Saturday, October 21, 2017

Inspiration from a Cemetery

It’s been yet another blurring-by week. Time wears a jet pack, I think. I worked on the cemetery directory book project for three of the days. It’s mind numbing for me, a right-brained artist type confined to manipulating data, listings of names and locations so it’s statistical information that I am trying my best to fit into the allotted pages/space with my creative muse in lock down. Every time I adjust a column of numbers the type jumps further down and then I have to go work on that accompanied by not a small amount of groaning.

Sometimes I must admit to the frustration of not how tedious the job is but knowing that no one really understands what it takes to get a book formatted other than the one who is wrestling with the type. You just have to take my word for it. Type is self-willed and ornery. Sort of like herding cats.

Thursday I had finished enough repair to the text to see I had some space that begged to be filled and I wanted something artistic for the cover anyway so I decided I needed to go to the cemetery myself and get some pics. The town the cemetery is located in is about 20 miles away and I had never been there so the first challenge was to find it. Once I found a spot to park and started walking around I suddenly remembered why I hate cemeteries. It’s so... final. Like punctuation at the end of a sentence. This one goes way back though. Been final for a long time. There are gravestones of soldiers from the Civil War. Imagine that! 

With no plan, I walked aimlessly, stopping to read what looked like the oldest stones. It’s not flat, quite hilly actually, so I had to climb and weave around a bit, hoping I would not stumble and find myself in a disabled heap in an old cemetery no one knew I was in. I snagged a few snaps of old markers still looking for the cover shot. Then, just as I was ready to leave, I spotted a bench sitting under a huge old oak tree and I knew I had accomplished my quest.

As I was driving home the words started pestering me, a phenomenon I am quite familiar with. Poems come. I couldn’t stop them if I tried. 

My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. MacMillan introduced me to the art of emotional storytelling with poetry. She did it so cleverly, teaching us by doing. She entered the classroom, after recess, reciting a poem, glass of water in hand. The woman could make taking a draw of water from a glass look like performance art. But it was her words that calmed us to silence. No other way to say it - she graced us. Every word issued with such mastery we were held like muted hostages in our seats. 

This word artist planted seeds that changed everything. She awakened something that beckoned me to create, to make something from nothing, to splash color into a black and white world, even though the world may not appreciate it much less understand it. The siren call was  - do it anyway. No matter what and just because.

Consider being 70 years old and just realizing that a single person, so long ago, was the one to credit (blame?) for your peculiar life path. 

As I drove home from the cemetery, the words came, and I thought of Mrs. Ella Macmillan, teacher, mentor, poet extraordinaire and in my sweet reverie, she was yet alive. 

So, apparently, even when the sentence is punctuated, it can live on to inspire as though it was not finished. 

For Him,


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Just Had to Say It

I’m officially over it. So tired of the rhetoric, So tired of the puffed up self-righteousness. So tired of the claims that NFL players have the right to express their opinions, their right to demonstrate their deep concern for what they see as miscarriage of justice. 


The most rascally, law-breaking bunch of neanderthals alive are incensed about injustice for - something or other. No one is really sure, at this point, what it is they are taking a knee for because the meme has been hijacked. Who didn’t see that coming?

Let’s get real. NFL is a business. Its product is referred to as a game but it’s just a business, a multi-million dollar one at that - not to mention tax exempt. Not sure how that happened. Who knew? Interesting that this sort of truth comes out in the kicked up dust that adds to all the violent coughing. Regardless, and nevertheless, NFL players are just employees of the company. That’s all they are. Highly paid employees who also happen to be entitled with full access to a very big stage and audience.

And yet, private businesses, practically unknown, like a bakery for example, that have to pay through the nose for the right to be in business, gets fined and/or shut down for standing up for their rights to express their opinions and beliefs.  

And so the hypocritical god of self-righteousness is fed and kept fat and happy. 

But I digress, continuing my quest to get real, while the employees of most businesses (Christian business excluded) are certainly entitled to their opinions and beliefs, they actually do not have the right to express these during working hours, if the employer has house rules against such an act. Further, and perhaps most importantly, if the rule of thumb is that a customer has a right to purchase a product without being preached to, then that rule must be applied across the board. Doesn’t this seem fair? Or is fair a concept only applicable to the self-righteously endowed?

