten, and simply murmured an intriguing sentence or so every now and again. Maybe they would actually have wanted to watch, then. Maybe even now, if I dial it back sufficiently, I can still get them to sit through Blink with me.

So that’s what I’m saying about God (and me, and loquacity). I really, really love God, and I really want to talk about him most of the time, and I love talking about him for hours to people who also love to talk about him. But for the others, those that don’t care yet, it’s probably best to bite my tongue nine times out of ten, keep posting what I told them I’d post, and simply murmur an intriguing sentence every now and again.

But that’s over there, at The Ink Caster. Here, I open my mouth. That much is in the title. Here, I’m talking to the fellow-enthusiasts, or people curious enough to listen of their own volition. Here, I’m not going to restrain my loquacity on my favorite subject.

But don’t worry–I’ll only talk about Doctor Who one time out of ten.