But, you know, it’s all good so long as those who worship and feed the beast get to feel sooooo good about themselves. Because they are right, after all. Facts do not matter and actually get in the way when the self-righteous are laying sacrifices at the clay feet of their god. Rules can be tweaked. Words can be redefined to fit the narrative (cause) du jour. 

As my mom used to say, what goes around comes around, and it all comes out in the wash. Self-righteousness is but a shallow imitator, after all, and runs out of steam as the other god of this world rears its ugly head and roars that it needs to be fed too. That would be the god of commerce. 

In pagan circles I think that is referred to as karma. I, of course, see it as completely predictable conclusion because once you know how to identify the enemy, you understand it’s been around since the very beginning and pretty much sticks to a script. 

For Him,

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ordinary Clay

One of my favorite things about writing is that a wordsmith never knows how or from where inspiration will come. Several  exchanges with others in the past several weeks has caused me to pause for a bit of introspection. 

I conclude it’s time to confess what I discovered. 

I may not wear my theological convictions as slogans on a t-shirt, but I am about as Christian as one can get, if by definition one who believes in and seeks to follow Christ can claim to be. However I am also a lone wolf, so to speak. For reasons unnecessary to list, while I am a member of the Body of Christ, I don’t belong to a religious group/denomination/church. It has taken most of my seventy years to be 100% comfortable and okay with that.  Perhaps because the world has its own definitions of how to identify a Christian and I don't fit.

Since one is rarely an ‘outlier’ by choice, I freely admit I used to long for like-minded Christian fellowship.  But the longer I have remained in the wilderness of being outside of organized religion, first by being forced, then remaining by choice, the more I sought to learn, the more difficult it became for me to have meaningful fellowship on a spiritual plain. I certainly can interact socially, but neither can I share what I also cannot now unknow. This sounds arrogant but I do not mean it to be. It’s simply describing the difference between requiring nourishment by milk or meat. I’m in the meat stage now. 

Disclaimer note: Getting to this point in one’s spiritual walk is not inevitable and not a requirement for salvation. 

Think of it as graduate school. You have your diploma and now you want to go further. Growing in Christ is as individual a process as each person’s testimony. The conundrum is - it can’t be taught but only experienced. Though some truly anointed teachers, such as Tozer, T-Austin Sparks, Oswald Chambers, etc., have each put out the syllabus for seekers to follow to their own higher education.

I understand the human side is to desire to share and connect, to uplift and be uplifted, to maintain accountability to something. Humans are hard-wired for this. But some of this is just a natural yearning for confirmation from others, that you are on the right track. Birds of a feather flock together for a reason. In my personal journey, that I know has no real end until my last breath is exhaled, I finally realized that the only confirmation I really need is from Jesus. If I am pariah to the world, if I do not nor ever will ‘fit in’ as long as I know I am pleasing to Him, I can do His bidding and no one else has to see or acknowledge it. In fact, given the state of the world nowadays I think I would be somewhat alarmed if suddenly the world noticed or understood me. God forbid! :-)

When I was younger I assumed there was a specific calling for my life. As I grew up in the spirit I finally understood that I am simply called to BE His will. Every small, unnoticeable call that I have stepped up to is all that was required of me. It is my opus, my body of work. As simple as a prayer, as complex as a physical reaching out of a hand up. God is not bound by our definition of size or meaningfulness. It’s not the doing it that matters as much as the willingness to say,  "Here am I, Lord. Send me!”. This still amazes me.

It's another of those great mysteries though - to grasp that nothing we are or do matters as much as the act of simply obeying, even if you never know why, even if ‘going’ means staying right where you are and silently praying as you are prompted. 

So, here I am, just a lopsided, lumpy, empty vessel at the ready to serve, whatever that might be. Nothing grand or noteworthy. Nothing to share with or teach anyone else. But this, then, is also my consolation for lack of fellowship. Those several degrees of separation also protect me from the slings and arrows of the madding world. I am grateful.

Thank You, Lord!

For Him,

Romans 9:21 - Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?